Monday, June 26, 2006

A Message from.....Spirit?

Something very spoooooooky happened today. A couple of weeks ago, while my Mum and Dad were away at their caravan, their phone rang. I didn't answer it as I was busy and besides anyone important knew they were away. Just before it stopped ringing, though, Jon suddenly said "That's the hospital, ringing with an appointment for your Dad. It'll be 27th July at 10.30."

I rushed to answer the phone but was too late. We were expecting a *letter* from the hospital with an appointment, but not a phone call. Anyway, Jon had said what he said with such certainty that I wrote it down and put it somewhere safe.

Today, back from the caravan for a doctor's appointment, my Mum rang the hospital to chase up Dad's appointment as they should have heard long before now and still hadn't. The lady said the appointment hadn't yet been made but that they'd ring her back this afternoon with one. They did. "It's for the 27th July," Mum told me (she didn't know about what Jon had said). I'd forgotten the date Jon had specified so I rushed off to get my note. Yep, there it was. "What time on the 27th?" I asked, cautiously. "10.30."

Spooooky. How could Jon have known the exact date (which is much later than my parents had been told to expect) and furthermore the exact time, when even the hospital didn't know it at that time? It wasn't them on the phone when he said it, but why did that phone call from an unknown person prompt this premonition? He said it just popped into his head and he felt he had to say it. He's done it before too, also spookily with another hospital appointment, when I was waiting for an appointment for a cervical biopsy after an abnormal smear. He announced one day that the appointment would be on the morning of our wedding anniversay, Feb 6th that year. And it was.

For his birthday, I had contemplated getting Jon onto a week's residential psychic development course as I've been convinced for a long time that he has latent abilities. I opted not to in the end, as I didn't think he'd want to go. Wish I had now!!

Anyway, psychic dalliances apart, it's been a productive day. Emily wrote a long letter to her art tutor telling her all about her interest and detailing (as requested) what parts of the exercises she found hardest and why. She did it in beautiful handwriting too. This morning she and I went out to PetsAtHome and to try to buy some spray on hair and body glitter for her show. Could I find any??? Nope. Could find gel but that's no good for her hair. Looked every-flippin-where. Someone eventually said that they only get it in at Christmas time; guess they may be right, the last show she did was in a November and we had no trouble getting some then.

Emily has also been busy today and over the weekend making lots and lots of fashions from this lovely kit - she's going to make a fashion scrapbook with them. She's also been watching our new Shakespeare: The Animated Tales box set. Looked again for the Shakespeare for Kids Company's Romeo and Juliet DVD - this is the performance we went to see early this year in Grimsby which was utterly *fantastic* but can't find it anywhere. They do sell Macbeth and another one on their website but they're very expensive :-(

Emily has also written her review for the Telling Pool book she was sent by Education Otherwise. She said "This is the story of Rhodri's magical quest, given to him by the Telling Pool at the time of the Crusades. I enjoyed this book because I liked the medieval setting and the connections with legends and King Arthur. I love Wales too and I picked up some Welsh words when reading it! It is a very complicated plot though and the book does take a long time to get going. It was hard to read - I think it is aimed at older children and teenagers so my Dad helped me with a lot of it, otherwise it would have taken me too long to read. The story is quite scary in places and it's easy to imagine yourself in Rhodri's place. I would recommend this book to older children who love history and myths and fantasy tales, and who have a lot of patience!"

Finally, we've spent far too long playing this TumbleBugs game which is proving strangely addictive. I'm off now to review the complicated instructions for what Emily has to wear, take and do backstage tomorrow at the Plowright Theatre. If it's anything like the last performance she did it'll be booked solid so that's an audience of about 350 - got to be good for her confidence if nothing else, lol, although the pre-show nerves are getting to me and Jon now more than they are to Emily!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Glass Splinter Through My Heart

Well. OK, it wasn't glass and it wasn't my heart or indeed my anything or even indeed anyone's heart, but you'd have thought it was given the drama it created :-//

Yesterday morning Emily got a large splinter in her palm from an adventure playground. She was only a bit upset at the time but was worried about having it taken out so we said we'd leave it and see if it worked itself out after a bath. It didn't - in fact the area around it started to swell up, turn a funny colour and generally look nasty. Oh dear. It had to come out. It was one of those right under the skin jobs, there was no free end to pull out with tweezers. So how were we going to get it out, she asked apprehensively. The word needle was mentioned. Cue apocalypse.

