Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Investigating Area

Both the mathematical and geographic kind :)

We've had a very productive day today, which is all the more pleasing since it didn't start very well - despite wanting to be up by 7, we eventually crawled out of bed at 8:58. Hmmm. Must work on the getting up earlier thing. I'm sure most of my problems would be solved if I could magically develop a liking for freezing cold semi-dark early hours. Since dusk is getting noticeably later now though - and therefore dawn is getting earlier, not that I'd know for sure, since I'm exceedingly rarely around to see it! - perhaps I'll get some help from nature in that department soon.

Anyway. After a grumpy start we went straight into some maths. Emily did a page of test questions at the back of a mental maths book, all of which were well within her capabilities, and at least three of which prompted an "I can't do it!" burst of tears. Sigh. One of *those* moments. One of the upsets was because she didn't know the answer to something asking about the order of the months of the year. She knows September-Feb off pat, for some reason, but gets horribly muddled with the rest. I don't know why it caused tears, since at no point are we ever cross with her for not knowing something, but she just hates not being able to do stuff.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I moved things along to a first attempt at calculating the area of squares and rectangles. She's never done this before, so I was half expecting a meltdown. Nope. Emily absolutely breezed through it. We had some centimetre squared paper which she used to begin with, and by the end of half an hour she was confidently working out areas without having to draw them first and including half centimetre measurements too.

We had time left for a brief bout of English, so Emily chose to do some more poetry. We looked at some observation poems, and she wrote a lovely one about her bed. Over lunch, we watched some BBC2 Revisewise stuff that happened to be on, and Madam took a liking to the idea of having to do SATS tests - ????? - so long as she didn't have to go to school in order to do them. Okkkaaaay. We also watched a short thing about internet safety which rather alarmed her a bit, I think, but did reinforce from a third party why we'd been less than pleased when she started posting a message on some forum a while ago without checking with us first.

This afternoon we kicked off our Local Area project with a good bout of geography, specifically about settlements. We talked a lot about why people settle where they do, and Emily made a list of advantages and disadvantages of city living vs a village. We also talked about the various differences between hamlets, villages, towns and cities, and Emily used our local ordance survey map and some road atlases to make some more lists of settlements of each type in our area.
Silently cursed Lincoln for being a "city" despite quite obviously not really fitting the criteria for cities we'd just discussed, and really being a town not much bigger than Gainsborough or Scunthorpe. Yes, I know, cathedrals and all that. Perhaps I'm just biased as it's one place I really dislike, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on.

Emily then chose one of each type of settlement from her list, and traced the outline of the built up area from the road atlas, and then transfered the outline onto inch squared paper. She was then able to work out the approximate area in square inches the city, town, village and hamlet covered, and convert that to actual square miles using the 1.5 miles to the inch scale of the road atlas. She seemed to really enjoy that, and since we rarely visit any city (and no, I'm sorry, in my book Lincoln does not count) it gave her a better impression of size and scale than she had before.

Time for a quick drink and it was off to yoga. There are some lovely pictures of Emily and the rest of the yoga class in today's Lincolnshire Echo, which she was very chuffed about. The work they did in class today was quite challenging I gather, judging from the groans of effort wafting my way through the door, lol. Emily says they tried out lots of new positions and refined existing ones, and started to lean seriously about the health benefits associated with each position, which she'll have to know for her tests. She has aching thighs now, lol.

Found three out of the four cats sleeping in a cave Emily had made them on her bed, bless 'em. Cassie cat wouldn't join in, being much more aloof than the others, but old uncle Merlin was in between the two kit bits, which was very sweet. At least there's been no repeat of yesterdays mouse incident. Or at least, not that we know of. Both the older cats regularly bring in live mice downstairs, so we're just hoping that the kittens don't decide to copy them and bring us a ready made menagerie up here!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Poppy Fields

Here are hubby and daughter's achievements from this evening's art class - Jon's, then Emily's. I love the depth and the shades!
That class is going so well. We've been fretting for ages about finding an art class for Emily and then there you go, one turns up right on our doorstep. Couldn't be better. Mind you, they did trudge home from the village hall in very heavy sleet tonight, and looked like drowned rats on arrival - nothing a cup of hot chocolate couldn't sort out, though :-)

This morning Emily went back to "The Collection" in Lincoln with my Mum and Dad, to look in the art gallery part we didn't get to look at when we went with Hazel and Romy the other week. They had some fascinating clocks there, apparently. Emily also showed my parents around the rest of the museum, and caused a few raised eyebrows in the gift shop - she asked the lady behind the till if they had any Shakespeare figurines to go with the Henry VIII and Elizabeth I ones she already has from a particular collection. The woman rather snootily informed them that "we don't cover that period here". So Emily piped up that Shakespeare was Elizabethan and they did have Elizabethan stuff in the musuem and indeed in the gift shop, where she had bought the Liz 1 figurine from on the last visit. Ahem. I'm not sure the lovely lady liked being corrected by a seven year old, especially one that doesn't go to school ;-)

The getting-ready-to-go-out routine was rudely interrupted this morning when Juliet burst through the catflap and rushed upstairs into our sitting room with a dead mouse in her mouth. Eeek. She then helpfully proceeded to growl at us when we near to de-mouse her, tossed it about a bit, and left bits of it all over the carpet before we got it off her. Sigh. Quite the little huntress, this one. Even once that was all over, she came back in ten minutes later with a bit of mouse fur that she'd obviously left behind outside and gone back to fetch. Gee, thanks.

While Jon and Emily were out this evening, I've been planning our local history/geography project, which we plan to begin in earnest tomorrow. Hopefully, that will work well - I've got lots of ideas........

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Another Arty Weekend

This is becoming quite a pattern, I'm pleased to say. Whilst I've been busy working to deadlines this weekend, Jon and Emily have been artists at work again, which is working really well.

Yesterday morning before going to ballet, Emily disappeared into the landing/stockroom/education room/junkhole (call it what you will) where all the craft materials are and spent two hours working on a beautiful textured sunset collage. Then she had to wash her hair, as her ballet teacher is definitely not the type who would approve of the purple streaks, lol.
When she got back from ballet, she and Jon worked downstairs painting the clay things they made the other week. Jon also did this fabulous abstract piece, based on the unremitting negativity of the headlines in a particular newspaper. I love it!
This morning, Emily spent another two hours making a textured mermaid collage complete with hot glue gunned seashells. I love the way she's getting very self-sufficient with craft stuff - she just disappears off there and we don't see her for hours.

