Thursday, 30 June 2011
Middle Small, 4.5, made up a story for me in bed tonight. It was eight chapters long and in between each chapter he sang the music from the audio book of Enid Blyton's "Five go to Smuggler's Top." It was great. It had characters and a beginning a middle and an end!
He also put on a play for The Daddy One and I with his Baby Brother, 2.5, he shared usually too precious props and toys with him and acted out several pretend fighting scenes with dragons and knights.
Biggest Small is away at Grandma and Grandie's for a sleepover tonight and the dynamic of the two boys has really altered as a result. Very interesting to observe.
A GSH song to title this post.
Will I ever run out of tunes to name blog posts after? I doubt it! This is another fabulous funky disco tune. Takes me right back in time by twenty years or so. Our 'Outside the Box,' outside of school life affords us the opportunity to talk, and have many many conversations, often in the car, one topic that comes up in various guises, on a regular basis, is spirituality and belief. Do you believe in god? Why are there different gods? Are there still Ancient Greek gods? What about wizards Mum? Witches? Are they real? Can you get real ones? Are there actual fairies? My answers are pretty standard and go something along the lines of "It is up to you to look at the facts and decided for yourself what you believe." In fact I trot out this reply on such a regular basis that Big Small repeated a version of it to our visitor from West Sussex County Council's Education Welfare department the first time he came to see us, lumping Santa Claus, Fairies and Jesus into the same category for a discussion on belief and religion. Our gallivanting lifestyle means that we indulge in much "Wild organic reading" First, as toddlers, it was letters and numbers and then progressed to words and it is a habit that has stuck. So, for a variety of reasons, you can see why I was instructed to photograph this signage that Big Small spotted in a park in Sandhurst today.I'd be really interested to know how effective it has been
Middle Small and his Grandie went to the Tank Museum in Aldershot. They didn't go inside as it was too dark but judging by the photos there was enough to see outside. E said all the favourite parks were too busy on the way home, this is because the teachers are on strike today so the majority of schools are closed, or partially closed. One of my parent's neighbours who I was chatting to yesterday, works in a school, she told me that at her school the teachers were not required to let the parents, pupils and other members of staff know until this morning whether or not they would be coming into work whilst at the same time drafting letters to say that they will begin prosecutions for parents taking their children on term time holidays. The inequity. Feeling pleased to be the masters of our destiny today. #welovehomeed. Fair enough to choose to give of your time on unfair terms in exchange for a cash reward as wage slave but the children populating the parks today didn't seem to have that choice.
Hold OnA Tale of Two Mornings (Part Two)
Not all of my music choices are old, this is as box fresh as they come. Brand New. Give it a try, I adore it.
Blogging our adventures is rather more time consuming when they have all been different and so it will be for the next day or so! Grandma, Big Small, Baby Small & I went on a gallivant of our own this morning. First to collect a rose Grandma had spied for her gorgeous garden from an out of the way nursery near Aborfield. We thought we were looking for a wooden 'A' board in the road, poly tunnel in the back garden type place but it turned out to be a huge garden centre! Then a park in Sandhurst which one of Grandma's friends had mentioned to her as a cool place for The Smalls and home via the epic Marks & Spencers that is The Meadows for supplies for The Daddy One and an unexpected new outfit for Big Small that has aged her by about 4 years. I adore that she is so far away from uniform with her own style and makes all her own clothes choices.
I am really surprised I haven't used this classic song already but apparently I haven't.
