Feeling thankful…

If you’re American you are probably celebrating Thanksgiving today and although this tradition is not part of our culture I am still feeling thankful today for:

  • The Stinker – I spent my morning out shopping while he was at work… It doesn’t seem fair, but it’s the lifestyle we’ve chosen to make our lives happier for now (not me shopping all the time I hasten to add!) I’m thankful that he’s happy to support me and the Ps in every way possible.
  • My parents – I’ve said it before (in Mum’s the Word…) but if it wasn’t for my mum and dad we, literally, wouldn’t have the life we have now. They help us out in so many ways and we are eternally grateful for their support and guidance.
  • My big blister – As I’m sure is the case with all sisters, we have gone through stages where we weren’t close, but my sister is my best friend and I trust her implicitly ~ she would be the one, along with her lovely husband Uncle Big Dan, to become the Ps guardians if the need were ever to arise; in the meantime we really appreciate the time they give to them, and us! (We had a lovely surprise visit from her today when she was extremely lucky to meet Father Christmas and Rudolph!)
  • Extended family – As I’ve said before, I’m lucky to have a small close family and we love spending time with Grauntie Jane, Gruncle Jim and cousins Marie and Joe. Their time and support over the years have also helped us to get where we are and I have many happy memories of the younger me having lots of fun with my lovely cousins 🙂
  • Old friends – Today I spent the morning catching up with an old friend (not old old, but you know ‘old’!) Despite moving away from each other (we used to live one street apart and now it’s close to 45 minutes) we try to meet up as much as possible at our halfway point – shopping, cuppa and cake anyone?! Don’t mind if I do! Old friends are so important – they know you from a time before and it’s always good to reconnect with that old you and to share fantastic memories with fantastic people. Last weekend I also saw some old friends and despite the conversations being interrupted often, by the children who now outnumber us, it was just nice to spend a few hours in their company.
  • New friends – Over the five years since we left the city to live in the country I feel lucky to have made lots of lovely friends through different areas of life: dancing and exercise, craft groups, baby and toddler groups, school, home ed groups, neighbours and now blogging! I’m very thankful for the friendship and help of these lovelies in many different ways over the years: from childcare to the loan of a wheelbarrow to the delivery of some 3p sweetcorn (you know who you are!)
  • The Ps – They are all I ever wanted (as I wrote about in Stop, I want to get off!) and despite the challenges they bring, I am so thankful to have them, and their bonkers ways, in my life.

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So today I have been thinking about all of the wonderful people who enrich our lives, therefore this post is dedicated to everyone who knows me – thank you 🙂

The Pickle Returns

Today I saw a different side to Pickle since she left school…

I am aware that deschooling (getting out of the school way of thinking and behaving) can take months, and during this time children can regress and generally be hard work, but Pickle has been taking this to extremes! In school she wouldn’t say boo to a goose and was always impeccably behaved (not herself!), then horrendous at home. Many people say they prefer it this way, but not me – I’d just like my kids to be themselves in all situations, and hopefully generally nice 🙂 I used to help out in Pickle’s class and found her behaviour quite upsetting really.

When we removed her from school the horrendous side took over and the compliant side completely disappeared (Goodbye Dr Jekyll, hello Mr Hyde!) I know I wanted her to be her but I really hoped this angry, defiant, aggressive her wasn’t going to hang around for too long. She also started to tic quite badly, something that we’ve noticed in Pickle since she was quite young, but always seems worse at stressful times – cue questioning if we’d done the right thing and me nearly having a breakdown after a particularly bad week.

Things have gradually improved and Pickle seems a lot happier to be her. Although her angry side still rears it’s head occasionally, we are all learning better how to respond (generally with a tight hug) and situations are diffused much earlier and with less shouting and stress all round.

She has been quite reluctant to sit down to learn on the whole (she found the whole ‘sit-down learning’ at school very boring!); this is something I’ve not been worried about as she’s still deschooling, is only six anyway and can learn in many more ways than sitting at a desk (see Where do we learn?!) but with a very keen older sister, I think she has felt some pressure to join in with activities (from Poppet, not me!)

