Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Pancake Day!

Well, the pancakes went down well today with the children who assured me that they *love* pancakes, despite me remembering only too clearly that last year they wouldn't touch them, which is why we haven't had them again till today. Oh well, good to know that they like them now.

What didn't go quite so well was explaining *why* it was Pancake Day and what that meant. OK, so it's the last day before Lent. OK, so the son of the Christian God spent 6 weeks in the desert being tempted by a devil. What's a devil? Um, a not nice person who tries to make you do wrong things. OK. So, what did the devil try and make Jesus do? Um, he tried to make him a king rather than go and be executed. Huh? So what was wrong with that? Moving swiftly on, Jesus was excecuted on a cross and Christians believe that saved them from their sins. So, a bit like the Aztecs throwing people down their pyramids to get the sun to come back? Erm, guess so... And then Jesus came back from the dead on Easter Sunday. Looks of pitying scorn. Mummy, people don't come back from the dead.

OK, so the religion lesson didn't go so well then...

Monday, 23 February 2009

Writing and reading

I've been a bit off fiction at the moment which is normally my favourite vice, but I can't seem to settle to a book at the moment. Maybe because I know I should be trying to finish the next draft of the novel I am writing at the moment. I still don't feel properly well though and having a head which feels like it's stuffed with cotton wool is not the best start for the complicated task of a third edit of a 90,000 word book. Or maybe that's just an excuse. Maybe what I'm really afraid of is that after spending a year on writing and editing it, if I actually finish it and submit it to agents and publishers they will once again unanimously reject it and I will once again feel like I've wasted my time and energy, and my confidence will again plummet. Obviously I'll never know unless I try and I really will try and pull myself together, but my confidence it pretty low right now anyway. None of my other efforts at novels have been published (well, unless you count this one which is self-published, but hardly a best-seller).
However, I have been reading some interesting non-fiction. United States of Hysteria: An Englishwoman's Journey Through the Madness of America by Anne Dixey is a memoir of a London woman who moved to Washington DC with her family 3 weeks before 9/11 and it is fascinating reading. Of course it is easy to be dismissive or scathing of another culture and ignore the bizarre things we do here, but there were many truly scary things in this book which made me appreciate little old England far more than ever before. Such as when Dixey's 5 year old daughter came home from school with the news that they'd been practising the drill for when a gunman is loose in the school (go into the toilets and stay very quiet!) after a gunman had shot 10 people over a 3 week period in the neighbourhood.
I'm just wishing that an American friend of mine who lives here now would write a similar book about her experience of the different cultures - I think that would also be a fascinating read!

Sunday, 22 February 2009


To try and distract me from our current lack of money, I have been reading In The Red by Alexis Hall and have been truly shocked! It's a diary by a 'recovering shopaholic' who owes over £30,000 at the beginning when she imposes some rules on herself to try and clear her debt and change her ways.
Now, it's true that I've never been remotely interested in fashion, shoes, handbags or designer labels, which must help a lot, but I'm truly staggered at the things she's bought and how much they cost. Her self-imposed regime to sure herself still allows a lot more spending than we *ever* do, and she still feels deprived.
I've been annoying my husband all day by reading bits out and then saying smugly "bet you're glad I don't do that..."
It is a fascinating read in a horrifying way (and yes, I got it from the library, I didn't but it!).

Friday, 20 February 2009

Half term

Now, tell me why it is that half term should have so much impact on us when we home educate? Well, because we can barely go anywhere during half terms due to huge crowds of (often badly behaved) children and their (often equally badly behaved) parents - over-excited, rushed about, exasperated (and that's just the parents!).
At the beginning of each half term I tick off all the things NOT to do during the week - playgrounds in the afternoon, swimming at any time, any children's attraction such as farms, soft play, the library. And definitely never go into the town centre.
I feel so sad for all these children who seem quite bwelidered to be out and about during the day, and also for their parents who don't seem to know what to do with them or how to interact with them.
However, mostly I feel sorry for us as we have a week in which we can't do any of our usual things and it's dull. Roll on the start of school next week!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

6th birthday!

It's my daughter's 6th birthday today and I can't quite believe how quickly the time has gone. For me and my husband it has been a day of remembering her birth and how she has gone from that small baby into the tall, leggy, intelligent and occasionally infuriating child that we know and love.

This was the cake and alas, I can't take the credit for it, though it was my idea. sadly, I was too ill to do it last week so my mum stepped into the breach.

It has been a busy but enjoyable day and now we have to steel ourselves for the day in 3 weeks when our son turns 4!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Stuff we've made

So, first the crafts. Today we have made treasure maps (aged with tea-bags, not that you can see that very well in the photos). This one was my son's:

And this one is my daughter's:

And a couple of days ago we made Mr Men biscuits with a set of cutters which used to be mine when I was a child and that my mum recently found in a kitchen cuoboard clear-out and brought over. I was quite impressed at how well they came out, but didn't take the 1970s instructions to paint them with vast amounts of food colouring. Mr Sneeze was a bugger to get out without breaking his legs, and my daughter observed that this was probably why there wasn't a Mr Tall cutter. I had to agree.

