Monday, 30 April 2012

Live Action! Polar Bears! (Doing what polar bears do best)

We've spent the day watching this livecam of polar bears at Sandiego zoo.

Correction. I've spent most of the day watching a ball floating on water (with the occasional duck visitor) and was given the job of calling the kids when anything interesting happened (which it didn't for about 8 hours).

But now, finally, the polar bears have spent 20 minutes devouring a large slab of dead-thing. A few minutes later and they are sleeping, on a rock.

If you think that sounds dull, you should have seen the waterbuffalo with a runny nose on Africam. Several hours of snot being dripped from giant nostrils beats watching Mr Orange on CSI Miami any day.

STOP PRESS! Polar Bear is eating carrots!

(If you want the next installment, you'll have to look at the webcam yourself).

Friday, 20 April 2012

Track your poo with Flush Tracker!

Thanks to a lovely member on alittlebitofstructure my kids were able to track the route of their poo in the sewage system here

Our poo chugged its way the ring road, crept past Tescos, turned right and stopped at a roundabout just outside a football stadium.

Where will your poo go?

Never been a fan of rollercoasters, but this one is different.

Funny how these crash and burn things are cyclical.

If I look back at blogs posts over the years there is a clear rollercoaster pattern of 'we are doing great...we are doing great...we are doing great' followed by 'What am I doing?! This is madness!'

If you're coming here, new to home education you might ask, 'Does it get any easier?'
Most certainly it does.

Or like parenting, if it doesn't get easier, it certainly gets different.

Those first couple of years were a scary leap into the unknown. Although at the back of my head I did know we had the safety net of the option to go to school.

And I suppose that safety net is still there if we wanted it. Only now it's different. My children are different. The whole family is different because of the journey we've made. And somehow school, with its targets, drills, league tables, inflexibility and day-to-day monotonous no-pain-no-gain slog seems so irrelevant to learning that I can't even quite visualise what sort of value it has in a modern society (apart from free childcare).

So, here we are again, refreshed and enthused. The sun is shining (after 3 days of rain, no doubt caused by the announcement of a hosepipe ban). We have guests for the weekend so everyone is in mad frenzy clearing floors and sorting beds and in about 3 hours I will, no doubt be yelling at the kids for some minor misdemeanor, and life will be back to normal.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Title? You expect me to think of a title?

Like I've got time to think of an original blog post title. Far too busy.

While ds1 was doing something archaeological in Surrey, I took the smalls and the badly behaved rampant hound for a walk across the heathland. So boy scout boy was put in charge of the trail of breadcrumbs and other useful signage on our path into the forbidden forest. Until, that is, ds2 decided he'd seen a snake. Imaginary or otherwise, this was distracting. Three people, making lots of noise, wracking their brains trying to remember what Ray Mears said about cures for snakebites.

The dog and the girl run. They like to run.

See the girl and boy. They like to play.

See the girl and the boy and the tree. The mother says 'smile or else'. The boy and the girl smile.

 And then, in a week when the weather shows signs of improving, we troop off on woodland walks.

 Walking means different things to different people.

Some like to bring their toys with them

Some like to carry a mascot for the journey

Some just make weapons.
Others have a more mature response and photograph the wildlife


Or small people encountering wildlife

Meanwhile back at the asylum, trouser-loving dd decides she can't possibly part with her much-loved (but too short and thin-at-the-knees) trousers. So mother has an idea. She decides to make a hybrid pair of trousers, as follows:

she takes a pair of trousers which dd doesn't know about (and which are too big around the waist)

And takes dd's much loved shabby trousers
lops the bottom bit off the too-big trousers

and sandwiches it in the middle of the much-loved pair to extend and hybridise. (With only occasional cursing and bad temper.)

But someone is happy

And here are some of the things we were doing before the crash and burn, and which we will, no doubt, be returning to:

I encourage dd to make a lapbook about owls. She is not enthused.

I try to make an IGCSE coursebook interesting for ds1. He is not enthused.

Ds2 finds joy in a computer programming course. At least one of them is enthused.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

crash and burn

We are still doing stuff. HE stuff. But the winter lethargy is taking a long time to shift.

The past month I have finally had a few weeks off my course at the same time as not having work in the evenings. I had GRAND plans for those evenings. For months I have been home edding in the day, working 2 evenings a week, doing a course 2 evenings a week, and studying or writing all the rest of the time (and more) while looking after my own or other people's kids. Even summer was spent writing and working towards my course. No rest for the wicked as they say.

So what have I done with my precious free evenings?

