Holiday Happiness…

So, for us Christmas was over on Sunday – the big girls went to the Panto with their Nanny and Daioo (Granddad) and while little Piccalilli slept, the Stinker and I took down the decorations and tree (which was practically bare by the time we’d pulled everything off, so it’s a good job Christmas is done for another year!). Since, Piccalilli occasionally disappears off and returns to tell me that the Reindeer had gone – this has bothered her more than anything else as he was filled with chocolate coins most days by our Elf! I love the Christmas break, but I’m also happy when the house gets back to some level of normality… Saying that, I don’t enjoy the holiday coming to an end!

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I love holidays mainly because we get to have the Stinker around more (the biggest bonus of him still working as a teacher!) and relax together. It’s definitely not all smiles and happiness though… So here is my roundup of the highs and lows of Christmas and New Year 2015-2016:

Highs

  • Piccalilli’s enjoyment of the whole Christmas period – she’s the perfect age for the magical moments and watching her little face light up every time she realised that more chocolate coins had been delivered really made my day many times!
  • Lazy mornings in bed – ok, so as we home ed we often have slow mornings but these are always missing the Stinker who leaves early for work. So lazy mornings with all of us present are lovely.
  • Quality time with extended family – we see some members of our family often but to spend quality time chatting, playing games, and just being together is great.
  • Three happy little girls – well, they weren’t happy all the time (see Lows below!!) but on the whole they enjoyed the excitement of Christmas and the lovely presents they received.
  • Feeling proud – Poppet made us very proud on a couple of occasions. Firstly she played her recorder and cornet (both of which she’s only been learning for a few months) in a concert with the home ed band she is a part of. Secondly she sewed us all Christmas presents – I became an emotional wreck and cried when I opened the pillow she’d made for me!! I’m expecting floods of tears next Christmas when she makes me something even more intricate with the sewing machine she got from Father Christmas 🙂
  • Laughing lots – Pickle is turning into a fantastic comedienne and often has us in stitches. Her little impromptu sketches can be hilarious and I particularly love watching Poppet and Piccalilli laughing uncontrollably at her!
  • Theatre trips – we were very lucky to be taken to see Annie (thank you Auntie Krusty and Uncle Big Dan!), which was amazing, although the constant singing of Annie songs since is starting to grate on me (and I can’t get them out of my head!). The big Ps also had their annual Panto trip with Nanny and Daioo which they always love 🙂

Lows

  • The weather! It would have been lovely if it had snowed, or even just stayed dry – the rain really does make things more difficult, although we did still get out as much as possible and the New Year’s Day walk was great fun, especially when the big Ps (who had not been getting on well for a few days!) decided to roll in the mud.
  • The bickering – I know it’s normal and I live with it daily but I do wish they’d stop during the holidays!
  • The trip to Hospital – luckily nothing major but of course I felt awful because it had been me who had opened the door and trapped Pickle’s finger in the hinge ripping her nail half off (but her fault really for standing behind the door to have a strop!)
  • The end – as I said earlier, I really don’t like it when holiday times come to an end 😦

Parks, Paddies and Promises!

This time of year can be pretty stressful for everybody, but when you’re trying to juggle getting organised for the big day (and beyond) with keeping three hyper girls from exploding… well, let’s just say I’m in need of a break!

The past week or so we’ve spent a lot of time either walking to (the long way!), at or walking home from our local park – it’s nothing to shout home about (and even less so since the council removed the house and slide to stop teenagers’ shenanigans!) but the fact that it’s a stone’s-throw from home makes it the perfect escape on damp days when we need to get out.

Our last visit resulted in a huge paddy by Poppet about the fact that Pickle wanted to swing higher than her! But at least we were out getting some fresh air – positive thinking and all that 🙂

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Poppet’s paddies – it could be the name of a book, although I’m not sure who’d want to read it! Joking aside, her ‘moments’ are currently more regular with more gusto and I don’t know if it’s an age thing or something else…

Yesterday evening Poppet was due to be invested into Beavers. She’s been going since September and even went on camp last month (see Different Directions…); she was so excited about saying her promise and the Stinker and I were invited to watch. As soon as we arrived I saw her demeanour change – it’s hard to describe but it’s like she goes into herself, physically shrinking away from a situation. The next thing I knew she was over with us, crying and trying to clamber up on me. It’s difficult to know the best response in these situations so I often find myself trying to cajole her to do whatever it is she is shying away from: “You’ve been so looking forward to it”, etc. But Poppet is very stubborn so that was that – no promise.

However, five minutes later the tears started again (as I thought they would) when the realisation set in that she had lost the chance to do something she did really want to do! Luckily the leaders are fantastic and waited until the end, when nearly everyone had gone, to do Poppet’s promise with her.

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The Stinker is understandably concerned that she needs to overcome this issue, but my thinking is that, no matter how stressful I find her paddies, we need to find another way of dealing with them. We’d both predicted that it would happen last night so maybe we could have altered the outcome by changing our behaviour (or just not turning up to watch!)

Does anyone else have any experience of these sorts of issues and any golden nuggets of advice you could share?