After dinner, the artists returned to their lair - Jon did some lovely sketches and Emily decided she wanted to do an abstract piece like Jon's newspaper one, so she spent a long time creating this, which she's called Rainbow:
Needless to say, it was a messy business :-))
In other news, my ear is getting a lot better, not before time. Tomorrow Emily's going off to an art gallery/museum thingy in Lincoln with my Mum and Dad, which hopefully will give us time to plan some work for the next week or two. I've got loads of ideas in my head, but as ever the time to actually gather resources/plan/implement any of them is scarce!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Plodding On

This has probably been the very worst week for me to be ill. We have so much work to do, and to date, very little of it has been done :-( Bodes well for the weekend.

Today, Emily's done a few Viking worksheets and some maths money problems. She also put purple streaks in her hair. Well, what the heck. It's a wash out spray thing, and we rather like it although I gather her grandparents were less impressed.... Emily's been so patient this week, as neither Jon nor I have been able to spend all that much time with her, what with one thing and another. Must get better organised (and well!) for next week. This afternoon, I dropped Emily off at Romy's for a couple of hours, where I gather she had great fun doing carrot jumps and crisp jumps (??) as well as making a hama cat and causing an "earthquake" in Romy's bedroom.

While Emily was out, Jon worked and I half-heartedly listed a few more bits on ebay, through a rather woozy haze. Have just returned to the computer to find another three customers complaining that they haven't received items. I am **soooo sick to death** of being blamed for royal mail's pathetic excuse of a service. And we are so out of pocket over it too. And why is it that so few people have mastered the art of making a polite enquiry? Why do they have to be so aggressive, rude and illiterate?

At the moment we're averaging at least 3-4 "enquiries" a day over items lost in the post. It's absolutely ridiculous. For instance, of the items we posted on the 3rd February, apparently **six seperate items** have failed to arrive, from that same date, to destinations all over the country. Methinks one of our bags went missing somewhere between our local PO and the sorting office. But is that royal mail's fault? Nope, it's ours. Apparently. One of us personally, dressed in black with a balaclava, laid in wait, kidnapped the dear, honest, sweet, salt of the earth postie (because, apparently, they all are, so we're constantly told), stole his post and probably kicked his cat too. Just for fun. Or so you'd think, judging from the abuse we're getting.

Time after time, I tell people, before refunding/replacing, "Would you mind checking with your sorting office, please?". And time after time they lie. "I have checked with my sorting office. They have nothing for me. What's more, all of the postmen are personal friends of mine and I would trust them with the entire contents of my bank account. They have the keys to my house. They never take items back to the sorting office. If I was on holiday in outer Mongolia, they would personally board planes, trains and camels in order to get my package to me. Royal mail are saints. You are lying. You never sent my parcel. You're defrauding me. You smell." And time after time, that customer's items arrive back here, several weeks later, marked "not called for". You see, royal mail in all their glory often don't bother leaving a card when they try to deliver but someone's out. They just take parcels back to the sorting office, and the customer's none the wiser. But then the customers don't actually bother to check, as we suggest - nope, they prefer to just hurl abuse. So their package sits there and waits. And waits. And arrives back here (if we're lucky) showing quite clearly that they didn't bother to collect it. Why??? Oh, and the sent-back items are frequently sufficiently bashed about/sat on/kicked about/squashed/defaced/covered with unidentified soggy bits that we can't possibly resell them at full price. Duty of care, anyone?

Mind you, I suppose we ought to count ourselves lucky that a small proportion of this stuff does actually get back to us eventually. Most of it just disappears into the ether - or, into a dishonest customer's/postman's pocket, if your opinion is as jaded as ours has now become. Meanwhile we fall over ourselves backwards chasing things up, issuing refunds, sending replacments by recorded delivery at our own expense, apologising, trying to be polite. Of course if an item genuinely fails to arrive then the customer is entitled to a replacement/refund. That's not the problem. I just object when the blame is rudely and unfairly levelled at us. Constantly Sometimes I think we're just too nice to be in business.

Of course, *some* customers are polite, honest, patient and generally lovely. But for those that aren't, I'm thinking of putting a note on our online shop and all amazon/ebay items. "We are a small husband and wife team. Of humans. Like you. We do our best to get your purchase to you as fast as possible, in perfect condition. Sometimes, despite our efforts, things go wrong. If it's our fault, you'll find that we will apologise profusely and do all we can to make it right again. If it's not our fault, we'll still politely and professionally do all we can to help. We pride ourselvses on going the extra mile for our customers. But we are not faceless call centre employees, paid to sit here and take abuse. Please bear in mind that if you contact us aggressively or rudely, you'll receive a very rude email in reply, and we'll wash our hands of you and your problem. Sue us for it if you like. Thank you for your co operation and understanding."

Can you tell I'm fed up?

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Had rather a sleepless night in tears of agony with this flippin ear. Finally decided it was time to go to the doctors when I noticed a painful lump at the edge of my jaw bones under my ear. I so don't do doctors - in the last five years I think I've only been for occasional ear syringing with the nurse, smear tests and the colposcopy - but the pain was just too much. I've had this for about a fortnight now, and far from improving on its own it was starting to get a lot worse. Worrying.

Saw a lovely, eccentric old Australian locum who gave me a thorough ticking off for not having gone sooner. Apparently I was 24 hours away from a ruptured ear drum with severe otitis externa (well, sounds posher than "ear infection", lol) which has spread to my mastoid cavity and lymph glands. So, I've now got ear drops which sting like hell, strong antiboitics and even stronger painkillers. Together with nausea (have been sick twice) and an awful taste at the back of my mouth. He says it will probably get worse before it gets better, and that this particular medication may not do the trick anyway. He's taken a swab (owwwwwwwwwwww!) and if it hasn't cleared completely within a week I've got to go back. Can't wait.

While I was out at the doctors, Emily and Jon went for their tai chi lesson, although I don't think Emily learnt very much this time round; she was worried sick about me, bless her heart, and couldn't concentrate. I got back home in time for a woozy sleep on the sofa before having to take Grandad off to the eye clinic. Turns out he has to go back to Grimsby hospital for yet another scan. Fun, fun, fun. While we were out, Emily voluntarily did lots of spelling work and reading. She's up to about page 40 of the first HP book - she's finding it hard, but we're really impressed that she's persevering with it. We've made sure that she knows that we don't think any the less of her if she finds the book too hard and puts it away for a year or two, but she's determined to get through it, so it seems.

