Now Sam is 12

In a year’s time Sam will be a teenager! Find it very hard to imagine Sam as a teenager even now. Jack at 12 was very much on the cusp of teenagerdom, Sam is far too happy and mellow to feel teenager like.

Day has been a peaceful one. He’s been under the weather this weekend so when he preferred not to go to HE group this morning it seemed wise. We did send cake though and got a video rendition of Happy Birthday back 🙂

We spent the morning reading (3 out of 4 new books devoured!) and playing Pandemic board game.

Afternoon was about setting up gadgets. A new phone and a new laptop with a decent enough graphics card for the games he likes were the main presents. Pete and I had totally forgotten that Sam had a game that the old laptop hadn’t been able to play, Sam had obviously been brooding on it though as it was almost the first thing he said when he worked out what the box contained. The rest of the afternoon was spent failing to conquer Europe.
He’s just told us after a Subway and chocolate cake tea that he has had a very good day 😀 Lost track of the amount of times he has said thank you for the laptap. It’s about 5 times as much as we have ever spent on a present so not something he’d have dreamed of asking for. However, is something that I suspect will definitely get money’s worth from.


Can I admit that 2016 was a good year? Enjoyable and productive, full of family, friends and fun.

Personally I end the year over a stone lighter (even allowing for Christmas) than I was back in May and feeling better for it.  I managed 9 big sewing projects. Ones below were my favourite.  I met my Goodreads challenge of 52 books (probably will make it 53 before the night is out) and used the challenge from Modern Mrs Darcy as motivation to read some different choices/ones that have sat on the shelf for years.   I even managed War and Peace and quite a decent quota of Shakespeare (still too many I don’t kno as well as I’d like).  I managed 30 – yes 30!!! – FutureLearn courses.  To be honest that was too many and made it in to work, there was a few more I didn’t finish/left.  That said there were some really, really good ones in there – Shakespeare in his World, Teaching Literacy through Film and A Royal History of Food and Feasting stick out.

As far as HE goes we’ve had some fantastic trips and lots of making use of what is on our door step, lots of fun project work and chilling at home too and regular HE groups that work well for us.

January – Romans were the order of the month and we seemed to be out a lot! This time in Wales.
February – I could have picked from loads of photos of hands on projects to show us being busy and productive at home, brilliant geology project but St Paul’s was the stand out trip of the year I think.
March – 2016 was the year I finally found a venue that I could run the HE group I have always wanted from. Here was an Easter session.
April – lots of time out but we were having huge fun in with lots of geology experiments and Surrealism themed art projects.

May – Spring had sprung and lots of photos of us hanging out by, in and on rivers for our geography project and in lots and lots of parks just because we could.
June- with our Dockyard pass due to expire we ended up there lots! Just as the’d put in an indoor assualt course (we bought a new pass!)
July – Summer meant work was set aside and the beach (and dockyard) embraced. The second half of the month was spent in Wales enjoying the peace.
August -bought many more days on the beach. My oldest friend visited so we had fun showing them about.
September – New academic year and new projects – lots of making food related models of human body parts.
October – Studying Queeen Victoria and having fun with friends seems to be the order of the month.
November – One of the real hits this academic year has been adopting a day that is pj day every week. We’re both thriving on it.

December – HE groups have gone from strength to strength this year. Lot of fun making bath bombs.

Gosport Gang Show 2015


Jack has just finished his 4th Gang Show and Sam his first.  Pic on the flyer is Jack last year in the middle – being thoughtful 🙂

For those who have never seen a Gang Show it’s a scout and guide run show of singing, dancing and drama sketches.  Over the course of the week they probably perform to several thousand.  7 shows in 5 days in a local theatre (no high school hall for this lot 😉 ).  Rehearsals start back in October and from January have a full day most weekends too, some weekends both days if they have a promotional event.

It’s a long haul and a lot of commitment – J has missed one rehearsal in those 4 years.  A lot of commitment required from those who provide (or organise) transport and are expected to drop everything at a moments notice to fit around plans (lucky to know timings of week end events the day before).  We grumble a lot ;).

That aside what the boys get from it is huge and priceless.

The camaraderie and friendships they build are far stronger than those they form anywhere else.  Lots of time, killing time waiting for curtain call I suspect.

Sense of responsibility, commitment and teamwork.

Mostly though it is the confidence they gain.  Watching Sam in particular on stage, can see he is a different child to the one he was a year ago, really blossomed.

Already talking of next year’s 🙂

They both managed to sneak in here somewhere.  Congratulations to all who took part, you were all brilliant!

Oh and mid Gang Show week I became Mother to a Teenager!!!  Had 2 shows that day so party was fish and chips beforehand.




My children will insist on growing up and making me feel old. Yesterday saw Sam turn 9.


The day before we’d spent some time at a softplay centre with lots of his friends so his birthday was a much more relaxed affair.  He needed to be cajoled out of bed to open his presents as he was too busy reading Harry Potter for the goodness knows how manyth time.

