Thursday, November 25, 2010

Make the goals match the reality

We've all been ill again, and it's cold out.

I think I need to stop missing organised events and feeling bad about it, and start deliberately skipping them. Anything that needs a packed lunch or a bus journey, I think, I will just not bother with, until things are better in general. We might go anyway sometimes, but we probably won't.

There's a lot to do at home. There's a budding interest in French, and lapbooks, and in sitting around in pyjamas cutting shapes freeform from scrap paper, and in being horribly sick - well, maybe not interest exactly, but it's happened.

I think I will base us at home, keep up with the seeing friends two or three times a week, maybe have more visiting-to-play things, but less group stuff.

At least for a while.

Friday, November 19, 2010

No Education Here

Just observing the flips from hyperfocus to pacing, doodling to reading. Hyperfocus is big this week.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Skipped a day, skimmed a day

We didn't read the FIAR book on Tuesday. We overslept - I dreamed I had twins, and woke devastated that they were gone - it took me a while to remember that I didn't have any children between Emer and Astrid, let alone two - and then felt an urgent need to tidy their room, because I couldn't walk from the door to the wardrobe. Once I'd done that it was time for brunch and getting dressed and going out, really; I did some laundry and stuff, and then we went to the library for storytime. On the way home we bought a pumpkin and a truly astonishing amount of instafood - jars of cranberry and redcurrant sauce, powder mix for breadsauce, mix for bread stuffing, ready-rolled pastry. We popped in to see a friend (full disclosure: she phoned from my doorstep in the freezing fog while I was at the shop, because she was a little early and I was a little late, so she went home again) and invited them around for dinner.

So I made my first pumpkin pie the opposite of The American Way; I used real pumpkin for the filling, and packet pastry. My understanding is that people use canned pumpkin and save their effort for the pastry. It was good; I was going to use apples for pectin to make the pie gel, but a friend looked up an actual recipe (oh! what an idea!) and I used some eggs and oat-based cream-substitute instead. We also used agave syrup instead of muscovado sugar, because we had some.

And we had a three-course meal with neighbours, and very briefly discussed harvest, celebration, gratitude, and America. At least they can find it on a map now.

Today, we cleaned the house - it actually looks pretty good now - and read the book again. Then we made an airplane from boxes; it will never get off the ground, but they did study the various illustrations of Bleriot's machines before deciding they needed one which would hold TWO girls and have decorated wings, and aerodynamics came slightly into the discussion of wing-shapes (scallopped front edges wouldn't help, right?) and we had a heated discussion about propellers.

They really, really like the idea of an airplane which flaps its wings. Really, really, really.

Then we listened to a CD of children's classics my aunt saved for us from the RTE Guide. My favourite is Anderson's "The Typewriter," because it was so cool when they brought the typewriter onto the stage at the concert hall when we went on school trips when I was at primary school.

Oh, and Linnea read to me from a Monster And Frog book. She's very good but finds it very very tiring, though that might just be reading aloud; she can read much more privately. I think the stress of my knowing whether she gets it right or wrong is exhausting.

To top the day off, the four-year-old pinched the baby. But apart from that, today went well.

(We made chicken, potato and leek soup, to use up dinner leftovers; the children were not impressed. Pumpkin pie on the second day was still popular though).

Monday, November 15, 2010


It was just me and the children today, so without self-consciousness, I was able to speak French cheerfully and confidently. I remember far more than I thought. I wonder what my accent is like? It feels better when there's no-one listening critically to me.

We're reading about Bleriot, you see, and it's a very amusing book and just plain works far better read in English with all the surrounding stuff in French - I can't remember how to spell in French, though, so I can't write it out here. Bonjour, and Voici various things, and give me this and go here and que est-ce c'est (which I really, really am not sure of spelling) and the day of the week and a bit of Eurovision thrown in. I'm going to try to find a youtube video of La Plume de Ma Tante but I have no idea who sang the song I can almost but not quite remember.

I had a lot of fun, and the children appeared engaged and excited, especially by the man who made his own aeroplane and flew it from France to England in the time it takes to do one swimming lesson at the pool.