I'm off back for a lie down; painkillers were just about strong enough to get me through Grandad's hospital trip, but they're sure wearing off now. Normal education service will be resumed shortly!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How Much???

Just been looking around on ebay and other places to see how much Harry Potter lego is. Emily's fascination with the HP "thing" continues unabated, and she loves the Belleville lego she has, so it seemed a logical thing to look for. **Cough**. £129???? Okkaaay. Perhaps not, then. It's a real pain when your January 2nd birthday child develops a passion about a fortnight *after* their birthday that they had zero interest in *before* their birthday or Christmas. It's a verrrry long time til Christmas. We usually get Emily an Easter present (to make up for the long wait between pressy giving opportunites otherwise) but I think £129 is somewhat pushing it, lol.

This morning Emily and I went off to her yoga centre for the press photos and interview. We were pretty late, since "they" had helpfully closed the road outside the centre in both directions. We were still first to arrive, though, as everyone else was obviously as stumped as we were on how to park anywhere near the place! The journalist took loads of photos, with Emily right at the front of most of them (ha! Advantages of being by far the youngest and smallest in the class!) and asked all the right questions to which Emily and the other girls who turned up gave all the right answers. All good. We then went off into Gainsborough town centre in search of a) some slip on, mess-about-in-garden type shoes and b) some china cats from charity shops to add to Emily's overflowing collection. Drew a total blank on both counts. It appears that you can have boots, "posh" shoes or trainers by the lorryload, but a simple pair of mess about shoes, nope, nowhwere, nohow. And cat-wise, all the charity shops were closed (why??).

We consoled ourselves with some (very) early summer clothes shopping. Got two sets of three strappy tops in lovely colours for £3 per set, a pink jangly long gypsy skirt and a short gypsy skirt with lovely belt. Our search for black clothes for Emily is proving disappointingly difficult. Apparently ALL little girls below teenage years WANT to dress in flourescent pink ALL the time - or so you'd think, looking in the shops. The only black things on offer are horrible, yukky, polyestery back to school trousers and skirts. If they were in a softer fabric that would be fine, but I *loathe* that fabric. Still. Apart from the jingly-jangly skirt the things we bought we managed to find in shades of brown, cream, burnt orange and foresty green, which, apparently, are "nearly as nice as black." So that's OK then. And how come the fascination with black emerged as suddenly as all Emily's other recent fascinations? Now, if she'd worked up to it gradually, we wouldn't be stuck with a chest of draws full to the brim of pink clothes that were all she wanted this time last year, lol.

Back at home I collapsed onto the sofa with agonising earache yet again, and Emily pottered about before going downstairs to watch HP 3 with Daddy. Not a lot of education has happened!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Flying Yogi

Well, she hasn't quite mastered "yogic flying" yet, rofl, but we've just got back from Emily's yoga presentation and she's definitely walking on air, so I guess that's half way there! :-)) Our small bendy person was very confident in the display they did. She wasn't due to get a certificate because she hasn't had her first test yet (as it's quite strict in that respect, they have to have attended ten lessons before the first test), but in fact she was awarded a special certificate of achievement for excellent work and effort :-)) She was exceedingly chuffed, as were we. And I forgot my camera, so guess who has no piccies of the event?? Tomorrow Emily's going back to the yoga studio for a photoshoot/interview for the local press, so that should be fun.

Yesterday Emily and I worked on maths in the morning, and also practised more perspective drawing - this time a country lane disappearing into the distance i.e one point perspective instead of the two point perspective of a cityscape. Emily also had fun taking a little cardboard viewfinder and her sketchpad out into the garden and sketching little parts of things, odd angles and strange shapes.

In the afternoon Emily completed a verrrrryy long Viking quiz; she knew most of the answers anyway, despite our dire lack of effort in that department. We also spent some time puzzling out what happened to the Viking age in the end (i.e. the Norman conquest and the spread of Christianity) and pondered (yet again) making a nice big timeline to show the various periods of history. It was meant to go down our stairs, but that's been turned into an art gallery. So it's been put off yet again. That was the one thing I was really keen to do back in September 04 when Emily left school, rofl. Guess we'll get round to it one day.

Emily and Jon's art class last night was a tricky one. Just as the class had started to get to grips with the acrylics, Gary moved the goalposts and had them all painting in watercolours instead. They had to sketch and then paint a secluded cove picture. Here's Jon's rather lovely effort:
followed by Emily's - bless her, she's got the perspective kind of muddled here, but it was a smashing attempt at a difficult task and I love her watercolour sky, the blended textures in the rocks and the spray effect. Can't get over how happy she is to spend a whole two hours working on a painting - I'm sure I wasn't capable of that aged seven (or even now!).
Today we had a fantastically fun morning doing Encaustic Art (painting with molten wax and an iron) for hours. Back in September 2001, Jon won an encaustic art starter set in a competition, and we completely forgot about it as Emily was far too young to be using an iron then. The other night I stumbled across Create & Craft TV when I was looking for something else, and they had an hour long demonstration on there, which prompted us to dig out our set. I love that channel now, actually - it's great for arty inspiration, so long as you don't have your credit card anywhere near...
So, here's a gallery of Emily's encuastic art efforts. The top set of three, from the left, are "Staircase in the Sky", "Arrival of the Birds", "Sunset over a Mountain Road"; the next set of three from left are "View up the Valley", "Bridge over the Ice Lake" and "Steps to a Flower", and the bottom two from left are "Alien City Reflection" and "View from the Cavemouth"

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Paschats & Potter

Harry Potter mania continues to go from strength to strength here. Emily's spent vast amounts of the last couple of days devouring every Potter fan site she can find, writing plots, making posters and inventing spells/charms. I've lost count of the amount of times we've played Harry Potter pretends now, lol. Emily's favourite site, so far, has got to be HP Lexicon, a site for which the word "comprehensive" just doesn't quite cut the mustard.

She's listened to the CD of Philosopher's Stone umpteen times, and now she's started reading the book too. She reads a lot during an average day in any case, but her favourite time to read is definitely after Daddy's read to her at bedtime - she can't wait to get to bed now, lol, so she can snuggle down in the dark with her new reading light and read more HP!

Have to say I'm somewhat of a Harry Potter virgin, myself. Have never read any of the books, nor had any particular desire to do so, and although I enjoyed the first film on a purely "interesting story" basis, we haven't seen the rest. Looked up the rest of the plots the other day....sounds horrendously complicated! Since Emily already knows far more about the world of HP than I do, however, I suspect that I'm about to be educated....

