Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Red Sea

This was the colour of the sea when we went down the other day. Now, I know that this is due in some way to the heavy rain and the peat being washed down from the mountains (or something like that) but I still kept looking for shark fins, and had to restrain myself from dragging A away from the water. It just looked so gruesome.

It didn't seem to bother A in the least.

We spent some time on the beach sketching with chalks:
This is the view we were sketching:

We've been having a very relaxed time lately, since the school holidays started here. I didn't think it would make so much of a difference to us, but things have really slowed down. I'm quite enjoying it, but I think A has been a bit fed up at times as most of her friends seem to be away. During term time she has regular weekly get-togethers with a couple of them, and these haven't been happening. Still, things will change soon enough as her cousins arrive next week, and just before that we are going away for a couple of nights with my friend and her two boys, we are staying in a hostel made up of railway carriages.
I recently bought A this dictaphone as I had talked about getting her one ages ago. She's had a great time with it, and its certainly helped with all the criminal investigations that go on here - now she can record all the interviews. I wish I could download some of them as they are truly hilarious. Apart from interviews with suspects, she has been recording herself singing and reciting poetry, as well as making up some of her own.

A renewed interest in Italian was sparked today (we had intended to make learning Italian one of our projects together, but found it really hard, I think its something best done in a group, certainly for A). A is off to her grandparents for the night tomorrow, and wanted to impress Nonno with a couple of phrases, so we got the books out and got online to this site, and she worked out exactly what she wanted to say, then wrote it down for herself in a way she understands for pronounciation. I'm sure Nonno will encourage her with this, I've always been a bit wary of asking him to 'teach' her Italian, knowing how A generally responds to being 'taught' anything! And I would hate for their relationship - which is based on fun, mischief, and winding up Nonna - to be affected by a different dynamic. I think what we really need to do is just go to Italy, I'm sure we'd pick it up in no time. I know that when I went on a school exchange trip to France I learnt more in two weeks than I had in the previous two years of lessons at school. Better start saving now!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

No swimming today!

Actually, this was a few days ago, its quite nice today, but the weather has been so changeable we haven't managed to get in the sea again :0(

This is one (of many) creations that happened recently, we have been having a lot of arty time. The other day we got Noughts_and_Crosses by Malorie Blackman on audio book from the library. We sat for about four and a half hours listening and crafting -mostly making cards - its a great story. I think its probably aimed at children slightly older than A, and I wasn't sure if she'd enjoy it because at its heart its a love story between a young girl and boy (A is not interested in all that 'soppy love stuff', yet) but she was engrossed.
A has been doing a bit more reading. She decided to do the summer reading challenge at the library, and is on her second book. She seems to be enjoying it, she likes the fact that she can choose whatever book she wants, and tends to go for more comedy orientated ones.

Some of this has been going on - A informed me this was inspired by a scene from St._Trinians, where the girls have to get through a corridor laced with infrared light beams, avoiding tripping the alarms. She spent ages setting these up (with red wool) and working out different ways through. It was great, but a bit of a pain in the arse when I wanted to get through to the kitchen to make a cup of tea! I was very bad at it, and would have set the alarms off immediately, I don't think she'll let me be part of her criminal gang.
A has also become very preoccupied with dusting for fingerprints and looking for evidence. One of her favourite games at the moment is setting up crime scenes for each other - so I'll leave several clues as to who the 'perp' is, and she'll come along with her kit (weirdly this is kept in a jewellery box) which mostly consists of black eyeshadow and a big brush, sellotape, paper, pens, and little clear evidence bags. Far too much CSI is watched in this house.
Music is another theme at the moment, lots of it, and very loud. We just got La_Roux 's album, which has had us both jumping about a lot, very happy, dancy stuff. I'm so glad that there are certain areas where our tastes meet, we both love music so much it would be unbearable if there was nothing we both liked. However, A will not tolerate Nick Cave in any way, shape or form, and only lets me put the Clash on if I've been really good. And sometimes she does really evil things, like sneaking Beyonce or even worse - Katie Melua - into the car when I'm not looking, she then waits til I'm driving on a main road and changes the CD to hers and I'm trapped, the minx.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Stress Tests

I don't know if anyone else has come across these, maybe they are a normal part of the curriculum in mainstream English schools? But I've just heard that a 9-year-old relative had one at his school in the South of England.
Basically, all the children in his class had to go (on their own) to the head teacher's office and verbally answer some mental arithmetic questions, they were given three seconds to answer each question. They got to chose when they wanted to do it, but they all had to do it.

Now, maybe its just me, but that sounds horrendous. I'm quite good at maths, but I'm sure I would do extremely badly under those conditions. My relative did really well, and his parents are proud of him, and its great for him that he's had a boost to his self esteem, but he's always been very good at mental arithmetic, its one of his strengths. When I think of my arty, creative, dreamy daughter having to go through that I just know that she would not only do very badly in terms of getting lots of questions wrong, but also become really anxious and very worried about the whole thing. There must be loads of kids whose brains just aren't wired to do well in situations like that, how many will come away thinking "I must be rubbish at maths" ?

Surely the most important thing with maths is to understand how to work things out, and the best way to do that is to apply it to real life. I can see that certain specific occupations might require people to have skills in quickfire calculations, but how is that relevant to a class of 9 and 10 year olds? If ever I heard of a good way to put more kids off maths - this is it!

Sunday, 5 July 2009


This is our new house guest - our friends dog - Shadow. She is staying for a couple of weeks and seems to be settling in very well. We all went down for a swim in the sea first thing this morning, and Shadow had a mental hack around the beach, quite unlike her as she's usually so dignified! I think she had fun though :0)

We have lots of fun things lined up for the summer, so I will try to remember to take my camera with me when we go out!!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


This game has gone down very well with A - one of a couple I bought from Lucy's clearout. The other game apparently looks too 'mathsy' for A (I think it looks fun, but maybe I'm just weird?) but I'm sure I'll convert her, just give me time...

We went on our last Wildlife Counts workshop on Saturday - freshwater - and had fun dipping in the river! The ranger leading these is great - very down-to-earth, but so enthusiastic about the subjects, and so knowledgable. A really enjoyed them, despite the fact that they were aimed at adults and there were no other kids on any of them (even the Saturday one, which I thought was strange). There are to be some more in-depth ones later in the year, and we are thinking we might go to the fungi one and the bat one.

We realised the other day that its almost a year since we started HEing - another excuse for a cake!! When we started we said we would try it for a year and see how it went, needless to say, we both want to carry on :0)
I asked A - hypothetically, if I had the money to afford the fees would she go back to her old school? She said no - she'd rather carry on with HE. This made me feel really good, as she hadn't wanted to leave her school a year ago, it was mainly money-issues that made me take her out. So it was definitely the right decision!!