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!