Category Archives: friends

Finding our rhythm

We are settling back into home ed (we never left but it did feel like we were in limbo for a while as R thought about going to school). It now feels like we are back, fully submerged in the wonderful world of Home education.

We are seeing other families at Sign language, environmental management, drama and a few other things too. Wednesday this week was lovely, R had her new home ed drama group which was lovely, and I sat and chatted with other home ed mums, then environmental management where I again sat and chatted with other mums, play in the park & more chatting. My wobbles have lessened considerably and how lovely it is to be at the stage of being able to chat. It doesn’t seem that long ago that conversations were hard to have as one or two little people would need me a lot.

R and I have settled into a more comfortable pace of doing a few things together and then spending time doing our own things. She’s good company and likes doing her own thing with me around in the background doing mine. She’s creating a drawing of a whole community at the moment, so she stops occasionally to fill me in on how things work in her invented world. Love it. So much imagination and it also leads to political and philosophical chat too!

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Time to do what you like

R has been thoroughly engrossed in Minecraft over the weekend, hours and hours of it. Sometimes it worries me, sometimes I can’t stop myself from getting her to take a break from the screen to eat and drink and move around… but letting her have a really good chunk of time to do what she wants has really shown her passions. She has built an entire hunger games land… this was only a small project she set herself. Now she is onto a serious project which she says could take a really long time … even a year (I’m not totally convinced it will take that long… we’ll see!) R is building a massive kitchen (possibly whole house) … not a normal size minecraft house…. this is REALLY big, the kitchen is half done, with sink and taps that work with levers and switches, cupboards, fridge and freezer… with food inside, microwave, cooker, etc….. The design is excellent and is all from inside her head. Not a copied kitchen. A designed kitchen. She is proud of it. She doesn’t say that much… so she must be really proud.

Having had unrestricted Minecraft time, R was then much more engaged when I suggested other things. We’re in a transitional stage I think, R very much knows her own mind, but I’m not totally convinced that she will widen her interests without a bit of steering / guidance, so there is a bit of negotiation going on at the moment. I know some of it is my own problem not hers, but I also am often right about things she might enjoy if she tries them. Really lovely to see such passion though, with her really delving into mod design, YouTube videos etc. Some very valuable skills, and fun too!!

Here’s R’s YouTube Channel

In between the minecrafting all weekend and part of yesterday and a bit early this morning, we have also read the whole of ‘Fortunately the Milk’ by Neil Gaiman which we both enjoyed, we both read bits and finished it in one sitting!!

We also watched some excellent logic puzzles on YouTube which R has then repeated word for word to ask people we’ve seen….

The prisoner hat riddle for one, along with others by Alex Gendler.

Today R has been at a friend’s house, for lego, forest outing and cake making. She had a great time. I basically blitzed the house!!! And did some painting too (art, not decorating :-))

Then Woodcraft this evening for R, L and S for their planning meeting for the term.

L has been back at school for two days, she bounced in and bounced home. She definitely needs to jabber away at us constantly when she gets in, but it is lovely to hear about what she’s been doing all day.

 

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To Wonderland and back again

Half term was a blur, the girls did a two day drama workshop with a performance at the end which was great. We caught up with friends, went to a birthday day in the forest, which was a good mix of old home ed friends, some who now have kids at school, others who are still home ed, and us with one of each!

Went to an Alice in Wonderland event which was fab,

The Red Queen and Alice
The Red Queen and Alice

Caught up with more friends, went out for a walk at Holly Hill.

Out trick or treating with my sister and her boys, what a treasure trove!!

The last day was spent in pj’s having a lazy day which we all needed I think!!

This week we started on Monday with an art session at the library, we made stain glass window pictures, which came out very well indeed. Using gold card and cutting out holes and sticky coloured see-through coloured sheets on the back.

Unicorn
Unicorn

We’ve done some reading. Having had a break R’s reading has yet again improved a lot. She has also had a go at some typing and her spelling is getting better… the attempts at words are much closer now.

More algebra, we both enjoy that using MathsWatchVLE videos. Today we covered Factorisation of some fairly tricky equations.

A local author has asked R to critique some of her new poems, which with the promise of a small recompense R is very excited about doing!! We had a look through, and commented on the first five poems today.

