Wednesday, 20 January 2016

#RealHomeEd Day

In a complete contradiction to Saturday's post about how I don't wish to write about Kiddo's home education adventures, here's a post about exactly that!  In my defence, I took part in a day on Twitter under the hashtag #RealHomeEd which was created by friend, and fellow blogger/home educator, Lynn Blair, of Making Clay.

The purpose of the day was to show the diversity of education that takes place all over the country, how different families 'do it' and how it works. No two children are the same (even within the same family) so no two styles of learning are the same, which is part of the beauty of home education; a tailor fitted learning path that works for each individual.

I was keen to take part as we are still finding our way along our path (although to be honest, I think this may always be the case, because isn't life a bit like that any way?) and I'm always on the look out for hints, tips and things to try to aide Kiddo's learning journey.

So with that in mind, here was a snap shot of one day in the life of #RealHomeEd :

8.45 Kiddo woke up, which meant I had had 2.5hrs to myself to have breakfast with Hubby before he left for work - a training course in Glasgow. I prefer it when he's working days rather than nights, but it's only for 2 days this week. Never mind, enjoying it whilst it lasts.  I had peace to attend to emails, my own work, and just chill with coffee and candles (my morning ritual) before the day began.

9.00-11.30 Playing : Lego, imaginative play (dragons) breakfast, discovery of a wobbly tooth (at our last dental check up, the dentist said Kiddo had the start of a wobbly tooth - that tooth is still firmly in place and going no where any time soon - this is a new wobbler!). We had 2 indepth discussions, both led by Kiddo,the first on the importance of friends, the second about dental hygiene and his fears of losing his teeth - it's not the falling out that is causing worry, it's that the tooth fairy will take them away, and they are his!!! So now I will help him write a letter to the fairy and leave it with the tooth asking that the fairy inspect the tooth but put it back. If we have to keep the teeth, they will be the first thing packed off in his suitcase when he leaves home. Shuddering at the thought, Hubby *joked* about making a necklace and then found this monstrosity on the internet :
Who does that???? 

Anyway, back to our day:
Lunch/clothes on/getting ready to go out

13.00-17.00 We head out for the afternoon. Off to the library, letting kiddo pick the route.  There was still some crunchy snow on the pavement which made it particularly easy to spot animal tracks, especially those of the polar bear.  Yes, we tracked a polar bear all the way to the park. What I enjoy about Kiddo's imagination and the world he creates around any situation, is the amount f knowledge he has crammed in. Whilst tracking the polar bear, he was continually relaying info about their diet, hunting styles, cubs learning how to hunt and why they play, where they live etc, completely engrossed. And guess what - we found the polar bear! I shit you not! The border collie out for a walk with it's owner was no ordinary border collie, no, no. It was a polar bear in disguise. We had to view it from behind a tree so it wouldn't see us or smell us. A quick play at the park and we were off again, stopping to splash in the puddles and throw ice and hardened slush in to the canal from the bridge. Ice and slush you say? Nope, the larger pieces were sperm whale mothers and the little ones were her calves, the ripples in the water as the cold ice fell were not ripples, but clicks. The whales were communicating "can you hear her clicks mum?". I usually throw a "proper question" in here and there, and today's was "do you know why the ice breaks when it hits the water and why the slush melts" " Uh huh, it's coz the water is warmer than the slush so it melts. Now listen to this click [chucks BIG bit of hardened sluch over te bridge]". Gloves now soggy and so wearing mine, I was getting chilly, the library was still about a good 20 minute walk away, so we had a race.  We checked the time on my phone, and each guessed how long it would talk to walk, what time it would be in the phone when we arrived (I won! Sorry, I can't help being competitive, even with a 5 year old). It took 1.5 hours to walk to the library, which would take me about 25 mins to walk, 6 mins to drive.

Once in the comfort and warmth of the library we found some books and read them. Today the book of interest was "How To Be A Spy". Then to my shock and then proud mama moment, Kiddo took himself off to the Librarian's desk and asked the Librarian where to find the Steve Backshall books. Together they found them, he was fascinated by the code at the bottom of the spines, having not noticed them before. They were lined up on the table in order before reading.  After an hour or so, we checked out our books (mine were recipe books) and headed home. 

We dawdled along the road chatting and snacking on some chocolate he found in his bag from Christmas (how that had been missed until now I will never know!) before heading into another park. It was empty. He played until I could stay no longer  -needed to get home as had baked potatoes planned for dinner and they need a good hour in the oven, even after starting them in the microwave. We got back home a couple of minutes before Hubby did, so Kiddo sat down on the step at the front of the building so we could all arrive home together. My upstairs neighbour arrived home from work and thought we were locked out, Kiddo explained we were waiting for his dad and then proceeded to tell her all about his day and how I forgot to post a birthday card (MUST remember to post it today!). 

