Sunday, 28 August 2016

Thoughts heading into the new school year.....

This morning I'm pondering our home education journey as we go forth into the new adventures that September brings. It feels a little odd and scary as we enter this new phase and I worry if I am equipped for the task in front of me.

With Emma's results out of the way there is no doubt about her going to college now and she is fully enrolled in the one locally to do her A levels. She is pulling no punches: Physics, Maths, Economics and Law. She likes to study and is still bemoaning the fact that she wasn't allowed to do the others too...that is so Emma though. But I dont think she can visualize how much more challenging A levels will be and will soon be thankful for the limitations they placed on her.

Meanwhile in LESS than 7 days Seb will be starting school. They begin on the Friday with an orientation day just for the year seven kids before the proper school year begins the Monday after. Its a little surreal really. Seb is more than ready and cannot wait for it. He and I have clashed for a while and I am certain that school will give him the outlet he needs. Sebs form tutor home educated his own kids which is an interesting twist of fate. I am hoping it means that this is a sign of him going to the best place for him to thrive.

I dont know how I feel personally about it. I see so many of the issues and limitations a school system places on a child, I see the lack of freedom, the demands of the day and the pressures they face. However I also know that children can do exceedingly well, that sometimes the school environment is exactly what they need and Nathan was his happiest there. Then there is the fact that Seb just cannot and will not learn at home. He seems to have stopped progressing educationally. He has lost interest in discovering new things. His attitude is confrontational and contrary and to be fair, I am not up to the fight. I am done....I am certain more than ever that I still carry the war wounds from everything I went through with N. It means I just dont have the fight in me anymore and certainly I can only work with a cooperative party rather than butting heads with a raging bull.

So school stuff is purchased, items labelled and all ready to go.... exciting times.

And that leaves Lucas.....well talk about stepping out over the precipice on to the invisible path of faith. (May have been watching Indiana Jones, lol) I am both excited for and terrified of the path ahead. It looks to be a tumultuous and exhaustive task and I am steeling myself for the journey.

But plans are shaping up and things are coming together. We already have an activity plan of sorts:

Monday: CORE (forest school) 10-3
Tuesday: French in the morning 10-11
Wednesday: Farm club 10-12
Thursday: Science 11-12 and Gym 1.45-3pm
Friday: HEY 10 -2pm

I think that will be more than enough to be getting on with and I am aware that possibly Tuesday and Wednesday activities may not quite work out which could be nice. HEY will be very much a drop in if Im up to it as it doesn't really tick our usefulness boxes now Seb wont be with us. There are the obvious benefits for me like my socialization but L and H tend to run a little bit wild unless I follow them around and keep them busy which is then not very social for me.

I have some baseline themes to see us through the year too:

September: House-building
October: Apples
November: Human Body
December: Christmas/Winter Animals
January: Arctic/Antarctic
February: Magnets
March: Growing Beans
April: Chickens
May: Bees
June: Egyptians

These loose ideas can then be worked on in depth or just touched on depending on Lucas' interest at the time. I have some books to read on each of the subjects and a hands on project/manipulative for each and then we can add lapbooks, worksheets, videos, other kits/manipulatives, computer or tv shows as we go along.

As well as this, and  more solid platform to step from, will be Sonlight which is the backbone and suppoort of our learning. This will be running quietly through our day and we will read Bible in the morning, read alouds for bed, poetry once a week and History and Science daily. It never takes long; around an hour for the lot and thats not much time to dedicate to reading.
Math will be hands on and manipulative based, no heavy work schedules.
As far as 'work', Im hoping that a handwriting worksheet or and one other will be ample, alongside 15-20 mins phonic/reading practice.

And thats how its looking so far. I am quietly optimistic that I have a good balance of hands on learning, reinforcement worksheets, and literature rich homeschooling which will see us though.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Balancing Act (A brain dump)

Life is complicated! People are complicated!

Maybe it's as complicated as you make it. Maybe I should not think about what people said, or what they did, or if they are for real. Maybe none of it matters. Maybe, if I could just let it all go, if I could just stop wondering and wishing and if I could keep on moving I would find actually its pretty simple. To be present, to be here, to enjoy now. There are days I embrace these circumstances with my whole heart without a backwards glance; sucking it up with the full acceptance of the here and now. With the way things are. Smiling.

However some days, like today, throwing myself into this 'new' life is too hard and it hurts and I regret and complain, and I just cant do it. A song, a comment, a tv show, a name or a word. Little things. And I break. And I cry. Completely winded by the wave of emotion.

