"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...

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Natural learning part two

I have put together some of the things that have been happening over the last year.This is not exhaustive, just a snapshot ,but I think it gives a good overview of what natural learning looks like for us.Non of these things have been compulsory, all of the activities stem from Emily's interests, which I pick up on and attempt to expand with things I think she might like.Emily has complete freedom to watch TV and go on the computer at any time,she often chooses to do other things;-)She is in control of what she does and when and for how long she does it.

Jacqueline Wilson Books,also widened to include DVD’s,Jacqueline Wilson‘s autobiography, Diary with facts about the author and quiz‘s about the books, Story CD’s, websites. Lots of discussions about real life tragedy and dealing with emotions.

Karen McCombie Ally’s world .Moving on to new series by same author, Stella etc. Great humour and real life family dramas.

Stephanie Meyer Twilight series includes Cinema visit, DVD with special features, book about behind the scenes and making of the film. A visit on holiday to Whitby also tied in with information about Bram Stoker and Dracula .

Golden Compass (Northern lights trilogy) all story tapes listened to time and time again. Books about the making of the film and behind the scenes footage on DVD. We have read about the author on his website. Many conversations where snippets of info on various things crop up and lead back to info heard about in the Golden compass. Trepanning being just one I can remember.We were having a conversation about skulls with a friend and in part of the story Trepanning was mentioned and Emily piped up about the Tarters doing it to let out bad spirits.I was amazed, I had never heard of it and here was another piece of info she had picked up from a story tape.

Artemis Fowl Story CD’s. Milly enjoys spy and mystery drama such as Miss Marple ,Agatha Christie,Nancy Drew and Midsomer Murders. Newly purchased book called Five minute Mysteries to get into, where a scene is set and you have to work through the clues to find the answer.

The My story range of books. We have read ones about the Potato famine, Titanic, Plague and have started The Victorian workhouse but have bought a range of titles to dip in to as and when. When we read the Plague one, I found Story CD’S The plague house in the library with information about the Plague that I thought she would enjoy.She loved them and Emily made up a character called sorrel who lived in that time and Emily acted out being Sorrel for quite some time :-)

Greek Myths, Percy Jackson series,website with facts and quizs, Roman Mysteries revisited again this year on film and in story. Romans board game, Involves answering questions about the era as you move around the board. Jason and the arganauts movie, Horrible histories DVD's.I often wonder what Emily is actually taking from the things we do and because we don't do any form of testing we rely on conversations or facts to crop up during something related,that happened when we watched Night at the museum she knew about Sacajawea the Indian guide when I didn't!!(showing my ignorance here!!)

Casualty TV programme, other programmes /documentaries that depict real life rescues. Discussing plans to take a ST Johns ambulance first aid course. I am going to look at other avenues of opening up this interest for her with visits if possible. Anatomix board game ,answering questions about Anatomy to win jigsaw pieces.Milly is very good at answering correctly,I love to hear where she has got her info and the last time we played, one of the questions was about how many ribs we had,she answered without hesitation and the way she knew? Pa ingles in Little house on the Prairie brook his ribs and she remembered we have 12 pairs from that book:-)

Fairies, Angels, spirituality, gemstones. Milly has a collection of gemstones and I am planning a visit to a local mine in Keswick where you can pan for gold and a more hands on/practical /geological approach can be explored as well as the healing/spiritual side of gems.

Fashion design. This ties in with Emily’s love of drawing figures, which are characters in her stories. Websites with the opportunity to dress figures in a multitude of styles including mermaids, warrior women etc as well as modern fashion.

Victorian era and Georgian era have been of interest recently. Amongst other things, we have made visits to Tullie house, Muncaster castle ,Wordsworth house.Milly doesn't like to do any kind of worksheets when we go round places.Hard facts are of little interest to her most of the time.She loves to invent a character who lives in the place and we create a story and she acts it out in the castle/house. Some future plans include visits to Beamish in October ,Dove cottage, Long Meg etc to see the places, read some poetry in situ, and tie in the history around the area to Wordsworth. Milly enjoys looking at buildings and deciding if they are from Victorian or Georgian times. I have plans to research and go on a tour around Carlisle to look at the Victorian Architecture.We have watched pride and prejudice and Sense and sensibility. Listened to Phillip Pullmans Ruby in the smoke and Shadow in the north and watched the dramatisation of both.

Have visited York , Jorvick Museum, York Minster, The shambles. Whitby and the Abbey, Ripon and Cathedral. Holiday in Yorkshire in June to go back and revisit all of them .

Titanic, seen the movie, read the My story book. Purchased a book with pull out model and replica tickets etc. Box set 3 DVD’s with documentaries from the discovery channel about the search for information on the cause of the sinking.

Emily is an Arctophilist and has started to buy some collectable bears.

Making up stories is still a passion; she tells them, records them on a dictation machine and has a growing collection of notebooks that stories are recorded in, to varying degrees. A laptop is now available to record her stories/character biographies etc. A lot of the time the stories involve role-play. These “games “often include real historical figures and times and it is as if she is living and feeling the history.

Interest in putting together a family tree, this is only in the early stages but will be something that can be added to as and when.

