Friday, September 10, 2010

So summer came and went. Wasn't much of one really. The minute a hose-pipe ban was declared, it was mostly grey clouds. I could really do with a holiday after our failed camping trip but will have to make do with staying home as the budget doesn't quite stretch. as usual!

Anyhow, A got her GCSE results. She did really well. An A in Sociology and a B in Biology. She has now registered for 3 more GCSE's at evening/day college and they are all FREE!! She has also enrolled onto the National Diploma in Performing Arts at a college in the city. She only has 2 full -long days and a half day per week so should still be able to fit in all her socialising. It is weird when she is at college as it is a long time to go without seeing her which is something I am having to adjust to. Most people probably go through this when their children start school at 5, at least I got to wait till she was 16.

I have been helping D with her future plans which involve GCSE's as well. I think she will sit Maths next year then do 2 the following year as well as a first diploma at college - this bit I need the LA's help with so am in contact with them. It is weird having to think so far ahead but needs must.
It is getting harder to do some GCSE's via distance learning and many places offer IGCSE's but the exam centres for those are more spread out and expensive.

I am in a bit of a trough at the moment and struggling with the direction I feel my life should be going in. It seems I move forward then get knocked back big style, crushingly, then have to re-build myself and start again. I am crushed right now and struggling to pull myself together but I will. I contemplated and searched for a part time job thinking I can fit that round the home-ed for a few afternoons a week. If something comes up then it is meant to be, if not I will go self-employed. On many days this is the preferred option as I don't want to leave my kids really, but having some income to be able to do anything would be lovely. I am praying a lot on this as well as for many other things.

In fact it feels like I spend more time praying than living right now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

TO DO......

It is August, it should be my chilling time but I am about to blog here things that need doing between now and the end of September, mainly as a reminder to myself.

1. One hour a day where possible hacking back Ivy, brambles and other horrible plants in the garden and the removal of grass where it is not supposed to be.

2. De-clutter and sort, small kids bedroom, front and back rooms. Essential purchase for this is IVAR shelving unit, approximate cost:
5 shelves £20, one side unit £10 and back brace £2, totalling £32. Whilst at IKEA I really do need 3 kitchen chairs so will have to gather about £65-£70 before heading there.

3. Decorate at least one of the downstairs rooms - always a big job but needs doing badly. I will probably do the back room first as I am claiming this as my room with no kids stuff in there, that will all be in the front room which I only sit in if I am watching TV though it has a decent sofa. The back room is more Japanese sitting on the floor!

4. Plan what I am doing with M and J come September.

5. Sort out GCSE work for D and juggle money to see about purchasing 4 for her.. eeek, that'll be approximately £280 deposit with 8 installments of £140 then....

6. Look through Adult ed brochures and sort out any courses A wants to do.

7. Sort out my OU course.

8. Clear and sort out shed - need sunny day for that which is not very forthcoming at the moment...

9. Keep looking for part-time job that I can fit around the kids and still home-educate - I will not put them in school but would like 16hrs work a week as I reckon I could juggle it. I pray on this so am not stressing, just trusting.

I think that should keep me busy then, as well as running the kids to various over summer activities and sorting them for holidays. I am also planning a day trip to a beach in Wales to make up for our lost holiday. I have about 8 weeks to get all that done so better crack on!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer is here but you wouldn't currently know it. It is about 15 degrees which means I feel cold.

We have got through A's GCSE's... just got to wait for the results now. I still have to ring OOL as I have not received a form from them that I should. I also have to pay for the exam she took at the local centre. We did well getting her Sociology for free. I am proud of the fact in 8 months I managed to pay for A's biology GCSE which cost about £330. The problem is D wants me to buy 4 for her to start in September which will mean 8 monthly payments of approximately £140... I will have to find it though but it will make for a tight Christmas...again!
A is going to college in September, she has plans for the future that may mean she only does a year there. I have no problem with what my kids choose, I have always said to them I am happy as long as they have some kind of plan/goal/drive. I could not bear them to just sit on Facebook all day - though A knows this winds me up and makes jokes about being a NEET for the future!

We are supposed to be going camping with a group of people tomorrow. After much deliberation though, I have decided to cancel. The forecast is awful. 17 degrees warmest temperature. Rain nearly every day. I have camped in these conditions but just can't justify spending money on doing it now. It will not be a holiday so I have told the kids we aren't going. The youngest are sad and are hoping their Dad will take them. I would like to take them in August if and when the weather gets back to being like summer. It's a shame because until recently it was lovely and warm here. Our area is under a current hosepipe ban - the first for 14 years - as water levels have plummeted due to lack of rainfall.

