Friday, 19 September 2008

Treasure maps, ds2 knits, and 'when is a school not a school?'

Well we seem to be regulars down at the sailing club. Each week I've been taking along an activity for the kids (and anyone else who turns up). It's usually just something I leave on the table, a little temptation for them to dip into if they wish. This week I took some old paper, all yellow-brown with age, and pens and paints, along with an atlas and a few books on pirates and explorers. It didn't take long for the kids to be painting treasure maps, rolling them up and setting off to the West Indes with their fellow pirates. Hmm..did I spot a bit of geography there...And no adult intervention at all...

It looks like there will be a regular nature group of some sorts at the sailing club: a monthly Saturday one for all children, and a weekly one for home ed kids to join in. There is so much conservation work to be done around the site - plenty of bramble clearance and apparently lots of plans for the woodland area - so we'll not be short of things to do. I think the only difficult thing will be trying to curb all that adult enthusiasm: we don't want to scare the kids away! Among the plans is a session to make some lanterns and have a torchlit procession around the lake for Halloween/Bonfire night. It sounds wonderful! A big project will be mapping the other, smaller, lake: the kids will have to go out on boards/boats to explore the unknown territory. I think they'll like that idea {g}.

Ds2 caught me knitting at the sailing club and wanted to have a go. He was making quite a good job of it, but got a bit bored after a few rows. Maybe I should teach him how to crochet? It grows much faster and it's not so easy to drop all your stitches!

Today the kids tried out an afternoon session at a local Montessori school which is opening up some of it's primary lessons to home educating families. Ds2 had a great time, primarily because he got to use some technology in the music session (always a bonus for techno-head like him). Ds1 wasn't quite so enthusiastic, but then even the shrug and a grunt in response to my questions was more than I was expecting. Thankfully they are in different groups for music, so they got a chance to do something independently. I guess this is one of the main problems with home educating kids that are close in age: they get to do pretty much everything together, whether they want to or not, and tend to get pretty sick of each other's company.

I think we'll be signing them up for this session for a term. I'd happily sign them up for a few sessions, but finances just don't make it feasible (I haven't yet worked out how I'm going to afford to send them for this one weekly session yet!). It's a bummer when such good opportunities arise and there just isn't the money around to make the most of them. I need to find a good money-making scheme.

Ds1 was funny as we were leaving the Montessori school.

Ds1:'Is this place a school?'
Me: 'Well kind of, but it's very different to a normal school'
Ds1:'Oh. So if I went here would that mean that I'm going to school?'
Me:'No, it's just like when you were going to piano lessons. You're just coming here for a few hours and you'll still be home educated'.
Ds1:'Oh that's alright then. I don't want to be a child that goes to school'.

Ds1 has decided he wants to buy a nintendo ds lite. I'm surprised cos he doesn't normally fall for peer pressure stuff, but this is definitely motivated more by his mates and fashion than his desire for technology. Now if it was ds2 hankering after a nintendo I could well understand it:given the choice he would be permanently plugged into his gameboy advance or the computer lol! So, ds1 has decided he is going to sell his ELC wooden castle and knights to make some money towards it. It'll be wonderful if he does sell it - not only will he make some money, but there'll be alot more space in their bedroom! Don't suppose anyone out there wants to buy a castle do they?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The petrol lawnmower

Quick post today as I'm meant to be finishing off the dress I'm knitting for dd1...

The boys - well dh and a visiting child - spent most of the day trying to fix a petrol lawnmower today. The garden stunk of petrol and as for the noise... They succeeded in getting it to start, but it looks like it might need some tweaking still. Can't say the whole 'lawnmower engine' thing does much for me. Must be a boy thing!

Had a physio appointment today. Usual NHS rubbish, but seems a slight improvement on when I last had treatment a few years back. Instead of the usual one-size-fits-all sheet of exercises today I got poked and prodded too. I'm not sure if I should consider this a good thing or not (I hurt now!), but we'll see. Physio person was reluctant for me to continue with osteopath at the same time. 'It's me or him' was the gist of it. Tough. Life's too short for occupational envy. Why don't we liven it up with a bit of healthy competition? The first one to cure me, wins!

Lego. Too much of it. All over the house. Love the stuff, but it's driving me mad.

