Mud & Mischief

Just our way of home educating our three girls; assisted by an allotment, a Land Rover and a heap of ingenuity.

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Location: South Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Monday, March 28, 2005

Interview me!

Saw this first on Sarah's blog - followed round a few others and finally asked Heather to interview me. So here are the questions she sent.

1) In 'Desert Island Discs style', what 3 music tracks would you take to keep you company, what book (or two, as I would consider it acceptable to forfeit the Bible) and what luxury item?

First, I'd have to cheat. We mainly do classic FM here, so I'd take Karl Jenkins' "The Armed Man" and Ludevico Einaudi's "Echoes". Mainstream, it would have to be something a bit more manic like the soundtrack to 'Fifth Element'. Something to dance around the desert island like a loon to. As we do round the living room here. :)

Books - well, not the Bible. I'd take a copy of the "Compleat Works of William Shakespeare", as I've been a Shakespeare nut since the age of 13. Probably one of the few things I took away from my many schools was my love of the Bard. I think memorising a few Sonnets would keep me occupied on my desert island. And the second book would have to be John Seymour's "Complete Guide to Self Sufficiency". We affectionately refer to it as the 'house bible', as our aim one day is to be self sufficient - as anyone who's seen my veggie garden plans will attest!

And the luxury item? I'd take a huge ring binder full of paper and a stack of pens. Might find time to write that book I've been meaning to for so long.

2) What do the Land Rover and the allotment bring to your home education?

Apart from the obvious method of transporting small children from one HE meet to another, various HE households for tea and biccies... The Disco also provides us with a wide range of socialising opportunities. :) We're members of the Disco Owners Club and take part in off road days, camping weekends, shows, rallies etc, where D, T and F get to mix and meet with a huge variety of people. We travel around a fair amount, and the kids get to see a lot of varied places. "Car-ed" features strongly in our HE life - when driving anywhere, I get a constant stream of "Mommy, what's that? Why's that? Where are we, when will we be there, how's that made? Where did that come from? Why does that do that?" etc etc. Never a dull moment - unless they're all dozing.

The allotment brings me a little bit of sanity. The girls come with me most of the time, and we weed and potter and talk about growing stuff and seeds and life cycles and nature and food chains and all that other 'educational' stuff. But the main thing my allotment gives me at the moment is a quiet place to escape, even if once a week on a Tuesday for an hour or two whilst James minds the small ones. It's very important - it's somewhere I can sink my hands into the soil and connect, for however brief a time. It's always quiet up there too - it's a very small allotment site. Occasionally, one of the old boys will appear for a chat, and that's pleasant too, as I get an opportunity to talk with another adult about something other than kids or home or HE or Land Rovers. I can talk weather and gardening and 'when I was a lad' remembrances. It grounds me.

3) In an alternative reality where you are childless, what would you like to be doing with your life?

If I were childless, I'd still be working on a farm, milking cows and driving tractors. Maybe managing one - or preferably even have my own. And I'd have taken that extra post-degree course in journalism and be writing for Farmer's Weekly and other worthy publications on the side. That, or I'd be back in Canada now, on my own little self-sufficient homestead in the Rocky Mountains. :)

4) What food, company and setting would constitute your perfect meal?

Anywhere without kids! Seriously... would have to be Japanese or Thai. Perferably Thai in a swish restaurant in Bangkok or Phuket, as I've never been there and would love to go. As part of a tour of the far east, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand etc, with James and offspring. Although to be honest, the little local Thai place on a quiet night with just me and James would be about perfect enough.

Bit pragmatic that, though, isn't it? Maybe I should go for a 5-course Italian meal with Pierce Brosnan or Russell Crowe, on the deck of a luxury yacht, moored in the harbour at Monaco during a Grand Prix. :)

5) Why do you blog?

For a huge variety of reasons. First, it's a kind of window in on my life that I can use to show my family what's going on. My parents live apart and away from me, I've family all over the country, friends in the US, local friends who I can never find time to connect with every day - my blog is my way of saying, "Hi, we're still here and alive and this is what we did today/this week", depending on how often I manage to record stuff.

Secondly, it's a record for myself. My garden blog is kind of a reference for myself for future years. And this blog helps jog my memory as to what we did and when. One day, I may even manage to organise it into catagories like some highly advanced blogs. Unless our LEA starts behaving itself, I may need this blog as proof of education!

And lastly, I guess it's my own '15 minutes of fame'. Everyone who blogs must have a small exhibitionist streak in them, as they're putting themselves on show to the entire world, albeit in a very obscure and not-necessarily-easy-to-find place. And it's theraputic. And keeps me on the computer and out from under the children's feet. And sidetracks me beautifully from the housework. :)

If YOU want to be interviewed:

1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as you see here).
3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions. (If you don’t have a blog, let this inspire you to begin one!!)
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Fluff fetish

Do you have any idea how hard it is to change the nappy on a not quite 2 year old who has discovered there is fluff to be found between her toes? Especially in the morning when she's been wearing a babygro all night.

