Thursday, 31 July 2008

RSS Feeds

In one of blogs I read regularly, I came across a post about RSS feeds today, which linked to another post on the same subject. I am a fairly literate, intelligent person but still I can feel a slight rise in my pulse rate when thinking about this kind of computer stuff. If I am painfully honest, I'm a little bit scared. 'What of?' I ask myself and I'm not sure of the answer.
Two of the reasons given for subscribing to RSS feeds were that it will save me time and mental energy. Anything that will do that has to be a Good Thing. But part of me wonders if it will just eat up more of my time. If it becomes so easy to read other people's blogs all in one place, will I not spend more time sitting in front of my screen rather than intereacting with my family?
I guess that's a question of how much I can discipline myself. While I was away in both Swanage and St David's, I blogged from public computers and only had half-hour sessions. This made for hasty e-mail checks and dashed-off posts. But it also made me wonder how long I really do spend on the computer every day if a half-hour burst seemed so rushed?
The ideas about RSS feeds also made me feel suddenly a little insecure: would more people read my blog if I had an RSS feed? So now it feels like something urgent to sort out and understand. Instead of allowing myself to use the tool to help me, I quickly turn it into a stick to beat myself with, (and you don't even have an RSS feed...!)
So I have subscribed to three blogs by RSS feed and I have put it on my 'to do' list to see if I can do it on this one; perhaps I will find out how in 'Blogging for Dummies' which I still haven't read! And I am a tiny bit proud of myself for this little foray deeper into the world of blogging. Thanks Jennifer for encouraging me!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Summer in the garden

My garden is a noisy place as I write this. My three children are outside in the sunshine running in and out of the water sprinkler. Such simple, innocent and boisterous fun: excitement levels are high! I find it wonderful that cold water can have such a joyful and thrilling effect on small children. It feels so much more wholesome, pure and natural than computer games or tv.
I have to confess that my perfect garden experience would be much more peaceful - a glass of chilled white wine, a good book or a good friend and maybe a plate of summery pasta, like the Puttanesca I shared with Gina on Monday.
While sitting in the garden yesterday evening as dusk fell, my husband and I were treated to our first bat sighting of the year. The bat swooped in and made circuit after circuit over our garden, yummying up all those insects living in my carefully cultivated long grass. My middle son thinks it was a Long Eared bat, although he didn't actually see it and his opinion is based on the frequency of my flapping arms as I demonstrated this morning. I think it is more likely to be a pipistrelle, so my next project is to beg a bat detector off my friend, the Education Officer at the Park ,to measure the frequency of its squeak as this will, I understand, provide a more conclusive identification.
It would seem my garden is providing a valuable environment for all sorts of life!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Puffin and Lizard

Here they are, a fabulous puffin and 'our' common lizard:

Nature - Home and Away

Last Autumn we caught a ten-minute BBC documentary about Skomer Island and the puffins breeding there and the idea for our holiday destination was born. Puffins are enchanting birds and none of us had ever seen one in real life before. I had no idea how much more there is to Skomer and we saw, in addition to the puffins, a short-eared owl, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, choughs, seals and porpoises. Even the wardens were excited about the choughs so I guess they must be quite unusual.
Earlier in the week we had been treated to the sight of a peregrine falcon flying directly over our campsite, harried by a pair of crows. It was the crying of the birds that alerted us to the trio as they flew over. Again, this was a first for us, seeing a peregrine.
As we packed to leave my middle son raced up to me, face glowing with excitement, with a lizard in his hands. We rapidly unpacked a jam-jar (to keep it in while we looked at it) and a field guide (to indentify it, it was a common lizard) - a blessed end to our holiday.

Closer to home, I spent yesterday evening, under the direction of my dear friend Gina, wrestling to begin to get some control in my garden. We were very lucky last year to have the opportunity to purchase a stretch of land behind our garden, thereby doubling its size. I have grand plans for the land and hope to create a friendly place for wildlife, inspired by the book 'How to Make a Wildlife Garden' but I suffer from a dire lack of knowledge, skill or motivation! The only thing that has really taken off so far is the meadow, which is just over-grown grass. The only problem is that it's a little difficult to distinguish from the rest of the over-grown grass! The idea was to have formal beds near the house, gradually becoming wilder in the distance. Gina did wonders last night and is still talking about what we will do in the Autumn so I am greatly encouraged. I don't know what the local wildlife thinks of it but I am hoping it will get their seal of approval. I saw the zebra spider again today, so he at least, must like it!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Whittling a carrot

