"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Thursday, 31 January 2008

A picture can be worth a thousand words...

I popped in to catch up on the goings on with Sally at Happy@home and found A fun assignment for Mon 28th Jan,even though it is thursday I thought I would like to play

I would like to know or see what is on in and under your bedside table

This came from The Lurchers
So in the spirit of sharing a slice of my life here we go....

I am a person who loves order and calmness. We have recently decorated our room a calming white and duck egg blue combination. On one side of the bed is a dressing table with a few pretty things on and Emily's latest book that she is sharing with her Dad and a bandanna she likes to wear.

On the other side of the dressing table are a couple of photos, the empty frame has been sitting for about 5 months now waiting to have a photo put in, I just keep forgeting!! The other is one of my most treasured possesions and is one of the things I would have to grab if ever there was a fire...

This photo holds so many memories.
Emily was born two months prem weighing in at 3 pounds 8oz. I had an emergency ceasarean .In a way I was lucky they didn't have time to give me a general anesthetic, I got to see her as she was born,I remember feeling that although it wasn't the birth I had planned it was still a lovely experience. All the staff were great and the anaesthetist was funny and kept my mind off things and Alan looked so handsome in his Drs scrubs!!! A short time later they wheeled my bed to special care for me to see her.She was on what they called a CPAP machine and looked so small and fragile.After that visit some complications set in and I was shifted about between a side ward and the labour ward for observation and was as low as I could be.I do believe I was in a state of shock. I had been to see my midwife for a routine check in the afternoon and by 10.30pm Emily was born.I can remember being in a side room off the labour ward, hearing all the midwives going about their day and I felt so lonely and scared.Every now and again someone would pop in to do the obs and then off they went again. My youngest sister came with her husband and they were allowed in for a few minutes and she left me some magazines and a frame. Shortly after,as if by magic one of the nurses from special care came with my first picture of Milly ,she put it in the frame for me and left and I can remember all the emotions just welling up inside and as I looked at my darling daughters face I cried and cried and cried...This picture signifies a time in my life where I was at my lowest point but at the same time the most joyous and life changing..

As we move to the other side we have more evidence of Milly in the adornment of the bedpost, an old wine bottle holder stuffed with her precious things and a gauze bag on the bedstead.

On my side of the bed we have the alarm which we never use to actually wake us but has a radio and cd player. Ear plugs for me as we have a snorer in the room and books, story cds and drawing paper,and pencil sharpener as further evidence Milly spends a lot of time here.

More photos and of couse a small disco ball, what bedroom would be complete without one? Those are the things on top of the bedside cabinets, in the drawers are undies and bedding and the usual clutter drawer with bags of makeup that I have never used and will probably never use but I never get round to throwing away in case it comes in handy.

Under the bedside cabinet is where my most treasured item sleeps,she has enabled me to grow in so many ways since she came along.Because of her I let go of my need for order and calmness and give in to the adornment that takes place in Millys world, I struggle to balance on her mattress to get into my wardrobe every morning, and I wear ear plugs every night because it is her rather than Alan that snores so loudly.We hold hands before we go to sleep and since she has been sharing our space I feel closer and more connected to her than I ever have before.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Clarity, A litttle Sex Ed and a Blog award....

I have just re-read 3 articles by Arun at The Parenting Pit starting with this one and moving on to this and finally this. In these articles I have gained even more clarity to the questions I have been asking myself over the last few days. I have to accept that I am on a journey, it has been a gradual process over a year to understand unschooling and how Emily will learn. In the same way changes in how we parent should not happen overnight but be a gradual and comfortable change for us all.In that way things will not seem so mountainous and I can see that by doing it slowly I will gain confidence.I am a very impatient person and need things to happen quickly once a decision has been made, this is a good lesson for me to learn!!!!

How have I found the time in the middle of the day to read so much? Emily is upstairs listening to another CD story tape by Phillip Pullman .I have on occasion gone up and listened with her but I think she actually prefers to be by herself.She keeps popping down as Meagan the character she was from yesterday and at present I am looking after Rose her baby!! We had a very interesting discussion on how it is possible to have a baby outside marriage, my assumption is there is some discussion about work houses and illegitimate children on the tape, I will clarify that with her later as it didn't fit in at the time we had the conversation.She has declined all my suggestions to do other things .I am just waiting to see if she wants to do a Tye dye kit she got for Xmas as she did at least say she would do that later!!! She's just gone into the garden with a handful of barbies so perhaps we won't be doing the Tye dye just yet!!!

We are going to look after my nephew after school today, the planned walk with some of the home ed group didn't come off this morning, but as Emily has been coughing a lot I think it is just as well having a quiet day as it seems a good bet she is struggling to fight something off, fingers crossed she managed to resist whatever it is.

In other news I have been given an award by Colleen at The New Unschooler.Can't remember ever having won an award!!! Thanks to Colleen who has been inspiration to me, so many of the things she blogged about in a very honest and thought provoking way were happening to me.Now I just have to find out how to get the award onto my blog(dragging it does't work for me Colleen) and award it to ten others.......

Have I seemed stable over the last few days !!!!

You Have A Type B+ Personality

You're a pro at going with the flow

You love to kick back and take in everything life has to offer

A total joy to be around, people crave your stability.

While you're totally laid back, you can have bouts of hyperactivity.

Get into a project you love, and you won't stop until it's done

You're passionate - just selective about your passions

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A day of reflection and Milly got married!!!

I have had lots to think about today.I have had some really helpful comments and have managed to get clear in my own mind that my issue has not been about Emily being different because that is the thing I love so much about her.It is much more to do with me and my self confidence and ability to accept Emily's choice's and not feel judged for allowing her to make them.I have a way to go but as with everything once you are aware of a problem then change seems to occur. I do think I have to communicate even more with her in social situations and also remember we are a family and all need to live happily with each others choices.I do love this blogging it helps in so many ways!!

I got up this morning and Emily came down not far behind me.I started breakfast and Milly went up to listen to a story tape by Philip Pullman (the title escapes me but it is not one of the Northern lights trilogy)She drew and when I called her down for breakfast she came down but decided she would like to eat upstairs which she then did.I toyed with the idea of making a suggestion to play a board game but she often sits and draws for ages and will come down when she has had enough so I decided to leave her for a time.I went up a little while later and she was getting dressed in her best dress and had done her hair up,she was getting married!!!Then began our drama lesson....
I was her maid and we acted out her wedding for around 1/2 an hour.She is so good at building a character and supporting cast.

Sitting in her carriage on her way to the church

Hair by miss Emily

Kissing the groom...

After the wedding... Milly was holding up her long dress and informed me that it was unseemly in Victorian days for ladies to show their legs( her latest CD is set in Victorian England) and as she lifted her dress to her knees I asked was she not keen on being a lady and she said " I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman but I have the heart and stomach of a king". I was flabbergasted she had remembered the quote from Elizabeth 1st and I am not sure where it came from ,Milly has always had an interest in our kings and queens and we have read about her and I think one of her story Cd's had some info about her but I can't be sure where exactly she got the quote, it just goes to show how much is picked up and remembered.
She has been on top form today and regaled my Mum and Dad with her story's and generally showed off.They then took her to my sisters to look after my Nephew after school.