Walking with Alan and Beauty around the Lakes and fells, trampolining ,climbing tree’s and play boxing have been ways of keeping active. Milly is still interested in Karate but is not keen on a class situation, if Emily is in agreement I am going to try to find someone who can provide a very open session to explore the moves rather than “teach” at the moment. Swimming has been on hold recently due to illness but is another favourite activity.

Animals still play a big part in Emily’s world and we have visited Trotters farm regularly. We have watched Gorillas in the mist and read Sophie’s story both about the work done in conservation. We have a boxed set of DVD’s showing real life animal rescues from the Animal planet channel.
We have read the children’s version of Marley and Me and seen the film and we intend to get the adult version to read as well.
Wild at heart series on TV (set in Africa about a vet and his family and life looking after wild animals,)we then purchased DVD collection. Books and websites about wild animals are visited regularly.
We are thinking of volunteering at a local wildlife sanctuary.

Emily loves to draw the characters she makes up and weaves a story around the drawing ,usually verbally but sometimes in notebooks or typed.
Drawing has moved into an interest in Anime and Manga after reading and watching the series of W.I.T.C.H.
We are intending to view the work of Hayao Miyazaki on film .we will also look into getting some comic books .Milly has shown an interest in drawing in the style and is going about it in her own way as she finds manuals and tutorial hard to follow, although both these options are open to her if she wishes.

I have a range of science experiments that I have sourced from the Steve Spangler website. I have them ready with instructions and ingredients in zip lock bags and when we decide to do one they are ready to go.

Math is around us daily and although we don’t do maths problems ,dealing with time and finances mean Emily has a basic knowledge which grows as interest is sparked, or by a need to find answers.

We visit the local home Ed group .We have just met up with friends we met on the internet, who also home educate. We would love to join in future camps/get-togethers with them and other home edders. We have schooled friends locally as well as other home edders that we get together with outside the home Ed group.
We do activities such as Forest Days,drumming workshops and so on with the group.

By allowing Emily to follow her interests and her passions she is gaining confidence in her own ability. Her drawing moves at her pace in her own way ,she goes through periods where drawing is all she does and then periods where she rarely picks up a pencil. There has been significant progression in her work. She gains immense satisfaction from having mastered something herself in her own timescale with no input from anyone else.

Writing and typing are now undertaken daily ,writing is still difficult for her and slow going but the frustration she once felt is not as evident. There is no hesitation at attempting to spell a word and she rarely asks for help with spelling ,she can “ see” when a word doesn’t look right and will play around until it seems right to her. She communicates with friends on MSN typing in conversations and has a pen pal in America with plans to use SKYPE to communicate with her on line with instant messenger and via webcam.


There is no set date an interest has to have been explored by.Two years ago she was interested in Queen Elizabeth,over time we have watched films and read books and in the future things may crop up that engage her or offer new info about the era.

We have no way of knowing what she is learning from one day to the next.the evidence is that connections being made daily as Emily follows her interests, building blocks that grow to form structures, some of which end up a few blocks,some that grow and keep on expanding .Connections are made between each, as and when she finds new information, or when she goes back over old ground. Emily is learning and will continue to do so without the stress and restriction of school.She is free,she chooses her time table,her activities,when she eats,and what she eats.She can go to the loo without being embarrassed or afraid she will be told to wait.She decides what interests her,she doesn't have to spend hours and hours in activities she doesn't want or need.Her talents can grow because she can focus on them and from that self esteem grows.Her growth is evident in her interactions.

I know the future is bright for Emily.She is in charge of it and I am her co-pilot until she can Fly solo :-)

Friday, 29 May 2009

Third time lucky ;-)

Milly and I spent a very relaxed morning at home.We were both on computers and I was making calls and clearing paperwork.At the moment we have no sofas in the living room so Milly prefers to sit at the dining room table on the laptop and I was at the desk in the living room.Milly has MSN on both so we communicated online for a bit of fun:-0 Her typing and spelling is coming on in leaps and bounds!!

Out to do some shopping and Milly had not wanted to go to the play park or read on one of the benches near the river as I had suggested but as we were leaving she decided to take her new sketchbook she had bought from Muncaster.

We got to the car park and she asked to go along the river before going into town.We eventually found a bench where we could sit and she roughly sketched the scene over the river,we then walked on and found a place she could paddle.The sun was shining and she was squealing with delight and splashing around with a stick and we talked about the differences she had noticed in the way the stick went through the water when it was deeper and then when it was shallow.

After a while I looked at the time and was in a hurry to get what we had to do done and then I watched her face and realised there were better things to do on a gloriously sunny day and said ""You really want to get wet don't you love" and she most definitely didn't need asking twice!!Within minutes she was sitting down and splashing herself.I wish I had my camera it was lovely and she bought a smile to the faces of the people that passed by :-0

Didn't get in to do the shopping at all in the end,just have to fit it in tomorrow:-)

Back home and a few jobs to get done before getting ready to go out to Maryport for the outdoor event they had planned.Third time to see an organised event in 6 days, after Carlisle and Muncaster.This one had good weather and a big crowd and luckily some entertaining acts and a spectacular high wire act and fireworks!!

