Wednesday, December 31, 2008

101 Things to Do in 1001 days

I found this on the Home Baked Education blog on the Early Years HE blogring. This was originally taken from here. The rules are simple:

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

I feel like I need a bit of focus in my life at the moment. You would think that I would have enough to focus on, what with M being with me all the time and running a book selling business, but I am such a procrastinator that things never seem to get done.
So here goes:

1. Enrol and attend a French class
2. Get my Swiss driving licence
3. Translate Vaud school laws
4. Translate Vaud curriculum
5. Knit cupcake tea cosy
6. Sew an item of clothing for me
7. Paint a clock for the living room
8. Send 10 cards 'just because' (0/10)
9. Save 5 cents in a jar and donate to charity
10. Cook proper chinese meal once a month (1/33)
11. Finish my latin book
12. Learn chinese
13. Get my clarinet fixed
14. Write proper meal planner 3 weeks out of 4 (3/107)
15. Go swimming once every 3 weeks (1/107)
16. Visit Eden project
17. Visit Centre for Alternative technology
18. Lose 10kg in 6 months (1.7/10)
19. Buy a camper van
20. Investigate Le Jardin Potager and decide between that and Bio Direct
21. Read Buddhism Made Simple
22. Take and hang arty pics for kitchen
23. Do graffiti photo project
24. Make a recipe file
25. Keep flickr up to date
26. Keep BookStore up to date monthly (1/33)
27. Read the Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
28. Sort out the basement
29. Make M a bow and arrow, and take him out to use them
30. Go snowboarding 6 times (0/6)
31. Create a balcony garden
32. Replace toilet paper
33. Write blog at least once a week (3/143)
34. Set up Usborne group forum
35. Do previous 4 years of filing
36. Organise my inbox
37. Make a will
38. Go geocaching
39. Join the library
40. Meet up with Home Ed families once a month (0/33)
41. Complete NaNoWriMo
42. Meet up with 5 online friends (0/5)
43. Have a Dharma and Greg marathon
44. Clean out my parents house of my stuff
45. Create a timeline in the hall
46. Visit the St Bernard museum
47. Visit Chateau Prangins
48. Go down the salt mines at Bex (big fear factor this one!)
49. Make M a tepee
50. Make M a knights costume
51. Update our map
52. Go strawberry picking
53. Go mushroom picking
54. Make a meal from foraged stuff
55. Do the Moonwalk
56. Do a lapbook with M
57. Take M to the park at least once a fortnight (0/72)
58. Watch a French movie in French (without subtitles) once a month (0/33)
59. Sort out beads and put up for sale
60. Go on a cooking course
61. Buy an Olive tree
62. Save 1CHF a day for 1001 days and then blow the lot at the end
63. Read a book about the history of Switzerland
64. Tidy my bedroom once a week 2/143)
65. Knit a pair of socks
66. Travel around Spain for a month
67. Travel the length of Italy including Sicily
68. Attend a first aid course
69. Join Pronatura for a year
70. Go on a Pronatura event
71. Read every bookclub book even if I don't go to each meeting (1/1)
72. Ensure that 50% of the presents I give are homemade or second hand (hm 1/new 2)
73. Sail on Lac Leman
74. Go to bed before 10pm every night for a week (0/7)
75. Don't use the computer for 48 hours when I am at home
76. Have lymphatic drainage
77. Buy a saxophone
78. Learn to play the saxophone
79. Visit the Fairy Grotto in St Maurice
80. Visit another medieval re-enactment
81. Dress up at medieval re-enactment
82. Have a 35th birthday party
83. Visit the Papiliorama
84. Make a kite and fly it
85. Make and edit a video with M
86. Visit the chateau at Aigle
87. Visit the Alimentarium museum
88. Stop buying 10 foods that have excess packaging and make my own (0/10)
89. Cut my rubbish in half
90. Cook every recipe from 'Vegetarian Main Dishes from Around the World' (2/75)
91. Learn to roller skate or skateboard
92. Go to an ice hockey match
93. Go walking with MC
94. Go to the top of a mountain and shout very loudly
95. Do a bridge/crab/that thing you do at gymnastics when you bend your back backwards
96. See the osteopath again (may need it after doing no. 95!)
97. Visit a homeopath
98. Write to tax office to tell them I haven't lived in the UK for 4 years
99. For friends to fill in for me (any suggestions welcome!)
For friends to fill in for me (any suggestions welcome!)
Donate 5CHF to Terre des Hommes for any tasks not done

This list finishes on Saturday, 1st October 2011...

(Completed tasks in blue, tasks in progress in red)

Monday, December 15, 2008

A bit of a panic and French

We received a letter today, inviting us to an open evening of the education system (or something like that) so that we can hear what the directrice of the area has to say.

It set my heart aflutter a little bit. I know that M doesn't have to legally go to school yet, but the fact that they've sent us this first letter, and apparently will send us another one in January just got me worried.
The way they big up these 2 years of 'cycle initial' makes you think - how can we possibly refuse?