A full two hours of hysterical crying and near asthma attacks later, the splinter was finally removed thanks to Jon's deft work once Emily was finally too exhausted to scream and pull away any longer. It was extremely traumatic for all concerned :-(( At several points we had to seriously consider taking her to hospital as she could barely breathe with fear. It was going to get infected if we left it there - what were we supposed to do? We'd already searched the net for tips and tricks and tried everything advised. Well, once it was all over of course there were cuddles and snuggles all round and she'd forgotten the trauma within minutes. I daresay it will stay with we two adults a goodly while longer. We had this same thing last time Emily lost a tooth, too.

Once she'd settled to sleep, we had a serious chat about it. The fear and panic Emily displays when she's in any way injured or in any way confronting even relatively minor pain is completely beyond normal. She's absolutely terrified, can't breathe, can't control her screaming, can't be reasoned with, can't be comforted. It's horrible; makes us feel like such useless parents and it breaks our hearts that we can't reach her at those times to get her through it gently. After a lot of research last night we think she may genuinely have a fear disorder/phobia centered on blood and injuries. Although she's got slightly better over this last year - for instance, a nettle sting no longer produces this reaction where a year ago it definitely did - it seems she's in for a very long haul of abject terror for some while yet. It can't be fair to just leave her to go through that. I know a lot of people would just consider her extremely babyish to react that way. Some of her "friends" have been known to laugh at her (and God knows what she'd be facing if she was at school). In other ways, however, Emily's incredibly mature. Whatever's going on in her head when she hurts herself is far, far more complicated than being "silly" and "babyish" or whatever other labels those of an unkind disposition may wish to attach.

So: we're currently mulling over whether to seek a professional opinion from a child psychotherapist or similar. Haven't reached a decision yet, but we'll see.

Aside from the drama - which happily, at least, she can see the funny side of once it's over - we had a good day yesterday. I was furious with something I'd read and really not in a very good mood but on the spur of the moment we decided that Emily and I would head out for the morning whilst Jon caught up with some work. We went to visit the Waters Edge Centre in Barton on Humber, which was OK if rather smaller than I expected. Emily enjoyed playing around with one of the cameras on the Humber Bridge, lol. It was the playground at Waters Edge that provided us with the splinter, thanks very much. From there were also went to the Ropewalk Art Gallery in the same town. That was really good; they had a big exhibition of pictures of the Humber Bridge from a BBC competition earlier this year and we had a looooonnng look at those discussing what media everyone had been using and which we liked most and why. By the time we left I was in a much better mood, having had a lightbulb moment that made me finally understand that what was bothering me is actually the other perons's problem, not mine :-)

Yesterday afternoon when we got back, Emily did the last of the three pieces of artwork she has to send in to be marked for the first section of her course. She had to draw and shade her favourite object, so she chose her favourite soft toy, Uni. He's the one that used to comfort her on her return from school each day, bless him, so he has a place in all our hearts. Here he is, famous at last:
She found this one much harder than the other two, at least partly because with a soft toy it's hard to tell where the light and shade falls and difficult to convey the texture too. She's not as pleased with it as she is the others, but she's working soooo hard on it all!

So: splinter aside, it wasn't a bad day after all :-)

Thursday was taken up with tai chi and drama as usual, so everything's jogging along nicely there. Today was the last ballet rehearsal before the opening night's dress rehearal on Tuesday afternoon. And, despite her dire warnings to any of the children who dared not to turn up....the teacher wasn't there!!!!!!!! That'd be really funny if it wasn't so infuriating. Anyways. Emily's well prepared and now can't wait for Tuesday, so let the show begin!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Midsummer Magic

It's been a wonderful day :-))

Today we set about celebrating the dual occasion of the summer solstice and Grandad's 77th birthday.

I had intended to get up, and get Emily up, in time to see the sunrise, but since I didn't go to bed until 1-ish, that was a no-no, lol. Not to worry - when we did get up Emily set about wrapping up presents before we settled down for a look on the internet and in our Circle Round book about the lore of Midsummer and the technical explanation for what is actually happening at the summer solstice.

After spending a while discussing it and reading about Midsummer traditions around the world, and pagan Litha traditions in particular, we headed out into the garden to make a fairy den for the fairies to hold their wild party in tonight ;-) Emily absolutely adored doing that. Here she is patching together the leaves for the roof.
By the time she'd finished the den had a leaf-woven roof, twig walls, a sparkly bark path, a gate of sparkling lolly sticks strung with bells, a front door bell (a foxglove bell hanging on a pipe cleaner, lol) and a sign saying "32 Daisy Street"....oooh and I'm sure lots else besides. It looked fantastic. My pictures don't show it up all that well, but I'm sure the fairies will be thrilled.