Today however she chose to join in with no requests (I often ask her if she’d like to as I’d hate for her to feel left out) or pressure. Poppet and I were sitting up at the dining room table making really long number lines to practise counting in 3s, while Pickle and Piccalilli were playing on the floor in our newly created small world area (to make room in the lounge for our Christmas tree!) Pickle observed from a distance for a while before asking if she could join in, but could I help her to draw the lines? ~ of course 🙂 She focused on her number line for nearly an hour and was really pleased with her learning.

I’m sure the lack of pressure to be involved helped and I hope that she continues to enjoy learning alongside her big sister…

Wildfowl, Wet Bums, Whinging and Wrestling!

I love days like today when a theme emerges by itself and everyone goes with it and embraces it… That makes it sound like we had an idyllic day but from my title you can probably see it wasn’t all plain sailing!

We decided to head out to meet a good friend and her 2 year old daughter at our local WWT (nothing to do with Wrestling, a lot to do with Wildfowl!) After some membership issues, a spilled cup of tea and a tantrum from Pickle, we made it to see the birds! All four girls had a great time feeding them and Poppet was thrilled that there were so many of her favourite Nene (pronounced nay nay) Geese.

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We got chatting to one of the volunteers about migration, which we’d started discussing on the journey there. It was good to hear confirmation that the things I’d been telling the Ps were correct! (Strangely, the theme continued on our weekly trip to the library this afternoon where the librarian read a story about birds migrating ~ great coincidence!)

We headed off on our usual route to the otters, via the smelly ‘mingoes and managed to avoid Wellyboot land, ’cause we didn’t want to get too wet and cold…

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When we got to the far end we had the playground to ourselves and the girls had great fun climbing, swinging and digging (with a bit of whinging and wrestling thrown in for good measure!), while we drank extortionate hot chocolates (although they were good!) My friend enjoyed sliding down the wet slide – cue soggy jeans and much hilarity (and a lost phone, which she had to return to find hiding under the slide later!)

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The girls had the most fun jumping in puddles and of course getting wet, making our earlier avoidance of water completely pointless!

Tiredness, and therefore stroppiness, was creeping in by this point and that was just the grown ups 😉 So we headed home for naps and a quiet couple of hours ~ all in separate rooms doing our own thing peacefully and calmly ~ before our library visit which Poppet particularly loves and always gets chatting to someone about the benefits of home ed!

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Another great day spent outside with nature and a lot of impromptu learning ~ I also love home ed ❤

Let the festivities commence…

Today I was feeling a bit under the weather, so we gave Monday group a miss and had a productive day at home.

Dare I say it, but we seem to have inadvertently started Christmas in this home ed household! The first task was writing letters to the big man, as other family members have been asking for gift ideas. You wouldn’t think this would be such a tricky task but, due to recent birthdays and an abundance of toys in general, the big Ps struggled to come up with many ideas – sorry to disappoint family members but I think you’ll be buying some surprises! Piccalilli was adamant that she’d only like a Ponyo toy (phew!) and a lolly 🙂

 

 

At two of the groups we attend there are due to be some Christmas sales where the kids can sell items they have made.  So this afternoon we started making our products – bubble bath and soaps. Poppet is also keen to sew some decorations, so we have a shopping trip for material planned for tomorrow. I love the idea of the Ps learning about enterprise (maybe they’ll make millions and look after me and the Stinker in our old age!) and they really enjoyed discovering how to make the different products – I just hope they sell some!

In the past I would have said it was too early to start Christmas (and would hold out until December) but I think it’s perfect timing this year, especially now the weather has changed to wintry.  In fact I might turn our house into a grotto!  Anyone for gluhwein? Oh not me,  I have to wait another seven days! !

Nothing Days…

Do you ever book a date in your diary to do nothing? No matter what comes up, that day takes priority in the same way as if it was a friend’s wedding or a trip away… Today was one of those days for us, although we definitely didn’t do nothing!

We actually spent nearly all day in the garden, my happy place. The sun helped, but mainly being with my little family made me feel all warm and cosy.

