Archive for September, 2006

Around town

September 30, 2006

Some pictures around our town here

No kids…

September 23, 2006

My kids are goooone. Well, not really, they’re in Edinburgh with family having a really good time I’m fairly certain. That leaves me alone to knit, sleep in until early afternoon, and eat cheap pizza. Just like college!

I got Joseph into a choir. Now I’m debating whether to try and finagle Nyssa a place in as well. I’m thinking not, since she has a dance class and joseph has nowt at this point. We’ll have to see. What’s cool is that both of their classes are in a 2 block radius of the flat. Sweet for lazy mums.

Anyway, I love not having to worry about the school schedule or panicking about what material they’ll be missing. They can just focus on the important work of building human bonds, imagine!

Cleaning out

September 20, 2006

I’ve only been homeschooling for 6 months or so, but already when clearing out superflous material I’m discovering some earlier mistakes in approach:

1. Certain binder covers are cat hair magnets.
2. When we began I bought a set of SATS practice papers. Both the English and Maths were just painful for the kids to do, and I wrung my hands together trying to figure out why. They were put on a shelf to collect dust, and now that I’ve relaxed a bit I’m bemused that I bought them in the first place. Assessing your own kids is a skill that comes with time and attention, not with the standby testing materials from the schooling system they’re no longer a part of.
3. Just because a workbook was deemed worthy to be published does not mean that it is interesting, engaging, or indeed even makes sense. A spelling workbook bought at the library (surely they’d only recommend good books, right?) was dutifully attempted then finally binned when it took three times as long to complete a page that would have otherwise been simple due to crap instructions.
4. Initially I had bought a file thing, and made little partitions for the areas of record keeping that I thought I’d need. I even had one labelled ‘behaviour.’ I find this fairly amusing at this point.
5. Plastering the walls with ‘educational’ media becomes problematic when a young Doctor Who fan has nowhere to put up his fantastic posters.
6. I get the feeling that the kids have learned more vocab words that they actively use from Spongebob Squarepants than they’ve gotten from ‘Just So Stories.’ Additionally, this book provides better material for quirky drama practice than it does bedtime reading.
7. A plan for learning is best approached with ideas rather than day planner pages and scheduling the hours of the day.
8. Printing out reams of papers on curriculum theory is fairly pointless. If you’re not interested enough to read it when you find it online, you’re not interested enough period. And, more importantly, fair enough!
9. Sometimes a perfectly good teachable moment is going to be ignored by your child in favor of her showing you how cool it is to half take off her shirt to give herself luxuriant purple jersey hair.
10. Some days all the kids will talk about when you’re out at the shops is what they want for themselves. Some days they will please you by asking for their charity money after having read about a cause on a collection tin that moves them. And some days, they actually will win the ridiculously huge teddy bear in the charity shop raffle…
11. The best and most surprising learning can take place when you say, ‘fine. What do *you* want to learn today?’ The last time I asked that, we learned who our neighboring galaxies are, courtesy of the boy, and how toilets work, courtesy of the girl.

I’m sure more will follow, but I need to finish up with the cleaning. Flat inspection on Friday. 😛

Traditional fun

September 16, 2006

The kids have been on my case about it, so today I finally taught them a game that uses those seemingly useless jokers in the card deck. And what did we play? Well, Old Maid of course! I explained that this was the game we played with Grandma Hazel and that it should be full of good-natured heckling. Nyssa looked worried. Anyway, the kids quickly learned how fun it is, particularly Joseph who took a little bit too much pleasure in tricking his neighbor. Nyssa thought it was great but had trouble being subtle. When she passed on the joker, she would laugh exhultantly, then think better of it and say, ‘I mean, nothing!’ She was also concerned about calling someone an ‘Old Maid’ being hurtful and suggested ‘happy apple’ or somesuch instead. I said, ‘Nay! If no one is permanently scarred, then all’s fair. It’s tradition!’

In other news, James didn’t get send to Bermuda after all. I think it was a bit too last minute, so I fully expect him to be sent out in the near future. As you could probably guess, that’s all fine with me, as it means he can do those outings with the kids.

I was an excellent fixer person this weekend. I installed a new vent on the dryer, and McGyvered a new deflector for the inside of the dustbuster out of craft foam. I also fixed the toilet seat as best as I could, but that POS is just going to need replacing here pretty soon. To achieve cosmic balance, I’ve been really crap at knitting. I’m working on a simple lace scarf in a user friendly yarn, and I keep having to rip it out as I don’t have the presence of mind to keep my stitches straight.

So, onto going through pictures, which I intend to post very soon. I should definitely have some interesting pictures by the end of next week, and I don’t want to get backlogged.

Bus sick

September 14, 2006

We went to play with some homeschooling friends today and paint some shirts, which was fun but required riding the bus. My constitution for such things is weak these days. I don’t think I’ll make it to choir practice this evening, as I feel retchy and James isn’t home from work yet..

..speaking of James, he’s suddenly been given an away mission at work. In Bermuda. I’m not bitter. Actually, I’ve been trying to think of it in terms of his having to get up early every morning to go to work whilst I get to sleep in, so fair enough. Still! He’s due to leave Sunday, which also means he’ll miss a really cool homeschooling outing. My main issue is that he *has* to be back in time for family that’s coming, and everyone involved at least *seems* to be taking me seriously. That said, I have one word–Ireland (if that doesn’t ring bells, that would be that stupid trip that more than doubled in length to about 6 weeks).