I had an app with my homeopath , a very productive chat and as always I went in with the physical symptoms and as always came away realising that they are just the symptoms of a much deeper issue, sometimes I can go in with a really strong idea of what I need help with but sometimes like today it takes a lot of work to get to the bottom of what is really the issue.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Commitment to freedom?

Laura from Wistful Wanderlust commented on the pictures of Emily baking whist on the counter and commended my commitment to freedom.

I have been questioning my commitment to allowing Emily freedom.

I have always allowed her to sit on the counters and climb an the table(it has been a ship, a carriage,a comfy place for her whilst playing board games)she never went to anybody else's house or a restaurant and sat on tables she knew without words not to do that.Emily has always wanted to do things differently,I always let her dip her hands in the paint pots at play group and home and smear it on the paper rather than do the picture with brushes if that was what she wanted.She liked to press the playdough into her face and feel it on her feet.If she wanted to move from the table after she had eaten and before others had finished she could go and play,(she would find it virtually impossible to sit still and wait for others),she has always had the choice of what to wear and if that involved wellies in the sun or carrying her umbrella when it wasn't raining then so be it.She still has a dummy at nearly nine.The dummy gives her comfort, she has never taken to sucking her thumb, I couldn't think of taking away something that gives her so much joy.

Now why am I questioning my commitment?

I have not always done these things with confidence,sitting on the table etc is fine as the people who come in to my home are people I know(although a lot of family members were not impressed)and I did not get too anxious about it.

At playgroups etc when she didn't want to do the lovely neat pictures that the other kids did,I let her dip and smear, this is what she wanted to do and for her it was a much more pleasurable experience than using a brush but I did get embarrassed and wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.

Eating at others houses(especially if other children were at the table and expected to sit till the end) was always difficult for me, I always wished she could just do as the other kids did.

The clothes I never really had a problem with cos little kids look cute don't they and people kind of accept it.But now she is nearly nine and wanting to wear odd things and not brush her hair, will my commitment to freedom last? Well the clothing I can accept but not brushing her hair is something that I can't pass on,If I could afford it I would pay to have it braided but can't imagine just letting her not brush it and turn into dreads which is what she would do because she hates having it brushed so much.This is not because I have a problem with dreads but it would be more about other peoples views and judgements about my parenting.

Oh the dummy??? This has given me the biggest dilemma ever.She has it and I can feel how much it means to her, but I limit the places she can be seen using it because of the judgements of others and how I feel it reflects on me as a mum.

So am I actually committed to Emily's freedoms? I am allowing her some freedoms in her life because they are things that make her who she is regardless of how they make me feel but there are areas I can't go because of my own hangups.

Main Entry: com·mit·ment
Function: noun
Pronunciation: k&-'mit-m&nt
1 a : an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) : a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) : an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee b : MITTIMUS
2 a : an agreement or pledge to do something in the future ; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date b : something pledged c : the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

I feel obliged and emotionaly impelled to the cause,I want Emily to grow up with a strong sense of self.I want her to live her life as free as possible of other peoples constraints.So I can talk the talk but will I be able to walk the walk?

I feel I have some work to do before the dreads are an option!!!!I have not had a discussion with Al yet about this as he is at work but it would be my guess that he would find it easier to allow the dreads and not care how others veiwed him as a parent.
But not so long ago we had a lot of work to do before we took her out of school, I was the one who was sure of that as the way forward Al had a lot more concerns than I did.
Who knows where my limitations are and how this will affect Emily's freedom.My understanding if I have it correct is that in the purest sense unschooling/autonomy is about freedom to be who you are to have the right to act independantly without being told what to do . I can't have a halfway house where I allow some things and then control others.It is such a big step and I just can't get there yet!!!!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

A dark day made brighter.

I have had a terrible day, a close friend thinks I have betrayed her trust but if I tell her the truth it could open up a whole can of worms.I can't settle at all and although I want to blog I have nothing I feel like saying so I decided to use some pictures I took on a nearby beach in the early autumn.
They never fail to put a smile on my face.I love the light and the sight of the sea, and the fact that no matter the weather Emily has her shoes and socks off and is in there!!!


Saturday, 26 January 2008

Recording memories....

Since I started this blog I have found I look at my life in a different way.It seems that blogging has opened my eyes to the everyday things that under normal circumstances may have passed by unnoticed.I am not contriving situations and I don't think of everything as a possible blog,but I do find myself being more conscious of what we are doing in everyday life.Blogging has meant I think of taking photo's when under normal circumstances I may not have done.By recording things it enables me to really savour the moment if it is a good experience and if it is more trying it helps to unravel things and try to identify where it went wrong.

Yesterday's blog is a prime example.We have baked many times before but I am sure this time will stay with me for a long time, the memories are vivid and because I took photo's I will be able to relive a lovely experience that may have drifted into the distance and become just one of many vague baking memories.I sat and looked back over the photo's last night and marvelled at how lucky I am to have such a gorgeous,spirited, individual,child like Emily.

My darling child was busy at the computer yesterday and asked me not to look, when she said I could look she had changed my cursor to a pumping heart and it then spells out I love you, so whenever I am the computer I see that in front of me.Awwwwww....

Busy day today,cleaning and shopping for me, swimming and a Harry potter DVD for Milly and Al amongst other things.We are off on a trip to see relatives in the morning .It's a couple of hours or so in the car but as we are going with my sister and family I will have to sit in the back,not looking forward to that I'm not the best traveller , but my Nana is getting on and it is a good opportunity to visit so will have to have some remedy's and hope for the best.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Whats cooking....

After breakfast we decided to have a day at home and Milly went off to play.I considered the options for the day and thought about cooking something,I have not suggested cooking as an option for a while as I usually got no for an answer,anyway I decided to ask and got a very enthusiastic yes please!!!
We looked up a Victoria sponge recipe and then realised we only had one egg, this would normally be a time when Milly would get disappointed and would lose interest quickly.

However to prove me wrong again she got out her fairy cook book and found a recipe we had made once before that didn't have an egg in (great memory) although we then choose other biscuits that needed one egg.

She then got fully involved weighing


double checking quantity's

And rolling(even stayed calm when the mixture stuck to the rolling pin)

As we had been mixing etc we had been chatting away and when it came to cleaning I expected the usual gettaway but once again she did not follow the usual path... she said she would clean the top and I washed up and this then turned into a game she loves to play...

Little slave girl....I have to be the wicked master (the harsher the better) and she has to do as I say(there's a novelty!!!)

Oh woe is me...

The end product. Well I know some are quite well cooked but they are yummy.

Here's my little slave girl doing some Bindeez

We covered a multitude of educational aspects during this time but the biggest lesson for me was to keep making the suggestions, they may be met with "no thanks" time after time but when the moment is right it will happen.It is so easy to go by the past and expect the same path to be followed, but it isn't always the case.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

How do you spell.......

Milly has continued to concentrate on her spelling and is using the keyboard more rather than asking me to do it for her.She is also going on education city and choosing the spelling options to do.I have been asked to spell words a lot but she has also been challenging herself and I can hear her sounding the words out to herself, she is using spellcheck on the PC when it is available on what she is doing.
It has taken a long time for this to happen, we have resisted the temptation to engage her in any form of writing she didn't want to do and I have always written for her or typed for her and have done so willingly.Gradually her confidence has grown and I believe we are seeing the process we would have seen had she been home educated from the start.