We had lots of fun chopping down a tree – then the big Ps used the trunk as a tightrope and the branches to make dens (sadly most of my photos haven’t worked as I forgot to put the memory card in the camera, but we have a few from the Stinker’s phone!)

Piccalilli had a lovely time playing with the water while I cleared the allotment for winter and the Stinker chopped logs.

Everyone worked and played happily alongside each other until it started to get dark, when we came in for a yummy dinner cooked by the Stinker 🙂

The Stinker commented on how happy I am this evening, but of course I am – I’ve had a day in my garden. Our nothing day has been a huge success for reconnecting with each other and mother earth. Now I’m ready for whatever the next few manic weeks throw at me…

Weekly Review!

Today has been a hectic day of going to a baptism, followed by afternoon tea and then fish and chips at a friends house with the 3 Ps. The Stinker stayed home to play footie, but didn’t ’cause it was called off, so did jobs around the house! I’m exhausted so I thought I’d follow in my friend at Too Long Didn’t Write‘s footsteps (who is also doing the 30 Day Challenge of writing daily) and give you a round-up of my week…

So  Last Sunday it was all about how our lives seem to be going in Different Directions more and more these days, with Poppet heading off to Beaver camp while the Stinker spent time with Pickle and I spent time with Piccalilli.

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On Monday I reflected on Piccalilli’s language development in Language of love or hate?! and considered the need to begin assessing kids so young!

On Tuesday we had another visit to the fab museums in the city (Adventures in the City Take 2!) which thankfully went to plan with no illness or accidents 🙂

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Wednesday was all about thanking my wonderful mum for all her help over the years, in Mum’s the Word…

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On Thursday I enjoyed thinking about how I’m Feeling the love again… with teaching.

Yesterday was fantastic Forest School Friday… so I shared my thoughts on the importance of rewilding.

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I hope you’re enjoying my ramblings as much as I’m enjoying writing them (most days!!)

 

Forest School Friday…

When Pickle started in Year 1 at school in September, I was most concerned to be told that they would no longer be doing Forest school sessions due to lack of time! (see Where the Wild Things Are…) Being stuck indoors all day was one of the big contributory factors to her dislike of school and our decision to home ed her along with Poppet.

Since that time we’ve been hunting for a good Forest school session to attend. Although we can, and do, do lots of the activities ourselves at home, there’s nothing like having someone else to do the hard-work and clearing up afterwards and a group of friends to share the fun with.

We’ve been very lucky to find a great group, not too far from home, organised by a friend we’ve made through another home ed group and a trained forest school leader.

So, despite the weather finally starting to feel more like winter than spring, the Ps were mega excited this morning about Forest School Friday. We wrapped up extra warm, packed the waterproofs and headed to the forest, via the shop to buy sausages to cook on the fire for lunch!

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The girls had an amazing 3 hours: Pickle particularly loves the mud kitchen and water (hence the need for warm waterproofs!); Poppet had a great time whittling and making a toadstool to put next to the fairy door in our garden; Piccalilli enjoys spending her time putting little sticks into the log with holes in it! I just love seeing them outdoors, being free-range, enjoying nature and rewilding; I also enjoy sitting around the campfire, cooking, chatting and singing songs I remember from my childhood (“Do your ears hang low?” – anyone else love that one?!)

Forest School Friday – one of the best ways to spend a day, as long as you’re prepared to wrap up warm and come home to hot chocolate in front of the log burner to warm up those toes 🙂

Feeling the love again…

It’s over a year since I left my permanent, part-time teaching job (after teaching for 16 years). I’m sure lots of people thought I was mad, as these sorts of positions are hard to come by, but I knew I’d be happier out of the profession…

Initially the plan was for me to do supply teaching for a day or two a week, but then Poppet’s experience of the education system started to go horribly wrong. I felt hypocritical about continuing to put her through something that I, as both her mum and an educational professional, did not agree with and had to leave myself due to stress and exhaustion ~ so to home ed.

