Wednesday, 31 December 2008

I wish I could fly!

Rushing to my daughter as she wailed with distress today, I wondered what could be wrong. 'What's the matter?' I asked, worried.
'Why can't I fly, Mummy?' she asked, quite seriously. 'I've tried and tried. I've flapped and tried a parachute but I still can't fly!'
I felt awful as I had to explain to her that people can't fly without hang-gliders, planes, hot-air balloons etc.. It reminded me how small she still is really, even though at 5, almost 6 she sometimes seems so grown-up!

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Solstice Crafts & Poetry

We've been doing lots of Solstice art, craft and poetry in between being ill. Here are some of our efforts:

My son decided he was going to illustrate a poem from abook this festival but my daughter has written her own poem as usual:

The Tree Is Pretty

Christmas lights in my room,
To shine out in the gloom.

Baubles sparkle, baubles shine,
I put my lights in a line.

The tinsel sparkles on the tree,
Lots of presents for me to see,
I am so happy.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Pondering attachment

Having just read Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate I have been pondering on attachment. I've always been a fan of John Bowlby's ground-breaking theories, but even though I was aware that attachment theories are currently out of fashion I hadn't really quite realised how much this view of childhood and family has been left out of most modern childcare books. Even those in the 'attachment parenting' genre rarely seem to actually mention the importance of attachments and the problems lack of attachment or insecure attachment can cause.
The book was truly radical in its recommendations and very thought-provoking in its conclusions of how many of children's current problems and society's ills can be laid at the door of inappropriate attachments while children are growing up. I can't even attempt to summarise the scope of the arguments and evidence presented, but would urge any parents out there to read it. But beware, it's one of those books that makes you reflect on your own childhood and see areas where you (or your parents!!) went wrong and the consequences of that. There were a few tears for me as I read this book, as suddenly some teenage experiences made sense for the first time.
So, my pondering on the importance of attachment continues and I feel I have had a fundamental shift in my parenting perspective which is having practical consequences for my actions as a mother, and also maybe as a friend.
Coming soon - pictures of our Yule crafts!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Another book

What with the nasy weather, and the children taking ages to get to sleep, I've been doing lots of reading recently, and here's another review.
How Children Learn At Home by Alan Thomas & Harriet Pattison was a fascinating read - academic yet accessible and rather inspirational and quite a relief for those of us using mainly informal learning with our children. I was particularly interested in their comment that the way informal learning was acquired in all its chaotic, leaps forward, regressions and general piecemeal nature was highly similar to the way learning is acquired at the cutting edge of scientific research, the methods of writing novels, composing music and various other highly creative and high level projects. Maybe my children will be geniuses yet!
The way the book is split into different subject areas - reading, writing and maths in particular makes it easy to find the area you are most interested in and the quotes and example from families are illuminating and fascinating in themselves.
All in all a great read, especially if you're home educating using informal learning methods, or if you want to know how these ways of learning may fit in with school.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Book review

I've just finished reading Crap At The Environment by Mark Watson and enjoyed it. Though I don't really class myself as 'crap at the environment' as Mark Watson classed himself and have always been interested in green issues and done my best to stay informed and active about it, I do really see his point that so many people are put off even trying because they don't know where to start. To address this problem, he started a small movement called Crap At The Environment or CATE to welcome other people who felt they wanted to or ought to make more effort with green issues but didn't want to go the whole hog, or were embarrassed to join in with groups that already knew more. And he surprised himself in the process - the more he learned and the more effort he put in, the more green he found himself being, to the point where he suddenly realised he'd become the very people he'd ridiculed for being 'green extremists' just a year before. His struggle with complex issues and his pragmatic and realistic approach make his book very readable (as well as the fact he's a very funny comedian) . And whatever shade of green you think you are, it's always good to re-visit the reasons these issues are important and to remind yourself of the basics. Well worth buying for any hesitant would-be greenies this Christmas!

Friday, 28 November 2008


Birthdays are strange - so much expectation and so much introspection. I had some really nice presents on Wednesday (including a complete and very thoughtful surprise package in the post which made my day! Thanks, Carolyn!) and my daughter had made me a lovely card and a paper mouse. Yet still my pervading mood is pensive. I can't help wonderring what I've achieved in the last year and am I any closer to where I want to be. And when my husband points out all my achievements and the myriad ways we are closer to where we want to be, I still feel vaguely dissatisfied. Should I be doing better? Doing more? Doing something differently? I can't help but think that if I could only look at life in a completely different way I could come up with a radical change which would shake things up in a really serious and satisfying way. But try as I might I can't come up with that kind of insight. Maybe I'm just unsettled by the prospect of inevitable change in January.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The earth it sootheth my soul

Or makes me too mad to care any more! I have spent the morning at the allotment *alone* and feel a real glow of achievement. It was sunny and cold and the wind made my eyes and my nose run as I struggled with the brambles, roots and carpet (yes, carpet), and I felt at one with the elements. Just let my thoughts go in a stream of consciousness and felt much more at peace. That's the up side.
The down side is that the part pf the plot I was dealing with today is just one big root! Actually, if it was one big root that would probably be easier. As it is, the top 6 inches of soil is just a mass of couch grass roots and I have to turn the soil over and then sift through it pulling the matted roots apart and pulling them out. And, as previously related, the previous owner of the plot made sure to lay plenty of carpet down - and then left it for about 6 years, so it has provided a great source for the couch grass to attach itself to and then grow down through, thus anchoring the carpet to the ground beneath as if it was tacked down with tent pegs; and then a good layer of about 2-3 inches of soil has accumulated on the top of carpet and root. However, it felt really good to see clear patches emerging as I struggled and cursed the previous owner - may he always have caterpillars on his cabbages and weevils in his biscuits.
So now we have one allotment plot, divided up into 6 roughly equal rectangles of which one is dug and planted with overwintering onions, one is dug and covered with a tarpaulin, one is dug and covered with mulch and manure, one is weeded and free of carpet but needs digging, and two are still mainly weedy and need digging. We are getting there.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Or lack of it. Why is it that just when you think things are settling down, they all fall apart again? I thought I was getting a handle on things, working them out, finding a pattern I was comfortable with and then, whoosh! My husband's job comes to an end in January with no current sign of a replacement (for either of us). The kids catch the worst stomach bug they've ever had and my husband's had it too and we've all been out of action with washing piling up for almost 2 weeks now. And now I feel uncomfortable about everything again. Are we living in the right place? In the right house? How is the job and money situation going to work out? Why does every electrical item we own seem to break so quickly? Why do I not have useful practical skills round the house which could save us money? Where does all the time in a day go?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Feeling out of place

Been to LLL again today and I'm still wondering, even more than before, if this is really the right place for us at the moment. I feel out of place there. Obviously, I'm not the only one there with older children but I am the only one there with *only* older children and no intention of having any more either, so I'm feeling rather out of step with everyone else there. Obviously, things at LLL tend to be rather baby-focused, and although it's nice not to feel odd for feeding a 3.5 year old, the issues are rather different when you're feeding a child rather than a baby.

