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

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Greetings from Luxembourg

Well, guess who found an internet bar halfway up a mountainside in Luxembourg? lol It's costing 0.15 euros a minute and I'm wasting 20 seconds of every minute on here trzing to work mz waz around this German bloodz kezboard.

And yes, the z is where the y should be. Ho hum.

But it's gorgeous here - the weather has been alternately wet and sunny, and we drove up the side of this mountain, through the gorgeously pictuesque village of Larochette (go check a map, it's just north of Luxembourg city itself.)

Today we drove from just outside Dunkerque, where we camped after gettng off the ferry last night at 9.30 pm local time, down to Lille, across into Belgium, around Stuttgart and into Lux. Tomorrow we head across into Germany and down into Austria, where we'lls pend the night very near to Innsbruck (skiers will know where I mean). Should be a good opportunitz for more photographs, as it's in the Tyrol and therefore pictuesque.

Ok, fed up of this kezboard now. lol. James has the small ones in he little park in this campsite, so no doubt they're bouncing off the equipment in an ice-cream-fuelled-sugar-rush. :)

K xxx

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Sunny day and a pulled plug

So, I'm washing again. I know I've got 5 people in my house, but honestly - my washing machine runs every single day of the year. Normally several times a day. And, being a big toploading Yankee thing, it holds almost twice what a standard front loading washer does. Sometimes I feel like I spend my life washing.

At least today is sunny and blowy and I can hopefully get through the two more loads I've got to do, before the rain clouds make an appearance. I'm washing kids jackets (needed for holiday!) so they're going to take some drying.

But why am I moaning about laundry, for goodness sake? Myf has made a huge leap in the last day or two. I came in from the garden earlier and thought - hmm, quiet round here. The smaller two were excavating a flower bed so I went looking for my eldest. And there she was, cuddled up in the armchair reading a book. Now, I don't know how much was reading and how much was looking at pictures, but she was studying each page, running her finger across the words, pausing now and then.

It's taken nearly 3 days, but it seems that I've actually suceeded in doing what I set out to do on Sunday. I pulled the plug on the tv. Literally. Scrambled around down the back of the tv unit and unplugged the idiot-box from the socket. We've had tears and tantrums and the baby wailing 'telly on telly on!' for two days - and then suddenly, today, they're playing.

I tidied up the living room, vac'd the floor and then went to do more laundry. Came back, and found them all lying on the carpet in a pile of books. Even Piglet was looking at a Tweenies annual. :-D

Ok, so I won't gloat anymore. Not too much. But they're demanding more Wizard of Oz now. Off to do my parental duty and educate my children.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

There is one small problem...

with me voting Green. I do, in fact, agree with a lot of their policies. But as it says below, there is one point we do differ hugely on. I am very, very PRO-hunting.

I shall now sit back and wait for the stream of invective to arrive in my comments box. No doubt the more poisonous comments will all be anonymous. :) lol

This is how I'm supposed to vote...

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:


Your actual outcome:

Labour -36
Conservative -11
Liberal Democrat 20
UK Independence Party 17
Green 28

You should vote: Green

The Green Party, which is of course strong on environmental issues, takes a strong position on welfare issues, but was firmly against the war in Iraq. Other key concerns are cannabis, where the party takes a liberal line, and foxhunting, which unsurprisingly the Greens are firmly against.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Friday, April 15, 2005

Minutes letter

Well - it's done. Have actually finished the bloody thing that's been plaguing me for weeks (well, a month almost). Am not going to post the entire thing here, as I'm sure you've all got much better things to do than read a snide dig at the LEA.

I think I've refrained from the libellious invective I initially wrote - it's been edited and added to so much I'm not sure how much is my original text. then again, as someone so beautifully put it, "It's only libellious if it isn't true". ;) I like it, I like it.

One particular paragraph I really like comes right at the end though - the main part of it was originally written by me, but a rather nice chap on LEAwork gave me a few suggestions on how to word it:

"Doncaster LEA cannot make up their own version of the law and insist on policies going beyond it. Richard Iball has continued to demonstrate hostility and suspicion towards families not following his preferred educational style. It is not be possible to work constructively with him, unless he radically revises his approach away from visiting, inspecting and policing. As well as having no legal right to insist on visits, you also have no right to insist that we deal with a particular individual. We suggest that you take legal advice and consult with DfES before proceeding further with any planned SAOs."

It just reads so nicely. I may be letting myself in for some hassle at some point or other, but as I've said to a number of people, I'll move, then sue the LEA for harassment. :) Or vice versa. Feeling a tad 'what the hell' at the moment. Might change my tune when the real hassle starts, I suppose.