I have had some amazingly happy and some difficult times recently. The happy due to events I can't really share on here which is odd. The sad because a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She recently had to have a double mastectomy and has further surgery to go through. It has shocked me and made me change the way I look at life. I think this is a good thing.
I have decided to be more free and spontaneous.. I'm even going to sort out my passport. I am planning some trips next year without the kids. I will always make sure they are taken care of as I am their Mother, but life is so short and I want to enjoy it so am looking for ways to create a bit of adventure for myself. I will keep you posted. The teenagers think I am having an early mid-life crisis..... rofl

Here are some recent pics:
A and I appeared on BBC Radio Manchester, speaking about youth hostel holidays for youngsters. It was short but we had a fun time!

When it was sunny we had a barbecue and invited folk over - mostly teens :-)

There you go, photographic proof that we did have some sun. Now if I could just find the solar powered marble run that I put in a safe place, before the summer is over, it would be a good thing!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Time for some photos I think.....

Not got much time to blog due to exam deadlines and madness,, so here are some pics.
Growing season is under way, hampered by a current lack of sun....
J watering the potatoes

These are our potatoes for schools competition. Soon ready to harvest.

At the end of April, J had his 8th birthday, here he is opening his pressies.

M recently celebrated her 11th birthday so we went 10 pin bowling as a family and chose a day before the schools broke up. It was so empty and such fun we will be doing it again! I lost badly but then I was recovering from a dislocated ankle... well that's my excuse anyway.....

There are so few photos of me because it is me taking them all the time. This is a self done shot at bowling, with 2 of my girls!

This is a usual scene on this sofa, many children gathered round a screen! Till I think they have been on it enough and I encourage them out into the fresh air!

The only male, apart from J, in this house, my lovely cat Ebb.. just do not touch him unless it is between 11pm and midnight as for some reason he turns into a softy then. Before that, you will be clawed!!

Back with a longer update soon....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Planet Aimée

I just had to write this as we have had such a laugh today. Molly and Jude were doing a presentation about planets. When they had finished, Aimée jumped up and presented her planet.

Here it is:


The planet Aimée is the 3rd planet from the sun - same as the earth.

Planet Aimée is an over-active living organism. The planet is often known as the lonely planet as it enjoys the company of other planets, at all times.

The planet Aimée is the most beautiful planet with it's bright pink hazey glow.

Planet Aimée is made out of a delicate substance and is filled with a gooey centre.

Aimée is the smallest planet in the entire solar system.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Today is the day

Today I shall be voting - for a party I have never voted for before. The whole fight the home-educators have had to endure over the last 2 years has meant I have learned a lot about the politial process and studied politics in more detail.I have shared what I have learned with my kids as I would like them to know more about how our system works and more importantly what you can do as an individual to help change policies or prevent bills being passed.
So I shall be sleeping infront of the tv tonight waiting as the results come in to find out who wins and then calculate how long it may be before we have to put on our home-ed armour again and defend our rights to educate our children as we choose.
A right that currently seems so fragile......

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull - You're doing it wrong!

It is a lovely sunny day and M is supposed to be going swimming with 2 friends. But she is still in her pyjamas and making no effort to change that, despite me saying she may not be able to go if her lift turns up.

I have made no plans today which is not a good start at all. Must try harder...

I have some top trump cards the younger two made on planets that I need to laminate.
I am going to look up some information on Iceland as I am quite interested in the country now and wonder what it is like to live there. This will no doubt be shared with the kids.
Late last night we stayed up late trying to learn how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull. We found this video which had us in stitches and we still haven't cracked it, but are getting there.

We have been looking at flight path of planes which has been interesting as they opened the air space again. Although this prompted some fear in my dd as she asked whether a plane would come down on us in the night.....

We have also been looking at volcanoes and watching every day the Icelandic Met office page for any news on whether Katla is going to blow, which would have severe consequences for the UK.

As well as all the geography related stuff we have also been looking at and discussing politics. Using the BBC site and others it has made us aware of the lack of democracy and how although we have a vote each, we are pretty much powerless to change anything. Here it is a safe Labour seat, though the borough is Tory. Thus we have had no campaigning by LibDems.
I have now got a book on politics so we read up on hung parliaments, structure of government, Quangos etc. As a family, we watched the live TV debate together and discussed psychology.

Basically learning all the time, even though I feel not much is happening!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I am sat eating all the snack food my kids have taken out with them today to the local home-ed social, namely fruit winders and crisps. Must at some point get a sandwich or the health police will be knocking at my door.
Since my last post on schedules a lot has happened and it was only 2 weeks ago!
M didn't want to go back to school after the half term. We discussed it and she seemed convinced she had had enough. I rang the school on the Tuesday and arranged to take in the de-reg letter. The head teacher was lovely and fine about it all. He handed me her books...and she is free again.
A week later I received a letter from Trafford, nicely asking to come and visit me at home with an EWO and the schools improvement officer...I think that is his title. It seems most LA's have a different title for the person in charge of contacting home-edders.
I politely declined the home visit but said I would meet at a local venue if it was deemed necessary, though I was capable of asking for help on anything. The thing is they state the support the LA can offer home-edders, but really what support is there??? What has anyone ever been offered?? Except home-visits and checklists?
He asked if I could send a brief educational report which I have so I am awaiting a reply. He seems a nice guy but not terribly efficient so that may be the last I hear of him.