Meanwhile, Emily's also loving two cat related books at the moment. She and Daddy are reading Warriors into the Wild by Erin Hunter, which has totally captured her imagination. It's very much in the Wolf Brother genre. She can't wait for the next one in the series. Meanwhile she and I are also reading The Nine Lives of Tyo, by Murry Hope. This is based on Murry's telepathic communications with Paschats, a race of leonine/feline beings from the neighboring Sirius star system. Apparently, she's channeled a lot of their teachings into various adult books, but the Tyo one is a child's version. Whether or not you give any credence to the reality of it all, it's an enchanting story about a young Paschat who looks in on earth, sees all the problems, and is allowed to live nine lives on our planet - one on Atlantis, one as a temple cat in Ancient Egypt, one as a jaguar cub in the jungle, one as a cat during the Black Death, one as a cat during the withcraft persecutions, and so on; druing each life he learns something about the human race and where they're going wrong. Very thought provoking, and a great introduction to topics like telepathy, crystal people and so on. It's sparked an interest in Altantis, so Emily's busy trying to find out all about that. It's fascinating to watch her forming her own opinions on metaphysical stuff. We're taking a very hands-off approach, letting her find out information for herself, and letting her evaluate it herself too.

Hmmm, what else have we been up to? Let me see: Friday morning I was in absolute agony with my ear and couldn't do much else apart from lie on the settee drifting in and out of sleep. Jon was out all morning with Grandad but Emily, bless her, went and got a big pile of workbooks and sat next to me all morning working away and fussing over me. She did seven pages of an English book, three of a maths book, and wrote three poems!

Friday afternoon I felt much, much better. We spent a long time playing darts, I seem to remember. In character as people from Harry Potter, obviously. Emily kept winning. Hrrrmphhh. Very good for mental arithmetic, though.

Yesterday morning Emily and Jon went off to ballet. She had a whale of a time practising singing (????) apparently, as they'll be doing a lot of songs in this forthcoming show. Later on, she and Jon spent a long time in the garden, planting flowers and digging up archaeology. Emily found yet another bone. I'm beginning to wonder whether we need the good folks from CSI to pay us a visit!! Speaking of which, this is yet another series that Jon and I never had time to watch in its infancy - we've now watched the whole of Series 1 on DVD, though, and are hooked. DVD set for series 2 arrived yesterday, so that's our viewing for the next few weeks sorted out, lol. Television? What's that? In this house, the only viewing we adults do is something on DVD at around midnight each night, while we eat - there's never anything we actually want to watch on "live" at that time, and we always miss what we do want to watch and then have to watch it years later on DVD.

The kit bits have been in fine form; the roadworks outside our house have finally shut up, so they've been brave enough to venture out again this last couple of days and have been very entertaining to watch. Yesterday morning I saw Romeo eating something on the lawn and went out to investigate, expecting to find a deceased mouse or bird. What was he eating? **WORMS** Eugggh. And when I took one off him, he promptly scrabbled around for another one and bit it in half and ate one half. Oh, lovely. The other half wriggled away.... nice. No wonder that cat keeps getting a poorly tummy. Juliet, not to be outdone, decided to spend dusk catching and eating the gnats/midges that were hovering in a great big cloud in the garden. Then she was sick. Sigh. It's not as if we don't feed them!

Once it was dark, Emily rediscovered a pile of new dressing up outfits she had for Christmas but had yet to try on. Here she is as a hula girl
....and as a Victorian servant
.... I daresay the Greek Goddess one might get an outing today.

This morning she's gone off shopping with Daddy while I work. As, obviously, I'm doing right now. Well, nearly. Actually, my mind's busy turning over ideas for a "My Village" project that will neatly encompass all kinds of geography and history stuff. I'm liking the sound of that very much - must go and jot down some thoughts before I forget them all!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Practising Perspective

... in all areas of life, not just Emily's sketching! Have been doing some soul searching about Emily's fragile confidence levels. This next bit will probably be long and winding, so feel free to skip to the photos and bright/breezy "We've done this, this and this" bit ;-)

Emily went along to Romy's taekwondo class last night. Unfortunately, it absolutely wasn't her kind of atmosphere or indeed her kind of "thing", as demonstrated by the tears after ten minutes of the class. Just didn't fit with her personality. Although Emily's slowly getting better at "doing" large groups of strangers, it was the large group of people coupled with the noise and having no clue what she was supposed to be doing, all at once, that overwhelmed and intimidated her. It was nice to be invited, though, and for her to see for herself whether it was something she would enjoy or not. The teacher seemed very nice, and took Emily and Romy off to the side to demonstrate some self-defence moves just with the two of them, which calmed Emily down, somewhat. Thank you to Romy for not minding missing the rest of her "proper" lesson to keep Emily company doing that instead!

Must admit, though, to having had a crisis of confidence last night, thinking about what happened. Thing is, I know full well that if Emily were at school, she would have coped better with the lesson, would have been able to deal with it without tears at least - because she would have been forced, day in day out, to tolerate other uncomfortable environemnts, and no doubt would have been pretty practised in it by now. That then seemed to be a plus point for school. Rather alarming.

Fortunately, today we've got things into better perspective by realising that it really doesn't matter. Having a child who can control her emotions appropriately when required to for reasons of tact (! Sorry Romy!) is a good thing, and a necessary thing, and will come in time as she matures - but having a child who puts up with everything and is afraid to show her emotions, by virtue of having been browbeaten into submission day after day; now that's *not* a good thing, and not something we need to aspire to. Obviously, I'm just using yesterday's TKD class as an example of a situation Emily was uncomfortable in; this isn't about taekwondo as a hobby, it's about coping with unfamiliar, daunting, perhaps slightly intimidating situations in general. And I'm just thinking aloud, as it were; I'd like to look back on this later in the year and see where we are, so excuse my ramblings.

Yeah, some people will say "But she has to learn how to cope with situations she's not happy in." Yes, as an adult there are bound to be times when Emily's uncomfortable in a situation. Just as we all are. But as adults, we have a whole different set of tools to draw on than a young child has. You don't (often!) find adults running in tears from a social situation they don't like. No, not even me. As an adult, you can tough it out when you have to - but that's not something that school magically teaches you, that's something that comes with maturity.