My eldest son is a very serious chap. Here he is having a man-to-man chat on the beach with his dad.We had gone down to the beach next to the campsite for an afternoon of sandcastles and paddling. We had first found the beach the day after we arrived. In the drizzle, at high tide, it was deserted. As the tide went out a tiny new bay was revealed and we paddled through the waves to get there. It was just like being in the Famous Five! However, on the Sunday afternoon, in bright sunshine and at low tide, the beach was busy, full of happy families and the secret part, which we had felt we discovered for the first time, seemed no more than an 'around the corner' bit of beach. My younger two saw this as no hindrance at all to an afternoon of fun, but my eldest was devastated. Crying with frustration and anger that other people were on 'his' beach, he sulked furiously and his only suggestion as to how we could make the best of things was that we should get rid of everyone else!
After I had given up trying to help, his dad took him for a stroll up and down in the sea, listened to all the things that were wrong and the storm passed (Well done, you!)

For his birthday, we gave his a penknife. (I am still not sure about the wisdom of this, but he is only allowed to have it with adult supervision.) He wants to whittle wooden animals to make a shoe-box zoo. My sister-in-law suggested that he begin practising on soap bars and, extending that idea, I thought he might like to practice on a carrot while we were camping. He was very excited, found his Whittling book for guidance, and set to. He was soon very frustrated. It was much harder that he had anticipated and he proclaimed his attempts 'rubbish'. His goal was to reproduce one of the items demonstrated in his book, first go. I suggested that this might be setting the bar a bit high: how about 'I practiced whittling for ten minutes,' or 'I improved my whittling technique.' After a while he gave up, reluctantly admitting that his technique was about 'thirty times better' than when he had started, but this was not good enough for him.

It makes me sad to see him make life so hard and yet I am learning to accept his nature and to honour who he is.

Reflecting on this, sitting amongst our camping equipment, loads of washed and un-washed laundry, piles of books, maps and story CDs from the car, I am wondering about my own goals. Perhaps I should try:

'I will wash, dry, fold and put away 4 loads of washing,' instead of 'Everything that got dirty or slept in is clean'.

'I decluttered for half-an-hour,' rather than 'There is no clutter in my house'.

'My children are happy, healthy, clean, fed and engaged,' rather than, 'I am a perfect mother.'

'I enjoy blogging and some people enjoy reading my blog,' rather than, (oh no, I'm almost too embarrassed to say,) 'My blog has hundreds of readers/is internationally famous/is the best blog in the whole wide world!'

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Early Morning at Caerfai Bay

This is the view I woke up to this morning; I think it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We were sorry to be leaving. Six hours in the car has brought us home to proper mattresses and the electric kettle but away from the space, the peace and the beach.

Whenever I get back from a holiday I always notice all the things that need sorting out around the house, especially as I try to cram books back onto overloaded shelves and survey the weed-ridden, drought struck garden. It's often a time when I feel overwhelmed and go into planning and list-making overdrive. I think I might print myself a copy of this photo and pin it up over the computer to remind myself that Caerfai Bay is still there, still peaceful, still beautiful, and perhaps to pour myself a draught from the feelings I bottled in St Davids.
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Friday, 25 July 2008

I have completely ground to a halt. We have been on holiday exactly one week now and I have reached a level of apathy/relaxation that I don't remember experiencing for a long time. Simple tasks like providing basic meals, making the beds and persuading the children to get dressed are about the pinnacle of my achievements. Despite finding this lovely cafe open every day with internet access, even the thought of blogging has become too much for me!

The pace of life has become snail-like and worrying about my training for an up-coming half-marathon, September's curriculum, how to develop my writing, how to eat better, lose weight, deepen my spirituality and generally be a better person seems distant and even irrelevant. I have realised that this is the first time my family have been away, just the five of us, ever. We have holidayed with friends and extended family before but never just us. We are enjoying each other's company and cross words are far fewer than at home.

I suspect that there is a connection between the two - between the relaxed pace and the enjoyment of being together.

It feels good, I wish I could bottle it!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

St Davids

It is a beautiful, sunny day here in St Davids and I have discovered a cafe with internet access and the world's best icecream - what more could I ask?

It has been very windy, so much so that the boats to Skomer Island have been cancelled for the last two days so we haven't seen the puffins yet. Our tent stood up to the wind though, which is a great relief.

We have come into St Davids today to go to Choral Mattins at the cathedral. It's not our usual style of worship but I think it will be something special to experience. Yesterday, we visited Pembroke Castle, the birthplace of the Tudor Dynasty. Henry VII's uncle is the namesake of my middle son so he felt a particular connection.