Before I tell you anything else I must first tell you that Middle Small was FANTASTIC yesterday! Perhaps Tuesday was so bad something had to break one way or another. Certainly reading back over my blog posts it sounds that way. Thank-You for your lovely supportive comments. Anytime you want to move it next door just let me know! My Dad was 65 yesterday so after a spontaneous decision to have a sleepover, we were always going to visit but had not planned to stay, and for S, who is going to the theatre with her Grandma on Friday, to have a two night sleepover we had a scrambling around early morning in West Sussex before heading to my parent's house in Surrey. The Daddy One is our family has been having a rough week this week. The clutch failed on his car on Monday. £1,200 to fix it. Then a piece broke away from one of his over drilled molars. Painful, draining and annoying. He has an appointment at the dentist on Friday, before The Festival of Speed, which can't cost more than a clutch, can it? Thankfully my super parents helped us out with the cost of the car repair. As fellow home edders are all too aware living on one salary doesn't leave much of a cushion for unexpected expenses. Have a few spare adults around is a joy for The Smalls and I. When Middle Small got really angry and frustrated yesterday I was able to take him to one side and encourage him to draw a picture of how angry he was feeling. This is a great strategy and just the act of drawing alone is generally enough to defuse the situation. I took him to the local park, t same one I used to go to when I was young. We played football at the top of the sledging hill where people gather to watch the Farnborough Air Show. I was in goal. You can imagine my incentive to save shots was high. Middle Small asked how long it is until his birthday and I told him about the "Thirty days have September...." song and we counted out the months and added up the days. It is 130 days until he is 5 and then we worked out that it is 133 days until his Big Sister is seven. It was great to hear E laugh yesterday, one of my parent's friends even remarked that he has a dirty laugh, which he does, but it is a sound that has been sadly silent in recent weeks. Big Small had a great day today. The Small's nickname for their Grandie is Cheesy Foots and so made some of Nigella's chessy feet cookies for him. Their Grandie is rather scared of frogs so Big Small made him a froggy card and wrote “Happy Froggy Birthday“ inside! About 7 adults popped in during the afternoon for bubbles, snacks, cards and beer in the back garden. S likes the company of adults and so she was in her element, well inbetween the Barbie website, Barbie colouring and skipper roller skating. She also enjoying reading all the humorous birthday cards. Grandad's brother was supposed to come too but due to the Teacher's strike today was called in to act as short notice child care, along with many other dedicated Grandparents I suspect. Little is mentioned by my parents peers, who almost all have grandchildren too, about the fact that rather than getting muddy in the fairy garden or getting wet in the water feature that our Smalls should be at school. I can tell by their eyes the ones that think my children are having an enviable childhood and the ones that feel more a disciplined approach is required! Grandie is taking Middle Small to the Tank Museum in Aldershot today, they have been talking about going for a few weeks and today seems like the perfect opportunity for some top down action in Grandie’s perfect for summer car. Seven years ago both of my parents and The Daddy One and I were all working full time now just The Daddy One heads off to earn the cash.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
We have been for hair trims this morning, fairly uneventful you might think, but somehow a fairly mellow start to the day completely disintegrated and meant that by the time we left the house at 9:30am every one had been crying, including the grown-ups.
Mainly thanks to another overload of physical energy from our too strong 4 year old who appears to be growing again. His awful behaviour at the moment is having repercussions on everyone. Baby Small says "no hitting" more than I am comfortable with and his Big Sister, who was once his best friend, rarely plays with him any more as she is fed up with his outbursts. Even the ever patient, ever loving Grandma is at the end of her rope with him.
As I have blogged about many many times before 99% of the time he is fine but that can not escape the walking on eggshells feeling you have around him and how long it takes everyone else's feelings to bounce back afterwards.
Baby Small didn't want his fringe trimmed but the manager of the shop did it whilst I was holding him and once she had started he didn't want her to stop.
We walked to the village and briefly visited our local swing park on the way home where we came across a tiny dog fetching sticks from a narrow stream.
In Other News
Big Small didn't want to come to the allotment last night, she hasn't wanted to come for ages. so much so that I have not been for a month so last night I say that it wasn't up for debate and she replied
"Well, I can't come if I am asleep."
and she took herself off to bed at 5:50pm! Only to wake up around 8:45pm feeling very confused.
Middle Small read me pretty much the whole of "Go Dog Go" in bed last night.
Monday, 27 June 2011
Gilles Peterson played this amazing Nina Simone song on his show last week called "Vous Etes Seuls, Mais Je Desire Etre Avec Vous." I can't find a link to it on youtube but you can listen to it on the iplayer link, be quick though, there for two only more days. It is the third song in so not long to wait! or a tiny clip is on here to give you a flavour. It is from the album "Fodder on my wings."
We have been to the beach at Aldwick near Bognor Regis this morning. The home educating family we were going to meet Horsham Park this morning messaged early on to say that, sadly, they were unwell so The Smalls voted for a trip to the beach instead. We were scheduled to go on Friday but we took Sandra back to Ashford so I think they had been looking forward to it.