Now the idea of spending my days cooped up in a sweaty classroom (I taught hormonal 11 year olds!) fills me with dread and, despite the fact that nanny is on-hand to help out with childcare (see Mum’s the Word), I can’t face the thought of supply teaching! Of course we could do with the money, but we can also live without it.

I am feeling the love with teaching again though and particularly enjoy researching and planning topics for the Ps (see Seven tips for ‘planning’ a topic), so much so that I’d even consider doing it for other people!

I am finally starting to feel again like that enthusiastic, 20-something teacher starting out ~ what I do is worthwhile; I am making a positive difference for the children I teach (mine in this case!); I have something to give. It feels good, but does it make me want to return to the classroom? No way!

Mum’s the Word…

For me, family has always been the most important thing. I don’t come from a large family and I often think this makes it easier to be close, as there are less people to share yourself between!

When we were kids, although we lived nearly two hours from grandparents and cousins, we saw them every holiday for extended periods of time. I always hoped that things would be the same for my girls and, despite having no cousins of the same age to play with, in some ways things are better. We only live an hour from family so the Ps get to see them regularly, particularly their nanny (my mum): she has visited us weekly since Poppet was born, helping out with childcare when I had to return to work after maternity leave with all three girls. Many of my friends comment on how lucky I am to have such a superstar for a mum, and I realise this is the case.

Since we began home edding, my mum’s visits are often my saving grace! If we’ve been having a busy week and I’m tired (That’ll be most weeks then!), I know I can have a bit of a break when nanny’s here – I’ve even managed to fit in child-free cafe visits with friends and long hairdresser appointments! Or I get to spend one-on-one time with one of the Ps, often Piccalilli, while nanny does baking  or sewing with the big Ps.

I also get to revert back to the rare position of being looked after by someone else, which can be a lovely feeling, especially when she likes to shop, cook and clean for me (or that’s what she tells me anyway!)

For me, the best thing about my mum’s visits are the chats – we’ve always got on well (even when I was a slightly rebellious teenager, I still enjoyed spending time with my mum) and I trust and respect her knowledge and opinion.

I can only hope that one day my girls will have their own children and will want me in their lives too.

Thanks Mum, love you xxx

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Adventures in the City Take 2!

After our previous visit to the City Museum going horribly wrong (see Good days, Bad days), we thought it was time to give it another go!

So today we headed into the city (in the car this time, just in case!) to visit the Folk Museum with our home ed friends. We arrived with no dramas and had the whole museum to ourselves – despite it officially being closed they still take educational visits, which officially we are!

20151117_113303 (2)As soon as we entered the door, the big Ps were whisked off by their friends to the very top of the beautiful Tudor building. After following them up slightly more slowly, to marvel at the amazing wooden structure, my friend and I sat (on a flight of stairs), observed and chatted. Initially the big girls wanted our attention – something they are all used to having fully in both our home ed households – but they soon organised themselves into a fantastic game of dressing up and playing home in the Tudor times! Piccalilli played around us with toy animals and food, occasionally requesting our input, mainly to retrieve an animal that had been borrowed by a bigger girl!

We laughed lots about the teaching and learning that was happening on our educational visit! Seriously though, I do think the girls all got a sense of what clothes and beds were like in the Tudor times 🙂

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We headed downstairs for some lunch, followed by some chocolate biscuit treats, followed almost immediately by five hyperactive girls… The rain had stopped so it was definitely time for a play and run around in the garden. More learning took place – playing with Victorian style toys, hiding in the Anderson shelter and discussing why the word ‘shop’ was spelled ‘shoppe’. We’ve covered so many eras today and we didn’t even make it into the retro rooms at the museum (so we’ll be heading back in a few weeks for a further educational visit!)

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Everything was going so well until tidy-up time, when Poppet decided that, as the oldest child, she should be in charge (as the photo above captures so well!) and so didn’t like it when Pickle started to put things in the wrong place in the shed! We heard a lot of screaming and their friends exited the shed very promptly with worried looks on their faces and it turned out that Poppet had punched Pickle (a regular occurrence at the moment sadly). Time to go home…

… But thankfully a less stressful experience than our previous visit and we’ll definitely be going again soon 🙂