Tuesday, 27 April 2010

I am waiting...

...for an earth-shattering moment. A revelation. An epi- epo...oh what is that word? (all I can think of is episiotomy and I KNOW it's not that). You know, the word that means a sort of revelationary moment where the meaning of life the universe etc etc etc are revealed. Bloomin' ek. My brain has just slipped through the cracks in the drain cover.

Anyway, if I could I would blog about fantastic life-enhancing moments, lightbulbs triggered in my children's brains, the huge educational and emotional leaps that they are making. Instead I find myself documenting the gritty dregs at the bottom of the wine glass of everyday life.

So here we go. Yet another non-earth-shattering moment in the life of a home educator...

Conversation in back of car today:

girl 2 : do you know what cows drink?

dd: No.

girl 2: Guess.

dd: I don't know.

girl 2: Milk. They drink milk.

dd: Hmmm. I don't think so. They eat grass. I don't know what they drink.

girl 2: They drink milk and it's the milk and the grass that gets mixed up and comes out as... milk.

dd: From their boobies. Cows have a lot of boobies

girl 2: Uh huh.

dd: I wonder how many bras a cow needs. It must be loads and loads.

girl 2: Gras? what are gras?

me: She said 'bras'.

girl 2: Bras?

me: Yes bras. Because cows have lots of boobies so they need a lot of bras [why am I entering into this inane conversation?]

girl 2: Oh.

dd: And that's where their milk comes from.

girl 2: Milk. Yeah. That's what cows drink.

And they wonder why childbirth turns mother's brains into that greeny-purple slime that you find at the bottom of the fridge.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Questions, questions, questions....

I spent the morning chasing dog poo along the concrete outside our back door with some dangerously thin nappy sacks. The dog watched me with a malicious grin, getting ready to redecorate my back garden with teeny stringy turds the moment I turned my back.

Then I came indoors...

dd1: 'I've got a tricky question.'
me: 'Uh huh?'
dd1: 'Do Postmen go on aeroplanes?'
me: 'Well I guess when they go on holiday they might fly there and then they'd have to go on an aeroplane. Does that answer your question?'
dd1: 'Maybe.'
me: 'Why did you want to know?'
dd1: 'Oh, no reason. Just thought I'd ask.'

One of the weirdest things about parenting is that you spend your day being propelled from in-your-face-disgusting reality to non-drug-induced surreality and back again.

I've decided that if I ever write a book it should be titled 'Do postmen go on aeroplanes...I don't know dear, but there's a helluva lot of dog poo in the back garden.'

Thursday, 22 April 2010

A Mammoth Catch-Up (now where did I put my stone age woman outfit and club?)

Ok, no mammoths, but that looks like a dinosaur to me. I'll get the club if you get the stone age oven on:

making play dough creations with friends:

Showing the week-long visitor child how to eat with chopsticks:

Warhammer creations, encouraged by ds1's friends sleeping over:

At the natural sandpit with our week-long visitor:

My little Miss David Bailey at work with her camera:

"So long and thanks for the fish":

Runner-up in the Ice Cream Beauty Pageant:

I spend a fortune (about £27) to take two small children to the wildlife park. What do they want to do...

Oh yeah, I know, paddle their hands in the mucky pond by the smelly cafe and try and fish out the 'lucky' coins that people have thrown in:

... And feed the chickens (hasn't anyone noticed we have 4 of the blooming things in our back garden?!):

...And pat a goat. Hey! We can do that for free at the local garden centre. The clue is in the title of the place - 'WILDLIFE centre' Argggh! Anyone interested in seeing some WILD LIFE?

And later in the week...more ice cream (at the park) after going round a little museum with the grandparents (which the kids declared as 'boring' - the museum, not the grandparents).

