Friday, 7 October 2016

October Time.

October came; bringing cold, wet weather and reiterating the turning of the earth and the ending of the summer. ITs been lovely to watch and observe the subtle changes the chilly mornings and cloud and rain.Not that I like rain; to me rain should be November.... I blame it on a poem I heard when I was a little girl. Now I have very definite opinions on what each month 'should' be like.
This week has been especially hard for me and I reached Friday and kind of crashed really but there were some lovely high points. So lets see if I can somehow recap the last few weeks....

September was filled with mainly lots of busy day. Lucas has been loving Core and farm club which he just thrives at. At Core he gets to take his saw and use it to work to his hearts content. Then we have the other clubs too; french, science and gym. We began by turning out our autumn stash ready for some fun making and doing. We were still in the throes of 'house building' throughout the end of September and its run long so I think only a short interlude into Apples will be possible this year.....theres always next year.
 We have been trying to incorporate some home time/downtime into our days as I regularly feel drained with all the activity. I am still not getting enough sleep and this week we had one no-sleep night whilst Lucas did his sleep study, one with a an up-chucking Seb and one with a migraine which prevented me layOne way of achieving it for us is iPad's. I hate them and love them at the same time - the same way I feel with all technology I guess. But they provide me with some breathing (or even napping) space which I seem to need. Another useful addition to that is our Now TV box which allows us to watch YouTube videos. Really been useful for watching 'How Its Made' and more 'Mighty Machines'. We always watch together and it has really opened up some interesting conversations.
 We have had a spurt of doing some charity too. A friend collects bottle tops for ms society and has to remove any silver foils still stuck inside. Well my guys enjoy doing it so she sent some home for us. Lucas and Hannah are both so careful using their knives to work on this and spends hours of 'busy work' to keep them entertained.
 We have had a few opportunities to meet with friends and play which has been nice. I am so determined to keep home ed fun and relaxed as much as possible. We do go for structure but we are certainly not highly structured like some of our friends and we dont really strive for much produced work as a way of validating learning. None of my kids ever seem to have benefited from high structure so for us we go for 'a little bit of structure' lol. There have been worksheets of course. And more than you realise once you get started but learning is so much more fun hands on.
 I managed to catch some pictures of our science days. Science hasn't been going as well as we would like. Several of the issues haven't been able to be resolved and I am guessing the person we found to do the course either doesn't have children, OR had them back when dinosaurs ruled the earth so has forgotten how they are. We only managed ten minutes of last week's one which, it turns out, had some other issues after we left. Anyway we have decided not to attend the last one and we'll see what comes of future Science plans.

 We also managed to get some lovely photoes of Lucas joining in with French. The tutor is not what one would expect, bless her! Her tattoos and mini-dress struck us when when she first arrived but she has lots of experience with 'busy' kids and has been so amazing I've had to eat my hat somewhat!
I have been trying to give them heaps of time to play - maybe too much but I am feeling a bit lazy and they seems to be benefiting.
 We have also managed to get some outdoor play in our mud pit. They decided to 'bury' Lucas and then hannah headed over to the playhouse to 'wash' her trousers.
 We have been cooking together lots. Mainly slow-cook meals for cheapness and convenience. Of course that means dumplings which the kids love to 'help' make lol. More flour on them and the sides than in the bowl but still the dumplings turned out well. Lucas even helped make my butternut squash mash to go with our dinner.

I have observed Lucas and Hannah's learning really take off. Hannah started drawing ladders which progressed rather quickly to writing H for Hannah. Lucas meanwhile is learning his letters and has read his first few ORT books. Its lovely to see their progress in those areas. Maths is mainly hands on as I dont think their writing ability is equal to their counting ability and dont want to hamper progress. Hannah can count confidently to 5 now and work 'how many?'/ Lucas can count to 20 reliably now and is starting to recognise written numbers.

One of the most lovely things we have done so far is attend an apple juice making day. We watched the apples washed, mulched, pressed and juiced and 24 hours later bought back pasteurized and delicious.  The day was finished up with an apple story and some label making.

Days like this are beyond what you'd get in school and just such a lovely learning experience. Other things have been: teaching Hannah to play Junior Uno - she can really get on with it now she knows her colours. As she learns numbers, even better and she'll move on to proper Uno. Lucas meanwhile has been doing various workbooks on the go in between lessons and the like. And they both have enjoyed sensory play with their Bob toys. Its been nice seeing them (mostly) cooperate.

 In preparation for my purple hair and crazy-cat-lady status we have added some new additions to our household. Meet Lily and Rosie our beautiful new kittens. Rosie is especially keen to sleep in odd positions where as Lily is much more a lapcat. They are both especially sweet.

