Easter is a reli­gious hol­i­day to me and not being a reli­gious fam­ily it tends to pass by in a whirl of crack­ing on with jobs about the house and gen­eral chill­ing as a family.

I don’t like all the sec­u­lar hype that is start­ing to go with it now.  We do have an egg each, with the shops full of them it would feel awfully mean to say no on prin­ci­ple and some­how buy­ing the boys one has led to Pete and I hav­ing one too.

20140422_8And thanks to a cou­ple of pounds at the mar­ket I did do them a lit­tle hunt.

20140422_4 And we did a fair amount of baking.

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I also made sure to refresh Sam’s mem­ory of the Easter story.   We may not be a reli­gious fam­ily but I prob­a­bly am best described as agnos­tic.  I believe that it is impor­tant for the boys to respect people’s faith and be able to make their own choices and the best way to do that is through knowledge.


And he made an Easter scene and a story wheel for Holy Week.

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One of the essentials of childhood…

…don­key rides :)  Oh how I loved rid­ing don­keys.  Horses meh, they have a ten­dency to bite me, but don­keys I love.

20140417_36 20140417_41 He looked absolutely pet­ri­fied when they first moved.

Staunton was heav­ing and we largely kept to the shade and qui­eter parts but we did get to see baby lambs.

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And a fan­tas­tic pea­cock display.

20140417_34A lovely day catch­ing up with friends.

20140417_33Show me the way to go home,

I’m tired and I want to go to bed,

I had a lit­tle drink about an hour ago

and it’s gone right to my head, hey!





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In praise of Jack

Over the last year or so I am aware that I spend a lot more time talk­ing about Sam than Jack.  Mainly because this is a record of our home edu­cat­ing jour­ney and for Jack that jour­ney has come to an end, but also as they get older I am more try­ing to be more mind­ful of their privacy.

But feel the urge to be embar­rass­ing mum.  My old­est boy turned 12 today, next year a teenager.  He is grow­ing up so quickly and already there seems lit­tle ‘child’ left and get a real sense of the man he may become.  His Eng­lish teacher is already talk­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity of him mak­ing a liv­ing from writing :).

I haven’t always done the best I could as a mother and have def­i­nitely made mis­takes but more by luck than judge­ment he’s turn­ing out rather well and he’s given me sev­eral rea­sons this hol­i­day to realise how pleased and proud of him I am.

Of course there is a sense of pride in what he achieves.  Recent parent’s evening all we heard was praise but don’t think we were the eas­i­est of par­ents.  Not inter­ested in arbi­trary lev­els or how he com­pares to oth­ers.  But I hope and believe we have a bright, intel­li­gent boy who is will­ing to have a go and try hard at things which aren’t his nat­ural skills (and can cope with a bit of rib­bing about them not being his skills ;) ).

Last week was Gang Show and 6 three hour shows over 4 days.  He per­formed well, stood up on stage in front of 100’s of peo­ple day after day with a self con­fi­dence way beyond mine.  But it was way more than that.  It was putting life on hold for 7 days of hard work and very late nights.  Months of rehearsals, los­ing an evening and a day every week, even show­ing up the weeks he had com­pletely lost his voice, with lots of being moaned at and hav­ing things chopped and changed.  Mid week he was given an award for, in his words, “some­thing along the lines of ‘not being any­thing spe­cial but being the back­bone of Gang­Show’ “.  Gave us a bit of a laugh but did please me to see his effort, atti­tude,  and  gen­eral good natured­ness acknowledged.

He’s got more life skills and self con­fi­dence than many way beyond him in years.  I won’t say I don’t worry about him (he’s my son it’s my job) but he’s doing me proud.  I can ask him to rus­tle up a meal if I’m busy, leave him home and not worry, let him go out with a be home at such and such, only thing stop­ping him head­ing into town on the bus is wait­ing for friends to do it with.  He’s proved him­self able to deal with prob­lems with com­mon sense.

