"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, 29 March 2012

Home alone...

After the second dose of migraine meds did their job we headed out to meet Maria and Devan. 

A fabulously sunny day meant we were able to lay on the blankets and chat whilst we waited for them. Milly didn't want to go on the park til Devan got there so ... we chatted and cuddled and laughed and cuddled and laughed some more.

Lovely to see Grandad  - Maria's Dad who is known as Grandad to many folk :-) - on his super dooper new mobility scooter and also W one of the children Maria looks after. Milly and Devan had a good run around and went on all the equipment whilst Maria and I stayed with W in the sandy part and chatted. Good to have a catch up and a reminder that we must make time to see each other more often....

Back home and as we drove through the village we saw Amy walking up towards the park. When we got home Milly decided she would head to the park in case she was there. About an hour later they arrived back soaking wet and with Jazz ( another girl from the village )  in tow having had a water fight in the park they asked to carry it on in the garden. I supplied jubbly lollys and off they went. They had been using large plastic drinks bottles to soak each other but I asked Alan to set up the sprinkler on the hose for them :-) 

Although it was sunny it was getting cooler and water play lost its appeal after a while. They walked Jazz back as she had homework to do and then Amy went home for her tea before calling for Milly again and off they went to the park. Milly came home full of a story they are creating together and spent at least half an hour telling me it :-)

Today has been a lovely home day. My Mum and Dad came for lunch and left about 3.00. 
I have broken the habit of a lifetime today and done some ironing!! Alan normally does all the ironing but as he has been so busy with the painting I decided to sort out some of the easier to iron things and reduce the mountain in the spare room . I survived the experience ;-)

Milly flitted about chatting to us and then friends on line whilst playing club penguin. She was supposed to clean the trampoline down ready to try and sell it but somehow managed to fill her time with other things and before we knew it Al was home and they watched a bit of TV - a Glee episode I do believe - whilst I made a green smoothie and then began the two week menu and shopping list.

Amy and Emma called round and the three of them went of to the park for an hour or so. Amy came back to ours so they could work on a story board. 

Alan and Milly had planned to have some time together tonight and go to the beach to walk Beauty and have a chip supper. They now have another member of the team as Amy has gone with them so they can continue  discussing their story :-)

I am loving being home alone:-)
Although I am at home a great deal I am rarely on my own. I have always needed time out on my own so this is not a hardship at all. 

TV and food then perhaps a bath and a book and maybe even a moment or two meditating before Mary Portas on TV later. 
By which time the travellers should be home.  

Friends coming for lunch tomorrow to look forward to :-) 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

After a lovely day yesterday ( which involved spending the afternoon with Milly walking the large and lovely Clint at the animal refuge and shopping for shorts and sandals, easy meals were made to make the most of time in the sunshine )  I came down with a bump and woke at 7 with a migraine :-/ Pills and back to bed, where I slept soundly til 10! Re-arranged plans today - to enable a little more time for the second lot of medication to kick in - so... Meeting friends later at the park for some sunny fun:-)
 I concocted a green smoothie for my brekkie and it was remarkably tasty:-) Onward and upward.....
Today is a perfect day <3

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

When Milly was little, even before she could speak we always spoke to her as we would an adult. 
We saw no reason to dumb down the language and believed that if she didn't understand or wanted clarification about a word she would ask. This proved to be true - but it was also evident that - over time -many of the words were simply understood because they were used in context.

I learnt early on in my unschooling journey that I didn't need to ask so many questions about what Milly knew or understood about a conversation we were having or about what she understood about the story in a book or a display in a museum. I saw too many times how easily her interest in something could be killed by my explanation of something she hadn't asked for and wasn't interested in knowing - even though I felt it was essential to give her a fuller understanding. I remember being in a museum and she became interested in a display and as we looked at the differences in two windows and began to make up a story about who lived there. We were having great fun and as I told her about the display I remember thinking she wouldn't understand what some of the things were and asked her if she knew what a particular word meant. almost immediately things changed and the enjoyment she had been having died and she wanted to move on.

Gradually I stopped feeling the need to teach and fill in the gaps - or rather the gaps I perceived. I allowed things to flow....