 They have settled in really well after a pretty rocky start. We initially saw the kitten we wanted on 3rd September in a seemingly clean kitchen with the quite receptive mama cat. We had picture updates and contact with the owner who told us they'd been vet checked and were all ok. And we were meant to collect 8th Oct. Then we had a call at the end of September telling us that we needed to come pick her up because the mama cat was attacking. My gut kicked in and was suspicious but we went to get them and they were in a dingy poo filled living room in grotty conditions. We ended up taking two rather than one and got them home to discover them riddled with fleas and Lily was shaky and not very well. We saw the vet who flea-treated and then said 24 hours of watching and waiting. Thankfully they picked up, however based on their size and behaviours we and the vet think they were barely 6 weeks, possibly not weaned from their mama, and not really used to using the litter tray. They have diarrhea due to immature guts and though they are improving they have a way to go. I get so cross when people treat animals this way. Could have been so much worse. But we adore them already and the littlies are loving them.

We have had some ups and downs though. Seb is still facing niggles at school partly due to the Ed Psych report not reaching the staff so Seb not being able to manage as well as we'd hope. I am gradually getting the message out to the staff  but its a job in itself. Added to this he has been coming up against some low level bullying techniques. Name calling 'smelly seb', some teasing because he got some work wrong and also because he is quite studious. And some tricks whereby kids have told him to meet them in the park and not showed up, or been walking behind him and sneaked off. All little things but enough to niggle him and really niggle me. He doesnt want any intervention and is very pragmatic "Theyre just bullies, Im ok, they arent doing anything bad and Ill just tell the teacher." He is loving school and is seemingly fine. We did work on some personal hygiene tips which will help a little with the name calling and hopefully that will ease things a little. Its hard feeling helpless though.

And I have had another disappointing time with my parents. My mother got my hopes up again with comments about coming up and then cancelled with a stupid excuse that my dad had a bad tummy again. Except it came to light that he had stopped taking his medicine 'in preparation for ocming up' except when he stops taking his meds he bungs up and then gets in agony, gets his blood issues and ends up on anitbiotics. Which then conveniently means he cant come up. But oh, hes not doing it on purpose! Bull! Sorry but bull and I am so hurt, upset and disappointed that they are kind of waiting to die, and worse, arent bothered about seeing us. I have offered to drive them up just for a weekend, or a day. ALWAYS some excuse, waiting for a letter or a phone call....yes apparently even on a weekend. *rolls eyes*  I have the kids desperate to see them and asking why they dont visit. I dont know what to tell them. I dont want to lie and I dont want them to feel negative about my parents because that would be wrong. It sucks. Yes it seem like such a little thing, like no big deal but actually it is really upsetting me and impacting my life. And its bringing up all sorts of negative childhood memories and taking me right back there again. Ho hum.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

A Whirlwind Education

We have been having a really lovely time over the last two weeks. And with a mix of beautiful sunshine and some autumn chills, its been the perfect start to our 'new year' at Chez Stanbury

Emma has settled into college pretty well after some minor hiccups and issues. She enrolled the Thursday before college started and nobody said anything about any clashes on timetables, but the following Wednesday when she collected her timetable she was pulled aside and told she couldnt do all her choices and shed have to drop either Maths, Physics or Economics. Apparently only three people in the whole of the college wanted to do all three. She came home bordering on tears, although she doesn't 'do' emotion so she held it in.I contacted the tutor who said she seemed fine with it - it was an epiphany to me. People really do feel she is 'normal' because she hides emotions, knows strategies for getting through and knows how to say/do the right things to get by. This is a good thing... but it also means that people will never really know her, or possibly understand her. That made me feel a bit sad really.  Anyway, I after the initial upset and 5 hour rant to me, she decided to drop Economics and do Psychology instead. So far that seems to be the right course and may just be the path she *needs* to take. After all, I do believe in divine providence and all things working out for our our own good in the end. She is enjoying the initial few days of it so hopefully it'll be a good fit.

Seb has been equally successful at settling in. This is of course really good news disguised as a bit of a punch in the stomach for the mama-educator in me who feels like I wasnt up to the job. When I stop being all self absorbed though, I am really pleased its working out. The school are being AMAZING! The second day of school I was called in and they had already got the ed psych in to assess his needs because I had flagged up his issues with them when we were first offered a place. Within the week they ed psych sent back his report and we now have in place strategies at home and in the school for helping him as well as an approximate diagnosis of whats going on with him (dyslexia, auditory processing and issues with working memory). Part of me goes "oh no, not another one on the path to difficulty" however, its been recognised, accepted and they are working with him. He is coming home happy and content, he is smiling more than I thought he ever would and is so far making the right friends and working hard. So all very positive. Its something unique about homeschool kids I think (or at least from what I've seen so far) - they really do relish the experiences in such a different way to other children. So interesting.