We have drunk a lot of hot chocolate, read a few chapters of Harry Potter, the children have ridden around on their bikes and the adults have eaten hummus and Doritios. We've found time to ponder some of life's deeper questions too, revealing some of what's truly important to the younger members of our family:

If you were a hermaphrodite, what kind of bike would you have?

Which would kill you most, and iceberg or a shark?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

We're all going on a Summer Holiday

The children are in the car and we are ready to go! The library in St Davids, Europe's smallest city, is only open 2 days a week but I am hoping that I will be able to post from there. I'm hoping for good weather, good books and good fun!
I'll be back near the end of July.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Packing, Again!

It's never going to happen, it's never all going to fit in the car!
I am starting to pack, again, for yet another holiday! I have never before been on 3 holidays in the same month, and intend never to do so again. We are setting off tomorrow to Wales. The main point on our agenda is to visit Skomer Island to see the puffins. Unfortunately for our timescales, the puffins are only on the island from mid-June to mid-July, hence packing up so soon. This time all five of us are camping and space in the car is at a premium. At the rate I'm going, I have visions of strapping the children in, surrounding them with bags and cases and giving them snorkels to breathe through!

I have narrowed my selection of books down to 5! This does not include the 2 guide books, the children's books (probably around 15), 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' which I will read aloud to the family and my husbands 2 books (which I doubt he will even open, but I think he felt left out on yesterday's library visit)!

My choices are:

In My Own Words: Henri Nouwen (for spiritual reflection)

The Power of Creative Intelligence: Tony Buzan (self-development!)

Young Children Learning: Barbara Tizard and Martin Hughes (the research I mentioned in a previous post. It looks interesting.)

One Good Turn: Kate Atkinson ('A Jolly Murder Mystery' - looks like good quality light relief!)

and, of course, Eldest: Christopher Paolini (the sequel to 'Eragon')

It looks like there might have to be some tough choices about what else we can take. Can I get away with only one outfit for 11 days?

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Outside lies magic, and zebra spiders!

While I was away, I finished reading 'Outside Lies Magic'. While the initial chapter had excited me, the middle chapters were merely interesting (although I think I lost something in being British as it is an American book.) However, I was out running this morning and the fact that I hardly ran while away and then have tried to make up for lost time over the weekend meant that my legs were not lovin' it today. My faster, fitter partner continued with our planned session while I slowed to an easy jog. Just as we split, I noticed the most beautiful Victorian Almshouses. I have run past these before and never seen them. This reminded me of 'Outside Lies Magic' and so I set off at a leisurely stroll to explore. I found, hidden behind a high corrugated iron fence, what looked like a travellers community; an empty warehouse with one car parked outside and pot plants in the front window; I wondered what park Park Road and New Park Road had replaced and why some roads still had telegraph poles; and I smiled at the house builder's sign with a painting by his son aged 3 in the corner. It was fun!

'Discovering bits and pieces of peculiar, idiosyncratic importance in ordinary
metropolitan landscape scrapes away the deep veneer of programmed learning that
overlies and smothers the self-directed learning of childhood ... and enables
the explorer to navigate according to landmarks and inklings and constellations
wholly personal.'

As we were having a cup of tea in the garden yesterday, my friend Joya, my eldest son and I were delighted to see a zebra spider scuttling across the table. I didn't know it was a zebra spider but my son recognised it at once and dashed off to get 'Garden Wildlife of Britain and Europe' to find out more. For a while we watched it as it jumped over the gaps in the table until it learned that it could reach and, despite our cheering and encouragement, it completely gave up jumping. In an effort to make it perform its entertaining trick again, I gently tapped the table in front of it. It then jumped straight onto my finger! I did not react like a calm, collected naturalist but I embarrassed myself by squealing jumping back and I dropped it, (although once we'd finished laughing at my antics, we found it on the chair and continued to watch.) I am still impressed as I consider this tiny creature both at its intelligence, demonstrated by its learned behaviour, and its considerable eyesight. I don't know what it thought my finger was, but it quite clearly saw me and decided to jump on me! It was only little, but I had the distinct sense of contact with another sentient being.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

I have just finished reading Eragon. Originally I chose it from the library for my eldest son, a voracious reader, especially of fantasy. He did not like it and in retrospect I think it is perhaps a bit old for him (he is 9) but I loved it and was gripped.