I have a little red slip from the royal mail that says I have a package. Hopefully it’s my lurvely yarn. I bought this to make this hat. I want to make this, but alas it requires 15 skeins and I have a piddling yarn allowance. *sidelong glance at James*

Right, well I feel that there was probably more I had to say, but I’m going to go sip cherry coke until my tummy feels better.

Language Learning

September 12, 2006

I like the words the kids come up with when reading through text. Nyssa, for instance, would like this book that comes with ‘reasonable (reusable) stickers.’ Yesterday, she tells Joseph to ‘stop attracting (distracting) me!’ Joseph peppers his speech liberally with the word ‘technically.’ Nyssa has taken Fife Scottish glottal stops to the extreme. When I say something like, ‘I love cookies!’ she replies with, ‘Me ‘oo!’ James is appalled of course, which makes it all the more hilarious.

Nyn’s dancing, etc.

September 12, 2006

Nyssa had her first day of highland dance this afternoon. They gave her little shoes to wear, and they are just ridiculously cute. She was so impressed that she is already determined that this is the class she wants, and she’s going to work so hard that she earns a medal. When we buy her uniform, I’ll post pictures. Here is a link to the studio if you’re interested.

Joseph was confiding in me today his latest crisis, this one being fairly existential in nature. He told me about how he feels an internal battle between his head, which is telling him to act like an adult, and his heart which wants him to continue life as a child..that is, as he said it, ‘silly like mom.’ Ha. I told him I understood his difficult position, though it went without saying which side of maturity I ended up erring on. He sighed with a certain amount of resignation. Do you remember age 7 being so full of mental struggle? I remember kittens and kool-aid and playing Othello with Dad. I’ll have to quiz my parents on what I was really like.

In other news, I made a very successful batch of double chocolate mint cookies, by adding to a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe some cocoa powder, peppermint oil instead of vanilla, and chopped dark chocolate and mint aero bar. In the States, I would have tried Andes mints. They are doooood, which is a household-speak indication of highest praise.

In news of the pissing-me-off variety, the dishwasher broke. I suspect the water level regulator or the circulating pump, or something similar. Something that will be a b*tch to deal with, and will probably call for spending more money than makes sense. In trying to figure it out, I managed to flood the kitchen, because I’m awesome like that. No, I didn’t forget to turn the water off. I reassembled the machine and somehow made the problem worse, which isn’t exactly the same thing. I have now turned the water off and for the time being I’m back to scrubbing everything by hand, and getting extra irate at James for going through dozens of dishes every day. Well, it’s always something, right? If the something doesn’t involve spending hundreds of pounds or hospital time, I should be grateful.

Twrch Trwyth

September 10, 2006

I found a website describing the activity we did the other day at the museum, with a couple pictures from the film. I also found the authoritative spelling of that boar! click here

Some pictures

September 10, 2006

Random images from the last few months, click here

Life is busy-ing up

September 9, 2006

So, we finally got Nyssa signed up for dance and had a look around the studio. From what I can tell, it’s a lovely older house conversion, with the cushiony carpets and upholstery in deep reds that you’d expect. She’s going to try highland and ballet next week and decide which she’d prefer. Of course she’d gung-ho to try all of them, but she has to limit herself for now. Poor Joseph will be on the waiting lists for gymnastics until kingdom come, it seems. This afternoon, I wrestled with Nyssa’s hair for half an hour or so trying to secure it in a bun. Her hair is layered, fine and shiny but very plentiful, and only a few inches below her shoulders. I finally put her hair in a ponytail, then divided the hair in two and put it in braids, then wrapped and pinned the braids into a bun, and secured with hairspray and a hair net. I sent her off to rough house and it stood up to her abuse, so I suppose we’ve got a winning style. I feel totally out of familiar territory here..at least her uniform can be bought at the studio, because I would be totally lost. I’m still terrified of social faux pas after the backwards pinafore incident at Markinch Primary.

I finally joined the choir. We’re doing the Messiah, so lots of sorting out breathing and runs. It’s been a long time since I’ve sight-read, and it was interesting to note the changes in my eyesight. The conductor is that perfect sort of unattainable good-looking and admirable fellow that I like to see in a musical superior. He was actually raised in Kirkcaldy, and lived for a long time in Manchester from what I understand. It’s interesting how choral directors the world over (well, western US and the UK anyway as I’ve experienced) end up with a particular accent..a sort of vowel-heavy english. Job hazard of a career filled with vocalese, I suppose.

Yesterday we had a fabulous learning day in Edinburgh. A welsh print artist made a film about a mythical beastly boar called the trch trych..no idea on the spelling, I just recall the lack of vowels. He has been travelling around major british museums teaching children about Roman and Celtic life and then giving them some drawing instruction before engaging them in print-making and contructing a terrific map made from mud and sand taken from archaeological sites. Objects and images from the museums’ collections were incorporated as well. If pictures get circulated I’ll post them. I wish I brought my camera. Anyway, we had done some reading up during the week prior and the kids were proud of themselves for having remembered several things. Having not learned about this era in history at all in my schooldays, it was good for me as well. In particular, I don’t think we’ll ever forget the name Boudicca or that the Celtic men favored long moustaches. Hehe.

Last week I became the proud owner (repository?) of a copper coil IUD. Say what you want about the NHS and its general underfundedness, but they had a spare nurse to pat my hands and chat with me during the procedure. It was not-so-fun. The nurses asked if I’d like a tea afterwards, and the lady doctor said I should accept as that’s the only procedure in the women’s health clinic that warrants such an offer. Makes one wonder.