It wasn't very midsummer weather, mind you. The sun was lovely and warm when it popped out, but mostly it was very overcast and **very, very windy** - it was quite a feat to get the fairy den roof not to blow off, so I think that counts as design and tecnology for the day!

After that we came back indoors to make a sunshine fruit flan with yellow and orange fruits - bananas, star fruits, nectarines and satsumas in our case. This doubled as both a sun-honouring cake and Grandad's birthday cake. Mind you, the sunshine effect was somewhat diminished because the only glaze we had was red coloured so it wasn't exactly yellow by the time we'd finished. Not to worry, it was the idea that counted!

This afternoon we braved the wind again to get back out in the garden and Emily and I spent a couple of hours making sun emblems from clay.

We charged them in the midsummer sunlight and when they're dry we'll paint them and hang them from our big red tree to remind us of the blessings of midsummer. As well as making a few myself, I also read to Emily from A Midsummer Night's Dream while she got on with hers, and we discussed the magical lore behind the day.

At tea time, we had a fab birthday tea with Grandad, who loved his presents, flan and cards.

All in all, it was a lovely day. Emily's very keen to hear about other pagan traditions, so I think I'll be digging out my wheel of the year stuff to show her shortly. She's with Jon now reading Warriors: The New Prophecy - Midnight - yep, they finally finished the original Warriors series the other day, and a right old tear jerker that was too. I've sneakily read the first few chapters of Midnight and I have to say I was disappointed. I adored the first series of six books, cannot praise it highly enough (as regular readers may have noticed, lol) but this first book in the new series just doesn't grab me. I think it's to do with the change of viewpoint. The first series was told from the point of view of one particular cat who began as Rusty the Kittypet, joined the clan and became Firepaw the Apprentice, then Fireheart the Warrior and finally Firestar, clan leader. The new series is told by the next generation of younger kits and suddenly Firestar and the others we've grown to love so much are just background characters. It seems wrong to have worked so hard - and so effectively - to get your reader absolutely bound up with the fate of a couple of cats in particular to then just abandon them and turn them into not even secondary characters but mere afterthoughts. You just find yourself constantly thinking "but what would Firestar think/do/say about this?" Dunno, it jars. It may get better. I hope so.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's Raining :-))

So all's well with the world. Amazing how the pitter patter of rain makes everything look and feel fresh and exciting.

Today's been busy; it helped that we were up at 7. Getting up early really makes a difference to our day - well, mine and Emily's; Jon's usually up hours before us anyway....and to bed hours later....which makes him either superhuman or a workaholic or both, but we love him for it :-)

First thing Emily made another 3D decoupage card, this time an apple tree for Grandad's 77th birthday tomorrow. After that we got stuck in with some more body project work, finishing off our look at the heart. Emily designed a poster about how to keep your heart healthy, wrote a piece describing how the body heals cuts, drew different types of blood cells and wrote about them, answered three pages of heart/blood related questions I'd made up and drew/cut out a life-size heart to go on her model body. Said body now boasts bones, lungs and heart but is longing for the day we do the digestive system as it's getting rather hungry. Mind you, having a brain would help too, I guess.

This afternoon the art bug was calling again, so Emily worked on the second of her "send in for marking" tasks in this section of her course. She had to draw and shade a shoe, so here's one of her tap shoes. She's very pleased with this :-)) and completed it much faster than the fruits one from yesterday even though she initially thought it would be harder.
Art urges temporarily satiated, we turned to the slightly less popular subject of maths. I was idly leafing through a workbook wondering whether to bother with it when it suddenly dawned on me that there were pages and pages of fill-in-the-blanks times tables stuff. Eeep. We gave up on formally doing times tables about six months ago after a short and fruitless effort. I started explaining earnestly to Emily that we really ought to get set on learning them, at least the 2, 5, 10 and 4. "But I know them!" she said. Yeah right. Sure you do. "So what's six times four?" And then she did "it" again, that indefinable home ed thing, and proceeded to rattle off the answers to every question I asked her. OK, she wouldn't have won any speed championships, but she clearly did know the answers or was able to work them out within seconds. But, but, but, I spluttered. Last time we tried this you had a tantrum, I pointed out. Yes, says she. "But that didn't mean I could do it. It just meant I couldn't see the point."

Well, that was me told, then.

We called it a day and off she went to pootle about with various Emily type things for half an hour before yoga, while I secretly made her a "well done" Hula Girl card to give her on the last night of her show next week ;-) Bought her a little wobbly Hula Girl ornament from a US seller on ebay the other day, too, as a momento. It's quite cute actually, the type of thing that's meant to sit on your dashboard and wobble!