As well as all that he is also devel­op­ing an aware­ness of oth­ers that I take for granted.  Out in town on Mon­day I was com­ple­mented on the boys man­ners and told I was bring­ing them up well on 3 sep­a­rate occa­sions, I laughed it off but actu­ally I have a nearly teenager who offers his seat on the bus (believe me this is quite a rare being), who auto­mat­i­cally picks up the shop­ping in the super­mar­ket to help, who is con­cerned over fam­ily bud­gets, who instinc­tively say please and thank you (to me as well as strangers), none of them mas­sive things and all things I take for granted but obvi­ously there are enough about who don’t to make peo­ple com­ment that mine do.

He seems to make friends eas­ily but also ene­mies as he seems to have inher­ited the fam­ily trait of not suf­fer­ing fools gladly which is not so good. But I think he’s proved a gen­er­ous, loyal friend to those that mat­ter to him on a few occa­sions this year and I think those that mat­ter to him are the sort that are worth it :)  He really does have a nice bunch of friends.

I am happy and proud that my son is turn­ing out to be smart, reli­able, a doer (school coun­cil, Scout com­pe­ti­tions — happy to sign him­self up for any­thing) and may I add an incred­i­bly sharp wit who is very good com­pany.  He is also devel­op­ing a mature sense of him­self and an abil­ity to see the funny side and laugh off or along with teas­ing.  I have to say not only do I love my son but I gen­uinely like him too.

There you go gush­ing over, I’ll have to keep close eye open for the next pot hole on the par­ent­ing road, must be due a trip down one very soon after that smugfest.

I will also add in bal­ance that he is a slob and the state of his room dri­ves me to distraction!!!

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One of those times when the day was saved by Pete’s amaz­ing abil­ity to absorb and recall facts and my slightly com­pul­sive ten­dency to hoard craft supplies.

The day began with a brain­storm­ing of what we could come up with of inter­est to do with Bed­ford­shire.  Hav­ing dis­counted planes as we had focused on them recently, I was at the stage of plan­ning how we could build a model air­ship when Pete came out with Luton FC are called the Hatters!

A quick Google search dis­cov­ered that accord­ing to Wikipedia “The hat mak­ing indus­try began in the 17th cen­tury and became syn­ony­mous with the town. By the 18th cen­tury the indus­try dom­i­nated the town. Hats are still pro­duced in the town but on a much smaller scale”.  Since this was the last Geog­ra­phy group of term what else could we do but Easter bon­nets :)


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What’s in a name…

One fre­quent con­ver­sa­tion we have tends to go a bit like this…

No school today?’

I don’t go to school’

Quizzi­cal look at me.

I teach him myself!’

Spec­tac­u­lar mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of our day to day lives but is an answer most peo­ple can understand.

The other day I was think­ing a bit about the label ‘home edu­ca­tion’.  Labels make me laugh (or some­times cringe) they never ade­quately seem to cover our lives.

In this instance the thing that amused me was is I was think­ing how lit­tle of our edu­ca­tion actu­ally hap­pens at home.

Last Mon­day we cov­ered PE and PSHE at the local soft play.  Eco­nom­ics and maths in the super­mar­ket (shop­ping for Guides always involves lots of mul­ti­pli­ca­tion and price comparisons).

Tues­day we headed to Lon­don for a talk on Super­hero Sci­ence at the Royal Insti­tu­tion and to explore their Michael Fara­day museum.

20140402_39 20140402_40 20140402_43 So that was sci­ence!  Every trip to Lon­don also has some ele­ment of His­tory — we walked up past Buck­ing­ham Palace and through Green Park and there­fore dis­cus­sions over the old park gates and the his­tory of the royal parks, Cul­ture — the flag over the Palace, we went past the Ritz which led to dis­cus­sions on after­noon tea, Nature — pigeons are fas­ci­nat­ing! and map read­ing.  Besides the prac­ti­cal aspect of using the map in town, a por­tion of the train jour­ney was spent explor­ing the A-Z and locat­ing ran­dom places.

20140402_38Train jour­neys cov­ered, from mem­ory, endan­gered ani­mals, def­i­n­i­tions of what makes a coun­try a coun­try, cre­ativ­ity (Minecraft), logic and strat­egy (chess), map read­ing, maths (time).