Which brings me onto the French. M has, for a long while now, refused to learn French. I've tried the softly, softly approach and the 'right we are sitting down at the table and learning French' approach. But up until now, my varied approaches have fallen on deaf ears. Until now. We can now have basic conversations and he is asking what words are in French.

My little boy really does come to decisions in his own way. The idea that he had to do it meant that there was no way in hell that he was going to, but if he can decide to do it himself, I believe that he will enjoy it more. Which makes sense really, but that sort of decision making is just not possible in the school system.

I would much rather he came to decisions on his own, and enjoy a subject than be forced into doing something he wants to, and not enjoy it. The idea that children should have to learn to 'do what they are told' and learn to do things they don't want to seems a bizarre concept to me.

I was lucky that I loved school (probably because I excelled in most things) and was able to drop the subjects I didn't enjoy (history) as soon as I could.

Of course the worry we had (and A still has really) is that M's French won't be good enough and will be forced into school. Of course my argument is that kids at the International schools here only learn French as a second language, so why should M have to learn in French? Of course, these fears aren't particularly backed up with fact, as we (read that as I) have yet to fully translate the education/curriculum laws.

Anyway, its amazing how one little letter can throw things up a bit. I'm sure it'll all be fine.........

Friday, October 03, 2008

Toy Fair

We are aiming to go to the Toy Fair in Bern this afternoon, meeting up with a family of home edders who we get on really well with, even though their boys are much older than M.
I may be in considerable pain by the end though as a siege tower somehow (god knows how, after all it wouldn't be just left lying on the floor would it?) got embedded in the bottom of my foot and although it isn't a huge cut, I foolishly decided that it didn't needing tending to and have continued walking around barefoot as is my norm and now it feels slightly tender.

Of course, we may not go to the toy fair at all, as I have just received an email from D saying that has been a fire in the hall so maybe it has been closed down. Just getting A on the case (being the German speaker and actually working in the city it occurred - the online news sites here seem to be slower than the newspaper for up to date news).

Oh, looks like its just the model hall which is damaged, but the list of model exhibitors exhibiting is still as long as your arm. Shame in some ways, as the model hall is the place that bores me rigid. Two years ago when we went, A and M spent the longest time in there, so this time I am taking a book! What a terrible person I am.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Do you have permission?

Something is bothering me.

On a forum I'm a member of, there is periodically a question about travelling abroad alone with your child/ren, particularly to the US.

The question revolves around what authorisation you have to take your child out of the country (or into another one) without both parents being present.

A lot of families have obtained a notarised authorisation stating that the father of the child gives the mother
(or vice versa) permission to travel alone with the child.

Got me thinking. Why the hell should you have to prove that you have the right to travel with your child? Why is there an assumption that a child is in a 2 parent family anyway? If I was a single parent, would I need to have the father's permission to enter, e.g. the US with my child? And what makes some passport control officers choose certain individuals to question? I know of several people who have been asked for authorisation several times and many others who have never been asked.

Most people would say that if there's a possibility that you will be refused entry to the country then you might as well get the notarised permission. But for me, it is about the principle of the thing.

I understand that in a few cases, one parent may be trying to remove the child from the care of the other parent illegally. But surely, that happens so rarely that isn't the onus on the authorities to prove these few illegal cases, rather than on parents to prove that they are legal and above board?
Oh, no, silly me, its just the gloomongerers and pessimists who get to make the rules, common sense and TRUST doesn't come into it.
Makes me sad.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Photo Day

Yesterday we did a photo day swap. The little boy is the son of someone on a forum I'm a member of.
So I thought I'd post it here too.
We managed to bring home chicken pox with us from our holiday so the first few days back have been spent inside.

In bed with mummy - she was telling me about Billy Bones, Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins!

Jumping on mummy and daddy's bed.

My breakfast - a milk roll and sirop

Helping mummy to empty the dishwasher

Watching Lazytown, the Tweenies and Boo!

I'm doing some playmobil games on my computer. I can't wait until the new pirate game starts.

I was jumping down and also mummy was taking pictures and I loved it.

This is my volcano.

This is my lunch. It is brilliant and cool and fantastic and a bit spicy. It is (falafel) sausages and carrot.

I was dancing with a ball.

We made a pirate ship that I got for my birthday from C with stuff that you cut and stick on with water.

I played a game with mummy. She was princess Clara and I was the bad knight and I had to steal daddy's metal (medal) by spelling mummy and she fell asleep and I stole the metal.

I helped mummy take the shopping out of the bags. We got a big box of apple juice so I can have apple juice and sirop for a drink.

A came through into the living room at 7.45 after making his dinner to find this.........

I guess all that photo posing was too much for him!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Walking and Pampering

Yesterday we decided to get a hike in before the weather turns bad and the snow starts to come. I know that is probably several weeks away, but we are going on holiday next week for 2 weekends and then I have lots of book sales and stuff booked so it may be our last opportunity to get up into the mountains, which is really sad.