17.00-20.30 Between dinner and bed, Kiddo had some time on the play station, Lego Dimensions. I love listening to the story he weaves as he plays, it is more often than not, not the story that is on th screen but something completely different instead and he is using the characters on the screen to further his own tale.  He took his new library books to bed and set about reading about more animals and the adventures of Steve Backshall until lights out and sleep fell over him.

So that was yesterday, which looks nothing like today, nor any other day. But as the same time is not a day out of the ordinary, if that makes sense. It's just a day in our life. What subjects did Kiddo cover today? Socialisation, social skills, reading, problem solving, telling the time, creativity, biology, science and P.E.  Reading the tweets from yesterday it was fascinating to see so many different activities, interests being pursued and the different ways other families go about their days, facilitating the learning needs of their kids.  One of the things I am always reminded of, is how much I learn, not from finding out stuff for Kiddo, but actually from him himself.

I suppose I had better make a start on today, that coffee cup is empty, time now for tea.

Thanks for #RealHomeEd, Lynn. It was fun.


Saturday, 16 January 2016

S(n)ow Good

The measure of adulthood is not dictated by the year of birth and the corresponding number of candles ablaze on the cake.  Neither is it decided by the having of babies, getting married, lumbering oneself with a mortgage or no longer getting asked for "proof of age to show you are old enough to purchase this product" No, no, no. It's much easier to identify than that. It is determined by your reaction to snow. Fact!

If the thought of snow or the news of impending snow means your conversations go along the line of:
"I can't be doing with the snow; especially when it turns to slush/ice"
"Snow, ugh! I can't wait for the summer"
"We've been lucky with the weather this year; too warm for snow. It's been a no bad winter"
"I can't stand the mess and wet it drags into the house"
"I like looking at it from the window, but not going out in it"
"Snow? Oh that's too dangerous. I could slip!"
Congratulations! You've cracked this adulting malarky. You are clearly very responsible and thinking of the consequences of a proper winter - mess, slips trips and broken bones, being stuck in the car, car not starting, having to walk places in stead of driving, the chill where you no longer know if your extremities are attached or merely numb from exposure to temperatures of minus 2 degrees C.  Good for you.  

If on the other hand, your reaction is more akin to :
"I just want some snow!"
Upon seeing snow on other people's instagrams and Twitter photos you reply with 
" "
First thought upon stepping into the white stuff is "Snowball fight!"
Telling both yourself and your child(ren) "we'll have hot chocolate when we're done"
You are desperate to make a snowman and start thinking how it will look, but regardless of thougths, it will look the same as every other snowman you have ever made
Taking hunners of photos of the snow from different angles and of where it has fallen then taking to instagram yourself
You start visualising your Pinterest winter board in your mind's eye with  crazy ideas of

Then consider yourself in good company, because I am a big kid too! I LOVE  the snow and going out to play in it.  And today, the Cailleach delivered the goods. 

Despite living in Scotland, snow is something of a rarity in these parts. I'm beginning to think that my town has its own micro climate (nothing to do with the nearby oil refinery and chemical plant emitting a hot polluted fug circulating in the air above, keeping the worst of the weather out, of course), as we have been to both Dunfermline and Stirling this week and have played in the snow.

Anyway, back to today.  Today I was giddy with childlike excitement when the first flakes began to float down. Out came the wellies and the camera, and well, tadah!!! :

The shoots from new plants now being reminded that it is infact WINTER!

Who needs a sledge when there's a wee slope and slidey waterproofs?
A chunk of ice from Kiddo's garden play bucket, complete with trapped grassy fronds.

After going back indoors for dinner and a heat, the real snow started to fall. 

In the space of an hour or so, the garden was re-cloaked in white velvet, that was at least, until Kiddo and I reappeared...

 I am loving the orangey sky

This is the same bush from earlier that had the lovely red berries

 I built a snowman!!! Note it was ME who built it - Kiddo was far too busy sliding and rolling down the slopes and pelting me with snowballs.

We're back indoors now, Kiddo in a warm bath, both of us hoping that it'll all still be there tomorrow again.

Snow much fun.  Happy days. A proper winter, even if only for a day.


