March 23, 2007

Precocious Child Genius This Way

I don't post all that many stories about the brilliance of my kids. Honestly. Jonathan's reading book this week is the very fabulous Spells and Smells by Nick Sharratt and Hilary Robinson. It's one of those books where the pages are cut into four horizontally and the book is spiral bound. So by combining different part pages, you can produce many different spells, each of which turns an <adjective> <noun> into a different <adjective> <noun>. Marianne and Jonathan were reading it gleefully. "Hey, if we spill some beans, have a nice cup of tea, wait for a blue moon and eat seven lettuces we can turn a loudmouthed Mum into a luminous rabbit!" "Ok" said the loud-mouthed Mum (or possibly the luminous rabbit), "tell you what, Marianne. Tell me how many spells there are in total and I'll give you a pound." This is made slightly harder than it might be because the book's been used in a school and some of the pages have fallen out. But still. Marianne is ten, so it's quite tricky if you don't know how to work it out, but perfectly plausible. She starts to ponder and counted the pages.

Meanwhile, Jonathan, who is six, said "Marianne! We need a calculator." He ran off. A minute or two later, he came downstairs and said, "Mummy, there are 7,920 spells." And so there are. I gave him the pound. He explained it was a guess. But I'm still proud.

Posted by Alison Scott at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2007

The Copper Plated Nail

The copper plated nailThis came in a science kit and included a nail, but you probably have everything you need around the house. What you need: a small dish, some loose copper change, salt and vinegar. Oh, and a nail.

Suitable for ages: well, round here it wowed people from ages 6 up to umpty-um.

Put a dozen copper coins in a small dish. Pour some salt on them, and then add vinegar. Er, cheap vinegar is fine, but we didn't have any. We used balsamic. Also fine. Wait for a while. We waited an hour or so. It says the coins will come out shiny clean but ours were a mess to be honest; I think this experiment may date from before copper coins were a thinly-plated base metal. Then put your perfectly ordinary nail into the now copper-infused liquid. Wait another hour or so, then stand your now copper-plated nail on its end to dry.

Amaze your parents. Oh yes.

Why it works: oh, go Google.

Posted by Alison Scott at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2006

Guitar Hero (9)

It's difficult to express the amount of maternal pride occasioned by the realisation that your beloved 9 year old daughter is hunched over her Gibson SG PS2 controller trying to master the opening riff of Smoke on the Water.

Posted by Alison at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2004

Department of Implausible Injuries

It seems to have happened like this. On Monday, Marianne went with her holiday club to a children's indoor soft play area. She was sitting on a piece of soft play equipment, waiting for her turn on a more exciting piece of soft play equipment. She unbalanced and toppled over backwards, falling about two feet onto a padded mat. She landed awkwardly on the back of her hand, so the people running her holiday club sat her down with an ice pack, after which she seemed okay. She complained a bit of pain in the evening, so we gave her Calpol and put her to bed, loving parents that we are.

Yesterday morning, her arm hurt considerably more, so we took her down to the hospital.

She's broken her arm.

It's a tiny, clean fracture just above the elbow; they've put her in a half-cast (ie, full-length, but only going halfway round her arm) and she'll be in it for three weeks or so. She's been very good about it all, and is coping well with the cast (even to the extent of eating her favourite moules mariniere this evening), but is miserable about the fact that she can't swim, either in the pool or the sea, while we're on holiday next week.

Posted by Alison at 12:13 AM | Comments (1)

August 09, 2003

The UK has a temperate climate

Last year my passiflora caerulea had one fruit. This year it looks like this:

a passionflower aganist a backdrop of orange fruit

It's still flowering merrily, and has set 100 fruit or more already. I don't believe you can do anything with the fruit of the hardy passionflower, as they're hollow and the pulpy seeds are tasteless. But it's still my favourite thing in the garden.

Posted by Alison at 11:54 AM | Comments (1)

June 15, 2003

Happy Father's Day

Marianne and Jonathan climbing all over Steven

Posted by Alison at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2003

Again! Again!

The DVD of 'Cog' arrived in the post yesterday. It's been widely blogged already, but I didn't realise Honda would send me a free DVD until I read it in Teresa's blog. I popped it into the iMac and watched it, then watched it again, then showed it to Jonathan, and anyone else I could find. As well as the original Honda ad, there's a 'making of' short, and a diagram to let mechanically-challenged people like me work out what all the car parts are. And some Accord advertising, though rather less than I'd have been interested in watching, and too focused on leather trim rather than specifications.

Today, Jonathan saw me sitting down at the computer, tugged at my shirt, and said 'Cogs. Want cogs.' So I put it on the big telly, and showed him how to press the 'play' button on the DVD. And he sat down on the sofa with the remote control, and watched it over, and over, and over again.

Posted by Alison at 02:22 AM | Comments (7)

February 23, 2003

Despatches from the Parenting Frontiers

Marianne has finally found a writer who inspires her to spend hours with her nose in a book; and rather to my astonishment, it's Enid Blyton. What's more, the books that she's so delighted by are The Enchanted Wood, The Adventures of the Wishing-Chair and their sequels, all of which were great favourites of mine at her age. She's reading some of them in modern editions, and some in old hardbacks at my parents' house. "They've changed all the names," she commented. "Jo is now Joe, and Bessie is Beth. Fanny is Franny and Dick is Rick. Why did they do that?" I wonder what else they've changed.

Weirdest Enid Blyton link: Up The Faraway Tree. "One of my best books ever" says the author, who encountered them at the age of twelve. Twelve! Tolkien, Heinlein, Le Guin, Jan Mark, Margaret Mahy, Orson Scott Card, Anne Fine, Peter Dickinson, Philip Pullman, and many many more. But not Enid Blyton, and certainly not these lovely books for little children who are just starting to read independently.

Meanwhile, Jonathan's sense of the natural order of the universe becomes more acute every day. After playing in Marianne's room this afternoon, we discovered that he had put Barbie's orange juice cartons safely away in the fridge. They're nice and cold now.

Posted by Alison at 07:35 PM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2003

The Flexible Wooden Snake

This is a real Raising Hell sort of blog post. (Update: So much so, that they made me the guest author of the week.) So if you think you might not like that sort of thing, look away now.

I'm recovering from tonsillitis; my brain shut down for five solid days. That's where I've been. Too sick to read a book, or watch TV with a plot. I've mostly spent my time lying on the sofa watching UKStyle, the television channel devoted to wall-to-wall house and garden improvement programmes.

But today is different. I am, for sure, a little better. But I also have Jonathan. "No, you can't play with the thermometer". "No, you can't play with my hot cup of sweet tea." "No, you may not dismember a pack of baby wipes." Eventually, I cast around for something he could play with, being careful not to insult his intelligence by offering him a toy. My eye fell on the flexible wooden snake. Much like the snakes sold halfway down this page, this much treasured craft object is a much superior version of the plastic snakes that wobble from side to side; it's about three feet long and wriggles alarmingly. Seemed pretty harmless. I showed him how it worked and he started playing happily.

Sometime later I wandered into the bathroom. Sticking up out of the water in the loo were the last three or four inches of the snake, which was clearly more flexible than I'd ever imagined. Even the S bend was no match for Jonathan's new-found drain-clearing ability. Grabbing a rubber glove and holding my nose, I pulled it out and dropped it in a bucket of hot water. But somehow I think it is doomed.

Posted by Alison at 01:37 PM | Comments (1)