We picked up his best friend Oscar from the ferry in the morning and came back here where the boys played Sam’s new Xbox game, chatted, made a mess of Sam’s room, got on my nerves with the new ‘sound machine’ (every one needs a great aunt to buy those presents that children love but parents hate).

There was cake.20141115_2 20141115_3Playing in the park.  Sam’s present was a scooter so there was lots of scooting.  Including scooter jousting with pool noodles.

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Then it was back to Gosport for birthday tea in KFC.20141115_15 20141115_16 Some nighttime scooting round and round the fountain.

20141115_10I got to enjoy the view.

20141115_13Then I delivered them both to Portsmouth so they could have a sleep over (or a stay awake all night over 😉 ) at Oscar’s.

20141115_19Love how many hand made cards there are :).


Bubble Fun

Yesterday was a glorious noisy, messy, house full of kids, summer day.

Jack and friend spent a while searching through the massive pots of change we have in search of penny falls money before disappearing for most of the day.  Returning when they were just too hot to the shade of Minecraft.

Sam and friends had an impromptu, loud music session before I sent the instruments, inc the annoying plastic guitar that I have always hated, home with a friend.

Afternoon was spent in a water fight, playing with tubs of shaving foam and whisking up soap flakes, playing with touchable bubbles (which are fab if sticky), putting each other inside person size bubbles and making castles from sand clay. Lots of fun, noise and mess 🙂

20140723_1 20140723_2 20140723_3 20140723_8 20140723_10Bubble is actually stuck to his head!


World Asthma Day

Normally we start the first ‘school’ day of the week by looking at a special event or festival that occurs that week.  I had intended to look at Children’s Day but Sam had other ideas!

Full of cold and cough it was declared a sick day.

I have to say this is one area where home education really comes into it’s own.  It is actually very rare for us to have a ‘day off’ because of Sam’s ill health, mine is a far bigger inhibitor actually as supervising crafts and science experiments is hard going when feeling below par.  Not that Sam doesn’t get ill, far from it – I dread what his attendance levels at school would be and the fuss they would cause, Jack’s at 98% were marked at risk of causing concern or other such pointless words. At home however we set such a gentle pace that much can be done curled up on the sofa under a blanket.

We spent Tues morning reading about and watching documentaries on Vikings.  By afternoon though he was deteriorating.

He was diagnosed with asthma very young (matter of months), wasn’t really causing an issue but sitting reading one night Pete and I just looked at each other and it was ‘you are not making that rattling are you?’ we are both asthmatic and know the ‘sound’.  However apart from one odd instance when he was 6 months he has never been admitted.  With support from the GPs and Asthma Nurse we have done a good job of managing it.

However for whatever reason, our management failed this week and due to combination of hayfever and viral infection a massive attack was triggered.  He has had bad attacks (possibly worthy of hospitalisation) before but we’ve managed to cope with help from his reliever, generally keeping him calm and steroids from the GP.  Was very obvious though this time that we were going to need help.

I suspect despite reading the articles in the press that morning courtesy of it being World Asthma Day we’ve all got complacent.  At one point on Tuesday night I realised that actually I was possibly the calmest person in the room and I could sense the concern from the medical professionals that nothing they were trying was helping and we were having trouble keeping him conscious.  Gave me a bit of a fright as for the first time it crossed my mind that people die of this disease and he might not see morning.

Luckily that was as low as it got, nebuliser started to work and he started to get better as quickly as he’d gotten ill.  12 hours later the wheezes were gone and he was happily playing with the bed waiting to go home.

Not been the easiest few days, he’s still under the weather with the infection, he’s on 4 hourly meds including through the night so I suspect I am starting to look a bit wild and crazy as can’t say I have had a vast amount of sleep this week.  He is also having to miss his first Cub camp which he has been eagerly anticipating since Jack first went four years ago 🙁

But looking at brighter side.

  • He didn’t become a statistic to be quoted in next years figures.
  • His treatment has been reviewed and bought up to date for his size/age.  I think there may have been a tendency from his asthma nurse and me to not query his treatment as had largely worked to date.  We’ve had the wake up call to make sure we’re on top of it.
  • He had great fun with the hospital bed.
  • Jack has been marvellous; incredibly mature, thoughtful etc couldn’t have asked for more from him.
  • Sam has coped with the Cub Camp blow very well, have promised him a ‘spoiling Sam’ weekend which he is very chuffed with.
  • We’ve had plenty of time to enjoy chilling together, mainly chess and hangman.  I even managed a couple of victories in chess training games.  No chance in the real thing 🙁
  • I’ve managed to catch up on loads of reading.  At the expense of sleep but hey ho needs sleep? Sleep is for wimps! 🙂

Filling in some blanks

Looking through some photos it appears that we have been doing more ‘work’ than I thought, so quick catch up to round the year off.