Friday, 15 January 2016

2016 and Beyond

I believe it was Agatha Christie who once said that the best time to plan a book is while you are doing the dishes. Sorry Agatha, but if this is true, then I whole heartedly disagree - the shower is the best place to think up wonderful ideas and plans for next piece of writing. Doing the dishes is what turns those ideas in to dust. My internal monologue coats any creative thoughts with layer of self doubt that what I've all planned out is nothing more than narcissistic tosh that no-one wants to read or would be interested in. Doing the dishes is where I talk myself out of any piece of writing that I may have been planning, thinking about, discussing in my mind whilst rinsing the conditioner out of my hair! This is in part why I have not actually written published anything here in quite some time (apart from the baby names list).

So why haven't I been blogging? Because I have begun to think it is all rather "look at me!" and I have visions of folk reading whilst sitting thinking "..and?? Who cares?" and that really holds no appeal. I used to love to write about politics, but I can't do that right now (despite the Scottish Elections being a mere 4 months away), even I am bored with it. It's nothing to do with apathy, more saturation of topic  - it is not my job to show everyone the lies and deceit the main stream media are happy to promote; it is not my job to ensure everyone is aware of what legislation is being sneakily passed and what failings are being sidelined or covered over. I'm not a journalist.  Folk who do need this stuff brought to their attention don't really care "coz it doesn't affect [them]", and with that I just don't have the time nor inclination to have my energy and will to live, sapped by the ignorant, indifferent or indignant.  I have no desire to write about Kiddo and his journey through life and being home educated. That's his story and his to tell, not mine. I don't want to be a mummy blogger. I have written many pieces about my home decor projects, how we 'did' Christmas last year, judgement (as in "don't judge" as the new buzz phrase), star signs and astrology,  you are what you eat: going veggie (and trying vegan) again after years of enjoying a good steak or the pleasure of a roll on bacon with brown sauce (or  roll on black pudding with a tattie scone and brown sauce), over sharing - how much info is too much info, checkout etiquette, parental confusion & resulting brain fry, swearing, The Named Person and why it's just WRONG, and also a simple but turned out rather lengthy, why blog?  but never hit publish because I went and did the dishes...

While I have been super critical of my own blog, and uncertain if I want to keep it going, I absolutely love reading other people's blogs.  My top blogs to read and enjoy are :

an eclectic mix of Scottish politics, home education, life in general.

lifestyle blog with crafts, recipes, home & family.
(currently under reconstruction)

Previous home educator (daughters now grown adults) and therefore expert on the matters regularly sharing words of wisdom and plenty experience

the Tina Fey of the blogging world! Hilarious over-sharing (yet at times, relatable) glimpse of family life.

Life in New Zealand living off grid in a yurt, gentle parenting and unschooling, recipes and ideas for making everything! No (sham)poo pioneer

Gentle parenting and unschooling

The blogs above are so well written, interesting, humorous,  honest and thoroughly enjoyable, without any sign of ego and self indulgence. Just thoughts, opinions, experiences and stories to tell and share.

It's not just blogging that I have lost direction and interest in; I have felt and made a shift in use of most Social Media platforms. Using Facebook and Twitter less, yet increased use of Instagram and Pinterest.  Most people won't notice the change as am still posting, but I am not reading as much of what is out there, except for those that I particularly want to  connect with.  My interest has waned significantly and I resent the precious energy and time I lose (through my well honed procrastination skills) sifting through so much dross and drama.  I have written a few times now about my love/hate with Social Media but recently I have grown to dislike it more. It is of course, all my own doing, posting and sharing all things political and getting involved in discussions that incite nothing but pure undiluted frustration and increased blood pressure.  The other end of the spectrum is the nauseating fluffy stuff where everyone just has to be happy all the fucking time. All the time. Just naw! (Hands up, I have been guilty of posting such saccharine pictures from time to time too, but they do grate after the first couple).
 The interweb is full of contradictions and judgements and opinions where everyone believes they are right and THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT.  No. It's a trap so easy to be sooked into, and hard to break free from, until you realise, this is bullshit.

This all comes at a time where I am feeling creatively frustrated and stilted, and bored.  Not only seeking a suitable outlet but also needing something else. While completely lost as to what the something is. But then I found it : Peace! Really, it is all I am looking for in so many areas of  my life. No drama (real, on-line or imagined). No letting time drain away never to seen again into the vacuum of the internet, No unnecessary and futile comparisons to others (in parenting, home educating, house keeping, creativity, lifestyle, achieving goals/dreams). Just peace and presence with where I am, who I am, and who I am with.
I read two pieces that resonated so deeply that I felt I had read something addressed solely to me. The first thing I read, was the 7 words written by a friend, which form the tag line of her own social media channels :
"Courageous enough to be an absolute nobody"