I have just had to stop typing and take a very giddy and hyper Milly to bed ,she is so incredibly funny and witty when she gets over tired,she has had us in stitches. As she was settling down she went through about 7 words she has learnt to spell over the last few days,I hadn't asked her to but she was obviously very proud of her ability.It isn't late tonight but she hadn't been able to sleep last night and was still awake when Al went to bed at 10.00.Tonight she was asleep within minutes of the light going off.Maybe tomorrow she won't wake up like this morning,moaning, not wanting to do anything, and moaning.....

Over the last couple of days she has been putting together a ring binder of animals that Pan(her daemon) changes into.She has googled the animal pictures she wanted and then printed them out, her way to do this was to open up a word document and transfer the image and print it out.Now I know there is another way to do it but she was happy doing it her way and became very quick at doing it and I resisted at that point letting her know the other way and will show her that in passing another time for her to use when she next prints something off.I also resisted suggesting any thing else that she could do with the folder, although I thought of the numerous things we could research about each animal and record information but that wasn't what she wanted from the folder and I would of spoilt the moment for her.She has taken the folder with the 24 animals that Pan changes into all over with her,I am so proud of her but also proud of myself for holding back cos it is really really hard not to add my ideas!!!!
It seems such a small thing and inconsequential but the subject matter and end product are not really the important things, for me it is much more about the process she is going through and I can see that in the future this will progress as she gets more confidence and needs more detail.

Beauty has been bouncing off the walls and furniture with her collar on after her op but is getting the hang of it now,and can get through gaps without hitting the sides on the collar and shocking herself!!
She is getting back to her bouncy self and as she can't go for a walk for 10 days will no doubt be getting bouncier as the days go on......

We are planning Emily's Birthday party and have decided on a Pirate theme for her small group of friends and will go to a local attraction that hosts Party's with a tour of a smuggglers cave and ship and a treasure trail then games and a birhtday tea. We will have a family party with relatives at home on the day before and she will have two friends over for a sleepover in the half term hols.Must get the invites done this weekend and plan the cake.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

A life worth living...

I have a major headache and have been to bed and had to get back up again as I couldn't get to sleep but can't settle to watch TV or read so have come on to browse a little and have decided it probably isn't a good idea!Bright light and bad head don't mix, but now I'm on I'll be quick.
I came accross a qoute by John Holt on a websit tonight, it's the first time I've seen it and it ties in nicely with the title I choose for this blog.

"A life worth living and work worth doing is what I want for all children"

It was our Home ed group meeting today and then a few of us went to a friends house to have a cuppa and a chat afterwards and we had a good discussion about our philosophy's and what we want for our children and some of the fears about what our children will do in the long term.I think the quote above kind of covers my hope for Emily.It doesn't matter about whether it is a "good" job or pays great money so long as she is happy and if the job she chooses to do is worth doing for her then that is what matters.

I have great difficulty making sense without a thumper of a headache so I hope this all makes some kind of sense and you get the essence of what I mean.Back to bed and hope to feel better tomorrow......

Blogs? Not for me. Where's this mouse I've heard about?????

Monday, 21 January 2008

A house to myself and time to think....

I have the house to myself, no dog, no daughter, and no husband!!!
I have to admit to having a ball,I keep thinking I should feel guilty and be missing them more but to be honest it is such a rare occurrence to have more than a couple of hours on my own that I am making the most of it.Beauty has gone to the vets to be spayed and Alan and Emily are spending the day visiting relatives.
I visited wistful wanderlust this morning and was introduced to 10 other blogs so managed to check them out as well as visiting the other blogs I read regularly.I did then feel a little guilty that the morning had nearly gone and I hadn't done anything else so I got up and as the bath ran quickly tidied Milly's room and made our bed ,then relaxed in a hot bath.
Down to run round the downstairs with the hoover and onto lunch( nice and easy no cooking involved a leftover rice dish warmed up in the micro)whilst watching the last part of Loose women on TV.

I have got into the habit of coming down on a morning and reading e mails and blogs with the intention not to go back until the next morning but I can't,I think I have blog addiction!!! I know I am still looking for stories to give me confidence along the autonomous road and to see that people are going through or have been through exactly the things we are going through.I also have to admit to being incredibly interested in other peoples lives, does that make me nosy???? The problem is that I feel it is starting to take over and must make a conscious effort to limit myself.

I do feel more confident about moving to full autonomy in Emily's life.
Once my mind is made up I am the type of person who wants things to happen quickly,but this is a major change in lifestyle and is not going to happen overnight, I have to gain confidence and I have not yet got all the tools to keep it going and need regular top ups and tips to keep the wheels on.

On the actual educational side I have not got as many issues with letting Emily choose and can now see with lots to interest her and options to do new things she will learn, she couldn't fail to.I have accepted Emily's interests and the way she does things is not the same as others and have come to understand the way she works.We are allowing her more choice in setting bedtimes and although she has always had a lot of freedom to coose we have given even more freedom to choose what she eats, now that we are not guided by school times we have also found that there are less rules about when we eat, where we eat has never been a problem,I never had great expectations to eat every meal at the table and we often had picnics under the table amonhst other places when she was small and although going the whole way to radical unschooling is the way we are heading it is still a way off happening. This has all taken time to sink in and is still a work in progress but perusing many a blog to find evidence of it working in others lives has been invaluable.

I think the next lesson I have to get is much more to do with the parenting side and not using coercion as a means to control her behaviour, this I am having difficulty with.When I am having a good day it is much easier to hear her and understand what is causing her behaviour and find a way to deal with it, other days I immediately fall back on coercion and then feel bad about my inconsistency.
We have always been gentle with her and have never smacked her.With the knowledge we had then, we used disrtraction when she was younger and as she got older and that no longer worked as well we used coercion and gave her choices rather than resorting to smacking.This seemed to work and we can only do the best we can with the information/tools we have at the time.Having found joyfuly Rejoycing and Sandra Dodd We now have new information , I wish I had had this information earlier but it seems that for us this is a better way to move forward as Emily grows.

So thinking about it logicaly it is not a waste of time reading the material I do as the info I get is changing our lives so reading the blogs will continue because they have helped enormously and I am sure still have lots to offer to enable more change to happen, but perhaps now that my confidence is growing I don't need to read quite as many quite as often!!!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

All quiet apart from the golden daemons..

Just a quick catch up,the weekend got off to a very relaxed start.I got up early and got Beauty her food and then spent time browsing online. I should have taken time out to meditate but forgot!! I must get into a habit because it is too easy to get on line and completely loose track of time....I made Al and Emily breakfast and then Al took Beauty out whilst Emily and I pottered.Amongst other things Emily added another set of avatars to her blog ,she can't get enough of them!!!
Al and Emily then went out to the cinema with relatives to see the Golden Compass again and I got on with the housework.It was not all bad I got to have a long soak without the obligatory legs dangling in whilst we chat, which somehow always ends up with her in the tub with me...There was a time when we could do that comfortably but that time has now passed!!

My nephew came back for a sleepover and they had great fun setting up the playmobile castle and all the playmobile people had daemons.The film had also sparked something off in my nephew who had seen it for the first time.

