Sunday, 28 December 2008


Hope you all had a good Christmas!!
We had a lovely, quiet time. Christmas eve my Mum came over to stay with us the night, then Christmas day we went to hers and I cooked for the three of us. Christmas day was beautiful here, so we went for a walk in the morning, the sun was so bright it was almost warm! For the rest of the day we had delicious food, wine, and some great presents. I had the bright idea of putting on King_Lear (on one of the digital channels) in the evening, which was thoroughly depressing. I loved the perversity of watching a miserable film on Christmas day, but I don't think my Mum appreciated it much, especially the eye-gouging!

Boxing day me and A went off to visit our friends, and had a lovely day of left overs and chatting/playing, and another beautiful walk around a local loch.

I've been really crap with photos - took none at all on Christmas day (!) forgot my camera Boxing day, and really regretted it when we came across a group of swans on the loch. But I did get this one:

yesterday of the frosty beach when we went out for a hike with some other friends. I would have had more, but after two pics my batteries died. We had a good time anyway, with flasks of coffee and hot apple juice, and some crisps and chocolate. The kids had fun playing on the frozen stream, and scavenging on the beach.

Tomorrow we are going, with my Mum, to visit A's other grandparents for lunch. All three grandparents together - a perfect day for A! This will be a lovely family time, as luckily we all get on really well, and A will get such a lot of attention.

Just a last pic of A's favourite presents:

Monday, 22 December 2008

Winter Solstice

We decided to have a solstice celebration. I had bought this book some time ago, and we also found some other poems and verses to read to each other. We got down our globe and using A's head to represent the sun demonstrated how the northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun to give us winter. We lit loads of candles, and the fire. We also baked a sun cake, which became a birthday cake for our friend who unexpectedly came to stay for a couple of nights. It was a really lovely time for us, so peaceful and reflective, worlds away from the stress and excess of what Christmas has become for most people. I think I'll give up celebrating Christmas and just stick to Yule (no, I don't think I'd get away with that actually!).
Didn't get a picture of our lovely cake (its long gone now!), so here is one of the fire to warm you up:

We also had our home ed group Christmas party on Wednesday - a huge turn out for it. I was a bit nervous when I walked into such a full hall, but soon relaxed and chatted to a few lovely people. Lots of faces there I didn't know, but I'm starting to get to know a few people a little bit now. The kids had a fantastic time, someone came and did some games with them, which worked really well. I'm so glad that such a strong network of HEers exists up here.

My party food offerings - delicious (even if I do say so myself)

A very strange party game (thats A wrapped in toilet roll!?)
I had an energetic end to Wednesday as I went to see the Levellers play in Inverness. Danced like a maniac the whole night. I need more of this stuff in my life!!

Monday, 15 December 2008

We love Mondays

I've noticed over the last few weeks that in the rhythm we seem to have developed Mondays are good. Its one day where we are almost always at home together all day, often after a hectic, social weekend. For me its like a sigh of relief - we don't have to rush about or be anywhere at a certain time, and the day just seems to flow. It always feels like we achieve quite a lot too, not in a planned or structured way, but in a spontaneous 'hey - look at this!' kind of way.

After her bath this morning A sneaked into bed with me where I was reading the Gatto book I mentioned in the last post. She asked me to read it aloud to her, so I read the remaining half of the chapter I was on, then asked her what she'd got from it. "Well, a lot of big words, but basically that at school they try to turn you into a robot". A pretty accurate description of what he'd been saying really!
After a walk down to the shops and back, we put up our Christmas decorations, as you can see:

Our festive mantelpiece - the snowball lights look huge here!
Lovely candles
Hanging angels (not as cruel as it looks!)

We did a bit of maths from the workbook, working on division and remainders at the moment, so we got the marbles out to help. I've been trying to find different ways to help A with her maths as she finds it very hard to work everything out in her head, and even with fairly simple stuff seems to lose track of where she's going with it. I've encouraged her to use lots of extra paper for her workings out, but the marbles seemed to appeal much more - not only was she sorting them into groups of 7 or 8 or whatever, she was also making sure the groups of marbles were all colour co-ordinated! It seemed to make it more interesting for her anyway.
We then decided to watch Einstein_and_Eddington, which I had videoed a few weeks back. I thought this might inspire some further scientific interest in A, and also be interesting to her as Eddington was a Quaker and a conscientious objector (A goes to Quaker meetings, and we had many discussions about COs when the subject came up around remembrance day). We both enjoyed the film, and it led on to some investigations about solar and lunar eclipses, which we are going to follow up with some experiments about gravity and angled light.
As we were already on the computer by this time - from googling stuff on eclipses - A went on to her games sites and found a hangman game (one of her favourite games for train journeys) which she played for a while. She then found a great geography game, which we both played for a while.
After that we made some pizzas for tea, and watched some rubbish TV for a little while, and then A went off to bed and spent some time making cards.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


Been a bit of a strange week - really positive in parts, very stressful in others, but generally good.