Thurs­day; local his­tory in a local museum, sci­ence and nature look­ing at sea crea­tures, in tanks and through the micro­scope, else­where in the museum, his­tory in the the­atre watch­ing a play about WW1 fol­low­ing with lots of dis­cus­sion over lunch.  Fol­low­ing lunch more economics/maths and dis­cus­sions about dif­fer­ent hand­i­crafts with a trip to hobbycraft.

This Mon­day we went to Titch­field Abbey and cov­ered His­tory, both the his­tory of the Abbey with a detour into Tudors and reli­gion with the dis­so­lu­tion and con­sol­i­dat­ing WW1 with reen­act­ing bat­tles.  There was PE, foot­ball and lots of run­ning about.  We also vis­ited the gar­den cen­tre for a bit of sci­ence and nature, com­par­ing dif­fer­ent plants and dis­cussing how they grow.

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Even our most sit down round the table days (Wednes­days) are not nec­es­sar­ily what peo­ple imag­ine when they hear ‘home edu­ca­tion’ we are home but the rest of the peo­ple around the table aren’t as we are joined by others.

When the boys were younger we had a lovely t-shirt that I hope is still doing the rounds through the local group some­where — it said ‘The world’s my play­ground, I’m home educated’.

I’d take it fur­ther than that, for us and so many home edu­ca­tors I know ‘the world is our class­room’.  There are some things school does bet­ter, some things I can’t repli­cate in terms of resources and expe­ri­ences but there is so much that I can pro­vide with a bit of plan­ning and research. There will be a time when our edu­ca­tion will become more home based as exams and teach­ing to tests rears it’s head, a case of needs must.  But until then we will con­tinue to make as much use as we can of the world and peo­ple around us — edu­ca­tion with­out bound­aries :)

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Wednes­day really didn’t go as expected.  That isn’t really a bad thing. Although in real­ity we did end up being quite close to the plan despite my will­ing­ness to aban­don it com­pletely, rather thanks to the stub­born­ness of a 6 year old girl.  But when they are keen roll with it :)

Ill­ness and work com­mit­ments depleted num­bers so I can­celled Span­ish.  When friend showed up late I ran out to meet her, while the kids were still in the car to give her the option to head to Pauls­grove instead.  Kids had other ideas…so in they came to play :)

While they were eat­ing lunch I picked up some craft stuff for them to do with the view that we’d save the ‘les­son’ for a week until the oth­ers were back.  No my orig­i­nal plans sounded more fun appar­ently!  Well had to go with it.

After the short­age of ideas last week for Hert­ford­shire there was so much we could do for Buck­ing­hamshire.  In the end know­ing I had this in the cup­board we set­tled on Bletch­ley Park and a day of codes and ciphers.


We made an Enigma machine and coded their names.

Sem­a­phore could have gone on all after­noon!  This is Sam spelling SAM :)

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Jack had cre­ated a pic­ture code for them.


And we fin­ished with some key­word ciphers.  Sam decoded a nice mes­sage invit­ing him to a party and send one say­ing …‘my bum stinks’… sigh! Such a boy!



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Bugs, Books, Busyness and Birthdays

Unfor­tu­nately not talk­ing the fun sort of bugs that seem to be pop­ping up on my Face­book feed, talk­ing colds and coughs :(

Despite them been a busy weekend.

Thurs­day, we met his best friend in the park for an hour or so, before we retreated for hot drinks (was nippy!).

Then I took the boys to a work­shop on cam­era obscuras at Cum­ber­land House, Portsmouth.  Despite hav­ing some doubts about leav­ing the house (think feel­ing poorly) Sam really enjoyed it and is still talk­ing about it four days later so had to be good.

On the way home we picked up a box set of Hor­ri­ble Sci­ence books.  He has been read­ing the His­tory and Geog­ra­phy ver­sions for years but has always said the Sci­ence was too nasty.  In an attempt to add some oomph into our sci­ence learn­ing I per­suaded him to give them a go and he took about 8 out of the library, they were a hit as expected so we bought the box of 20.

Fri­day was sick day!  Jack was off school and Sam and I were both decid­edly under par too.  We all curled up and read in my bed until lunch time when we got up and spent the after­noon in front of Percy Jackson.

