Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nearly Nine & New Year Ponderings

We've taken down the Christmas decorations now. Well, I say "we". Jon and Emily did upstairs yesterday and Nana and Gramps did downstairs plus loft. I sat at the desk and grumbled a lot about having to get back to work, deadlines calling. During the rest of the weekend, we played more with Emily's Christmas loot. She and I tried out a learn to crochet kit, which Emily hated with a passion and which induced tears of frustration. So that was a good buy, then. I, on the other hand, was inordinately and quite disproportionately pleased and proud of the small wonky rectangle and tiny, slightly less wonky circle I managed to crochet. We also tried out a Delta Sand modelling set that Nana and Gramps bought for Emily, which was a lot of fun, although much trickier than it looks. We practiced a while with it and have lots of ideas for what to do with it now we're getting the hang of it. Emily has also been scoubi-ing like mad, reading books, journalling and coming up with poetry at odd hours of the day and night. And playing with barbie stuff; this morning she and I sat on her bedroom floor for a couple of hours playing a most inventive scenario where one of the dolls was Bellatrix and one of the males was Voldemort, and he was holding a competition to choose his new death eaters. As you do.

This afternoon Emily went out to Hemswell with Nana and Gramps, which gave me and Daddy a chance to wrap up birthday presents. I've got to go out tomorrow to get some stuff for Emily's birthday tea plus a couple more decorations, but apart from that we're good to go for the 2nd January :-)) Nowhere near ready to go for her party on the 12th January, mind you. Had my traditional pre-birthday party nightmare last night - all the guests arrived and I hadn't even decorated the place let alone prepared any games or activities, and spent the rest of the nightmare trying to invent stuff as I went along whilst watching Emily's mortified embarrassment and heart-breaking disappointment. Cheerful stuff. I hate birthday parties. I keep saying never again. I also keep reminding myself that my own expectations of the damn thing are probably way higher than any of the kids' expectations, and that I should be more relaxed about it. Hrrrmph.

Anyway. So New Year's Eve approaches. I do like New Year's Eve. Like many people I do sometimes get a bit emotional at the thought of another year gone, but hey, I can feel like that most of the time, I don't need a particular night in December to do it. On the night itself, I'm more likely to be feeling optimistic and positive about what's to come. Oh yes, we all start with such wonderful plans, rofl.

Looking back at 2007, I think we've done pretty well on the whole. I'm pleased with Emily's education, in general - although the fact that by the time we get back to work after 12th January we'll have had six weeks off is a bit alarming. Then again, we did work through most of the summer when the school kids were off, so.... Apart from education, I'm pleased with the rest of Emily's year too, as if it were my place to be pleased about such a thing. She's learnt to swim and she's doing outstandingly well at both karate and tai chi. She's finally abandoned the ballet which was doing nothing but eating up her self-esteem. She (and we) have made some wonderful new friends this year and Emily's social confidence continues to increase slowly but surely. Financially, life has been a bit of a struggle for us grown ups at times, but then what else is new? It's been a hugely positive year for Jon as he has discovered new talents and taken steps towards developing them. Issues with extended family have been a complete pain in the neck, but if nothing else all that has served to make Jon and I stronger as a team. So overall, it's a Not Too Bad to 2007.

I asked Jon and Emily this afternoon what their hopes for 2008 are. Emily replied that she wants to "be brave enough to try lots of new things", which I thought was a very positive one. Jon replied that he hopes to make me and Emily proud of him (because he can't see that we are already enormously proud of him, obviously), to make us financially secure, and to finish the three courses he currently has on the go. I don't think the financially secure one is going to happen, somehow. But the last one is good, very good indeed.

My personal hopes for 2008 are to get healthier. Yes, OK, that does mean lose (a lot of) weight, but I'll settle for tiny steps. Considering this was also my ambition last year, and the year before that - well, you see what I mean. So I'm setting much smaller goals in that department. Financially and business-wise, I hope to see the pending book deal through to a successful conclusion, break away from some of the contracts I'm currently tied to but which I loathe, pay off *some* debts and start to put a little bit of money each month away for Emily. I also hope to see Jon develop his potential in whatever way makes him happiest. And he has no choice but to join me in the getting fitter bit, too.