If we were in a Museum and she became interested in a display we would spend some time looking at it and discussing it, sometimes the history of it or what it was used for - most times her interest in it was not about the history at all but she would create a story around the display. A prime example was an air raid shelter in one of our local museums. After a very basic explanation by me her imagination would take over and a role play game or story would ensue. Sometimes - if it fitted with the game and story that Milly created - my own knowledge of how things worked / what they were used for might be used to enhance the story / game. 
Many other books / films / conversations have included information about air raid shelters in varying degrees and her knowledge has grown piece by piece like a jigsaw. This has not made her a world expert on air raid shelters but she has a knowledge of them and if and when she requires more information she will have no trouble finding out about them.
 Milly enjoyed going to this particular Museum and I could easily have killed her enjoyment in that moment when we played games and made up stories by trying to fill her in on the facts and history of air raid shelters.
 For me it had become so much more about our connection, getting enjoyment out of the visit, whatever shape that took...

I found this link today from Joyce Fetteroll . It is a fabulous article and this bit leapt out at me...

I wanted to try out an example of holey definitions and drawing on other areas and tools to fill in the holes and to double check to solve the puzzle. I don't know if this is a great example, but it got stuck in my head and it wouldn't let go so you may have to pretend you don't know what the meaning of the word is.
The cattle are lowing, the poor babe awakes. As far as I know, I've never heard lowing in any other context so in my case the puzzle area for lowing is totally empty. What areas do you draw on to figure out what lowing means?
For me it connects to the Christmas carol area. And that's a subset of the song area. I'm not very musical so I have some big holes in both areas. I don't know much beyond the most common carols. I do know that lyrics are poetry which connects to the English language area. My poetry area has a lot of holes in it too. Maybe that doesn't add much information but it does tell us why the sentence doesn't sound like normal conversation.
It connects to the Christmas area. My knowledge of Christmas basically comes from popular culture so compared to someone who has studied the Bible or the history of Biblical times it has holes. But it has worked well enough in the past for this type of thing. I know where the baby and cattle are and why they're there. I know the baby is just born and that its mom and dad are near by.
It connects to the English language area. Again, there are holes like lowing obviously but experience has led me to feel pretty confident in the non-holey areas. It's English sentence structure so there's probably a cause and effect thing going on. The cows have done something to cause the baby to awake. If the sentence were "The poor babe awakes, the cattle are lowing," we'd assume the baby affected the cows. We've probably all had encounters with poetry and song lyrics that break rules so we don't know that for sure.
It connects to the cow area. My cow area has served me for what I've needed it for but compared to a farmer, I've got holes. But I do know cows make noise. They eat. They're big. They poop. They pee. They produce a lot of gas. They stamp their feet. They give milk. Some people like to eat them. They seem kind of dull and sleepy.
We can gather some possibilities that fit in all the areas. Like maybe it's gas. Really smelly gas could wake a baby. But that doesn't fit in the Christmas carol area. My experience with carols leads me to be pretty confident they're about nice, gentle things. It could be milk. That's gentle. But the English area suggests the cows are doing it themselves. English tells us poetry breaks rules but the baby area doesn't give us a strong impression of milking waking babies. But my cow area has some holes in it so that's a maybe. It could be stamping. That's not too bad. It doesn't set off any alarm bells but doesn't send up any fireworks either. It could be mooing. That's gentle. As I recall it's noisy. English has some onomatopoeic words like moo to describe the sound cattle make and low sounds similar.
That doesn't give us a definitive answer but if I had to pick one, it would be mooing.
Putting the puzzle pieces together is kind of like solving a mystery. If someone had told us what lowing meant and we weren't curious, it'd be like reading the last chapter in a mystery book that we had no intention of reading. The fun is having the questions and getting to the answer, not necessarily the answer itself.

One other part that I would like to share from the article is this..

