Friday, May 27, 2011

Learning Styles

Angel is now over half way through her GCSE exams (yay!), with the worst - biology, chemistry and physics - behind her. I have been fascinated by her revision style. I had never realised how much of an auditory learner she is. Apparently when it comes to Angel and revision, podcasts and audio are the way to go. For English Literature and the sciences (the most memory intensive subjects) she downloaded a mix of literature guides and  podcasts, recorded herself reading Of Mice and Men aloud, and has been studying by iPod.

For me, this is like watching a Martian at large - a completely alien way of studying. I am the most un-auditory person going. I find focusing on something I have to listen to very difficult indeed, and choosing to listen to something in order to learn it would be torturous for me. I learn best from books, and always have. I remember once having a conversation about lectures with some students. Some of us were frantic note takers because it the only way we could process a lecture was by converting it into text. Others needed to listen and would only make notes after the lecture once they had processed it aurally. Both groups were amazed that anyone could study the other way.

What is your learning style?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Party Planner

Cherub is getting very excited about her upcoming fifth birthday party. Invitations have been distributed to various little girls at school, and this morning I found this stuck to her bedroom door:

A list of invitees, then separate "yes", "no" and "maybe" lists. Tidy minded, that child. And I love the pen sticky-tacked to the door ready for future updates.

[Picture quality not great, as taken on my phone. My camera has gone missing, thanks to a certain child who shall remain nameless. I am assured it is "somewhere in the house". Wonderful! That narrows it down beautifully. The case, minus camera, is in her room.]

Monday, May 23, 2011

This Week: 23rd May 2011

This Week ...

The weather ... grey and windy. I hope the wind is coming from the right direction. There is another erupting volcano in Iceland, which threatens a repeat of last year's air chaos when UK planes were grounded due to volcanic ash.

I am wearing ... purple t-shirt and cardigan, jeans, blue nail varnish on toes

I am reading ... When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies, by Andy Beckett, and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, though I haven't done any reading in the last week - or rather, all my reading has been for my course rather than pleasure reading.

I am creating ... cotton socks (just need to kitchener stitch the toe of the second sock) and cotton cardigan.

I am listening ... to builders drilling outside.

I am watching ... the new series of The Apprentice, So You Think You Can Dance, Doctor Who (still have to catch up with Saturday's episode) on TV, and Upstairs, Downstairs Series 4 on iTunes.

I am enjoying ... life!

I am planning ... to book a spa break for Angel and myself to celebrate her finishing her exams (and also as a belated 16th birthday treat).

Learning notes ... last week's GCSE exams apparently went well, apart from one biology paper. This week is the worst - English literature, PE theory, chemistry and physics, all of which are revision heavy. She is taking separate biology, chemistry and physics GCSE's (as opposed to combined science), which means that for each she has to take two papers - one is the same as the combined science paper for that subject, the second is an extra separate subject "triple science" paper. Due to a combination of poor teaching, disruptive classes and being put in the wrong science group she hasn't actually been taught most of the extra stuff for triple science and is having to try to learn it herself from the revision book. Biology she managed to muddle through, but physics and chemistry don't look good. Fortunately, she doesn't need good science results for anything she wants to do in the future, but she is a bit aggrieved that is likely to end up with a couple of poor results through no fault of her own. There will be a huge sigh of relief once this week is over. After that there are just maths, graphics, ICT and a final RE paper to go, which she thinks should all be fine.

Cherub ... slept in this morning, and I had to wake her at 8 o'clock. "That's funny!" she said, "it's usually me that wakes you up!"  Indeed it is. Sometimes I forget that there was a time in my life when a lie-in didn't just mean being able to sleep later than 7am.

On the calendar ... 

Wednesday: Cherub's first sports day
Saturday: Round the world meal with neighbours (our turn to make the starters) 

On the menu ...

Today: Marinated lamb and beef steaks (eating up oddments from the freezer) with sweet potatoes
Tuesday: Chicken and mushroom casserole
Wednesday: Lamb kebabs with potato wedges
Thursday: Burgers
Friday: Pasta with pesto and creme fraiche
Saturday: Meal with neighbours
Sunday: Roast beef

On my to-do list ... getting as much studying as possible done this week so that I don't have much to do next week when the girls are on their half-term break from school.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Growing, But Not Much!