Everytime I lie her down to change her butt, she's whipping off her socks and pulling her feet to within a couple of inches of her face and then spends the next couple of minutes with a furrow of concentration across her brow as she ferrets around between each toe in turn - and beams with happiness everytime she retrieves a small piece of fuzz.

In the meanwhile, I'm trying to get the velcro on her nappy done up, but can't because her knee is on her chest and blocking all attempts at nappy fastening.

Ho hum - off to set up this StudyDog that everyone appears to be raving about. See if that gets my reluctant readers moving. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Had a lovely day

Been most productive. Ok, so I didn't get any house work done, at all. (Bar a little laundry, but I don't class that as housework as the washer & dryer are in the outhouse).

We did some maths worksheets, some reading, a little writing, playdough and talked about Europe (note to self, must get world map up on wall...), and then it was lunch time, followed by nap time. I had planned to walk down into the village after nap time, but we ended up in the garden (go see Muddy Musings for some gorgeous spring pictures). I managed to get the lawn mower to start, which was nothing short of a miracle considering it's a petrol mower and has been sat outside all winter! We hacked the grass on the top lawn short (note to self #2, get mower blades sharpened) and generally had a tidy up. It looks great! :)

Now, babies are in bed, I must switch this off and go do something useful, like finish making the curtains for the landing, or find a kitchen counter under the mess.

Keep getting side tracked by things like this though, and wondering where the planet is going to end up next. Then there's bird flu, which has been crossed with the resurrected Spanish flu, the production of a pandemic flu virus 'in order to figure out how to fight it', the shortage of immunisations for it...

I could go on. But I won't. Instead, I'm going to go back to my little sewing machine in the corner of my untidy dining room, and plot my emmigration to Croatia. :) Which is a whole 'nother story.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Doing too much

Not just me - all of us. As I was trying to make a dent in the mountain of laundry that's accumulated recently, I came to the conclusion that we're all rushing around doing far too much. This laundry mountain is a constant companion, and whilst I'm used to dealing with it (there are 5 of us in this house), I dislike it when it takes over my bedroom to the extent that I can't get round the far side of the bed to open the curtains. I am neither fastidious nor houseproud, but I do like a bit of clear floor space here and there.

And the rest of the house looks like a tornado swept through it. It doesn't help that we're decorating hall, stairs and landing (finally! We've only been here two years...), and that the contents of the hall are split between my bedroom and the kitchen. The dining room is full of the left over bits that we can't find a home for, and some kitchen stuff that's been evicted, and the living room - well, lest said soonest mended as my Nan used to say.

But mainly, it's the HE that's suffering. I've bought this fabulous curriculum, have swapped various books and binders with Barbara, and now I've got the most wonderful teaching resource, all laid out on the shelves just above my head.

Trouble is, that's where it's staying. We're working through one of the Advanced readers, and when we actually sit down and concentrate on it, D is flying through the reading. I'm so impressed with her. But the history, science and maths stuff is just sitting there, looking reproachfully at me every time I walk into the room.

Which at the moment, isn't that often. We're out almost every day at present. Monday, it's Sheffield, and either Bradway or Playtime, and quite often Barbara's either before or afterwards. Tuesday is James' day off so we're always out somewhere doing something with him. Wednesday is Chesterfield group (or just Chesterfield some weeks, to Sarah's). And if we don't make it there on a Wed or Thurs, Sarah tends to come over and see us. Friday's have been busy the last couple of months, either Sheffield or Chesterfield or a local friend. I used to go into Doncaster market every Friday morning, until we ran out of time.

Lately, it's seemed like we've only really been at home on Saturdays, and then I'm doing such a headless chicken trying to catch up on laundry and doing a Brio/duplo patrol that the chances of sitting down and opening a book are slim to none. Sundays James is home again, so we do 'stuff'. Like go up to the allotment, have long, late, lazy brunches and play 'use Daddy as a climbing frame' and other important games.

Oh - and did I mention the garden? See, I'm such a bad mom, when my kids start bugging me to go out in the garden and play in the sun, I can't make them sit at the table with books and pencils. I let them down tools and don wellies. And seeing as how they're out there, I can't possibly stay in the house and catch up on my jobs. I have to be out there with them, supervising, and planting seeds and digging over the beds whilst they play and plant and push each other on the swing and off the slide.

But I think from now on, I'm going to limit the days we spend out and about. Mondays will still be Sheffield. It's only a half hour drive over to the far side, to Bradway, and D and Barbara's E get on so well. Once Jax is out of self-imposed quarantine and the rest of us have shown no sign of the pox, Big will be back in the small-girl-child trio.

Tuesdays I can't do anything about - although if James quits his job, I'm not sure what's going to happen, but that's a totally different blog. (!)

Wednesdays, I'm still undecided about. The girls loved charging around like loons at the Chesterfield group, but it's the best part of 45 minutes to an hour to get there. Having Sarah and Dino on hand to provide toasties and tea afterwards is a plus, however, the fact we don't ever leave before about 4.30pm means that we take over an hour to get home. And then they sleep in the car and bounce around like Space Hoppers till 8pm.

