Wednesday, 28 April 2010


(Work) deadlines are looming. And Granny is away. This means I didn't get my usual day and a half child-free 'work' time this week. I was a little stressed about how this was going to pan out, but I shouldn't have worried - A has been brilliant, and I think quite enjoyed proving to me that she's more than capable of self direction.

Yesterday she got loads done, she decided on a couple of activites she wanted to do, and I asked her if she would also write up the red cabbage experiment we did last week. I gave her some instructions about how to write up a science experiment, but (of course!) what she came up with was far more interesting and creative than the boring old formula I would have used. I just want to share the introduction and conclusion with you, as they really made me smile:

Hello, my name is Professor H---. Me and my apprentice KittyRae (me apparently) decided to do this experiment because it sounded like a chance for our big brains to shine and our hands to get dirty and everybody enjoys that. We also wanted to find out what pHs are for certain items around the house (pHs are a way of telling acids and bases apart). We were also able to learn lots more about chemistry and that was great!

Our experiment was successful!
We found out that laundry liquid and indigestion tablets pH are around 9 and orange and lemon juices are 5-6, wow! Our brains are going to explode with all this knowledge!

Today she has spent hours reading (!!!) This is because her library book, which she wasn't even half way through this morning, is due back tomorrow, and I casually said she'd have to renew it as there's no way she'd finish it by then. She finished it this afternoon :o)
We also did a 'photoshoot' for the maths article I'm just finishing off. I don't know if they'll actually use the photos, but we had fun anyway.

Last Friday we had a wicked shopping day in the big city (thats Inverness. I was being sarcastic). Met up with lovely Nonna for lunch, and bought some exciting stuff including curling tongs -

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Sewing going on

A is getting to grips with her sewing machine. Although when things go wrong she leaves it to me to swear at it, fiddle about with it, then finally google up a solution.

She's made a few of these little lavender bags, but now has gathered quite a lot of scrap material and has big plans for some clothes. Transforming the designs from paper to reality is going to be quite a steep learning curve I think, but she's up for the challenge.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Red Cabbage Experiment

A drew up a schedule for Friday. I was a little apprehensive as it was a very long list, but it worked brilliantly. She did have to cut things out as the day went on, but that was ok. Our main activity for the day was pH indicator-making with a red cabbage:

The cabbage was first chopped...

then boiled for ten minutes

Meanwhile, several household substances were gathered

Once the cabbage water had been drained and cooled, it was distributed between 10 glass containers (I knew all those jars I was hoarding would come in handy one day!)

Then A added a different substance to each jar - recording how much was added and any differences occuring to the cabbage water.

And here are the results - A has estimated the pH of each substance based on how blue or red the cabbage water turned.
Next came the 'experimental healthy biscuits', this involved chucking a load of vaguely healthy ingredients together, shaping into biscuit shapes and baking.
They weren't at all bad actually.

Other activities included:
  • another crime scene investigation project, this time looking at DNA evidence
  • writing a short story in 20 minutes
  • online maths assessment on multiplication (she got 10 out of 10 - yay!!)
  • 'geograball' - a game A made up with her Granny which involves throwing a ball at each other and naming countries/cities beginning with A/B/C etc
  • piano practice
  • smoothie making session

We ended the day with pizza-making, and both felt very satisfied with our day. Its great to see A so motivated, she seems to be entering a new phase (or something) where she's taking much more responsibility for her own learning.

The art session with the HE group went really well, I think A was quite inspired by the artist taking the session, and had a good look at her website when we got home.

A had her first night at Guides on Thursday. She was extremely nervous about it, worrying that she wouldn't know anyone, but as it turned out she already knew a couple of the girls, and was put into their patrol, so she came home with a big smile, keen to go back next week.

So all good then. I'm off to the pub tonight - haven't done that for ages. I think I'm in a lager mood tonight...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

"Science is not really my thing"

So says A.
But we had one of those wonderful, flowing, 'home education at its most effective' afternoons last week.