Boom! Absolutely! In this world, at this time, everyone (OK, that's a stretch, but many many many people) are all over the internet sharing their lives to world. Some make a career of it, others try to get their 15 minutes, and some folks just enjoy it for what it can be - fun to share their lives (photos and anecdotes) with friends and family near and far. But there was something utterly refreshing about that statement of 7 words, that hit me; bullseye. Why do we need to share our own small worlds with the wider greater one? Why do we need others' approval? Answer : We don't! But it is so addictive once we start.  It is a bold acknowledgement in 2016 to be able to be happy, content and at peace with being yourself. (How crazy is it to now suggest that being yourself and happy with that, is bold??) You do not need outside approval. Perhaps this is where I have fallen down; the eternal parent pleaser who is forever trying to break the mould is looking outwards instead of inwards to get that nod.
The second thing I read was Cherry Menlove's book. The Little Book of Peace. So glad I read it and read it when I did.  It just spoke to me and made me sit up and actually thinks about choices I had and was making, thoughts, worries and concerns that were ever-present in my head.  A few chapters were particularly relevant to me (You never, ever have to convince anyone of anything / The people prison / Why do we have to choose / It starts with  you / I'm a believer / The danger of distraction / Does it really matter / Why not / Compare at your peril and There can be peace in not caring, are the 10 chapters that were my favourites). This is most definitely a book I will dip back into to help keep me focused on my goal : peace.

At the end of last year, armed with my new found realisation and mission to find and restore peace in my life, instead of making resolutions for the New Year, I created a massive  Bucket/ Fuck It/ Chuck It list.  A very satisfying process I must say. 1. because I love making lists and 2. it helped prioritise what was/is actually important and was wasn't/isn't.  The first thing on the Chuck It list was to cut back on the followers and 'friends' on Twitter and Facebook.  I was following over 500 people, yet only really read the tweets of around 10 people regularly, the rest are either scrolled past or casually browsed. I am still following 346 people, but it's a start.  With regards Facebook, which is slightly different, there is more of a chance people will be offended if they are "unfriended". I was not as ruthless as per Twitter being as I wasn't friends with as many people - this being my second Facebook and didn't have even half as many friends as on my first. But there was still room to clear the decks of people with whom I have zero contact with : friends whom I was friends with years ago, but now have nothing in common and don't comment or like anything I post (including when they have been tagged), friends and family members who post ANYTHING by Britain First or stuff of that ilk, people who never actually use Facebook but have an account, people I have met only once and know very little about, etc, etc. My friends list now on Facebook is now primarily made up of home educators, Scottish Greens, actual real life friends, a couple of work colleagues and some family members. There is no-one there I don't know personally.
On the Fuck It and Bucket lists, there are places to visit, obviously, and a couple of personal silly thing that I've always wanted to do but either haven't or have being putting off; particularly of a creative nature.

So where does this leave me, at the start of 2016?  Well, I already know that I enjoy and love writting - I just need to let go of the need for approval and just write. Recently I tweeted with the hashtag #cantwritewanttowritedontknowwhattowrite but the point is, I need to #justwrite ! Without any expectation and without care. Do it for myself. I considered deleting this blog, but when I looked back over some of the posts, I forgot some of the pieces I have written, and am actually proud of some of my work. I will not delete it, because I know I will regret it.  Regret, hmmm, that's a whole other chapter... I have started and will continue to reduce my use of good ole FB and Twitter - my mobile upgrade is due this month, and as I said back in the summer, I am downgrading to an old style phone that calls and texts. I really want a clam shell one. Finding the joy beauty and peace in the everyday and appreciating simple pleasures, like this morning, sitting at the table with my laptop, coffee and candles

I know I am a crap photographer, but I DON'T CARE! In the days before digital cameras, it was a bit if a standing joke that when my photos were developed, a game of Where's Wally began. More often than not, people were missing half their face or the tops of their heads. But I love taking pictures, regardless of my lack of talent. I plan to take more.

Back in 1998, I watched a film that very quickly became a favourite. (I had it on vhs, now have it on dvd) You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.  There is a particular quote that I come back to time and time again, it has never left me, but now in the internet age, it seems more pertinent than ever:
"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void. "

My life is valuable, both to me and those with whom I share it. I just need to remember and appreciate that. The opinions of others have no place in my pursuit of peace and achieving my goals, whatever that may look like. 

If all I remember this year are the words of Anthony Hopkins (if indeed it was Anthony Hopkins who said them, because you know, internet!)
and my own mantra/tag line, then I don't think I will stray too far off my course, and just possibly, everything will come together as planned. As long as I stay away from the sink and the dishes!
Always learning; forever growing