Sunday, 27 April 2014

Sunbrick Lane

What a rich and fulfilling day it has been.We woke up to sunshine at 7.00 and by 7.30am my daughter was out in the fields walking the dogs at our local kennels.Two pet sheep needed to be bottle fed and I learned for the first time this morning that cola bottles with teats will do- not bottles similar to those used to feed babies.These lambs were skittish,they ran to be fed and then ran away, not wanting to be petted and held.

After breakfast of bagels and coffee we decided to walk the mile and a half to our local church where my daughter was performing a play called The Seeker. Eight young teenagers in the village have been meeting monthly to socialise and prepare for a performance.It has demanded commitment, hard work and learning lines but it all came together and the girls pulled it off! Their reward - home made chocolate brownie afterwards!

We walked the mile and a half home racking up our mileage for our forthcoming sponsored walk in aid of the National Autistic society and then it was the St Georges Day Service for Scouts on Birkrigg common. I left my daughter and walked up the common until I looked down on Morecambe Bay. I stumbled across Sunbrick Quaker Burial ground beyond a small arch .The only thing hinting of its exsistance was a plaque on which it stated that Margaret Fell and her second husband George Fox (the founder of Quakerism) were buried there.

I continued down the hill and through a farm yard onto a bridle path lined with hedges full of blossom and dry stone walls built from the limestone on which Birkrigg is based. I thought I heard a peacock but as I didn't see it it may have been a figment of my imagination. I did however see a rabbit amongst the bracken!

Back on the road again I walked back towards Birkrigg with it's view of Ulverston and Hoad monument and took a short detour down to Little Urswick with its tarn before returning to pick up my daughter who had been orienteering on the common.

It has been a lovely day and even now the sun continues to shine! Tomorrow I will have to do some gardening!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Scrap yards and Charity Shops

Well he did it! My eldest has passed his driving test FIRST TIME! It was interesting the way the 'non home educating' people reacted when he told them that he had his test and would be coming to work in his car the next day. "That's if you pass" they said " Oh I will" he replied. He had faith you see, in his abilities. He wasn't boasting or showing off- he was just confident because no one had ever put the doubt in his mind that he couldn't or wouldn't do it. Although it's not strictly home education it really is- because it's just a continuation of the life long learning we've encouraged since we started home educating his younger brother.

He got his theory test under his belt as soon as he turned seventeen. He started his apprenticeship a month later than his peer group who returned to college in September and he decided to spend the time revising for his theory. My son, who hated the 'falseness' of school and exams, had a reason to teach himself the highway code because he wanted to drive.

So the test is passed, the car is on the drive (he's had that since he was fourteen) and it now has new alloys and fog lights and little tiny dust caps that look like green die with dots on each face of the cube.

He paid for his driving lessons himself (his suggestion) as he felt there would be more motivation to pass . He has also been saving for the insurance with the money he's earned since he started his apprenticeship. A lesson is comparison websites and doing his research, brought the price down to £500 less than he thought he would need to pay. Next came the lesson in using a cash back sites which reduced it by a further £40. Not bad for a maths lesson!

He then took the very mature decision to be patient and wait to the end of the month (another seven days) so that he could buy his car tax at the beginning of the month and make the most of his money. He doesn't know it yet but we'll pay for his car tax- we are so very proud of him.

So this time next week he will start learning to drive for real and I suspect that our passion for charity shop finds will be widening to scrap yard bargains in the future.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Straw in our Wellies!

As my daughter sat in the sunshine the other day I was struck once again how creative children are when they are allowed to express themselves. She sat quietly under the trees weaving herself a blue bell crown oblivious to us all and enjoying her solitude. When she came running over to show me what she'd done I suggested we take some photos and here are the results.

A few minutes later she had jumped onto the tractor mower and was driving round the garden  laughing and grinning from ear to ear with her crown on her head looking more like an imp than a fairy!

She really is an outdoor girl.She spent the day bottle feeding lambs and ringing tails yesterday,putting stones back on top of dry stone walls  and sadly discovered a dead ewe and a lamb which had been poisoned by eating too much clover, grown according to my daughter , as a result of too much nitrogen in the soil.( I still need to google that snippet of information).They'd had to move the flock out of the field to another in order to deal with the problem.

She is really looking forward to her G.C.S.E in land management next year and we are really fortunate that a local benefactor has given money to the school to allow them to run the course.

I suppose it will just mean more wellies at the back door full of straw when she gets home!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Difficult Decision - Aspergers,choosing and sharing

Look what I found in my fridge yesterday! There is nothing like the Autistic mind to make you smile on occasion! When I asked my son if he thought we should all label the biscuits,cakes and drinks in the house with our names he didn't think that was a very good idea!

I remember when he was three or four years old we had an easter egg hunt in the garden. My son disappeared upstairs and after a while came back to play. When I asked him where he had put his eggs he said they were upstairs. Up I went and there on the bedroom floor was a myriad of discarded coloured foil wrappers which he had dropped on the floor.It never occurred to him to hide the evidence.

Sharing was a huge problem, it still can be but it's getting better. He could never envisage buying a larger bottle ofr drink in the shop because the cost was less, and sharing with his siblings, even though it would often mean he got the same amount or even more.He always had to have his 'own' bottle. Nowadays he will share but it doesn't occur to him to offer.You have to ask!

Choosing is a challenge too.In a sweet shop there were often too many different types of sweet on offer and he just shut down and couldn't decide. We learnt to give him the choice of two. Similarly in restaurants we try and get a menu beforehand so that he can make a choice before we go.We're not allowed to choose for him and I've slowly learned to NEVER make assumptions about what he might like.It doesn't work.He would rather sit without anything in front of him while you eat than eat anything you have dared to order but he hasn't asked for!