Obviously, you can be friends with people whose children are not the same age as your own but I think that most new mums are not really thinking of making new friends, unless they are with people who are in the same kind stage of babyness as them. And I can't even talk about school things either.

It's not that people aren't friendly, they are - it's just that I can't really se the kind of chatty friendliness that it is turning into actual friendships away from the LLL meetings.

I'm starting to feel that this is never going to happen - meeting someone fairly like-minded, fairly local and who is actually interested in being friends with or without the children.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Remembrance Day coming up

We were in town today and the Poppy Appeal stall was there, so we spent a pleasant few minutes handing over a load of small change and putting it in the large poppy money-box and getting poppies and poppy bugs (that's progress for you!) in return. But then of course I have to discuss what Remembrance Day is all about and why we wear poppies. Now, I'm quite a big history buff and am definitely a believer in the tenet 'those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it', but sometimes the tone of Remembrance Day makes me a little uncomfortable. For example, on today's stall, they had a cardboard war memorial with 'Glorious Dead' on it. Now, I think that the word 'glorious' has no place in a discussion about war. War is not glorious and nor is dying - it's brutal, futile, squalid, a waste. I fully intend to impress this fact upon my children when the time is right, but I can't really think that at 3 and 5 years old that time is now. For now I have simply explained that sometimes people argue and when lots of people get together and argue it's called a war and people get hurt and killed, and it's better to talk about problems rather than fight. But how depressing it is that here in the 21st century I am still having to explain to my children what war is - not in a historical context, but in the here and now. Why do people go to war, Mummy? Buggered if I know.

by Siegfried Sassoon

He stood alone in some queer sunless place
Where Armageddon ends. Perhaps he longed
For days he might have lived; but his young face
Gazed forth untroubled: and suddenly there thronged
Round him the hulking Germans that I shot
When for his death my brooding rage was hot.

He stared at them, half-wondering; and then
They told him how I’d killed them for his sake—
Those patient, stupid, sullen ghosts of men;
And still there seemed no answer he could make.
At last he turned and smiled. One took his hand
Because his face could make them understand.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Samhain activities part 3

So, the final part of our family seasonal celebrations found us making spooky Lady's Fingers for pudding:

And we made a bonfire - an inside one from paper and tissue paper due to my son's uncanny ability to injure himself:

And this is what it looked like when we placed the candles behind it:

Samhain activities part 2

The children's Samhain poems - this is my daughter's:

The Pumpkins Shine Bright

The lanterns are getting lit,
It gets really dark.
Firework Night is on its way,
The bonfires are lit soon.
The leaves are falling quickly.
People dress up and scare people.

And this is my son's (not quite so seasonal, but very definite):


I like engines,
Especially blue engines.
I like engines a lot,
I like all engines.

So there you have it. Part 3 to follow...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

I'm in The Mother!

It's always nice to get a nice thick brown envelope containing a good magazine, but it's doubly good when it's a magazine with an article you wrote in it!

Anyone who gets The Mother magazine, then check out my piece on page 12, The Birth of a Mother. Hope you like it!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Samhain activities part 1

So, we have bats made out of toilet rolls:

And masks:

Saturday, 25 October 2008

A thrill runs through the allotment...

What could it be? The whsipers started early this week, knots of people in corners - 'have you heard?', 'when will it be?' 'maybe the weekend...' and today, the wonder arrived! A big pile of manure! And it was a like a festival at the allotment - more people than I've ever seen there before at one time and a kind of holiday atmosphere with everyone chatting, making manure jokes and mucking in (ahem!) to get it shovelled and onto plots. Isn't it strange what makes people happy?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Feeling more positive

I'm generally feeling a bit more positive about things this week, despite having a really really awful night last night which ended with everyone awake, both children screaming, me really cross and shouty, and my husband rather bemused about what on earth had happened to kick it all off!

Otherwise though, the allotment is finally starting to look like I had envisaged it would - ie, nicely dug, covered in leaf mulch and planted up with overwintering crops. I think about half to two thirds is like that now, but there's still a lot to do, mainly round the edges, and I would like to get it under control before the spring growing season makes all the weeds grow again!

I had a long discussion with my mum this week about how the kids are doing, in terms of their development, education, social skills etc and she was really encouraging. Given that she's a primary school teacher with over 20 years experience, I feel she is in a position to know that the children are not falling behind where they 'should' be and although I know I shouldn't care about where they 'should' be, I find I can't quite let this go. Especially in view of all the doom and gloom spreading in the HE community currently due to the latest guidelines proposal and the potential impact of Contactpoint.

Our new HE group moved to its winter venue today and it worked pretty well. We actually had the entire soft-play to ourselves and even met another He-er there who knew nothing of the group and had come that morning entirely by chance! There seems to be a hard-core of fairly regular attenders forming, and they're all nice and the kids get on well, so I'm feeling quite positive about that too.

The cat's stitches are due to come out tomorrow too and she seems generally to be healing really well. I hope she can go outside again soon as I'm getting fed up with my bad nights being added to by the cat hurling herself noisily against the back door at 2am in a fruitless attempt to get outside.

I have an optician's appointment tomorrow so all this positivity will probably soon be punctured by finding out that my eyes are worse and that it costs a king's ransom for new glasses.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Last of the harvest & board games

I've just dug up the last of our potatoes on the allotment and am fantastically proud of how many we've managed to produce despite all out set-backs and difficulties. I've also dug half of the carrots and they've grown really well, I'm so chuffed. Now I have a much better idea of what grows well and what doesn't and will be filling the allotment next year with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic and other root crops. I've just finished planting my overwintering onions and that half of the plot looks great, just like an allotment should! It's a shame about the other half, but we'll plod on with clearing that. Now that it's getting colder the slugs are finally leaving my pumpkin plant alone too and there are loads of flowers on it - we may yet get a few small pumpkins, though probably not in time for Samhain!