R also had a go at some 11+ Non verbal reasoning quizzes on Education Quizzes which is a great site with lots of different subjects and levels. Worth e-mailing them as they offer free access for teachers and also Home educators. You have to sign up for each subject separately, but well worth it.

I’ve been busy as ever with the local library … which looks like it may well end up closed by the end of March 2016, along with others in the city. We have now written to the Secretary of State asking for an inquiry, especially as all 5 libraries and the mobile library come out in the most deprived quartile of the poverty index. R challenged one of the Cllrs at the Alice in Wonderland event we went to at our local library. He actually blushed when she asked why certain options hadn’t been properly looked at!!

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Getting back in the Swing

We don’t specifically have terms as such in home ed, but things do change a bit with clubs and groups stopping for school holidays, and we also catch up with school friends more then too. Now L is at school it makes the difference between term time and school holidays even more obvious…. Although L has been back at school now for almost 2 weeks, we have been slow getting our brains in gear at home. Partly because we went camping last weekend which extended the summer further for us, a chilled out weekend with friends.

We also had a trip to the magnificent Highclere Castle the weekend before.

Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle

This week has been more library stuff, with the decision going back to Cabinet again, basically to be rubber stamped through …. 5 libraries facing closure unless the community steps in and runs them. Also the mobile library has been axed.

Rant alert

Very disappointing as we had genuinely researched alternative ways of keeping our library open (and others) and we have faced a council set on one way of dealing with things, even though in our area there simply aren’t a plethora of available volunteers to take on running (and funding / paying bills / rent / training volunteers etc) the library. We have been totally ignored and it has been extremely frustrating. The council now wants to talk with us about options…. ie.. us taking it on… we aren’t able to!!! Half our group are 70’s / 80’s and the rest of us already do as much as we can. R is keen to come to the meeting with Councillors to have her say. She is disgusted. We will lose where our home ed group meets regularly too.

Amazing tour of our local theatre today. We are seeing Horrible Histories Groovy Greeks soon and have had some educational workshops with that at the theatre, today’s was a tour, including the fly floor…. where they lower scenery and set from above the stage!! That was great. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures.

We also saw Jason Donovan rehearsing on stage as we walked through, for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Very exciting.

Still chasing L’s school where they said she would be moving up sets in everything this year… she still hasn’t been, apparently she was overlooked (the no SATS results problem again… bizarrely as she now has exam results!!) but they seem unable to rectify the situation and will apparently re-jig in a few weeks… have phoned again, awaiting a phone call back!

R has been keen to have some ‘work’ to do each morning when she gets up, so I’ve been leaving maths and art and writing out each day, which she does early morning. It is working well at the moment.

 

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Days out

More days out, which have been really lovely, despite the changeable weather!!!

We went to The New Forest Wildlife Park:

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We were having such a great time that I forgot to take many pictures!! Great play area there too. We decided our only criticism was the lack of toilet inside the park… and how easy it would be to open a bit of fence to make the toilets accessible from elsewhere in the park!! They did have a couple of porta loos at the play area but they were out of action. Great place to visit though.

The following day we went to Milford-On-Sea and took our new friend from Taiwan.

 

 

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We played a stone bouncing game and also went crabbing, which kept us all amused for hours and was very sociable with other holiday makers all comparing bait and catches!!

We caught larger crabs with dried Spanish ham we think. Smaller crabs went for the bacon!

A really great few days.

 

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Portchester Castle

Portchester Castle is a medieval castle built within a former Roman fort at Portchester to the east of Fareham in the English county of Hampshire. It is located at the northern end of Portsmouth Harbour. That’s what Google says.

It is a great place for a run around too, as well as a good place to look for crabs on the shore, and to skim stones too. R was extremely pleased when she finally managed to skim some stones. We found quite a few crabs too by lifting up bits of seaweed and looking underneath.

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We had a lovely day catching up with friends and just chilling out. We’d been having such a lovely time, we didn’t even get round to going in the actual castle bit, so it ended up being a totally free day out too!

 

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Holiday recovery and campaign build up

Having had a wet and windy camp on the Isle of Wight, along with a lot of fun too, we have come back pretty tired, so we’ve had some friends round, but mostly stayed in… catching up on washing for a fair part of the last few days!

