Thursday, 25 February 2010


Big thanks to Hannah for this idea -

we had great fun with it this afternoon, and now have some lovely cards.

Friday, 19 February 2010

some great films

I took A to see three films this week, as part of the Take_One_Action film festival tour - 'bringing together people and movies that want to change the world'.

The first one we saw was HOME (available online), which A described as 'beautiful and horrible at the same time'. The images are truly beautiful - shot from the air in around fifty different coutries. It really brings home how amazing and wonderful our planet is, and how small our particular part of it is. The commentary, in some ways, is the 'horrible' bit, but its an unavoidable and truthful horror. The details of what is happening to our world's ecosystem are given in facts and statistics, some scary and shocking. But it does end with a positive tone, pushing the notion that we can change things.

We then saw Food,Inc which was an expose of the American food industry. It was very hard-hitting, and some of the scenes of slaughter houses and factory farming conditions were too awful for A to watch. I find it really scary how much power these massive corporations have, and the misery they can cause to both humans and animals.

Last night we went to see The_Yes_Men_Fix_The_World which we both absolutely loved. A fantastic film - hilarious, inspiring, anger-inducing, I really admire people who can do this stuff. Their blog gives this description:
"Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else."
The stunts they pulled off were incredible, like posing as a Dow Chemical spokesperson on the BBC World news channel and announcing that they take full responsibility for the Bhopal Disaster and will finally clean up and compensate those affected.
One bit that stuck in my mind was when one of the various members of right-wing/business think tanks who were interviewed gave his opinion on global warming. I'm paraphrasing greatly here, as I cant remember his exact words, but it was along the lines of: its good, because warmer is more pleasant.
Wow. The lack of any kind of depth of thinking or intelligent reflection behind his statement was astonishing. And these are the kind of people influencing policy. Explains a lot.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Still here...

Felt it was time for a blog post.
A has gone off to an all day party today, so I've got a whole day to myself. I've kind of missed blogging, so thought I'd take this opportunity to write a few words.

I dropped A off at the swimming pool at 11 this morning, and am picking her up from her friend's at 8pm. She was really nervous about it, the friend is someone she used to go to ballet with ages ago, and they've kind of kept up with each other through email. She did come over here last week, but before that they hadn't actually seen each other for a couple of years, and A wont really know any of the other girls at the party (she knows a couple of them from her old school, but they weren't in her class and she hasn't seen them for ages either). Anyway, understandably she was quite apprehensive, but also really wanted to go. I felt sick when I left her at the swimming pool - I don't think it matters how old they get, you always feel for them so intensely. And I know she'll be fine - I'm 99.9% sure they'll all get on well and she'll have a great time, but there's still that 0.1% fear that it will all go wrong. Well its 12.40 now and I haven't heard from her, so maybe I should just relax :0)

Things seem to be coming together a bit more with (the dreaded) maths. We have been using this Australian site, I even paid for the year as A seemed to like it so much, and its been a really good way for her to chart her progress. She just does about 20 - 30 minutes most days, and it seems to suit her way of learning. There are lots of games, some very short 'tutorials', and worksheets to print out - enough of a variety of things not to get boring. She struggled a bit with the timed assessments, just the idea of being timed stresses her out, but it doesn't matter how many times you attempt them. And it really proves to her when she completes them that she is not as crap at maths as she thinks. There are also lots of other activities - things you can 'buy' with your points, and each student has their own character they can design.
To be honest its not the sort of site I had imagined using, but it really does seem to work for A, and when it comes to maths I'll use whatever works!

A had a bit of a mini crisis this week, which was very interesting for both of us.
I had dropped her off for choir at her old school, but it turned out choir was cancelled, so she called me to go back for her. On the way home she ended up in tears, saying she wanted to go back to school and that she really missed it. I had to take a deep breath and try not to react too much, as this immediately sent me into a head space I really didn't want to be in - ie I made the wrong decision about HE. So I stayed calm, and fairly quiet, and we considered the options together. As it happens, things are better for us financially now (lack of money was the main reason for taking her out of school), but not enough for me to afford fees for the next five years. We talked about what a shame it is the school isn't open to flexi-schooling, as I could possibly manage to fund that. We talked about the local schools, which neither of us are keen on.
When she was a bit calmer she told me what had prompted the upset - one of her 'friends' up at the school while waiting for me to go back for her had been winding her up and generally playing manipulative mind games along the lines of: why did you leave the school?/don't you want to be here with us?/you will lose all your friends here/people wont like you any more because you left.
This is not unusual or surprising from this particular girl. However, I happen to know that this girl is having an extremely hard time at home just now, and while that doesn't excuse what she did, it did help to discuss that with A, and give her another perspective - ie that sadly the girl's way of dealing with difficulties seems to be to hurt other people.
About an hour after we got home I had to take A off to drama, and as she got out of the car she said 'don't worry about earlier - I was just having a 'moment', I don't really want to go back to school at all, I love home ed'. It was such a relief to hear that! Apart from anything else I don't think I could face going back and dealing with all those people - I would do it for A's sake, but I would hate it.

The whole episode brought up a couple of things. Firstly, there is still the issue of 'friends' and the fact that A doesn't feel she sees enough of them. Her going to a few group activities now has definitely helped, and with drama in particular she really enjoys being part of a team, but she still seems to need more. She's really keen on joining guides now, but we're still waiting for a place to come up :0( I'm also looking into sending her to art lessons at another local independent school, who are open to that kind of flexi-schooling, as I think she needs more guidance than I can give in this subject, so thats a possible opportunity for more socialising. Its a real shame there's not a more cohesive, close-knit HE group in our area, but thats mainly down to the fact that we are in the Highlands and eveyone is so spread out. I don't know of any other HEors in our town.
A more positive upshot of the whole incident was the way we both handled it, and what that says about our relationship. I can imagine, if I was feeling hassled or rushed, reacting very differently. I hate to admit it, but I think I could have quite easily gone on the defensive, thinking 'oh god, don't tell me that!' and come out with all the reasons she couldn't go back to school. Instead I listened, and seriously considered what she was saying, and she felt heard. This is one time where I actually feel I can say I got it right :0)

A has requested a project about pregnancy and childbirth, as she feels she doesn't know enough about them, so after a trip to the library and finding very little appropriate material, I bought this and this for us to use. So will be starting that very soon.

We had a lovely little exercise this week, suggested by A - we visited a new vegan deli/coffee shop in our town (so excited about that!!!) and both wrote reviews about the place. They were glowing :0))