It started off with a request from A to solve one of the crimes in this book:

which involved looking at corrosive liquids and what they can do to aluminium drinks cans. This led on to her asking what the hell pH levels were all about. I explained the best I could, but she still looked a bit puzzled, so I dug out this book:

which had a perfect little section on pH levels, including an experiment involving a red cabbage where you make your own pH indicator. I have bought a red cabbage and that is on our to do list for this week.

What made me smile most of all was the fact that she kept going back to the chemistry book all that evening. Sat in front of the TV at about 9.30 that night she started asking me about the periodic table. That was the point I thought to myself 'why did I not pay more attention in chemistry class?'. (The answer to that is we had a very creepy chemistry teacher so I gave the subject up at the earliest opportunity, ie age 13, but thats a whole other story). But anyway, we talked and read a bit about the periodic table, and both learnt a bit more.
She still says science is 'not her thing', but at least she's open to being interested in parts of it. I hated science at school because it was 'boring'. It actually was very boring because of the way it was taught, and I shut off from that subject completely.
Fast forward a few years and guess where I was working? In a medical science lab. I loved this environment, it suited me perfectly, but because I'd switched off from science at school I had to enter at the most junior level and never really made a career of it. I know I could have done if I'd put the work in, but it all seemed too hard and other parts of 'grown-up' life got in the way too much. I cant help feeling that if I'd had the right teacher, teaching in a more interesting way I would have realised how much I enjoy science much earlier on and it would have been a viable option for me.

On to something that definitely is A's 'thing' - art. This is her latest drawing:

We are off to an art session with the home ed group tomorrow, really looking forward to that. Haven't been to a group meet for quite a while, a bit nerve-wracking for me with my crap social skills, but A will love it, which is the main point of course.

Busy week all round this one - various appointments, back to drama and piano, and A is finally getting to start Guides. She's a little apprehensive but I'm hoping it will work out well for her.

The stressful situation I'm in just now is ongoing, cant say much more, but I am doing something positive about the way I'm coping with it all.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

My article!

'Reading Matters' - its available here - have a look! There's even a horrible little photo/bio thing about me at the front. All very exciting (if you're me).

On a completely different subject, I was so pleased to hear that the legislation going through Parliament regarding HE in England has been ditched, for now anyway. I have avoided posting much at all on this, partly because I don't feel confident that I know what I'm on about, but mainly because there are many people out there blogging so articulately and passionately that I didn't feel I could add anything of any worth. But I have been quietly following whats been going on and contributing in ways I could - petitions and responses etc.

Politically the whole issue has thrown up such a lot for me. I used to feel very sure about where I stood on the political spectrum - very much to the left - but I am no longer clear on this. Right wing views are still abhorrent to me, particularly when it comes to economics and trade, but in a lot of other areas too. However, the left (not that we really have a left left, if that makes sense) no longer seems the obvious answer. The older I get the more confused I feel about it all.

Today we took advantage of the sunshine and went out on our bikes. All the way there (along the river, past the caravan park by the beach, into the large woods at Culbin) the sun was shining beautifully, when we turned to come back we got wind, rain and hail. Lovely. We arrived home filthy and soaked, but I still felt better for it.

Here's a little pic of our 'bike cave', much cheaper and more convenient than putting up a shed, although it needs the bench in front of it to stop it blowing over in high winds!

I have noticed A talking to herself a lot just lately, when I eavesdropped I realised she was practicing her lines for the play she's going to be in with her drama group - based on A Midsummer Night's Dream. She has the part of Bottom, which means she will get a chance to reveal her comedic talents! I cant wait :o)

Right, I'm off to email the link to my article to everyone I know, whether they're interested or not.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Happy Easter!

- not that we celebrate Easter, but A will shamelessly feign enthusiasm for any religious festival if it involves chocolate.

I made these gorgeous looking cupcakes in honour of A's lovely mad Auntie and her equally lovely (but less mad) partner who are visiting us later today. I still haven't decided whether or not to have one myself as I am currently on a diet (how sad am I?). There will probably be bullying and arm twisting, I don't think it will take much.