So we went up to Leysin on the cable car, and walked down to the village which took 1h 45mins, which according to A took us 15mins less than when we last did the walk in 2005, which made me so chuffed. Losing a bit of weight really does make a difference.

The sun was very hot though. We were slathered in cream, but I still managed to get a bit pink.
M was happy in the backpack as usual. He fell asleep for about an hour and was so amusing when he woke up. I knew exactly when he fell asleep because he stopped talking! That boy really does start talking when he wakes up and doesn't stop unless he is watching tv or asleep. Even eating doesn't stop him!

I need to get him used to walking more though. I think its probably just habit that he is in the backpack when we hike, but I'm sure that next summer A won't be able to carry him.

I needed to get home by at the latest, 6pm as I was going for a Mary Kay wellness session but we got to the train station at 4.10pm and the train left at 3.58pm. So we had to wait until 4.58pm for the next one which meant that I didn't get home until 6.30pm, leaving me 15mins to have a shower, get dressed and eat before my friend arrived to collect me. I ended up having a packet of crisps on the train. Such a healthy and sustaining dinner!

The pampering session was good. Nice to get a chance to chat to a few people that I only ever see with child in tow.
One of the women there is such an educator though. She firmly believes in early learning, the school way, and is very up to date with all the legal stuff going on in Switzerland at the moment with regards to education and is very happy to quote stuff at me.
I realise that I am probably quite ostrich-like, but I figure that as M legally doesn't have to go to school until 2011, I'll worry about it then.
Her latest thing is that apparently last year, Lausanne passed a law stating that all children must follow a Swiss-French syllabus. Strange then, that noone I know who is home educating in Lausanne has even mentioned it. And what about the International Schools? Surely they must have an exemption, so there must be a loop hole available somewhere to exploit.....

I also got quizzed on the system that we are using, specifically a reading system.
Stunned silence and disbelief when I said that we didn't. Why do we need to, when he's doing perfectly okay on his own?
To be honest, I felt sorry for them, so I said that we had subscribed to Education City, but not as a regular activity, just whenever he feels like using the computer. The sighs of relief were audible. I tried to make it clear that its not a 'timetabled' activity, its completely up to M when he does it, but I could tell that by then the relief that we actually had something in our possession written by experts blocked everything else I said, out!

Amusing conversation this morning:
Me: Can you do the rhyme like they do on the Green Balloon Club? The one about reaching to the moon?
M: Don't be silly, I'm not going to reach to the moon, because its too high!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Ages since I've posted (as usual!).

We've been doing lots of camping, and our Vango Orchy 400 has done us good (appalling grammar!). At only 11.5kg it means that we can carry it around on an Ikea trolley and we haven't needed a car (apart from perhaps for the campsite that was 30 mins walk from the train station up a steep dirt track!)

A little bit of EC has been done, and I have moved M up to Maths Reception level as he just about finished the Nursery level, and he wasn't that taken with it. He's had several birthday cards to write in recently and we're at the stage where if I say the letter he will write it down. I was completely shocked the first time I tried this, as we've done no writing practice.

Pirates are beginning to get on my nerves. M's vocabulary has moved on to the uglier side of pirating (if there is a nicer side!) and I have to explain that its not so nice to talk about being stabbed and using knives and swords around his friends because they don't understand. To which he replied, "But Mummy, I'll just explain it to them and they will understand and then it will be okay."

Yesterday, M found another of the Daily Mail DVDs that MIL sent us; Hiawatha. Since yesterday we have watched it about 6 times. Never say that my son doesn't have obsessions!
I've ordered the children's Penguin version of the poem and a book about Native American crafts for us to do.
Its opened up a few good discussions already. One of which I'm stuck on. How do you explain what belief is to a 4 year old? I'm trying to explain why the Native Americans believe that the comet will bring a great calamity, but that its what they believe, rather than the comet actually bringing starvation......

All of M's friends start school this week, even though legally they don't have to go for another couple of years :rolleyes
I've had my usual start of school year jitters, mainly revolving around trying to work out who is doing what when so that I can plan when we can get together with M's friends to play. Luckily this year he has some friends schooling in the morning, some in the afternoon and some all day, so we have all bases free at some point.

M will go back to atelier again starting when we come back from our holiday in mid September, but going 2 afternoons now. I've also signed him up for football again, and I'm looking for some sort of gymnastics class as he's said that he would like to do that, but its proving very difficult. Most of the classes are for babies (I don't need any more reminders that I am sans bébé, thank you!) so I think I'll try the commune office and see what they suggest.

I probably should do a birthday post, seeing as my little boy turned 4 two weeks ago. Apparently we are officially now allowed to call him a big boy!

My big boy turns 34 tomorrow, so we are off into town this morning to get him a present. M wants to get him some chocolate biscuits, and A has requested a pillow. Note the personalities of the pair of them coming through here..........

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Noone turned up for book swap which was disappointing, but at least the house was tidy.