This afternoon I spent some time playing Rainforest Rescue (an eco-themed snakes & ladders game) with just my son, and it did make me laugh. He's only 3, so a little young to really get the hang of a dice-throwing game though he's very good at taking turns and counting along with his counter. But, he just couldn't understand why I thought he should slide down the waterfalls - his counter was a parrot and surely I knew that parrots can fly? So, I slid down them dutifully, as a tiger should, while he flew up waterfalls and won every game. He is so lovely.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Oh dear, another whinge

Feeling very low at the moment. Have just spent another weekend flat out, too ill to move, and still not sure what is wrong - migraines, labyrinthitis, a combination, no idea what has triggered it. Got to have some new glasses as I haven't had even a an eye test let alone new glasses for 6 years. Even the computer has a virus and is doing odd things. And the cat has a nasty abcess. All worry, as well as money we can't afford. Just when I think we're getting straight, something else seems to come along and kick us up the bum. I know I should be thinbking positive, but I'm too tired due to being ill and then being got up at 2am by my son who 'just wasn't tired' for 3 and half hours. Well, I was, but of course he wanted company. Surely the week must only be able to get better?

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

An anniversary

Firstly, today is the first day since Friday that I haven't woken up with a vicious headache, and it's such a relief to actually feel vaguely well. Still tired thanks to my son and his amazing 5am starts, but at least not feeling like death. Hooray!

And secondly, it just occurred to me last night that my husband and I have been together 12 years this week! We're not really ones for celebrations of anniversaries but I am quite chuffed and also a bit surprised by this one - it has kind of sneaked up on us. 12 years feels like an achievement, a goodly chunk of time, lending a bit of gravitas to our relationship which is nice as I still often think of him as my boyfriend rather than my husband even though we are sober and grown-up parents nowadays and have been married for 4 years too.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

A whinge

I've had awful headaches (and a migraine all day Sunday) since Saturday and and I'm really fed-up with it now. I'm not sure if it's my son's phase of not sleeping at night, the overcast weather, dehydration in the morning from feeding all night, or my wisdom teeth that's set it off (or maybe a combination) but I'm really fed-up with it. I don't like taking painkillers and due to still feeding, I'm limited in what I can take to fairly basic ones anyway which don't help much, but I've been in such pain that I've probably taken more in the last 4 days than I have in the last 4 years.
The last time I went to the dentist (in March), she said I might have to have to have at least 1 and maybe 2 wisdom teeth out and I'm terrified at the thought (general anaesthetic at hospital) but obviously if they're going to cause me awful pain, I will have to get it done. I had thought they were gradually coming through OK, and maybe they are, maybe it's something else that has set this pain off. I would get some cranial osteopathy for me as it helped the children in their teething, but we're rather skint now and I also need some new glasses and then there's Christmas coming up. Gah! And it's raining again and we're going to LLL this morning. It always seems to rain when we go there and it's rather a long walk so we'll get there soaked again.
Fed, fed, FED-UP.

Monday, 6 October 2008


After only 3 or 4 trips to the pool, my daughter is now swimming widths with armbands and treading water without, and my son is having a great time splashing about both with and without armbands quite confidently (not sure if he is actually swimming or not as he splashes around so much!). But if I had needed any back-up for my decision not to put them in swimming classes, it was provided today when some swimming classes were going on for school children in the other pool while we were there. I was actaully quite shocked at how bad they were - they did the classes in groups of around 10 children - the others had to sit in the gallery and watch until it was their turn - and even when the the small group was actually being taught, it consisted mainly of them standing around on the side of the pool while they ignored the swimming instructor and messed around until they got shouted at. Then they had about 5 minutes in the water, then out and in with the next lot. Several of them were watching me and my kids rather wistfully as we swam and played about. I felt really sorry for the kids in the classes, it certainly looked dull to me.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

New home ed group

I have accidentally co-founded a new home ed social group - as you do! I was just chatting with a friend a few weeks back about how it would be nice to have a small, informal, social kind of group nearby, made a tentative post on a local yahoo group, was taken up on the idea by another parent and lo and behold! - it started today. And it went very well - we met in a local park and around 8-10 families turned up which was more than I'd imagined. The adults and children all got on very well, so now it's going to be a weekly thing. I'm a bit stunned at how quickly it's all happened. My daughter is more than ready for this kind of thing and was in her element bossing, er, I mean, *organising* the other children. I did feel a bit bad for my son who would obviously die rather than be left out, but actually isn't really quite ready for this kind of thing yet and it was a bit much for him to cope with. I know how he feels. I'm shattered.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Swept along!

I am feeling a bit swept along and out of control of things at the moment which I find very hard to cope with. This always seems to happen at this time of the year when the sluggishness of summer is thrown off as the crispness of the autumn brings everything back into bright focus. But every year I find it difficult, I get anxious and stressed and feel I can't cope or that I'm going to be swept away by events that I can't cope with. It's a horrible feeling and it makes it hard to sleep as I can't switch my brain off and the thoughts just keep swirling round. I wish I could just empty my brain into a jar on the bedside table each night and get some respite from all the thinking which does no good.
Maybe in a few weeks everything will settle down again into a new and better pattern and I'll have the time I need to process new events, but this time of disruption is never easy.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Autumn Equinox

To celebrate the Equinox we've made dark chocolate cakes (to symbolise the growing darkness of course and not just becuase of any old excuse to make chocolate cup cakes!) and written our now traditional celebratory festival poems.

My daughter's poem:

Oh, The Leaves Are So Pretty

When the leaves turn red,
It begins to get cold.
The leaves are beginning to turn
Yellow, red and brown.
It's the prettiest colours we have seen.
It begins to get darker in the evenings,
Less going out to play Carnage.
It gets really dark, really early.

And my son's:

Only Be With Mummy If You're Scared

It's not going to be sunny in the afternoon,
The leaves are going to fall off,
The leaves might turn brown, yellow or red,
No playing Carnage before bed.

