"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...

Sunday, 29 June 2008

A day of two halves.

Things started slowly today with a nice lie in and then pottering about until we went out at twelve.We were going to support our local village hall, the commitee had arranged an open garden day and Milly was very keen to go around so she decided to dress up for the occasion.

We are going to see Mcfly in concert in August and have purchased a top with stars on,it seems stars are important for Mcfly!! Anyhow she has been wearing it over the last few days with leggings but came down this morning with it over a skirt and leggings combo.Then she added the leg warmers and asked me to customize a pair of long socks my sister had bought her for christmas that had toes in, she could never wear them as socks so asked me to cut off a little bit of the toes to make them into fingerless gloves.

A picture of the effect from the back.

We managed to get round a few gardens,my favourite was actually an allotment, the lady is a real inspiration.She spends hours and hours on her plot she has a greenhouse/shed arrangement where she grows things but can also sit in a comfy chair listen to music and have a cuppa.She dosen't throw anything away and has utilised allsorts as plant supports, frames have been made from old metal bunk beds and wire fridge baskets and yet it all looks so good and not at all like a junk yard.

After a while our plan to go out before lunch proved flawed.We did get round one half of the village before Emily decided she had had enough and needed some food.Managed to keep in my mind a wonderful quote I read on the New Unschooler the other day and went to the hall for some tea and cakes.The revised plan to accomodate Emily was that Alan would carry on round and I would go home with Milly and get lunch ready and then I would try to get out after lunch whilst they took Beauty off to St Bees to go along the coastal path.As it turned out the plan changed again Al came home and after lunch they decided to head off and get back for tea rather than having the picnic tea they had planned. Talk about adapting and going with the flow!!!!

Milly just couldn't resist the water.

Recreating the famous scene from the blog header ;-))

Dog and girl in heaven.

We are so lucky to live so close to this.

Emily striking a windswept pose.

Having a little breather.

While they were out I had a list of jobs,the quiet start to the day turned into a marathon cooking session.I had soup to make for one night this week,I had all the veg in the fridge but I hadn't got it used for tea during the last week and it was starting to go limp so I needed to use it up ,bolognese sauce to make ready to go in a Lasagne one night this week,similar reason as I had got the mince out of the freezer but had not used it,write letters,send emails,secret sauce for homemade pizza to make and freeze,tonights tea to prepare.

Under normal cicumstances I would never choose to do this many jobs but I didn't have a good week health wise and things kind of piled up.As we have quite a few things on this week I needed to get these done and it will save me making meals when I have had busy days out.So it will all pay off in the end.

Never did get out to see the rest of the gardens and was still hard at it when the intrepid explorers came back.All were suitably tired,Beauty flopped down in the sunroom not to be heard from for a couple of hours.Emily went in a bath then listened to a story tape flat out on her bean bag while I finished prepping tea and trying to sort out some computer problems.Unbeknown to me after Emily had come down Alan decided to have a lie down and fell asleep .He only got up in time for tea because he woke himself up snoring!!!

Blogger isn't checking spelling.I am shattered and am sure there must be many but hey ho.....

Friday, 20 June 2008


Ever since we took Emily out of school our whole lives have changed dramatically.We have relaxed into a way of life that is much more fluid.We have evolved from a routine set by the clock to no real routine at all.We get up when we wake up and eat when we are hungry.Bedtime for Emily can be 7.30 as is the case tonight or 10.30 as it was a few nights ago.In many ways we are lucky that Emily is not too much of a night owl but if she wanted to stay up later we would find a way to accommodate her that worked for all of us.

Unschooling has become so much more than giving Emily choice in what she "learns" our whole parenting philosophy has had an overhaul. I so often wish I was better at capturing our days in words and feel sometimes I don't always get the point across very well.In the last post when I wrote about sitting on the harbour it struck me after re reading it that most caring parents would have sat out with their child,I did forget to mention two other occasions where we had had a similar experience and had all ended up cold and pretty miserable with a portion of Emily's meal being dropped on the pavement trying to eat and hold on to it at the same time :-( My point really was how we have changed our approach to parenting and instead of pointing out the previous times and using them as a way to get Emily to do what we felt was best we just accepted that it was important for her to be out side and it wasn't going to kill us to facilitate that.It is also most likely that one of us would have felt the need to comment on the "wise" decision she made about sitting in the car next time because it would have made us "right".These little scenarios crop up so many times in a day and our decision to move towards a non coercive way is most definitely not an easy one,we don't always do the best we could in a situation,sometimes we are truly crap at doing the best thing and revert to the old ways.We may stray off the path we have chosen to go down but manage to fight our way back through the undergrowth and get back on track;-) Any how it didn't make sense to me when I re read it and I hope that makes a little bit more sense now if any of you thought the same?