A has been on good form, she spent yesterday morning writing several poems, while I sat and watched the washing machine (there is a mysterious leak which only happens when noone is there to see it. The other day I found a puddle of water under the machine after it had been on, so called a guy out to look at it - of course he could find no leak of any kind. I've since sat and watched the whole cycle twice and not a drop of water on the floor. Even as I type this I am thinking 'how much more exciting can my life get??') anyway - back to the poetry - one of these was titled 'Why men?', and brought up a whole load of concerns about the cynicism I may have passed on to her (it was pretty scathing about men generally, in a way you wouldn't expect from a 9-yr-old!). I do try to be fair and balanced, and we do have some lovely male friends and relatives in our lives (including her beloved Nonno), but I suppose there are certain experiences she is aware of at some level. She has also been watching Eastenders at Granny's house, which may have something to do with it! Its times like this I really wish my Dad was still around (A was 4 when he died, and he was pretty far down the road with Alzheimer's when she was born so she didn't really know him at all), he was such a great geezer; a real solid, down-to-earth, funny, quietly caring and easy-going bloke. I just know that A would have got on brilliantly with him.
Another of the poems was about goths, and was very impressive, hopefully she'll put it on her blog.

A enjoyed her HE drama group on Wednesday, and I enjoyed chatting a bit with a few other Mums. Lucy very kindly lent me a John Taylor Gatto book: Dumbing_Us_Down , which I am getting stuck into.
This is a picture I took on the way home of a beautiful setting sun - you cant see all the lovely colours (I shall blame the camera), but you get a hint.

Thats the only photo I've managed to take this week. Had a great opportunity today at the Lantern-lit Christmas fair of A's old Steiner school, but of course I forgot my camera. I really am rubbish sometimes.
It was interesting how much I enjoyed the experience this year - it was very different not being involved in all the build up, having to get the baking done in time and do your hour on the class stall. I felt much more sociable and relaxed. We ended up coming home with an extra child, which was lovely for A as she hasn't had a chance to play with this particular girl for ages. Even better - Granny has magically whisked them away to the local pantomime, so I have a chance to blog!!! A's friend's Mum is coming over to join us for lunch tomorrow before they head off, so I will have a chance to catch up with her too.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Pink stew

This is my lovely lentil hotpot - one of my favourite winter dishes, so warming. I put beetroot in this one (as you can probably tell from the gorgeous colour!), but its basically fried onion & garlic, then lentils, chopped tomatoes, loads of veg and some stock. I even managed to sneak some kale into this (which A usually refuses to eat). Very nourishing - and delicious too!
We also baked a chocolate cake, just to balance things up a bit ;o)

We had a great day Monday, did loads of fun stuff, including finally getting round to looking at the learn_Italian CD-ROM someone gave me ages ago. We discovered that the book is missing, which was a bit disappointing, but we had a great time playing word games on the children's disc. I think we'll pick up a lot of words quite quickly, but may need another resource for developing sentences and phrases (Nonno perhaps).
We've also been working on our craft Christmas project, making little presents for various friends and family members. We'll need to get them finished and posted soon!

Another project we completed was the 'quiz box' (see below). A had designed a detailed set of intructions for this a little while ago, so we set to work and created it. Then we spent a while drawing up quizzes for each other - I did one on the human body, A did one on the solar system - using books from A's bookshelf. I think she did better than me on the quizzes in the end!
The box seems a bit pointless to me (as a boring adult!), I didn't say that to A of course! But the action of putting in the tick or cross, rather than just saying 'right' or 'wrong' makes the whole thing much more interesting for A, which sums up her visual/physical approach to most things.

The thing I was most impressed with was the set of instructions. This is one of the many wonderful artistic and creative designs A comes up with when in bed at night. It has just hit me this week how she is such a 'night time' person (a bit like me really). Up until now I had been regularly returning to the concern that 'A needs more sleep', and trying to encourage her to get settled and lights out (or dimmed at least) by a certain time each night. The reality is she is getting as much sleep as she needs - she's not tired or grumpy during the day - so I don't know why I'm so obsessed with this idea. It occured to me that what I'm actually doing is trying to limit her most creative moments. So what we've decided is that she will usually go to bed at about 9, but after that its up to her what she does (until I go to bed when all the lights go out, but she's always asleep by then anyway). I pointed out that if she stays awake very late all the time she will feel the effects during the day, especially if its a day we have to get up early and have a lot on, but she'll work that out herself anyway. It feels right to be allowing her a bit more autonomy, she's growing up really fast, and responds well to more responsibility.
We've been continuing the maths and English workbooks, and A has just completed the Smelly_Spelling one, she was very proud of herself, and I think she's more than ready for the next level up. I ordered some more as they seem to be going down well with A, and they are also very reasonably priced! I'm still just using workbooks for these two subjects, we've got more than enough resources to cover whatever else she's interested in learning.
A busy weekend ahead now - A has a friend sleeping over tonight, then the two of them have drama tomorrow morning, and then A is off to Nonna and Nonno's to be taken to see the Pantomime at Eden_Court and stay with them the night. Not sure what I'm doing with my night off, we've been looking for something exciting going on but will probably end up at the pub, then in front of a DVD. Sounds exciting enough for me - maybe I'm getting old!!