Its like my whole life is a see-saw, each day I have to try really hard to make a conscious decision to stay here. Don't think, don't wonder. Avoid that song, that place, that situation. Don't feel, just keep taking one breath after another after another. Just do the next right thing for the next fifteen minutes, and then the next thing and then the next. And it becomes habit for a while.

Until again, a little thing. And the heart begins to pound.The stomach starts to churn. The pain, the ache. The gut-punched feeling. And the anger with myself - Why did I allow that action, that though. But no...STOP. Don't dwell! Don't ponder! Don't steer the wrong way. Stay on the path. Go away pain. Please, send peace. Please quiet in my heart and my mind.

And I breath. And I  lean forward supported by the wall. And I hold on just for one more minute. And the next. And I purpose to think a new thought. My breathing quiets, my heart stills, the sobs subside, and I raise my head and move onwards to the next thing and the next. The pain ebbs, and quiets and for a while I am okay again.....

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Today's the day....

We had an early start this morning- Im still feeling ill from whatever this lurgy is so I was awake before five am and Hannah woke around 5.45 am anyway so nothing unusual there. But Emma was awake before 7am - unheard of!! DH kindly provided bacon sandwiches for our journey and we headed off about 8am for the school to collect Emma's results. Im not sure who was more eager/anxious to find out how she did and traffic was so slow moving because of the usual workday rush.

We arrived at 9.15 only for Emma to be told she needed to wait until 9.30 so whilst she waited I nipped to the toilet at Waitrose then drove back to get her. She had them but hadn't opened them so we sat in the car whilst she opened and read her results. Ill let the picture speak for itself....

So super proud of her and pleased too as she needed a B or Higher and thats what she achieved. She adds this to her results from her last two years of B in English, and A in Physics and Art and can now go on to college to do her chosen course.

It's all down to her hard work and her desire to achieve these results. This is the beauty of home ed - you dont 'have' to do any exams but equally if the child has the desire to achieve academic results, they can!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A poorly vague few days.

I've been (and kind of still am) a bit ill since the weekend. Im struggling with a sore throat/headcold/headache type thing thats dragging me down a bit and making it a bit hard to function. Still, been plodding along and as always its busy here at Chez Stanbury.

Saturday I went over to my SW group as usual then dashed home as one of the ladies locally I know was dropping off some Sonlight books that I've bought off her. It needs a post all of its own, but I have purchased Sonlight for the year and she happened to have the few that I forgot to purchase as well as some for next years grade too so I bought them off her. She dropped them around late morning so I decided to grab lunch first and then head off to town. Town took me nearly all day by the time I had eaten lunch and fought traffic and busy-ness to get most things done.

Sunday dh had to work *sigh*. He was able to take Lucas so Hannah and I nipped to Asda, then to church and finished with Boots where I picked up some reusable trainer pants for her. She is mostly dry at night (wet nappy maybe once since she came out of daytime nappies 6 months ago) so I went for some pull up terry toweling ones which have a waterproof lining. Everyone said they were rubbish but so far after 4 days I really like them.

Monday started off with me feeling rubbish and I almost stayed in all day. In the end I forced us out and took the younger two to the allotment for a bit - 11ish may not have been the best plan given the hot weather. But we stayed a while, got given LOADS of veggies from other plot holders, dashed home with it and got changed, took them to Tesco to get lunch, dashed to the park to meet my friend S and her boys and we all hung out there. We headed back for around 3pm and S and the boys came too and stayed until 5. Whilst we were out our cleaner worked her magic. There were things she didnt do but these days and after all these cleaners I am less critical and think well I dont have time or energy to do it, she may not do it my way but some cleaning is better than me not getting there at all. So anyway, nice clean house again :).

Tuesday we decided on an out-day so headed for some local woods about twenty minutes away from here. The kids were super keen and sat in the car for the thirty five minutes it took me to load up all we might need and were happy during the drive. We met up with J and her kids who are about the same age as Hannah and Lucas. It was a long overdue meet up as we haven't seen each other in ages. She has had a lot of personal issues and I cant get my act together so we keep missing each other. After a morning of den building and lots of stick play we stopped for lunch and then went 'off road' led by the children through the trees and almost got lost but thankfully J knew roughly where we were so we ended up on a path, went down to the monument then back through the trees to the car and home by three pm and time to prepare tea.  I started to feel much worse and ended up having an early night.

