Tag Archives: friends

This is me

A lovely thing happened on twitter a week or so ago.  A very special blogging friend mentioned that she was going to nominate my blog for the MADs.  I never ever thought that would happen, and it got me thinking.  I’m not sure what category my blog would fit in.  Unless there’s a “most neglected blog” option perhaps!  I have been rather quiet on here recently, though I’ve had plenty I could have been writing about.  I have hundreds of photos of the children doing wonderful, creative things, and I should blog them but I’ve been finding it really hard to do.  I need to get back into a blogging routine, and I’m sure I will, but I think I need to deal with what’s been stopping me first.

This blog has been, from the start, mainly about the children.  I love having it as a record of our family life and our home education, but there has been something missing.  It hasn’t really been about me, and I’ve suddenly realised the significance of that.  My life hasn’t really been about me for a long time, and I think that needs to change.  I have tried to put other people first and keep myself in the background.  I think that’s ok up to a point, but I need to fit myself in somewhere.

So this is me.  In the words of my lovely husband “a bit loopy”, and I can’t say I disagree.  Struggling again with depression and anxiety, which has come and gone over the years but never left me.  Often found on twitter at 2am hanging out with fellow insomniacs.  Some days just getting through the day.  Other days feeling impossibly lucky and loved.  I have a wonderful and endlessly patient husband, four funny and lovely children and some truly amazing friends.

Today is my birthday, and this post is my present to myself.  I’m reclaiming my blog, and I hope normal service will now resume, though it might be a new normal.  I can’t finish this without a mention for the people who have made it possible for me to get to this point.  Paul, thank you for putting up with me.  I’ve no idea how you do it but long may it continue!  Sarah, thank you for picking up the pieces every time I fall apart, and I will try to stop doing that every day so you can have a bit of a break.  You are always there for me and I know how lucky I am.  Merry and Jennie, thank you both for being lovely and helping me more than you know.  And as for the MADs, I’m not kidding myself that I will be there, but Merry thank you for making me love my blog again.

This is me.  And I think I will be ok.



I’m not really in a place where I can do a round-up of 2013 at the moment.  There’s too much I haven’t processed yet.  But I will tell you one thing I have learned this year.


First, though, I will tell you one of the reasons why this photo makes me smile.  I look happy, but I was in fact very stressed.  So much so that I had to take what felt like about a hundred photos while my very patient friend carried on smiling, till I finally had one I was happy with.  And the thing that worked in the end was laughing at how ridiculous it was that I was too stressed to smile.  And then I didn’t even write the blog post I was planning to write, because stuff happened and got in the way.

So I’m writing it now.  Kind of.  Anyway, the thing I have learned is not to take my friends for granted.  So thank you to all my lovely friends who have helped me and supported me in so many ways this year.  Happy New Year to you all.  And Sarah, there is so much more I could say but sometimes less is more so I’ll stop.  Just thank you x

Easter holidays

I have been erratic as usual in blogging what we have been up to, which often happens when we are too busy doing it to write about it.  I am really tired at the moment, and have been going to bed as soon as the children finally settle, but I have made myself stay up tonight in an attempt to catch up.  The holidays started with a relaxing and fun Easter weekend at Granny and Grandpa’s.  The children enjoyed lots of arts and crafts, cooking and playing, and I enjoyed having time to blog about it all – a one to one ratio is very civilised!  Since then life has been a little more hectic.  I had two days at home, mainly occupied with washing and packing before setting off annual trip to Butlins in Minehead for Spring Harvest.  It is a… well I’m not sure how to describe it… Christian holiday/ conference type thing.  I’m sure there’s a better way of putting it.  We are the group organisers for our church, and we enjoyed spending time with the other families in our group, as well as meeting new people.

Our Spring Harvest highlights this year:

  • soft play and Bob the Builder world – we spent a lot of time there, as always
  • the children settled in well to their group activities in the mornings, and had a lot of fun
  • I managed to attend four of the adult sessions this time – a significant improvement on my previous best, and a testimony to the fact that life is getting easier as the kids get older (though that did make me a bit sad – it was weird being at Spring Harvest without a little baby)
  • the Big Start in the big top – an all-age introduction to the day’s theme
  • the evening all-age worship – a very chilled out end to the day
  • having two extra children with us for 24 hours while their parents’ drove home (four hours each way) for their eldest son’s confirmation.  This was a lot of fun, and also a highlight because it felt like quite an achievement that it all went so smoothly, and it was nice to be able to help our friends out.  Six children? Easy!
  • some evening socialising with the other parents (thanks to Supergirl) and daily chats over coffee
  • swimming (for the children) and not swimming (definitely a highlight for me and thanks – again – to Supergirl.  I love swimming but not the kind that involves standing at the bottom of slides getting cold and hoping your children will emerge safely.)
  • setting foot on the beach (for about 15 minutes, in between all the other things the children wanted to do – there is never enough time to fit everything in!)
  • feeling proud of Owl who had a little more freedom to explore this time, in the Skyline where the book stall and exhibition stands were, and was very responsible about coming back when he said he would (usually only about 5 minutes at a time, but it was a good experience for him.)
  • twinning our toilets (I kid you not)
  • Tiddler’s birthday, which was the last full day.  All four children were extremely lucky to be chosen to dance onstage in the final Big Start in the morning (the link is to someone’s video from Week 1 and we were there in Week 2 but it gives you the idea!)  Later on, to celebrate Tiddler’s birthday we had lunch with three other families (19 of us in total) in one of the restaurants on site.  And for me another highlight of the day was catching up, briefly, with my lovely friend (Owl’s godmother) who came for the day and joined us at the all-age worship in the evening.

I always come back from Spring Harvest feeling tired but happy, and inspired about something new.  This time I got most excited by a conversation with others from our church about the idea of starting a “messy church” service, which we have been wanting to do for a while.  It was good to discover that the others liked the idea too!

Since then, we have had a quiet few days at home, trying to catch up with laundry and housework, but also having fun with the children and enjoying unstructured time before the term-time routines start up again.  They have played with their trains and cars, Lego and puzzles, and set up a shop selling toy food.  We have enjoyed time together drawing, colouring and working on sticker and activity books, and playing with playdough.  Monkey, Rabbit and Tiddler made food, and Owl made a red planet with a space police prison on it (apparently this is based on the Lego Clutch Powers movie!)

On our way to and from Spring Harvest we drove past Stonehenge, and the children drew some great pictures for our Prehistory project when we got home.

We have also started a new project based on a Friends and Heroes DVD which we bought at Spring Harvest, along with a curriculum pack for home educators.  And today we have been making the most of the sunshine with a whole afternoon of messy play in the garden, involving rice, split peas, flour, shaving foam and water.  I really need to blog that separately I think.  Tiddler hasn’t been very well for the last few days, but he seems to be getting better and he really enjoyed playing in the garden today.  I hope Spring is finally here!

Ups and downs this weekend

I feel like I need a ticker across the top of my blog with the names of those currently ill in our house, just to save time.  It seems that every other blog post I find myself writing that someone was ill again.  On Friday night and Saturday morning it was me (feeling sick, tummy pains, couldn’t sleep.)  Suburban dad was heroic, and did breakfast without me then took Tiddler to Dramabuds.  The others decided that they wanted a pyjama day, and had a good time playing, watching TV and doing various Lego-related things on the computer.  They were very happily occupied, so I stayed in bed nearly all morning.  Which would have been more enjoyable if I wasn’t feeling ill, but I appreciated it anyway.

In the afternoon, Suburban dad and I went to the final rehearsal for our choral society concert, while Supergirl and her friend looked after the children.  I was feeling a bit better, though not great, and determined not to miss the opportunity of singing in the concert.  After the rehearsal, we dashed to M&S to buy an outfit for me to wear (I have lost a lot of weight since I last sang with the choir, and the clothes I used to wear have long since been taken to the charity shop.)  We came home, gave the children supper and got ready to go out, and my friend (R) came over to babysit, so Supergirl and her friend could come to the concert.  We sang Durufle’s Requiem and it was hard but I enjoyed it.

Rabbit has also been feeling unwell again, and she got worse last night.  She spent about half the night in our bed coughing and complaining of tummy ache.  This morning, I was feeling too ill and tired to go to church, and I suggested that Rabbit might like to stay at home with me, but she really wanted to go with the others.  I had quite a productive morning of housework at home while they were at church then playing with friends afterwards.  Rabbit was sick again, though probably just as a result of coughing so much.

We had some more friends over for lunch (R and her family), and they stayed for the afternoon.  All the children played very nicely, and did some more Hama beading, while we chatted and carried on with the housework.  R did some ironing (Hama beads and clothes) until her husband arrived, at which point she stopped in case he got any funny ideas about her doing this at home!  I am very grateful for all her help.  She is the best sort of friend – the kind who leaves the house tidier than when she arrived, even when her three children are with her.  Suburban dad built Rabbit’s new wardrobe, having dismantled the old one which we are fairly sure still had mould spores in it from our damp and mould saga of a couple of years ago.  Owl and Monkey also have a new wardrobe, which arrived on Friday, and Tiddler has their old one, so now it is technically possible to put all the clothes away at once there is no excuse…I will have to tackle the laundry mountain.  I have made considerable progress today, and the bottom of the laundry basket is in sight.  There’s a long way to go with the ironing basket though.  (Might have to invite R around again soon.)