After all his adventures the hero, Eragon, has defeated the evil Shade. A rite of passage for him, through it he accepts his destiny and becomes ready to fulfill his role as a Dragon Rider. The final chapter held some words that really spoke to me:
'He had lost much that was dear to him, yet fate had given him rare and great
gifts; for the first time, he was proud of simply who he was. As if in response
to his brief self-confidence, the Shade's smothering blackness assaulted him
anew. His indentity trailed into the void as uncertainty and fear consumed his
perceptions. ... He fought against the Shade's sinsister thoughts, weakly at
first, then more strongly. He whispered words of the ancient language and found
they gave him enough strength to withstand the shadow blurring his mind.'

I am not thinking of those adult, rational, re-considerations of a choice or of direction, but of those insidious doubts, the 'demons', that snake out from the dark recesses of my mind in lonely or stressed moments and threaten to swallow me.

I would like to learn to 'words of the ancient language': perhaps some of Philip Yancey's, ' I am not yet made perfect and I am already forgiven'; perhaps the love notes sent me by my husband and children; perhaps making a note when someone offers me upbuilding or encouraging words; perhaps even my own assessment of a job well done. I would like to be proud of simply who I am.

The Little Gym

Yesterday, we all went to see my eldest son in his end of term gym 'show'. He has been with 'The Little Gym' for three years now. I was reminded of his first term, when he was just 6. He would watch longingly through the big plate-glass window at his brother in the younger class and then he would watch his own class, but joining in was too much for him and he was overwhelmed him with shyness and fear. After a few weeks he'd watch from inside. A couple more weeks and he'd join in the warm up behind a pillar where no-one could see him. Then he would follow the class from one activity station to the next. It took 10 weeks for him to grow the courage to join in. Even so, the first end of term show was too much of a challenge and he could not show his new skills to the audience of parents, only to my husband and me when no-one else was watching.

Seeing him yesterday, performing skillfully and with confidence was magic! He has come so far both in his gymnastic ability and, more importantly, his confidence. Well done, son!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

What will your kids think of you when you're gone?

As I drove through the park this morning, I caught a few minutes of Saturday Live on Radio 4. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty (a civil liberties campaigning organisation) was sharing her 'inheritance track', the song she would hand on to her child. In her words, this very special question 'goes to that dark place, what will your kids think of you when you're gone, will they think you broadly did a good job or you broadly screwed their lives up?'

I sat up and took notice. She expressed a thought that lurks in the darkest corners of my mind and that whispers in the despair of the awful moments of being a mother. The decisions I make so carefully for my children: religion, education, the toys they play with and the food they eat; the reflex behaviours which erupt from my own insecurites, phobias and plain old bad temper; how will they influence, even damage, my children? Is it enough to do the best I can with the information I have and the personality I am? And what else is possible?

To hear this expressed by a prominent and respected woman in the bright sunshine on national radio made me think, 'Do all mothers feel like this?' This came as a huge relief. Perhaps it seems obvious, maybe we all think it and I guess the truth is that we will never know the answer.

Friday, 11 July 2008

My little girl has learned to swim!

For the last six years we have spent a week in the summer in the same luxurious converted barn which shares a pool with the five or six other holiday cottages on the farm. I realised this morning that all three of my children have learned to swim in this pool.

The year my eldest learned to swim he had begun to understand the dangers of not being able to swim and did not want to get in the pool at all. We managed to coax him in by measuring him against his father and comparing where he came up to and where the water came up to on dad's stomach, demonstrating that he was, just about, in his depth. With this security he was eager to jump in and play. Before long, he was swimming.

My middle son is a very different build to his older brother and even at a comparable age he was out of his depth. We showed him how he could touch the bottom and jump up to get his head above water and he kangarooed around the pool quite happily. He wanted to learn to swim independently and when he thought no-one was looking began to swim across the corner near the steps, not too far from something to grab hold of. When he was a little more confident he began to swim along the length of the pool, right by the edge so he could stop and hold on when he needed to. I could see the determination on his face and his desire to set himself progressively harder challenges until he was swimming boldly.

My daughter has been happy to swim with her 'woggle' (a noodle shaped piece of foam) for a long while, or if she is held. But as soon as I let go she would stop paddling and sink. It has taken many, many widths of the pool with dad's hands just touching her stomach, to give her the confidence to go it alone and she is justifiably very proud of her achievement.