 

 

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 🙂

Different views…

The other day my dad and I were discussing someone I know who is very opinionated and dad mentioned that I used to be the same way. I have to agree that I have strong opinions about certain aspects of life (thanks for the upbringing dad!), but I am also (increasingly, as I get older) very open to the fact that others have different views and (usually!) respect these alternative viewpoints.

To me, being opinionated means that you are unwilling to even consider others’ views or simply accept that sometimes it’s okay to ‘agree to disagree’.

Since I’ve been a part of the home ed world I’ve come across more opinionated people than ever before. And, interestingly, the majority of these people have actually been encountered in the online home ed world of support groups on social media! Many of these people claim to be this way because of the hand they have been dealt, but to me, no matter what you’ve been through in life, there is no need to be negative with everyone around you…

This morning I was part of an online discussion regarding one aspect of home ed (I won’t go into detail as it’s really not that interesting!). I made a simple comment to support the lady asking the initial question; I knew not everyone would agree but really I wanted the lady who was worrying to feel some support as this is what I’ve always thought these groups were for! The negative (and downright rude in some cases) responses to my and other comments shocked me and left me feeling disappointed that I am linked to some of these people by the association of home ed. It made me seriously question my place within that particular online group and I have since left it.

The thing that riled me most was people being so narrow minded and making assumptions about me and other people who were supporting the lady who had asked the question… One response made the assumption that, because I’m an ex-teacher, my children must spend their days stuck at desks doing formal learning. She couldn’t be further from the truth, but I stayed calm (the Stinker will be proud!), removed myself from the discussion and took the 3 Ps for a walk around the old, local quarry site with a friend. They climbed, swung, fossil-hunted, drank hot chocolate, pretended to be dinosaurs (oh, and Piccalilli had a little strop!) and didn’t once sit down at a desk to do any writing!

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When we returned home we spent hours doing formal sit-down maths… only joking! We designed mehndi patterns and had a go at decorating our hands for Diwali – Poppet commented how it was much more fun than anything she’d ever done in school!

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Teaching my children about different views is important to me… sitting at desks to do so is not!

Wet and Windy Woodland Walks.

We are really lucky to live in a beautiful area of England (Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds) and try to take advantage of this – whatever the weather.

Despite the unseasonably warm weather at the moment, it has been quite wet and windy. In my opinion one of the best places to be in this sort of weather is the woods, sheltered by the trees. So today we wrapped up in warm, wet weather gear and headed to meet my best friend from uni days and her family (who have sadly moved a few hours away but were in the area visiting family).

Our three girls get on so well with their two (aged 1 and 3 years old) and it always amazes me how they just slot together and play so well despite seeing each other infrequently.

Today’s walk included a lot of playing ‘home’ (I’m sure it would have taken  at least half the time without the playing!). I loved the way they used the roots of a huge tree as their kitchen, huge leaves (really big – bigger than our heads!) as plates, sticks as spoons. At one point they disappeared off under a large cluster of evergreen trees which became their house of course!

They collected leaves and twigs and collaborated to make a Stickman picture (inspired by the Gruffalo’s child sculpture in the wood). They staged their own photo shoots, organising themselves into positions and demanding all the adults took a photo while they chanted “Stinky smelly socks!” They played together in the playground, helping everyone to join in at their own level.

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There was no arguing and everyone joined in in their own way with no expectations. I’m aware this is often the case with mixed age groups – they seem to get on better as there’s less competition.

Days like today really make me appreciate how kind, caring and supportive my girls can be. It also made me miss my friend even more 😦

Where the Wild things are…

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Yesterday we had a wild day – thankfully not the kind of wild where the kids are bouncing off the walls and I’m tearing my hair out. No, we had a day where we reconnected with nature and ‘rewilded’.

Things have been quite ‘wild’ (in the other sense!) around here for a few weeks since we deregistered Pickle from school. The transition for her has been huge: from being in school, where she suppressed a lot of her true self, to being at home where she can totally be her.  At school she was NEVER wild, to the point where it worried us how uncharacteristically well-behaved she was! Don’t get me wrong, she’s not awful but she is definitely our most spirited child. When I used to collect her from school I often used to see her most wild side…

I’d love to say that she now has the most impeccable behaviour and listens to every word I say – actually that’s not true, I’m glad that my girls have strong characters and are able to express themselves, I just wish they’d do it a bit more quietly sometimes!

Part of our concern with mainstream schooling here in the UK was the huge focus on academic outcome and the lack of focus on the ‘whole’ child. Too much time spent stuck indoors, in stuffy classrooms sitting quietly listening. I raised these concerns with the girls ex-school, asking when they were going to be starting ‘Forest school’ sessions again – only to be told there was no time now that Pickle was in year 1! (nb. I am aware that some schools manage these things better!)

We love being outdoors (well, I do and I’m sure that this love rubs off on your kids doesn’t it?!) Being ‘at one’ with nature is so important to me and I really hope to instill some of this in my girls.

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So yesterday we walked, explored, chased sheep (oops!), collected autumn treasures (seeds and nuts), foraged nettles, plantain and dandelion, harvested veg and made our own yummy soup… It felt great spending the whole day outdoors. And yes, we were learning!

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I highly recommend wild days – there is something very grounding about reconnecting with mother earth.