But this is my question. Do other people find this 'fits and starts' pattern to home ed life? It feels like we do several 'activities' or special craft projects, or workbooks within one or 2 days and then nothing but lego, or playing Spiderman, or listening to audio books, or making huge messes (I mean picnics for their toys out of tissue paper, of course!) for several weeks until I start to worry that we're 'not doing anything' and instigate some more activities and then the whole thing starts all over again.
I mean, obviously I offer ideas and stuff if they can't occupy themselves and we read together every day and often go out to groups and stuff, but I don't want to get in their way when they're obviously flowing in the activities they're planning and carrying out for themselves. Is there an ideal balance? Obviously, they're still quite young, but my daughter's 6th birthday tomorrow is making me wonder if I should be *doing* more in some way?
I was reading an argu... I mean intelligent discussion on one of the HE yahoo lists this morning in which the merits or otherwise of autonomous HE were once again bandied back and forth. And I'm always very aware that true autonomous HE doesn't consist of just leaving your kids to get on with it, but actually requires offering opportunities and ideas and facilitating well when one sticks. We've never even been fully autonomous anyway. I'm not sure what I'm asking really. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Fevers and mastitis

To expand on my rather terse previous post. Having had the most sickly winter we've ever had, ever, it now continues. I haven't got over the last horrible flu-like cold and cough yet but we've all had another one which has scarily involved my daughter just lying inert and asleep with fever for 30 hours straight, interspersed with the odd 5 minutes of 'coming to' and either rambling on about god knows what and maybe hallucinating, or being very distressed. As anyone who has met my daughter knows, she is an 'all or nothing' kind of girl and is very easily distressd about being ill and very hard to care for. She wouldn't be tepid-sponged, refused to give up her duvet despite literally steaming, and wouldn't let Daddy out of her sight. I guess it's a good thing he hasn't got a job yet then!
My son, more used to fevers, decided he'd merely ride them out by being awake all night for 2 nights running, while burrowing into my armpit and feeding for hours at a time which seems to have left me with a blocked duct in my armpit - yes, my bloody armpit! So now I have the cold and cough, on top of my old cold and cough, plus I can't tell if the shivers and fever and from incoming mastitis or just my cold.
This is why I am totally fed up. I am going to watch Pride & Prejudice on DVD now to cheer myself up!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Fed up

I'm totally fed up. That is all.

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Usually Imbolc is one of my favourite festivals as it you really start to notice the days getting longer at this time of year, but not this year. With the snow still lying inches deep in our town and more forecast for tonight there's not the smallest hope of seeing any snowdrops even if any were hardy enough to raise their heads. And I can't tell how light it may be under the covering of heavy, ominous cloud.
I don't normally celebrate festivals by the calendar, I usually wait until it feels 'right' and some years I've celebrated Imbolc earlier than February as a result but I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever celebrate it this year. I've been looking up some ideas for Imbolc crafts that we haven't done before and feeling less than inspired. It just doesn't feel right yet. And yet I also ahve the feeling that I'm waiting, waitig for something which is overdue. I feel stuck in limbo - it should be starting to feel spring-like and yet this is the worst weather we've had all winter, with no sign of it letting up yet. I don't want to make suns and snowdrops and custard, I still feel like hearty winter vegetable fare, even though I am simultaneously bored by that now.
Maybe the weather is reflecting my state of mind, and the state of our life at the moment, or maybe we are stuck in our life right now because the weather hasn't changed and pushed through a new phase. We are holding our breath...

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


I can't believe what an effect the weather is having on us here. Yesterday we went out to our local Spar and it was closed, so we ventured further afield and there was no milk or bread to be had for love nor money, we got no post or milk delivery yesterday and the shops had no deliveries either.
Today I woke thinking it would be bound to change today, but the snow was still lying exactly as it had been yesterday and it was even still snowing. I had to venture out due to lack of food and the streets were eerie like something out of a post-apocalyptic film. Cars were few and far between and going *really* slowly. People were walking along the roads as the pavements are still impassable to anyone without the properties of a mountain goat. There are strange still statues watching you go past everywhere - snowmen! Loads of them, many of them six foot and more, and even one snow fort compkete with turrets and flags. But not many people.
In the centre of town, over half the shops in the shopping centre were shut - not just small independent but large ones too like Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser. The shelves of Waitrose were strangely bare, especially of milk, organic produce and fresh stuff. People are chatting to each other in a much more friendly way than normal, exchanging snow stories. And a strange hush all the way back.
It's so strange how everything comes to a halt, but kind of nice really. There are more important things than the wheels of commerce and people seem cautiously cheerful, unused to being out and about during the day on a weekday. Mother Nature has given us a time out of time. I'm trying hard to appreciate it.

Monday, 2 February 2009


So here's the obligatory snow post. I thought it was going to be one of those panics that didn't come to anything but then I woke up this morning to almost 7 inches of snow and it's still falling. I don't ever remember snow this deep in the southeast. Here's what it looked like out our front window this morning:

The cars were finding it really hard to get out - there's a layer of ice under the snow!