Mr Blue Sky

And just like that another week ends. 

It’s been a stunner of a week even if there have been moments when we’ve felt like we were melting.  The GG household doesn’t really ‘do’ hot weather and Son No3 was heard grumbling that he ‘can’t wait for winter’ (I think he’s a wee bit like Grandfather GG).  It’s fabulous seeing skies like this though … I love it!

IMG_1805

We’ve had a mixture of a week.  Some lovely days out and some days at home enjoying our garden, our chooks and some shade.

At the start of the week we went to one of our most favourite places to go.  It’s not particularly beautiful but I love it simply because it’s one of the few places that my anxious Son No2 can go without worrying about anything.  All three of the Junior GGs are in their element on a beach so they were all content walking along searching for shells and other treasures, chatting about games and retro consoles (Son No1 collects retro consoles and had just bought a Nintendo 64).  We collected some teeny tiny shells … they’re amazing, so perfect and yet so absolutely tiny, it’s hard to imagine the little creatures that lived in them before moving on to a new home.

For weeks Son No2’s anxiety has been sky-high and his fear of germs, need to wash, worry about touching something that has touched something else that has previously touched something (I kid you not!) has been holding him back from enjoying pretty much anything.  When he was younger he had a fascination for mud and water.  I used to keep towels by the back door because there was nothing my lad liked more on a rainy day than sitting in the muddy dip under the swing and gently rubbing mud onto his face, over his clothes and, well, everywhere.  The water magnetism has stayed but the mud attraction not so much.   Surprisingly, I miss it! 

 So, it made my heart happy on Monday when I saw Son No2 paddling along in his shoes and then squelching about in the mud.  Everything washes and, once again, I was thankful for a sunny, cloudless sky to dry his shoes.  The shoes have since been worn to walk along a river so they’ve spent quite some time hanging about outside this week!

36372421_10160493163790305_7908727215209054208_n

This week also saw Son No3 acquire a drum kit … it’s currently squashed into his bedroom until we work out how and where best to have it set up.  He is so excited … the neighbours maybe not so much. 

We’ve enjoyed time out in the garden this week.  All of the fruit and vegetables that we’ve planted is growing nicely and there’s something really exciting about nipping out into the garden to gather something to eat (or make a cup of tea with) especially as we’re also getting (and eating) a regular supply of eggs from our chooks.  Over the course of the week I read somewhere that ‘smallholding is a way of life’ rather than dependent on how much land you have … I love that, our wee garden is tiny but we’re aiming to make it pay its way as much as possible.  That doesn’t stop Mr GG & I dreaming about having a proper smallholding one day but in the meantime …

Lastly, Son No3 tried out his latest tinker crate … an automaton.  He loved building it and is so good at following the instructions, asking for help when he needs it.  There are lots of good ideas for other automatons so I think that may end up on the plan for next week.  It may be a bit pricey but the pleasure my boy gets from building and playing with the tinker crates more than makes up for it.

 

 

 

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer …

The sun is shining, washing is drying on the whirligig, the chooks are scratching about contentedly, the boys are playing quietly (always a worry!), Mr GG is sitting on the swing seat relaxing/sleeping … and somewhere along the way I’ve obviously blinked and missed the week!  Our first week of summer holiday is over already but it still feels like last weekend.

There has always been a period of adjustment when it comes to holidays.  My routine loving boys often struggle getting used to a new routine although the first week of the summer holidays has generally been kept empty … a chance for the boys to relax, catch up on sleep and recover from the stresses of the academic year.

This year has been no different …

… oh …

… no …

… wait …

… erm …

… that’s not right …

… this year has been completely different.

This year it has been me that has struggled with the change in routine.  The Junior GGs have all been relaxed and drifted into holiday mode with no issues.  I, on the other hand, have been completely out of sorts, grumpy, stressy, tired and struggling to get used to being on holiday from home ed!  What’s that all about?

It struck me that the past six months have been completely full-on … I’ve been either been actively involved in home ed or I’ve been thinking about it.  It’s been my life absolutely.  I don’t regret it, not one wee bit, but suddenly not having to think about it has been a bit of a shock!  For the past years I’ve counted down to the summer holidays growing more and more excited about having six or seven uninterrupted weeks with my boys.  The night before the last day of term was always more exciting than Christmas … I often couldn’t sleep.  This year has been different … I’ve looked forward to not having work to prepare or mark or plan but … it was different … and it felt odd!

Work isn’t completely finished quite yet.  Son No1 and I have been working on a Chicken Welfare & Behaviour course with Edinburgh University.  It’s pretty much finished, just a few bits of work to be done and we’re through … it’s been ever so interesting and we’ve both learned lots about our own chooks as we’ve learned.

This past week I’ve also managed to complete a course in reflexology.  I’ve no intention of inflicting my grumpy crabbiness on the general public but I’ve often wondered if reflexology would help my anxiety-ridden Son No2 so I thought I’d try it out and see … so far I’ve not managed to get him to sit still long enough for me to even touch his feet, far less try out any reflexology but there’s still hope!  If there is anything at all that I can do to help him deal with this world that is so alien to him then I’m all for it.

