Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bird Activity

The birds appear very active in the garden at present. I am pretty sure that a pair of robins are building a nest in the ivy on the garage. Also spied a blackbird and a wren checking out the same ivy for potential nesting sites. Could get a bit crowded in there. Yesterday morning when I was watching the bird antics on the nut and seed feeders I suddenly caught sight of something different moving on the ground underneath the feeders. It was a little wood mouse, very cute. I will miss the garden when we have to move just hope we can find a place in the country with a few trees and shrubs.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Germs and Gender

Finally feeling well enough to post. Our household with the exception of Nigel has been hit by a particularly nasty strain of the flu virus. After feeling wretched for almost a week the kids and I have decided that we are not attending anymore home education events that are held indoors as they appear to be breeding grounds for some very nasty bugs. This is the second time that we have all been quite ill after attending such events. I can't understand why some parents think it is acceptable to take their sick kids to events and spread their germs around the rest of us. Well we have had enough if they won't stay away we will. Just in case anyone thinks I am being unfair and that we could have picked the germs up elsewhere you only have to look at the evidence. We are not the only family to have been hit by the offending bugs after attending the two events. The incubation period from initial exposure to development of symptoms also ties in with the event dates. So I have to say the evidence is pretty strong. Well rant over and on to other things.

For the past few months it has become increasing apparent that Thea is moving into the pubescence phase - both physically and emotionally. We have chatted about what the changes mean and how it is all part of growing up. Initially she said she didn't want to grow up. I remember feeling the same myself at her age, sometimes I am amazed at how very similar we are in our thoughts and feelings - spooky. I also said to her that whilst our bodies change from a child to an adult form and we can't stop and shouldn't want to stop this remarkable process we can still retain the child within us. For as Roald Dahl says "When you grow up and have children of your own do please remember something important - a stodgy parent is no fun at all. What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY." And I say to be SPARKY you have to remember what it is like to be a child.

My mum recently purchased two very good kids books from The Book People which deal with the physical and emotional issues of growing up. I am well impressed with these publications despite their pink for a girl, blue for a boy stereotypical covers. Thea has read the one written for girls from cover to cover. Just wish they had been around when I was at school much more informative and far less embarrassing than any sex education lessons I had to endure - still cringe now thinking about them.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Half Term

It is half term in North Yorkshire so the children are making the most of seeing their friends. Thea and James have both had friends for sleepovers and last night Thea spent the night at a friend's house.
This morning we attended a meeting of the Tees Valley Home Education group. It was great fun and James thoroughly enjoyed building with Teifoc Bricks (brick laying in miniature), Mum thought it was pretty good fun too. A reporter turned up at the meeting from a local newspaper, she is writing an article on home education, I wonder what spin she will put on it. During the afternoon Thea made some Peppermint Creams and then set up a stall outside to sell them. She made 20p - an entrepreneur in the making perhaps?
I have been looking at houses in Fife and haven't yet seen anything that really catches my eye. I can definitely see us living in the caravan for a few months. I am so pleased we have invested in a more deluxe model.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Kissu Capers

Much of the weekend has again been spent decorating and when I haven't been decorating I have been clearing out junk. Its amazing how much stuff you accumulate over the years and we haven't even started on the garage or loft yet!!

On Sunday we decided to go for a walk with some friends. Although the weather was misty it was noticeably warmer than earlier in the week. After 12 years in a wardrobe and a rucksack the Kissu (storm shelter - perhaps best described as a tent without poles) was finally put into action. The kids had great fun trying it out and it made a cosy retreat for our snack. Even the dog joined in on the fun - see last photo. Can't imagine what any passing hikers made of the whole episode - must have looked very strange!

Today we went to the first meeting of a home education group in Durham and had an enjoyable time playing games and making valentine mobiles. Lets hope the group is now able to build upon this successful first meeting. There is certainly a need for more of these types of events across the North East region.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Still tired from the day trip to Fife. The snow was a bit challenging in the borders but we managed to get to the interview with 30 minutes to spare.
I tried to take some photos of the Forth Road Bridge for Thea and James but as we didn't have time to pull over the overall effect was less than impressive - nice rear shot of a white van but even a speed camera could have done a better job!

Just heard from Nigel we are emigrating to Scotland. Guess that means the DIY will be stepping up a gear. Perhaps its time to write to DIY SOS with a desperate plea for help. I think I could live with the embarrassment of appearing on TV if it meant everything was finished in a weekend.

When I collected Thea and James from their sleepover my mum commented how much she thought James' reading had improved. I was really pleased that she could see a difference but what pleased me more was that he felt confident enough to read to her.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Triangular Numbers

Spent most of yesterday feeling unwell so I decided to encourage the kids to watch Schools TV on BBC2, not something we usually do. We all thought the Maths Challenge was good fun, I think we will start watching it on a more regular basis.

We have been exploring the concept of triangular numbers - a number that can make a triangular dot pattern. Good job I bought the Primary Maths Dictionary as I don't remember ever doing triangular numbers at primary or secondary school. After working through some examples Thea rushed off to get a box of Tobelerone and swiftly arranged the sweets into a triangular number configuration. Thea then raised an interesting point - how can 1 be a triangular number, it doesn't make a triangle. After some consideration she then said if the dots were triangles as opposed to circles that would work, see picture below.
Both Thea and James decided to spend Tuesday night and Wednesday with Nanna rather than accompany Nigel to Fife for his interview. A wise move given the weather forecast. I don't know what it is about us and Scotland and extreme weather.

More Decorating and Orienteering

I seem to be spending most of my weekends decorating and am starting to suffer from DIY fatigue. To escape the painting and varnishing for a few hours we decided to go orienteering on Sunday morning. CLOK (Cleveland Orienteering Klub) had arranged an event at Errington Woods. Both Thea and James competed in the Yellow colour coded category and had a great time. Its an excellent way to keep fit and learn to map read.
Found this on our local home education site at the weekend, thought it was extremely amusing so thought I would share it with you all:

A woman, renewing her driver's license was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself. "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job or are you just a......?" "Of course I have a job," snapped the woman. "I'm a Mum." "We don't list 'Mum' as an occupation, 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically. I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar." "What is your occupation?" she probed. What made me say it? I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations." The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right! I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire. "Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field? "Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, and already have four credits (all sons). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any parent care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, ( 24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money. "There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up and personally ushered me to the door. As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13 , 7 , and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mum." Motherhood! What a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door. Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations" and great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates"? I think so!!! I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants".

Friday, February 02, 2007

More journeys

After yesterday's travels we couldn't face going out in the car again so decided to spend a quiet day at home. Had a lovely walk over to Thea's piano lesson in the afternoon. I was annoyed with myself for forgetting my camera.
Nigel received a letter inviting him to a job interview in Cupar, Fife, next Wednesday. I have checked the Met Office weather site and yep it looks like another epic journey maybe on the cards - snow is forecast!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Traffic and the tunnel

Decided we would go to a meeting of home educators today but never got there. Instead we spent 40 minutes plus trying to get through the Tyne Tunnel. When we eventually got to the other side there was so little time left before the meeting finished we decided it wasn't worth going. Called in to see some friends and spent an enjoyable afternoon chatting and playing Chinese Chequers. Noticed that the Chinese Chequer board is a pentagram.
Thea has been given a chemistry set, which was surplus to someones requirements. I can't believe it, the set has never been used, its brilliant. Thea was soooo..... made up she can't wait to set up some experiments. There will be plenty to keep her busy, the set includes instructions for 100 experiments.