Monday, 29 June 2009


I hate hate hate this weather. It's too hot, I'm uncomfortable and grouchy, the kids are uncomfortable and grouchy, none of us can sleep, as soon as we go outside everyone gets even more grumpy and fed-up so we are staying inside the house as much as possible - which is mad in the summer! Plus everyone's sneezing constantly. I'm all for warm, sunny days but anything over 26C is too much for us here and it is that in the house in the shade today. Walking to the station along the hot pavements reflecting back the heat and sitting on stuffy trains is torture in this weather, and don;t get me started on going shopping this morning *shudder*. And I'm going to have to cycle to the allotment every day after tea to water it as it's so dry. Just another job to add to the mix. ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!! Make it stop.

Thursday, 25 June 2009


Now, I realise it's very sad to be excited about onions, but these are the first crop from our allotment this year, dried and strung, and hung up in our kitchen and so I'm very chuffed!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Solstice musings

Currently, I'm finding the solstices are the festivals which resonate most with me. Change seems to be a daily occurrence here at the moment and this seems to be reflected in my feeling of affinity with those 2 most momentous changes in the year, the solstices, when the whole tide of the year turns and swings back the opposite way.
I've always felt the new year, for me, to start at the winter solstice. The return of the sun and the tide of the year turning to go out just always feels to me like the start of something. Things start to grow then, even in the depths of the winter. Tucked up in the house, the germs of ideas start in the mind just as the seeds already lie dormant in the earth, planted, but waiting for spring to burst into life. And this year this was more true than ever with our family's leap into the unknown with the ending of my husband's job in January. And so we've spent the first half of this year frantically putting plans into action, seeking inspiration, enacting new ideas and new projects. And now the tide is turning, will we see the fruits of our labours? I hope so. The tide is starting, ever so slowly at first, to return towards us. The year matures into harvest time and then consolidation and dormancy once again.
As my husband finishes his teaching course, I lead my local Home Ed Group into its new permanent home, we jointly seek new employment opportunities, my novel goes out into the world to seek an agent, I ponder ideas for re-training for myself, our allotment starts to yield its produce, and the children change in leaps and bounds in so many ways all the time - I wonder what fruits this autumn will have for us as a family.
This has been a quiet, contemplative summer solstice, and I feel I have learnt a great deal in the past year and also changed a fair amount. The noble virtue I have been meditating on most of all recently has been 'perseverance'. I am quietly confident that whatever changes we see by the winter solstice will be for the best, and that the chnaging of the next tide will bring further change and good fortune.
Summer blessings to all!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Solstice poems

In honour of tomorrow's summer solstice, the children have once again been composing poems. This time, they've both composed and written out (with help with spellings!) their own poems! This is the first time my son has done his own writing, so I'm really proud of him. And here are the masterpieces, first my daughter's:

The Sun Shines So Brightly

As light as a feather it feels today
With the sun blazing down, hooray!
Oh, we enjoy the sun so much
Because it grows our plants
And we can have fun outside.
We like to play in the open air,
Oh yeah!
Hooray, we can go outside and play,
The sun is blazing down today.

And my son's:

Summer Sun

I like blueberries when it's sunny.
I like the summer solstice.
I like sunshine.

So there you have it! Happy solstice to everyone for tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Conflict and balance

Things are getting so busy. Working, being with the children closely and attentively enough to be able to respond to their expressed needs and interests and follow up their educational interests in a timely manner, attending to the allotment in this, the busiest time of the year. That doesn't leave much extra time, but what little I have is now being taken up with organising the Home Ed Group as we move into our own hall, and writing to MPs and such-like to fight the Badman Report (Badman take note, I have to take time away from educating my children in order to fight your stupid report on whow I'm not educating properly! Grrr). And so now, just when I'm at my busiest, with my husband doing full-time temp work while also doing a college course, a writing class and an on-going role-playing commitment, my town decideds to start up a Transition Town Movement. This is something I'm really interested in and would like to be involved in, but how much more unpaid work can I really justify when every hour I spend on that kind of thing is an hour I could have spent working for actual real money which pays the mortgage and for food? And that isn't even counting the time I spend writing and trying to get stuff published, which I justify to myself by saying that it *could* end up bringing in money for us.
I suppose the essential dilemma is the eternal parental dilemma of how to divide your time: children v paid work v creative self-expressing activities v maintaining adult relationship & friendships v voluntary community work v reading a damn good book... need I go on? Anyone got any insights into creating that essential balance? Is it harder to get that balance when you home educate? Or is it just harder if you have a lot of creative interests and want to get involved in your community?

