Rediscovering my mojo.

Said all I needed was a week or so’s hibernation to shake off the grumps and I was right.  Life is too good to stay miserable for long.  Been a good week, make yourself a coffee this is a long one!

Monday started with a coffee morning to meet and introduce new home educators. Hopefully everyone went away a little happier that there are others out there.  Love chatting with new people my only problem at events like that is the time, I just don’t have time to relax and chat as much as I would like.  But hopefully newer members had the chance to start making friends and arranging times to play, it really would be nice to see more activities for younger children this side of the harbour.  Followed up with a visit to look at a potential new hall. Didn’t like it and undecided on what, if anything I am prepared to put my time into running anyway … musing.

Tuesday was a day at home, English and Maths, which was nice and bright and colourful.


Then I finally got around to registering for the Nature Detectives weekly challenge so some time was spent in the garden digging, was supposed to be making mudpies but a hole was deemed more fun.  My neighbours were subjected in the course of about 30 seconds to the Harpie in the house behind screaming (and I mean screaming!) at her toddler to get off the mud and Sam bellowing “I can get as muddy as I want? EPIC!”.  Had to laugh 😀

20140225_6While he was getting messy outdoors, I was getting messy indoors making ‘mud’ from sand and coffee for my geography group to ‘excavate’.

20140225_8Stuck Sam in the bath after while I read him some Percy Jackson (up to book 3).

Then it was History over lunch – watching Andrew Marr’s Making of Modern Britain.

After lunch we finally started our nature diary having spotted blossom on the tree opposite, watch this space on whether we keep it up!



Some science and sorting into solids, liquids and gases.  I cheated and bought a set of photos and boards.  Not generally a fan of stuff like this as could do it so easily myself but worked out by the time I’d found the images etc it was better value to buy and spend the time I could have spent making it working!


Oh and we rounded off the afternoon with Sketch Tuesday – something beginning with L – so a lamb.

20140225_9Then having been emailed photos of some very little puppies there was some time looking at random photos of baby animals before Cubs.


Wednesday was Maths, English and then some reading from Country Tales  (can’t recommend the series enough as a way of learning about nature) having been inspired by Beatrix Potter featuring in his copywork/narration this week he wanted to read about talking animals.   We were then joined by friends for Geography and then lunch and a play.

After lunch and rounding up the children it was on to creative writing.  We moved on from the alphabet poems to alliteration and tongue twisters.  We had some fun saying tongue twisters and then wrote our own.  The idea was we took one of their names, what they were doing, where, when and why and made them into tongue twisters.  Much excitement with the results

Michael marches merrily to the moor on Monday morning to make a mess.

Sam steals six swords from Sweden on Saturday and stabs Saxons.

Chandler chomps chocolate at the church on Tuesday while chasing a chimpanzee (impressed with the Tuesday suggestion!)

Amelia’s amazing acrobatics astonish America in autumn with her awesome aerobatic antics.

Tutor then arrived for Spanish, while Mums get coffee and chance to chat.  Took a while to get everyone out as they all know where the toys are now and off they all go as soon as Spanish finishes 😉 Not complaining they are quite a mixed bunch in age/interest so lovely to see them playing nicely, happy and relaxed.

Thursday was Maths and English as usual before we turned attention to the highlight of the week The Lego Movie.  We used resources from here to look at characters in the film, discuss heroes and villains (mainly in relation to Percy Jackson 🙂 ) and then designed his own character.

20140228_15Then it was into Gosport to run a couple of errands before heading to Gunwharf to meet friends for lunch and the cinema, which we almost had to ourselves.  Learned my lesson though 3D = headache!

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Home for an evening of board games.  Where I was very soundly thrashed all round.

Another day at home today.  Think I have a bit of a cold brewing so not on full throttle but reasonable day. Maths and we’re starting to dabble in times tables.  Obviously when we were using UK based stuff we introduced them ages ago but although he got the concept his memory is not the best and despite a lot of repetition he was struggling.  They were a major reason for shifting to Saxon. I didn’t feel we could more on until his grasp was better but the constant repetition was frustrating me and eroding his confidence.  In my experience US based Maths stuff is better than the UK, they may do things later but seems to make it easier for them to grasp.

English and then more Lego stuff.  Designing a ‘setting’, drawing a map, writing a diary entry describing it and starting building it.