After my nephew went home mid morning we went to pick up Milly's friend and she stayed for the whole afternoon.She is adorable and her and Emily have a good connection despite the age gap.They both have a love of the Golden Compass and find common ground in other areas aswell.It was the first time she had been to us and I was concerned that she might be bored but she didn't want to go when her mum came for her so things had obviously gone OK. They didn't seem to do much , there was a lot of chatting and listening to music.It may have seemed like nothing to me but it made them both happy.

Having seen the film again Emily has taken having a daemon to new heights and a lot of the characters are now in the house with us!! She did the same with Harry Potter and it is as if they are really here and she can see and talk to them. There is nothing wrong with her imagination and the scenarios she comes up with are like a full story with back history etc,she keeps telling us what is happening and we just have to be on the ball to try to remember what is going on!!!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

calm and relaxed!!

I was surprised by this as I have not thought of myself as a morning person in a long time.I have had ME for so many years that I have lost the natural rhythm of my body and getting up has become the hardest thing to do.Sleep has ruled my life for so long, lack of it and need for it have been constant companions.

I have always preferred the mornings, I love the emerging light and the stillness, it has a different feeling to the night,with the promise of the new day full of possibilities.I enjoy being on my own with a cup of tea and looking out over the garden, thoughts of the day to come and what to fill it with.

Thinking of being calm and relaxed also reminded me that in the hustle and bustle of our day I have no time to meditate.If I got up earlier I could spend 10 Min's in the quiet of the morning.This is going to involve some very positive thinking to get out of a nice warm bed on a cold winter morning!!!

Friday, 18 January 2008

Avatar building and opportunities missed.

Today we found Avatars and Milly has gone crazy over them she has about 5 on her blog and of course I had to have one too!!
By the time she had finished she was copying over codes and setting them on her blog like an old hand.Over the last few days she has been spelling a lot whether on paper or on line and she is continuing to want to do it herself.It seems as though confidence has arrived and is here to stay fingers crossed!!We have pottered over the last couple of days ,read quite a bit,listened to story Cd's and hopped on and off the computer finding out about various things(usually animals) but nothing has lasted for long.

Emily went out with a couple of other home ed families for a walk to one of the local lakes on Wednesday and had a great time, it is possible it will be made into a local get together on alternate weeks.I wasn't able to go this week as I was a little under the weather but hope to go next time, so a big thank you to the two lovely families who helped out by taking her.

Thursday is normally food coop and recorder but this week our boiler broke so we had to wait in for the engineer.We had the usual question to Emily of "are you off school" which is to be expected I suppose and Emily very confidently said I'm home educated he then looked quite confused and looked at me I said Emily doesn't go to school she learns at home he still looked confused and eventually asked who taught her I explained that we worked in a very different way to the school system and did not have structured lessons, he then asked if she was learning more than at school and I said that in my opinion she was learning much more than at school and that seemed to be enough for him and we went back to talking about the boiler.It was obvious he did not really know what it is we do and he wasn't about to get into a debate about the pro's and con's but I was thinking how lucky we had been and as yet I have not had one person who has had anything bad to say to my face about home ed, some don't quite understand the autonomous approach, some have said that they think it is a good thing because of the state of the education system.

The teachers I have come into contact with can't seem to get their heads around what we are doing and have mentioned the opportunity's she will miss out on by not going to school, now do they mean the bullying, the pressure to perform, the pressure to conform, the pressure to attain high grades, the pressure of mountains of homework,
the bad teaching practices,the sarcasm/bullying done by some teachers in the way they speak to children,the constraints of the national curriculum,the inability to dress how they choose,the inability to go to the toilet when they choose amongst others , no I suppose they mean the lesson content, trips out, the sporting activities and the extra curricular activities that are opened up to children within school.The funny thing was that one of them had just finished telling a tale about the amount of her time spent dodging books and having to stop pupils throwing desks(secondary school)so any learning taking place in that class would of been minimal despite her commitment and staying up till 12.30 to plan the lesson.....

It is obvious that by not going to school Emily will miss out on a lot of things,in some cases they are the things that can ruin a child's life. We can ensure that there are plenty of opportunities opened up for Emily and life does not need to be lived at 100 miles an hour there is time to do things later on if she chooses.By not going to school she will gain above all else a childhood, a time to potter, to laugh to play with no pressure and that can never be re-lived.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

If we lead will she follow?

In all the things I have read about unschooling there are common threads,although I am beginning to see each family has its own path ,it seems the common threads are relevant to all.

The one that has become clearer to me over the last month or so is that rather than concentrating on cajoling your child to be interested in something because you think it is educational, allow them to do what interests them ,join in and show interest in whatever that is.
You should also pursue your own interest and expand your own knowledge without expecting your child to join in , do it just for you ,set an example of following your passion.

When we started out I bought lots of books with the idea that we would spend happy hours reading about different lands,religions,animals,you name it I was collecting info on it. I panicked I wouldn't have just the right book when she needed to have a question answered, I thought there was a small window of opportunity to get the answer before Milly lost interest.
I had hoped that from these books would come some passion for Tudors, Romans whatever took her fancy.Well we have read some of the books, mainly the story's and for a number of weeks Milly had a passion to live as a Roman slave girl and I know she will have learned from that, from the conversations we had and the questions she asked but it doesn't look like the learning I know. She has not written a word down ,she has not really done much drawing about it and I didn't ask her questions to see if any facts had sunk in.
I have accepted that she is learning all the time she will take what she needs at that time and may revisit at a later date or may not.

What I have tried to stop doing is to read and do things with the educational value high on my agenda, I swear Emily has an antenna that picks up my intention!!! Over the last couple of couple of weeks I have questioned whether I should make so many suggestions and I have loosened up and just let things happen.I spend time with her when she wants me to and help her when she needs it but as time has gone on (and I have to admit to thinking it would never happen)she is slowly starting to initiate things.They are things she is interested in and I am allowing her to set her own agenda.I am aware of what gets Milly's interest and I am always looking for new things to show her and if she is interested we find out more.I am trying to control the impulse to suggest too many things to let her have the opportunity to voice an interest or a need to find out more about a subject,before diving in with my suggestions.
If she wants to draw her daemon in various different settings and label the drawings then so be it, if she wants to use the computer to put songs off u tube onto her favourites she can . As she is drawing more and more pictures of Pan (her daemon) she is refining her drawing skills and labeling them is practising her writing, today after collecting u tube clips over the last few weeks she decided to sort them all into a folder I had not shown her how to do this, I can only assume she had watched me in the past and learned how to do it ,adding to her computer knowledge, keyboard and reading skills.My point is that she is learning all the time but I can't always identify what and how.Over time she has been using the atlas(looking up the places people have visited from to my blog and identifying the flags) the books that give tips on how to draw, dictionary,the Guinness book of records, you get the picture the books are there and have been used as and when.We have a wide selection that may or may not get looked at.I think I will still make suggestions to look through the various books we have or perhaps just leave them out on the table to see if this is a way to encourage a new topic or interest.

Emily may not be interested in the more traditional subjects but she is still covering a lot of ground in the things she chooses to do and Milly is not what I would call a conventional girl.