Off for a cup of tea (minus whiskey, Nikki! shall be over at some point with copy of letter unless you'd like it emailing) and a slice of 'raisin cake' [malt loaf]. Feeling quite guilty though, as have just eaten half a tube of Smarties - not sure which is worse, the piggy feeling or the fact they're made by Nestle... I think they're a hangover from Easter. Urgh

Back to Normal

Apologies for the depressing content of my last post. That's not normally how I do things, tbh.

However, today is new day. And already we've had a very deep discussion on learning to read. I sat D down (who now wishes to be known as Myf on here - so Myf she shall be) and we talked about why it was important that we do more 'learning'.

"But learning is boring."

"School is boring, learning is fun."

"Same thing." Shrug. Worldly air of bored teenager. Anyone for Kevin and Perry?

I told her that as she's nearly 6, (Steiner and autonomous parents look away here), she should really be reading all on her own. Even her friends Big and E, who are technically a year below her (even though they're only 6 months younger) are doing more reading than she is. Etc etc etc [insert reasonable convincing argument using persuasive Mommy tone of voice here]

"But Mommy," she said eventually, her eyes starting to brim with tears. "If I learn to read by myself, you won't read me stories any more."

Now, I've read this particular thing on many home-ed blogs, but I never thought to hear it coming out of my own offspring's mouth. So we talked about it some more and she agreed that learning to read would be good, as she could read to T and Piglet if I was busy, and then I'd read to all three of them as normal. Aww bless.

However, at the moment they're all watching an First Words in French DVD. :) And Myf asked for it too - how's that for self directed learning?

On the other hand, we've still got the LEA looming over our heads. I have found out there's another family in Donaster being harrassed by Eyebal (excuse the deliberate misspelling, but someone pointed out that my blog showed up in a google for the real name of the LEA chap - don't want that!). So am waiting for the Sheffield EO contact Gary to call me back and we can discuss this letter to the LEA in more details.

Ho hum - and I need to go get some travel insurance for ourholiday (7 days and counting), ring a local solicitor for her take on this LEA mess, tidy my dining room, start packing for the holiday etc etc etc (see to-do list below)

Time for a cup of tea and a prioritisation session, I think.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

**Depressing blog warning** {note to parents - contains gratuitous strong language, angst and disgust at life in general)

Ho hum. Time for one of those soul-searching, OMG-am-I-doing-the-right-thing, where-am-I-going, what-am-I-doing, life-sucks kind of rambling posts. You can been warned. If you want, you can skip reading this and go read Jax's Making it up blog for some more interesting home ed type stuff (that's me sat in the middle of the photo under 'Look what we did!').

So where was I? Oh yeah - what am I doing? Stupid thing is, we've had a really good day today. The girls have done some hama beading, watched a bit of tv, we've read a couple of chapters of the Wizard of Oz (D just loves that book!) and now, after lunch, I put the two smaller ones to bed and D and I had some quality time making muffins. And rather nice gloopy, squidgy, choclatey-chip muffins they are too, (she says, brushing crumbs from the keyboard).

Whilst I was tidying up, after sending D upstairs for a little nap, I started thinking that I should really be addressing the pressing issue of the blasted LEA. I wish the whole fucking lot of them would go jump in the Don. I have a set of minutes, from a meeting we had with them a few weeks ago, that I really must get inthe post to various folks around the county. Thing is, they require a covering letter and it's that letter I'm stuck on. I really, really need to get my ass in gear and write the bloody thing, asap, but I just can't. My brain won't work properly and every time I look at something that has the letters L E A in it, I start to lose the will to live.

Thing is, I seem to have volunteered myself as secretary and scribe for the local area. And whilst normally, I could do this kind of thing standing on my head, circumstances of late have somewhat robbed me of my mental faculties. The letter is just beyond my grasp at the moment - I sit in front of the computer screen and my mind goes blank. So I sign into MSN and that's the night lost - talking about the letter instead of writing the fucking thing.

We have a meeting tomorow of local home edders, so I should really have a draft to wave at people. I've had some truly fabulous feedback from folks on a couple of the home ed Yahoo lists, so I have no excuse.