The girls spent a day with Granny and Grandpa and Auntie J, badminton and lego in the garden and lots of chattering about the holiday.

Then lots of play at home and with friends round.

I had a library meeting today, as we are heading towards the Council’s decision about the future of our local library and others in the city. The further I delve into politics, unfortunately the more cynical I become… and I am not a cynical person by nature. The decision has been put back to August… so lots of people will be away, also, it seems the council can make the decision in a Cabinet meeting, without bringing it to full council, which just seems wrong to me… for such an important decision. Especially as the consultation had the biggest response ever I think. It doesn’t bode well as it feels like they are trying to slip it under the radar.

A whole afternoon followed of the kids luckily having friends round to play happily… as I spent the whole afternoon writing up the meeting and then writing to Cllrs about the library decision. We have learned so much about the workings of politics as a family, through this campaign… R is so indignant and will be a force to be reckoned with if the decision goes against us… I wouldn’t like to be in the Council when R finds out!!! 🙂

R did some YouTube videos today, with her friend F appearing as a guest: Minecraft Tutorials with Guest

Aiming for a quiet day tomorrow to rest up (bloomin’ M.E. as usual) then we are catching up with other friends on Monday and Tuesday… hopefully to go out somewhere nice. I’ll aim for a quiet end of the week to recover!

The summer is going far too fast already. Really enjoying having L around full-time, and L and R seem to have settled back in to getting on much better again. They are more niggly when L is at school, so it is nice they have bonded back together again.

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It is all about the attitude.

We’ve had a wet and windy camping trip this last week. We went with friends, as we have done since the kids were small. When we first went ours were 1 and 3, theirs 2 and 4, now 10 and 12 and 11 and 13!

It is a different experience now that they are all older, we don’t have to be immediately involved in everything they do, and we now find that breakfast has been collected from the shop and often they are reminding us about ice-blocks and things like that. It is all rather chilled out.

This week it was very fortunate that things are so chilled out…..

The weather really wasn’t great, but we made the most of it… and went to the cinema to see ‘Minions’ which we all enjoyed, then out for a nice pub meal, happy to be inside while the wind and rain were lashing down.

We headed back to the camp site about 7.30pm to find a bath sized puddle in the centre of our friends’ sagging tent. 🙁

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The material had held and so, the whole thing had sagged down in the middle. We carried buckets of water out of the middle until we could get in underneath to the bedroom sections and rescue clothes and bedding, which were amazingly still mostly dry!!!

The kids were all a bit upset, but all the adults got on with rescuing the kit and getting the kids to help. We also had another couple with us, so luckily as we all have tents larger than we need, we were able to home our friends and all their stuff for the rest of the week (it happened on day 2!!!

Because everyone just mucked in, and the sense of humour really kicked in, what could have been really awful, turned out to be a brief blip in the holiday. Luckily our friends were going to replace that tent anyway for next year, so no great disaster. I was so proud of how everyone dealt with it. R cried quite a lot when it happened, and kept saying ‘it’s such a shock’ but with everyone else’s reactions she came round and was fine. The other kids were amazing.

I think the attitude may have slipped slightly if it had happened while they were asleep, or if all the bedding and clothing had got wet, but thankfully it was all manageable.

Not the driest holiday we’ve ever had, and it was pretty windy too, so some wakeful nights with the tent sounding like it would take off! But still a lovely break on the Isle of Wight, we went to Robin Hill, day time and for one of the evening lit up woodlands, illusionist, samba dancing and owl flights by twilight!!

Sandown pier for miniature golf, slot machines and hot chocolate!

Lazy days reading / swimming (even in the chilliness)!

Amazon World where there were some lovely penguins and we also liked the armadillos. Sad to see that the lovely Fairtrade shop that had been there was now shut.

Singsongs in the tent with L playing the Ukulele, a mix of Woodcraft, Scout, Guides and pop songs, while it was hammering down outside.

We also had a whole evening entertainment from the four kids, with advertising poster beforehand, program, and intervals. They wrote the script and rehearsed all week. It was not quite as long as some previous productions and was more comprehensible! Though our friend M struggled to keep up with the plot, but that may have been the Pimms.

So overall a mixed week but still a fun holiday with great friends. The Pimms and chocolate also helped!