Some personalities just don't "do" boisterous situations. I should know, I'm one of them. I was forced through all that at school, and it didn't make me enjoy things, or be any better at handling them. Probably the opposite - it made me avoid certain situations more than I otherwise would, and increased my anxiety levels on the rare occasions when I do have to "do" the kind of social stuff that's alien to my nature. But that's partly the point - as an adult, I don't have to do what I don't want to do (within reason!). To a very large extent, I can pick and choose the situations I find myself in, and I can do something about it if I don't like where I am. And I'm very happy with that - contrary to popular belief, introverts don't actually secretly wish they were extroverts, lol. So learning to put up with things at school serves a purpose..... only if you have to put up with things at school. Circular argument. Having ascertained that school didn't work for me, confidence-wise, I can feel better about saying that trying a different approach with Emily can only be a more positive thing. Says she, "confidently".

Anyway; Today, Emily and Jon went off to their tai chi class. As well as learning more of the form, they also worked on accupressure points today, which should prove interesting in weeks to come, as that will come up in yoga too, apparently.

This afternoon, Emily's been practising yoga, and working on doing headstands against the wall. She and I also had a go at drawing a cityscape using two point perspective. Boy, it's harder than it looks! Here's Emily's very creditable attempt:

It was much easier to follow the logic behind it all with the buildings labelled A, B, C and so on, so that's what we did.

Meanwhile, we've just found Merlin and Juliet having a good old snuggle:

Exceedingly cute, especially considering how long it took before Merlin would even stay in the same room as the kittens!

In other news, the pain in my right ear is now dire, making me feel alternately violently sick or exceedingly faint. There was no infection when I went to the doctor's a week ago today, but the ear syringing didn't really help my hearing all that much either. For a couple of days afterwards, I had ringing in that ear, which I'm prepared to accept could be a normal reaction - although I've had my ears syringed lots of times, and that's never happened before. Then that stopped, and gradually my hearing in that ear came back to practically normal - but the last two days the pain has increased tenfold, and it now hurts to speak, eat or move my head. I've avoided painkillers until just now - will see if the ones I've just taken help. I'm loathe to return to the doctors at the moment, but caught in that catch 22; if it's still bad tomorrow and I don't go then, I'm stuck until Monday, and I've got a hell of a lot of work to do over the weekend. Sigh. Why doesn't anyone in this family ever get ill at the beginning of the week??

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sketching, Baking & Yoga-ing

Better write this quick...both Jon and Emily are now poorly, bless 'em, so I'm probably next on the list to succumb!

Monday night's art class seems to have been very interesting. They came back proudly bearing sketchpads with lots of complicated stuff in them. The lesson was about perspective and proportion, so they learned how to draw the horizon lines and vanishing point lines for streets and buildings and so on, and how to proportion facial features and bodies properly. Pretty in-depth for a seven year old, so we were really pleased with how well Emily coped with all that. They did lots of practice in quick sketching too, with Gary giving them all 30 seconds to sketch him in various poses!!! He spent a lot of time with Emily, encouraging her and helping her understand the technicalities. All good.

Jon and Emily have done a fair bit of perspective and portrait sketching practice at home too, with Jon in particular producing a stunning likeness of David Beckham in approximately three minutes flat! Emily didn't quite capture the likeness when she tried it (but then again I'm not sure she knows who D.B. is, being largely indifferent/immune to contemporary celebrities of all kinds, so that's probably not surprising) but she certainly did produce a very impressive face.

Yesterday we had a lovely Valentines Day. Jon surprised me with a beautiful card and some scrummy red slippers with hearts on. I love slippers. Can never have too many pairs. Odd that, since I can't stand shopping for shoes and only own one pair of casual shoes and a pair of boots. Slippers is a different story altogether :-)) Emily had secretly made us both some beautiful cards and a heart shaped wreath, and was thrilled to bits with a Love Bug cuddly toy Daddy had bought for her. In the afternoon, Romy and Hazel came over to play, and the girls had fun making Valentine Cookies. There was quite a battle over whether more melted chocolate should end up over children or on cookies, although I think the cookies won in the end. Just!

Off to yoga we then went, where Emily learnt the routine she's doing for the display next week. Quite tricky that one, so we'll need lots of practice, I think. Her teacher came to sit with me for a long chat before the class started and said all kinds of wonderful things about Emily and her sweet nature, and how hard's she's working, her concentration and focus levels, her understanding of the spiritual principles behind yoga and her determination to get some of the more difficult poses right even though they're way ahead of where she should be :-)) Very proud Mummy moment. She (the teacher) was also very interested in home education, and is apparently seriously considering taking her eldest, age 7, out of school.

Today, Emily's had a day off, as it were, and has spent all day building ello cities. Or, as she puts it, doing design & technology ;-)) Emily's been invited to join in one of Romy's taekwondo classes, just for fun, this evening, so we're looking forward to that.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Oddly Disjointed

It's been a weird kind of day; I've felt unsettled and edgy throughout, so it hasn't exactly been all sweetness and light. Sigh. It's nothing to do with the three of us, or with HE; just a lot of stuff going on around us that I'm very unimpressed with.

We got up bright and early(ish) but somehow managed to lose most of the early advantage by sitting down with big bowls of porridge and the Olympics. Well, I guess it's kinda educational. A bit. Depending. We did move onto maths and Emily breezed through some pages of exercises while I sat and wondered what to do next. Eventually we settled on spelling and worked for a while on -le words like muddle, horrible, terrible, trouble, double and so on. Emily knows the -le ending now, it appears...she was getting muddled and putting -el all the time, which is why were doing it in the first place, but typically she got the endings all right and kept forgetting the double consonants or vowel combinations in most of the words instead! Never mind. She's an excellent speller normally; my off-day was probably affecting hers too.

Moving rapidly on, we did some science experiments with electricity, namely making a static electricity guage with a glass jar, nail and tin foil; making mini lightning sparks with a battery and a loose end in the circuit; and making one of those bendy games where you have to get a loop through all the bends without touching the wire otherwise the light and buzzer comes on. Whatever they're called; word escapes me for the moment.

This afternoon we were going to wrap up the Vikings, so to speak, but events overtook me and Emily decided to spend the afternoon playing Zoombinis instead. Which she did. And which is indeed educational. Just as well. She and Jon are out at their art class now, while I try to frantically re-write my latest PA assignment, the brief for which changed exactly half an hour before I was about to send the completed article to them. Oh, pooooooo. It's been that kind of day. I'm sure the week will get better. Or else.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Arty Weekend

No ballet this Saturday, thanks to half term. Emily spent yesterday morning playing, then she and Jon had a massive clay craft session in the afternoon. Jon made various gorgeous candle holders, incense holders and the like, and Emily made a beautiful castle.