Today I woke feeling awful. I managed to push on whilst S visited to chat about GCSE/Exam stuff. She left at around 1 and I just went down hill from there, unable to get off the sofa. The kids had done magic painting and some schoolwork before they arrived, and played whilst she was here, but they still go a little mad when they've been in all day. We did manage the afternoon playing with magformers and magformer letters, learning some sounds and making some models. Well I helped from my horizontal position on the sofa, Emma as always was an amazing help. By the time dh got home I couldnt cope any longer; feeling headachy, sick and dizzy and with a temp of over 38 so I went to bed and have been here since. I cant sleep because I cant close my eyes or the room swims and I feel sick but at least Im getting to rest so hopefully I start to be on the mend tomorrow. Early start as its Emma's exam results day....eeeek!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Daily Grind.

This morning we had an early start thanks to Hannah waking just before 6am again. *Yawn* We headed down stairs in hope of preventing Hannah from waking Lucas. We werent successful as thinks screaming is great fun at the minute and it wasn't long before he joined us too. We had a lazy hour or two before our hairdresser came over so we could have much needed haircuts.  She has been away on Maternity leave so we haven't had a haircut for four months!! Everyone had a cut and even Lucas was well behaved. It was even more super cute as Hannah had her first haircut today too. Nothing styled or drastic just a little trim to try and get rid of the baby hair that gets matted at the ends.

With that successfully done we had to decide whether to go to the local climbing wall place with friends. Lucas has never been before and isnt especially brave with that kind of thing. We decided to go and actually he did ok giving it a bit of a try. He didnt want to go high, mainly he hated the coming down feeling more than the climbing up - think it'll take it a while for him to be confident but Im hoping he will get there if we can go regularly- wish the cost wasn't quite so prohibitive though.

We nipped back to get Emma then headed to town to shop. Urgh! Not much to say about it really, no one ever likes it but at least we can wash clothes and eat fruit again, lol. Home to cook and eat tea - dh arrived home early which was a blessing as there is an air of shoutiness, bickering and general bleurgh going on at Chez Stanbury at the minute from the oldest to the youngest. *Sigh* 

This evening after getting a tired and beyond reasonable Hannah to bed, and Lucas too we sat down to watch Oceans 11 which I havent seen in a long time. Its really nice to share older films with the kids. We had a bit of a laugh and joke which was much needed after the bickery day. Hoping we can have a better weekend. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Park And Play

I didnt manage to sleep great last night which was productive in that I caught up with a friend, sent emails and blogged - go me. However it is not helpful when you need to function the next day. Sigh. Today I was not in the mood. This morning there was mainly mooching on the sofa interspersed with jumping up to help which ever kid was yelling for assistance. DH had gone to fetch Emma from Soul Survivor early in the morning as they had to be out of the campground by 9am, but it seemed to take forever - no different to as if hed gone to work but I didnt want time to be gone. And Im really beginning to miss having Emma about to help me out too.

Still she arrived back today and after catching up briefly I did take the kids out to meet up with some other home ed families for the morning. The kids did have a rather wonderful time and played with all the others that came to meet. Only four families today but one was a newbie so it was nice to introduce her to everyone and to get to know her a bit more. I already knew her a bit as she is a leader at Lucas' and Hannah' preschool but its nice to talk to her in a different capacity.

Once I got home the afternoon was filled with lunch, housework, tidying, etc for me and junk modelling, eating, playing with toys and playing with dry wipe boards for the kids. It was a mostly good afternoon. This evening Abi popped around to give dh his birthday present because she was unable to get here yesterday because of work. By 7.30 though, Hannah was exhausted and couldnt wait to go to bed. This evening I have been trying to blog - takes forever when you cant focus lol.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Out of the ashes.

I feel like thats how our day was really, emerging from what could have been truly horrid and ending it on a fairly happy note.

After a bit of a rubbish night we started with cards and presents for DH birthday. No birthday fun though as dh had to go to work. Before he left we got the pork in the slow cooker so that was half the tea battle today.We nipped to Tesco first thing to purchase picnic food, then back home to organise all we needed for a planned day with home ed friends. We went to the doctor next for an appointment about Hannah and I passing thrush forward and back over the last year. It was a good appointment and Im reassured that its nothing sinister. so continuing doing all we were doing with our hygiene, plus probiotics, natural yogurt and white vinegar, avoiding yeast and sugar. So with that done we dropped off some slings back to the sling library and rang C to say we were done and on our way only for her to cancel. Well, because it was hot she basically didnt think it was the best idea. What could I say, she was probably right but SO disappointed to have this happen. A bit miffed, not at her per se but at the change of plans, the £30 unnecessary money spent on picnic food and the general change of plans,  so off we went home.

