“Schools should be a place where children learn what they most want to know, instead of what we think they ought to know.” – John Holt
Just a note: for new followers of the blog, welcome.
We are unschoolers. Everything that we tweet/blog about has been embarked upon, because we chose to do that activity, lesson, practise session or exploration. Sometimes I may encourage JJ to try something new; an example would be attending the First Night of the Proms a few months ago, or introducing her to Minecraft or taking her to the Body Worlds Expo at our local Science Museum. One of my main aims of home schooling has always been to regularly introduce JJ, and her brother, to learning opportunities of which they have had no prior experience. Many times it is someone else doing the introducing as in the recent example of JJ’s introduced to geocaching by her cousin. Much of what she attempts is via word of mouth, friends, family or via having read about it someplace.
Mainly this week was dominated by the process of getting my two Labradoodle girls pregnant. Unfortunately one of our cars was starting to play up so in addition to the time spent carting dogs to and from their stud dog. I had to take hubby to work and collect him at the end of the day. Many hours were wasted sat in the car when I had more productive ways of spending my time. It reminds me how dependant we are on having our own transport at our finger tips.
Mating dogs is harder than I had ever imagined. This was to be my first stud owner experience and it came with a steep learning curve. Having found the birthing and puppy rearing process relatively easy, being midwife to over 50 puppies in my lifetime, I imagined the process of mating to be pretty straight forward, but how wrong was I.
A little background may help understand the predicament, the bitch will stand for only three days every six/seven months, these are her most fertile days. Although these three days can extend to eight days, as every bitch is different. On average the mating day is on day 11, day 1 counted as being the first drop of blood. My first problem was that I was away when my girls came into season. Combine this with the normal occurance of bitches living together always coming into season within a few days of each other, it was initially very confusing working out ‘day 1’ and then identifying which girl had first come into season. Initially I got entirely the wrong end of the stick, thinking Sweetpea had started first, with her mother Bluebell coming into season a few days later. This meant I was trying to mate Sweetpea first, and it was her first time, with our imported stud dog Albert, also his first time. Sweetpea was so finicky, growling at poor Albert, if he so much looked in her direction. Luckily I had Iryna, my dog groomer and trainer, well experienced in the stud mating process, to hand. If it wasn’t for her I think I would have jumped off the nearest pier (a highly unlikely act I might add. I live in Johannesburg, the largest city in the world which has developed inland, due to gold, with no dependence on water for transport – hence no piers in walking distance)
I spent many hours online learning about this process. You may be interested to know that there are three stages to the dogs mating process. The first is when the male dog mounts the female dog, she is only ready to stand when the time is right and her tail flags to one side making penetration easy. He enters her and ejaculates a liquid that clears the passageway of anything that may destroy his sperm. The second stage is the ejaculation of sperm and the expansion of his penis in her vagina thereby in effect locking him to her. The third stage involves a rather odd manoeuvre where he loops his one leg over the bitch and turns back to back whilst still connected. This stage can last from 2 minutes to 30 minutes and is called a tie. A good tie is around 10 minutes plus. During this time a third ejaculation of liquid occurs that assists the sperm in its journey into the uterus. If the dogs vary greatly in size/weight, or if they are inexperienced, damage can result at this stage of the process. This occurs if they are separated before the penis has reduced back to normal size. He can be damaged permanently and the girl can also suffer internal damage.
Armed with this foreboding information and coupled with Sweetpea showing zero interest, my attention turned to Bluebell who was demonstrating every sign of standing for Albert. My initial plan was to use a poodle stud for Bluebell but seeing this interest develop between Albert and her I made a last minute change in plan. I decided to use Bluebell, my experienced bitch to teach Albert, my inexperienced stud dog how to mate. The minute I let the two together a tie occured – it was like magic. The first mating was very short, a tie of around 2 minutes. The second mating was nearly 10 minutes. I left them 24 hours and took them on a walk to get their mating juices flowing. No one was more surprised than me to have the two of them in another reasonably long 7 minute tie in the middle of a public park. Luckily we were off to one side and other dog walkers passed by us none the wiser.