Towards the end of their Reception year, children at school get weighed and measured. Cherub, at almost five, is 101.5 cm (40 inches) tall and weighs 14.1 kg (31 pounds). That puts her a little below the 9th centile line for height, and bang on the 2nd centile for weight, and means she is exactly the average height for a girl one year younger and the average weight for a just turned three year old. She isn't quite the shortest child in the entire school - a couple of other little girls in her class are a centimetre or two shorter - but she may well be the lightest! Given that she was on the 2nd centile for weight when she was born, she is clearly sticking happily to her own petite little growth curve. She is currently at the taller end of her own normal height curve, which fluctuates a bit above and below the 5th centile. That figures as she has grown lately. She also has quite small feet - she has been wearing size 8 shoes (size 9 US?) since September and is showing no sign of growing out of them. And yes, we do feed her! She likes her food and eats more than you would expect for such a little dot.

While I am writing about Cherub, I'll throw in some recent Facebook updates (apologies for duplication, but putting them here means I get to keep them):

  • Cherub is busy re-labelling the globe ... Fishland (Honduras), Letterland (Iceland), Walrus Colony (???), Bossyland (Antarctica), and of course, Naomiland (Australia) ... Oops! I forgot Princessland (India).
  •  Cherub and Little Friend N are being Rapunzel and her prince using "hair" she made out of three fabric belts sellotaped to a hairband. They have done the dangling hair out of the window bit. I think she is now using it to tie him to a chair. Seems a shame to break up the game to take them to school.
  • Am now an expert at translating Cherub's phonetic writing. I can turn "ishreembonutfootsatlet" into "ice cream, doughnut, fruit salad" without a second thought. Dessert menu, apparently. 
  • The sight of a small girl dressed as a snowflake, wearing a dagger tucked into her skirt and shooting everyone with a very noisy, psychedelic flashing gun, is highly entertaining. Having one side of her hair loose and the other still in a plait kind of adds to the Princess Leia Gone Mad effect.
Life with Cherub is never boring!

And finally, a gratuitous Cherub photo ... here she is with Star and a guinea pig at the farm last month:

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Week: 16th May 2011

This Week ...

The weather ... a cloudy, could-do-anything sort of morning.

I am wearing ... mismatched pyjamas. Blue bottom half and pink top half.

I am reading ... When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies, by Andy Beckett, and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I am creating ... the first sleeve of my cotton cardigan. Front trim and neckband are done.

I am listening ... to Star showering. Oops! She has just discovered she has no towel.

I am watching ... Upstairs, Downstairs Series 4. I watched North and South last week (now I have to read the book!) and I am looking for something else to download. I think maybe it will be Brideshead Revisited. I have read the book but never seen the TV version, and I know it earned rave reviews both at the time and since.

I am enjoying ... reading to Cherub. We have a nice routine of a picture book, her school reading book, and a chapter from a longer book before bed every night. She is very into Beverley Cleary's Ramona, and we have just started Ramona the Brave, the third book in the series.

I am planning ...  how to fit 13 weeks of archive course into 10. It will probably take me the whole day, but by the end I should hopefully have a complete checklist of tasks for each week set up on Evernote. I need to get ahead as we will be on holiday in Spain during the two weeks meant for working on final assignments, and also know I will not be able to get as much done once the girls finish school for the summer.

Learning notes ... the first of Angel's GCSE exams is this morning - English Language. Tomorrow she has RE, on Wednesday the second English Language paper, and on Thursday biology. On Friday she and I are going to the school she is moving to in September to meet the deputy head of Sixth Form, so she can get to know us and explain more about how Sixth Form will work to Angel.

Cherub ... has had a rotten cold for the past few days. Not so bad during the day, but she has been waking up during the night with a nasty cough. Now she has kindly passed it on to me.

On the calendar ... 

Today: First day of GCSEs for Angel, first day of second archive course module for me.

Wednesday: Lunch at my mother's and a chance to catch up with an old friend who is staying with her.

Saturday: Attending the funeral of the pastor of our neighbours' old church, who died too soon due to an aggressive and untreatable brain tumour. Band concert in the evening.

On the menu ...

Today: Baked potatoes and chilli

Tuesday: Lamb steaks and potato wedges

Wednesday: Marinated chicken

Thursday: Fish and chips

Friday: Pasta with pesto and creme fraiche

Saturday: Burgers

Sunday: Roast chicken

On my to-do list ...  The book decluttering that didn't happen last week. Also, I have a job application to finish off and submit. Yikes! It is for a part time cataloguing job in another local archive, which sounds pretty much ideal - the sort of job that rarely comes up, yet alone part time and in such a convenient location.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Zdob si Zdub

In case you feel your life is not complete without pointy hatted Moldovans:

The United Kingdom came 11th put of 25, three points ahead Moldova in 12th (yes, they made it into the top half!). The winners? Azerbaijan, which is not actually in Europe.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I am on a TV binge tonight, So You Think You Can Dance (dancing talent show), Doctor Who, and now the Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision is one of the stranger cultural manifestations of life in Europe. Held annually since 1956, singers and groups from across the continent (loosely speaking - quite how they manage to include Israel in Europe baffles me!) compete in a televised song-a-thon. An extraordinarily strange song-a-thon.