(I should point out that 'Carnage' is a chasing game they often play with Daddy in the garden during the summer after tea and before bed-time!)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

HE and the internet

I'm so glad that I'm home edcuating in the era of the internet, I honestly don't know how people coped before it!
Yesterday, I was asked about cheese-making and off we went to YouTube and found a short educational film about making cheese! How fantastic is that? We have also found similarly fascinating stuff about flamenco dancing, trees, various animals and all kinds of subjects in the past. Obviously books play a big role too, but it is great to be able to see and hear things like music, examples of spoken languages and moving pictures of animals. It makes home edcuation that little bit easier and more accessible.
One tip: always check out the clips on YouTube you are planning to show your kids beforehand (alone) as there is some bizarre and horrible stuff on there too!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Swimming and tomatoes

Why are places which provide activities for children so obsessed with putting on classes rather than just letting people enjoy themselves freely? Our local swimming pool has a small pool for youngsters which we have started visiting regularly but it is actually fairly difficult to do so due to the amount of time it is used for classes. I can understand that schools often have swimming lessons and had accepted that it wasn't open till 11 every weekday morning, plus being closed again at 3.30 for after school lessons, as well as closing at 1.30 2 days a week, but I was a bit fed-up to find when we went there today that half (the deepest half) of the pool was shut off as, guess what? Yes, another lesson! This time for tiny babies, 2 lessons in a row actually, so we didn't even have the whole pool. Whatever happened to parents just taking kids to have fun at the pool? I can't believe that such a high proportion of the opening time of the pool is taken up with set lessons and classes.

And tomatoes. I thought we'd escaped the blight which destroyed pretty much all out tomatoes last year, but I've just today seen some of the signs that it might be starting again - bottom leaves withering, the tomatoes on those parts of the plant turning black rather than red. Gah, we don;t seem to have much luck with tomatoes. Still, out potato harvest has been fantastic and we're also still gathering beans, peas and carrots which isn't bad at this time of the year, given the weather we've had.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Large Hadron Collider

It may be my sci-fi nerdyness showing its face, but I've been quite excited about the LHC starting up and was trying hard to listen to the live coverage today on radio 4 in between the bellowing of the children. But, of everything about the whole tpic, I have found this both absolutely hilarious and informative. It's not often you can say that!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

More felt

I'm still gradually making the felt food, but now that I've got a plateful, I thought I'd post a picture of what I've managed so far. It'd make a meal, I suppose!

I've also been toying with the idea of making some felt money for maths purposes. I do have some plastic money from the Early Learning Centre, but it's not very tactile and inviting. We do also sometimes use real money, but inevitably it gets lost. I dont mind when it's only 1ps and 2ps but when it's pound coins that's a different thing! So I was thinking of making some very simple circles (and other shapes for 20ps and 50ps) that are bigger than usual and with just the appropriate numbers on them to simplify using it and to match with the felt food in buying and selling games.

Of course, that does mean I've just given myself another job...

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


I've been reading BREAD MATTERS: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Ownby Andrew Whitley (the founder of the Village Bakery) and have been held spellbound. There is more to bread than I ever imagined. I'm not a bread novice. I've been making my own for years and also studied how to make it at school but there was so much that I didn't know! The history of bread-making is fascinating - I didn't realise that commercial baker's yeast is a relatively modern innovation and I certainly didn't realise that aspects of modern industrial bread-making are to blame for the rise in intolerance to bread and gluten sensitivities.
Whitley has an amusing and authoritative authorial voice - he sounds slightly curmudgeonly but with a dry humour - and he really knows his stuff. His descriptions of the chemical changes within bread made traditionally versus the modern industrially made product will have you reaching for the flour bag vowing never to buy it again!
I have already put some of his tips into practice and have found improvements as a result. If you ever make - or want to make - bread, rolls, brioche, croissants, sourdough or anything remotely bread-related you have to read this book first. Some books that concentrate this intensely on one topic manage to make the whole thing sound complicated, Whitley talks about techniques for pages on end and yet simplifies them, making you think 'I could do that!'
The only problem is - now that I realise how much I didn't know about bread-making, I'm wondering how much I don't know about cake-making, jam-making, gardening, sewing.... I'be got a lot of reading to do!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Home ed thoughts

I've been contemplating the nature of our home ed journey today, trying to decide what name might characterise our style. I suppose 'autonomous' is the closest, but it's not purely that as I do initiate things sometimes and also impose a little background structure as I find everything runs more smoothly and the kids are happier with that. My daughter, especially, has a great need to know what to expect.
When we first started on this path, I had thought about doing things with quite a lot more structure - of having a particular time of day where we sat down and did more formal educational things, but it doesn't seem to work, and so I am happy to let things go at their own pace a bit more. But I'm not sure where the line is drawn between facilitating, encouraging, and suggesting. My daughter is often reluctant to try something new as she hates not being able to do something and if she can't immediately master a skill she would often rather not do it. Would being truly autonomous mean that I drop it and trust that she'll come back to it later when she matures enough to see that some things are worth practising? Some people never learn that. Or do I push her gently to stick with it, knowing the joy and excitement she feels when she does master something she found difficult? I suppose it depends on the situation - I have reacted in both ways in the past.
I know some people call themselves 'semi-autonomous' and that others say there's no such thing, either you're autonomous or you're not. But does being child-led mean that you respond to their consciously stated wishes, or to their subconsciously expressed needs? Although I hate to say it, and I'll probably be shot for saying so - I do believe that being the parent does give me an extra dimension of knowledge and experience that my children do not have yet and therefore, dare I say it, sometimes I know best.
Home ed can throw up tricky decisions that are taken out of your hands if children go to school. Groups are something I've been thinking about recently. My daughter may be ready for something, but finding a suitable group is tricky. All the activities I've looked into seem to be very much based on putting on shows, taking exams or levels, or training for competitions. She's 5, can she not just do something for the sheer joy of learning a new skill? Plus they're so age-segregated. She and her brother are used to doing things together and he'd be upset if he couldn't join in too, and she she'd feel happier doing it with him there. They're a team.
We had such a bad day the other day that for a few hours I seriously contemplated sending my daughter to school. Later on, once she was in bed and I got a bit of perspective I realised that doing so as a 'punishment' was not the best reason for such a momentous decision. School, if it is chosen, should be a positive choice, not a last resort if you feel you're not coping. Also, as my husband kindly pointed out, it was a Saturday so she wouldn't have been at school anyway! Everyone has bad days and things have been fine since then, but I am still pondering introducing something new to the mix, either some more formal stuff on an ad hoc basis when the kids fancy it, or maybe a more formal activity or group if I can find something appropriate that the children want to do. There is a local HE ice-skating thing, but I'm not sure if I can make myself take a 3 year old and a 5 year old skating by myself. Oh well, just more to meditate on.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Skirts and cultural norms