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Why Weymouth Sand Almost isn’t Sand

What a lovely day out, we went to Weymouth, R, with me and my friend A. It’s a reasonable trip on the train, but it is a nice route, and it is always good to have chance to chat. We also all did some drawing and games too.

It was warm but cloudy with a bit of a breeze, which was actually just right for us. It was lovely being able to sit and build lots with the amazing sand at Weymouth.

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A guinea pig (of course!)

We went and saw some of the sand sculptures too, which were, despite having been vandalised 🙁 still excellent. My photos weren’t very good unfortunately. We’ll go to the Sand Sculpture place next time.. near the Sea life centre apparently.

We read that the sand at Weymouth is incredibly fine and if it was ever so slightly finer it would actually be classified as silt and not sand. That was definitely one of the good facts of the day!

We also saw quite a few jelly fish on the beach (dead), which were fascinating, and rather big! We’ll definitely be researching more about them soon.

Jellyfish on the beach
Jellyfish on the beach

Unfortunately our new friend K from Taiwan couldn’t come today… we’d invited her in the hope we could introduce her to some seriously British things… including fish and chips, but she wasn’t available … but the thought was already there, so fish and chips it was. Mmmm.

Also saw donkies on the beach. I didn’t realise Weymouth had them, so R had a ride as A’s treat…

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What a fantastic place, and a great day. We’ll be going back another time! And the train station is so near to the beach!!

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Awards and Film Watching at School

Awards and film watching plus drama and art

L has had a good week for awards. She had a presentation evening at school for being in the Netball team. S went and said there was a lot of high achieving sports, but also the yr 7 netball team, because although they hadn’t won any cups or awards… they had worked very hard and improved, and been reliable too. L was really pleased with her certificate and badge.

L also came home beaming yesterday with a green badge with G on it… which apparently you get if you are put forward by 3 different teachers as gifted in their subjects. She was put forward in Maths, Science and Spanish, and as talented in Metal work.

I am obviously very proud of her (though I don’t need a badge and certificate to make me proud of her.. or to tell me she’s doing very well), and I wasn’t sure about this whole gifted thing at school…. but apparently it is seen as something you work for each year (or term), it isn’t a permanent label, seen as unmoving, which did reassure me. L is certainly working hard, because she wants to and enjoys what she is doing… but she isn’t stressed, or over working… perhaps because she sees it less as work and more as something she has chosen to do.

I was labelled as gifted at school and personally it seemed like an unwelcome pressure. If you do well it is just expected, if you don’t do as well then it is a disappointment…. Not a pressure from parents particularly, just a general feeling.

Read this article recently: Pushing kids to be gifted

The wind down to the summer holidays is well truly under way at school, there are lots of nice things going on and L is having a fab time. The only thing that has bugged me this week is that some teachers are showing the first bit of a film in class as a treat (Ice Age) knowing that there won’t be time to watch the end, with no intention of letting the class see the end on another day. This would bug me! Wouldn’t it bug you? Other teachers have managed to show a whole film over two lessons, or have picked a shorter programme that fits into one lesson… makes more sense to me!!

R is having a good week too. I think she is pleased with the maths we have done this week, especially as L brought home her maths exam paper and R looked through and could do quite a lot of it. (Though she did say that she’d be worried about reading and understanding what the question says. If I read it to her then she totally understood the maths side of it. Such a shame exams don’t allow for this (I haven’t researched this enough… I know some people can get extra time if diagnosed with dyslexia, and possibly a scribe sometimes.. but I’m not sure if you can have someone read the question out loud… it isn’t something I’ve heard of.)

R had her drama performance of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. It was great, all the kids did really well, you could hear them all clearly, and they were all confident, even the usually more quiet and shy ones. It was on a proper stage, with lighting, back drop with pictures from the book and well chosen music too, with some groovy dancing to ‘Wild Thing’ R loved every minute of it. S came too and also our friend A, with lots of other parents too. Really enjoyed it.

We even did some more maths when we got home…. then R needed a nice break because her brain started melting!!! 🙂

I’ve done some painting today, good relaxation for me.

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R has been over to see Granny and Grandpa and Auntie J and Auntie M, she’s played badminton, running Granny round like a mad thing. Then she wrote out care instructions for Auntie M who is having R’s guinea pig when we go away soon.

 

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