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Rest of the day went with investigating changes in states of matter (heating ice!),

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dodging the rain/hail to catch a burst of sun for some swinging and cloud watching,

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reading, ironing, survivalcraft etc.

One of those weeks where we got it right 🙂


Suffolk – Smashing Saxons

My Geography group reached Suffolk this week.

We followed the route and read the passage from the book, finding the places on the map.  The passage focused on the Saxons – Bury St Edmonds and Sutton Hoo so so did we.

We started off with illuminated letters inspired by the manuscripts of the time, I had printed some to colour but some (inc Sam) opted to draw their own.

20140228_16We then excavated Saxon Ship burials like that at Sutto Hoo.  The idea came from here, I cracked and downloaded the pack, we’re not worksheet people but these I like and think we will use at some point.

I’d made mud from coffee and sand, shaped into a ship and left in the airing cupboard for 24hrs.


Filled with treasure (gems) and then buried in sand to create the burial mound.

20140228_11And then they used paintbrushes to gently uncover the treasure, with discussions of why the ship wouldn’t have been found.

20140228_12Well maybe not exactly gently 😉  Then there was lots of reburying and uncovering again until the hard mud was smashed to smithereens and there was sand everywhere and children were plastered, all good fun never object to that sort of mess 🙂


Thinking Day – a bit of reflection

For those not involved in Guides (or Scouts) this day will have little significance, for those who are it is time for reflection and a party 😉

I am most unusual in Guiding terms in that I didn’t become a Guider because I’d gone through Brownies/Guides and stayed on (lasted a few months as a Brownie and hated it), or because I was helping at my daughter’s (don’t have one) unit.  Instead I saw an appeal for help on a poster in the village and stepped up.

Why step up? The flippant answer is why not? If we want our children to be able to have the opportunities to join volunteer led organisations then somebody has to be the volunteers.

The volunteers I know who run these organisations are amazing, they all manage jobs, families, and often other volunteer roles.  It isn’t always easy, often it seems thankless, most of the time I am up at 6 and still working at 11pm, 7 days a week, just to keep up with my life. But I believe in community and I try to give back as much as I can to the communities in which I live.

And in giving back I gain so much, I get to help shape the lives of children, encourage, support and challenge them and watch them grow up. I keep my enthusiasm for life as constantly seeing it through children’s eyes.  I’ve made good friends and I can walk into a room of complete strangers and within minutes every one is laughing and chatting, the bonds that bind us are strong.  And I get to have fun, I get to be daft, make things, try new things and join in online ‘sing-alongs’.



Half Term

Despite home educating we have always been affected by the rhythms of the school terms.  When the boys were younger it generally just meant I got to chill of an evening rather than Guides/Beavers/Cubs/Drama etc, and we’d take opportunities to do some of the activities museums/libraries etc lay on.  As Jack got old enough to go out to play it got harder to follow anything near normal routines as we’d be constantly interrupted by small boys knocking on the door.  Then Jack went to school and our lives have settled into a routine dominated by school terms.  Actually as we get more structured with age I find we benefit from the break.

I use the word break loosely as I haven’t stopped all week, running errands, sorting Guiding paperwork, home ed stuff, tidying house…  But it means these jobs are done (well apart from tidying house, that is a never ending job) and next week we are back to routines.

Not sure where the week has gone though.

Monday, was a chill and Minecraft day – a lot of Minecraft.

Tuesday we went to catch the Egyptian exhibition at Portsmouth museum.  Think we were all a bit underwealmed but we’ve done British Museum, Ashmolean etc mummies are nothing new.  That said they had done the hands on aspect of the exhibition really well.  We also managed to catch up with friends there which was very good as we only decided to go 20 mins before the bus was due, find Facebook irritating at times but is fab for arranging to meet people.

002 003  We followed up with lunch at Gunwharf and a big splurge on clothes in Gap – massive overnight growth spurt has occurred.  Sam used to be incredibly fussy on clothes, they had to be soft to touch inside and out and plain or striped.  He is better now but still sensitive to the feel of trousers in particular.  Over the years I have discovered that Gap is my best bet.  I’m better off spending more on stuff he will definitely wear, and actually I bought 3 pairs of trousers, a hoodie, a really nice knitted cardigan, and  8 tops (Jack got in on the act too) and had change from £90.  When I dig out what I put away from Jack I suspect they are both done for the year.