There were low points,the ques for ice creams and candy floss and the loos, but they could be expected with big crowds.There were quite a few large groups rather worse for wear and one of the downsides because of that was that a couple of young guys decided to shout obscenities at one of the acts.

All in all I would say we enjoyed it because of the quality of the acts and the high wire act was breathtaking.I took some pictures but haven't had time to download them so I may add later on.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Fools day competion falls flat

Last year we purchased a yearly pass for Muncaster castle which ran out at the end of April.When we met Michelle, Marcus and Chloe there last week,we decided to buy another one and vowed to make sure we got the use out of it this year, regardless of the weather.

So for our first trip,we went with Emily's best friend A,her Mum and sister and brother to see the annual fools competition.We were a little late setting off due to a prior arrangement to help out at the local food co-op.

It was much busier than last year and we realised why, when they announced that a Blue Peter presenter was to perform.Unfortunately we couldn't get anywhere near the stage to see any of the acts:-( They had not put out any more seating than I remembered being out last year,even though it had obviously been trailed on TV,not very impressed to say the least.De ja vu after a similar experience in Carlisle on Sunday.

Anyhow, although it was disappointing, we made the most of things and enjoyed the other entertainers mingling with the crowds and the usual bouncy castles,trampolines etc.

I was sitting at a table while A and her family went round to see the owls and a lady joined me and we got chatting.We had a very good discussion about home ed and I then met her husband and found out they were both teachers.Their 8 year old and Emily and A had a good play while we discussed it.I'm not sure they were going to rush back and take her out of school after our chat, but I did get the impression that it was something they had thought seriously about,that it could be a future possibility and it had helped meeting Emily and chatting about what we did.

Milly coped really well today even though she was very tired and very cranky.When she is tired she can become quite distant and it can be harder for her to connect.

When we went to bed last night she took a torch and her new.Manga comic book.I heard some rustling some time during the night and wearily opened one eye thinking she had put on the torch, I couldn't see any light so dozed off again.Apparently she had woke and put on the torch and read under the covers.This is the first time for months and months that Emily has read anything by herself.She said she stopped after an hour but was awake until 3.30 because we were snoring so much!!!!I went to wake her at 9 this morning and she was sitting reading it again.I bought it because she is interested in Manga art and as it is comic form I thought it might be easier to read.Seems to be a hit,just bad timing that we had a busy day planned for a tired bod.....

We spent 5 hours there and by the time we were walking back to the car we were all pleasantly shattered......

A rude awakening.....

Wrote yesterday about how much I enjoy waking gently with Milly next to me,really not too keen an clunks on the head at 7.20 though!!

That was my alarm call this morning;-) I needed to be up to help out at the food co-op so looking on the bright side, with that rude awakening I get to browse and have a little time on my own before waking the dreaming, flailing around,Milly:-)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Circle of trust,sanctuary and Billy Elliot....

A very late start this morning.I woke first at 9 with Milly a few minutes behind me.I do love just been able to glance over and see her wake slowly and then a little hand holding before we both wake fully:-)

Conversation started about E who was meeting her boyfriend this afternoon at the station and how excited/nervous she would be.We got into talking about when Alan and I first met and how romances may not be forever and how important trust is in a relationship.I love it when conversations just evolve like that.We got into why trust is important in all relationships.Milly said that she felt she sometimes felt very let down by me if we had had a falling out and that as I had shouted (raised my voice but to Milly it is as bad as shouting!!)at her yesterday I was no longer in "her circle of trust", She reminded me that saying was in Meet the Fockers and we fell about laughing!!We really must see that again:-)

Milly makes me work at hard being a better person,I get to see how my off hand remarks really wound her and my raised voice is, to her, as bad as screaming at her.I try every day to be a gentler and more patient parent,I don't always get it right and sometimes it is the little things that get to me.I got up and read this post this morning which helped to put me back on track again.

Went over to my sisters for lunch,Mum and Dad were visiting as well so time for a good catch up.Sister and family had been to London for the weekend to celebrate a godsons birthday.They had gone to see Billy Elliot and I want to go so badly now!! I adore the film and all the accounts I have heard of the stage show have been glowing with praise.

Left there to go to an animal sanctuary(this was where the vet has told us to call for info on the ferret we saw in the garden)They rescue wildlife and then release them when they are well.

We saw two lercher's(the family pets)one had been kicked to within an inch of it's life and it took 41/2 hours of surgery to safe it's life the other one someone had tried to poison with bleach!!! WTF!!

Around the sanctury we saw,
geese,ducks,swans,peacocks,terrapins,rabbit's,cockatoos,badgers,otters, owl's, and so much more,they had a particularly freindly Turkey who Emily named Sweetie and it followed us around like a dog and allowed us to stroke it:-)
Great way to spend an hour in the rain but we left with the intention of visiting many more times and with a plan to talk to the lady in charge about volunteering.

Back home to make this I am now stuffed after eating far too much,it is just so gorgeous I couldn,t resist seconds.