I would like to contact him to see about home-ed kids having access to this but the funding comes through schools, so ideally I would need a school to put my dd's name on the role but not attend EVER. Not sure I can see that happening. Course I could see about getting a grant from somewhere.......

So once again I am re-jigging our days and routines. We are quite relaxed really. It seems colleges have a blanket MUST HAVE MATHS + ENGLISH statement so if a kid wants to go to college at 16 it would be worth enduring those. Tricky for my eldest though who is dyslexic and possibly dyscalculic...... but I am not sure where she is heading yet.
I do know for me, this journey has been extremely tough, heart wrenching and often lonely. I don't share my worries or fears amongst my home-ed friends. To be honest they mostly seem to be doing well and their kids not particularly struggling and few people share their journeys openly, so I am not sure they would understand, or would possibly judge me somehow. I do enough of that for myself.

Of course as I type that last section, I secretly hope no-one is reading this. I often blog stuff thinking no one is out there but maybe some day someone pops over!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Abuse of Children in Care Settings

Facebook has banned this map so I am posting it on here!

For further info click here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I am currently trying to re-schedule my day... but countless cups of tea get in the way.

When I was young, I used to like making schedules of what I would do and when, though my sister was better at drawing up hers, particularly for revision. Some people can't stand schedules and that is fine for them. I however like to use them, not to make myself feel guilty if I don't achieve it, but as a guideline or a little nudge of what it would be a good idea to be doing.
I had written out a schedule I was using, that included one to one study time with each kid, each day. But now M has gone to school I need to completely re-jig it. The morning school run means I am often not home before 9.30am, later if I have shopping to do.
I also am getting no chill time early in the morning. I long to sit with my brew but often I am making sandwiches whilst drinking it. So that is my mission for the next few days.

I will write up alternatives for days we have home-ed stuff on, though I am not getting to as much as the kids Dad likes taking them to the social groups, while I stay home. We also seem to be doing more after school activities so we are in more during the day. I am trying to make it fun for J though, as he has lost his playmate for a few months.

I think M is still enjoying school. I don't think she loves it nor does she hate it but I suppose it is different so she is still happy to go back after this half term. I will have to start waking her earlier though over the next few days. She struggles to get up at 8am and there is no way I could get her up any earlier than this or she would just fall back to sleep.

It is a good job I am here to get anyone up actually. I think in the summer I will experiment and see what time people naturally rise. I had to wake A up yesterday at 11am - which she was not happy about - as she has some GCSE work to complete. She has practically finished the course and I know she finds it boring but after all, she did choose this.....

I can't believe how much of my time is taken up with he kids stuff. A while back, I had time to read for an hour a day, now when I get to bed, I am lucky to manage 5 minutes. I don't think the schedule will improve this much as A needs a heck of a lot of help with her work due to her dyslexia so that takes up any free time I did have during the day but I am her parent so needs must. This won't improve much in September as D starts 3 GCSE's then, well that is the plan!

I have had many struggles with the whole GCSE thing and now realise colleges cannot think outside the box so if a very intelligent home-ed kid applies without having taken any, they will not only not know what to do with them, but most likely place them at the bottom. IMO there is no point in this but they may as well stay home and access the courses that are available to them for free at 16. Of course, when compulsory education age is raised (when is this?) it will once again make it harder for home-ed kids.
Gah, if I had the funds, mine would be doing so much more qualification orientated work than now, but that is the sacrifice you make when choosing this path. I have thought long and hard about whether to put them in school at 14 so they can sit them for free, yet my conclusion for this family is that the reason I object to schools is still there if they went at 14 and it would change our family. Yes my kids may not have the same number of qualifications but they are intelligent and we have a strong family. You can't put a price on that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snowy pics of 2010

Day 3 of experiment school.....
Well M has been on a school roll for 8 days now but today was her third day due to the school being shut because of the snow and M being ill. She was a bit nervous about going yesterday after a weeks break but it is always her choice. I dropped her off and when she got home later, she seemed to have had a good day because they had done art which she loves. She doesn't talk much about the work they do which is odd but I leave her to that. She did mention how she has to write about the rain forest today. I asked her had they taught her anything about it and she said no, she is just supposed to write about it!! She also mentioned how she got "told off" because a girl asked her a question while the teacher was talking and she answered! I have told her she can stay at school as long as she wants and when she has had enough to let me know. I did explain though that I am planning some trips out which we would have to do twice at weekends so she can come.
This morning I had overslept due to teenagers keeping me awake so it was rather rushed to eat, dress and get out in 20 minutes. The pavements are slippy ice now so walking to the school takes nearly half an hour. I am enjoying the ritual of an early morning walk, grab a paper and brew when I get home, but am also finding my morning whizzes by really quickly because of the hour taken up by school drop off. Oh well, I see it as a learning experiment and have the de-reg letter saved up should I need it soon!