Am in a bit of a quandary. Normally I don't succumb to those cultural norms with no real point, but I'm having trouble with the issue of skirts. My daughter has only recently started wearing skirts. Until a few weeks back she wasn't bothered what she wore so I put her in trousers as they're easier, warmer and better for playing/climbing. But then she asked for a skirt, so I got her a skirt. I hadn't anticipated my son would then also ask for a skirt. And therein lies my dilemma. I find that I'm not keen on the idea of dressing him in a skirt outside the house. Inside the house, it's fine whatever he chooses to wear, but I must be more conventional than I'd thought (what a horrible thought!) as I find I don't want to get him a skirt. He asks me why boys don't wear skirts and I have no answer for him because there is no answer. Maybe I'll have to compromise and get him a kilt! My grandmother was Fraser from Inverness so I could even get him a genuine clan tartan, but I think I'm just disappointed with myself for kowtowing to utterly groundless cultural norms.

Monday, 18 August 2008

A quick panic

Every now and again I have a quick panic that we don't do any structured education. I try to remind myself how much the children learn day to day, but have these occasional flashes of panic that we should all be sitting down for 'school-time' at a set time each day for a specified amount of time. Other autonomous learners out there - please remind me why it is we don't do this and that the kids are learning anyway!!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Disappointing book

I've just finished reading Panic Nation: Unpicking the Myths We're Told About Food and Healthwhich promised to 'expose the myths we're told about food and health'. I was drawn to its claims that it had a leading expert in the field give the genuine facts about each issue in a separate essay which would then enable the reader to sort the facts from the opinions of those who may be biased and thus be able to make up our own minds.

That's exactly the sort of book I could do with as I don't trust anyone these days. But sadly, it was very disappointing. Many of the essays were characterised by the kind of hysterical hyperbole that they condemned in those they disagreed with, and a fair amount of them presented no sources for 'facts' they quoted or else apparently presented merely a different opinion to their opponents without any more eveidence than those they condemned as 'zealots', 'health freaks', and even 'witch doctors'.

There were some exceptions - the essays on cholesterol, the sun and skin cancer, and salt were very interesting and presented new evidence with huge consequences for health decisions. The chapter on food additives was well-balanced and written without hysteria by the author of E for Additives and summed up well with a reasonable position of - some are harmless, some are helpful, some are harmless but also pointless, some might be harmful to some people, and some are dubious for most people.

The chapter about pesticides was utterly awful and didn't even mention at least half the issues surrounding pesticides, let alone engage with them. Apparently, pesticides are harmless, end of story. Oh, apart from if you're a poverty-stricken, illiterate third world farmer who has not training or safety equipment, in which case yes you get poisoned, but that's OK for us in the West. That seemed to be the main thrust of the argument. Concerns over disrupting eco-systems by wiping out whole species from a particular locale, salination of the soil, pollution of water-tables were not even mentioned, nor the fact that pesticides allow large-scale monoculture which has its own problems...

The authors seem to have a bit of chip on their shoulders about people being 'anti-science' and attribute every different viewpoint to their own to this allegedly dangerous tendency. NOw, I'm really not anti-science, but they managed to really get my back up anyway by talking of science as if it is infallible and omnipotent and as if anyone who is not a professional scientist has no right to hold an opinion on anything.

I had the idea that science was to do with asking questions and doing research to find answers or to learn more. But this book gave the impression that everything is known and anyone who questions it is being 'ludicrous'. I also felt they were setting out to 'debunk' things in a controversial manner, so they were hardly unbiased to start with, which is not very scientific. They kept saying 'there is no evidence for x or y'. That doesn't actually tell me anything. That could easily mean that no research has been done at all, or that the research which has been done doesn't support it. As my science teachers used to say 'absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.'

So, I am still looking for a book which sets out the actual facts of current hot topics, as far as they are known, with no hidden (or not so hidden) agendas and no axe to grind, which treats me as intelligent enough to understand science but that takes out the most impenetrable jargon. If you are looking for that book too, then this one isn't it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Pox on it all!

I think my son has chicken pox. Actually, I'm pretty sure he has but I don't want to believe it as it makes me feel weary just thinking about it. He had it before but as he was only 2 months, the doctor warned us he may well get it again. I caught him scratching his scalp and he asked me what the bumps on his head were - closer inspection: classic dew-drop spots in little clusters. Only on his scalp so far though, which I thought was weird. I thought it usually started on the tummy, but maybe I'm getting confused. Anyway, it would explain the grouchiness and the constant feeding the last few days. Though ironically, he seems much better since the spots came out. The biggest pain will probably be keeping them entertained while we can't go anywhere there will be other people, or have anyone over that hasn't had it. At least my daughter was 2 when she had it and she got a fairly thorough dose too so I won't have them both ill at the same time.
Here's hoping it's a mild dose as before!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Crafty Mama!

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, a crafty Mama and yet this last week or two, I've been feeling inspired to at least try my hand and some craft stuff. It's turned out better than I'd dared to hope so I thought I'd share the fruits of my labours!

After the success of our Lammas loaf a couple of weeks back, we tried our hand at a different shape. Not quite as good but still very tasty:

Then I got the idea to do some crafts from felt. Not felting, that sounds altogether hard, but just making things from felt which sounded just my kind of craft - mainly hand-sewing and not needing any seams or anything. So, I tried my hand at some felt food which seems to be all the rage on the net at the moment, and this is how it came out:

Then, of course, my daughter's teeth started being loose which set me on to the issue of what to do about the Tooth Fairy? We don't really 'do' Father Christmas in our house as we didn't want to tell the children that something was true when it wasn't. We do tell stories about him and have him as mythic character but presents are always exchanged between real people, to give the idea of reciprocity and that it is just as exciting to give presents as to receive them. So, in a similar spirit, I didn't want to have a literal Tooth Fairy, but neither did I want to destroy the magic of childhood or let such an important milestone as lost teeth go by unmarked. So I got the idea to make a Tooth Fairy which my daughter can have in her bedroom and for every tooth she loses, she can choose a beautiful bead or button to sew onto the fairy's wings. That way, each tooth is commemorated and at the end of it all, she'll have a personalised Tooth Fairy to remember it all by. And here is the fairy, though it does look rather more like a butterfly:

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Slowly does it

Although it's not a new book by any means, In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed has just fallen into my hands and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Having read a lot of books on this kind of subject (and enjoyed them) including How to Be Free and Affluenza amongst others, I wasn't sure what there was to add. But Carl Honore proved me wrong by covering some aspects of the subject of living more slowly and mindfully that others had failed to mention, such as sex, gardening, cooking and music.