I truly believe with all of my heart that this way of life is right for us and is just what Emily needs.Having said that I have spent the last few weeks worrying myself silly.I read so many blogs(unschooling and other) where the children are so motivated to learn and are producing wonderful art and have rich and varied interests and I have felt so envious.For quite some time now it has seemed that all Emily has really wanted to do is listen to story tapes and when she is not listening to one she wanted to be read to and we had four different books on the go at once.We have been on outings and as soon as we are back in she has gone up to our room to listen to the CD she has wanted her food up there and has done very little of anything else when we are at home.She has not been on the computer for what seems like months and apart from a couple of films has not watched TV over the past few weeks,she has done very little drawing, she is so into the story's.I have questioned how I would feel if she was reading rather than listening to a tape or CD and to be fair I think I would still have worried.Initially it didn't worry me but gradually I began to get twitchy,it just seemed so reclusive and obsessive.My instinct was to let her work through it and although I offered things up they were most often declined so I just bit my lip and let her carry on.I can't tell you how hard it has been and for the first time I have seriously considered a more structured approach. I heard all the "I told you so voices" in my head when I thought about the future and saw her unmotivated and lounging around with no interests.

Thankfully before I did anything stupid some evidence appeared to show me that is unlikely to be the outcome.Milly has enjoyed The Lottie project on CD a couple of times now and got it out again when my mum took her to the library on Tuesday.She stopped listening to Alex Rider and put it on immediately they got home,the next day she showed me a story she had started.It is about a young Victorian nursery maid it is beautifully illustrated and there is a lot of writing and the story is obviously based on the Lottie project but with an Emily twist.The things she has learnt by "just" listening to story's are all coming out in the words she is using in her book, the history involved and the life she has developed for her Lottie character and all the other characters she has created in the story.She has said this is the best thing she has ever done and never wants it to end, she is writing obsessively(see a pattern emerging!!) and is so proud of it that she wants me to put pictures on here.She wants to get a book about Victorian nursery maids to learn more about their lives.Unfortunately the library was closed so we will have to go again,any ideas for book titles would be greatly appreciated.We went into Wilkinson's as she wanted a spiral bound book to write in and to stick the pages she had already written into.She wanted plain pages as she said she found it too restrictive to write with lines.I had it in my mind to say something but decided to hold my tongue until we had looked around and as there were no pads without lines I just casually said that I often found it easier to write with lines as it kept my writing straight and we continued to look for other bits and bobs and then she went back and got a pad and we headed home.She ended up re writing all the pages(very proud of herself as it was so neat and within the lines) instead of sticking them in the book and re drew the pictures.It now goes every where with her and I am sure she will get great pleasure from developing her story.However long it lasts I am happy for her.I can read the story as most of the words are spelt phonetically but I love to hear her read it,she knows where she wants a breath or when the character changes and she reads with great expression.She read it to her friend when we picked her up from school and when A asked why the girl in the story couldn't see her family Emily explained about nursemaids and how they went into service quite young and didn't get to go home very often. My fear has been calmed,Emily has her own way of doing things (she always has so you would think I would have learnt by now!!) they are different to mine and different to many other children but she is learning and she does have passions and interests.I am really hoping that in the future I stop needing these demonstrations of "learning" and just accept.

Life will be so much easier then ;-))

Emily came down with Al to get some supper as she felt a bit peckish and asked what I was writing about and I said I was just trying to explain how our lives had changed since she came out of school and she suggested I just write EXCELLENT in big letters right across the page, I suppose that does sum it up quite well ;-))

Monday, 16 June 2008

All's well that ends well.

Two posts in two days,almost feels like old times ;-)

We have had a really strange day today when things just didn't happen as we had expected them to.