On Thursday, M went to atelier. Only one more week left until the end of term, and then in September he goes in the afternoons. Again, I've only signed him up for 2 sessions, but it was difficult trying to decide which two days! I'm trying to fit around what his friends are doing, so monday and Tuesday seemed the best days, as I think we are going to try football again on Wednesday, lots of his friends have yoga (which he doesn't want to do) at a soft play place on Thursdays and then play there afterwards so we go along, and on Fridays we always seem to be doing something or going away somewhere.
One of his friends, MS is only going to school in the afternoons, which is good for us as it means that we can get together with him in the mornings, so hopefully the transition of everyone else going to school will be less painful.

So Thursday lunchtime we went to our favourite cafe. The women love him there, and think its so cute when he orders his 'petit sandwich jambon, mini carac and jus de pomme s'il vous plaît'. I'm just glad that he's getting a bit more confidence in speaking French, particularly with me around.
He's had a few problems at atelier with one little boy, A, so I've suggested that if we learn French together over the summer, then A will understand him, and maybe he won't push him around. M seems to like that idea, so I think lots of French reading and doing the French section on EC is in order.
Anyway, after lunch we went back home before going off to see friends after their yoga class, but there was only one friend there.

Friday, I really can't remember. I know that it was M's vernissage in the evening, where there is a display of all the things the kids have made at atelier, and then you get to take them home. Unfortunately, a lot of M's stuff was inexplicably missing. I'm thinking that the parents of one of the other children who has a name very similar to his must have taken it. Quite disappointing really. Their theme this term has been great. It was a different colour every week, and without fail they would completely decorate the nursery and even the food at gouter was the right colour!
We then went to a local restaurant for dinner, so it was about 9pm by the time we got home, which I guess just set ourselves up for the next few days of miserableness.

Saturday morning - well, we'll forget about that. Not one of the three of us covered ourselves in glory there.
Saturday afternoon, we flew to England for MIL's 70th birthday celebrations. Flew into Luton and hired a car for the day. We'd booked into the Marriott in Northampton, mainly because it had a pool. Got there to discover that due to water contamination, Anglian Water was recommending not to use it. Annoyed mainly because they appeared to know about this a few days before we arrived, and the hotel hadn't done the courtesy of letting us know.
Still it got worse. On checking out, we mentioned about the pool closure, to which the receptionist replied that it had been opened since Friday! WTF?!
"Was the guy who told you about it Polish?", she says.
I couldn't give a monkeys what nationality he was. That had nothing to do with it. There was also a notice on reception saying about it too.
We were a tad miffed, so a letter is possibly going to find its way to Marriott head office. I know the circumstances were out of the hotels control, but they could have handled it a darn sight better.

Anyway, on to the party. We went to the Peppermill pub in Daventry, which was okay, but not necessarily my cup of tea. The carvery just seemed a bit too much for a warm summer's day.
M had two of A's cousins sons (don't know exactly what relation they are to him), T & C to play with, which made the afternoon more enjoyable for him, until he had 2 complete meltdowns in quick succession. I fear M will be known as the child whose screams can break glass!
We got back home in Lausanne at about 11.30, to absolute chaos. The streets were packed with celebrating Spaniards, hooting and drumming and cheering. I think that M was a little unsure.

Monday, and M woke up at 9.30 (thank goodness after going to bed at 11.30!). We stayed in all day due to the heat, and didn't kill each other even though there was some tiredness on both sides.
Until bedtime. A put M to bed and a few minutes later he came out to ask if he could watch the tennis for a few minutes. Seeing as it had been on all afternoon and he hadn't shown an interest in it, I said no, and that he should go back to bed. To which I got shouted at. So I said that he was having no sticker today because he shouted (an incentive to try to curb the aggression he's been showing lately). So he stands in front of me and does a wonderful ear-splitting, blood-curdling scream.
Thank god A took control. Playmobil confiscation and time out ensued. Finally he came to apologise, but was still very upset. Turns out that he was sad, because he was feeling so bad, and that he'd made me feel bad. I can but hope that this is a marker for him to look back on in the future when he's getting cross.

Tuesday was better, although again we stayed in all afternoon after atelier in the morning.

Overall, M has been doing quite a bit of EC (I really think we should subscribe), lots of playmobil playing, spending time in the sandpit on the balcony, some baking, and helping me with the dishwasher and washing (although we have to make this into a game for him to help me!)

We are off camping with some friends at the weekend, which I am really looking forward to, and then I am looking after N and MC in the mornings next week while their mum M has a French course.

All in all, not a very exciting catchup. I'll have to try better next time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I am waiting for people to come to book swap, so I thought I'd do a quick post, although I'm not actually sure anyone is coming, as I have had two people cancel already this morning, and I don't think anyone else confirmed they were coming. Oh well, at least we have a tidy apartment.

Yesterday after atelier we went straight down to the lake to play. The weather has been so hot that on Monday we stayed in with the fan on and the shutters down, but I decided that we really needed to get out of the house.