Weds we had friends around for the morning and the Jack went to the cinema with some school friends.

Thurs was an chores day, collecting prescriptions, guides accounts, homework.  Jack made me tea following a recipe made up by the scouts! The Gang Show and a friend to sleepover.

Today no one dressed until lunch and I spent most of the afternoon sorting and shredding paperwork and making plans while boys took themselves to the park.  Guiders meeting tonight and now bed!

A busy, productive if not especially exciting week.

Another week, another festival

20140217_4National Chip Week  – it’s half-term and we all need a break sometimes 😉


Blood and pus

By Friday last week my fit of the blues had been joined by a disgusting snotty cold courtesy of oldest child.  Could have been an awful day but it was saved by a small Superdrug bag I have been keeping aside for such an occasion.

For weeks my Facebook feed has heavily featured photos of greviously wounded Brownies and Guiders.  It is one of the challenges for the Big Brownie Birthday badge to make fake wounds and show how to treat them.  Decided that before attempting with Guides a trial run was in order 😀  Have I ever mentioned I love Guiding 😉  A wet, miserable Friday seemed perfect.

Despite the fake skin getting off to a bad start the wounds worked well.

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So did the bruises although isn’t clear from photo that he has a big black eye.


And the burn looks like someone vomited on me 🙁


Sam then spent the afternoon reading about first aid and watching videos on basic procedures on the brilliant Red Cross Education website .  I tested him afterwards and now have a big bruise on the shoulder blade when he demonstrated what he would do if I was choking – beat me up it seems!

Rest of the week had passed peacefully enough, lots of Percy Jackson, a jigsaw and a look at British landmarks

20140214_3Skiing and beach volleyball on the Kinect, baking and when the sun briefly showed it’s face a trip to the park, where it hailed on us!




Wednesday saw our Geography group reach Essex.

We looked at some railway posters advertising Southend on Sea (did you know it has the longest pleasure pier in the world?) and drew our own versions.


Then we moved to Colchester and in honour of it’s position as Capital of Roman Britain (well until Boudicca’s rebellion) we made sand mosaics.  Very messy but lots of fun.



The Funk/Doldrums/January-February Blues

Call it what you will – it has hit like a brick wall.  I was overly optimistic this year and thought I’d got through the worst of it, I mean March is almost within touching distance, but it appears that I can’t get through February without a dose of the woes.

Not the only one suffering I know, so virtual hugs and chocolate to all those who need it.

Over the years though I’ve learned to recognise this mood for what it is, a temporary, seasonal dip not some awful sign that I am a terrible human being who is failing in every way.

In fact nothing on paper has changed really, educationally wise I am happy with how things are going, taking the foot of the peddle a bit this week but that is because I need it not him.  Work is immensely enjoyable and satisfying – only hassle there is there are too few hours in the day to do all I’d like.  Managing to keep largely on top of housework.

The biggest issue I have during these times is maintaining contact with the outside world.  Sam wants and needs to be seeing friends but I feel drained and physically sick at the prospect of having to see and talk to other people.  My patience and tolerance are at a major low for coping with other people’s children (and my own too), not the kids at all it is me.

I could feel myself slipping last week when I struggled with motivation and cruised through my Weds groups (love them usually) then getting out on Thursday was a real effort even though we were only going to Sam’s best friend’s house where I get to sit on a sofa, drink coffee, play with a toddler and chat to one of my best friends so as low stress as it gets.  Friday’s plan for a big day out to shake me out of the mood, failed drastically although made me realise that actually the boy and I are quite cheerful in ourselves.  Monday’s group I could definitely have lived without but everything was prepared, Sam loves it and thought it would lift my mood – generally working with kids does – it didn’t!  Sam and Oscar seem to have loved it though so will assume the horrendous nightmare it seemed to me is result of my dark mood and the fact the journey there is hard going since the buses changed.

Anyway, am trying to avoid making mistakes of previous years.  I will not assume that things are wrong, because they feel wrong at the moment, and cancel them leaving us cut off and isolated.  I will not try and work through by signing us up for more and more things that I live to regret.  Jack is off next week and we have a break from organised groups, he never wants to see anyone when he is off school and is happy just to play with Sam, so we will bunker down for a week or so and let the mood hopefully pass.  Lots of baking, wine and chocolate in order.

