Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Still Here: Quick Catchup Plus Links

Well. Only 15 posts on this blog so far this year....not a good thing.

It would be impossible to properly cover the missing ten weeks or so between my last post and this one, not to mention mind numbingly boring for anyone who doesn't have a close personal interest in our lives...and those that do already know what we do. So I'll settle for the edited highlights before getting back to home ed. Lots of text here and no photos except in links....bear with me!

Following my brother-in-law's death, his partner Barbara came to visit from Canada and stayed a while. As soon as she left, Emily's friend Maisie came to stay with us for a two night sleepover. On the Saturday, we took her to a falconry centre near us and the girls had a whale of a time there. We also went strawberry picking and they made fantastic strawberry and white chocolate cakes together. A few days after that, Emily went to St Bees with my Mum and Dad for a little holiday; as it turned out, they only stayed a couple of days, but they did have a lovely time while they were there, marred only by the discovery that the excellent Sellafield Science Discovery Centre was in the middle of closing down.

During June, Jon and his father both celebrated their birthdays and around that time we went on a family trip to Magna too, which was excellent. Emily and I also visited Bempton Cliffs and saw some puffins! Photographs from Magna, Bempton and from the falconry centre are here. I'm so far behind with blogging now that I can't upload them individually here. Eep. At some point (brain fog) we also visited The Collection in Lincoln with Jacki, Mei Lin and Jasmine, who we've continued to see every Friday, alternately at their house or at ours.

There were assorted hospital and doctor trips scattered throughout this period and at the beginning of July Jon went away on a week long mediumship course, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Last week, Emily and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Price on its first showing at our local cinema; loved it to bits. Emily's still doing karate and kickboxing every week and last weekend she went to Maisie's birthday sleepover party, which she enjoyed very much. Preparation is already under way for Emily's 11th birthday party sleepover, lol.

All four cats and Lulu the parrot are still well, healthy and happy...and shortly to be joined by two new members of the family in a few week's time....two new kittens, half brother and half sister to Severus, born to Sevi's mum at Jacki's :-)) Lulu's antagonistic and aggressive behaviour towards Emily suddenly vanished a few weeks ago and she is now very affectionate towards her junior flock member ;-) Lulu is starting to talk and has mastered "hello" and "good girl" and just today is making huge efforts to say "peep-o" because I've been playing peep-o with her at teatime for the last few days.

Since my last post, Jon has done two more paranormal investigations, which he has thoroughly enjoyed. He was able to give lots of accurate information on both and on the second one in particular some brilliant video footage was captured, showing two unidentified figures. A brief clip from this investigation is on the paranormal team's website. The footage is very dark, but immediately after the screen says "someone makes an appearance", you can see a figure which seems to be wearing glasses appear, peer over Jon's shoulder and then move away. You might have to stand up and/or darken the room to see it properly. Anyway, this figure was not anyone present on the night, was not noticed by anyone at the time and is not a reflection (Jon isn't standing in front of mirrors) and remains unexplained. Later footage from this same investigation (not online yet) shows a glowing white figure in a doorway, again not noticed by anyone at the time and as yet unexplained.

Home Ed
Emily has been getting through quite a lot of education recently. She's working on maths with my father and has been working on a whole variety of things with me. We're just about to start a gothic literature project, studying Dracula, Frankenstein and Edgar Allen Poe.

We're on the verge of wrapping up a world war two project, which has been very successful. During the course of that, Emily's done a lot of work ranging from understanding appeasement to debating the causes of the war, from the morality of the Dresden and atomic bombings to the intricacies of D-Day, from the horrors of the holocaust to the everyday life of British residents and the home front. She interviewed my Mum, who lived through the Blitz as a young child, and read about my Dad's very different war experiences in Northern England. We've read part of Anne Frank's Diary, watched the Anne Frank Film and also watched Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Carrie's War, as well as newsreel clips from the time and the horrific first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Was going to watch Schindler's List, but changed my mind....that would have been a step too far for her age, no doubt. An amazing resource for all of this has been World War II at the National Archives - this is full of detail and has indepth investigations to carry out for many of the turning points and issues of WW2. We've also very much enjoyed a D-Day souvenir pack that my Mum and Dad picked up from a second hand shop, which had facsimile newspapers, letters, telegrams, maps and notices dropped for German troops.

