Tuesday, 29 September 2009
We had a surprise visitor in the boot room....
He created quite a stir!!!! I do love frogs and toads. We do actually have quite a few resident toads in the garden...one usually is in the boot room but I expect he vacated when this fellow arrived. I miss our pond. That may be something we will address in the new year. Now that we have the allotment, I could spare a few square feet for a pond nearer the house.
Well, Tom has fitted the new water pump in his Vitara....all by himself!!! It is no easy task as it involves the removal of the cam belt which if isn't fitted correctly upsets the timing and the engine would not run properly. Amazing..not yet 15 years old and off to an off road meet at the weekend in his OWN car!!!!
His progress and pictures of the Vit can be seen at his blog Landykid on my list of blogs.
A very kind lady from the HE yahoo group has leant me a fabulous book called More than Moccassins which is full of excellent crafts for our Native American Indians theme. Thank you Ginny!!! We had already made some head dresses, tomahawks and have been collecting feathers for a dream catcher...photos to follow!
Jonathan has sold his Ripstick and helmet on Ebay to get the money to buy a mobile phone. He is spending a lot of time out and about now so we felt we needed to keep track of him and he, the time!!!!
William has been spending alot of time chalking and painting. It is great to see him so creative with no pre conceived ideas of what things should look like. William also likes to type on the computer and can type all our first letters of our names in various orders of his choosing. He can also do 'mum' and 'will' when he is in the mood!!! He has been using the montessori materials I made a while ago...matching cards in various themes. He has also been helping me in the kitchen the last few days...grating cheese, making gravy and talking constantly!!! He made me laugh when he was stirring the gravy though....he was talking to himself saying 'stir, stir, stir it in' and then it became 'swer, swer, swer it in'....which is one of Tom's CB terms referring to the 'tuning' in of an aerial!!
David announced autumn had arrived the other day when he noticed the leaves changing colour on the trees at the bottom of the garden. It is good to see them making their own observations. William commented on the falling leaves down the canal this morning while we were picking blackberries.He is very good at picking the nice ones. He knows not to pick the red ones, and to leave the squishy ones there for the mice. He knows the firm and shiny looking ones are best for jam.
David has been really enjoying The Deathly Hallows which we have been reading. He follows it well, and often can guess what is about to happen. It is not an easy book to read aloud as there are so many odd names in, and lots of high pitched shrieking, which I am NOT good at!!
I have been re reading Gareth Lewis's book 'One to One' which I highly recommend to anyone starting out on their Home Education journey. Or indeed anyone who is HE'ing and has not read it! I also like his other one entitled 'Unqualified Education', for over 11's. They both are very reassuring reads.
I have also been reading the Home Education Journal from Cinnamon Press. There is a very good case study in there written by a boy of 19 years old who was educated autonomously. He is the Warden of a flagship National Trust property, which he gained through his voluntary work there, not by any qualifications acquired through the system. He did go to college at one point but left because of the poor organisation and time wasting!!! He finished his course by distance learning in a fraction of the time. He also talks of learning to drive several types of tractor in a morning, where as at college they only got to drive one kind round and round in first gear for weeks!!
I do like to read success stories. It is good for the boys to read them as much as anything. I think I will start a collection as evidence for certain unsupportive individuals!
Saturday, 26 September 2009
We have no timer or controller as yet. That will be the electrician's job on Monday apparently. Not that anyone has told us who or when or anything!!! Then we hope there will be a builder/Mr fix it man who will come and sort out the holes etc We currently have a BIG hole in the dining room where the gas fir and back boiler was, which is drafty and bringing black dust (presumably coal dust from a previous life) with it.
But all in all, it is done. What a relief.
And I had a letter arrive yesterday too...we have an allotment!!! For real this time, not just a carrot dangled in front of our nose only to be whisked away again a moment later! It is, as last time, only a half plot, but that is bigger than the plot I have here at home. I am thinking about all the onions, potatoes, parsnips and leeks I can plant there, leaving more room for carrots, beetroot, peas, beans etc here at home.
It is need of weeding as it has been neglected for the last season but it doesn't look too bad, and there is a path down the middle already dividing it so at least that bit is easy. The allotment organiser had left us to decide who has which half though, so I need to make a phonecall. I hope it is a nice person that we are sharing with! Part of me wants to get down there weeding it straight away, and the other half wants to get my house sorted.....but there is no competition really!!! The allotment isn't ours until Thursday though so unfortunately that is plenty of time to unpack the boxes of stuff and put things back where they were.
I'm just not sure I want to!!!!
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Came home from work to find floorboards up in nearly EVERY room, dust and tools as far as the eye could see. Luckily Tom and Rob had carefully moved my precious bookcases and moved the books as the guys seemed to need access to everywhere, all at the same time. Hrmmmph.