Son No3 has enjoyed the holidays so far.  He’s made the most of the sunny weather to play outside with his friends (rain never stops us anyway) and has built lots of interesting Lego creations.  Lego has got to be one of the best toys ever … only limited by our own imaginations.

And there it is … week one of our holidays is finished, completed, gone … the grumpiness is gone (for now!) and I have much to be thankful for … no matter how much of a rush he is in, Son No1 will not ever go out without coming to give me a hug and tell me he loves me … how blessed I am!

IMG_1885

Week two is looming (well, it’s Monday now so it’s kinda loomed already) … we’ve planned a bit more structure for this week but I’m not telling you yet!

 

 

Nothing’s gonna stop us now …

Hooray! Happy day! We have made it to the end of term … all still standing and smiling!

It’s been a week of preparation, work has been steadily reducing and lots of planning for holidays and free days going on.

Traditionally, in the distant past when the boys were in school we would make a list of things to do in the holidays … colour-coded according to whether they could be done at home or away and whether free or not … maybe I’m a wee bit of a control freak after all haha!

So, our list has been updated, new activities added and some discarded with claims that the boys are now too old for them. We’ve easily got 70 different activities and I’ve tried hard to make as many free as I possibly can.

IMG_1661On one of our many walks this week Son No 3 found his first painted rocks … such excitement. The rocks have been rehidden ready for someone else to find … I wonder how far they will travel?  We are planning to paint some rocks of our own and hide them around the parks and woodlands in our local area.  I’m quite artistically inept but hopefully Mr GG will join in!

The latest Tinker Crate arrived a few days ago so it found itself included on the plan for this week … and what fun!  Son No3 did really well following the instructions to build an arcade catapult and has spent lots of time playing with it, even inviting his friends in to give it a go.  There’s something satisfying about building something yourself and he was, quite rightly, proud of his efforts.

This week has also seen Son No 1 update his hair colour … the blue is gone and replaced with red. He was a bit reluctant to let anyone see the work in progress!  I was a bit nervous about how the red would look but I think he’s looking great 🙂


IMG_1653Our three chooks are continuing to supply us with eggs and there was much excitement when Beryl the Peril laid our first double yolker … clever girl.

Our fruit and vegetable patches are continuing to grow and, I think, everything we planted has sprouted. Storm Hector battered the garden but, thankfully, everything survived  including the chidkens and Son No2’s precious guinea pig, Pringle (although she looked a wee bit shell-shocked afterwards).

We celebrated the end of our academic year with a trip to Auchingarrich Animal Park. Mr GG took the day off work so we were able to have a lovely family day together. The weather forecast was dire but Team GG don’t let something like rain put us off and I’m so glad … torrential rain most of the journey there and torrential rain most of the journey home but in between was lovely!


We saw all sorts of animals but, for me, the highlight was seeing the wildcat with her kittens … so beautiful! It’s hard to imagine that they’re so different from our own Princess Leia.

For many years there has been a tartan sheep at Auchingarrich and we’ve loved looking at her. Today she looked old and tired but had two lambs with her. Seeing her wandering along with the lambs and quite obviously getting impatient with them at times reminded me of my role as a mum. I get impatient with the boys, I’ve so much to learn as a mum but I’ve held on to this verse, especially in the years when the boys were so much younger and my job was much more ‘hands on’.
IMG_0011
And there we are … we’ve reached the end of our first academic (half) year. We’ve made mistakes, we’ve had successes but I can honestly say I don’t regret our decision to start home education for a minute. It’s not always been easy and we’ve had times when school has been missed but I could not be more proud of how well my lovely boys have coped and adapted to such a massive change.

I’ve a few plans for the blog over the holidays … but I’m giving away no secrets so you’ll have to wait and see! For now, though, I’m off to sit back and relax and enjoy the holiday (at home) feeling!

Road to Nowhere

You know those days that start off with one thing planned and then end up flying off in a totally different direction?  Sometimes the diversion isn’t pleasant and sometimes it’s absolutely brilliant!  Well, Friday was one of those brilliant days.

thumbnail_IMG_1587

Fridays are usually kept free in GGHQ … they’re an opportunity to catch up with work that’s not been finished or to go out somewhere or just to chill.  It was another beautiful day so I thought I’d take advantage of our Historic Scotland membership and visit Cairnpapple Hill … enjoying time out in the fresh air along with learning a wee bit more of the history of our beautiful country.

All three boys and I piled into the Great Behemoth, set the sat nav and headed off arriving safely at Cairnpapple Hill with no wrong turns (not altogether usual for me). 

We sorted out the backpack with bottles of water and snacks, checked our shoes, tied hoodies round our waists in case it got chilly as we climbed … and turned round to see this …

thumbnail_IMG_1583

Nope!  Never!  Not on your life!  Are you wise? 