I have found a passion for the computer and I am enjoying(well pulling my hair out at times it can be so frustrating!!)gathering knowledge. I am also going to find a way to further my knowledge of photography and watercolour painting.

Now I did say I had an interest not huge talent LOL It is art in the raw!! I will show other work as I progress....
Alan has set himself a challenge to learn to play the keyboard. Now these things have been done for ourselves and Emily is around as we do them , we do not expect her to do them as well but she can if she wants, and as it turns out it seems she is interested at times and dips in and out as and when she feels like being involved.
There are many things I have an interest in and want to follow up.In the near future I intend to set up a timeline and hope to make use of some of the history books we have.Ongoing interests that may or may not spark something for Emily......

Monday, 14 January 2008

A timely reminder and Daemon fever

I have read Colleen at The New Unschooler for some months and she has helped me progress along this road with her honesty and humour. I have found by reading her journey so many similarities to ours and have benefited greatly by the many words of wisdom that the commenter's leave for her. She wrote a post recently where she had been having some doubts and wrote a list of the reasons why she chose to unschool I now have it printed out and right in front of me to help as a daily reminder of those reasons.

I remember starting out with immense excitement and I remember getting butterflies at times during the day when I would think how lucky we were to be free and out of the school system. Sometimes you just need a timely reminder...

My initial feelings of euphoria got overshadowed by doubts and concern,it seems so irresponsible to let your child make all these decisions and have so much freedom in the things that they do!!I had years of traditional thinking to overcome and it wasn't going to go without a fight.The evidence of allowing more freedom is right in front of me , if in the little time we have been doing it those are the benefits, then we will carry on, further challenging that traditional thinking.

I have realised we were going too fast and for us it makes more sense to say yes more and move slowly along the path to self regulation.It is no big deal to take a step back and reassess the situation.

I still get butterflies at the strangest times when I think of what we are doing, sometimes when we are out in the car during school hours listening to music with Milly laughing and joking,cuddling in bed when the kids go past outside to the school bus, sitting in the dining room with Milly in PJ's having spent the day doing "stuff" together. Our relationship is so much stronger,even handling the strops is easier when you spend so much time together, you are more aware of what is likely to be causing the behaviour. This is working for us we just have to accept it is a journey and that the hurdles we come up against can be jumped, we may need some help but it seems there are so many people willing to share that it is more than possible.
I have had some lovely people drop by and leave comments.Writing this blog has been a very positive experience.

Emily and I have spent a day with Daemons!!
Golden Compass fever struck.
Alongside the Northern Lights novel I bought this weekend I got a sticker book with details about the characters in the film so we started to read it today and Milly started to put stickers on paper and we ended up hours later with a laminated masterpiece. She was so proud of it and although there wasn't much writing in it she really wanted to try the words herself and would ask sometimes for help with spelling but she showed real persistence in sounding out the words and getting down her words, I was very impressed(remember this is the girl who wouldn't pick up a pen when she came out of school!!)and have to say a little surprised at how confident she was at attempting some words.
We then spent a very long time adding pictures to her blog and she asked me to put some on here but I know she would love some visitors to her blog if you feel able!!!There is link in the sidebar....

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Letter awareness,reading and Cherry picking from unschooling sites!!

Milly has been seeing the shape of letters everywhere.
Now she has known her letters for many years ,having learnt them at school but over the last few weeks she has been seeing letter shapes in all sorts of places, the way a particular item is set out or a peice of string left on the table etc. Yesterday we were sitting in the living room discussing what to do with the day ( Emily had not gone to gymnastics and it is most likely she will not go back I realised after yet another morning where she didn't want to go that I had to allow her the choice and she was so happy, I feel I had pushed to encourage her when I should of let go a lot sooner,another lesson learnt.) and as we were talking she said "thats a w " and showed us the shape her legs had made so this led on to all of us making the alphabet together, what fun rolling about on the floor making the shapes. I am not sure what is going on for her but it seems she is making links in her own way and a clearer understanding of the shapes seems to be unfolding.
Alongside this she has been reading more by herself. She had stashed a load of her favourite books between her matteress and our bed and put the torch there and has been reading after I have left her as she informed me the other day!! She has also said she will read for ten mins to Al each night so she chose to look through a lovely book by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels called The wonderful world book, it has lots of pop ups and facts and then Al started reading Phillip Pulman The Northern Lights, We generally have a book that Milly and I read and her and Al have one they read together.
Her use of language has continued to improve and I love it when she tries out a new word and a couple of days a go she went into the kitchen and on seeing two boiled eggs I had left on a plate set on top of a mixing bowl to cool called back "those eggs are a bit precarious" and proceeded to move them to a safer position. And yesterday she sat watching tv whilst she had her sausage sarni for breakfast and afterwards brought her plate through and said "that was a delightful breakfast"
I was thinking yesterday that I have looked at many different websites/blogs over the last year and some have been useful in that they have allowed me to see that is not a direction we would or could go in as it just wouldn't work for us and others have had much more a feel of what it is we are searching for but not everyhting they do is right for us either, it really has been like shopping and finding things that fit us out of all the interesting and varied shops.And in some cases as our experience has grown and we have a firmer idea what it is we want we are actually designing and making things that fit us.One day soon we will have our complete package that will be able to be adapted as time moves on and things change.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Groups,classes and lots of socialization!!!!

Al and Emily are through in the other room watching Dr Who, so I thought I would take the opportunity to catch up.
We have had a few busy days.

Wednesday was the Home ed group and we had a good time,it is a small relatively new group and there are a mixed bag of home edding styles but I would say the majority are relatively structured in their approach with a few of us in the more unstructured lane. The group has been fairly relaxed with the Kids preferring to play rather than having any structured activities, although there are things put out to do if they choose to. The children range from 5 to 14 and are mainly boys, Emily has made friends with the only other girl who is 13 and they have very similar characteristics and get on well. We went for a cuppa to their house afterwards and then I took them both off to do the food shop and have tea in the cafe as they didn't want to part, then they had more chat when we dropped her back at home.

Thursday is the food coop and another friend and her two home educated children go along , so the kids had a play and then set about putting a show together involving stage setting up behind the curtains in the village hall and dancing and miming to pop party 5 songs. It was great to see Emily so uninhibited and dancing freestyle on the stage/table even when people where coming in to collect the bags of veg.
I love the opportunity to have a real good chat with the other two girls that help out as we all have lots in common and the chat is always illuminating.

After a very late lunch of homemade pizza we had a read and then it was off to recorder,major strop because she was tired and didn't want to go, hates it, it's boring and I already know music!!!!! I have not pushed her to go to classes at all but she asked to go to recorder( granted it was a stage when we were reading The Roman Mysteries series and she was living as the character of Nubia and wanted to play the flute!!)after the class she was full of the new note she had learnt and seemed to have enjoyed it, she also goes to Brownies which she usually loves but didn't want to go this week, swimming which she usually loves and gymnastics which she says she hates on a sat morning but always comes back having enjoyed it, What to do???? I know as we are supposed to be following the unschooling way it should be her choice but I can't quite get there and I think it will be some time before I can feel easy about giving them up when I know some of it is just Emily and the way she is and not that she actually hates the class. Bit of a dilemma, need to work on it.....