Milly is on BBCi and MSN,Al is washing up before watching football and I am on here before seeing what Emily would like to do with the rest of the evening and what time we are off to bed.I wish I had Billy Elliot on DVd instead of video cos I would of watched that while she went off to sleep:-(

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Fat lip....

Milly and Alan have taken to going out to the trampoline for 20 minutes, half an hour or so bouncing each night.

Some time ago it morphed into a boxing/self defense type thing and Emily just loves it,she is really strong and her hand eye co-ordination has come on in leaps and bounds and she is getting through Alan's defences more often:-)She has always loved real physical rough and tumble with Alan.She has said she doesn't want to go to any Karate, Judo or kick boxing class at the moment,so we have been trying to come up with ideas to let her enjoy it at home.We were talking about getting some pads and gloves and possibly a punch bag so she could box and kick it.

Alan got up early on Sunday and headed off to the car boot sale and found two lots of boxing gloves for Emily and a punch ball on a stand for the princely sum of one pound:-)She loves them and is keen to get a heavier punch bag so she can practice kick boxing.

So tonight off on to the trampoline at 7.30.

8.00 back in with a fat lip!! No they haven't taken to full on boxing!! Apparently they were trying some body throws and she flopped face down and struck her face flat on the trampoline resulting in a fat lip and a few (only a few) tears:-(

She has however no intention of giving up:-)

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Street entertainment,rolling down hills and midnight snacks

Have just got back after a rather nice evening.

We took Emily and two friends to Carlisle for an evening of outdoor entertainment.
There were bands playing and street performers which all sounds good but it didn't quite work.

As we were walking down to the area the stage was set up,Alan noticed one of those statues that move!! The guy was very good and as Emily and A went to put some money in his bowl they had a giggle as he moved and squeaked and stuck his tongue out at Emily each time she looked away.I got sat at a table and Al went off with the girls to see a circus performers further up the street,while I did some people watching.

There were wide aisles either side of the tables and a stage where the band played down in the distance.Some interesting looking food stalls selling Paella,hog roast and other delicacies(we had had tea as I knew they would be charging over the top prices and this weeks budget just wouldn't stretch to it).

I saw some of the roaming acts around but they didn't come close to where our table was to get a good view.The crowds increased and it became impossible to see the act that were performing in front of the stage.Luckily they were an acrobatic troupe from Catalonia and they built towers so high that I could see them above the crowds!! There were a lot of people in the same boat and they were resorting to standing on chairs and tables to get better views.Emily and the girls were a little bored by this time so rather than dragging it out we decided to head home.I had been keen to see the finale at 10 which involved drummers walking through the crowds and then a human mobile being hoisted high into the sky by a rather enormous crane, but that meant waiting two hours!!

We got back in the car and were due to go home as the girls are staying over.We decided to stop off for essential supplies(wine,sodas,and cheesy puffs!!)and then I asked them if they would like to do something on the spur of the moment the only thing being it couldn't cost money.They were stumped but jumped at my idea to take a detour and head to the beach.Much talk about getting out for a paddle and getting wet!!

We got there and Emily and A got out to go and play on the large expanse of grass at Silloth common.They went up a hill and I was sure they would roll down but they didn't.E got out to give them the nudge and decided to get one more roll down a hill in even though she is a super cool 15 year old:-) They came back to the car and Alan took them down to the shore but they weren't long before they came running back.The three of them then spent 45 mins or so playing Robin hood/lord of the rings around the green and wooded area.Alan and I sat in the car watching and chatting.

A giggly drive home and now Alan is watching football in the sun room I am on here and the three girls are in the living room with frequent visits through to refuel.

I have homemade potato wedges cooking for a midnight snack with mayonnaise or Tomato sauce (or both if desired!!)and all is well.

Friday, 22 May 2009

A pretty relaxed week..

We have had a lovely week:-0

Monday was pretty relaxed, a little housework and spending time together on and off reading/playing.

Met up with Michelle,Marcus, and Chloe on Tuesday.They had lunch here,the girls had time to have a play in the garden and then we went off to Wordsworth house. We had a great time.Milly acted out a character called Lorna .Her and Chloe were able to sit in the back office at the clerks desk and write with a quill pen and then a member of staff helped them seal it with wax.In the children's bedroom the girls were able to dress up,unfortunately although they had told me it closed at 5 they steered people out into the gardens earlier, so play had to be cut short.We then went for a cuppa and a cake to a nearby hotel.Play on the park for the girls and then we had to say goodbye :-( We really enjoyed their company and I do hope we get to meet up again at some stage.

Wed was supposed to be Home ed group,as I was making the sandwiches to take with us Milly asked if we had to go and I said not at all and we could just stay at home in our PJ's so that is exactly what we did.Can't remember much of what we did but it didn't involve much movement:-)

Thursday my mum and dad came over for lunch and then later in the afternoon we picked up E from drama club and she stayed over.I stayed up chatting to the two of them and got to bed around 12.