Thursday and Friday shall henceforth be known as 'learning' days. I was going to say 'work' days but that gives rise to the whole drudgery aspect. But do I want learning to be tarred with the same brush, ie, "Mom, where are we going today?" "Nowhere, it's a learning day." "But, awwwww, that's boring." etc etc etc. You get the picture.

So... suggestions, comments, answers on a postcard to the comment box, please. :-\ Time for a port, I think.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Potting sheds and deep discussions

Been an interesting, if somewhat hectic kind of day.

D finished the third part of her I Can Read It! book, and seemed quite pleased with herself. Then my potting shed arrived before we could do any writing, so I let her switch the tv on (!) whilst I took pics of the shed being assembled.

Then we all sowed a few seeds - T did a couple of sunflowers, whilst D sowed a flat of mixed lettuce to crop as baby leaves. They were both very pleased with themselves. Piglet (F's nickname, btw) just paddled in the giant bag of compost and was very happy too.

Then Gary Podmore, Lesley (Doncaster's EO contact), Sarah and Kirsty arrived, with offspring. Absolute chaos ensued, in which Sarah was fabulous, keeping offspring well fed with cheese toasties, on hand to zip up jackets and help wellies onto the right feet. Meanwhile the rest of us sat around and drank tea (made by Sarah!) and talked about next week's meeting with Doncaster LEA. I think we've got a reasonable plan of action. I'm glad Gary is in on it all as he's had plenty of experience dealing with bolshy LEA's. Makes me feel much better about the whole thing.

By the time they left, it was getting on for 4.30pm. I retrieved wet, muddy and happy children from the bottom of the garden, wiped them down, gave them an apple a piece and sat them down in front of Eliot Moose. Then I got to spend an hour on my latest project - making a couple of summer dresses for the girls. I've resurrected my old sewing machine and I got so into cutting and pinning and sowing that I never noticed the time until James walked in at 6.30! Bad mother.

Three bowls of pasta, followed by three bowls of tinned pears later, three girls were bathed and brushed and turfed into bed. And now it's peace and quiet and catch up on blogs time.

Oh - my bath is ready. Knew the man was good for something ;)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I'm... I'm... I'm lost for words!

In fact, I'm just beside myself with indignation. Arrgghh....

PoleDragon is me! Has been me for the past 10+ years. Hell, I think if someone actually called me by that name I'd respond without even batting an eyelid. So to find this
... Well, I'm disgusted.

Thing is, the original site is in Japanese. Anyone know how to yell at someone in Japanese? lol

Good job I registered the other day, thanks to the inestimatable Jax. :) Actually, I should plug Code Placidly for that. :)

But honestly - it's not the kind of name you come up with by chance, is it? I've lost count of the amount of jokes I've had about it (and no, I never have tried pole dancing ever, in my life. After 3 kids???) I guess the only reason I can forgive them is a) yes, the device is on a pole, and b) dragons are cool if you live in Japan.

I shall now go and mutter to myself in my greenhouse. :)

:::stalks off spluttering to oneself:::

Friday, March 04, 2005

All quiet...

Well, ish. The three girls are asleep. The washing machine is running, and has been constantly for the past 5 hours. lol. James isn't too perky though. He managed to get downstairs for all of 5 minutes and then promptly bolted back to bed, via the bathroom.

Ho hum. I've got a million things I need to do - 5 lots of seeds to package up and post, mountains of laundry and ironing, a desk and a dining table that are stacked a foot deep in papers (we had a rearrange - this is the fallout), a fridge that needs its science experiments fumigating, a kitchen floor that's more mud than tile, this week's menus to plan...

Instead, I'm going to top up my tea, catch up on the blogs and then go to bed before I go cross-eyed with exhaustion. Night all.

Playing catch up

Not been blogging a huge amount lately. Not sure why - have spent enough time on the computer.

But, in brief, check out Sarah's, Jax's and Barbara's blog for mention of where we've been and what we've been doing. :)


Ok, didn't think that would get me off the hook.

To be honest, I'm in no fit state of mind to blog about anything today. Last night was horrid - James and F took it in turns to barf all night long. When most people say they didn't get a wink of sleep, you tend to take it with a pinch of salt. But I think I got half an hour's kip, maximum. I spent part of the night lying on the spare bed in F's room with her cuddled up to me, swathed in tea towels, terry nappies and the like, half propped up to help her everytime she retched. Retch, wipe up ick, cuddle her for 20 minutes, start to doze, retch, wipe up ick, cuddle her for 15 minutes... etc etc etc ad naseum...

Luckily D and T are fine - they're bouncing off the walls, thrilled that I've let them have the tv on all day. I haven't even objected to Tiny Pop. Urgh.

I just feel washed out - sore throat but (fingers crossed) internal workings just fine. Having just read Barbara's blog, I'm off to make some soup for tea, seeing as how James is still in bed and the other two have raided the fridge for the remains of last night's pizza and a stray sausage roll left over from Sarah's. Poor children, having to forage for their supper. :(

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Now here's an idea for the Bradway meeting one day


I think the kids would absolutely love this - especially if we bring in some bread or crackers for them to eat their creations on.