Have cleared a whole load of space in the conservatory. Moved a new freezer into the garage and am trying to freecycle the old one, so had a shuffle of furniture. Definitely a furniture-moving time of year. Autumn has come. All dull stuff I know, but it does mean we can actually walk around the table in the conservatory without impaling ourselves on the dog cage.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Bank Robbers and Jam

I've decided to relocate some of my old casettes into the car so this past week we've had 'The Clash' blarring out. This one's my favourite at the moment, though the kids like 'Lost in the Supermarket'.

Bank Robber

My daddy was a bankrobber
But he never hurt nobody
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to steal your money

Some is rich, and some is poor
Thats the way the world is
But I dont believe in lying back
Sayin how bad your luck is

So we came to jazz it up
We never loved a shovel
Break your back to earn your pay
An dont forget to grovel

The old man spoke up in a bar
Said I never been in prison
A lifetime serving one machine
Is ten times worse than prison

Imagine if all the boys in jail
Could get out now together
Whadda you think theyd want to say to us?
While we was being clever

Someday you'll meet your rocking chair
Cos thats where were spinning
Theres no point to wanna comb your hair
When its grey and thinning

Run rabbit run
Strike out boys, for the hills
I can find that hole in the wall
And I know that they never will

I found a video of the song on my space. I've posted a video of the song at the bottom of the blog. This is the link if you want to go to the original myspace page.

What else are we listening to at the moment? Well I've been playing 'Happy Land' in the kitchen which is a compliation of songs that are 'muscial tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder'. Faves on the CD? Well most of them really: the kids love 'Captain Jinks' and one of my favourites is 'Arkansas Traveler/Devil's Dream'. I can't find Captain Jinks music anywhere on the web, but will keep trying. In the meantime here's a rendition of Arkansas Traveler from to give you an idea of the tune I'm talking about(though I much prefer the version on the CD). I couldn't get the video to load, but here's the link:

(Hopefully the link has come out ok)

Anyway, the album is good jam-making music, which is just as well seeing as my kitchen is like a jam factory at the moment. Raspberry, apple and banana flavour today. I have a huge bag of elderberries to strim from their stalks today too (groan). I expect the dog wiill be chasing the little escaping berries all around the kitchen floor.

The Clash - Bank Robber

The difference between boys and girls

The difference between boys and girls


dd1 (age 4): 'Mummy. I just love drawing pussy cats and hearts.'


'ooo! It's pink and it's got flowers on it, can I wear it?'


ds2 (age 7): I want to fill the world with my puke'

and 'I can armpitfart Smoke on the Water '

and 'I'm going to kick your butt'

and 'I'm going to fart in your face'

and 'Oi! You! Cat bum cheeks!'

Whoever suggested that you could bring boys and girls up in a gender neutral way, obviously didn't have a clue what they were talking about.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The boys are READING!!!

I put a video on before the kids went to bed, turned round and what did I see..?

My two boys were reading!

At last I'm in that wonderful position of being able to say: 'Hey, get your nose out of that book!' (but of course I didn't).

I feel like cracking open the champagne (except that I don't much like it). My boys are reading! Not just reading, but reading voluntarily...willingly...and even choosing to read rather than watch a video. Whooo hooo! At last, reassurance that autonomous education has really worked for us, for them.

[So, sorry boys, but I just had to take a photo of the moment]

And here's a photo of dd1, drawing hearts. They did look rather like giant worms (she wasn't that offended when I pointed it out), but it was still sweet of her to draw them. It makes a change from pussy cats and doggies, which are her usual subject.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Hands on at the museum

Here are some photos from our visit to a local museum last Wednesday. As you can see I got stuck into doing some crafts long after my kids had wandered off to do something else. It's our third visit to the museum, but on previous occasions it's only been to drop off children for workshops. This time we had a chance to explore it a bit more.
One of the things I love about this particular museum is that it has a reasonably sized garden, perfect for bouncy boys with short attention spans to run around in. Despite the large pieces of expensive sculpture situated around the garden there were no shouts or telling offs from staff as my children poked prodded and climbed upon the works of art (though I did restrain them from climbing on the ones that had price tags of more than £1000!). They were, as always, rather noisy, but the staff were incredibly tolerant.
Inside the museum there were lots of hands-on activities and a room devoted to self-serve children's activities. The 'Innovations' room was particularly popular with the boys, where they could wind things up to do experiments on pressure, or mess around with magnets.