Except for the rest of the chaos in my life at present. My to-do list reads as follows:
  • file the 3 massive piles of paper on top of desk/filing cabinet/buffet unit
  • update (and balance) house accounts, ie figure out how much money we don't have to live on
  • post the last 4 remaining seeds packages that are lurking on my desk, looking accusingly at me
  • correlate LEA and HE legal nonsense
  • finish the covering letter to go with minutes of LEA meeting
  • write my ed phil and post to LEA with an extract from our HE diary
  • write HE diary
  • make inroads into a website I'm supposed to be designing for a friend
  • update (when I've decided what to do with) my own pathetic website that I flung myself enthusiastically into in Feb and haven't looked at since
  • finish making curtains for the landing
  • finish the fleece throw for the living room
  • dig over, tidy up and plant my garden
  • dig over, tidy up and plant my two allotment plots
  • go to the tip (several times)
  • update blog (can tick this one off at least!)
I won't go on. I'm depressing myself. Note I used bullet points and not numbers on that list - I really don't want to count up what there is to do. And that's not including things like declutter entire house, find carpets under toys and vacuum them, disembowel garage to find floor, clean up kitchen and remove science experiments from back of fridge and grill pan, laundry etc etc etc.

And just when you think you've enough on your plate, along comes the grand finale. On xmas eve, my step-father was diagnosed with bowel cancer. They operated successfully on him and removed it, but he'd left it a bit late and it's spread to his liver and lymph. He's on chemo, but is his normal cheerful self. It was shocking enough, but Mom and Terry live in Birmingham, so whilst I'd move heaven and earth if they needed a hand, I'm not under a great deal of stress from that direction.

However, last week we were told that James' mum has pancreatic cancer, with shadows in her lungs and other surrounding areas. This is an entirely different kettle of fish. Liver cancer isn't painful, so Terry just gets on with things, albeit slightly slower than normal as he feels tired from the chemo. Pancreatic cancer is probably the most painful kind of cancer there is you can have, and James' mum is on two kinds of morphine, isn't eating and can't do anything as it's so debilitating. She had her first lot of chemo yesterday. She lives between here and where James works in town, so he's calling in to see her most night, and comes home looking drawn and tired from keeping up a cheerful front for her.

Guess that's it really. Just wanted to spit it all out. I can't believe that my kids might be losing not one, but two grandparents at some point in the very near future. I've been doing some research (damn the fucking internet sometimes) and if they have just one of them here next Yule they'll be very lucky. And I just want to jump up and down and rant and rave and yell 'it's not bloody fair! It's not, it's not, it's not!'

Because it isn't. Mom and Terry have had their differences over the years (which couple haven't?), but they've just moved house, things have settled into a good routine, finances are straightening out and things were beginning to look up for them. James' mum is the nicest one of his whole family. And the ultimate, most bitter-sweet irony of it all, is that his mum lost her father to cancer when she was 11 years old. So for the past 50 years, her mum, who we all call Grandma Z, has spent every spare minute of her time working to raise money for Yorkshire Cancer Research. This incredible woman, who was 90 a year or two ago, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds, all because of losing her husband. And now, she's suddenly faced with the prospect of losing her daughter to the same fucking illness that took Grandpa Z when he was barely 40.

Ok, feel better now. Fetched tissues, wiped tears, blew nose, stole another muffin. :) Sorry for dumping all this on you, but as I said in my 'Interview me' blogging has a cathartic effect sometimes. You don't really know who's going to read it. But if you can cheer someone up by showing them that their life maybe isn't as bad as they thought, then maybe this might have done some good. And that sentence probably made no grammatical sense at all, but hey, I don't care. I'm off to have my hair cut now - first time in a couple of years. I loathe hair dressers. :
Edited to remove a few bits, change a few bits and generally tone things down. Apologies to anyone I offended. :\

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mimi's party and the sausages

We had a lovely day today - went to Sarah & Roo's house for a combination 16th anniversary and 2nd birthday party. Mimi was quite overwhelmed when it came to cake cutting time, but when you're that cute and it's your birthday, you can get away with anything. Kirsty's two and Jax's two added to my three and Mimi and Dino, so there were 9 kids to 5 adults.

Roo bbq'd sausages and chicken drumsticks and a few veggie type things for Jax and the kids ate and ate and drank apple juice and ate some more, muddied up the garden, drank more juice, ate and then, hmm, should it be mud or juice? And combined both.

We left there about 7.30 (as I had no idea it was so late - still not adjusted to clocks going forward) and we all trundled home, Piglet singing 'loria' at the top of her voice at irrelevant intervals (we were listening to Karl Jenkins' the Armed Man). Then D tried to get her to sing 'sanctus' at the right point, to which Piglet just yelled 'LORIA' even louder. Ho hum, so much for culture.

The high point of the day came just as we were driving back into the village, not 5 minutes from home. D suddenly announced "Right, everyone got their sausages?". And she and T both pulled a couple of half eaten sausages out of their pockets. I could hardly drive for laughing. "What?" says D. "We brought them for Daddy as he didn't get any barbecue!" Lucky Daddy, those sausages are now sat on the counter waiting for him to get home. Ahh, aren't they sweet?