Today started around 8 and we had a cuppa whilst I helped her add an entry to her blog and then she did 10 Min's on Education city and a stint on club penguin, a quick play and then we read more of Sophie's story which is about a chimp that was hand reared and lived with a family alongside their son and the journey from birth at Chester zoo back to Africa, it was in the children's section at the library but it is very adult and has a lot of very factual info about apes in and I am quite surprised she is into it although I have been asked to move on when it gets particularly heavy!!!We read Marley and Me some weeks ago and had a good cry at that and I think we may find this one emotional as well.
Late morning we went out with the same friend from yesterday(haven't told anyone about the blog yet so haven't got permission to put in names bear with me!!)We decided to go to a soft play centre and have lunch so we had a good couple of hours and the kids got a great workout in a deserted soft play. When we got back it was time for Emily's regular Friday date with her best friend and she went to her house tonight, so I got home and cleared a mountain of paperwork and paid bills before I even got my boots off.

I am looking into doing some kind of business from home and have a couple of possibilities that I am looking into, so I did some research into them. This would be quite a step for me as I will have to ensure whatever I do will enable me to pace myself and not end up poorly . I am very excited to think about getting back into the world of work but will have to curb my natural tendencies to overdo things and give too much energy to it to the detriment of the family, my main priority will still be Emily but it can only be a good thing for her to see me having another interest and even being able to be involved in it should she wish.

Emily has had a daemon ever since she saw The Golden Compass and it changes into an otter at times soshe is looking forward to watching a documentary about otters tonight at eight and then I think Milly and I will have an early night.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Getting back into the swing of things... and moves in the right direction..

I feel somewhat withdrawn, I know it is due to the never ending PMT, but it has begun to get me down a bit and I am finding it harder to keep motivated.I have had a lot of time in the house over the last week ( just needed to feel cocooned)and tomorrow I will have to venture out to Home ed group so I am hoping that will give me a little boost.

Now that Al is back to work after over two weeks off things will get back to normal and although I don't want too much structure I think I will plan a couple of excursions each month as at least if they are in the diary they are more likely to happen. I am looking into getting a railcard and travelling a little further afield, more likely to be when the weather improves.

I have no other concrete plans as I have found that at present what we have been doing seems to be working very well for Emily.She is a child that appears to be very content with no structure and the ability to do as she pleases.This is very much at odds with my own preference for routine ,but we muddle through and it works.I still have concerns about how little input she requires from me and I am still offering suggestions but it is becoming more and more obvious to me that when she wants to do something she does it with enthusiasm and enjoys it so if an option I suggest is not taken up then I just let it go. I am beginning to wonder if she actually needs my suggestions, should I just let her get on with playing/or doing things her way?I am very interested at the moment in the PC, photography, and learning to do watercolour paintings I know I would not have the same drive to learn about them had they been someone elses suggestion although I may have enjoyed doing them.

If Emily is to become self regulating and really free to follow her interests should I resist the temptation to open up things for her ? I will carry on making suggestions because at present it feels quite scary to have no input at all. Is this because I have much further to go on my deschooling road? Am I not putting as much store on what she is learning from hours of play as opposed to what she would learn doing craft, science, knitting, sewing etc? I would say this is the case....
Having read the three stages of unscholing(link on sidebar)it seems that this is typical of the journey and I don't think it can be rushed I think it will be something I have to be really comfortable with and really feel and not just because I have read about it and it sounds right.

I can see that when Emily has a passion about something it is easy to immerse in that subject and learn from many different areas and we do when this happens for however long the interest lasts . Am I not being creative enough in trying to see a way to assist her to get more learning from Bratz playing!!!! I am being flippant I know the things she learns from this intense play are just as important and I know this time of play seems to be a time to assimilate anything that she has been learning.During these times she also becomes very clingy and needy it is like she takes a back step before she moves on again and this is a pattern she has had since birth.It is her pattern and I have to let it happen and not compare her with others and allow her to make her own journey. I am hoping that in time I will not have to have these conversations with myself and will be so confident that Emily knows what she needs and learn to trust.

On the tidying front, it is early days but I have been surprised with how easy it has been since changing the way I think of jobs,seeing that I have a choice rather than feeling I should do a job and actually thinking about why a job seems important to me is helping to change a pattern. I think I will always be tidier than some but I will also be messier than others and the difference from now is I will be happy with how things are instead of feeling the pressure to have things perfect.I have also on a couple of occasions been about to start the jobs that really did need doing and have stopped to go and play when asked.Small steps but significant to me.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Children are who they are...

Danielle conger organic learning .org (there is link on my side bar in articles to lighten the load as I have had no luck putting one in the text!!!How do you do that?)
Being more aware and living my life more mindfully I have been open to seeing so much evidence of the universe sending me what I need just when I need it.... I came across this article via a link from Embracing the strange and it's subject matter is just what I needed to read after the last few posts I have done have been about my challenge to quit striving for perfection and lessons in unconditional love (from a dog no less!!!)
There are so many wonderfully talented people out there whose way with words enable sense to be made from the quagmire of my mind.I will read this often and along with others it will hopefully help me to stay mindful of the fact that perfection is not required!!!!

My whole life has been about striving for control and perfection,I won't go into the gory details but from a very young age life event's have not always been kind and I grew up with a very poor self image and although outwardly looked a strong and competent person was quite the opposite inside and had no self belief or confidence in my own abilities at all and I went through life with no real goals or aspirations but lots of self criticisms.
I am mentioning this because I hope it gives a bigger picture . I have read a lot of blogs over the last year since deciding to take Emily out of school and the ones that have been the most helpful to me have been honest about the ups and downs of unschooling, not making it out ot be the answer to all educational and parenting dilemmas rather to let me see the growth process and stages of thier unschooling journeys.
The story of our journey as I am sure alot of others are is about our growth as a family but also as individuals.My growth began a few years ago when I confronted my past and started working on it, I see unschooling as being the next stage in my growth and I fully believe this is where I need to be right now at this time in my life,well actually it is 10.30 in the morning and my daughter and I are not dressed, she is eating breakfast watching shreck 3 again and I have not had breakfast yet, so perhaps in reality I should be doing something else right now!!! I saw that article and it opened things up for me so I felt compelled to write about it.
I am not naive enough to think that this lifestyle will shield Emily from the crap life throws at us all and our intention is not to wrap her in cotton wool and keep her from the real world but I hope that by having the freedom to be who she is, to self regulate and explore her own interests without outside influences or limitations that she will have a strengh I never had to be able to deal with the pressures and live a more worthwhile life, hence the title of the blog see clever eh I really gave it some thought HA HA..... (can't do smiley faces either !!)
I have no experience in writing and am not in the league of some of the writers out there ,I am glad if this gets read and helps in some way but it has proved more than anything to be a great way to get my thoughts in order and that can only be a good thing...

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Lessons to learn from a dog???

Up with the lark at 6.30 and out by 7.00 for a very cold walk with Beauty.It is so dark that I can only walk around the village where the light is OK, gets a bit scary otherwise !!

I got back and after a cuppa and a long browse online Milly and Al got up and I made a big cooked breakfast, it's not something I tend to do often but it was 10.00 and as we had masses of jobs to do I knew it would see Al and I on until the afternoon so we could forgo lunch and have a substantial snack before tea.Eggs and stuff not the thing for Milly who had a sausage sarnie and was happy.