All in all, this was a delightful read and inspiring as well as fascinating.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Wobbly teeth!

My daughter has her first wobbly tooth! Or teeth actually as both the middle bottom two are wobbly at the same time. I was quite surprised at how emotional I felt on discovering this. It feels like such a big milestone somehow - the start of getting adult teeth. I wasn't really expecting it yet either, though I suppose she got her baby teeth quite early too and she is a tall girl for her age. She's been going on 25 ever since she was born.

I've been dreading this stage - both of my children were absolutely AWFUL with teething as babies and small children. I tried everything from camomile tea, camomile powders, Ashton & Parsons Teething Powders, amber necklaces, cold things to chew on, constant breastfeeding, cranial osteopathy, right through to the dreaded Calgel and Calpol and still there were times when nothing could soothe them and they just screamed. I dreaded every tooth though my daughter tended to do them in batches of 6 which made them worse at the time but at least over relatively quickly in total.

As my daughter is Highly Sensitive and in particular finds pain and blood very difficult to deal with, I had been wondering how she'd deal with the idea. We have talked about it already and read books with wobbly teeth in so she'd know what to expect and it wouldn't be a shock, but sometimes no matter how much we prepare her, the reality of a situation can still overwhelm her completely. So far though she seems sanguine about the wobbliness and I'm just hoping the new teeth when they come through are a bit easier to deal with than the first set were!

And don't even ask me if we're going to do the Tooth Fairy thing, I'm having enough trouble processing it all as it is!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Strange things you find yourself saying...

...when you're a parent. Today I have said "Yes, even Luke Skywalker has to go to the toilet" and "right, so I'll experiment with a fried egg and then progress onto making a banana" and "please don't shoot people, they might not like it" as well as "wow, I've never seen a pumpkin with a tongue before!" and then finished by arbitrating in an argument involving the existence or otherwise of certain colours in each child's imaginary world in which my son had laid claim to blue and refused to allow my daughter to have anything blue in her world.

Being a parent has to be the strangest thing you can do with your time!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Making friends?

How do you make friends? It's a weird process. When you're at college or work or hang out with a crowd of friends it can be an easy and organic process, but when you are at home with children, it becomes a bit more awkward. Recently, I have tried the contacting random home educating families nearby method, which was odd. We've met quite a few people through that but the genuine friendships springing from shared interests and outlooks still grow quite slowly and it's a nerve-racking process a bit like answering a lonely hearts ad and going on a blind date.

So, I've started going to LLL meetings. This was my second one and though everyone was friendly and chatty, I find big groups of people quite stressful and it's hard to pick out individuals who you might have something more in common with. And then when you do feel you might click with a particular person, there's that awkward part where you try and transfer the friendship to a one-on-one thing rather than a 'see you at each meeting' kind of thing. Instead of being a blind date, it's now more akin to asking someone out on a first date.

Now I've never really 'dated' as such so I'm not sure how valid this comparison is, but it certainly feels quite weird to me. There's so much potential for feeling rejected or for feeling obligated to people you don't actually like, or both! I find people tricky at the best of times so I'm feeling quite exhausted now at making such a huge effort and speaking to lots of people I don't know trying to be friendly and chatty and open. I know it's the only way, but phew...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Book reviews

I've been doing a lot of thinking the last few days about the computer and the world of the internet and I've come to the conclusion that I need to revise the way in which I use them. It's hard to really get to know someone properly online unless you're exchanging real emails on a one-to-one basis, but it is easy to *think* you know people and then be disappointed and disillusioned. I need to withdraw from virtual worlds a bit, even if that means feeling a bit isolated for a while. Better honestly isolated than feeling the delusion of support.

And so to books. Reading and writing are huge parts of my life which I ahven't really alluded to much on my blogs up until now. So, more discussion of what I'm reading and writing. Recently, I read Living with Honour: A Pagan Ethics which was a very dense and thoughtful read and has caused me to reflect on some aspects of my life and think very hard about others. In broad terms, I generally agreed with many of the author's points as I have in her previous books. I've also seen her speak on various occasions so I felt her voice and her passion come through the text which may otherwise have become rather too mystic and abstract. I'm still struggling with some issues raised by the book, which is usually the sign of a good book - sanctity and the practical consequences of animist views are areas I've always struggled to get my head round, but I'd really recommend the book, not only to Pagans as many of the issues raised are relevant to any person of faith, especially perhaps the more environmentally-based faiths such as Buddhism and simple ones such as Quakerism.

I've just finished The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime Adventures 2) which is the first Jasper Fforde book I have read. I've always been a science-fiction fan but this is different from most I ahve read before. I suppose the nearest other authors to compare it to are Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams in that it is stuffed full of puns, jokes and allusions to all kinds of literary and general knowledge. However, unlike those two authors, I felt that Fforde sacrificed characterisation and the flow of the story for this humour. The characters' post-modern awareness of being characters in a book and comments of the author's skill or otherwise was very jarring for me, as I like to lose myself in a book and its world. But it is a valid literary device which others may well enjoy, so for that reason I would recommend it.

Thursday, 31 July 2008


Well, despite the odd sticky weather followed by the rain, we have been celebrating Lammas today. For those who may not know, this is a modern Pagan festival, deriving from the Anglo-saxon 'loaf-mass' festival celebrating the first of the grain harvest. Now, we haven't been growing any grain sadly, but we have been harvesting more of our own crop, so this year it has had a real significance for us, more so than in previous years.

So, we have baked a traditional Lammas loaf, which I have to say I was quite impressed with, if I do say so myself! Here it is:

We also did some Lammas pictures - of wheat, bread, flour and other appropriate items and then wrote some Lammas poems. This was my daughter's poem:

Harvest Grain Makes Bread

Oh, harvesting wheat makes flour,
Flour makes bread,
We eat bread.
More and more wheat is harvested
With a combine harvester
And ground into flour.
Flour makes bread,
We eat it in the morning
And in the evening too.
Sometimes it's fun to eat it at teatime.

