Friday, July 28, 2006

Bird Tables & Dragon's Blood!

Our week has continued pretty well since my last post. Emily had lots of fun on Wednesday playing at Romy's house. On Thursday she went off to tai chi in the morning and in the afternoon we pottered about and went on a trip to pick up the Gainsborough pool timetable (it's shut for most of the summer for refurbishment!) and to gather lots of travel brochures. We've decided on a holiday treat for Emily's 8th birthday in January. With an eye to future developments that may make it impossible to go later until she's much too old for it, we're seriously considering a trip to Florida and Disneyworld. It costs a fortune, natch and we can't possibly afford to be there ON her actual birthday as - being the 2nd Jan - it's still caught up in the exorbitant New Year's/School Holiday prices. The prices do drop considerably towards the end of Jan though. With a lot of financial juggling and more than a dash of "now or never" recklessness thrown in, we may just be able to make it work.

I went to Disneyworld with my best friend, just the two of us, for my 18th birthday and it was magical even at that age. Yes, I know, it's a massive commercial venture, the evils of multinationals, blah blah and we're supposed to be off tiptoeing barefoot through a rainforest or something instead, but I'm sorry, I like Disney and I'd like Emily to experience it. Towards the end of Jan I see they're doing a ticketed Princess/Pirate party extravaganza after the park is normally closed, so....I'm crossing my fingers we can track down a half way decent deal. Besides, if we go to the Kennedy Space Centre too it could even be called educational ;-)

Today we've had a fab day; Emily's learnt loads and had an absolute ball into the bargain. To begin with this morning, I set Emily the task of making a bird table structure using nothing but newspaper and sellotapte (inspired by Scholastic Junior topics magazine). It had to be sturdy enough to hold a dish of fruit/seeds and to withstand the fan on its highest setting. She very quickly worked out that tightly rolled up newspaper was much stronger than scrunched or folded and she problem-solved away as she went, working out her design on paper first, deciding how many rolls to use for the main stem, figuring out that a tripod design would keep it stable and so on. It took her all morning to make and she's very proud of the results :-))

And yes, although it's slightly, um, undulating, it did pass both tests; in fact it's been stood in front of the fan all afternoon with no ill effects! That was a lot of fun.

This afternoon, I presented Emily with a mystery liquid - hot, red and bubbling away nicely - and read her a story which explained that this mystery liquid was dragon's blood and that two brave adventurer's had collected it wondering if it was the liquid prophecized to cure the king's daughter. This magical liquid had to be sweet, acidic and lighter than water - it was Emily's job to work out whether it dragon's blood was indeed the magical liquid by devising a series of tests. Naturally, she wasn't allowed to taste the liquid as we don't taste or indeed touch uknown substances now do we??! That one was a lot of fun too. She worked out to test the PH to see if it was acidic and used Jon's blood tester to see how much sugar was present. She did need a bit of prompting on how to work out its density against water, but quickly got the idea. If anyone's interested, the liquid was in fact a quarter strength jelly with lemonade, lemon juice and glucose tablets in it.

Emily LOVED doing that, so next week I'm planning a follow up - I'll make up three different magical potions, only one of which is the real "Flying potion" (or something) and tell her that the real potion has various qualities (sweet/not, acidic/alkali, lighter/heavier than water, leaves residue or not when seived, contains water or not, has such and such a boiling point, etc etc) and she'll have to test all three to discover which one is right. The other two solutions will have some of the right qualities in varying combinations, but only one will have all. Admittedly my brain's gone blank so I've enlisted Gramps' help to devise the actual solutions, lol.

After the Dragon's Blood we did some maths problems where Emily had to work out how many combinations of football kit there were if there were three colours for each of tops and shorts, and then four colours and so on. She also had to work out what possible half time scores there could have been if a game finished 4:3 and how to make sure she didn't miss out any possible combinations (listing in a sensible order and so on).

Finally, we did some geography with a made up town plan and opinions from various locals about the area - problems parking, new school site needed, too much encroachment on green areas etc and Emily had to weigh up all the arguments and decide what should go where. She also devised a one way system to keep traffic moving.

Business wise Jon's been absolutely run off his feet!! I can't believe how busy things are. We've been packing approx 160-80 orders a night for the last few days, sometimes more....our non-weekend daily average is usually more like 100, so things must be looking up. One of the franking machine companies has finally got back to us in writing with the information we needed about the postage prices changes, so that's A Good Thing. We refuse to take sales calls or sales visits but these companies do tend to get their knickers in a twist when you insist you just want the information in writing and are quite capable of making up your own mind without a phone call or a visit. Bless.

I've also been discussing providing content for a new US client who wants humourous astrology stuff for teachers in Texas (????) which sounds fun and quite promising too, so fingers crossed on that one.

I've just been looking at the calendar to see when we can get back to the caravan at St Bees. For some reason, although the schools all go back w/c 4th Sep none of Emily's weekly classes start until the following week, so we should be good to go on the 4th for a week. Can't wait! Emily's especially keen to go to the St Bees Maize Maze which of course wasn't there last time we went in May. If the weather stays "nice" (as opposed to scorching) looks like we'll be able to enjoy a week by the glorious beach minus oodles of school kids. Yay!


Claire said...

Virgin holiday prices drop on the 25th December and then again on the 2nd Jan and January through to middle of February is the cheapest time with them to go. If you join the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (free) you get 10% off Virgin Holidays packages. Also if you fly on a weekday you save around £300-400 in weekend supplements for 2 adults/1 child. We're hoping to fly out on Monday 8th Jan for 3 weeks as Charlie's birthday is 15th Jan. E-mail me if I can help/give you any links.

Amanda said...

Very impressed with the bird table, brilliant idea!