At yoga they did some impossibly loud running about-y, scream-y, giggly game for nearly the whole hour, although the teacher assured us it really did have something to do with learning sanskrit names. Seemed to go down well, anyway! Love that child's bizarre tolerance levels. That's just the kind of thing she'd absolutely HATE in most circumstances and which would end in tears.....but tonight she was probably one of the loudest and giggliest, lol. It's astonishing how much more at ease she becomes when the atmosphere is right!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Arts & Crafts

Emily and I "popped out" to The Range this morning - we only meant to be out about half an hour just to look for something for Grandad's birthday, but we were gone all morning and could have spent an absolute fortune! Great shop; I've never seen so much art and craft stuff under one roof, let alone everything else! As it was, we came back eventually with only a single solitary item for Grandad....and lots of stuff for us :-// So that knocked my newly made "no more spending on anything not essential" resolution on the head.

This afternoon Emily settled down to do the first of her "to be sent for marking" tasks on her art course. She had to draw and shade an arrangement of three different fruit/veg. After nearly two solid hours of effort, she came up with this fabulous attempt at sweetcorn/strawbs/apple:
Emily's finding it tough going - she finds painting much, much easier - but she's determined to get there and she's showing remarkable patience with it. I'd have given up long before!

Jon's also settling into his own art course. Finding time to fit it in is a bit of a struggle, but he's had two good sessions at it so far (is working on it as a I type, in fact) and seems to be enjoying it.

After the serious art session this afternoon, Emily and I had a bit of fun with some 3D decoupage. Emily made the bird card and I made the lily. Hadn't tried doing that before, but it was very therapeutic - must do some more!

Emily wants to have a go at "proper scrapbooking" so we need to get some of our photos printed off and see what we can do. One week tomorrow the ballet show begins (eeep!) so we'd better get busy this week as next week there won't be much time!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Quiet Father's Day

Emily enjoyed giving Daddy and Grandad her presents and cards this morning. She has a card waiting for Gramps when he gets back, too.

It's been a very quiet, uneventful day - Emily's played all day, Jon's been busy tidying the stock room and considering various furniture re-arranging schemes in an attempt to create some space. I've been busy plodding away with the usual deadlines.

I'm somewhat furious to discover that a magazine that owes us a not inconsiderable amount of money appears to have gone bust......or at least, I'm assuming they have. They've pulled their website, they're not replying to my contacts and their account is waaaay over due. I am not amused. Have spent a while looking up how to pursue the flippin debt through the county courts/small claims court/whatever. It couldn't have come at a worse time. Still, I suppose we've been lucky so far - we've run this business for eight years now and never had a bad debt bigger than the odd £20. Guess it had to happen sooner or later :-((

On a lighter note, Romeo has well and truly taken to the paddling pool - we spotted him out there this afternoon wandering around and around up on the rim before settling down to lounge on the edge of it with his tail IN the water, ROFL!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

How Did We Ever Live Without.....

...... a polystyrene cutter??

It's delights are so many that I really don't know why we didn't get one ages ago. Bought one from ebay a few months ago but as usual in our household it didn't actually "surface" until Friday when Emily wanted it to make some Father's Day things with. Once tried we couldn't believe how much fun it was and all manner of wondrous uses popped into our heads. Really. No piece of polystyrene is safe.

Anyway, apart from that, what else should I blog? Well, on Thursday morning Emily and Jon went to tai chi and both received their certificates: "This is to certify that Emily Dana H. has successfully achieved a high standard in Tai Chi Small Circle Form with the Sheng Chi School of TAiji & Qigong" :-))) She's extremely chuffed with that and it's waiting to be framed when Gramps gets back from holiday.

They also started to learn the 24 step form; apparently he's not going to teach the small circle form to beginners any more as it's too difficult. There are a lot of mirrored movements, which are very hard, and I gather that it also includes fa-jing which is one of the major martial art components of tai chi, rarely practised in the West. Evidently they're all going to find the 24 form much easier. Both Emily and Jon did indeed the previous one very hard work, but very satisfying. Certainly dispelled the myth that tai chi's just all about standing still and waving your arms around ;-)

Also on Thursday at tai chi they did some circle healing for one of the members of the group with an injured leg. Emily *loved* that and was very keen to demonstrate to me how she'd had to hold her hands and feel the energy flowing.

On Thursday afternoon Emily went off to drama; she was rather peeved at having to miss most of the England game but I think she was glad she went in the end - not long now until the drama performance so the pressure's increasing :-/

On Friday Emily spent most of the morning arty-crafting with the aforementioned fabulous item. She made some lovely Father's Day cards for Daddy, Grandad and Gramps. In the afternoon she went to play at Romy's house where she had a go on Romy's guitar and was instantly smitten....she's now pleading for guitar lessons, lol. Both Jon and I have guitars up in the loft (although his is broken) so we'll have to get them down for her to have a go on. Mind you, I had guitar lessons once or twice a week for about three years as a teenager and still didn't manage to play much!