On Monday it was D's 14th birthday. We had an arts award session at my house in the morning, which means there are no more sessions now before they have their files moderated at the end of January. Eeeek!
D mostly got cash which she may decide to spend at some point. We ordered Chinese take out and had tooo much food that evening lol. We bought cupcakes and put candles on and I got some lovely photos on my phone of her.

She has also had 2 sleepovers here and has plans to go to the cinema today and maybe shopping later. Ah, the chilled life of a 14 year old!

I have put off phoning the exam centre I am trying to arrange for A to sit an exam at, as it always seems really complicated when I call, yet I must do it today as I HAVE to book a centre. I also have to e-mail a survey A has done for people to respond to for her Sociology. I bought myself this with the idea I can make a daily list, over my brew each morning so I don't forget stuff I need to do but I am currently out of sync due to the horrible virus I had over Christmas - which may have been swine flu but didn't do a test to find out. Consequently my energy is very low and I am having trouble getting myself into gear. Hoping that improves soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy New Year!

2010 sees the streets here with up to 30cm+ of snow. I can't actually remember now when the pavements were not covered in snow or ice. The snow is preferable as at least you can walk on parts of it, but in a few days after frosts every night it will again become difficult to walk. All the main roads here are kept clear but that is tricky if you can't get your car to access the main roads. Also on the news last night it appears the council here has 5 days of grit left and this weather is set to continue longer than that so it looks like a bad situation.
If we had snow like this yearly I think we could cope because we would have snow chains and snow gear. But because it is freakishly rare everything comes to a stand still. I have enjoyed all the phone calls this week cancelling the kids activities meaning we haven't had to leave the house in the evening. I don't mind attempting it in the day when things have thawed a bit. Although saying that at some traffic lights the other week, my brakes locked on ice and had there have been a car in front I would have crashed. It was scary but worse was I hate the feeling under your foot as it happens. I wasn't even driving fast but having no brakes there when I need to stop is not something I want to repeat.
I have had to head out daily to the shops to buy things like milk as I can't get my Mum's car out of our roads. Today's plan involves shovelling the snow in the hope the car may be able to be used again. Not least because I don't want my Mum walking to the shops. To get to the local shops you have to go up a hill then down a hill and subway, fine if you have a snowboard or skis mind!

Anyway we had a nice Christmas, marred by a virus we have all had. Symptoms ranging in severity but when I was ill with it I was worried it was swine flu and still don't know for sure it wasn't. I am on the mend now after over 2 weeks of cold, then awful cough, then high fever, aches, pains and shiver. J has had fever for his 3rd day now and M still has the choking cough but not much fever.

M actually did one day of school this week. She was excited about trying it out, I think thinking it would be like a holiday club. When I collected her she wasn't happy and I realised when I got her home, she had not eaten or drunk ANYTHING all day. The children have to leave lunch bags outside so her food and drink was too cold and left untouched. I think she will try school again but it has since been closed because of the snow, but I was keeping her off anyway as her cough is awful and exacerbated by the cold weather.
On the walk to the school we looked at some fab icicles I took a photo of, so we had done science before we even got there!

That brings me onto schools. I have a confession. I DON'T LIKE SCHOOLS.
I used to worry about saying that but now I don't. I know most people will never be able to understand my objections to it. I mean it is after all a lovely place for kids to be, where they are excited and learning all the time and socialising aren't they. Well NO actually they aren't, but my kids however, living in the REAL society with REAL opportunities are.
In fact whilst thinking about this the other day, an analogy came to mind.

If a seeing person was trying to describe colour to a person who has never had sight, although the blind person may have their idea of what colour is in their minds, they can never really truly understand what blue is, or red is. I have realised this also applies to home-educators and parents who don't. I can explain home-education and learning etc to a non home-educator, but unless they have actually experienced it for themselves they will never TRULY get home-education, they just won't.

This year is a powerful one for me. I have decided against tiptoeing around peoples feelings about me home-educating, namely my friends who don't. I am actually going to refuse to answer anymore prying questions about it as I don't pry into why they make their decisions that way yet because I do something different, somehow it is seen as okay to grill me. I also hate the awkward air feeling if you mention anything about home-education. Well I am fed up of it now and not going to play the game anymore. I am out and proud :-)