Back in the sixties and seventies Eurovision attracted high quality entries and produced some classic songs and acts. For example, Abba first hit the big time after winning Eurovision with Waterloo. Since then the quality has declined and the weirdness level increased. Most people in the UK now watch because it has a fascination of the horrible rather than in any expectation of hearing good music. At its best, it produces catchy, jingly songs and the occasional tuneful ballad. As for the rest ... well! Right now I am watching a Greek singer who started with something sort of rappish before morphing into a ballad ... ooh! now back to the rap bit again, with a group of male dancers / acrobats in the background ... and more ballad, with the dancers in statuesque poses ... morphed again to Greek folk music with Greek dancing. Phew! Finished. I think he was running out of genres. It has been worse. The group from Bosnia-Herzegovina included a triangle playing double bassist. Indescribable. Believe it or not, there has already been a semi-final stage, and only the "best" 25 have made it to the final.

Equally strange is the voting system, which merges national phone votes with the votes of professional juries into a dogs dinner of national prejudice. Countries cannot vote for themselves but tend to vote by blocks, so the Scandinavians vote for each other, as do the Balkans and the former USSR block. The UK and Ireland vote for each other, but as very few other European countries will vote for the British, the chance of the UK ever winning again is more or less zero. Ireland this year has thoroughly entered into the spirit of the thing by fielding teenage twins Jedward (a conflation of James and Edward) who reached the final stages of the British X Factor competition a couple of years ago, whose limited talent and lack of ability to sing in tune was somehow outweighed by their bouncy enthusiasm and over the top routines. For their Eurovision entry they were wearing giant shoulder pads, with blonde, vertical, Troll-style hair and singing almost in tune.

To add to the overall effect, the contest is being held in Dusseldorf, Germany, with presenters whose humour is heavy handedly Germanic (and I mean heavy handed - one presenter thumped another in the face, which was apparently meant to be funny). I could say it can only get better, but I carry on watching in the full knowledge that it won't!

Oh my! Moldovans wearing pointy hats, playing trumpets, complete with a pointy hatted fairy on a unicycle. You couldn't make it up.

Monday, May 09, 2011

This Week: 9th May 2011

I enjoy doing these weekly daybooks - they are my online diary, and one day I will print them all out and scrapbook them - but I always struggle with certain prompts. I have been thinking for a while of tweaking it into a format of my own, with a few prompts deleted and others added.  Let's see how this version works.

This Week ...

The weather ... a mix of blue sky and clouds this morning. Forecast is for pleasantly warm with some sun today and tomorrow, but colder and wetter later in the week.

I am wearing ... black linen trousers, black and white floral tunic top.

I am reading ... When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies, by Andy Beckett.

I am creating ... the body for the latest cotton cardigan attempt is finished. Just the sleeves and trim to go.

I am listening ... to Truly, Madly, Deeply (Savage Garden) playing on Spotify. I love my Spotify Premium subscription, which lets me listen to pretty much anything, anytime, anywhere.

I am watching ... Upstairs, Downstairs (up to Series 4 and the First World War now), and I have just downloaded North and South to watch this week.

I am enjoying ... Marmite. Marmite crisps, Marmite flavoured cashews, Marmite snack bars, and Marmite on toast.

I am planning ...  to Aqua Aerobics. I used to go several years ago, but have long got out of the habit. Angel wants to try it now she is sixteen (the minimum age for adult classes at our local leisure centre) so has nagged me to book us into a class tonight.

Learning notes ... Angel's last week of school before she starts her GCSE exams next week. Cherub's topic this term is Jack and the Beanstalk (growing). Nothing notable from Star.

Cherub ... is being Rapunzel. She has taken fabric belts from various dresses and skirts, taped them together and attached them to a hair clip to make Rapunzel hair. It is now long enough to dangle from her upstairs bedroom window all the way to the patio below. I don't think it would quite take the weight of a Prince though! 

On the calendar ... 

Today: Taking Mum to a doctor's appointment, then Aqua Aerobics this evening.

Tomorrow: Spending the day in London with an old friend.

Thursday: Carpets getting a long overdue steam clean.

Saturday: Playing at a village fete with the brass band.

Sunday: Star is dancing at a festival, but is getting a lift with a friend.

On the menu ...