We’ve continued with looking at prehistoric people.  We’ve been watching ‘The Incredible Human Journey‘ and read ‘Maroo of the Winter Caves‘.  This lead on to looking at homes in prehistoric times.

We made a snow house like the one described in the book from icing and marshmallows instead of snow.

Marshmallow snow house if it isn't obvious!
Marshmallow snow house if it isn’t obvious!

And a cardboard cave.

It is decorated with ave art which isn't clear here.
It is decorated with cave art which isn’t clear here.

We also took a Sam led trip into a look at navigation.  We have a couple of these Thames and Kosmos Little Labs kits.  They are very expensive for what they are and you could do it all better and cheaper but we like them and more importantly sometimes I don’t want/haven’t the motivation to do it myself.  Sam found it in a cupboard when we were sorting out and moving into the conservatory and was motivated enough to spend two days doing the activities so no complaints here.


We started with scales and plan drawing, inc of the rec.

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Much to amusement of the neighbours we did a trail around the area – me following chalk arrows at a discrete distance.



School detour - don't think anyone fell for it :D
School detour – don’t think anyone fell for it 😀

We also had fun looking at maps and playing with the compass.

And although there has been no recording on paper we have been reading and talking about the Victorians.  We started with a group session at Fareham Museum,


had a lovely trip to Farnham (on to do list to go back in nice weather and do the town trail)

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a day at the Victorian Festival of Christmas  and finished back at Fareham Museum looking at life in the workhouse.

We also had group sessions on Twas the Night Before Christmas and Germany and trips to Funcity and the park.


Oh and some work on seasons.

Hand and finger painting the seasons.
Hand and finger painting the seasons.

And a closer look at Autumn.

Autumn display
Autumn display

There has also been a lot of storytelling; verbally, written and the Kindle and not forgetting comic strips

20131337And if this is a dry spell, think how much we can do when I am motivated 😉

We don’t ask for much…

… which is good.

Christmas was a bit of a wash out (literally with the weather).  Jack has been ill since school broke up and is still struggling and he gave it to me which resulted in me spending about half of Christmas in bed (and a good proportion of the time I was up building a Lego jetpack – way more complicated than necessary!).  Presents were nothing spectacular this year – Sam had a subscription to the Beano, which while it was what he wanted it was a bit difficult to put under the tree.  Jack had Fifa 14 – to replace last years Fifa 13, which no doubt will be followed by Fifa 15 next year ;).  Although I did get my picture of a goose 😀


But despite bugs and weather we still had a good time.  Christmas for us is about relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, which we have done!  Boys have been on form – lived in their onesies, happily played together and with us (we got a fair few games between us), the surprise hit present was an electronic hangman!

Christmas Eve and new onesies
As well as cushions, blankets and annuals.
Remote control bug
Remote control bug
Marble run
Jose Mourinho came to visit 🙂
Subbuteo – he had Chelsea and Liverpool (who have been rechristened Cardiff for Pete)

And some more fairly random photos.

Sock snowmen and pottery ornaments.
Sock snowmen and pottery ornaments.
Fabric chains – 5 years now I think and still going.
Decopatch – shudder!
More enjoyable and better outcome - felt banner.
More enjoyable and better outcome – felt banner.
We have now got it so pretty much everything on there is homemade or bought on a special day out so has a memory attached. Apart from the tinsel 😉
Gingerbread house - not my forte!
Gingerbread house – not my forte!
More gingerbread on a gingerbread plate
Pottery painting
Ice cream cone tree from home ed group
Sweet tree gifts from Sam
Having breakfast with Santa (clever Oscar won it as a prize!)
And my favourite, Village carol singing


Portsmouth Dockyard Trail

Jack still had his workshop on Thurs so after dropping him off Sam and I headed over to the Dockyard to catch up with Claire, Oscar and Herbie.

We started off with a quick tour of the Mary Rose Museum and some dressing up.

King Oscar and Sir Sam his loyal knight

Mini Archers



Then it was on to Action Stations where they know their way around like the back of their hand and trying to keep up was futile.

Lunch and then HMS Warrior.  By this point Claire and Herbie were settled in the cafe and I was left trailing in the boys wake as they carried on with the treasure hunt/trail they were following.


They wanted to do some colouring (turned out to be colouring flags that I had drawn for Activity Village 🙂 ) and treated all on board to a rendition of the national anthem.

Another lovely day.




Victorian Science at Portsmouth City Museum

After dropping Jack off at his workshop on Weds, Sam and I headed to the City Museum in Portsmouth to meet up with some friends at one of the museums ‘Out to Lunch’ activities.


…played with buzzwires…
…writing and sending messages in bottles…

…made paper cup telephones and spent a lot of time running around and playing in the beautiful museum garden.

And then I got conned into some new clothes from Gap and some new maps (Sam likes maps!) which proved a hazard to other shoppers!