This successful mating was marred by the knowledge that Albert was supposed to be Sweetpea’s stud. Unfortunately in solving the inexperience problem of Albert I inadvertently created another in its place. Albert had only one thing on his mind and it was his first love Bluebell! He stopped showing any interest in Sweetpea even though she seemed to be growling at him less. I wasn’t surprised in the least , if I was Albert having been growled at by one girl constantly and loved by the other girl, I know whom I would want to spend my time with. I was back on the phone with Iryna. It was decided to find Bluebell a place to stay for 3 nights, not an easy task as she was still in season and ready to stand for any male, being less picky than Albert! Any homes with male dogs were out of the question. Luckily my friend C came to the rescue with her two girl dogs, they welcomed Bluebell into their home without question. Now that Bluebell was removed from the equation and having returned Albert to his home for a short recuperation, JJ and AA mopped the floors and tiles with bleach mixed in water to remove as much of Bluebell’s scent as possible. Aiming to create some competition for Albert I invited another gorgeous male Labradoodle stud for a visit and fetched Albert along for the party. What mind games we stud dog owners play. Holding both males on their leads we let Sweetpea run freely between them. She got very angry with the new male stud and this seemed to let Albert know that he was for her. This resulted in Albert recovering his confidence with Sweetpea and everything went text book from then onwards. Sweetpea stood for Albert several times achieving ties of around 8 minutes.
There was one other mishap which occurred when I managed to painfully pop a disk in my back. It was during one of the tie’s, when Bluebell looked like she was about to swing poor Albert around by his privates. Having read all the horror stories and fully aware that Bluebell was the bigger of the two dogs and could therefore cause serious damage, I dived to restrain her intending to keep her still allowing the tie to run its course. In the process some serious damage resulted in my back. The following day I couldn’t move, sleep or bend for the pain. I had to call in the assistance of JJ and AA, when he was around, to be the ones on standby if any of the dogs needed to be calmed down during a tie. JJ was the saviour of the week. It did however result in loads of questions and discussions on how babies are made and this was acted out in ajj breeding sheep online in Minecraft. Now all we can think about are the gorgeous puppies we will be meeting in 63 days. My back was fixed by two visits to the osteopath, a strong dose of anti-inflammatory and some serious pain killers. It’s moments like this that I’m reminded of my advancing age.
I started reading the much anticipated Seekers of the Lost Boy aloud to JJ. After four chapters she begged me not to stop, a welcomed sign following the previous two read aloud books which I had to abandon due to her lack of engagement in them. Earlier on in the Seekers of the Lost Boy a situation moved me to tears and it triggered a discussion on loss and family secrets. JJ wanted to know if there was going to be more books about the Ward family so we checked Taryn Hayes website and it looks like it is on the cards. This book is well written with an engaging story. JJ began to analyse what it was that made this book more interesting. This led onto chatting about character flaws and how this made characters more realistic. We ended up comparing books that we’ve read where this approach to character writing has been done well and not so well.
JJ has been immersed much of her time in her Minecraft worlds. She has made and published two tutorial videos for beginners to Minecraft, as well as demonstrated the game to an adult friend who was around for a visit. JJ’s Minecraft tutorial’s Tutorial 1 – make pick axe, get coal, make a torch Tutorial 2 – build a wooden house and door
Her other preoccupation this week has been to make money. We escaped to a coffee shop, over a cappuccino and a hot chocolate, where we discussed the options open to her. She has already held a coffee shop at home, a lemonade stand and sold things at flea-market and fairs. This time we tried to think of more long term business options. As a result she has decided to set up a website on cooking aimed at children, as well as write an eBook stories. She started her first eBook about a Labradoodle this week. We discussed outlines for the eBook, looking at the age old structures from fairy tales. I am going to keep the story that she has planned a secret , it sounds very entertaining, I can’t wait to read it. JJ also started to investigate websites online, for ideas on designing her cooking website idea as well as made tentative steps towards the initial content design using MS Word.
We enjoyed an afternoon, and into the evening, movie watching. We were lost in awe of Charlotte’s Web, inspired by Heidi and magiced up by Rise of the Guardians. A little bit of chocolate and time sharing good movies together is always such fun.
JJ initiated a discussion on different types of governments by asking me “Who is the Chinese government?” This resulted in a long chat spanning communism, democracy, Tibet, Dalai Lama, money free societies, and eventually meandering into religion – Phew.
We also discussed electric cars and JJ decided that she wants one when she is older. She is hopeful that electric stations will be around to top up the batteries when on long journey’s.
JJ remembered the car accident she, her brother and cousin were in, 2 years ago. It lead onto calculating the collision impact speed on the vehicles based on the speed of each car.