The worst learning crime we can commit is to drag kids through something boring to build some portion of a foundation or framework. They might retain what we've dragged them through but the price we pay is to tag it with a big BORING label so it's likely they'll avoid building in that area. If they're bored we should stop. There is just too much other stuff in the world to worry about one thing. If they need it, they can't ignore it.
So think in terms of joy rather than need to or important. One cool connection or one good feeling about Egypt with the doorway open and available anytime they want to explore further will serve them far better than a bushel of so called important facts that will fade from disuse and lack of interest.
Think in terms of creating a lifetime learner rather than creating a standard foundation or framework. If we give them the gift of confidence that they can learn anything they decide to, that there's no time limit to learning, no point when they're done, then we've opened every door possible for them..

 There is a great deal more in the article and it is well worth reading if you are interested in unschooling / autonomous education....

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Mothers day message!

My card from Milly on Mothers day made me cry..
It was done at the last minute - as is Milly's way :-)
Written in pen on a folded piece of purple ( my favourite colour  ) paper.

 There is a thousand reasons why I love you.
But if I had to pick just

( Inside )
To Mum xxx

1.. You are caring and loving!!!

2.. You always know how to make things better!

3.. You can always make me happy when I'm sad!

4.. I love you and I always know you love me back!

5.. You're my Mum and no one loves me more than you do!

Loads and loads of love xxxx

A very simple card with such a powerful affirming message for me.
Seems as though I might be doing something right ;-))

Saturday, 10 March 2012

What's happening? Saturday snapshot....

Take one hallway - with all the doors closed -  two people and one balloon
and you get.....
 Lots of laughter and very loud squealing :-))
A very intense game of keepy uppy/volleyball is being played out.
Over the years this has been one of the games that we have played time after time after time.
It hasn't been  played it for quite some time, many months in fact.
Milly requested a hot air balloon with a basket for her Monster highs to ride in so the two of them set about creating one. Balloons obviously reminded them of the long forgotten game and led to the joyful laughter and shouting I am listening to :-)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Back home....

We have been back from Centreparcs for 4 days after a wonderfully relaxing break.

Long lie ins reading, drinking tea, sunny and unseasonably warm days, brunch before heading out to the pool via a walk round the lake. Spending at least 6 hours a day in the pool area - armed with bottles of water, flasks of tea and coffee, soft drinks for Milly and snacks and sandwiches for us all made for a very frugal stay too :-)

Milly loves the slides and is more than happy to spend the days in the pools. We find ourselves a cosy spot near the quieter pools at the top and set up camp before taking turns to spend time with her - one of us is then able to read and relax. Alan can do the slides as well as the rapids etc. My time with her is spent in the outdoor pool ( we love this in the dark ) and floating around the variety of smaller pools and jaccuzi areas,  it has an all together more sedate vibe :-))) 

She is often happy to go around by herself so Al and I get to spend some time together too.

An added bonus on the Wed night was that she met another girl on the slides who turned out to be home educated and lived near our friends in the northeast :-) A very happy Milly spent the next two days getting to know T :-)

Back home and straight into prepping Milly's room to be decorated.

Milly and I went to Carlisle yesterday.
 She had an app with the orthodontist so we decided to take the opportunity to go shopping and buy some furnishings. The initial scheme of vintage had changed and I spent the morning searching the Internet to find appropriate curtains to fit in with her ideas. I found some and we set off with the new theme in mind - not saying what it is yet as I am sure Milly will want to wait til it is complete :-) As we looked through the aisles the theme changed again as she saw a bedding set that she liked t was blue floral with matching curtains, a striped quilted throw and pillow slips. It was very pretty and we loaded it into the trolley before setting off to look for cushions and a throw.
As we walked round it became obvious that the theme she had in mind when we set off was the one she really wanted so we ended up getting some pretty ornaments that fitted the theme and putting the bedding and curtains back :-)
I had woken with a Migraine and we had set off later than initially planned and I was concerned I would be unwell during the day. No need to have worried though, the day was fabulous, full of fun and lots of laughter even though the actual product we purchased was on the light side :-)

Milly's room has now been cleared and furniture is being sanded, picture frames are being repainted and new pictures sourced and some art for canvases is in the pipeline.

Sanding in your nightie!

Pictures ready to be revamped.

Sand a little...

Then leave it to the experts and retire to your hammock :-)