The Children's room

Cutting out a rabbit mask

This place has got lots of pens!

My ideal man?

Definitely NOT my ideal man

Getting closer? But something is definitely odd about that hair...

Doing magnetic things. You can't see, but he's rolling his eyes as I'm trying to read all the educational stuff on the board to him at the same time {g}

I promise not to jump on the piece of sculpture that costs £1600. What? You mean you can't you see my halo?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

I saw a mouse! Where?There on the leeks! Where on the leeks? Right there! A little mouse with clogs on...

We went to the allotment again yesterday. I must be a glutton for punishment!

I did a little bit of hoeing and discovered - in between the weeds - that a few months ago I must have planted 2 more rows of carrots. I would have prefered to find a forgotten tenner in a back pocket, but carrots aren't to be sniffed at. We picked some more runner beans and the raspberries were looking productive. My liliputian cauliflower still hasn't grown any bigger (I'm not sure why I was expecting it to).

And my pumpkins? Ah well. A neighbouring allotment has pumpkins the size of cinderella's coach. Mine? Well, the biggest one is the size of a toddler's tiny football. Small and perfectly formed. I wont mention the others.

The highlight of the day was seeing a tiny mouse in amongst the leeks. At first I thought it must be a shrew as it was so tiny, but it didn't have a long pointy nose. The mouse didn't run away, just trotted slowly into the sweetcorn patch. Ds2 even managed to touch it! I'm pretty sure it was a wood mouse because it looked like the one here:
though I'm no expert on mice.

Despite the distraction of the mouse event, the kids were none too pleased to be down the allotment again so I bribed them with the promise of chips at the local shopping centre if they didn't moan too much. We managed barely 2 hours before world war 3 broke out among no2 and no3. It was probably something to do with who had whose leaf or stone or twig or something. [one of those very-important-to-kids-but-totally-irrelevant-and-very-annoying-to-mortgage-paying-adults kinda things]. It seemed a good time to leave.

Sometimes I wish I could spend more time (and less distracted time) at the allotment, and have a beautiful plot like the organic gardening magazines. Of course the allotmentees who are retired have imaculate plots. I swear they must trim the edges of their plots with nail scissors. Am I envious? Moi? Nah...course not..{g} When I get to the point where I feel the urge to measure the width of the grass path to make sure it's parallel (not kidding, it really happens at our plots), then I'll know I'm ready for the funny farm.

Today we went to a friend's house. The children are in school (today was their last day of the summer hols before the new school term), but were home educated for a short time. Our kids get on really well, but like most of their schooled friends it's always difficult to find a time to see them. We end up squeezing the occasional couple of hours between the end of the school day and bed time. I wonder how others manage?

Anyway, seeing the mouse yesterday has got this song ringing in my head. I can't remember the tune for the verses, but the chorus has stuck in my brain. If I have to put up with it then, like the cold virus, I have a responsibility to share it with others (hey, germs are good for you). So, be prepared to be infected...

A Windmill In Old Amsterdam

A mouse lived in a windmill in old Amsterdam
A windmill with a mouse in and he wasn't grousin'
He sang every morning, "How lucky I am,
Living in a windmill in old Amsterdam!"

Chorus:I saw a mouse!
There on the stair!
Where on the stair?
Right there!
A little mouse with clogs on
Well I declare!
Going clip-clippety-clop on the stair
Oh yeah

This mouse he got lonesome,
he took him a wife
A windmill with mice in,
it's hardly surprisin'
She sang every morning,
"How lucky I am,
Living in a windmill in old Amsterdam!"


First they had triplets and then they had quins
A windmill with quins in,
and triplets and twins in
They sang every morning,
"How lucky we are
Living in a windmill in Amsterdam, ya!"


The daughters got married and so did the sons
The windmill had christ'nin's when no one was list'nin'
They all sang in chorus,
"How lucky we am
Living in a windmill in old Amsterdam!"


A mouse lived in a windmill, so snug and so nice
There's nobody there now but a whole lot of mice.

Thanks to the following website for supplying the lyrics.