Its strange how M will complain about walking home from atelier (max 10 mins), yet was perfectly happy to walk 30 mins to the lake....

We found a spot on the sand under a tree, and M played with his playmobil while I tried to read a book (Up Country by Nelson de Mille). I explained that if he took his playmobil onto the sand they were his responsibility, so we had a quick discussion about responsibility and I was reassured that he understood.

Time seemed to go very slowly, and I somehow didn't get much of my book read although M was very good at not disturbing me. Lunch was nice though; I'd taken salad and some cold sausages and then at 2.30pm I'd had enough and we went to the cafe for ice cream.
After that we went to the playground next door, but that didn't last very long as M didn't like the swarms of little flies.

A little stand off over where we were going next (I suggested the nearby Roman museum, M didn't want to do anything, go home, stay in the playground, go to the beach again), but it was resolved when I stated that I was going to the Roman museum and if he wanted to, he could stay there. Not a usual tactic of mine, but he wasn't offering a viable alternative.

It was the first time we have gone to the Roman museum. 8CHF for me to get in, so not too bad, although not really a large place. They had a graffiti exhibition on, so we got torches to shine on the walls (the place was pitch black) to see the exhibits, and there was exciting glass pebbles under our feet, making it a quite nice sensory experience.
Even though we went round it twice, M wasn't too keen on lingering though, which was a shame as I was struggling with the translation in places and it was pretty interesting.

At the end they had set up a graffiti wall that you could add to with the styluses (or is that stylii or stylus'?) so M obliged by scratching his name in it.

We then went round the normal museum. By this point M was really flagging so it was super speedy, although he was quite keen on sticking his head in the coffin....

We then walked home and I was impressed that M understood with minimum fuss that he had to walk as I had too many things to carry. Walking any distance has always been a problem for him. Not sure whether thats through laziness or just having thin legs (they really are ridiculously thin for his height), so it was nice to see him strolling along beside me.

Back home and a bit of computer time. I've signed up for the free trial of Education City, and although A doesn't think that we should pay for that sort of thing, I think it is just what M needs, as he can do it with minimal input from me, which he seems to favour at the moment. So if anyone has a code they would like to share, that would be great. Is that how it works?

Well, it looks like noone is going to turn up today, but never mind, its given me a chance to catch up with a few things.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Welcome to Polvere Nera!

For those of you in the dark, this is the Gunpowder Italian restaurant that M and I spent part of the day creating.

As with most things here, it centred on Playmobil. Mainly pirates, knights and romans, with the main emphasis on goodies and baddies.
Hence the italian restaurant that he wanted to create was constantly in danger from baddies attacking it, until I suggested that maybe the baddies could just come to the restaurant to eat as, after all, baddies have to eat too.
So I translated Gunpowder to italian and we made a sign for the restaurant, M colouring in the letters, and built a restaurant complete with terrace from the playmobil castle.

M then decided on the food (pizza, salad and pasta), drink (apple juice, rum(!) and water) and dessert (donuts and ice cream) and we made a menu. He wanted to try to spell the words out and managed donut and rum. I was pleasantly surprised, particularly with the words that he got wrong, as he made a good phonetic attempt. Will have to look into the Montessori stuff I was reading the other day about reading and writing.

We have also played lots of shops, with me as the shopkeeper and M as the customer, leading to lots of 'maths', with M having to decide what coins to give me and whether to give me too much money and get change, or to make the amount up with more than one coin.

Obviously he has played a few games from the playmobil website, spent 5 minutes in the sandput on the balcony, and watched a bit of CBeebies.

Thankfully he let me make a batch of ratatouille and an apricot cake without too many disruptions. The weather is just too hot for arguments, although when the needle is pushing 30 degrees, arguments are never too far from the surface.

I really need to blog about the weekend too, as we went camping for the first time this summer in our new tent, spending Friday and Saturday night in Enney, near Gruyeres castle, which was holding a fete de St Jean including medieval re-enactment type stuff (a bit like Kentwell, I guess)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Places to go, things to see.....

List of stuff to do over the summer.

Prehisto Parc et Grottes de Reclere

Dino Zoo, Parc Prehistorique

Chateau de Prangins

The Lavaux Express (train ride through the vineyards) - done with friends. Not as unique as it may have been as we had been hiking there the previous weekend

Swiss Vapeur Parc - M and A went with E & M when they went camping. Definitely worth a visit, although apparently m got bored after about 90 minutes.

Chateau d'Aigle

La Grotte aux Fees

Fondation Pierre Gianadda

Lac Souterrain St-Leonard

Papiliorama, Kerzers

Blonay Steam Park

Chateau de Chillon

Musee et Chiens du Saint Bernard


Musee de l'Alimentation

Hotel le Relais les Crosets (feeding the animals)

Mines de Sel, Bex (although A may have to do this one with M, as I think it may terrify me, being that far underground!)