And this was my son's (I'm not sure he quite got the whole Lammas theme!):

If Somebody Wants To Sit At Teatime

If somebody wants to drive a car,
If somebody wants to have a break,
If somebody wants to colour, just get the crayons.
If somebody wants the pens, just draw with them.

All in all a creative day. I'll have to check if there are any flour mills near enough to us to visit for next year.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008


Work is one the toughest issues to work out satisfactorily I think. If only it was easy, or even relaively easy, to find work that paid enough to live on and that you could be passionate about. But despite great efforts, we have found it hard to be paid for our writing work meaning that one or both of us has to find other paid work to pay the bills. Ideally, this would involve us both working part-time and both looking after the children part-time, but realistically that has been hard to achieve. How to find 2 jobs which co-ordinate hours-wise and pay-wise with each other has proved impossible so far - though we're still looking out. So now that my husband is looking for a new job, again we have the dilemma of how much to compromise? It would be great even to just get a job which paid the minimum we need to live and gave him some hours free but this would probably be a 4 days a week job and we can't seem to find any of those at his level of work either. It seems to be full time or nothing.
Now that I've been out of the workforce for almost 6 years there's no way I can earn enough to keep the family, but surely I can earn more than my just-above minimum wage home-working job? Probably but then I'd have to find someone to look after the kids while I did it which would kind of defeat the whole object. Maybe I'll sell a book one day!
Inevitably, there is always a disadvantage with any job - either it involves travelling away from home, or it involves a commute, or it's too little money really, or it's for an unethical commercial business. Where to compromise? And how much? Maybe one day we'll get this issue sorted out. I hate the way it become central to our lives when it should just be a peripheral thing. Our life and our family are the most important things so how come jobs always loom so large? Oh yes, paying the bills, that's why.

Saturday, 26 July 2008


I'm struggling to find inspiration for cooking at the moment. There's so many things to think of - obviously the nutritional value of the food, the variety of dishes cooked, what the children will and won't eat, what suits the weather (been too hot for anything heavy this week) and trying to stick to a budget. And that's before you consider the organic, fair-trade, local, seasonal and wholesomeness aspect of it all. I find that trying new recipes often results in waste when the children reject part of it and also adds to the cost of the weekly shop due to having to buy specific new items. I have been trying to cut our costs and increase our nutritional benefit by finding recipes for things we often buy ready-made such as tortilla wraps and making them instead. This sometimes works out well and sometimes doesn't - the wraps went down very well and they're quick and easy to make but home-made hummus has never really worked out and I'm not sure why. Even I can taste that it doesn't taste like shop-bought hummus and while home-made things are usually better, somehow my hummus, no matter whch recipe I use, just isn't as nice and the children won't eat it.

I need some new ideas or else some children who aren't quite so picky. It's not fair, they used to eat anything when they were tiny. In fact, up to the age of about 2 and half, both of them would eat exactly what we had but gradually both of them got pickier about certain aspects of food - having things separate and not mixed, no sauces are the main things, but they mean no stews, soups, hotpots, lasagnes etc which makes things tricky. They do eat healthy food just not a very big variety of it and no mixed dishes. Well-meaning people say I should just serve what we're having and if they don't it then they go hungry, but I think this is rather draconian and probably counter-productive. I remember people trying to force me to eat things I didn't like as a child and it never actually made me eat them, it just created tension around meal-times and food issues in general which I'm not going to do for my children. Meal-times should be a relaxed, social occasion. Also, knowing my children, they'll just not eat, be hungry and then throw massive tantrums because they're hungry until I have to get them some food. That strikes me as a situation in which everyone loses. And tryign to starve a child into submission is pretty much tantamount to child abuse I think and certainly the opposite of respectful. I'm hoping this is one of those phases that they'll gradually grow out of.

Another thing people say to me is that if you breastfeed and then do child-led weaning, the child will grow up eating anything and be a great eater. Well, I'm here to tell you that 'it ain't necessarily so'! We did all that with both of them and both of them are picky, in their own different ways, of course, so don't try to tell me it's something I did to them!

Monday, 21 July 2008


This week I'm meditating on 'balance'. Balance is something I feel to be very important in life and often when something is wrong, it is because something or other is out of balance. I'm a very up and down person mood-wise, so trying to find that elusive balance is a key part of my meditations anyway. And this week I want to re-connect with ideas of balance, how to achieve it and how to discuss it with children, so I'm making it a theme.

I've also been wondering if there can be a negative side to balance. This isn't an idea I've previously entertained, but today I'm wondering if trying to maintain balance in my life can stop me committing too deeply to any one thing? And is so, is this a good or bad thing? Another negative side to balance is feeling a pressure to balance things - like when you feel you're juggling too many balls in the air at once and are terrified you'll drop one. Is there an optimal number of things in life to keep in balance before just trying to keep balanced knocks you off balance itself?

Or am I just thinking too much again?

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Living Woodland Day

We've just had a really good afternoon out at the kind of event I'd been hoping we'd start finding when we moved here, and now finally we have! It was a small local Living Woodland Day in our local woods on the common. We had a good time finding it spotting the computer-printed arrows pinned to trees through the paths and there was a charcoal burner there, people with foot-powered pole lathes and other wood-carving and craft items, people from the local eco-volunteers groups, a man making a replica of a Roman tile found on the common and people carding and spinning wool. The kids loved it. My son especially was fascinated by the wool-spinning and kept going back to have another go. It was quite tricky for him as it was treadle-powered and you needed to have quite a bit of co-ordination as well as enough power in your legs but he just loved it. We came home with bits of wool in our pockets spun by each child.

I joined the local society to protect the common and met the person I just sent off my subscription to to join the society to protect the local country park! We came home armed with leaflets about local events and guided walks in the woods as well as conservation information and the history of the area. I started feeling like we really belong here, as if I'm putting down roots in the immediate locality and feeling some connection with the countryside here.

I find it hard to articulate just why I feel so good about today: this was what I envisaged us doing with the children and as a family when we moved here. It felt like getting involved in the local community and learning about the local land and history. It felt like a family outing with a lovely walk in the woods, some learning, some fun and becoming part of it all somehow. Now we know about other such events that are taking place and particular places of interest to visit on our next walks.