It was 10.30 before the two of them woke this morning and shortly after that E was picked up and we spent the morning quietly and washed hairs etc before heading off to pick up A from school.She had been on a 4 day residential and was quite tired but they had a good play until she was picked up at 7.Alan had been to drop off my sister and family at Penrith station and after he had his tea we all played a game called Anotomix
Emily is not a great board game fan and this can be quite a slow game so we ended up making our own rules up to complete the jigsaws and then because she adores answering questions she wanted me to ask her 20 and she got 17 right.Alan was next and he only got 14 right.I must get the Egyptians game because I think it is a similar thing to Anatomix and Romans
where questions are asked.I also think she would enjoy it if I took the questions with us and used them as a game to play while waiting anywhere when we go out(note to self!!)

So here we are a Friday night,Alan has watched Have I got news for you while I sat and read to Emily whilst she had a bath and then he has gone up to bed with her while I have some time to blog and watch TV or read or indeed both:-)

Saturday we are hoping to spend sorting the garden out.I have not got anything planted in my veg garden and I need to look at what I can actually hope to grow and get it in PDQ.

I am taking Alan out to the Cinema whilst E babysits and then stays over.We are going to the early showing and won't be late back.

On Sunday we are going into Carlisle to see an event organised by Lakes alive sounds good and is free so might as well go along and check it out.We are taking Emily's friend A and possibly E and they will come back here for a sleepover.It will be very late by the time we get back so I am planning a day of rest on Monday!!

Alan and Emily have plans for a walk round one of the lakes and then they are picking my sister and family up from the train station.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Sofa turned out well!!

The sofa that used to be an Aubergine colour has turned out quite well.Not quite the dark chocolate I had wanted, but close enough.I could have ordered more dye(new dylon machine dye with no salt needed) and I would think it would have gone darker but to be honest I just wanted it finished(impatient me?) and back on, out of the way.It was a devil to get dry as the weather was so awful!!

I had to use pre dye and that meant it had to be washed at a high temperature and I was really concerned it would shrink as they weren't washable covers.I had decided it was worth a risk and thankfully it has paid off,although they shrunk a little bit it's not noticeable.

Monday, 18 May 2009

In dire need of a sort out!!

In all the posts about the big declutter that is going on I have shown some nice tidy shots of our home.

The reality is, our house is just like everyone elses and whilst I can just about keep on top of the rooms we use daily,behind the scenes is not too pretty!!!

In the bottom picture I couldn't even open the door as things were just going to fall out.So improvements have been made but some areas are still in dire need of a sort out:-(

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Car wash shenanigans!!

A sleepover for Milly and A last night, arranged at the last minute and the first one they have had together for quite some time.

I went off to bed around 12.15 and apparently they dozed off around 1.00.
I had to wake them from a very deep sleep at 9.15 as A was being picked up.Pancakes were quikly made for A before mum called to collect.I made Milly some and then Alan asked if she would like to clean the car with him.I was amazed when she said yes!! I would have put bets on her saying no after her late night,it just goes to show I should never make assumptions;-)
Mayhem ensued with lots of squealing and laughter.

In to warm up with a hot chocolate and she decided to watch Night at the Museum in the living room where they had slept last night.

I had taken out the vacum and had also got the ingredients out to make a sweet potato cake, so things I could be getting on with and I knew she would be ok watching on her own but I decided it would be much nicer if I snuggled down with her and watch the film,so glad I did,I loved it.We will head off to the cinema soon to see the sequel:-)

After we ate lunch Milly texted E to see if she wanted to come over for a while this afternoon and got the answer she hoped for:-0

A quick trip to pick her up and then I was able to make the cake chatting to the two of them and clean up and vacuum while it was cooking and they played.

Alan has painted a part of the wall in the dining room white today so that Milly can draw on the wall if she wants.Freinds can leave their mark too which will nice,until such time as it is full and we will just paint over it.I would have liked to have more of the wall to draw on but she does like these posters and they are handy as quick references or just to spark a thought off,or make a connection to something already known.And another rather important reason is that they are covering up holes in the wall where the shelves used to be above my desk!!!

The two girls are in the living room watching lady gaga and such on utube and connecting with friends on MSN.I have taken five to blog while Alan is out with Beauty.

Plans for the rest of the day include,shopping for food on line, Tea, driving E home at some point and then back for an appointment with a bath and a book.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Meeting old friends for the very first time?

On Thursday I stepped far out of my comfort zone and met up with a friend I had known online since I began this blog,in fact she left the first comment for me :-)

Michelle and Marcus and the delightful Chloe from To the Manor born were up in our neck of the woods and we met up at Muncaster Castle.

I can't tell you how nervous I had been.So many what ifs going through my head!!!

I like to feel this blog gives a fairly accurate picture of me but as no one else I know reads it that was hard to tell for sure;-)I also have lot's of time to think/edit what I say on here and in real life when I am tired/nervous I often find myself struggling, as what I intended to say doesn't make it from my brain to my mouth and becomes an incoherent babble:-)

Anyhow we travelled to meet them very excited/nervous.When we were walking up the drive to the Castle I saw a mane of white blond hair flowing in the wind and could see what I thought was Chloe on the zip line in the playground.I said to Emily that I thought it was them and she just grasped me and buried her face in my sleeve saying "don't say it, don't say it" she was so excited that she didn't want to get too hopeful in case it wasn't her and she would have been disappointed:-)

It was Marcus and Chloe and I waved to them. I could see no sign of Michelle and decided it might be best to go into the area we had said to meet at 12 just in case she was there,she wasn't so we went out to introduce ourselves to Marcus and Chloe and as the bells from the church rang out and Michelle came running down the terrace, where she had been exploring, and gave me a big hug.