A trip to do a home ed 'art' workshop at Waddesdon Manor:

All about the paintings of Sleeping Beauty, by the painter Leon watchamacallit:

A fab workshop with a wonderful good-with-kids workshop leader (makes a pleasant change), which actually inspired my kids to put pen to paper:

Yep, I took a few more photos, just to record the event. I repeat, PEN to PAPER :

Ok, so they were rewriting the story of sleeping beauty as 'Sleeping Beauty learns to swear', but hey ho, but did I mention they were putting PEN to PAPER. (By the way, I think the above is a picture of a time machine).
And dd drew dinosaurs (and dogs) for her version of Sleeping Beauty. 'Is that a picture of sleeping beauty?' 'No. It's dogs and dinosaurs' (oh yes, silly mummy).
As she has so neatly demonstrated, dinosaurs are just spikey versions of dogs:

Playing at the local natural sandpit with friends again:

Making 'Clay Man' out of the natural clay she found at the sandpit:

We test out the new smaller tent and have to lop a few branches off the apple tree to fit it in the garden. Are we really going to spend 3 weeks camping in that?!:

A busy week and feeling peaky:

A farrier turns up at the cottage near our home ed group. We are invited to watch by the inhabitants, who coincidentally home educated their children too. The woman looked strangely familiar, but I just couldn't place her and it's going to bug me for some time.

The end (for now).

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A blast from the past...

Last night we went to see Robyn Hitchcock. The last time I saw him was about 1997 and I wrote a review of the gig for the local music paper - I even have a copy of the paper somewhere in the depths of my b.c. (before children) memorabilia.

I'm sure Youtube has plenty of evidence, but all I can say is that Robyn Hitchcok is the definition of aquired taste. He looks like a camp, overweight professor with bad taste in clothes. His music is sort of beat poetry set to Sgt Pepper, having a punk day trip on a very bad hangover. And if that makes you curious, just go google him.

The bad thing about staying in the same town for more than 20 years is that sometimes your previous (in my case b.c.) life leaps out at you when you least expect it. Last night I was approached through the dark of the venue by some guy who I vaguely recognised. He said 'You might remember me...Glastonbury 1993? You were there with M.' He then continued to tell me all the bands that had played at Glastonbury that year (as if that would jog my memory...yeah).

Er...excuse me but that was 27 years ago. I can't even remember what I did last week, let alone twenty-bloody-seven years ago! What is this, Master-bloody-mind??

Of course I remember M, but did we really go to Glastonbury together? Gawd knows. I'd like to think that perhaps it was the recreational - er - pharmaceuticals that have made some of my past years a bit fuzzy round the edges. But no, alas I have always had a terrible memory, for faces, places, times, and - er - pretty much everything. I have lived most of my life inside my head either thinking about what is past, or what might happen in the future and somewhere in the midst of that I have always failed to notice what is happening in the present.

I was shocked to see another blast from the past at the gig last night. A girl (woman now I suppose, though she looked the same as 25 years ago) who dated one of my friends at Polytechnic. I remember her distinctly. She worked at Virgin Records (or was it HMV?). They dated for about 6 months or more. They had a humungous drunken row on New Years Eve that I was a witness to (she phoned the police - I tried to mediate - ha ha). Oh joy. Don't you just love those new years eve's of your twenties? Anyway if there's one thing I learnt from their relationship it is that if you are going to sleep with more than one girl at a time, don't choose a girl whose name begins with the same letter as your other girlfriend. One slip and oops!

Ah well, perhaps back to normal blogging tomorrow...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Strange observations...

My bath rack (the white plastic holey tray that goes across the bath) smells of B.O.
Yep, rank armpits, at full strength.

I thought at first it was the flannels (all sort of crunchy where they have dried in a screwed up state), but no. Perhaps the bath toys?. No.

So I can only assume the smell arises from the mysterious chemical mix of 3 weeks of dirt, dog hair, nail clippings, lego pieces and congealed toothpaste.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Creativity in the classroom

Interesting post here from John Lehrer's science blog about creativity in the classroom.

A snippet (for those to lazy to read the whole thing):

"Look, for instance, at daydreaming. It's hard to imagine a cognitive process that's less suitable for the classroom, which is why I was always castigated for staring out the window instead of looking at the blackboard. In a culture obsessed with efficiency, daydreaming is derided as a lazy habit or a lack of discipline, the kind of thinking we rely on when we don't really want to think. It's a sign of procrastination, not productivity.