To salvage the day we decided to have a carpet picnic given that it was too hot for outside time anyway. Not the greatest photo but we had a good time chatting and catching up together.

And after this it was time for box day. Box day is an exciting ritual that I haven't participated in for a few years now. We have missed Sonlight a great deal and I am so exciting to be able to start Sonlight with Lucas this year. The books are always amazing, there are very few I dont like at all. I get dizzily excited watching the delivery tracking process, seeing it arrive in the UK and waiting for it to be delivered. Apparently the kids love it too! Im really hoping Lucas enjoys the books as much as the other three have.
The afternoon was spent looking through all the new books and making plans for the coming year. A lovely end to an otherwise disastrous day. I prepped the rest of the dinner and dh was home before we knew it. Then it was cake - not bad I thought given that I made the cake when Emma was away and I am not the cake maker around here these days.

It turned out to be a good day.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

A-Lot Of Allotment Time (photo heavy)

So we got an allotment as I mentioned but really wanted to add some photos of all the things we have done so far as a record of things. We started with a Sunday picnic and planning session
Plans were made for the plot. WE needed to replace the dilapidated unsafe shed which sat at around a 30 degree angle but were going to do that by the spring. However we acquired a second hand shed via one of dh cliensts (Thank goodness he is a landscaper!) so it became our first job so that we could leave tools there.

Sorry lots of before and during photos - but this is the top of our plot looking amazing.
Next on the list was spraying our two plots apart from the bits the old tenant still has in there. The agreement we had was that we could have it as long as he could have his last few bits of veg. Well of course! So we are working around him a bit for now. We spent the best part of three days edging and fencing the plots to make them ready for when we get some wire to badger proof it. Its hilarious - we have gates but no fence lol.
This weekend we worked on rotavating the top bit of our full size plot and beginning the dig-over of our second plot. I am pretty wimpy and am so grateful to dh for making any of this possible! His last task was to put in a terrace so our plot was split level. All that done (with a little help from the younger two) and its looking brilliant. Roll on planting time!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Getting Into Our Groove. (Photo heavy)

Summer hasn't been so smoothly orchestrated as I planned. You know when you draw up a plan to be busy each day and then discover you managed maybe two days?..... Yup, that's us.
We have been busy in other ways though which when I look back, were productive, educational days without intending them to be.
There was rocket building for our space project.

 We went with friends and visited the NT property down the road from us.

 They played a great deal with their farm.
 Discovered and observed ants.
 Painted some more of the planets we are learning about.
 And made space scenes thanks to glitter glue and stickers.
 Watching Mighty Machines together on the pc.
 A walk around our local country park.
 Some fun digging and planting.
 Pattern Block Puzzles.
 Egg and Salt Water experiments.
 Oil and Vinegar experiments. Which they then made into dressing for salad which they ate (yup, dont faint!!)

 We had a games day together.
 And built with the Wedgits toy bricks.
 Emma practiced counting with the Compare bears and the beads.
We met friends and learnt about bubbles. And Tie dye.

 And enjoyed a day of making at our local NT property .

All this and so much more besides. Its been a busier than id realised and my allotment stuff is a whole other post.

Friday, 22 July 2016


Well, I cant quite believe it- my not so little boy has turned five!!
He is adorable, loving, considerate, thoughtful, generous, determined, persevering, imaginative, sociable, energetic, eager, polite, funny and happy. He makes me smile so many times a day. My days are exhausting, busy and I dont manage to live up to his expectations, so very often. But I wouldn't want a different boy.
He was so excited to be five. And so happy to be done with preschool and be starting homeschool, I hope I can do him proud.
His birthday consisted of Lego and Playmobil which he spent most of his day building and playing with. We hired this bouncy castle for his birthday yesterday, and today for his party too. I love this picture of five out of six of my kids together (missed Abi but she works a lot). I love my family so much
The party itself was a lovely time. The weather was blissful, the kids were great and they all had a happy time together bouncing and eating. His birthday definitely falls at just the right time weather-wise for a party at home. There were two cakes for his official, and second birthday. And SO. MUCH. FOOD. lol