We had a fabulous day and chatted easily and it was as if we had in fact known each other for ages.

They kindly invited us back to the campsite and Marcus cooked us a lovely meal.The girls got on really well,chatting,bouncing,swinging,climbing,two falls, one spectacular bump out of a tree for Chloe at bluebell heaven in Muncaster and a fall off a gate, breaking a bracelet from best friend A, for Emily:-(
No lasting damage to either of the girls:-)

After seeing their tent,heater,carpet and loo amongst other things make it my kind of camping;-)I think we will be investing next year.The campsite was first rate with clean facilities and it is one I will mention to the local home edders as a place to go for an overnight/weekend camp for our group.It is in easy travelling distance but very secluded.

I then drove home on roads I have never been on before late at night,that is quite something for me!!Emily was buzzing too,she was so happy and said it was a fantastic day!!

I had such a great day and also stretched myself in so many ways that will make it much easier to do it again now:-)

We are looking forward to seeing them again on Tuesday when they come here for lunch and we will head off to show them some of the sights round here.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Natural learning....

I found this as I was tidying up my posts and deleting some that never got finished.I wrote it a couple of months ago but thought it was still worth posting.

As unschoolers we don't do school at home,in fact school in any way at all ;-)
We don't break things down into individual lessons,we don't assess how much Emily knows about any subject, we just live our lives and accept that learning does happen,it is less quantifiable,and is not recorded but it goes on every moment of every day.

A couple of things have happened over the last week or so that I thought would be worth recording here.

When Emily left school she hated anything to do with maths.Her teacher in year one did say she had an aptitude for maths but by year 3 when we took her out any spark of enjoyment around numbers had been well and truly extinguished.

We took the view that math is all around us in every day activities.Over the first few months she was at home we just went about daily life.Cooking, where she measured and weighed if she wanted to. We talked about things being quartered or halved etc just normal conversation about whatever we were doing.She would ask how long until Dad was home or how long to go until her favourite programme came on and she would ask about the time, how many minutes in 1/4 hr,1/2 hr and things like that,gradually and because she wanted to and it was important to her she fully understood telling the time.She can add and subtract very quickly in her head whenever she has a need to know about time:-)

There has been a similar pattern with using cash.Initially lot's of questions about how much is this, add this or this take away this. Now she is doing the sums herself and if she gets the wrong answer she will sometimes try again to get the answer herself or she may just ask us,we continue to give her the answer without any hesitation or attempt to get her to work through it.I am very often surprised with the speed of her calculations.

Last week in the car we were passing through town on our way to an appointment,we were listening to music, when out of the blue she asked me what 15x15 was.I told her the answer was 225, she just looked and said "Oh cos I thought it was 185" Where it came from I have no idea,I did ask why she wanted to know and she said "I just wondered".So on a car journey she had just decided to do some mental arithmetic for no reason other than her own curiosity and came very close to the answer.I was tempted to ask how she had come to her answer and help her work it out to get the right answer, but decided that knowing Emily as I do it was better not to,if she wanted to know how to work it out she would of asked me:-) She wasn't at all bothered she had got it wrong, it wasn't important, it was just something she had decided to try and the conversation moved on.It was a really great reminder to me that we never know what our children are working out,thinking through or making sense of.In that short silence in the car, multiplication happened to be the thing that she was thinking about.

One night she had been unable to sleep and she came downstairs,it was 10.30 and I was finishing writing a blog post,she was fidgety and didn't want to do anything in particular but wanted to wait around for me to go up.She ended up pulling a chair in front of the fridge .In the early days of home ed we bought some magnetic numbers and put them on the fridge Alan would set a sum before he went off to work,it was never a "have to do" activity but it was there and she would answer it at some point during the day when she saw it, if she wanted to.Then it just tailed off as she stopped wanting to do them,the numbers are still there.Her friends that come often play around with them but Emily has shown no interest in them for many many months.On that night she started to play around with them and made a 20 figure number up across the fridge door.Then she asked me what the divide sign was.We had a brief discussion about it and she asked me a couple of sums,10 divided by 5 was one and I talked her through it then she asked what 10 divided by 8 was, I was set to get out some pasta to show her but that had been enough for her she didn't want to take it further.I will offer to go through some more sums with her at some stage but she got what she wanted from that short exchange.

I firmly believe that if children have an interest they pursue it and if she had an interest in numbers she would follow that interest to the point she was satisfied.I see it as my job to spot that interest and to offer new and interesting ways to explore it.

I had no interest in math and spent tooooo many hours in a classroom having to do algebra etc,pass tests when needed,only to have forgotten everything about it and have never had a need to use it anyway!!