This morning it was a rush off to ballet rehearsal. Despite the absolute chaos I did manage to reserve a copy of the show DVD and bought two copies of Emily's photos. Emily was reuinited with her friend K (they've been at different lesson times since Easter since they're in different nights of the show but todays' rehearsal was for both groups together) and I with K's Mum, so we had a good old chat while the girls danced their hearts out. Emily left clutching a piece of paper with details of the next set of rehearsals, the dress rehearsal at the theatre and instructions for the show nights themselves. Not long now! (Breathes sigh of relief)

Straight back and into the paddling pool, despite it by then being very overcast and notably colder - nope, that doesn't deter my girl :-)) Nothing short of hypothermia will keep her out of the pool. Since then she and Jon have been playing while I've been working (booooo!). Oh, and here's a pic of Romeo "helping" me work by sprawling out next to the printer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Loving Learning

Emily's had a fab couple of days. Yesterday we finally made it to the Eygptian exhibition at the local museum. There wasn't as much there as we'd thought there would be (ever optimistic, lol) but Emily did enjoy it and even played a few games of "snake" with the children from the inevitable school party that was also "visiting" or rather with the school party that was being rushed through lest they actually become interested in anything and delay the teachers' lunch.

Here's Emily in front of the cat mummies:It was back in February/March 2005 that Emily did a huge Egyptian project (some pictures of which are here) - but she's never lost her fascination with this civilisation and seemingly hasn't forgotten anything she learnt back then either. She had a good chat with the museum attendant - he started off talking to her very slooowwwly and in quite baby terms and adjusted his attitude rapidly when he discovered that she actually knew rather a lot about the things she was looking at, lol. She told him about having booked to go the 2007 Tutankhamun exhibition in London, too.

We had a mooch around the rest of the museum too, although that's becoming rather over-familiar as we've been there so much this last year. Emily did have renewed interest in the WW2 bit, though, and made a list of interview style questions she wants to ask her grandparents in readiness for a WW2 project at some point soon. Should be interesting, as she'll have three very different viewpoints and experiences from them - my Dad was a child in Lancashire, my Mum was a child in central London (who wasn't evacuated and whose father worked finding emergency accommodation etc for those made homeless) and Jon's Dad was a young man farming in Wiltshire, so that should really help her understand a broad picture of what it was like. Here she is in the Anderson shelter:
Back at home after lunch, Emily spent a long time yesterday afternoon sorting out her ornament shelves. She has so much stuff in her various "collections" now! She has seven floor to ceiling shelves in her room just for special things, and barely room to move on any of them! She got everything down off the shelves, cleaned and dusted and then reorganised it all into themes. She now has a history shelf (the historical crafts she's done as well as Egyptian and Tudor ornaments, archaeology she's found etc), a fairy shelf, a gemstone shelf, a cat shelf, a wildlife shelf and two more general shelves which are housing a budding unicorn collection among other things. Phew! Now if only I could interest her as much in clearing up the rather less exciting and definitley non-speical storage areas of the room, lol.

Then it was off to yoga where they spent some time working on breath techniques and centering as well as the normal pose work. I love the way that class is run. It's so refreshing to find something that's not all about who can get to the next level fastest or who has the most medals/rewards/exams under their belt/other status symbols. They pay a great deal of attention to the whole child, not just the physical aspect of it, and learning about the history/philosophy of yoga is just as important as finding out whether or not you can put both feet behind your ears ;-))

Today Emily's done a huge amount of work. Up bright and early she finished off the last of her year 3 maths workbooks. Wel, finished as in we've finished with them, not as in she's done every page in every book. When she's actually in the mood for maths, she's well capable of everything there plus much more, so I think we'll look for something slightly more challenging.

The body project has moved on in leaps and bounds today. We've been looking at the heart and circulatory system. To much hilarity this morning, we tried out our heart rate monitor system, which is a watch type device along with a chest strap which has electrode pads in it. Emily and I both experimented with our resting heart rates, heart rate after one minute of exercise, two minutes, how long it took to return to normal after exercise, etc. Emily's results showed that she's remarkably fit, which is all good :-))) especially since she's not a stick thin child. Mine, um, didn't show the same.