What is the point of this post?  Not sure really… to clear my mind, to help others who are feeling the same to realise it probably isn’t them, to stress that home ed isn’t a utopia it is life with all it’s peaks and troughs but we home ed mums are often so scared of failing we forget that life can be a hard sometimes whatever we do.

A day in the life!

Yesterday was one of those days where nothing amazing happened, we didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, no special trips or anything like that.  But makes you think if this is humdrum life it really isn’t a bad life to have.

We started late as I was naughty and got distracted by yesterday’s blog post.  But Maths and English were done efficiently and together were wrapped up in comfortably under an hour.  Spanish practice using Petralingua, history – still reading our Prehistoric People book, Geography and read a lesson of Charlotte Mason’s Elementary Geography – discussed how we could see the curve of the Earth, led on to discussion of Ancient Greeks.  By then it was only 11.15 but we’d done enough absorbing of information I felt so we browsed the Natural History Museum website.  Have a vague plan to go on Friday but have had the same plan about once a week all year – weather and lethargy keep changing our mind – I don’t do booking ahead, I love London but we have to be in the right mood.  Unless it really is awful though suspect we will make it this week, this Prehistoric Peoples thing is just drifting and need to draw a line under it and move on, seeing the skulls in the NHM is my plan to draw it to a conclusion.

Well…we still will do some stuff on Prehistoric Britain, fancy a trip to the new visitor centre at Stonehenge, the Iron Age Museum at Andover and possibly Butser Farm (well definitely fancy the trip the getting there part is tricky though!).  Notice the big difference between myself and car drivers, London is a wake up on the day, fancy it and go trip to me – simply go to station and get on a train, 1/2 hr or so drive away but down country lanes is a major trip that needs lots of research and planning and possibly roping in Grandfathers to come from Wales!

We then got out Sam’s Young Archaeologist Club stuff for a look to see where we got discount entry and plan a few more places we’d like to visit.  Realised we’d not really looked at the magazines so spent the rest of the morning reading them and doing the puzzles.

After lunch it was down to the village for a nurse visit.  Cue embarrassing moment with some lip reading and vigorous head shaking when she had to ask if I might need a test for Chlamydia (was a pill check up), sometimes always having a child in tow is a bit awkward! 😀

We then went down to the park where we met a family researching home ed for their 3yo and another family who are long term home eders but new to area.  Lovely afternoon, kids played nicely, adults chatted and froze!  It is one of the things I love about home ed meeting new people. I always try and make time to meet anyone who wants to who sounds new and scared.  I was reminded a couple of days ago of an earlier blog post where I had said we need to remember we’re not home ed volunteers and we have to put our own kids first.  Not changed my mind on that and the reminder was timely, but I do think it is important to reach out when people are new and scared, home ed is so often a leap into the unknown.  I never tell anyone my way is the right way, because I firmly believe there is no right way there is what is right for that child at a particular time.   And we have gained many pleasant afternoons and friends from these ‘blind dates’ so everyone wins 🙂

Home and tea and a cold, wet, windy hike over the Alver Valley with Cubs (I gave it a miss 😉 )



Imbolc is a pagan festival marking the start of spring.  The name may have its origins in an old Irish word for ‘in the belly’ but is sometimes translated as ‘ewe’s milk’.  Celebrated in early February it marks the start of the lambing season.  The festival honours the goddess Brighid (Brigid, Brigit, Brid, Bride), goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft, of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth and of fertility.

We made a plaited loaf, the braid is said to represent Brighid’s role as the bride, goddess of fertility and the hearth.  To recognise the value of milk in rebirth we made home made butter (good for the arm muscles).  Forgot to get a photo before I had a chunk – oops.



We took a walk to look for signs of spring – not many but lots of mud and the odd daisy and buds starting to open up.

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Then as we hadn’t found any we came home and made our own snowdrops.


And a priapic wand to see if we could help summon Spring.



Not being organised ahead of time to make sure we had the natural materials in, we adapted and honoured Brighid’s role as the sun goddess with a pipecleaner Brighid’s cross


We also marked her position as Goddess of fire by making and lighting a candle.  We melted down an old candle and coloured the wax with crayons.  I messed up the first layer unfortunately but can’t be perfect all the time 😉


And ended with a slightly bigger than intended (and rather worrying at one point) indoor bonfire.