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.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Insomnia and Tired days.

I seem to be in a bit of a pattern at the minute; Wake early with Hannah, feel wiped out by 4pm, get kids to bed and sit to try and 'do' but end up falling in and out of sleep on the couch til around 11pm, go to bed but am wide awake til anywhere between 1 and 3 am in the morning. Crash out and then wake up early with Hannah...... and repeat.

I cant seem to break it. If I try and force myself to stay awake I then get over tired and am awake all night almost. The only thing that seems to help is to have an afternoon nap. If I do I can then stay awake all evening and go to bed at a decent hour. However I dont generally get to nap.

I keep wondering if my hormones are up to tricks, after all I am nearly 40.... but its still early for that. Although my mum was all done and dusted by 45 so who knows. That thought feels a little sad really but I wont dwell just yet.

Anyway I am finding day times a struggle and am really grouchy especially on not very busy days like today. The weather was raging and September-y, very lovely. Eeeek, did I really say that? Give it a month and I will hate the gray days. But anyway it was perfect for snuggling to watch tv. I just bought the Victorian Farm box set which contained an earlier show called Tales from the Green Valley which was their earlier show which I had somehow never seen. Anyway. I am loving watching it and Lucas is dipping in and out with various questions and re-enactments of what he sees.

Mainly the kids played. Well, Hannah screamed. A lot. About EVERYTHING. She's two! Ho hum. And Lucas got the opportunity to have his first go on minecraft. Will I regret ever letting him? Probably, lol. We read some books to him too. But thats about it for our day today. Quiet and dreary. And as nighttime comes, I am very much awake. Grrrrr!

Friday, 2 September 2016

The First Day of The Rest of Your Life....

Well the weather couldnt have been more perfect for the first day of our new school year almost like I was being whispered to that all would be well and that everything would work out.
Today was 'the' day for us; the first day of the new school year. More specifically the first day for Seb at school. I cant really quite work out how I feel about it. Things have been tense for so long and I have really thought to myself that home wasn't necessarily work out in his best interests, but nothing highlights parental failure more than a child not wanting to be around them.
He couldn't have been more excited when he woke at 6.30am!!!!!! to get ready and was all done and dressed before 7.30 despite not needing to be there for an hour. Contrary to his expression here (Me: 'smile' Him: " I AM smiling!" Lol) he just was so happy in his uniform.

It made him seem young somehow, and vulnerable. I had to attend an assembly with him to mark the start of the school year. Part of me felt like I didnt want to, but I want to support him with this and for him to know I still love and support him. H didnt even give me a glance as his tutor group filed in, and he didnt on the way out either. That was hard, I almost cried in assembly and afterwards I almost cried in the car and almost cried chatting to a friend later. I cant put my finger on the exact reason because it is the best for him and for us. Anyway, He and I survived the day, lol.

Whilst I was out with him, Emma kindly looked after Hannah and Lucas. Im going to miss her next week when college starts, but that a whole other equally emotional post lol.  So she helped Lucas work on a page out of each of his workbooks whilst Hannah played with playdough.
Once I got home I sat with him and we did some letter work on Teach Your Monster To Read, and then Starfall. Hannah played Starfall on my ipad too although she doesn't quite know what she is doing, lol. After we had finished we got out his 1-20 number line and began some hands on work building towers to ten, then looking at what 11 means and what each tower looked like. Just a brief look for now.
Near the end he was flagging a little and Hannah was tantruming as I wouldnt let her break his bricks so it was time for the garden. We spent 40 minutes digging a hole, trampolining and driving cars around. We came in so I could sort out lunch and the two kids did some sawing (yes, actual sawing) in the bottom room whilst they were waiting for me.
They ate their lunch and then whilst I sat and ate we played  'What Doesnt Belong' which Lucas was really good at actually. Meanwhile Hannah played with the number board. After that my new box set arrived the complete victorian farm box set arrive so Lucas and I sat together to watch that and he enjoyed all the information in it.
He immediately started re-enacting what he saw once it was finished. I love that about him; he went to see park rangers, the next day he played rangers. He went to the fire station and he played firemen, he watches olden day farmers and he plays them too. Hannah and I got her babies out to play with and we spent some time dressing and undressing them.
We followed that with me reading a couple books whilst reminding him of the letters we learnt and getting him to point them out when they spot them.  At that point dinner needed cooking so Emma kindly took them into the garden again to play whilst I prepared the last of it. The rest was already prepared earlier in the day - I am so glad that I started the habit of doing that! This evening was play and then bed but it was so good to see glimmers of routine again. I have missed it a great deal, I didnt actually know how much!

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.