Today: Chicken stir fry

Tuesday: Chicken pie

Wednesday: Sweet potato cottage pie

Thursday: Slow cooker chicken in bbq sauce

Friday: Pasta with pesto and creme fraiche

Saturday: Salmon salad

Sunday: Roast beef or lamb

On my to-do list ...  some deep hoovering (vacuuming right up to the edge rather than just the easy bits in the middle!). I also want to clear out at least five more bags of books to add to last week's six. I am trying to seriously thin out my book collection. I am increasingly enjoying eBooks, and I know a lot of the paper ones are never going to get read again, particularly as I have reached the point where I will dismiss a book purely on the grounds of print size. If it is small print, I'm not going there! I would rather pay to buy the book again as an eBook and be able to read it comfortably. Also I have a lot of reference books that have effectively been supplanted by Google.

Inspired by The Simple Woman

Saturday, May 07, 2011

3 Quick Takes: 7th May 2011

I started seven quick takes yesterday, but never finished them ... so here are a late three instead!

1. Smokey the British Shorthair cat has broken the world record for the loudest purr. As a former owner of British Shorthairs this does not surprise me in the least. Our British Shorthair Tom had the a purr that got him banned from our bedroom after a single night of sharing our bed with happy cat noises.

2. Cherub and Little Friend N were clearly inspired by the Royal Wedding. They have got married at least twice this week. On Tuesday I overheard Cherub say to him: "We got married yesterday ... that means we are King and Queen now ... [pause for thought] .... Soon I will have a baby ...  it will be a little Princess!". On Wednesday they got married again, with Star coaching them through the vows. Apparently there was a slight hiccup at the rehearsal, when N took Cherub to be his "awfully wedded wife".

3. What is it with phone chargers? Star and I have got through three in the last couple of months - one lost and two dead. I just bought two cheap replacements from ebay. Will they do any better than the branded ones, I wonder?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook: 2nd May 2011

Outside my window ... yet another bright, sunny morning, but with a chilly breeze. Lovely spring weather after the warmest April on record.
I am thinking ... how much I love spring and summer - more so as I get older. Autumn used to be my favourite season, but now, not so much.

From the learning rooms ... everyone has gone back to school in a half-hearted sort of way - the girls had two days back last week, Wednesday and Thursday, then a four day weekend thanks to the Royal Wedding and the early May bank holiday. I have one of my two final assignments for the first module of my course left to wrap up next week, then a free week before starting the next module.

I am thankful ... Angel's hayfever medication is kicking in. I was afraid she was going to end up sneezing her way through her GCSEs. (Note to self: must remember to get her another prescription.)

From the kitchen ... baked potatoes and chilli tonight.

I am wearing ... pink pyjamas, blue dressing gown, and black and white striped socks.

I am creating ... another attempt at a summer cotton cardigan. I ran out of yarn for the last version, couldn't buy more as it is discontinued, and in any case, it had come out too large - so I took the plunge, unravelled, and have started another pattern. Fortunately, when it comes to knitting, I enjoy the process almost more than the product.

I am going ... into town for the annual May Fayre. Playing with the band this morning, then will go back with Tevye and Cherub this afternoon. Angel and Star are going with their friends.

I am reading ... The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body From Rusting by Marie de Hennezel - a book about ageing I saw an enthusiastic reference to somewhere, but which I am utterly hating. I ploughed on as I had paid for it on Kindle and hoped it would get better. It hasn't.

I am hoping ... that the fairytale wedding on Friday will lead to a happy and lasting marriage.

I am hearing ... Cherub watching TV and Tevye in the kitchen.

Around the house ... Cherubic creativity. She has taken to arming herself with scissors and a glue stick, diving into the recycling bag and making random stuff - a camera made with an empty snack bar box and toilet roll tube, which she then later re-recycled by dismantling it and turning it into a house with the addition of an empty After Eight box. Then there are paper crowns, a cardboard hat (doll sized?), a "photograph" album, and who knows what else.

One of my favourite things ... my new black wedge heeled sandals for summer

A few plans for the rest of the week ... May Fayre today; polling day on Thursday (local elections and a referendum on changing the voting system); meal with neighbours on Friday; lots of work at the gym for Angel over the weekend. Otherwise back to normal routine, with dance classes for Star and Cherub, and band, orchestra and archive work for me.

A picture thought I am sharing ... This is our flower pot and our front door step - this is not, however, our cat, for all she looks thoroughly at home there! Puss lives several doors away, but is the most sociable cat I've ever met. She considers the whole street, all its inhabitants, and if she gets the chance, every house, hers.
Find instructions and links to other daybooks at The Simple Woman