This morning Emily was busy listening to Harry Potter and working on a Green Woman stained glass mandala thingy. This afternoon, she and Jon have been Artists At Work, practising the snow scene skills they learnt in last Monday's art course, to recreate a lovely photo we took earlier this year of Scotter church in the snow.They seem to have had a ball, and I love the results! Here's Jon's followed by Emily's:

While hubby and daughter have been exceptionally creative, I've been having rather less fun, chained to the desk working on deadlines. Oh, surprise. Yes folks, my weekends are a joy. This one has been worst than most as the Press Association have decided they want major format changes to the work we're doing for them, so in addition to the standard deadlines I've been faffing about trying to interpret the rather vague brief and fit it into an impossibly tight word count.

Had a phone call this morning to tell me that the swimming crash course I'd booked Emily into next week has been cancelled. We've been on the flippin waiting list for proper lessons for over a year now, and nothing. Nada. Zilch. So they lay on a crash course and guess what - only Emily and one other child wanted to attend. In the whole of Scunthorpe and the surrounding area??? So why is the waiting list so full??? Grrrmpph. Not happy about that at all. Nor is Emily, especially since I'd resorted to bribery and promised her that if she was recognisably "swimming" (i.e. more than the two strokes it takes to get from the wall to me....and no, I'm not allowed to move) by Easter we'd go to Eureka again. She went there for her 5th birthday treat and has been nagging me to go back ever since. Hmmm. May have to re-think that one if there are no "proper" swimming opportunities on offer, since we seem to have hit a brick wall as far as me teaching her is concerned. We came so far....but no further. Yet.

In her spare time this last few days Emily's gone back to a passion for designing outfits again, mainly inspired by her love of Project Catwalk, so that's been very arty too. She's also into the Winter Olympics in a big way, for some reason, and takes great delight in cheering for the Italian and Canadian competitors. Italy because it's the country she most wants to visit, and Canada because of Uncle David & Aunty Barb. I asked her why she wasn't cheering for the British guys and gals. "Well, they're not very good," she said. LOL. Patriotism is clearly bred not born.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

So much for the schedule :)

Well, it lasted three days, and I'm glad we tried it. Might try it again next week too. I feel much more confident about HE when I know what we're doing.

Yesterday my plans went out of the window as I had to go to the doctor's and have my ears syringed...lovely. Mind you, I'm still half deaf in one ear, and they assure me it's not wax...which is rather worrying. Hazel's going to ear-candle me next week which really helped last time I had this problem, so fingers crossed. Jon and Emily went off to tai chi and had a ball, again. Keep finding Emily at odd moments doing the movements or sat quietly with a ball of energy in her hands!

Then the rest of the day somewhat went to pot as I had to go back out again to pick up Grandad's medications and to get cat litter. All of which is far more of a performance than you might imagine, so it was time to abandon any pretence of education, take Emily with me, and head for some retail therapy, this time at the art section of a nearby garden centre. On Monday they came back from the art course with a list of colour paints they needed, specific pencils, canvases etc etc etc. We found out the hard way several weeks ago that the cute little 12ml tubes of paint you get in the sets don't even last one person one painting, let alone last three people a ten week course. Biiiiiiggg bottles required. Umm. It's not a cheap hobby, this one! Mind you, my Mum's helping out with buying stuff too, and they came back yesterday with a lovely table top easel for Emily to use in the classes. They'd already bought her a full sized easel for Christmas, but it's too big to take to the course, so now she's the proud owner of a natty little one as well.

The artist leading the course was talking to Jon at the end of the last lesson, and said some really interesting things about Emily. Apparently, he reckons she has a very unusual amount of talent for her age, and says it will be very interesting to see how she develops over the weeks. Perhaps he was just being nice, but he didn't have to be that nice, lol, so I'd rather like to think he means it :)

Anyway. So, apart from the English and maths Emily worked at while I was out at the doctor's, yesterday was pretty much an education-free zone. Made up for a bit this morning, though, with Design & Technology, which was, after all, in the schedule. We spent hours learning about and experimenting with levers - after playing (sorry, working) with the setup for a while, Emily was able to draw all sorts of useful conclusions about pivot points and how far away the pivot needs to be from the load and the effort in order to make it efficient. We also simulated a wheelbarrow type lever by taking some string up over a higher up rod, turning the downwards pull into an upwards force. Or something. Seemed to make sense at the time, although my mind is a complete no-go area for this type of stuff! Big thanks to my Dad for providing the equipment and the ideas, without which we'd still be very much in the dark, lever-wise ;-)
We also made an archimedes screw and Emily had great fun successfully getting blue water from the "river" to mix with the red water in the "irrigation ditch".

Later on, we made a motorised meccano one too.....or at least attempted to. Worked slightly less well than the hand twirled one, mainly because it was going much too fast and we couldn't get the motor into a lower gear.

Found this very helpfulmechanisms and movements page on the Flying Pig website Hazel showed us ages ago. Explains all about types of movement and how one type can be converted to other types using levers, pivots, cams and the all the rest. In terms even I can understand. Sure to be much referred to as we move on...we're supposed to be looking at compound pulleys next, and it's all a bit beyond me! (How did I completely miss all this stuff at school????)

This afternoon we once again abandoned the schedule. Jon and Emily went out for a really long ramble through the woods and popped into the local library on their way. They came back armed with poetry books and an eight audio cassette version of the first Harry Potter. It had to happen. She's been utterly indifferent to HP so far, on our few albeit half hearted attempts to interest her. Not any more. Emily spent the rest of the afternoon ensconsed in her room drawing whilst listening to the tapes, and she's now watching the film with Jon. I sense a new mania arriving.

I'm really pleased with how this year's HE is panning out. We seem, bit by bit, to be achieving what we set out to achieve. Having definite goals for this first part of the year certainly helped. We wanted to focus a bit on poetry, for example, and that's been a real hit. Emily's spent hours recently reading She's All That as well as various other poem collections, and she's really enjoyed starting to write her own. We're getting quite a bit of technology work done, and art has really taken off. Maths is pretty much up to speed and getting even better. We've been a bit thin on the ground with history (although it was in this week's schedule....) but given how much we focused on that last year, I'm not going to beat myself up about that. There's just so much we want to do, though, and so little time. When Emily was at school it was a punishing routine of get home - destress for half an hour - have tea - do reading book - do homework - go to bed - get up and do it all over again. Now we've got all the time in the world and we still can't fit everything in!