Chez Gaby

Friday, April 18, 2008

They Exist!

Swiss home-edders that is.

On Thursday we went to the Swiss Games Museum to meet some people from the Swiss Homeschooling Forum.
There were 6 adults and 13 children of varying ages (M was the youngest I think) and one family had even travelled from Basel (they are the only homeschoolers in the county!).
It was nice to meet them, and to know that we aren't alone.

Our decision to home educate seems to be looming ever more momentous in my mind at the moment as I am so conscious of the fact that M's friends are all going to school in August. The "S" word keeps going round my head, particularly as M is always so keen to play with his friends.
The fact that I know lots of home-edding families who have 3,4 or 5 children, and very few with only one has also been concerning me. I know that if we were in the UK it wouldn't bother me as much as the 'scene' is so much bigger.

Anyway, we wandered around the museum for a while, trying out some of the games including Huli Gatta which I want to make a board for at home and Wackel Brucke (which we didn't really play, as I couldn't understand the German instructions!)

Ended up buying Camelot Jr which M loves and is doing really well with. He breezed through the first 13 challenges and I was a little concerned that it was a waste of money, but they definitely get a lot harder!

I'm going to make a list of places we want to visit from and aim for one place a fortnight and open it up to the forum, so we can hopefully have a more regular meet up and start to build a sense of community.

No firm plans for the weekend, although I really desire some sleep (don't know why I'm so knackered). I also have a lot of book orders to sort through, and of course we half put up the doors on the wardrobes, so that needs finishing, so I'm going to see if A will take M to the robotics festival tomorrow so I can tackle the mess!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Today may be some time

It really might.

It started at 6am, which is a habit we seem to be falling into that I am desparately trying to change. I realise that harsh shouty-type words at that time are not the answer, and so this morning (admittedly it was a little later once I'd prised my eyes open and calmed down) I attempt the 'let's sit down and talk this through sensibly' method.
Apparently just switching the bedroom light on and sitting quietly in bed either reading or playing is beyond M, as he 'will get lonely'.
I've changed his bunny clock to 7am, and hopefully A will back me up in enforcing the 'don't come out of your room until bunny wakes up' rule. Unfortunately at that time of the morning he is all for the easy life, so indulges it, but he has the distinct advantage of being able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat (is that the right expression?) whereas with me, once I am woken up find it nigh on impossible to sleep again.

So its 9am and I'm feeling grumpy. I think the best plan of action is action. So I've printed some craft ideas from here that we can do together.
Weather looks like being crappy again, so a trip to the shops for dinner might be the only trip out today.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Speak no evil

We've just spent about 10 minutes (and they were the quietest 10 minutes we've had awake in months!) not speaking.

It all came about from T-Rex not being able to tell me where he wanted me to put the next piece of the puzzle. We (M and I, not T-Rex) talked about communication and the different ways we could communicate if we couldn't speak.
So we decided to try doing it for a few minutes. We decided that drawing pictures would take too long and M can't write more than his name yet, so we opted for signing. Well, pointing really.
But we managed to put the puzzle away, get a yogurt out, mix it up and eat it and clear away.
Things broke down a little when it came to asking for drawing material, but I think M did really well, particularly as this is a little boy who can't go for more than a minute without talking.

This activity ties in with one we did the other day, when M led me home from the bus stop whilst I had my eyes closed (on the path round the back of the buildings so no cars or roads involved!). The next day I did the same for him. I think I found it more difficult than he did to lead as I've always found that sort of thing (ie words!) quite tricky.

Trying to think of ways now to explore other sensory deprivation.....

Quite busy doing little things today. Still trying to recover being woken at 5.30am.....yawn.
But we've done puzzles, made soda bread rolls, done the not speaking thing, and M has just finished making a bird picture with drawing and glueing and feathers and stuff, completely off his own back, which I love.

Friends coming round to play this arvo, so I guess I should get dressed and stuff.

Me Like!

The Recipe For Clare

3 parts Intensity

2 parts Impishness

1 part Attractiveness

Splash of Genius

Shake vigorously

Friday, March 07, 2008

Let me teach you how to read Mummy

M has shown an interest in words recently, and in particular creating words to spell out. So far we have only done the sounds of letters rather than the names of them, and certainly not combinations of letters, like 'oo' etc.

So today he is in the bath, and asks me to read what he has stuck to the side of the bath. So I take a look.

s ə c a

He then spelt out a, c, e, s, so I pointed out that you read from left to right (he has a tendency to read and write his name from right to left :dunno) and rearranged them

a c e s

I realised that there might be a problem, so tried to explain that 'a' was actually 'A' in this case, and that 'ce' together is 's', so it spelt out aces.

No mummy, try again. Its a, cuh, eh, suh - acuhehsuh

Which I have to repeat several times, before finally achieving a 'very well done, mummy' said in such a patronising tone I was embarrassed!