Possibly my biggest personal, psychological goal for 2008 is to stop wishing time away. I always seem to end up doing a lot of things I dread, and I find myself constantly thinking "OK, I've got to get through this on Tuesday and this on Thursday and this on Saturday and then I'll be OK for a few days", and wishing it all past. I can't believe how fast 2007 has gone, and my attitude obviously hasn't helped. I can't get out of most of the things I don't like doing (or I wouldn't be doing them!) but I can and I will try to find the positive and stop living only for the small gaps inbetween the more difficult things!!

Educationally, I have lots of goals I hope to help Emily with in 2008.

English and Maths
I'm quite confident with Emily's English. She loves to write, and what more can you ask? Emily also loves poetry, so we want to work on that. She needs more organised spelling stuff. She needs (possibly) some more advanced grammar work - she speaks and writes with perfect grammar, but actually studying grammar and sentence diagramming and stuff might well help with the logic and further latin studies we're hoping to get to soon. Creative writing is absolutely no problem at all, but Emily would like to start a personal journal, so we'll probably encourage her to write in that every day mixed in with the odd bit of other assorted stuff. Would like to do some proper book studies.

Maths. Ah, maths. Well, we're still struggling with the times tables, although she does have 2, 5, 9 and 10 off pat. Emily has a bit of a weird thing going on with maths. She's very, very good at understanding the how and why of maths. She grapsed the logistics of long division, percentage increases and decreases, ratios and simplifying fractions, for instance, with no problem at all. It's just the actual working out she hates. I'm sure it's just a speed/practice thing. It takes her a while, so she feels inadequate so she dislikes it. And because she dislikes it, she makes it take ages, which puts both of us in a bad mood and eats up far too much of the day. I guess it's going to have to come down to the little and often theory; fifteen minutes first thing in the morning each day followed by a swift move on to something much more fun.

We hope to carry on with Jackie's occasional German lessons. Need to get back to Latin. Emily was doing fantastically well with that but then we hit a tough patch and stopped. That was such a shame. We need to do something much more organised with Italian too.

We like History Odyssey, mostly, so we'll be sticking with that. It's taken us longer than the expected year to do Ancients - we still have Greece, Celts and part of Rome to do, so I can't see us being finished with that before Easter. After that, though, Emily's asked if we can get the next section of the course, Middle Ages, so we'll definitely do that.

Um. There's lots of mapwork in History Odyssey? Nana and Gramps bought Emily some beautiful map stickers in her Christmas straw box, lol, so that will hopefully inspire us to get on with some geography. We've got a good course book in the Geomatters Trail Guide to World Geography, if rather US centric. We really should do something with it. We've been half heartedly looking at Europe, on and off, but we need to get organised with this.

Well, crafts we have coming out of our ears. Emily's done tons of craft stuff in 2007 and I'm sure that will continue in 2008. She'll be getting lots of fabrics and a fashion design kit for her birthday (ssssshhh!) so we're hoping to encourage some proper design/sewing/outfit making on a barbie scale too. We did start an art portfolio and were working through a Discovering Great Artists project book. Yet again, we've got the materials, it's just a question of fitting it in.

Hmmm. Well, we've finished all three of the Real Science 4 Kids books now, biology, chemistry and physics. They were very good, but now we need a fresh approach. Not quite sure what. I quite like the idea of Emily doing a science journal of some kind, but we'll have to see a) if she likes that idea and b) which major books we'd use for that.

Design & Technology
Rofl. I do love these subject headings. Well, apart from just about everything an inventive child does coming under that one, we're also now the proud owners of a Knex Exploring Machines set, complete, apparently, with 96 page teacher guide. So I guess we'll do that.

The biggest problem with all these fine plans is TIME. By the time we've factored in everything else we regularly do each week, we're only left with a total of 2.5 or sometimes 3 full days a week. Which leads me to my next and quite possibly biggest of big New Year Resolutions. The final one. The one on which all others depend:

Get Up Much Earlier!

Happy New Year, Everyone!


Elle said...

Wishing you all a happy new year too.


a said...

Happy New Year and good luck with all your endeavours

Lucy said...

here's hoping we all make the most of this year. I also do that wishing away thing... hmm... not sure quite how to stop though :)