Emily drew and labelled a very complicated diagram of heart anatomy with coloured arrows to show the flow of blood to and from the lungs and the rest of the body, and wrote answers to loads of questions about the heart's function, veins, arteries and capillaries, the components of blood (as in red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets and what each one does) and much more besides. We also talked a lot about how to keep your heart healthy - she's going to do a poster about that on Friday, and she also wants to do a diagram about how blood clots on Friday, as well as cutting out the lifesize heart to go on her skeleton. Then it'll be onto the brain and nervous system :-))

In between the major work on the body project, we also did a lot of French, revising the colours Emily learnt the other day, and learning numbers up to ten. Played some fab bingo games with the numbers. A certain home educated young lady is having a ball at the moment. She seems to be lapping everything up and constantly coming back for more.

Tomorrow Emily's out at tai chi in the morning and drama in the afternoon; in between she and Jon are having an art session so she's really looking forward to that!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Two More Photos

Had only just finished writing the post below when I was summoned out into the garden to meet this rather handsome visitor:Mr or Mrs Hedgehog was being followed about by a rather bemused looking Juliet - mind you, given the giant-mutant size of the hedgehog she probably thought it was some strange new cat species!
And just for the sake of completeness, I'm posting this picture of Cassandra (aka Cassie-cat); I'm not sure I've ever posted one of her before - dozens of Romeo and Juliet and quite a few of Merlin, but Cassie-cat usually looks like a black blob in the photos we take, so it's rare to get one where you can actually distinguish that she is a cat! Being in mid-scratch seems to have helped. She's quite an elderly moggy now I guess - bless em, the Big Cats must be going on fifteen by now.

A Year In The Life....

It's our blog anniversary today :-)) Can't believe a whole year has passed. That's quite a scary thought, so I think I'll mentally file it in the "too hard" box and press on!!

The bits of Emily's weekend that I haven't already blogged were, well, wet and football-y. She switched from the paddling pool and scorching sun to the shade of the sitting room and the TV with great regularity and a permanent grin. Thanks to the world cup I think she's watched more telly this last three days than she normally does in a whole week. Yet another paddling pool photo:
Today we were promised thunder, so I'm having a bit of a sulk that it has failed to materialise. I LOVE storms. So beautiful, so powerful - uncontrollable nature. And so energising and uplifting too. Must be all those negative ions flying about. Anyway, no thunder here although it has been very overcast for most of the day, but still extremely sticky and generally TOO HOT. [Added at 17:42 - stop press! Right on cue! Thunder!!!]

Emily and I have both felt inspired to get back to some serious work and today has been a good start to that. Emily steamed through some English work on suffixes and synonyms, then we spent a long time on French, revising what we've done so far and looking at colours - played some great games with that and it was interesting to see Emily make the connection between the Italian colour words she already knows and the new French ones, correctly deducing that it must be to do with their common latin ancestry. After that we moved onto maths and she completed several "tests" of mixed problems from a KS2 mental maths book. Some of them were pretty hard, so I was impressed with that.

Lunchtime was taken up with Emily gleefully sticking loads more Harry Potter stickers into her album, then she had time for a quick play on Pharaoh before doing nearly an hour of gymnastics and general "exercise" (rushing about like a mad thing with the odd bit of yoga thrown in) and then settling down to her art course. She completed the last two "practice" exercises of the first module - the next three pieces of work she does she has to send in to the tutor - ooh err! So far the course has concentrated on drawing and shading pieces of fruit and veg - Emily's done brilliant work in particular of an apple and a red pepper, and has worked really hard on it, making tonal strips with her different grades of pencil to make sure she can get the light and shading just so. Really proud of how well she's sticking at it - it's by no means easy!

For the last art task today, she had to choose an ornament to draw and shade. Off she went and came back with various china cats from her massive collection. Unfortunately, drawing a china cat is practially as hard as drawing a real cat, and she couldn't get it how she wanted it and ended up quite frustrated (read: lots of tears) with her efforts. Jon and I gently pointed out that the course example had been a kitchen egg holder in the shape of a chicken - basically just a square with a chicken's head on - and that they probably wanted her to choose something much simpler than a flippin' lifelike pair of playing kittens. Tears soothed and point understood, Emily settled on a big stylised goose thing that holds porridge oats in our kitchen, and did a very good job of it too.

Speaking of cats, I just wanted to add these two beautiful photos Jon took of Juliet yesterday. Poor Romeo hates the hot weather; it's a job to persuade him to go out at all at the moment, lol, but Ju Ju doesn't seem to mind it and just snoozes in the shade. She particularly likes sleeping under Emily's old climbing frame, which is where she is in the first photo:
Busy week ahead; we've got to fit in a trip to the museum and lots of swimming (apparently) as well as a ton and a half of work Emily wants to do. Looking back on the blog I can see that a year ago (sob!) we were in the middle of Tudor mania. A Roman project is itching to get started, so we'd better get a move on with the human body!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

You Know Summer's Begun in Earnest When.... can post the traditional "first paddling pool pictures of the year", lol.