In other news, I bought Connect 4, a travel version from the supermarket yesterday. I was a little wary as it says 7+ on it, but M loves it. He particularly likes the idea that he has to stop people winning (I have such a masochistic son!) but on occasion the concentration on his face was a picture (in fact I may have to try and capture it). I have a feeling we will be playing it lots more, just as long as the counters don't get lost....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My favourite waste of time

No, not the Owen Paul ditty (although you'll be humming it all day now and I can't believe it only got to number 19 in the Swiss 'hit parade'!).

My favourite waste of time is walking up to the café with M, I nurse a renversé (no cakes for me now I'm being relatively good on WW) and he orders a jus de pomme and a mini carac. We read, play with playmobil and set the world to rights like 2 old women.

Today I had a parcel to post so we stopped at the post office on the way, with M sitting there shouting "carac" from behind his hands.

I had a horrible feeling that our usual café was closed as it is half term, and after a bet (M was convinced it would be open) it was indeed closed. Luckily there is a bus stop right outside, so we decided to hop on the bus until we saw a café (which obviously had to sell caracs!). Just as the bus pulled up, M decided that he wanted to go home instead, so we started walking home. I thought we should try a bakery for a carac, but we passed a hotel with what I thought was a café, so we went in. Turns out it was a bar, but they did coffee and apple juice so we stayed. They also produced a doughnut for M, which in hindsight was a bad thing, as he was a nightmare in the supermarket later.
I seem to think that we had a conversation about rabbits, but I have absolutely no idea what about.

We called into the supermarket on the way home, as I had grand plans to vaguely acknowledge Valentine's day by buying some little pots of Movenpick icecream for dessert, and cooking dinner just for A and I (obviously with M eating beforehand!). M grabbed a basket, put it on wheels and then proceeded to hare around the place with me trying to remain calm and unruffled, but failing miserably (combination of PMT, tiredness and general moodiness).

On the walk back, M thought he spotted E, one of the educatrices from atelier, as he saw a lady with long brown hair, boots and a baby in her tummy. We then chatted about how the baby came out, the fact that babies grow in wombs not tummies, that men can't have babies because they don't have wombs and that babies are (generally) born through a woman's vagina (thats where your period comes from isn't it mummy?).

We also cut our way through a jungle to get home, and talked about alligators and crocodiles (starting with 'see you later alligator, in a while crocodile') and decided that we need to find out the differences between them (I think this may be an internet task as I don't think we have an adequate book).

Now at home, A has skyped to say he is going to be late again (at this rate the earliest he'll be home is 10pm :( ) I'm hoping that the amount of work he is doing will mean that his fixed hour contract will finish mid-March so we'll have a couple of weeks with him at home before his next contract starts, but just occasionally I would like a bit of help at bedtime, and I know M misses him.

Let M stay up until 8pm, because Flat Stanley was the CBeebies bedtime story. I bought the book for him a while back and we haven't quite gotten through it yet, but he was listening spellbound to the version on tv, I guess because its a somewhat shortened version.
He's now leafing through See Inside Castles, which I'm guessing I'll have to remove from his face in a few minutes as he is so tired. Well, thats the plan anyway!

Friday, February 01, 2008

So that's how its done!

I had one of those 'ohhhhh' moments this morning.

7.30am and M is leafing through his favourite book, the Playmobil catalogue :rolleyes. He'd previously spotted a baby guinea pig looking for its parents on our balcony, and we'd talked about being in front or behind something.
He then saw a guinea pig in the catalogue, but turns out it was a wild boar. Then looking at the zoo scene, questions came to me (do crocodiles lay eggs? whats the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?) and after some swift googling we had the answers.
Then on to the dinosaurs page (did dinosaurs live at the same time as people? M knew the answer to that one) and we tried to identify the different dinosaurs in the catalogue (ignoring the names at the bottom of the page). A bit of a chat about fossils, and then Lazytown came on, so obviously that was all chat over!

I just see that sort of exchange as being typical of our daily stuff. I'd love it if it was like that. I'll probably still have to make sure there are workbooks and 'educational stuff' around (cos thats the way I am!) but I realise that I need to be able to step back and accept that chatting can be just as informative, and M can chat for Switzerland so we should be okay there.

On more specific stuff, M seems to have more of an interest in letters and words just lately. Previously he was really into numbers and just wanted to count things, but in the last week or so he is trying to spell out words. Can be quite funny to listen to as on occasions he completely makes it up ('dinosaur' becomes 'big T-rex in the forest', but with all the syllables drawn out) but he shocked me by reading the word 'act' on a fruit bar wrapper. And his name is getting written on everything. Sometimes written from left to right, sometimes from right to left. Makes me wonder if he has some left handed tendencies (both me and A are lefties) but I don't know enough about the subject to know whether I'm just talking codswallop!

I made a mistake by ordering the Opitec catalogue and I'm also browsing the Yellow Moon and ETAHomeschool sites. Liking the look of the number balance, pattern blocks and cuisenaire rods. Not that I am maths obsessed though, you understand........