Just the boiler to fit tomorrow and the main pipework to and from it, oh and the radiator in our room isn't on the wall yet. They have worked really hard, but it will take a while to recover from the strain of this. I do not cope well with strangers working in my house, although they seem nice enough. Father and son team.
Time for dinner and try to wind down a bit. Trying to focus on how nice it will be to have heating in our room this winter and not have to camp in the living room in front of the open fire...although that was quite exciting and cosy had the 'mattress' been a little more comfy. Sofa cushions have a habit of sliding apart just when you don't need it!!!
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Well, we obviously said yes because we are desperate to have hot water again, and heating too now that the evenings are getting colder. But, tomorrow?
Anyone who knows us, will be sharing my feelings of horror as I looked around me at the mammoth task ahead.
We have to clear the dining room, the hallway, our room and allow access to every room in the house for new radiators and obviously there will be floorboards up etc etc etc
OMG we have soooooo much stuff!!!
I am a hoarder it is true. I hate to throw anything away. I collect things that I think might be useful for future projects. I have a huge collection of books and have two bookcases on the landing full of books that both have to be moved so the floorboards can be taken up for pipework. I have done the bookshelf in the dining room this afternoon and the shelf unit full of puzzles and craft stuff. I have boxed up one bookcase upstairs. Tomorrow when I get home from work I will have to make a start on the second one upstairs...and then there is our room!!!!
It is like a second storage space and halfway house for things on their way to the loft. Eeeeeek!
I wish I could have a clear out of things but it is impossible when you HE four boys....books, puzzles and games that span the age group from 3 - adult, drawing and craft stuff to suit all sorts, shoes and coats and fleeces and boots and waterproofs etc etc etc...it is just impossible!!!
Right off to get the wee ones into bed....two boys to read to before I can rest! Room on the broom for Will, and David and I are over halfway on The Deathly Hallows.
Some of the honeycomb in the saucepan.
The mass that was left, squeezed to get every last drop out!!!
The finished candle!!!!
The dark part at the top is where we used all of the honeycomb even the dirtier looking bits...we didn't have that much so couldn't afford to leave any out. I guess it could've been filtered but not sure what we could have used for this.
And here it is on the seasons table.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
It was difficult to pull out and it therefore arrived at our house in pieces, although one of the edges looked very rounded so definitely not dumped out of a private hive or something.
It was obviously just the empty cells but they felt very waxy, so we decided that we would try to melt it down and see if we could make a candle with it.
At this point I would upload all the pictures we took of the process, but I know that having got this far, they would all end up at the beginning of my post and in the wrong order, so I will need to do that under a different heading later on. Bah!
Monday, 21 September 2009
We gave ourselves the name of Survival Family long before Home Education and long before blogging. When we started our blog it was the obvious thing to call it, but I sometimes wonder if this gives a false image of us.
So to explain our name at this point, as I have been sharing this blog with more people recently, seems right.
It goes back to the summer of 2003 when, for some inexplicable reason, Rob and the boys decided to try to light a campfire in the back garden without matches. The attempts were not amazingly successful and led to research on the internet and ultimately the purchase of a book. This book started a real phase in our lives, one that was to become the basis of all sorts of activities. SAS Survival Handbook by John 'Lofty' Wiseman. Fire lighting led on to shelter building and trap making, and then we bought the boys camo trousers for our trips to the woods. We jokingly gave ourselves the name 'Survival Family' and it sort of stuck.
We are neither military obsessed or regimented in any way!!! Our photos often show the boys in camo gear but it is just because it seems the right gear for the job. Hard wearing and forgiving when it comes to dirt!!!
Over the years we have changed from Survival Family, John 'Lofty' Wiseman style, to The Survival Family. We are more Ray Mears, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tom and Barbara Good style now! The boys still love lighting a fire to cook over and building dens, but we have a different take on Survival now. We keep chickens, quail and ducks. We grow veg and fruit in the garden. We eat little processed or pre packaged food. We forage for free food, making jams and wine from the hedgerow. We collect wood and make paper logs for the fire. We make cards and presents. We make or fix things for ourselves. We do not have a TV licence. We are educating our children ourselves. No, indeed, the boys are educating themselves!! We are moving towards self sufficiency. A long way off, but a life less dependant upon consumerism at least.
So the word survival can be looked at in a slightly different way, than when we first gave ourselves the nickname. We have evolved. Our lives have changed so much in such a short space of time. We have had to adapt. We have moved away from survival in the 'keep yourself alive in an emergency' sense, and more towards survival in the 'look after yourselves and the world around you' sense.
I can't imagine calling ourselves anything else!
Sunday, 13 September 2009
This is Will loading his bow ready for action....
Further to my thoughts on websites recently, Rob has gone a step closer to our own website and 'purchased' a domain name and web space from BT. Now I 'm not really sure how all that works but watch this space because he and Tom will have it all up and running in no time, and I will have no choice but to hop on fo rth eride and hold on tight!!!