Emily's really enjoyed this modern history. I'm not entirely sure the horrors of it have fully sunk in - my voice would often catch as I was reading her something, and tears would prick during some of the films; Emily on the other hand has taken it very seriously but not particularly emotionally. Perhaps she's just that one generation too far removed from it all; perhaps she's just being ten. Either way, I'm confident that she has a very good understanding now of what went on, why and how and probably a better understanding of the moral issues than many schooled kids would have. She would like to continue with modern history, so after a break from history I think we'll move on to looking at things like the Cuban missile crisis and the cold war.

We've also begun some work on the Antarctic, watching a documentary about the Scott-Amundsen race to the pole and creating an annotated wall map of important points in Antarctic exploration history. We're now moving on to look at the wildlife and at the environmental concerns surrounding the continent. Two excellent sites useful for this are Discovering Antarctica from the British Antarctic Survey and Classroom Antarctica from the Australian government. Both packed with lots of ideas for things to do.

We've been gradually getting back to doing more arts and crafts too. Emily's two thirds of the way through sewing a beautiful white kitten soft toy and recently we've also done lots of photography (forced perspective photos and a colour/texture photo montage) plus chinese brush painting, pattern mandalas and the Northern Lights in chalk pastels. Photos of some but not all of these are here - some of them inspired by the lovely Elle at Ellie's Treasures and in turn by a site I found linked (I think) from Elle's site, Homeschooling Ideas.

Emily has also been doing a LOT of baking and has conjured up all manner of cakes, cookies, biscuits and muffins. She has also been teaching herself animation techniques on the PC and continuing to work on her Warrior Cats book. We've been having many morality/ethics/citizenship type discussions too, including about animal research, the essence of Britishness, immigration and the law.

So, that's maths, English, history, geography, art, cooking, citizenship and IT covered - lol. I'm still trying to work out how to approach science from now on. This is a tricky one. Emily loves science, especially chemistry and biology, but she's at an age now where most of the "do it yourself at home" type experiments are a bit lame and we don't have access to secondary school level equipment in most things, although I know my Dad's got a few things up his sleeve for physics. It's too dry to just work from a textbook except in very small doses, but watching experiments online doesn't really cut the ice either. I think we'll have to watch lots of documentaries instead and I'll try to dig up some interesting ideas from a few sites I have bookmarked, like these ones:
Physics and Ethics Education Project
Bioethics Education Project
Creative Chemistry
The Naked Scientist Experiments
Active Science
BioEd Online

Phew, bit of a brain dump there, but hopefully someone might find some of those links useful. We do have some great science resources, I'm just now sure what to do with 'em. I did post earlier in the year about a great book which shows you how to create a "proper" chemistry lab at home, but we can't really afford that at the moment. We shall see.

Anyway. That's where we are. Financially, Jon and I are still muddling through chaos, with bad news piling upon bad news when it comes to contracts and earning opportunities. But we're managing and we've got I'm feeling relatively confident about the future. And am determined to get back to blogging properly!


Sarahs Home said...

It is nice to see you back to blogging, It seems that you have been very busy over the last few weeks.
WW11 is something close to my heart. i think that perhaps as my Grandmother lived with us when I was a child I heard many of her stories and tales of the times. My son who is 8 is fascinated by it, his current read is a book about the Blitz that my dad gave him.

Take Care,
Sarah x

Sarahs Home said...

Nice photographs by the way. I am just going to check out some of the links you posted here.

Sarah x