Emily's been in the pool at every available moment so far today (and had to be dragged out, dripping, to get to ballet in time). She's watching England now but will be hotfooting it back out again shortly, no doubt!
While she's lapping up every minute of sun I, on the other hand, have begun in earnest my ritual complaints of "It's too hot!!!!" There's a lot to be said for autumn, you know.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Birthday & Lots of Splashes!

Thursday was Jon's birthday :-))

It was also a very busy day, between tai chi in the morning, work being rather manic and then drama in the afternoon. With remarkable patience, Emily waited until a very late tea time to give Daddy his presents and lots of home made cards.

Next week at tai chi Jon and Emily should be getting their certificates, so Emily came home very excited from the lesson to tell me all about that. After a quick lunch, we set about making Daddy's birthday cake - diabetic friendly (well almost) Honey and Almond cake adapted from this Honey & Hazelnut Cake recipe. Emily decorated it to look like an artist's palette :-))

She finished decorating it just in the nick of time to go out to drama, where this week the children were given details of the costumes they need for their plays. Since Emily's being the fox she just needs either a black leotard or black tshirt and black shorts, with tail and ears to be provided by the academy. Should be no problem there then, can't move for black in her drawers at the moment, lol. She also emerged from the lesson clutching her copy of the script to practice at home.

Back home for birthday tea and pressies. Apart from various world cup related bits and bobs, we bought Jon this Art Diploma Course which should keep him out of mischief for the next twelve months!! (If he can perform minor miracles and find some time to do it in, that is - but we're working on that.)

This morning we finally found a minute to dig out the paddling pool from the back of the spider infested shed, and we also set up a water slide thingy with fountains which spray all over it. Needless to say Emily was well and truly soaked long before we left to pick Romy up for a play this afternoon. The two girls spent a whole three and half hours out in the garden - I've no idea exactly what they were up to but it was certainly wet!!

Emily's into the world cup in a big way at the moment, so after playing with Romy she settled straight down to watch the opening match; she also watched the Poland-Ecuador match this evening and duly noted down both results on her wallchart.

Emily got her first book to review for the EO magazine in the post today. We asked to be reviewers ages ago, but that request must have fallen by the wayside. Jon asked again a week ago, and we seem to be on board now. The book that's arrived is The Telling Pool which is a novel by David Clement-Davies. It's clearly aimed at teenagers-adults, so I'm not quite sure why we've been sent it.....but it looks like an interesting read, anyway. It's set in Richard the Lionheart times and seems to be about a combination of wicca and christianity with folklore, legend and King Arthur thrown in for good measure. At 300+ pages of extremely tiny type, I'm not at all sure Emily will have time to read it before the end of June when the review is apparently due, but bless her, she's trying and has already read the first chapter tonight.

Something else she's been enjoying recently is The Lottie Project by Jacqueline Wilson. Up until now Emily's been quite averse to J.W. - I think possibly because she thought all her books were like Tracy Beaker, the TV series of which she can't stand - but she's really taken with this one, so it'll be interesting to see whether she now wants to read more by the same author.

As far as tomorrow goes, ballet rehearsals and more ballet rehearsals, plus an England match, plus the garden and the all important paddling pool - there's lots vying for Emily's attention and never enough time!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Jogging Along Nicely

The last few days have passed in a bit of a blur. I know we’ve been busy, but it’s difficult to remember doing quite what!

Saturday and Sunday Emily spent ages with her lego and ello bits and bobs. Jon and I worked frantically. Jon has been working even more frantically during Monday, Tuesday and today, while Emily and I have been pottering.

On Monday we went out birthday shopping hoping for inspiration for Jon’s birthday tomorrow. In the evening, Emily went for the ballet show photo shoot and had various photos taken for the programme. That nearly ended in disaster – seconds before they started taking the pictures, once the children were all posed and settled, the teacher decided she didn’t want Emily wearing her glasses in the photos. So she told Emily to hand them over. Told, note. Not asked. Not suggested. Emily was, understandably, extremely upset. Her glasses are a part of her; she only takes them off to sleep, to get in the bath or to swim and she doesn’t feel at all comfortable in public without them. Just the kind of thing a teacher of small children ought to understand really. I despair, sometimes, I really do.