We set off and dropped Alan off at the hospital and went in to the town to meet a friend and her son at a soft play center.I had been into the town on a few occasions but had never driven,in a panic at a junction I took a slight detour and we ended up on a scenic route around the lovely one way system to the car park :-)

When we were planning the outing my friend and I had had a discussion about a journey myself and another couple of friends had been on to a center in a neighbouring town that had closed on a Monday. I had meant to phone yesterday just to make sure this one was open but forgot.Emily was so excited as we hadn't been for ages and she almost dragged me along the street to the entrance and yes you guessed it, it was closed :-(

She is feeling so fragile at present and she just crumbled and cried and blamed me for not checking,my initial reaction was to be defensive however I breathed and took a moment and I just hugged her and empathised rather than pointing out my reasons for failing to check and how it really wasn't my fault.She calmed down quite quickly and we discussed our options which unfortunately in her opinion weren't a patch on the soft play.Our friends came and E who is 6 was also upset but was so keen to spend time with Emily that he was OK with going to the park.Luckily it was a sunny day and we set off with a rather sullen Milly.It didn't take long for her to perk up,I got some crisps and innocent smoothies from Morrisons and also some bubble gum which is her new craze at the moment(took a while but she can now blow bubbles and is immensely pleased with herself)I have to say I am not keen on the stuff but I am not 9 and I do remember many happy hours chewing and blowing bubbles when I was her age so can live with it.

In the end we spent one and half hours at the park and then just as we were walking to McDonald's for some food a nurse from the hospital rang. I had been expecting Alan to ring to let us know he needed picking up so got a bit of a shock at first thinking something had gone wrong, however everything was OK and we had lunch and then walked back to the car park.Said our goodbyes and E gave Emily a lovely hug and kissed her neck as he couldn't reach her cheek :-))

Just to complete the journey we took a wrong turn and saw rather more of the town than I would have liked and after a few more wrong turns ended up at the other side of town but at least on a road I knew!! 20 minutes late for Al .In the examination they had found an inflamed area and have taken biopsies, so now we wait three weeks for the results.

Back home for a rest and then as Alan hadn't been able to get the fish and chips he had wanted for lunch we decided to go to a nearby seaside town where there is a really good chippy and sit by the sea.

However true to form the chippy was closed and after many attempts we ended up in another town and found what seemed to be the only chippy open on a Monday night!! As it turned out they were lovely and we sat out overlooking the sea but it was rather less scenic in a much more industrial part.Milly had her binoculars and was keen to be outside, we were less keen as it had taken us some time to find the chippy and the sun had gone ,we suggested it was too windy and cold but decided as it was so important to her that it would be much kinder to sit with her than make her sit in the car. We put out the picnic mat on the harbour wall,put on our fleeces,and held on tightly to the paper while eating our tea. After five minutes Milly casually commented on being a little cold and said that in future she would probably sit in the car unless it was really warm.We both managed not to say "I told you so"or any words to that effect, maybe we are both growing up!!!

So, things didn't go quite according to plan today but as my old Nan used to say, all's well that ends well..

Sunday, 15 June 2008

A summery note.

This wonderful geranium brightens up my driveway, the photo actually doesn't do it justice, the purple is much deeper.No real reason to show it,I just fancied opening with a summery pic:-))

Emily started feeling sick last Saturday night,from about midnight we made numerous visits to the bathroom.We had my nephew staying and had to be quiet so as not to wake him. At 4 am as she was sat on the loo and we were having a whispered chat she informed me that she thought he might be a bad omen because the last time he had stayed she had been ill as well.She spent the next night coughing continually and for the next four days spent most of the time in our room listening to her story tapes watching DVDs and resting.Whatever it was knocked her out and she is still not 100%.She has been quite emotional and not wanting to venture far.

Bit of a pity really as we had planned to stay over at my sisters this weekend to look after the animals and clean the two holiday cottages they have attached to the house.This is something Emily normally loves to do but really wasn't keen to go.I would of gone on my own but Alan was working and so I couldn't leave her here.We set off after A had gone home on Friday night and got to my sisters around 8.We unpacked and went to see to the donkeys and chickens.Last time we had been Emily was so confident with them but this time was very scared and wanted me to do everything for them.We went in and took a glass of wine(Emily had a tiny bit with some water in) into the bath.It was great to be in a large bath with the tap in the middle so we both had room.We had a good chat and then she got out so I could add some more hot water in and she wrapped herself in a towel and opened the bathroom window and sat with her legs dangling out so she could watch the sun set over the fields.It really is an idyllic place.Got ourselves bundled up in bed and I read for a while and then lay with her til she dozed off and then I went down to watch some TV and have another glass of wine:-))

I had to wake Milly up at 9 and went to see to the animals before getting breakfast,then Mum and dad came over to help us clean the two cottages. We got them done in double quick time,which was a good job as the first guests arrived over 2 hours early!!