Back to finishing the clean up after Xmas and lots of other little niggly jobs that we have been putting off for ages. Milly's best friend came round to play and they had 41/2 hours together pure joy for them both.
In the late afternoon Al took off for a drive to the beach with Beauty,he went for a walk and took his Walkman to listen to some football.
It was a lovely afternoon and if Beauty could behave herself and come back when called and not go chasing over the sand dunes to get at the traffic on the road she could of had a great time running around!!!
As it was they had a long walk with Beauty up to her usual antics of barking at everything especially other dogs...It is such hard work ,we know it is insecurity and her fear that causes the extreme reactions but it is nearly a year we have had her and we have had expert advice from trainers ,taking things very slowly and she is still miles away from where you can take her out and actually enjoy the experience, you come back more stressed than when you went out!!

Looks like butter wouldn't melt doesn't she?
She is a handful in the house and garden barking at almost anything , she likes people but when they visit she gets hyper excited and launches herself at them ,she may calm down eventually after being ignored but the slightest movement and she detects it and she is up again!!! I have given up asking people round as it is such hard work but I know that isn't the answer, my family come round each week and they are the guinea pigs. As the kids that come to play are scared (understandably although she wouldn't hurt them and is just wanting to play)We have to put her in the back lobby with the stair gate on.
I go through periods when I think things will be OK and then on others I can't see it working out at all.....Oh well we will keep trying and hope for the best, I have read so much about the psychology of why she acts the way she does and have been given what seems like very sound advice on how to tackle her issues but as yet we have not seen a significant change and it doesn't take much to knock her off course.She is still only a year old so that is a factor as well but I have never known a dog like her. The lady who helps us with advice on training is a Homeopath and she said Beauty has been sent to teach me something and I have no trouble believing that.When she first came and the stress took me back to a very dark place I was in when I had Post Natal Depression I had to take a good long look at myself and I know I have had to become more confident and learn to be calm and assertive (still working on that)and also to give love unconditionally ( hard to do when she is lunging and growling and dragging you off your feet!!!!) both big lessons and obviously not just about the dog but my life in general,I may not be able to tick them off but I have a much better understanding and I don't think we ever stop working on those two.
Last march before we got Beauty from the refuge we had booked a week away, it is a regular trip we do each year to Northumberland and we had planned on taking her with us but had to cancel as at that time it was hard to get her to go for a walk in the village(oh yeah I suppose there has been improvement when you think about it!!!)so we booked again for the September and had to cancel again as there was no way she could go and have re booked for this march, this time we are not cancelling.
I always said I didn't want her to go in kennels and I still don't, but saving a dog expert offering to come and live in our house for a week then she will have to go because we need a break and it would just be a nightmare with her barking at everything that moved on the site!!!! We have tried our best and will just have to deal with the effects of a stay in Kennels when we get back.
Looking down at her fast asleep near me I realise I do love her but I feel so out of my depth with the special needs she has...

Other goings on today... I have been sorting all our pictures out on the PC putting them in folders and having a bloody nightmare but have learnt a few more things I didn't know this morning!!!!
Emily has difficulty hearing the sound on the PC as it was not up to much so we bought some speakers yesterday and set them up today and I also had a new experience downloading music for the first time. Why are these things so easy, yet it always goes wrong and the penny finally drops about an hour into doing something?

Milly was really tired again and we have had tears this afternoon, she had to have her hair brushed and then nit combed - hair brushing at the best of times can be a nightmare so add in exhaustion and we had a recipe for disaster.The good thing about it was both Al and I handled it well and she got out the bad feeling and after a while we were able to have a gentle joke about things ,treading a fine line so as not to set her off again. After tea at 6.30 she went upstairs and when I went up sometime later she was in bed and settled so I tucked her in and by 7.45 when Al went to check she was fast asleep, she really needs it, I wonder if self regulation of bedtimes takes a while to settle?I suppose like most things time will tell.....

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Animal antics

Today started with a good lie in for me as Alan got up to walk Beauty.
Emily woke up around 9 and crept downstairs thinking I was fast asleep,bless her she is so thoughtful.As it was I was deep in thought only with my eyes closed.
I have been thinking so much about alternative parenting my head is in a spin, we are having some challenging times at present,I think tiredness and excitement are still the main players (although Emily has been choosing to go to bed earlier lately) but it suddenly dawned on me yesterday that hormonal changes could also be playing a part in the behaviour.That came as a bit of a shock, if that is in fact what is happening it seems too soon!!! Need to gather some info for her...
Anyhow my mind has been working overtime trying to think of ways to stop falling into the same way of coping as in the past which has usually been to end up coercing her into the kind of behaviour I want.I have no answers as yet and feel added pressure because I am not at my most patient at present as the PMT I have been going through since well before Xmas is still going on, overdue by 3 weeks now ( not pregnant just Menopause) and I am feeling crap...

The rest of today has been spent getting the decs and tree down and having a good clean up,we have to finish off tomorrow because we broke off to go into town and Emily went to my sisters and for a drive up the fells to find some snow, most of it had gone unfortunately apart from two large snowmen that had been built so they were able to play with that and had a good snowball fight, built another one out of them and went in the stream and built dams...

We had lunch in town and exchanged the things from Xmas that didn't fit etc and then went onto the library,since watching The Golden Compass Emily has a daemon and it changes frequently but is often a Snow leopard and an otter,Emily and Alan watched a lovely documentary about snow leopards on TV last night and I had hoped to get a story about a snow leopard but was out of luck, although we managed to find a nice little book with easily digestible facts about otters and have requested Tarka the otter to read so it should be delivered to our local library next week.I may read it first to assess the ending as I have not read it and know it is sad but we have read a few books with sad endings and although we have had a good cry she has coped well .
I will get some other info off the PC about both and make up some word searches and crosswords to do if she wants to.I have found that when she is into a subject this can be a way to reinforce some of the facts in a way she enjoys doing and doesn't see as teaching.It is also possible that alongside the drawings we will do a story together with her words and me writing.

We have a very old book my mum gave to one of my cousins 1970 about animals of the wild and their young and she has always loved looking through it with us .These last few days she has spent along time looking through and asking for snippets to be read out about various animals . Tonight after a very busy day I could of done with a little time to chill but after trying to get to sleep she came back down and has been drawing from the book and chatting non stop about the animals,I know ,I know that's one of the great things about unschooling they can learn anytime!!!

Friday, 4 January 2008

Meeting everyones needs

Growing up I was always expected to assist in the household chores and looking after and taking responsibility for my two siblings.
As Emily has grown it really hasn't seemed right for us to expect her to do chores, we have expected her to do certain things to help out and have tried many many ways to encourage her to help with chores but none of them felt have right.

It was only when reading articles about chores on the joyfuly rejoycing website and a post that Sarah at Happy @ home wrote that the penny dropped. Sarah made the point that we have to ensure every ones needs are met. My needs to have a home that is organised and therefore enable me to be relaxed are as valid as Emily's need to play and not worry about tidying.

By having things tidy and organised I will be relaxed and I will be much more able to devote my time to Emily without being constantly diverted by what needs to be done. But that is my need and I have to plan for that and make it happen.

These bookcases from Ikea have come in very handy..