Sat­ur­day was peace­ful, Jack was away stay­ing at a friend’s so it was a morn­ing for run­ning errands, a sport and sewing after­noon and lots of read­ing with Sam in the evening.

Sun­day, passed in bit of a blur. Work, house­hold chores, bit of work with Sam to allow for a busy week filled the day. Jack passed through late morn­ing to change and col­lect food before head­ing out again for Gang Show rehearsal.

Mon­day was a friend of Sam’s birth­day so it was an early start to get maths and Eng­lish done before head­ing out for some jobs for Guides and to meet friends at a local soft play.  Lovely morn­ing.  After­noon went in var­i­ous attempts at the Guide activ­ity for that night …luck­ily it was all alright on the night ;)

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Hertfordshire and film making

Geog­ra­phy group has reached as far as Hertfordshire.

My research led me to dis­cover that Hert­ford­shire is incred­i­bly dull!  Briefly toyed with some sort of New Town/Garden City design project pos­si­bly draw­ing on Minecraft but decided my group are more Lego minded.  So decided that we would use the fact that the county was home to the Elstree (Star Wars/Eastenders) and Leaves­den (Harry Pot­ter) stu­dios to do a bit of film making.

My web­cam wouldn’t install prop­erly so these are very slip­shod, cob­bled together efforts I’m afraid (from the tech­ni­cal aspect obvi­ously the kids were bril­liant :) )

A lot of Tues­day dis­ap­peared in try­ing to get soft­ware and web­cam oper­a­tional, so here is Sam’s test.

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St Patrick’s Day and Chemical Reactions

Not really con­nected but we had two ‘spe­cial days’ to look at this Monday.

St Patrick’s Day shaped our food choices for the day.

We made barm brack

20140318_21and sup­per was Beef in Guin­ness with soda bread and pink lemonade.

We are also ‘cel­e­brat­ing’ National Sci­ence Week in our usual way — mak­ing a mess ;)

Men­tos in fizzy drinks

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Elephant’s tooth­paste

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Vol­cano (and mak­ing a lovely sludgy mess afterwards)

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And slime.


We then had Jack’s first senior school par­ents evening.  Lot of waf­fle about lev­els, I find it hard to care about them, actu­ally impos­si­ble!  But gen­eral gist is he is doing well and behav­ing so that is okay.  And his Eng­lish teacher loves him :)

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The Mist

We woke up yes­ter­day to the sound of foghorns.  Rush­ing through Maths and Eng­lish we headed out for an eerie walk along the seafront.  Vis­i­bil­ity was very low and the Isle of Wight and Southamp­ton and the New For­est were com­pletely invisible.

Gosport-20140314-01169We did some beach comb­ing (I have a bag full of rope)

Gosport-20140314-01173He man­aged to drag this for a fair dis­tance before I man­aged to per­suade him to leave it!

Down to the park


Isle of Wight-20140314-01184 Gosport-20140314-01179 Gosport-20140314-01180 IMG-20140314-01182 IMG-20140314-01183 Gosport-20140314-01185

One of the things I love about chil­dren is how the sim­plest things spark curios­ity and learn­ing.  We man­aged to cover coastal defences and homo­phones while hang­ing about in the park.

IMG-20140314-01181Then through the vil­lage and home via sec­ond park.


Being Yer­tle the Tur­tle King of all he can see!

Gosport-20140314-01189 Cov­er­ing fric­tion and rust — the round­about isn’t turn­ing :( Gosport-20140314-01192Spent the rest of the day watch­ing a doc­u­men­tary about the First World War and read­ing Percy Jack­son and play­ing with bubbles.

Feel a bit like I am look­ing through the mist at life at the moment — in Percy Jack­son the mist obscures mortal’s views so they inter­pret mon­sters and events dif­fer­ently, they try to make sense and inter­pret things to fit with their under­stand­ing of the world.

Oh and here are our pot­tery pieces from last week now they are fired.

Gosport-20140314-01193My moth­ers day present from Sam — the beach at sun­set.  And my present to myself, out­side we have the sky with birds, inside the sun. Need a stead­ier hand!

Gosport-20140314-01195 Gosport-20140314-01194


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