David and I are planning a Native American Indian lapbook (Hands of a child), since our little prairie set up inspired by the Little House books, so we thought we'd start with making one of these.......
And this is the fire that Rob made with them the other day as a taster to get the project juices flowing!!!...paper and good old acrylics on a sturdy wooden base with extra logs for effect. Pure genius.
And what is this?!!!!!! Jon and I found this growing on a small tree/shrub along a pathway by some houses while out on Bob the other day. We took a shortcut (ahem!) through Blacksmiths lane that connects the two roads in the next village. It has vehicular acces at each end for the houses but in the middle it narrows to pedestrian access only with the use of bollards. Bob just loves a challenge!! Anyway, I digress. It is very hard so initially thought wierd apple, but the shape is slightly oval/lemony so could it be a whole tree of unripe quinces? Han and I think this the most likely choice...but all suggestions welcome. Answers on a postcard please...or I guess you could just leave a comment....
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Beatrix Potter certainly knew what she was talking about!
Monday, 7 September 2009
Rob made David a wooden knife while we were in the woods on his birthday and then we designed the case from an old leather handbag they picked up in a charity shop for £1.50. It looks frighteningly real!!!!
And this is David's Anakin Skywalker picture. Outline drawn with the aid of carbon paper, and then details added in coloured pencils. He has a good eye for detail and colours, just lacks the confidence to draw things himself. I hope one day he will learn to draw for himself, but until then we will find ways for him to enjoy art.
So today we have.....
David seiving the resulting flour...Will using the letter stamp set while he was waiting!!!
So, voila!! Grain to loaf in three hours....cool huh?
Thursday, 3 September 2009
William the artist....the sunshine can be seen on the left hand side of the paper. We are all obsessed by it in this house!! This is one of several 'masterpieces' he created that day. He paints with a purpose: sometimes he paints a pre-detemined subject, others he paints and decides what it is afterwards.
William helping to unload the dishwasher...he loves to do the cutlery. He also loves to wash up but aswe have no hot running water at the moment (Don't ask. Sore subject. It has been nearly three months!!), this is the next best thing!
William chalking a picture of Louis...he added spots on after I took this picture. I was quite amazed at the detail! He even included representations of each of Louis toys..naming them as he drew them.
And one of our first duck eggs...it was enormous so I had an inkling it would be a double yoker. I had to crack it in to a bowl to show the boys. My question is...would it really be capable of hatching twins?!!! Wouldn't that be so cool!!!!
Most things seem to happen in our kitchen or garden in this family. I didn't include photos of the jars of chutney I made the other day, or the mountain of runner beans that just keep on coming!!! The small, sweet and juicy tomatoes that are ripening at such an amazing rate....hard to believe after they were showing real signs of blight a few weeks ago. A hefty pruning and some sunshine seemed to scare that away.
There have been many changes around here recently and probably a good few more before the year is out I would think. But then that is the nature of Home Education isn't it? Or maybe life in general...well, it is for us anyway. Nothing stands still for long. Things are evolving all the time. We change things to keep us all on our toes!!! We change things to stop things from getting boring and mundane!!! We change things to counteract external things that we have no control over. We change things to try and make something that isn't working terribly well, to work better. Things just change don't they because children change and we need to change with them.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
This is Tom's car!!!!!!!!!
This is the reward that I spoke of in a previous post. Not from us....but from the very wonderful and generous guys on his 4x4 forum. The same guys that take him to the events and sometimes let him drive their cars!
It is a very cool (I have been converted!) Suzuki Vitara soft top, just itching to be modified for off road use. He has had many gifts from the guys in the form of parts. Some posted to the house so that it felt like christmas, and some that he has had to collect...the biggest thanks of all goes to Phil, who has engineered (no pun intended...honestly...well, maybe just a little!) the whole thing.
Tom has done some jobs on Phil's truck..welding and such like, but we never expected anything like this!!!! He has sourced it, brought it here and persuaded others to part with things that he will need to get it done. He has also been the taxi driver on many occaisions. He ha salso said some wonderful things about my son that has brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Phil.
Still, such a wonderful present for a boy his age to get. He has been out there almost non stop since doing things to it. The original bumpers have been removed and he has made a new one for the back from a scaffold pole, I believe. Cut, angled and welded...including brackets for fixing and a tow hitch.
I still look at him and can't believe he is only 14.
So my dear boy, good things come to those who deserve them. You have been a rock to me over the years and in return, I hope I have helped you to grow your own wings, in a way that school would have never allowed. I am so proud of you.
Sand Tom.....Rob drawing around Tom on the sand.
''What is he doing?!''...my caption here, lol
''CHEESE!'' ....William and his new balance bike. Thank you Uncle George and Aunty Taz. Its great!!!
The big boys, camped in Uncle G's and Aunty Taz's garden, while Rob and Will shared the spare room.....thank you so much for your hospitality!! Not everyone would want those two smelly beasties staying with them!!! Or Tom and Jon either...!