In recent years, however, it's become clear that daydreaming is actually an important element of the creative process, allowing the brain to remix ideas, explore counterfactuals and turn the spotlight of attention inwards...

...Of course, daydreaming is less helpful when we're supposed to be learning our multiplication tables, or studying for a standardized test. In such instances, the lack of focused attention is a classroom failure, and not a potentially useful state of mind. The danger, however, is that we're teaching our kids a very narrow and stultifying model of cognition, in which conscientiousness is privileged above all.

The solution, I suppose, is rather banal: we really do need arts education in our schools, if only to give kids a break from this one-size-fits-all model of thinking. Because sometimes we need to daydream. And sometimes we just need to let it all out, even if we haven't raised our hand. "

So, next time I take a wrong turn in my car because I'm daydreaming, I can just put it down to having a very creative brain.

Friday, 9 April 2010

I took the monkeys to the zoo...

Conversation in the back of the car with ds and her friend while travelling to spend extortionate amount of money at a wildlife park today:

6 yr old: What if the world was made of one really really big bottom?
7 yr old: You'd have to mind out you didn't fall down the crack. That wouldn't be very nice.

Conversation overheard while at wildlife park from two girls (probably age 4 and 5yrs) in the company of a small toddler who was most likely named Dan:

Younger girl: I'm going to marry Dan.
Older girl: No, I'll marry Dan. You'll have to marry Alex. Because you do realise, don't you that you can't marry your own brother.
Toddler (Dan): [silence...as he waddles off, nappy slowly sliding down the inside leg of his trousers]

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The frugal sap is rising...

I was replying to someone else's blog here about sewing, when I felt a blog post of my own coming on...
Look what I've been up to this morning:

No, they're not my legs!

Dd's previously almost-too-short-and-rather-tatty jeans, transformed into girl-power fringe monsters with the help of my clanky-clonky machine and a really horrible denim Barbie skirt.

It wont win any awards for tidy sewing, and certainly no prizes for style or design, but it was worth it for the pleasure of cutting up that skirt.

And also this morning, the habitual 'easter egg hunt'.

God I so hate doing it, but the kids love it. Best part was making the little easter egg cards for the treasure hunt (especially feeding them into the laminating machine). But that was 6 years ago and the pleasure has long worn off.

So each year I salvage the egg cards from the back of the home-made-jams-and-other-forgotten- things cupboard and tie them around the house and garden.

I deserve at least 3 easter eggs for being an obliging mother and an oscar for being able to fake such convincing Easter enthusiasm.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Pah! We can do the National Curriculum too, you know...

...the 'Sorting and classification' bit of the NC, where kids have to spend endless hours deciding whether a spoon is alive or dead
[to which ds1 answers 'Well if I wire it up to this socket here, it'll definitely be live.']

But of course our ventures into the National Curriculum are entirely accidental - or should that be incidental - or unintentional - either way, when we do accidentally do accidentally do it, we do it HOME ED style.

Yesterday ds2 suddenly decided to take an interest in stamps. Thankfully I just caught him as he was sticking them in very firmly with double sided sticky tape.

'Er...I think we'll get some stamp hinges.' Says philatilist mother.

Poor child didn't account for maternal enthusiasm...
'Oh look there's a whole box AND a shopping bag of stamps here to soak, sort, classify and stick in' (says mother with cheery grin).

Four hours later....still going...(Yoo Hoo! There's still another sackful of stamps over here)

And joined by sister, who also wants to sort and classify small things (hama beads, and shredded pepper offcuts in coke bottle lids):

And ds1 follows in the criminal footsteps of his mother...

Though it might be the knitting that is criminal...Yeah, we know the mouth is kinda, well not in the right place (you weren't planning to wear it while eating were you, child?).
Anyway, we all know mother's fabulous motto for her handknits:
'You'll grow into it, dear.'