One of the most fabulous things about the freedom that home education brings is the ability to be spontaneous and take advantage of the weather. There are plenty of rainy days that see us stuck at home and days like today are too good to waste. We started out with an fairly epic breakfast so The Smalls were charged up and ready to go!
It is really hot today and the sea breeze was very welcome and refreshing. We played at the park for a while and went to say hello to the sea. We are a long way from being able to sustain a whole day at the beach with only one adult. I can not carry all that is required and the children!
What should have been a cool day today has been totally overshadowed by Middle Small and his outrageous behaviour. I am so mad with him I have hidden away to type this whilst I simmer down! S & O are pretty fed up with him too. If it is so that when you feel right you act right then he must be feeling very wrong indeed.
This afternoon we made birthday cards for Grandie who is 65 on Wednesday. I can't photograph them in case he sees them online first!
I think this week will be pretty family focused. The Smalls first choice of friends are either: on holiday, unwell or busy due to hard working parents. Sometimes we just need to 're-group' a bit!
Last Monday at our home education group's adults evening one of my friends spoke very movingly about her son, who is now grown up, and how he pushed her to a breaking point, she has told me before that Middle Small reminds her of him, and she went on to say how he has turned into a pretty cool adult, caring and thoughtful.
Regular readers will know that shortly after Christmas we stopped limiting violent toys and games. We had previously censored and limited Middle Small's viewing because we felt that he was as aggressive as we could handle and needed no further encouragement! Overall this has been a success. He now has a significant collection of playmobil knights and certainly there has evolved to be much strategy about his play. They are also the first toy that he has played with by himself in any kind of sustained way.
We have also lifted many of the limits on food, Middle Small likes to mix sweet and savoury and will often eat his sweet course first although I still have suspicions that he finds it harder than most to ride the sugar rollercoaster. On my birthday a few weeks ago when we had chocolate cake for breakfast he was a disaster area, which is a shame because I have always loved the Bill Cosby view on chocolate cake for breakfast. He does have a sensitive digestion and both today and yesterday morning he didn't make it to the toilet in time to do his morning poo, he is 4.5.
I have spoken to people who have tried restricting gluten and food colourings from their children's diets in order to improve behaviour but I have no idea if this is our route.
When Sandra Dodd was staying with us last week she suggested that we shouldn't say "Please" if what we are asking is not a request. ie Not "Please do not throw sand" but instead "Do not throw sand" A response to this type of statement is often an outright "No" and has lead my Mum and I to wonder if he has ODD or similar.
In response to the problem that he is "too physical" there are suggestions on Sandra's website of
Karate. I am not sure if he is too young for this, not so much the karate but more the being left aspect.
There is a genetic component too. As a child my husband had a strong temper which his family jokingly called "Roger Rage" which I am not sure was particularly helpful. There is also much of my Dad in Middle Small but so far this connection has provided me with no clues to helping him! Last week I blogged about how pleased I was to have him at home to be able to help him but this week I feel that his presence is really spoiling the learning environment for Big Small and as a mother of more than one child pleasing everyone is one of the hardest challenges of all.
He is always full of remorse afterwards and I am sure is genuinely sorry but for some reason the impulse control functionality is faulty. I feel really stuck and am wondering where to turn next for answers.
Sunday, 26 June 2011
I am a Girl like You
Whilst Sandra was here she told S about a Barbie movie that S hadn't seen and showed her a clip of one of the songs on you tube. Imagine S's delight when the dvd landed on the mat on Saturday morning! She has just written a thank-you letter to Sandra.
I love the way S has drawn the correct colours for the hair and the pets in, there is a line in the song about preferring to be in the library reading science books all day which sound like someone we know!
The party is over, a busy social week climaxed with much mask wearing. It's Sunday morning now and S & E have gone swimming with Grandma & Grandie & The Daddy One.
The idea for this party was all S's. She has organised parties like this in the past. One Teddy Bear's picnic and two Valentine balls. She selected who to invite and planned out games they were to play. As it happened there was only one treasure hunt, one game of musical statues, sound tracked with S's best song, and limited interest in 'guess the flower' but no one seemed to mind and still we all had a fabulous fun filled three hours with friends and a banquet of gorgeous food! Some of the toys even had mini masks!
Thanks to those who game. Just before she fell asleep S told me she has a water gun party in mind next.............Stay tuned!
This is a fabulous jazzish, reggaeish song by Janet Kay and its title is in no way a comment on our week! Go on, have a listen. What's not to like?