Reflecting on these experiences I can see two truths. My children have all learned to swim in very different ways and have needed very different help from us because they are unique individuals. Also, they have needed security, safety, before they have been able to cross the line. My job is to apply these truths as I parent and educate them.
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Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A glass of milk and a chocolate biscuit

Twice in the last 24 hours, my two boys have had a bust up. On both occasions, my middle son has been upset by something that my older son has been excited about, without any intention of causing hurt. I am a great believer in listening to and respecting the children's feelings, it's what my parenting books tell me, and my basic counselling skills training. But it's the hardest thing about being a mother, especially a full-time, Home-educating mother: the sheer volume of messy, difficult, irrational, unpleasant and grouchy feelings, (not just the children's but mine too!) Both these incidents involved my elder son being proud and excited about something he had done, and my middle son feeling jealous, angry and embarrassed. Big feelings, no easy answers. My best effort: a cuddle, a discussion about the need to state feelings clearly and trying to imagine the impact your actions may have on others, a glass of milk and a chocolate biscuit. The difficult feelings are still there, I just hope that this painful experience is one step along the path to greater emotional intelligence, that the acceptance of the feelings strengthens self-respect and that I've got enough chocolate biscuits in the cupboard for the remainder of the week!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

More thoughts from Swanage

The sun is shining today, the children have gone out to the beach with their grandparents and my husband and I are going for a six mile walk. It is not often that we get extended time together, certainly not in daylight hours without children so it will be good to talk things over and reconnect.
We had fun yesterday on our quick visit to Swanage. While I blogged the boys read in the library and my middle son was eager to show me the pictures of peregrine falcons and capercaille he had found. Afterwards, we bought chips from adjacent chip shops and decided which we liked best. The seagulls congregated greedily around us waiting for scraps. I mused about whether they would be so interested if we had apples, or apple slices wrapped up in white paper? How do they know that we've got chips?
We had a beautiful view of a buzzard as it glided over the road and landed on a telegraph pole. My middle son was particularly impressed, likening it to golden eagle.
During the rain yesterday we started a thousand piece jigsaw of 'Kings and Queens of England and the United Kingdom'. The boys occasional placed a piece with a comment like, 'Chainmail, must go around here,' or, 'I recognise you, you're Henry VIII's son.'
My eldest has read the delightfully entitled 'Why is Snot Green?' I now know that there are four ways to be struck by lightning, including being splashed by electric charge that has grounded near by! He was insistent that I should never wash-up during a thunderstorm as apparently this is dangerous. (I can add that to my reasons not to wash up!)
In the face of such enthusiatic and voracious learning, I am still happily planning September's curriculum. I'm not sure why. Despite being the adult, I think it is me that needs the security blanket!

Monday, 7 July 2008

What am I writing for?

Here I am in Swanage library. We holiday with my very generous in-laws every year and it is the one week of my year when there are more adults than children around so I am not so much in demand as usual and I savour the opportunity to reflect and plan, to read and to think. I carefully chose which books to bring from the pile, both physical and metaphorical, waiting to be read and selelcted seven! One book I picked up off the library shelf before I left was Blogging for Dummies. I hope I'm not a 'dummy' but I am hoping to pick up some tips and ideas on how to make my blog an even more interesting place to visit. One of the books I've been reading is Peter Elbow's 'Writing with Power' which is also making me think about what I'm writing for, who I'm writing to. And then, by one of my favourite writers, Henri Nouwen, I discovered this:
I decided not to go to the library to do research on the topic but instead just
kept asking myself what I knew about it. What did I have available from my own
experience? What did I know about it? Did I have some experience with
this topic that I could articulate so that other people could recognize it as a
real experience? ... to say, in effect, " I don't know the answers either. I am
simply a catalyst, simply somebody who wants to articulate for you things that
you already know but might get a better grip on if there are some words for

In a moment the blurriness focussed. This is what I would love my blog to be, what I aspire to, and what I love in the blogging of others. The feeling in my gut when I read something that puts into words what I has sensed, suspected, felt but had never drawn out before, never examined before, is very special. I hope that as I blog more and find my writer's voice, this is what this blog might become.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Questions, questions

It frequently suprises me how little I know. Not only that, but how much I don't even realise that I don't know. My eldest son once asked me how thick a rainbow is. The question fascinated me, the concept had never occured to me.