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Still Organised.... Still Having Fun

I can't believe how well the year's going so far, on all fronts!

We stuck to our schedule yesterday, with great results. First thing, we worked on art. We looked at the life of Piet Mondrian and in particular his "grid" paintings with black lines and blocks of primary colour. It was interesting to see how he developed from fauvism to cubism to that and how the grids developed further. Emily then spent a fun half hour creating a Mondrian style picture in dazzle. Then with the same grid, she did an exercise in cool colours vs warm colours, and we discussed how the different colour schemes made her feel, and which she felt might be more appropriate for, e.g. a child's bedroom or a buzzing, creative workplace. All tied in nicely with the colour theory work she's going to be doing on the art course, so that's all good.

Next it was geography. Borrowed Kris' idea of using an orange as a globe, and we used that to learn a little about map projections, and how come a country can look so different in size and shape from one map to another. We also talked about the North and South poles and the differences between them. Emily was very surprised to learn that it rains more in the Sahara Desert than it does in Antarctica. Apparently.

After lunch Emily spent an hour working through the exercises in her Yoga DVD. You can see how much more flexible she's become after just a couple of weeks of the lessons and practising. More importantly, she can see the difference too, and she's really motivated :-))

By the time she'd done that and played for a while, it was time to go off to yoga where more good news was waiting - although Emily hasn't yet been tested on her level 1 stuff, they're putting her up to the Yogadup level, which means she'll officially be working at the same level as the older girls. When she first started, they said she'd have to spend the full year on the yoga bugs certificate course, as the yogadup is strictly for 8 years plus, but they've obviously changed their minds, so she's extremely chuffed about that! She's also very excited now because there's a certificate evening coming up in two weeks time, and the class is going to be doing a yoga display for all the visiting parents. Can't wait!

Today we had a ball visiting The Collection: Art & Archaeology in Lincolnshire with Hazel and Romy. Fabulous musuem! There was loads for the girls to enjoy doing as well as looking at - they had great fun dressing up in historical costumes, playing an ancient board game, making mosaic tiles, listening to latin and norse languages, playing on the many touch screen interactive games and trying to find our houses on a giant aerial map of the county set into the floor. Here's Emily as a roman solider and a medieval maiden, and playing Nine Men's Morris with Romy:

We didn't get to the art gallery part; will have to go back another day. Very highly recommended and excellent value for money, i.e. free! On the way back from the museum we stopped so the girls could have a (freezing!) little picnic in a park, and then we stopped off again at Mount Pleasant Windmill which was working today - sails going round like mad in the wind. I don't think I've ever actually stood underneath a working windmill before. Certainly made you dizzy looking up, lol!

Tomorrow (after an early doctor's appointment) we'll be doing history, I think. At this precise moment in time, I've "temporarily" lost my little schedule book. I can feel the panic setting in already....but I'm pretty sure I'd planned history stuff once Jon and Emily get back from tai chi. Off now to look for the darned thing before I break out in a cold sweat.....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Results Of An Organisation Frenzy

See, this is why I was bemoaning my lack of organisation the other day. I did finally get organised late Sunday night, and my, what a difference it makes. We've had a hugely successful day and since I've sorted out exactly what work we're doing for the rest of the week, it might even continue...fingers crossed.

I'm now the proud owner of a little planner which lists exactly what we're going to cover for each "subject" each week, and on what day. Well, OK, so it only has this week in it, but it's a start. I can't promise it'll last, or even that we'll want it to last beyond a week or two, but it sure makes me feel better.

This morning we finally got round to using Emily's sewing machine - only five weeks after she received it for her birthday, so that's not bad going for us (we still have unopened items in the cupboards from Christmas 2004 and her sixth birthday...)

She loves it, and I must say she's taken to it like the proverbial duck to water. We spent some time practising without thread first, "sewing" lines on paper and going round corners and in circles. Then Emily learnt how to wind the bobbin, load the bobbin and thread the machine properly and.....drumroll.... it was on to proper sewing on fabric. She was thrilled to discover that the machine does lots of fancy stitches - it's a proper adult machine, as all the toy ones seemed extraordinarily flimsy when we looked at them - so she spent a while doing zig-zagging, smocking stich and so on. She sewed a little felt pocket, and stitched some hearts onto backing felt. Got the hang of reverse stitching to finish off, and of pulling the thread through to the underside to finish off that way too. All in all, it was a huge success.

We've got some nice purple fabric that she wants to make a skirt with, and Emily also has plans to do a huge Spring themed wallhanging with machine appliqued flowers, butterflies etc. Hmmm. Watch this space.

Next up on the "timetable" (!!) was maths and with efficiency that is sooo unlike me, I'd already gathered the materials we needed, so we spent a happy half hour working on mental maths strategies using near doubles like 83+80 and the like.

After lunch we worked on English for a while. I loved the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks as a child, and I thought it would be fun to introduce Emily to that genre. I also loved the Choose Your Own Adventure ones, which were for younger children, but I'm struggling to get hold of those at the moment. Anyway, we talked about the concept and I showed Emily some of the books we do have, and she was very taken with it. Thought it would be a good idea to start with a story/plot flowchart exercise, so we spent a while drawing up a flow chart for the Beauty and the Beast fairytale to show how it could have been turned into a choose your own adventure type tale. Emily then had a first go at plotting something of her own with a flow chart. Eventually, she's going to write it up on numbered cards, and then (even more eventually) she can put it up either as simple webpages or in a powerpoint presentation type software thingamijig.

Then it was time for some IT. We worked through the first few pages of a KS2 IT workbook and didn't think much of it, so we abandoned that for some practical work - Emily spent the rest of the afternoon using Microsoft Publisher to design some advertising bookmarks for us to send out with our orders. She produced a lovely design with a graphic, word art headline, border and bullet points (text was mine but the design is all hers); I was really impressed, and it's certainly a good enough design to use.

A quick tea, and then it was out with Jon to the first lesson in the art course. They came back two hours later worn out but with more beautiful acrylic on canvas works, this time a snow scene showing the path to Scotter church. The artist leading the course had said it was a really hard one to start with, and I can see why, with so few colours used, but they both did exceptionally well. Will take photo of Emily's later. Would take a picture of Jon's too, which I love, but my extraordinarily perfectionist hubby hates it (sigh) and it's already been rescued from the bin once. To anyone who knows him well, that probably comes as no surprise. I have refrained from hitting him. For the moment. There are only seven people on the course (with Emily, Jon and my Mum being three of them!) so it's pretty personalised tuition!