Sunday, 14 June 2009


I'm not very good at being patient. I may take a long time to research things and come to decisions, but once I have decided something, I want to do NOW and I want to do it PERFECTLY. Obviously, this is entirely doomed to failure and then I get very discouraged. There are so many things right now that I want to just get doing and get finished - the allotment, finding a permanent home for our local Hme Ed group, sorting out our work/family situation, trying to get my book published - not to mention all the other ongoing stuff such as meal planning and cooking, gardening, being with the children, working...
Once again, everything takes over my brain and I can't see the wood for the trees, but I'm learning. Being on the allotment, by myself, in nice weather is helping me to slow down, to re-connect and to find a peaceful centre in myself. At first when I arrived there today I though 'oh no! All the weeds again! And I'm just not getting anywhere!' But after a few hours of rushing round like a headless chicken trying to do *all* the jobs that needed doing, all at once, I began to calm down and feel that earth energy. A bit of weeding revealed that the beetroot and leeks I had thought had not germinated were actually growing after all. The potatoes are doing fantastically. The shed is now secure and helpful. I planted out my butternut squash plants, and managed to do a fair amount of tidying. But the best thing today was seeing a nearby plot-holder and finding out about the site email contact list. One of the things we moved to this town for, almost 2 years ago now, was to put down roots and become part of the local community. When this didn't happen immediately, I lost hope and felt cross, isolated and alienated. But today, I have finally realised that it is happening, albeit slowly and gradually. I am part of the local Home Ed community, I am part of the local allotment coomunity. I am making friends through the local La Leche League. I am starting to feel at home here. It isn't happening overnight, as I'd wanted, but thre fact that it is happening has taught me something about things taking their own time, about gradual change and about my own impatience.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Badman's Report, of course

Well, if there's anyone in the Home Ed community who hasn't yet read it and despaired, here is the link to Badman's Report and a real humdinger of an intrusion into private family life it is. Quite apart from the compulsory registration, there's the recommendation for the new power for LEA inspectors to have 'right of access' to home educator's homes and the right to speak to children without their parents present. Plus the usual crap about enforcing minimum standards by forcing parents to submit plans, curricula and expected achievement outcomes. I wonder what will happen if you submit 'I expect my child to be healthy, happy and curious' as a planned learning outcome? I notice he also recommends that flexi-schooling should be made easier and that exam provision should be taken on by the LEA and should be free to parents for the 'standard' exams. Which I suppose is a good thing (trying to look for the silver lining here). However, I can't pretend that I'm not utterly depressed by this report. Why should home educators register when pupils at private schools will not have to? Why are we suspected of abuse when most of these horrific (and thankfully rare) cases occur to children who are below school age anyway? Or are they going to use these recommendations as a way of opening up compulsory state access to younger children too?
I'm utterly fed up with the govt right now. They need to sort out all the stuff that is allegedly under their control before they seek to extend their powers into things which do not concern them. Where is all the money going to come from to enforce and police all these new ideas, that's what I'd like to know? I'm going to write to my MP, of course, and suggest that everyone else does too. Even those who don't home educate yourselves - if you have children, they're after you too. Fight for everyone to still have the choice. You are your child's parent, not the state.
The consultation is here so everyone get repsonding and tell the govt to butt out of your family life and how insulting and outrageous you find it that the govt wants to register home educators, dictate curriculum to them, have the right to enter their homes for no reason, and speak to their children alone without their permission.

Sunday, 7 June 2009


The news this week has seemed full of depressing stuff even more than usual. The Badman Home Ed review is due out imminently and alleged leaks from it sound truly depressing - compulsory registration and imposed minimum standards. Plus the suggestion that, due to parents' concenrs over MMR, it should be made compulsory in order to gain access to state education. Do these people listen to themselves? Do they think about the principles behind what they're suggesting and the implications? Or do they just see other people doing things they disagree with and so want to lash out and make them confirm to what they view as the 'obvious sensible choice'.
I am getting totally fed-up of the state trying to micro-manage every detail of my life. The fact that they have failed so dismally with schools recently that the level of functional illiteracy and innumeracy is at the highest level for decades, children are committing suicide due to exam pressure, and depression is at the higest level ever, suggest to me that the government may not actually be the expert on how to raise a happy and healthy child that they pretend to be. And so now they want to extend this ignorance to those of us who have opted out from the state schooling system? Yeah, right!
And don't even get me started on how abhorrent it is to even think of introducing state-enforced medical treatment, of any kind, for anyone.