This is particularly timely as I have been questioning the idea of 'belonging' this weekend - mainly due to feeling alienated from some places/groups/people that I had thought myself part of, and wondering why I even have this feeling of wanting to belong at last. I'm not a 'joiner' and I never have been. I am a confirmed introvert and not fond of groups of people, but since having children I've felt the need to put down proper roots, become part of a community. I'm still pondering the form this will take. I have tried to be involved in things before and it's never gone well so I'm cautious. I don't like to put all my eggs in one basket and join one thing and put my all into that one thing. I prefer to be part of different things in different areas of my life, but I don't really have time and energy to spare to do lots of different things right now. And yet, dipping a toe into lots of different things doesn't really satisfy that urge to belong. Maybe I just need to keep looking.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

A year today!

It was one year ago today that we finally moved to this house after a a horrendous trying-to-move process that took about 18 months, so it's time to reflect on what we have achieved during this time.

We wanted: a smaller, friendlier place to live with it's own character that wasn't just a suburb of London; to get involved in a local home educating community; to get an allotment; to grow things in our own garden; for the children to have more space to play in; to have more space in the kitchen for baking and eating as a family around a table; more green space easily accessible; to make friends.

We are still getting used to the town but it is smaller and friendlier - people aren't often shot round here which is an improvement, plus we're not too scared to go to the local parks and playgrounds due to drunks and junkies and anti-social teenagers.

We now regularly see around 6 or 7 home educating families and are getting to know them. This suits us better than going to groups at the moment.

We have an allotment which we finally got in March (forgot to take my camera there today) and which the kids are now enjoying. We've also had a nice crop of potatoes from it.

The garden is long and narrow which is a difficult shape to take advantage of, but it has provided the children with space to run around, play football, skip, ride bikes, do gardening and have a playhouse. We've also had a good crop of garlic, onions and strawberries from it, as well as growing herbs, runner beans, tomatoes, raspberries, carrots, sprouts, apples, pears and cobnuts. It will take a while for the trees we've planted to grow taller but the garden looks much better and is such a fantastic thing to have. Unlike our previous tiny patch of grass, this garden is enclosed, away from traffic and I can let the children out there unsupervised without worrying they will get run over. This is how the garden looked when we moved in:

And this is how it looks today:

We have a kitchen table and we bake and eat as a family. Despite much less helpful public transport, we have been getting out and about much more and maybe we are slowly making friends.

We've also done loads of small but vital jobs round the house including getting a water butt, compost bins, bike shed, putting up shelves, getting an oven which actually worked, getting the boiler replaced and so many other things which sound trivial but which have contributed to the running of our household so much. I'm so glad that we no longer live in a 1 and half bedroom flat with 2 small children and a cat, with no space for a table to eat and draw at.

It's been a tough and busy year involving me doing a lot of things I really dislike and really stretching me beyond my comfort zone practically the whole time, but things seem to be settling to a new equilibrium now. We have space - both physical and mental - to think beyond the immediate and to make tentative plans for the future. The children are thriving - my daughter can now ride a 2 wheeled bike, skip, read and write, make complicated art items involving scissors, glue and sellotape; my son can now ride a two wheeled bike with stabilisers, use scissors, write some letters and numbers, recognise some words including his name, help baking.

It's been a massive year for all of us.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Sigh, one of those days!

We really and truly had 'one of those days' yesterday. I'm never sure what kicks it off - if it's the children pushing me further than I can go, or if it's me being short on patience due to tiredness, hormones or something else, or probably a combination of both. My daughter argues, my son is cheerily defiant and non-compliant, things get broken which I have to clear up and one or other of the children manages to fall off something/tread on something sharp/bang some part of themselves on something hard about every 2 minutes. My daughter has hysterics about something completely trivial regularly throughout the day.

And it all adds up to a big crisis of confidence. Can I really do this home education thing? Not the education part, I'm pretty cool about that, but just being with the children so intensely non-stop. I start wondering if it would be better for the kids to be away from me if I'm going to shout at them and be horrible. But surely, my inadequacies is no way to make such an important decision about their education? And also, after they have been away from me (with their Granny) for a couple of hours, they are all over me as if they haven't seen me for days! My son tells me 'I cried for you, Mummy, when I hurt my foot,' and I'm overcome with remorse for not having been there.

I suppose it was all just a bad day. People whose children are at school must have them too? So, deep breath and start another day with a blank slate. At least children don't hold yesterday's bad mood against you.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Learning with Singstar

OK, I know Singstar Rock! is probably not generally considered a tool of natural parenting but desperate times call for desperate measures and my husband had gone to a gig and my daughter was rather cross (BIG understatement) because he had gone before tea. So, I got out Singstar Rock! and performed many a tune for my sometimes amused, sometimes bemused offspring. Just like a campfire - kind of.

It was my son's turn and he chose Smoke on the Water, a big favourite of his. While I was singing, he turned to his sister and asked why the video was all black with no colour? I was mentally preparing an explanation of how it was an old song and that colour TV was relatively new, when my daughter said to him, knowledgeably: "because black and white is more Rock!"

And the scales fell from my eyes and I realised she was right, many of the more modern videos on Singstar Rock! are also in black and white. One of which is The Bravery's An Honest Mistake which was my daughter's choice next, and it was then that I realised how little we pay attention to images once we have learned to read, if there is writing available instead. True, I was following the lyrics printed on the screen, but realistically I know the words off by heart now. And yet, I still wasn't watching the complicated images of the video like the children, completely undistracted by the words, were. There is surely a lesson here, though I'm not quite sure what precisely. So I followed it up with some rousing pop-punk in the form of the Offspring, always a favourite in our house.

And all this after a perfect morning out at the allotment. Finally, it is falling into place. As I had always imagined, the children asked to go, happily cycled there, enjoyed doing weeding, mulching and digging up potatoes before cycling home, tired but happy, despite my son being unable to cycle the last little bit due to his 'legs being too hungry'. We have turned into the Waltons. Hurrah!

New home for my blog

Well my blog has a new home and a new name to reflect all the changes in my life in the last year. My old blog and all the posts I made on it are still online and accessible here but all posts from now on will be on this one.

Now the children are starting to grow out of their babyhood, I feel more able to think clearly and deeply again and will be using this blog as a way of musing about how family life works, the funny things children say and do, and reflecting on how being a mother has changed me.

I hope that anyone who has previously read my blog will stay with me in this new start.