In the one Home Ed seminar I managed to get to at HESFES, I was reintroduced to some research on thirty four-year-olds and the conversations they had with their mothers at home and with teachers at school. The researchers found that these girls asked an average of 26 questions an hour of their mothers and only 2 per hour of teachers. In addition, the questions asked of the teachers were mostly 'business' questions, 'Where's the glue?', but that 'challenges' were rare and 'passages of intellectual search', entirely absent. The amazon review of this book describes how:
'conversations at home revealed the children as persistent and logical thinkers, puzzling to grasp new ideas.'
There are times that I find my childrens' questions exhausting and I feel like Mrs Butler, but at the same time I marvel at the pondering and contemplation that brings forth these questions. I delight in the passages of intellectual search and the puzzling to grasp new ideas. I love the belief that the world and its inhabitants should make sense and I often find that what I have taken for granted or never considered does not make sense at all.

My husband's school breaks up for the Summer today and we are driving down for a week's holiday in Corfe Castle and the seaside at Swanage. I am hoping to find an internet cafe and post while away. If not, I'll be back next Friday.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Reading the Label

Sitting outside my freshly erected tent on Friday evening, I noticed a man approaching me. A man with two dogs and a child - my child! He introduced himself and informed me that he had rescued my middle son from a thorn bush. After I thanked him and he had gone on his way, I asked my son how he had got into the thorn bush. Apparently, it was the only way out of the field he was in. I asked him why he hadn't stayed on the path and he told me that he hadn't been on a path in the first place!
On Saturday a friend told me that she'd suggested quite firmly to him that wriggling under the static caravans wasn't a good idea, even if it was to rescue a ball.
On Sunday evening, my neighbour told me that my son had proudly informed him earlier in the day that he'd found an axe when he has slipped into the marquee before it was open and found it backstage. My neighbour was impressed with the size of the axe, which he had taken away and handed back to the crew.
I pondered these incidents. Once I had moved on from the horrors of what could have happened I was struck by a new and powerful realisation: he will always be like this! He is an adventurer, a confident, independent and physical child. He already talks about the round the world trip he will take in a camper van when he is a grown up. For a long time now I have been waiting for him to calm down, to be more sensible, more safe, more like his brother. But I don't think he will and my view of him has abruptly come into focus: this is who he is and my role is to equip him to be safe in his adventures.
I have consistently fallen into the trap of seeing my eldest as the blue print and I miss the uniqueness of all of my three children by doing this. At HESFES I briefly attended a seminar on the legal aspects of Home Ed and was reminded that UK law states that a child must be educated according to their 'age, ability and aptitude.' Ability is what the child has already achieved. Aptitude is the natural talents and interests that a child has, the child's scope for development in the future. Each of my children is one-of-a-kind and my role is to encourage, support and provide for three distinct aptitudes. My middle son needs equipping with survival skills, organisational strategies, physical skills, road safety; I need to help him find ways of looking after himself and taking responsibility for himself, of making sure he has what he needs. I need to look for ways of letting him have adventures. He is already a Beaver and I am sure that Scouts will be full of opportunities for him. I will get find Ray Mears or Bear Grylls DVDs; I will send him camping with trusted male adults. I want to figure out what nourishment I can give his emergent nature.
I am cautious of labelling people: one son is my adventurer and the other my quiet writer. Labels are unhelpful, even dangerous, when they close my eyes to the possibility of change or experiment, of other; if they become a limit. If they are a signpost to recognising the unique needs, desires, competencies and aptitudes of my three children, enabling me to encourage them to be who they are, who they were created to be and to discover all their potential then it is important that I carefully read the label.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Home Again!

I'm home. Tired, sun-burned, mosquito bitten but full of good memories and ideas to ponder. I missed writing this blog and processing my thoughts. The first couple of mornings I was up long before the children and sat in the morning sun with coffee and pain au chocolat and my morning pages notebook, a leftover from The Artists Way and mulled. I even thought I might just write out posts and type them all in when I got home. It didn't last and soon the children were getting up with, or even before me - not a moment to think!

It was good to be around other Home Edders, not just the mothers, and it is mostly mothers, but also the young people. To see them all together, socialising, learning, playing just like normal children! But I would say there was a subtle difference. Now, I don't know much about fashion and what's hot on the street, but I would say there was a refreshing non-comformity about the young people, even when they chose to wear a uniform. What do I mean by uniform? A lovely group of girls on our "street" were all wearing items of tie-dyed orange. Eye-catching, bright, funky, distinctive and it marked them out as a group. I would guess, although I didn't ask, that maybe they didn't all like orange, perhaps they wouldn't choose it as a colour on its own merit, but they belonged together as a group of friends and they wanted to express this. They could choose not to wear the colour, they could choose a skirt or a t-shirt or shorts, they could wear it how they liked and they looked good. It said they belonged, and they did, because they chose to. I liked it.