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Watch out Hermann Maier!

I was busy at a book sale today, A was 'in charge' all day. Predictably they went skiing, although they did look in on me for an hour which was appreciated (8 hours at soft play was quite headache-inducing!).

I have no pictures and no footage of M's first solo effort down the hill. I bought A a helmet cam for Christmas and it only came out of the packaging tonight, after I moaned that it hadn't been used yet.
Apparently he was able to go on the baby slope conveyor belt lift thing (well, I don't know what they are called!) on his own, and then managed the bottom 1/3 of the hill on his own. Obviously A hasn't taught him how to stop yet. :rolleyes
There is such obvious pride in A's voice when he talks about M's skiing exploits; its very touching. Just glad that M doesn't take after me and thinks that skiing is pretty pointless. I don't think A's heart would be able to take it!

Off skiing next Sunday with one of M's friends (although the mummies are either going to the balloon festival or a spa) and then the following week we are off to Meribel for a week of skiing with friends (again I will be reading lots, swimming lots and sleeping lots!) so when we come back he'll be doing black runs like a pro (well, in A's mind anyway).

A is off skiing with a friend today (this is what its like from December to March) so I think we will have a lazy day. I have to do an online shop, place an Usborne order before the Fairytale Sticker sets sell out, and we might venture out on bike (M) and scooter (me), but otherwise I'm sure there's lots of tennis and CBeebies to watch. We now have a proper mouse for M to use, so maybe a bit of Beebies games are in order ("mummy, go to bbb dot doe dot uk slash cbeebies") to while away the day.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What a shock!

When on my Usborne conference I shared a room with someone I'd never met before, K. Lovely lady and we chatted like 2 teenagers well into the wee hours.
Anyway, she has a son a few months older than M, and she just mentioned in passing that J was going to school in September.
And then it hit me. If we lived in the UK, so would M! I was speechless. I broke out in a cold sweat. Then I started saying 'But, but, but.....' a lot, and all the while my brain was saying, 'But surely not! He's too little! Isn't he?'

In Switzerland ecole maternelle starts at age 4, but this isn't compulsory, and the cut off date is July 30th. So as M's 4th birthday is in August this year, he would have to wait until next year to go unless he got a special dispensation.
Ecole primaire then starts at 6, again with a cut off of July 30th. Ecole primaire is compulsory.
So M doesn't actually have to go to school until August 2011, which is ages away. So no wonder I was a little shocked that children of his age are going to school in the UK.

OK, so I know that in the UK you don't actually have to go to school (unless of course you educate otherwise ;) ) until the term after you turn 5, but I reckon that a lot of parents aren't aware of this, or are happy to send them off at 4 anyway.

And of course, M has friends here that go to 'school' and certainly some of the International-type schools take children earlier than 6 as they follow a British or American system, but you don't have to.

We have chosen to home educate, and so issues like what school M would go to, what forms to fill out, who to butter up etc don't apply to us, but the conversation with K scared me as very shortly the routine of getting up early, doing the school run, packing school bags, remembering to pick him up at the end of the day (!) could have been my life.

Uuuuhhhhhh, makes me shudder.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Un, deux, trois

Woefully inadequate with blog posting again. Oh well.

Just back from a trip to the UK which wasn't stunning, but better in some places and worse in others than expected.

Went to the Usborne conference (an overnighter and M stayed with Gran, which he loved) which was very inspirational. Still need to figure out what it means for us overseas organisers, but I have a lot of ideas and motivation, so onwards and upwards for 2008!

M is obsessed with the playmobil pirate ship and castle that he got from Santa. We constantly have good/bad conversations. I think I need to explain a bit more why swords and guns aren't particularly nice things, and incorporate that into history-type stuff. Not entirely sure myself why knights of old didn't just sit down and talk things through, and how our governmental system seems to prevent feuds (or does it?!). I suspect this may be a little too much for a 3 year old to handle, particularly as its not clear for me!

My new Latin books arrived at my parents house, so looking forward to sitting down and starting to work through those (although plenty of other things to be doing first).

We have made a sponge cake this morning for a gathering this afternoon at the management school to introduce the new intake of spouses to the local expat community. Going to take some leaflets for my preview party and it will be a good chance for M to meet some new kids (not that he doesn't have enough friends already!)
Note to self: need to either put stickers on scales or get new set of scales that weigh in ounces. I know it is an outdated measurement system, but it would be useful when we are cooking together for M to be able to weigh things out and my current scales only have 20, 50, 100, 200 etc grammes on them.

A has been home late all this week (last night it was 11pm) through work, but hoping that this will mean he will be happy to take a few hours off every now and then (as he only gets paid for hours worked). M has found it quite difficult I think as he missed him when we were in the UK, and now has hardly seen him at all since we've been back. Still, I have a book stall at the relaunch party of KidSpace on Saturday so plenty of time for them to have fun together.

Oh, and M surprised us the other day by counting to ten in French. I guess going to atelier twice a week is useful!