There is no danger I’m going anywhere that has a sign warning of a bull in the field.  It appears I wasn’t alone as Son No2 & Son No3 jumped back into the Great Behemoth and shut the doors.  I mean, it wasn’t as if it was an empty warning for at the top of the wooden steps we were about to start climbing was standing the most massive bull I have ever seen … or so I thought … as the bull lumbered forward a few steps we realised that, quite clearly, she was definitely not a he!  But anyway, Cairnpapple Hill may well be very interesting, have a lot of history and be somewhere we would have enjoyed visiting but it’s never going to happen!

Climbing back into the Great Behemoth I had a quick search to see what else was nearby and, most importantly, free.  We landed on Malleny Garden, a National Trust for Scotland property in Balerno, Edinburgh.  Setting the sat nav once more we took off flying along country roads (I’m sure I’d love being a rally driver) and landed safely at Malleny Garden.   

Wow!

 It was beautiful, peaceful and all four of us enjoyed spying different plants and trees.  We even found a pond with tadpoles in it (and even more importantly, my water magnetised son stayed dry!).   

It was a lovely way to end another good week here at GGHQ which included an afternoon out for Son No1 and I visiting another home educating family.  There is something special about time alone with one of my boys, sometimes it’s not so easy to arrange but we both enjoyed our time together as we travelled, chatting together, laughing about funny things, trying to find solutions to problems and, of course, listening to music.  The afternoon was great in so many ways … I benefited so much from talking with another HE mum who has years of HE experience … we compared notes and talked about things that worked and things that didn’t.  Son No1 loved spending time with lads his age and disappeared off on a quad bike exploring. 

Last week also saw our long-awaited trip to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow for Son No1’s spine MRI.  It was the first MRI experience for any of us and wow, it was noisy!  Unfortunately tics mean that it’s hard for my lad to stay still but he tried really hard and the radiographer was confident that she had managed to get the best images she could.  Now for the long old wait for results … we couldn’t make the original appointment given so the next available is October!  Thankfully we’ve no real concerns about the results, the MRI is more to rule out any problems before making a decision on surgery on my boy’s legs. 

And because I can’t post without mentioning any of the less human members of the household … our chickens are now all laying eggs … in true GG style the white hen lays brown eggs and the brown hen lays white ones!  And Princess Leia is maintaining her disgust at the arrival of chickens, refuses to go into the back garden where they are, preferring instead to spend her time sitting in the plant pot glaring at us … whoever says animals don’t have facial expressions!  She’s going to get a wee fright soon as that pot is ear-marked for the leeks to be planted in!

The Long & Winding Road

I’m a bit late with the blog this week … it’s been one of those weekends!

We’re really starting to look ahead to the summer holidays now and we’re all looking forward to them.  The boys are looking forward to some time without academic work to do and I’m looking forward to some time when I’m not constantly preparing lessons and thinking of what to do next.  Mr GG and I are planning to spend some time looking ahead to when we start back but there won’t be that same pressure which, I must admit, will be lovely!

The work that has been done in the garden is beginning to pay off and several wee shoots can be seen poking through the ground.  It’s amazing how one wee shoot will appear and then a couple of hours later there are loads, as if one seed breaks free and the others are encouraged to follow along.

All three chooks are growing and developing their wee personalities.  They are a huge hit with all the family and all three boys love spending time outside talking to them.  They’re not shy around us at all now and as soon as anyone is outside they’re squawking about at our toes (and pecking them) looking for treats.  Beryl the Peril is still our sole egg layer but she’s been consistently laying an egg each day.  I’ve been using an old eyeliner to write the date on the eggs, I know some folks use sharpies but I’m a wee bit hesitant about using something like that.  I was going to say I was hesitant about using something I wouldn’t eat but there again, who eats eyeliner …

The patience we need when waiting for plants to grow or the chickens to start laying eggs has made me think about our approach to home education.  We don’t just plant a seed and immediately have veg to eat.  An egg doesn’t hatch and immediately turn into a laying chicken.  Similarly, here at GGHQ, we haven’t just left school and turned into the perfect HE family straightaway (whatever that is anyway!). 

These past months have been fun, but they have been hard work.  The Junior GGs have had to get used to being out of school, to learning in a different environment and in a different way.  Mr GG and I have had to get used to a completely different homelife and to learn, through trial and error, what works for the individuals in our wee family and what absolutely doesn’t! 

Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes, lots of research, reading, soul searching, praying, even tears now and again.   

I know I’m repeating myself but I’m proud of how all five of us have adapted to the changes that we’ve faced.  It’s not always been straightforward and there have been hiccups but as we enter our sixth month of HE I think relationships are stronger, the atmosphere in our home is, mostly, calmer and we’re all benefiting from spending more time outside.  Change is not always easy for people on the autistic spectrum but my boys amaze me time and time again how well they cope with whatever life throws at them.  They’re awesome lads and I’m proud to be their mum.

IMG_1404 

(And when they choose to do a geography puzzle when they have free time … well, that makes me feel we’re doing something right!)