Yesterday Emily spent the morning with Nana painting the fairy cottages we made at the clay class a couple of weeks ago. In the afternoon she braved the Nancy Drew Curse of Blackmoor Manor game which I have to say is 500% more complicated and harder than I thought it would be. It does say for age 10+ but I've got so used to ignoring age guidelines that I didn't think it would be a problem. It's reallllly hard for her, but to her credit she's sticking at it and not giving in! Yesterday afternoon Emily also helped Gramps to make a frame for her Sandy Sea acrylics painting - here she is with the finished, framed article just before it was hung at the bottom of our stairs in what is now dubbed the Art Gallery and awaits future developments with interest...

Tomorrow we're doing some art and geography in the morning, then in the afternoon we're doing gymnastics/yoga, maths and English. So it says in my planner - now, don't mock :-))

In other news, today is our 9th wedding anniversary; Emily had created lots of lovely cards for us which was the perfect way to start the day. Mind you, we had planned a nice takeaway meal this evening....only to discover the takeaway is actually shut on Mondays. Grrrrmph. Still. My beloved of 9 years is a master chef, especially at short notice, so I shall await my anniversary dinner with delight :-))

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Fun Day

It started off well, with Jon making porridge for us all again; I could rapidly become accustomed to being waited on at breakfast time, as indeed Emily and I have been most mornings recently. Jon obviously doesn't have as high a sleep requirement as I do, lol - I go to bed around 12:30 - 1am every night. He tends to work through and doesn't go to bed until gone 3.30 at the earliest, so how come he can be up bright and early whilst I'm still struggling to open my eyes at 9??

Anyway; Emily played on Catz all morning (and thoroughly confused Juliet, who spent a while on Emily's desk investigating the speakers, wondering where on earth all the cats were) before we trotted off to ballet. Brought Emily's friend K back with us for the rest of the day - the girls had a very involved discussion about history in general and the Great Fire of London in particular on the way back home in the car, lol. Two budding historians in the making, methinks.

Back at home Jon and I caught up on some work while the girls Barbied, Lego-ed, dressed up, played with the (remarkably co-operative) cats, took photos and generally had a ball.

So, tomorrow's Sunday, which means manic deadline chasing. Once that's over, though, I'm looking forward to a relatively peaceful week next week; apart from the art course which starts on Monday, yoga, tai chi and ballet we should be able to chill out a bit; we all feel as if we've been really busy recently so a few quiet days at home won't go amiss (and might give me a chance to get organised - you never know).

Friday, February 03, 2006

One Day, I'll Be Organised

Hmmm, it's been an interesting few days, mostly characterized by my complete lack of organisation/forward planning. Wednesday afternoon was nice; we went to a local park with Romy and Hazel but it was soooooooooooo cold that after about an hour we headed back to theirs for an altogether cosier play.

Thursday, on the other hand, was a bit of a disaster. Everything Emily wanted to do was hampered by said lack of organisation. We couldn't find this, we couldn't find that, the CD for this was broken, the software for that didn't work, we'd lost the equipment for this, we had the equipment for that but couldn't figure it out, we'd lost the bit of paper for that and the book for this had long since vanished under piles of "stuff" only to reappear, I daresay, when it's absolutely the very last thing you want to find. Sigh. So there was a fair bit of frustration all round.

We did accomplish lots of maths, and Emily also wrote a "senses" poem based on recollections of Normanby Hall. When it came to doing anything remotely more interesting that English or maths, though - well. In the end, we did manage some music - looked at animal hasthas (at least I think that's how you spell it - the Indian dance hand movements) and used them with Indian music to make up a story, then Emily had fun with lots of percussion instruments (found whilst we were looking for something else, natch) making up sequences of sounds to suggest animal movements like swimming, leaping, crawling, jumping etc.

Emily also spent some time on the Dazzle art software, playing about with the symmetry tools to create kaleidoscope type patterns. That wasn't what we were supposed to be doing with it, but we couldn't actually work out how to do what we wanted to do. Reminds self to try it out beforehand next time before suggesting fabulous idea to enthusiastic child. D'oh.

One good thing about yesterday, mind, was Emily and Jon's second tai chi lesson. They loved it again, and came back buzzing, and spent ages practising what they'd learnt -was quite amusing to watch them correcting each other :-)

Today dawned with a power cut that stretched from before we got up until nearly 2 in the afternoon. On one of the coldest and darkest days of the year. Lovely. It really was so bleak we couldn't really see to read or write, so we resorted to Gas Lamp HE, lol:

Mind you, uncluttered by the distractions of the computer and the TV, we did actually get on with a brilliant experiment Jon suggested to me last night when I was moaning about my lack of organisation. Coin cleaning - which household substance would best clean an old dirty coin, and why? Emily loved doing that. She collected lots of substances (hot water, cold water, shampoo, ketchup, lemon juice, bleach, bicarb and water, bicarb and lemon juice, pomegranite juice, red wine, milk, olive oil, coke, toothpaste, vinegar etc) and then she covered old coins in just enough of it, and we left them for an hour. Then she made a great chart to record her results - whether the coins were any cleaner after an hour, and whether anything changed when she scrubbed them with an old toothbrush. Before we started I asked her how she could make sure the experiment was as fair as possible, and I was impressed when she talked about needing to make sure the coins were all as dirty as each other to begin with, that the same amount of substance was used for each, that they were left for an equal time and so on. Here are the results (good old oil lamp again):

After discovering that the vinegar, lemon juice and ketchup gave the best results, we discussed acids, and looked on the ingredients for the ketchup to discover - lo! - that it has vinegar in it. It was good fun, that one. Must get some litmus paper I think, so we can let her loose with testing for acid and alkalis and mixing the two to see what happens to the ph.

This afternoon we've done a full hour of yoga; Emily's now mastered the fish pose (Matsyasa) and camel pose (Ustrasana) as well as the ones she's learning for level one, so I was rather impressed. Then we all watched our wedding video (rediscovered after about eight years of thinking it was lost....) just in time for our anniversary on Monday. I cried ;-)) and promised to look again for my wedding tiara and veil. Which, at this rate, I'm more likely to find than any of the education stuff I keep looking for....... still, we live in hope.