Then we went swimming.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Actual, Like, Home-Edding

We did a Five in a Row book this week, one we've done before, but better. We coloured flags and stuck them to the map - the American flag, and we're doing another American book this coming week, so we might actually draw flags this time, you never know - and we watched videos on YouTube and briefly went through the history of transport, from horsepower and wind to steam to petrol and electric, with particular reference to funny-looking cars. No-one asked who the first person to ride a horse was, but they probably will one day. We also talked about major and minor characters and had an indecisive conversation on whether a character who drives the plot significantly but is only mentioned once is major or minor.

It turns out that Linnea remembers what we did in the summer about using the sun to tell time, too, so that was nice.

And then on Thursday night I thought to look up the word "lapbook" which I have seen around the home ed blogosphere, and I was intrigued; it looks like a Tionscnamh (why do I remember calling them Tionscnamh when the Irish for "project" appears to be "tionscadal"? poor memory or something else?) we might have done at school, but more fun and with nicer paper. I suggested it to the children and Emer was quite interested and did a little one on Friday, and I've decided to cut out a lot of bits for her to use to make more on other topics later - she made a little book to show how a home-made electric digger dug a flowerbed (my written commentary is essential to understand this, but it's the thought that counts) and another to show that things other than steam shovels were steam-powered.

Linnea remarked, out of the blue, on Friday, that there aren't any black people in the book. Searching through the crowd scenes showed a few people who may have been black, but nothing definite enough for her to be sure. I'm pretty sure there's one black woman seen from the rear at one point, but that's about it.

We talked about our Town Hall, where Rob and I were married seven years ago, and where Linnea used to go to art sessions in the basement; we decided that the basement counted as a cellar. I faintly hope to take them to the museum in the Town Hall this week but we've been unwell so I'm not sure how many of us are up for the walk. We shall see.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Dancing diggers

My usually supportive mother wanted to know what videos of ballet-dancing diggers had to do with real life. I pointed out that the diggers, the drivers, the dancing and the film crew were real.

I learned this week that Emer thinks that the American flag is all the wrong colours, and Linnea can identify on a fairly normal projection of the world map all of Greenland, New Zealand, Africa, Australia, Sweden, England, Great Britain, Ireland, The Bit Of Ireland That England Owns, and Japan, but isn't totally sure about America. The whole continent/country thing seems to be a sticking point, and she's confused by the size, or lack thereof.

Still, she colours a mean flag.

Emer's was more interesting, though. And I really, really want a 28-32cm globe, preferably the kind that talks when you poke a pointer at it.

Friday, November 05, 2010


My youngest child is eating this six-year-old snail.

My eldest is out. She didn't want to do homeschool today so she just coloured in a bunch of flags instead; Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the UK, and Sweden.

My middle child is asleep. or sleepwalking, and feverish.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


My eldest child voluntarily read aloud from a book which was not part of a formal reading scheme. I didn't witness this historic event but Rob swears she read a story to Astrid while he was doing bedtime.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Quick quick

So we did this Five in a Row book about a steam shovel and I made a pan of water rattle a plate, and later I found Emer with a bag of Geomag ballbearing molecules "warming them up" by giving them ever more space. She stopped just before "and takes up ALL the space it CAN" because no, but no.

Linnea bloody hates phonics and seems to have decided that the thing to do about this is larn 'em. As in, that'll larn 'em. I sometimes wish I were raising her in a language that used internally consistent spelling. She'd prefer it.

We went to Cork for a week, on the Swansea-Cork overnight ferry; the weather was awful on the trip out (we don't know how bad exactly, but worse than gale force 8, because that's what it was on the way home again) and I had to take Linnea for a walk around at 1am so that she could see that the ship was fine. We even asked the receptionist to tell us that the noises were normal. However, I learned that my children don't get seasick. They also don't get trainsick or airsick. Just cars and buses, then.

They met their seven cousins. Astrid is the tenth grandchild. Goodness me. It's a bit alarming.

They met their great-uncle and one of their great-aunts. I need something from which to construct a family tree for them; bits of photos stuck to a huge bit of paper might work but I'm not sure. Perhaps I need to create the kit and draw the tree while they're asleep, then let them put the people in the right places. They've met great-uncles and aunts on the other side too, and first cousins once removed and second cousins, so...

One thing about the Oxford Reading Scheme is that it makes it actively reassuring to hear, when I am locked in the bathroom up to my elbows in one child's nappies, another child crying loudly, from somewhere I can't see or get to because of the naked poo-covered baby, "OH NO!"

Very reassuring words, "Oh no," in certain contexts.

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