Well mostly I've mooched around, poking things, thinking about my endless list of jobs, shifted some furniture, and not really getting around to doing very much. I've finished my latest assignment. I've thought about my portfolio, started and then not got anywhere. Planted a few seeds in the garden (and then neglected them). And grunted and nagged the kids, while trying to be enthusiastic about educational things until the momentum fizzles out because I have no energy or inclination left to drive it and actually all the kids want to do is spend 8 hours a day on the pc (and I run out of good reasons why they shouldn't).

Truth is, I am tired.

And bored.

Yes, probably the boredom is worse than the tiredness. Tiredness is usually cured by stopping whatever you are doing. Boredom requires you to do something. And I'm too lethargic to do anything. I am bored. Bored with food. Bored with tv. Bored with routine. Bored with spending time with the same people doing the same things (sorry people, nothing personal, I just have a low boredom threshold). Bored with my hair and my clothes and my sagging middle-agedness. Bored with my 15-year old music collection. Bored with Weetabix. Bored with my inability right now to lift my sorry butt out of boredomness.

Most people would suggest a holiday as a cure. And that sounds wonderful. At least in theory. I certainly could do with a change of scenery. Apart from a week camping at HESFES we didn't have a holiday last year. We didn't visit friends. We didn't go out. We stayed in every night (when I wasn't working or studying) like all home educating parents seem to do (sadly I've never known a home edder with an inclination to drink and party all night - where are the HE party animals?). And we watched tv. A lot. That was our 2011. And so far 2012 doesn't look much different.

Wonderful though it is, as I told dh, camping just isn't a holiday for me. Camping is doing what I do at home, but in a field. Camping is simply transfering the cooking, cleaning, childcare drudgery to a sleeping bag under canvas and a smaller gas stove, while being expected to be extra jolly and enthusiastic and organise even more day trips than I do every week when I'm at home and beating myself up because I'm supposed to be enjoying myself. And I would have to sort out someone looking after the pets and greenhouse. And empty bins and fridge and dishwasher before I go. And then there's that week taken up with packing before we go and the week required to unpack and wash everything afterwards. But of course, when you're not lethargic these are very simple obstacles. Supermom could do it with her eyes closed and no doubt while juggling pre-frozen meals made using her meal planner. And yes I am sounding like an ungrateful grump, I know. Don't get me wrong, I love camping. But right now, I really can't be arsed.

So, what would be my perfect holiday?

Well, assuming that noone is going to pay for me to go somewhere hot and sunny (and chain me to a deckchair with a lifetime's supply of alcohol, good books and knitting wool) while a relative looks after the kids, the next best alternative would be for everyone else to go away on holiday and leave the house to me. ALL MINE! Yes. I could eat chocolate, and chilli sauce on cream crackers, stay in my pjs all day, watch day-time tv without guilt, sleep on the sofa, go to the theatre or cinema ON MY OWN (without children hanging off me pressing my guilt buttons, or having to fork out for everyone to go), I could play MY music loudly, order takeaway, pretend to read something intellectual, not have to have discussions about the contents of the dishwasher, or whether the washing needs putting away, not have to nag anyone about anything.

I could (joy!) leave items in a place and come back to find they haven't moved (something I haven't experienced for 14 years). I could have responsibility for clearing up my own crap and noone elses. This is what single life is like. I have vague recollections of it. It was unbelievably self-nurturing and wonderfully irresponsible.

Yes. I could pad around the house at 3am without having to explain myself, knit if I wanted to, eat in bed, go out without telling anyone where I was going and what time I'd be back. I could refuse to answer the phone or door. And for just a few days I would not have to think about meals, would not have to cook, clean or organise 4 other people or clear up after them.  Now that's MY idea of a holiday.

Looks like it'll be a week camping, then.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Another thing to add to the list

This is on my list of 'to-do's'.

Not that we need more pencil cases, you understand.

But perhaps I can find another use for a rectangular, home-made thingimajig. I MUST be able to find a use for it. It could make a good STUFF holder.

And I wouldn't even have to go and buy any thing to make it with. I have a material mountain doing a good impression of loft insulation up above the rafters where I'm sitting. And even a bag of zips. Somewhere. Now let me think where I might have put them...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

It's not quite Indiana Jones but...

On Saturday ds1 spent the morning at a History Centre about 80 mins drive away with the teens in his archaeology group.

Today he spent the morning being trained and then the rest of the day helping out the local archaology group (all adults) to rinse some of their archaeological finds in their flotation tank (ie. spent the day shloshing water and mud around despite his awful cough and cold). 

Next week he is off to help out at a local archaeological mini-dig on one day and on another day to do a recce for some test pit digging over an hour away.

Maybe it's just me, but there seems to be a common theme going on here.