Home in time for tea and Dr who on Sat then an early night for me and a long lie in this morning.Under normal circumstances as it was Fathers day Al would have got a lie in and we would have made him breakfast in bed but he needed to be up by 7 to take some medicine, he is going in to hospital for a flexible sigmoidoscopy (bowel examination) on Mon. He has not been able to have any food today and has had a very effective laxative to take!Never one to let anything hold him back he has still managed to do a couple of the big jobs in the garden that he wanted to get done and taken Beauty out for two walks and he hasn't once moaned about not being able to eat or the constant trips to the loo!!He really is an inspiration,it has to be said I would have handled the day quite differently and sadly not in a good way!!!Fathers day has been postponed until next Sunday.

I am getting up in the morning so he can have a lie in and then we will drop him off at the hospital and meet up with a friend for a trip to a nearby soft play centre.When we pick him up he has requested fish and chips by the seafront:-)

Some other shots from the garden to end on a summery note....

This one shows some growth in the veggie plot,things seem to be growing so slowly I think I was late planting or maybe it was the cold snap just after I put things in and that gave them a bit of a shock.Either way we have not had one thing from our plot as yet,unless you count mint and parsley.I have planted cut and come again lettuce 3 times and each time it has come and gone again, pesky slugs!!!
I will attempt it once more but intend to try in a tub this time.My first two attempts to grow peas also failed but as we speak the third lot are pushing their first tender shoots through and have been protected by organic slug pellets so fingers crossed.I was given a tip about using 4 pt milk bottles as individual cloches so have transplanted some broccolli over and will see how they do.I am getting immense satisfaction from the whole process although it has to be said the watering each night can be a little time consuming.I would like Emily to take more interest but she really isn't that keen to be involved and turned down my offer of her own little plot.In previous years she has humoured me and planted things in a tub in a half hearted way.This year I have just accepted she is not interested in the process as such but I know she will enjoy the end products, especially the peas straight from the pod, if the slugs are deterred from munching this last lot of course;-)

Friday, 6 June 2008

A fairly quiet week..

I am finding blogging when the weather is nice really hard,so much easier when it is cold and dark outside on an evening;-)

Alan had last week off and he and Emily had some nice afternoons out and I got some jobs done that have been put off and then put off again.

This hides behind the sofa in the living room.Out of sight out of mind ;-)

Thursday Alan got on with the mountain of jobs we had to in the garden that were too physical for me to tackle.This rockery area is at the top of the side garden.

I didn't manage to get a before picture but it was a real mess, a couple of years ago I had bought some Euphorbia which is a gorgeous plant with tall light green "flowers" in the spring the unfortunate thing is that it spreads a lot and it had quickly overrun the rockery and all the other plants in it:-( Quite a job to clear it but we have plans for the area inspired by the lovely Grit more on that later.

While Al was tackling the rockery and other bit's and bob's Emily and I had a lovely day out with my Sister and Nephew at Muncaster castle it was the annual Festival of fools and the sun shone and the fools entertained us for hours.The winner AJ was superb,he was extremely funny and had me crying with laughter.We were there later in the afternoon than we usually are and got to see the Herons been fed for the first time.The front of the Castle has a fabulous view overlooking the estuary and you can see for miles.At 4.30 every day 18 Herons swoop down for food,quite a sight.I was sitting on the benches earlier in the afternoon watching them fly around, they really are elegant birds to watch.

It was Alan's birthday on the Saturday and we had planned a trip to Dalton in Furness to the Zoo It was a horrible 2 hour journey along a twisty road on a hot and sunny morning, Emily and I felt sick and were glad when we finally arrived.The zoo was good but Emily said she preferred the small animal park near us,mainly I think because of the horrid journey. At one point the day deteriorated and she informed me I was the worst mother in the world and that she was never going to speak to me again.It seems I could of handled that incident better!!!Milly is quick to the boil but after simmering for a time she apologised and we had a big hug and ended the day well.Hormonal females at each end of the spectrum is proving to be interesting :-)
Couldn't resist taking this picture of three sleeping lemur's if you click on you will see the one on the bottom of the picture has been gagged :-))

Since then things have been fairly quiet the rest of this week,it has taken me a while to get back to full strength so we have not ventured far. Lot's of gardening for me and lot's of story tapes for Emily.She has started on the Alex rider series and is now in spy mode ;-)