Anyway, I intervened and gave her back her glasses. No harm done then, technically, as Emily was able to pull herself back together rapidly once she had them back and looked beautiful for the photos. But the principle of the thing really, really wound me up. Took me a goodly while to calm down again once back home :-((

On Tuesday morning Emily did, er, something educational, I’m sure. Yesterday afternoon she went to Romy’s for the afternoon and had a ball playing in Romy’s super large paddling pool. It wasn’t actually that warm and Hazel had to save the two girls from hypothermia, lol, but as this year’s first Paddling Pool Day it was deemed a big success. We’re looking forward to the return match this Friday, assuming we can actually find our paddling pool and assuming too that the weather holds out.

We had some great news yesterday afternoon too – my Mum’s urgent hospital appointment, after four hours (!!) of tests, confirmed that her breast cancer has NOT returned, so all’s well in that department :-)))

Today has been taken up largely with making things for Daddy’s birthday and playing in the garden. So there we have it; not the most exciting few days, but everything feels as if it’s pottering along nicely – which makes a change from our usual state of near panic!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Hula Girl

Only three weeks to the ballet show now (and only two more lessons) - methinks they're going to be scheduling rehearsals and more rehearsals all over the place as really the children are nowhere near ready. Emily had a bit of an Emily Moment at tai chi on Thursday morning - the instructor was taking them through something and said about releasing all their worries and watching them float which point Emily burst into tears because it reminded her she was worried about the ballet!! Gee thanks Mr Tai Chi Teacher, lol.

Anyway - she recovered swiftly and completed the rest of the lesson; they've finished the form they were studying now and are due certificates any time now - apparently they're now studying a different, longer form.

Back at home Emily tried on her Hula Girl costume for the show, ready for the photocall on Monday. That cheered her up no end:
She then spent an hour rehearsing to music as one of the dances is to music from Lilo and Stitch.

Some more French practice followed and then Emily got back to work on her Human Body project, finishing off the section about lungs and the respiratory system with a write up, answering some questions I'd set her and cutting out a pair of life size lungs to go on the life size skeleton she painted yonks ago.

The other day we had a small parcel from Lush arrive - I'd never tried their stuff before and we certainly did like the two bubble bar slice thingies we ordered....although I refuse to put the whole things in the bath at once as apparently you're supposed to (????) - we just use tiny slices and still get masses of bubbles and glitter all over the place :-)) Yesterday it was the turn of a Bath Ballistic that had rose petals in it. Now, it seemed like a nice idea at the time I bought the thing. And since it said to put it all in, just this once, we did. Ahem. I won't be doing that again!! It was like bathing in soup! It certainly smelled nice and Emily had a ball with the seive trying to get hundreds of tiny bits of petals out of the water so we didn't block the plughole....but it wasn't my cup of tea, shall we say - think we'll stick to the bubble bar slices instead!

Last night Jon and Emily finished reading Warriors: A Dangerous Path which is book five in the fantabulous Warrior Cats series (which you *must* read). Bless her, Emily was in floods of tears.......but still can't wait to start book six tonight. I must admit it was quite emotional....Thunderclan's leader, Bluestar, dies when she sacrifices her life to lead a pack of wild dogs away from the rest of the clan, which leaves Fireheart as the new clan leader. The depiction of Bluestar, who over the course of the five books had become elderly and weak, finally giving up her life and journeying to star clan was extremely moving. It was like saying a sad goodbye to an old friend. Fiction that does what fiction is supposed to do; it utterly draws you in, this series does.

Meanwhile in a life and death drama of a different kind, Merlin caught another rabbit last night. Sigh. Heaven knows where he's getting them from, we're a bit short on green spaces round here. And a few hours before that, Juliet nabbed an adult starling which was (very unwisely) sat on the low wall by the bird feeder feeding two perfectly capable but lazy youngsters. Fortunately I saw that happen so made her drop the bird which flew off apparently uninjured. The body count is definitely on the up thanks to the four cats and the warmer weather. It's what cats do, after all and just something you have to understand and tolerate if you have cats. I just wish they'd do it somewhere other than right under our noses!

This morning Emily worked on some maths, rather reluctantly it has to be said; both she and I ended up very frustrated with it. I've come to recognise that our home education adventure can mostly be categorised under two types of days: GMD and BMD, lol. Good Maths Days and Bad Maths Days. It still is and doubtless will remain an utter mystery to me how the same maths problems using the same skills can be effortless one day and the cause of WW3 the next. With The Great Maths Trauma taking up so much of the morning we didn't really have time for anything else before I dropped Emily off to play at Romy's house for the afternoon. She seems to have had a ball, as ever. Jon and I got on with work while Emily was out and I finally managed to get the gift vouchers working in the shop!!!!!

And so, the weekend beckons. Oh good, that means it's BBC deadline time again!