Emily has been and will go on, building a basic knowledge of maths in real life situations.If as time goes on it is something that interests her more then she will delve deeper and ask more questions,if she chooses at a later date to go on and do an exam and it is something she wants to do I have no doubt in my mind that she will be able to do it.The choice will be hers.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Experiments and electronics

I bought a couple of kits from Bargain Basement store the other week and Emily and Alan have had fun putting them together.

Tuesday morning was such a lovely day and I got a few bits and bobs ready to take into the garden so we didn't miss a minute of the good weather.

A couple of experiments,milk art and cornflour fun!!

Shave cream?

Wash off with water pistol:-)

Foot bath with a difference?Cornflour cooler!!

Snoozle in the sun to finish off the afternoon.........

Sunday, 10 May 2009

A lovely sunny Sunday...

I woke at around 8 with the start of a headache so went down to get pills.Al was out,he had said last night that if the weather was good he was going to head off early to walk Beauty, he couldn't decide if it would be hills or beach:-)

I sat with a cuppa and then put the radio on and started to put away the pots from last night.I was soon singing and dancing along as I tidied around and then had breakfast.Milly snoozed on.

Al arrived back around 10 just after Milly had woken up.Milly watched a bit of TV while I had a shower and Al had his breakfast,he had chosen to go to the beach and had also stopped off at a car boot sale and found himself a pair of hedge trimmers for a pound,he does love a bargain:-)

Milly came upstairs and began to get dressed.Milly really likes her pjs and would not normally get dressed willingly or without being asked,however this was an outfit that her new charachter Oxford would wear and she had intended to go out to play as her!!

Within minutes she was back in to say that her and Dad were going out for a walk as soon as he had tested his hedge trimmers(they did work)They decided against taking Beauty this time.

So I quickly packed up a sandwich and drinks, Milly got changed and off they went to Rannerdale to see the fields of blubells.A really big draw was a tree she could climb that they found on thier last visit:-)

I was not up to going with them today,instead of moping around feeling sorry for myself I decided to tackle the living room.We had sold the sideboard that was full of clutter.I had been putting off sorting it while it was still in the sideboard, but as it was now out of the sideboard all over the floor it really needed to be done.(looking at these pictures it doesn't seem to look too bad?)

I knew I would have to take my time so I put Blondie on utube and set to.The only problem is that after a while you end up with piles of stuff in other rooms as well!!Eventually I had things sorted into piles and placed in the rooms they were going to be kept in or in the big pile of rubbish.I also had a lot of things to store in the spare bedroom until we have our garage sale sometime in August.

Some things were easy to find new homes for.

Other things had to sit about for quite a while till I could jiggle things around.Some of these have still not found a home:-(

I had just about finished sorting out the worst of it when the wanderers arrived home with tales of walking up hills, climbing trees,getting a big scratch when getting stuck and having to swing down off said tree!! Paddling in streams and talking to a young girl who was diving with her parents.Forgot to ask what the bluebells looked like!!

Emily was straight out into the garden and that's where the rest of the beautiful sunny afternoon has been spent.Swinging and some time spent just dreaming,(notice back in pjs)

Alan did some weeding and I slowly finished off the room.Beauty did lot's of this.

I made tea and then we all sat out near the fire and ate then played cards, while I played patience Emily groomed Beauty,chatted,and generally had a nice time:-)

Alan is watching George Gently on Tv, Milly is watching Arthur on the laptop and I am going to finish up here and lay on the sofa with a book.Night night xx

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Lemonade award

Some time ago before I came down with the awful virus Shirl very kindly gave me this award.I have been meaning to get round to acknowledging it since then.

The lemonade award is for blogs showing “Attitude and/or Gratitude.”

I am very grateful to shirl and also Linda who has also just given me the same award.

I started this blog 2 years ago and never expected anyone to be intersted in the day to day activities that I write about.I am incredibly flattered that people do read and enjoy our story and even more so that they keep coming back :-)

One of the things I enjoy so much about blogland is the connections you can make with people you would not have a chance of meeting.I have "known" Shirl online for quite some time but I have just "met" Linda.Thanks again ladies.xx

I will pass the award on to 10 others.I have had a few awards to pass on over the last few months so I will try to pass it on to some I have not already shared with.








Big mama frog



Ferret song

Alan and Emily sat in the sun room on Ferret watch till 11.30 but still no sign of it:-(

However a musical masterpiece was created;-))

(sung to the Tune of "I am sailing" by Rod stewart)

I am waiting
I am waiting
for the ferret to show itself.
it showed itself last night
but went away
so i am hoping that it will come back today

I am waiting by the doorway
waiting for the ferret to show itself
my excitement, my excitement, to see the ferret, i can't contain.....

Friday, 8 May 2009

Ferret watch...

After I posted on Thursday Alan went up to bed and I sat on here a while.Emily came racing through to say there was a stoat in the garden and could she have some meat to put out for it!!

I went through and got some ham from the fridge and she put it out near the sun room doors.She turned off all the lights inside and put on the outside light and the three of us settled down with a cuppa to see if it would return.To our great excitement it did!! This is a picture from the Internet but it was similar to this one.

It ate the ham and then moved away so we tried a raw egg next and sure enough it came back.It showed no fear of Emily as she put the egg on the patio and I realised it could not be a wild animal but was more likely to be an escaped Ferret.