I liked Sally's Ideas about work stations and have set up this room so that the things we need are very easily accessible and very easy to return to the right place in various cubby holes in the bookcases or in box's stored in two other cupboards that are in the room.All the things needed for sewing will be in one box and so on. This will involve Milly 's participation and it will be an easy task to do quickly after a project.So on a day to day basis the arts , crafts ,sewing,knitting, books ,will be manageable now, very easy to access and to store away, even if things are left out till we need the table for lunch etc it is a really simple job to put them back in the relevant places.A variation on an actual workstation but so far is working very well.

On the bigger scale I feel that making beds and hoovering etc should not be any concern to Emily, I have never expected her to help with these tasks but it has always been something she is aware I need to do because I mention it and feel distracted by it.I will endeavour to stop making it an issue and will get it done at a time she is otherwise occupied (only problem is that's when I come on here !!!)or perhaps I should get up when Al goes to work instead of laying on, that doesn't sound too appealing either!! I suppose I just have to decide just how important the housework is to me and reorganise things to accommodate it .

It is hard enough fitting in the things that have to be done like make meals, hang washing ,give some time to Beauty, and have the odd moment where I simply rest.I am a very tidy person ,I am a Libra/ Virgo cusp so I do like things organised( read a bit anal) and I am finding it hard to change, it is something I do for me, I enjoy having a tidy home, I really wish it wasn't as important to me but that is one of my comforts and helps keep me relaxed.

As with everything else along the Home ed / unschooling route it is taking some time to sort out some kind of routine for the basic household things to get done and for me to let go of the other things so that I can be free (mentally rather than physically) to spend all day sewing a mermaid from felt and odd scraps as we did recently.
The routine of home ed with a curriculum and set times for lessons etc seems as though it would be easier for me as I do like to have a routine.The major stumbling block there is that there is no way it would work for Emily ,so my housework would get done but the stress levels would be sky high and our relationship would be non existent and any actual learning taking place would be negligible..
Tidy house, stressed inhabitants doesn't make sense eh!!

Changing the way I think about the jobs that I want to do rather than need to do will hopefully take away some of the pressure I put on myself to get them done and learn to live with a calmer attitude to housework.

My need to have a tidy and organised home,her need to play, her need to have fun, her need to be creative,we just need to find balance to ensure both needs are met.
Unschooling is challenging me in so many ways,this may seem insignificant especially to those lucky people that can live without a second thought to tidying, I have needed for some time to have a calmer attitude to tidying and by finding a solution to the problem that has arisen because unshooling by its nature needs to be spontaneous will help me to change for the better.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

A little flurry, big excitement.

It snowed today.... well kind of( you can't really see it on the photo's) ,but it really looked promising at first and Milly could hardly contain herself with lots of plans for snowmen etc. She went out and tried to catch the flakes on her tongue, she is in her nightie it was yet another pj day.Unfortunately it didn't come to much but continued for a while and as Emily and Al took Beauty for a walk (on this occasion she did get dressed but usually she will pull on trousers over her pjs) it was fairly constant but small flakes that soon melted so a little disappointing.It is still really cold so maybe tomorrow. Although thinking about it I hope it can hold off a while we didn't go food shopping today , I would feel happier having a good snowstorm if the food cupboard was stocked.

We have had another quiet day drawing,reading,playing ,chatting,cleaning the fish out, just the usual. We did make some cinder toffee which was really simple but good fun to make and ate it dipped in melted choc with a cuppa after they came in from their walk and later on crumbled in vanilla ice cream after tea mmmmmm.

Milly has taken offence at me putting personal details about her on the blog, even though we discussed it before setting it up, So we had a long chat about things last night and have decided to carry on but with her being able to edit out things she feels are too personal. I was not very happy initially ,but as we chatted I could see that at this time it really bothered her,she is going through a period of change and seems more aware of privacy so I will respect that and try to keep things that bother her out .

We have my nephew sleeping over tonight and have enjoyed a game of pass the pigs which is a simple game of chance involving throwing plastic pigs and scoring on the position they land in but it is so enjoyable(oh and with an educational viewpoint, good for adding up!!)I came bottom of the league and Emily won seems like the luck is with her over the last couple of nights.

We are venturing out tomorrow to go to the local aquarium and have lunch out with my sister and nephew. We have had rather a lot of lovely days at home over the hols and I am going to try and ensure our weeks don't get eaten up over the next few months as having time at home is what Emily really loves, it seems so easy to fill the week in with various activities and general day to day stuff. We have various commitments on certain days but I am going to make at least two days Home days and preferably pj days.It seems right to slow down and snuggle up in the colder months then come out totally ready for long days outside as the weather warms up a bit.Having said that I regularly worry that we don't get out enough, we are both home bods and are more than happy here but when we do go out we have a great time. I think it is about getting a balance,it would be counter productive to have many clubs and activities going on because that is just not Emily and would make her miserable , she is so happy just doing her own thing.
I suppose having CFS I feel guilty that my energy levels are quite low and worry that I am not making enough effort and should encourage her more if we discuss what to do and she says she wants to stay home or changes her mind if we have organised to go out.Lets see what this year brings and I will try not to worry unduly about my illness making my daughter a recluse!!!!

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

New years Day , Busy Busy Busy.

After a very late night I woke at 9.00 and couldn't get back to sleep with Emily and Alan snoring on either side of me!!! I got up and had a cup of tea whilst I read through some blogs and websites.
It was very peaceful and a great start to the new year.I got a few calls from Family and caught up with what they had been up to and around 10.45 decided to take a cup of tea up to Milly and Al as I was sure the calls must have woke them and they would be reading but they were still fast asleep. Eventually at 11.15 Emily came down and after discussing options for the day decided to have a day at home and after breakfast we all set about putting together the gingerbread house Emily had been given as a gift and we had great fun.

Milly had been going through her chemistry set and decided the goggles would be good to use so her and Dad would be safe in the kitchen...

I am modelling my gorgeous flowery apron I received from Emily

After testing the sweets out and a joint tidy up of the snowstorm that had hit the kitchen we decided to do some experiments. Milly had been desperate to get into the set but today was the first day we had the time to do it.
Her best friend had also got one and as she had a book to record her experiments in Milly set about making herself one and as we did the experiments on solutions she recorded the info in her own inimitable way asking for help spelling as needed. I did make the mistake at one point of suggesting we record certain information but pulled back just in time before the moment was lost and she took offence at my interruptions( she knew exactly what she wanted the book to look like and did not need my input!! old habits die hard..)

Are you sure that salt has dissolved Mum? Compulsory goggle wearing to deal with dangerous chemicals, rubber gloves were on hand should we need them.

Oil water and syrup with some food colouring added shake and observe!!
I love how focused children can be on a simple experiment when it involves test tubes and spatulas etc.It adds a whole new dimension to the kitchen science we have done in the past.

Alongside the cooking and science today we finished off a project started yesterday. Emily and I had a great game with Dr Who figures but wanted Rose as her set has Martha so we set about making one from Paper covered in tissue and glue then coloured tissue for her jeans and top,Emily had to do lots of Internet searching to get just the right picture of rose in the outfit Emily wanted her to be in.Here is the product just waiting for hair and features. I am sure she will enjoy going on many a journey with the Dr.....