Which leaves me with the younger two. Hannah of course is in preschool three days a week and appears to be loving it. Although her language use has dropped with out Lucas as her safety net. Im hoping that wont hamper her too much and she will continue to grow in confidence. She comes out singing all the nursery rhymes and songs. She has imaginary friends right now who are based on her real friends there. She talks to JJ,Katie and Hayley, we have to bath them and offer them food at lunch - so funny! When she is home she is of course joining in with Lucas and taking part in our many fun activities.

Meanwhile Lucas and I are getting to hang out together and Im getting to really know and understand him. He is really quite a gentle unique character under all that loudness and bravado. Im discovering quite a few anxieties too which is a bit sad, but we can work on that. His natural environment is the great outdoors and thats where he thrives best. He has been loving the busyness although I can see he is exhausted by the end of the day. I do feel its a good thing for him though. Im totally behind the opinion that in some cases its good to be busy; too busy to be naughty. And certainly (mostly) that works for him. We have been busy learning about harvesting, preparing an allotment, how to count to 12, the first four phonics letters (s a t p), looking at autumnal changes in nature, how houses are built, weve been reading some lovely read alouds, practicing counting, cooking together with all the measuring and counting it requires, we have been watching more of Tales From the Green Valley which Lucas has seemed to love. What I love most is how everything he sees, he wants to do. He sees a farmer, he wants to be a farmer. If he sees the rangers, he wants to be a ranger, if he sees army men he wants to be one. Its all fabulous and Im certain he is learning loads. I am also super excited for his next project starting in October which Ill show more of as I get everything together.

Our week is super busy and our hardest day is definitely Thursdays. I literally drop of H, dash home for 1/2 hour to do some work with L, dash to science, dash to get lunch, eat lunch, go to get H, go to Gym, go home, collapse. Its not my favourite way to run things but needs must. Trying not to rant but I am so sick of hearing "slow down", "stop doing" "cancel whats not essential"...... all I can think is "essential to whom". Ultimately who am I to say who should go without a group so I can go slow, how is it fair for say, S to miss scouts just because I have been out all day doing stuff with Lucas and Hannah. OR why should Lucas not go to gym just because its a rush getting to science and getting Hannah. I get taking time to listen, watch and observe life, savouring each moment, being present in your kids lives - I wholehartedly agree with all these things.  But my take on it is that slow can often translate into 'cant be bothered. For a family with 6 kids I dont feel it is especially unreasonable or surprising to live this way, or be this busy even with taking as much 'slow' time as we can. I am tired of opinion suggesting I should lt down one for the other, or let down all so I can be at home.
What would I do with them at home for peats sake? They'd be bored, Id be shouty. This way they are out and learning, not bored and we see progress. Win Win!

Oh the joy of those who like to have an opinion on my life! *rolls eyes*

And Ill finish in the usual way, lol.

Monday, 5 September 2016

And sometimes everything just works like clockwork!

I was feeling a bit apprehensive about starting home ed so I prepped the night before and got together an action plan for the day in advance. Hannah woke up really early (4.50am!!) eager to go to preschool. So it worked in my favor as I could get everything ready and set up to start.
Seb left for school at 8.15 and Emma was home today so she got started whilst I took Hannah to drop her off. She went off ok though she did look a little forlorn when I peeped in the window as things have changed without Lucas and with less kids. When I got back Emma had done heaps with Lucas and managed to remember to take a picture.
We finished off a couple of worksheets then Lucas began his house building project using Teifoc building kit we had purchased for the occasion. We had a quick interlude to watch a 'How It's Made: Bricks' YouTube video then he finished the first layer before stopping for a snack.
After that it was obstacle course time. He was apparently a ninja spy lol.
After this it was time for some sawing and wire stripping which we had fun doing. And he made a taser for cows.
Once the rain stopped we got outside to make a mess play in the sandpit for a while.
We made lunch together and he helped prepare it and even ate vegetables. Bonus!
We nipped to Tesco quickly and then picked up Hannah who thankfully had a lovely day, and hadnt had any worries without Lucas at all. Yay! We got home and read some books together about different tools and then watched a Youtube Video about how screwdrivers and screws are made. Seb arrived home. In a good mood and totally helpful and well behaved. He did his homework, the dishwasher and even tidied without there being a row about it. And then went on the pc. Emma did some Charcoal art with Lucas and Hannah whilst I cooked dinner.
After dinner we finished the last thing on the list which was this fun shape game which Lucas loved so much we had to play it 4 times. He won each time so was especially pleased with his day.
So that was our day. Everything went smoothly. Everything worked. And Seb and I got on really well which means more to me than anything. I love it when days go well.