The other thing was that earlier on I had let Beauty out into the back garden and E had said she thought something was chasing Beauty around the garden,as I couldn't see anything I said she sometimes runs around like a loon chasing her tail and that was probably what she was doing,now seems highly likely she was indeed being chased!!

We sat mesmerised by this little creature for over half an hour.Milly was desperate to "rescue" it and try to set a trap using our cat carrier.It was 12 at night and I was way too tired to attempt to go in the one cupboard that has not yet had the declutter!! The cat carrier was on a very high shelf and who knows what else would have fallen out along with it so that was one of the reasons I decided it would not happen then, but suggested we try again in the morning when I had a chance to talk to a vet who might give us some advice.

Emily slept late and I went in at 9.45 and she slowly opened her eyes and as I knew it would be, the first word from her was Ferret!!I have to explain that alongside Emily's adoration of all animals this was particularly special because Pan(her daemon she has had since watching the Golden compass)often takes the form of a ferret or stoat:-)

I rang the vet who put me in touch with a lovely ferret man;-)He said it was likely to have moved on now but if it was still there it would be ok to feed it and it should be possible to pick it up if it wasn't afraid.

As yet it hasn't returned but Alan and Emily have set up camp in the sun room on ferret watch!! As they are waiting they are working through this book about demi gods part of the Percy Jackson series.Lots of crosswords word searches etc.
Cirque de Glace

Saw this last weekend.Brilliant show only two small parts after the interval where it sagged a little, otherwise full on entertainment.

Thoroughly recommend it if it comes your way....

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Woke up around 8.30,got up and had a cuppa while sitting in sun room with laptop.Alan was out walking Beauty and Milly was still snoozling.

Made bacon butty ,not great, I like it cooked slowly and crispy but I got sidetracked and it got cooked too quickly and the fat was still there:-(

Milly had crisp sandwich for breakfast while I got dressed and Alan started pruning some large shrubs in the garden.

Milly got hair washed (she is going sooooo long between washes now,and I really am not sure how often face and teeth get attention either!!)and I sat with her for a while as she dried off and got ready.We had a giggle about something which turned into a great laugh.It was a special moment because I was "there" not thinking about the million other things I needed to do just there in the moment with Emily.I need to record these times because sometimes I forget and it seems like I spend so much of the day disconnected,trying to "be" with her while thinking too much about what I "need" to do.

Off to pick up E and back home for a while,painting for E and Emily.I made lunch then we went off to town shopping.They went off on their own for an hour while I whizzed around.Lot's of texts from Emily about something she had found that she wondered if she had any money to buy:-)Settled on a large notebook for her new characters.The house is over run with notebooks of various shapes and sizes but it seems a writer can never have too many:-))

Back home for an hour then off to drop E at drama club and Emily and I went to my sisters in the same village to see my Mum who was there and had brought some shorts(we have had a problem finding some in the local town) from H&M in Carlisle for Emily to try on.One pair fitted and she will exchange the others for the next size,so that's her sorted with shorts for the summer,hopefully.

Back home to make tea and then Alan and Emily went to pick up E and we all sat down to home made Pizza ,salad and chips,Milly had dippers and chips as she doesn't like Pizza.I actually only started to make homemade with "secret" sauce when she did like it as a way to get some extra veggies into her diet however we love them so much so I keep on making the secret sauce and pizzas,I also use the sauce to add to bolognese sauces or chilli con carne as it makes it richer and adds a deeper flavour.

After tea I made a bolognese sauce while the three of them played a game of Romans Milly played by herself(she would normally choose to be in a team) she only went and won!! No help either.....

Then I went in a bath and read for a while and they all set up in the sun room to play a quiz game Milly suggested.She came and got the swivel chair(mastermind style) and then they took turns to sit on the chair and answer the multiple choice questions on the Romans from the game.I heard lot's of laughter while I relaxed in a very hot bath.

Al has just been in a bath and is now watching the news whilst the two girls play a game about two girls living together in a flat, through in the sun room/kitchen/dining room.

A busy but very enjoyable day :-)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Another area sorted(nearly)

This area in the living room used to have a sideboard which was full of "stuff" very little of which we used or actually needed!!So I decided this unused space would be ideal to move the computer into.I have a lovely big frame with a montage of Emily through the years above the desk and have framed some positive affirmations and have put them right next to the computer as a reminder.

It works well,still getting used to coming in here to use this space but getting more used to it each day.Just a little drama when the shelf on the wall came crashing down!! Alan has refitted it using very long screws and has requested I don't overload it again,oops!!!

On the other side of this half of the living room we had a sofa(now dyed and in the sunroom)however we never sat up this end of the room and so I now have storage and filing(makes doing bills and filing info so much quicker now everything has it's place)which means it is a much more usable space.Still need some more ornamenty things and perhaps another bookcase in the alcove but it is very nearly done and is in use every day.

The other half of the room still has furniture stored awaiting sale.Most of the items have now gone and I hope the last few things go soon, however as it could be up to 11 weeks before the sofas come it will be quite some time before we can get it back together.