We have had a very social, very home ed midsummer week. The guest room has been occupied for four nights out of seven and there have been two evening socials at our house.
Monday day was a home ed social day in Horsham with four families; Monday night we had 6 home ed mums over, Tuesday was our Grandma day and swimming, Wednesday morning we went to Bignor Roman Villa with another Home Ed family. Wednesday afternoon and Thursday we had Sandra Dodd staying. We took Sandra to Arundel park on Thursday where 9 families from our home ed group came and we took her back to another home ed family in Ashford on Friday.
Yesterday was the masquerade ball that S planned and organised. Grandma and Grandie came plus six of S's and one of E's friends and a selection of their parents.
Socialisation? Box checked!
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Most of today has been spent in the kitchen making cheesy masks and chocolate masks for the Masquerade ball tonight.
For the cheesy masks we used Nigella's cheesy feet recipe which we have blogged about before. It is a fab recipe. Mostly because it is very tasty but also because it is a fun, and a relatively economical, way to introduce savory snacks at a party. I was not keen to make chocolate chip cookies as well, as I could see the morning slipping away from us, and was also concerned that we would spend ages using the cookie cutter only to find the cookies spread out in the oven so I googled "Chocolate chip cookie recipe that does not spread" I landed up using almost a whole additional cup of flour but the end result is pretty tasty! Also I didn't have any chocolate chips so I had to chip up a bar of plain chocolate which made them harder to cut out than the cheesy ones. The Daddy One stacked up the finished masks on the plates. Can you tell we have an engineer in the family? This is where we bought the mask cookie cutter from.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Sandra Dodd who has been staying with us this week describes herself as a radical unschooler.
In the context of midwives to me radical meant challenging the consensus. A mother and baby centred, possibly home, birth experience. No forced pubic hair shaving, no compulsory episiotomy, a choice about cord clamping and vitamin K. We made the choice to afford to go through the process of pregnancy and birth and post natal care outside of the NHS. It was an opportunity cost, in that we could have spent the money on a fancier nursery or a larger car but, as I wrote in my birth story at the time, "Can you put a price on a positive birth experience?" Of course it wasn't guaranteed by we had looking at the statistics we had the chance to alter our odds.
When I worked in the city in asset allocation and fund management by boss had the central premise that the consensus in the market was almost always wrong so the idea of being against the consensus seemed logical and sensible to me.
After S was born I reflected that Mary Cronk, our midwife, didn't seem at all radical to me. She seemed perfectly: natural, normal, mother and baby led, non interventionist and pretty much every thing a midwife should be. Several people told me that was what made her radical.
What does radical mean to you? It is a word with various, sometimes loaded, interpretations. I suppose in the context of home birth with independent midwives and unschooling or home educating in some sense it means choosing a path different to that which is provided by your taxes or doing something different to the mainstream.
Radical comes from the latin 'of roots' which I rather like. As I child I can recall being told by teachers not to be radical. I was talking about this to Sandra whilst she was staying with us, in many ways she reminds me of Mary, our first midwife, I told her that a home ed friend of mine says "I don't like labels they are itchy!" and Sandra said "I cut all the labels out of my clothes too."
How about you? What does radical mean to you? Are you radical? Do others see you as more radical than you see yourself? Is it a compliment do be described as radical?
Everyone has a cheesy musical secret, don't they? and mine is Whitney Houston! S loves it too so she and I sang along to this on our way back from dropping Sandra in Ashford this afternoon. She likes the words.
S made a book last night. It is called "Sisters go to the skate park." S loves to make books and regular readers will know she has made several like this in the past. This is a short story that links up: the Barbie Sisters dolls and their skate board, the fact S had her first every go on roller blades yesterday and her up and coming masquerade ball tomorrow. My favourute bit is the dream cloud on the first page.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
Sandra has just popped over to see our allotment with The Daddy One and Middle & Baby Small so I had a quick shower. Whilst I was washing I notice S has made this for Sandra's netbook. It is a bit hard to read in faint pencil but it says "reserved," I had no idea Big Small knew how to spell that work. Pretty funny!
She has also made a Darth Vader mask for The Daddy One to wear to the masquerade ball on Saturday night.
Baby Small has been making crayon rainbows whilst I draw cats in rockets.