Thursday, 16 October 2008

On Sunday the weather was fine so around lunchtime we headed off to a local garden centre where there is a playground and animals to look at. As usual we took a bag of carrots for the goats. Here's a photo of ds2 looking cool...

and dd1 with her favourite toy dog. We keep losing the darned thing and I'm started to get quite paranoid about taking it anywhere. Most of the following photos are taken by ds1 on his camera.

And a not very flattering photo of me and jack. I knew there was a good reason why I'm usually the person behind the camera, not the subject! I'm not quite sure what Jack is doing, but I'm obviously trying to stop him.'s a llama (or is it an alpaca?) with a very nice hairdo. Must have gone to the same hairdresser as my boys (yes, the memory is still raw).

This week at the sailing club we were making lanterns for the forthcoming bonfire night party. This is the grand version (made by a friend, not me). It has a willow frame covered with tissue paper (coated with diluted pva glue) and a candle suspended by wire in the middle. I was a bit concerned that the tissue paper might catch light, but apparently it doesn't (ok, I'm still a bit paranoid about it). It wasn't dark enough to show the full effect, but I think with a bit of refinement it will look fantastic.

I've got plans to try one at home using chicken wire. I thought we could mold it into a shape (leaving a hole to place a night light in a jar inside) and then do the whole tissue-paper-with-pva-glue thing.

Here are some of the other lanterns we made. The 'punching holes in a tin can' ones were pretty tricky to make, partly because they rolled around so much and also because they tended to flatten out when hit with a hammer and nail. The solution, we found, was to fill them with sand from the sandpit and sit them in a pile of sand to stop them rolling. I marvelled at my ingenuity but then I was given an even better tip of filling them with water and freezing them overnight - apparently this works a treat. It was still difficult for the kids to manage, so most of them opted to make lanterns by decorating glass jars.
And no, I don't know why dd1 has blue stickers on her nose...

The painted glass jars...(still a bit sticky!)

We had a little birthday party at the sailing club for dd1 who will be 5 tomorrow. Even the bigguns were keen to join in pass the parcel! I managed to impress myself by actually making the birthday cake: it wasn't burnt and it even rose (a bit). I had a bit of an icing failure though; the icing was meant to be stiff enough to stand in peaks, but instead it sort of slopped and ran down the sides into a puddle. Still, by the time dd1 had covered it with artificial additive-laden, sugar-overdose sprinkles, then it didn't seem to matter. As I had loads of icing left I even slapped it on the home-made chocolate cookies. Remind me not to do that again...

The kids have been doing some science with dh at his work, while I go to my weekly writing class. Last week they took a CD player apart. Thankfully most of the bits stayed at his work (we already have too many boxes of bits of dismantled machinery).

This week they had a magnetic device thingy that made objects 'float'. Can't remember the name of it, but judging by the whiteboard on the wall dh had been trying to explain exactly how it worked. I'll be asking questions later children...

Anyway, here's a video of it working:

We haven't been doing our regular experiments, so I need to get back in to the habit. I think it's also time to pick up on some history, maybe a museum visit, or perhaps going back to covering some of 'The Story of the World' book. We seem to have busy days just doing 'stuff' and sometimes it's hard to fit in anything more formal. Once dd1's birthday is sorted we'll have a chance to settle down to other things.

I had the 'usual questions' today at my writing class when a few people found out that I was home educating. I'm always happy to answer the questions because I know they were exactly the sort of questions I used to ask years ago. However, it's always quite difficult to explain to parents who are in 'the system' and who still have very 'schooled' brains without sounding defensive. I don't mean that in a derogatory way because having spent years in the school system most home edders I've known needed to deschool and rethink the whole concept of education, even more than their children. I know that when I first started out the idea of autonomous education - children learning without teaching! Shock horror! - would have just been too much for my brain to even contemplate. Now it seems so obvious, so self-evident, that I wonder how I couldn't see it earlier! I have a completely different mindset now. And if my kids blame me when they're older (as most kids blame their parents) I'll just say it was all the fault of that John Holt bloke.

To finish off the posting I thought I'd pop in a photo of dd1 enjoying her latest 'thing', colouring in. It's a fascinating time for me because neither of the boys showed any interest in any of the colouring books we had. In fact we got given so many I just got rid of all of them because it didn't seem worth taking up space. Now I've got to go out and buy some more. She draws lots too. Mostly dogs and hearts (with the boys it was always castles, knights and machinery). I did wonder if there is anything I could have done to lessen the gender difference and then I gave up thinking about it 'cause my brain ached.

Oh, and as a p.s. Ds1 seems to be doing fine on his ds lite. I'm not quite ready to ration it yet as I figure the novelty will wear off in a few weeks and he'll get into a more civilised routine of using the ****** thing. It seems that he got a good deal though. The deal included the ds lite and one game up to the value of £29.99. Gamestation have a general policy that if you don't like a game you can return it within 10 days. Ds1 returned the game the day after we bought the package (it wasn't quite what he expected) and they then said under their returns policy that he could choose any games (plural) up to £29.99. Because they had a sale on he got 2 games that he wanted and was also given a £5 credit voucher for the remaining money!

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