Anyway, you live and learn and it keeps you on your toes! If anyone has any similar challenges I would be pleased to hear them!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Only a Stones throw away!

I love the things I see when I'm walking. This is the start of the Cumbria Way in Ulverston, the town where Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy fame) was born.The railings were full of pottery creations made by the local children in the school holidays.

It's a lovely stroll up Gill Banks in the evening sunshine

Then up the country lanes towards Osmotherly.Look who I met on the way!

Today my travels took me in a different direction.

The lanes of the Lake District are suddenly blooming! The verges were brimming with  primroses , violets and wood anemones.

There were Marsh marigolds in the brook

and a magical carpet of violets and celandines!

It never ceases to blow me away despite the fact that I was born in this area more than half a century ago!

Lunch was a banquet of cheese ciabatta and crisps, on the banks of a little beck with my favourite companion!

whose little legs had worn down two inches by the time we got home.

A really lovely couple of days,being at one with nature and learning as we go!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Dare to be different!

As I sat in the car waiting for my daughter to finish her stint at the kennels today , I caught sight of a heron in my mirror as it swooped down into the brook .It stood for a few minutes and once again I was reminded how lucky I am to live the lifestyle  I do.

My muscles are aching today.After a long walk yesterday, I walked to The Manjushri Centre, round the beautiful gardens which are filled with camellias at the moment and back to the leisure centre where my daughter was doing gym. It couldn't have been much further than three miles but I could feel the muscles pulling as I walked along.

Last night a group of us went to see Divergent at the cinema..We really enjoyed it although my daughter,who had read the book, said there were some parts missing.What struck me was the theme running through,namely that if you're different you pose a threat.Being different frightens and threatens people.That's certainly been the experience of my son with Aspergers,it's the minority of people who are open minded and non judgemental- difference frightens most of society and there seems to be a need to suppress it.

Ironically that's exactly what I am trying to promote in my children.
The confidence to believe in themselves and to stick to their principals, even when everyone around disagrees  with them. It's the harder option, but the peace it brings when you know you've made the right choice is incalculable.

Recently I read about a book called Wreck this Journal and I bought it for my daughter. The idea is to encourage the reader to do things which would normally go against convention,such as throwing the book across the room or reading it in the shower, or drawing on tne cover.It's about stretching your boundaries, doing things you normally wouldn't have the guts to do, which you have been taught are 'wrong' and to question why? If we all did it more often life would be so much more exciting for everyone.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Home Education gets our vote!

I had plenty of time to think back over the week as I set off for Broughton on my C2B preparations today.

It's been a busy week. My husband has just taken his last exam in his diploma for the Institute of Fire engineers which should mean that he is an accredited engineer if he passes. Learning at home seems to have become a habit for all of us. The other day he sent me a text "Have you heard of  Sugata Mitra?Google him!"
At first I thought he must be someone sinister but then I realised he was the Indian professor who introduced a computer into a whole in the wall in a street in Delhi and watched the Indian children as they played with it.You can read about it here:-
His ideas are similar to those of John Holt- children learn for themselves, you just need to facilitate them.

I smiled as I remembered back to  when my Autistic son was struggling so much at school . I began to read about home education and a weight was lifted off when I realised it would work. My husband took longer to convince but he is a convert.He is now advocating autonomous education because he knows that it works- he's seen the evidence!

My daughter came back from her trip from London even more convinced, having attended a performance of Wicked that she wants to study drama and dance. Her brother meanwhile has struggled with his dad being away and has stuck rigidly to routine to help him through. Food has been an issue for a couple of days- he's hungry but refuses anything you offer and ear defenders have been firmly planted on his head. He managed a KFC but offers of a meal at the Brewers Fayre or Pizza Hut were refused as they are places you eat "as a family". Teaching has mainly been through discussion although a new World War 2 book has been devoured.

My daughter spent the day curled up in bed yesterday reading Divergent . She wanted to finish it before we see the film tonight. It's lovely to see her enjoying books so much. Meanwhile, I've been gardening, planting seeds, making plant lables and cutting back.
Home made plant labels

Wall flowers

The wallflowers are doing well too in the fish crate we rescued from the beach last year!

I also took part in the ladies choral class of the South Cumbria Music Festival too. We didn't win but we got our highest mark ever and a fantastic feeling of achievement. Perhaps the judge's best comment was that we " Brought lots of Joy". We can't really complain at that can we?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Why teach others when you can teach yourself?

Sometimes you blink and when you open your eyes you are in a different place from where you expected to be. That's where I am right now. I'd actually rather not be right here but I've learned lots along the way. Most importantly to be patient. 

Things won't always go in accordance with my time scale. There is a reason, I just don't know what it is yet. So I'm living in the moment and enjoying the now.

I've been in the garden splitting perennials.The daffs are in full bloom and the forget-me-nots are flowering.

I caught sight of a sheep after it had just given birth the other day,a sight that really lifts the spirits.It's a lovely time of year.

My daughter left for London early this morning to watched 'Wicked' at the London Apollo theatre and visit the Science museum.

My son went off to work- hopefully he won't be sent home today because he has a cold and might give it to someone(We rarely do ill in this house- so that went down like a ton of lead)

and my youngest is asleep on the sofa, having been up all night AGAIN.

I have sheets of music on the table as I'm singing in a music festival tonight and I have a book to read about the last Chinese Empress. so today is 'Home ed yourself day'. It will be my son's turn later at some unearthly time of night.It takes all sorts!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Special moments

Some times when life is hectic,you need to just stop for a moment and ponder. I may not have blogged much but I've had many treasured moments which have kept me going. Here are just a few of them....