So, overall, more ups than downs this weekend.  Even if, at the end of it, two of us are still unwell.  And counting…

Friday round up – 27th July 2012

Owl, Monkey and Rabbit have been on a Dramabuds summer camp every morning this week and they have really enjoyed it.  Tiddler has been very jealous, but he had one Dramabuds lesson on Tuesday afternoon with Rabbit so that cheered him up a bit.  The big three finished the week with a fantastic performance in their show.  Rabbit was a very beautiful princess, Monkey a rather cool prince and Owl a dragon, with his own solo written for him because he sang so well in the rehearsals.  Very proud mummy moment!

On Monday afternoon we all went to see the Olympic Torch pass by the ponds, which was frankly as stressful as it sounded like it was going to be, but thankfully once the fleeting moment was over, the rest of the afternoon was much more fun.  There were some good local stalls in the gardens nearby, and Owl managed to join in a drumming lesson which he loved.  Then we escaped to the cool of our little local museum, and the children had fun doing Olympic-themed arts and crafts, playing and exploring.  Some good friends joined us and we ended the afternoon drinking tea in the garden while the children played which was lovely.

On Tuesday after all the Dramabuds sessions were finished, Owl, Monkey and I had a Chinese lesson.  On Wednesday afternoon we went back to the museum for more craft activities, before heading over to the lavender fields to meet our home education group.

On Thursday we met some friends at – I don’t quite now how to describe this unique local attraction – it started as a shop selling tropical fish, it also has reptiles, guinea pigs, ducks and chickens; over time they have added a cafe with a lovely garden, a miniature railway, some large model dinosaurs… who knows what they’ll think of next!  The children had a good time in the garden, playing in the sandpit for hours, and then looked at the fish and other animals, before taking a late afternoon stroll through the surrounding smallholdings to look at the horses (and eat our own snacks which you are not allowed to eat on the premises – we had already had an expensive lunch and a round of ice creams.)

Owl had his violin lesson before Dramabuds this morning, and this afternoon we went to visit some friends to deliver a belated birthday present.  The little children played in the garden (swings, trampoline and table tennis) while the big ones played with Lego inside.  It was very peaceful.  Later on at Granny’s house the children did some colouring for their Olympic project and the big ones looked at some newspaper articles, then they all played in the garden and Owl performed an impromptu violin concert for me and the little ones which was very good.  This evening we are watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony.  Tiddler has slept through it all, Rabbit and Monkey managed about an hour of it, but Owl is just about keeping his eyes open and it is after midnight.  I have told him he can stay up as late as he wants because I think he will remember this for the rest of his life!

I don’t know how you do it…

If you are home educating and have little ones, you’ll have heard this a few times…  “I don’t know how you manage to home educate at the same time as looking after your baby/ toddler/ pre-schooler.”  There are so many ways to answer this, that I never know where to begin.  So every time someone says it to me, my reply is probably something different, but may include the following:

  • I’m quite good at multi-tasking – I’ve been doing it non-stop since my first child was born nearly 8 years ago
  • I remember vividly the stressful (to put it mildly) experience of having a child in school, a pre-schooler and a toddler, and being pregnant… that was much much harder than home educating
  • Home educating 4 children is no harder than parenting 4 children (of course you may be one of those people who say “I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t cope with 4 children” – I don’t know how to answer that one either.  What can I say?  I’m not you… you might find it impossible to cope with, but to me it’s rewarding and fun and I think I’m the luckiest mum in the world)
  • I’ve been a teacher with a class of 35, so a one to four ratio is easy
  • The gap in ability between children in the same year group can be so great that complex differentiation is always required when planning lessons…in some ways it’s easier, or certainly no harder, to plan home ed activities for ages 2 to 8
  • My toddler sleeps for two hours in the morning, and my pre-schooler spends four mornings a week at pre-school
  • My older children teach the younger ones/play with them/ read to them often without being asked (yesterday Rabbit went through a whole vehicles poster with Tiddler, asking him “can you say car?  can you say fire engine?” … and he solemnly repeated every one!)
  • I have brilliant friends, including other home educators as well as friends who send their children to school, and my parents and my mother-in-law, who help with childcare and education in many different ways

If you asked me that question today, my answer would be the last one on the list.  Today my two oldest boys enjoyed a brilliant educational and fun experience, visiting the British Museum with me and a very good friend, while another lovely family looked after my little two and took them on a wonderful walk through a National Trust park to a farm.  I will blog the Museum visit later, but for now I just wanted to say how lucky I am to have great friends who made this lovely day possible.