My craft Saturday morning is normally spent at my Aunt Pam’s house, sans children. This Saturday we had a change in venue so I could keep an eye on the randy, and not so randy , dogs. I didn’t have in any snacks so JJ kindly made us chocolate crinkle cookies which Pam found delicious, resulting in a request for the recipe.
AA with his U15 team mates won their Provincial golf competition played away in Nelspruit. It meant they were away for two nights over the weekend. Bruce brought home a present for me …. a macadamia nut tree. It made my week.
JJ whittled sticks for my hay bale dolls house, and then filled in the gaps with loose hay, into the walls of the house with my help. We also worked hard on putting mesh around the house. It is starting to look come together.
Attempting to monitories this site I joined Amazon as an affiliate and added any books mentioned on the blog this year in the right hand column. Initially Amazon didn’t want to have us as an affiliate but when I outlined the purpose and aims of the site they asked me to resubmit my application and this time around we were more successful.
JJ bar code scanned all her books that she want to sell, using her brothers IPod and it told her if any were for sale close by. Finding that only two were it gave her hope that she may sell her books. I took JJ to a second hand book shop to give her an idea how much she could get for her used books.
On my writing progress my article on Boredom Poison, originally published in @LifeLearningMag, is now available on Ezine. My article on Magaliesburg was published in WeSaidGoTravel as entry into a travel writing competition. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed Exploring Magaliesburg
I took the decision to start Eating Raw at the beginning of the week. However I’m either not motivated or serious lack willpower, by the end of the week I was eating some cooked food. It makes me admire JJ even more who turned pescatarian in October 2012 and has not eaten any meat since.
Here are some sites that I found entertaining this week:
Catchy Flocabulary rapping song on the art of reading or writing
Inspired by the farm we looked at in Clarens in my spare time I’ve been reading up on sheep farming and looking for heirloom chilli seeds finding a great site for the later supplying South Africa.
Thanks to @mamasmiles for her fabulous foam dough: serious rainy day indoor fun. JJ made some foam dough based on the recipe on this site. It was messy and loads of fun, transporting me back to those toddler days of homemade play dough.
If you are interested in the story behind Mandela’s arrest. This week marked the 50th anniversary and Radio 702 were tweeting real-time events as they unfolded on @RivoniaRaid LilliesLeaf Farm.
I wanted to earn money, so I could buy really cool things, so I looked in my book shelf for the books I didn’t like or the books that were too small for me. I asked mom to look at them to see which ones I could sell. She did it and a few books I put back in my bookshelf. Then it was time to work out the prices, so I asked her to take me to the second hand bookshop, she took me there the next morning. It was nice in there; we looked at the kids’ books and some middle age books. We walked to a coffee shop and worked out what the prices should be, then my mom said, “You need to have a better idea than selling things, you need to set up a business” ok, I thought. That sounds like a cool idea. We discussed what I like doing. Eventually we came to two things I could do, one was cooking and two was writing. The thing we thought of was a kids cooking website, we would set up a kids cooking website what we would do is set the website up and every say two weeks (it doesn’t matter when) I would cook a new recipe and put a picture of it and right up on its history and how it tastes and the last thing would be the recipe of the food. On other pages I will have starters main meal, pudding, and cakes. On the other page there will be all of my favourite recipes. On the writing idea I will write eBooks on Labradoodles and unshcooling and other cool things. It was so exiting knowing that I would earn money. So I started writing my Labradoodle eBook.
I practised my ballet with the CD, my modern, and my piano I am getting good at all of them he he.
I played Minecraft all week it is definitely my new passion he he, minecraft minecraft minecraft minecraft minecraft minecraft minecraft minecraft minecraft………he he. I did double modern dance lesson it is only two weeks until the exam.
Albert my dog’s boyfriend came over to mate with her. I helped my mom with them because her back was really sore. I didn’t see anything but it was still disgusting. One of the nights Albert was here mom and I watched Rise of the Guardians, Heidi and Charlotte’s Web it was fun.
I cut out my pewter Minecraft words … but I messed it up.
Mom and I started reading Seekers of the Lost Boy, it is awesome. I can’t wait to see what happens.
I asked mom who the Chinese government was and we had a long conversation. I made some foam dough it was really fun. I tried to teach my Labradoodles ‘Paw’ This link helped me http://www.wikihow.com/Teach-a-Dog-to-Grab-Paw … I Played Sumdog, I haven’t for a while. I whittled sticks for my hay bale dolls house then I did some work on it is looking really good now! I looked at flags online trying to memorize some.