Celebration

Big news!  Big news! 

Today is the two week anniversary since the chooks joined our family and Beryl the Peril decided to celebrate by laying her first egg.  I suspected Beryl would be first to lay as she looks a bit older than Ivy & Minnie but hopefully now she’ll encourage her friends to start laying eggs too!  What an exciting morning it was … Beryl is generally quite vocal so I expected her egg song to be sung at full pelt.  But no!  She was quite cuddly this morning and even jumped up onto Mr GG’s knee (which she’d never done before) then quietly took herself off into the coop and laid the egg without fuss or drama.  It was still warm when we gathered it … and tasted delicious (so I’m told – Mr GG scoffed it). 

 It’s been another beautiful week here so once lessons have been completed each day we’ve been spending time in the garden planting seeds, tending shoots and fighting a losing battle with the wee helicopters from the sycamore tree outside our garden!  Our planting is almost done for the time being … we’ve got blueberries, apples, raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries growing in the front garden and potatoes, cucumber, carrots, kale (purple as well as green … very exotic), spring onions, chilli, beans, peas, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, lettuce, salad leaves and various herbs growing in the back garden!  I’m planning to add some tumbling tomatoes in a hanging basket and some lemongrass around the chicken run to help combat flies once the weather gets warmer and, although we don’t really need it, I’m thinking of sneaking a cranberry plant in somewhere as well.  My idea is that, as well as teaching the boys, growing more fruit and veg will help to keep some of the animals fed … I hope so otherwise they’ll all eat us out of house and home!

 Our garden isn’t huge but just over a year ago we bought a tiny bit of land at the side of our house … it’s not big enough for us to build on and extend but it makes our garden seem much less claustrophobic.  The grass on one corner of the new patch is in really bad condition and we’ve been pondering what to do with it … this year we’ve roped it off and planted wildflower seeds in the hope that it will encourage bees and butterflies.  I’ve also mentioned in passing the possibility of making a wee wildlife pond but I got a look from Mr GG so maybe that idea needs shelved for a wee while …

Lessons have carried on as normal this week … we’re planning ahead for August however and beginning to look to the end of this academic year.  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind few months here at GGHQ but I’m proud of how well we have all adapted … still no regrets about choosing to turn from state education and beginning home education instead.

One of my favourite parts of our day as a home ed family is reading half hour.  Whilst this part of the day is not usually met with overwhelming enthusiasm by all involved, it usually goes well … we either curl up on chairs in the living room or outside in the garden and I set a timer for 30 minutes.  I love reading and getting half an hour to read uninterrupted is pure bliss!  At the moment Son No1 is reading The Hobbit, Son No2 is reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and Son No3 is working his way through the Famous Five books.  I’m currently reading a brilliantly encouraging book called The Lifegiving Table – I only discovered the author, Sally Clarkson, within the past couple of years and really love her work.  The Lifegiving Table is part of a trilogy, The Lifegiving Home was the first one, this is second and next I have The LiIMG_1499fegiving Parent winking at me and encouraging me to read faster.  Reading half hour was something I introduced a long time ago in the olden days of school holidays – this pic is from last summer but I love how the boys were all so content lying on the trampoline reading together.  Nowadays, it generally comes at the end of our ‘working’ day so when the timer goes off I’m left surrounded in a cloud of dust as the boys disappear to find something to do before I suggest any chores … they’ve all learned never to use the ‘bored’ word otherwise they’ll be given a cloth to clean the windows or sent off to mop the floors.

So, now to enjoy the rest of the weekend.  It’s a quiet day for me.  Mr GG is one of the youth leaders in our church and he, along with the other leaders and a gaggle of teenagers are away to Extreme Combat Laser Quest this afternoon … Son No1 is so excited about it, Son No2 not so keen on that part so is only going for pizza at the end.  That leaves Son No3 & I … we’re planning to watch a film curled up on the sofa eating pizza and ice cream (maybe not at the same time) … I love a bit of one to one time with my boys … good time.

Happy weekend folks! 

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Walking on Sunshine

I can’t believe another week is ending already!  It’s been a beautiful week here and all at GGHQ have made the most of the sunshine … well, all except Mr GG who managed to put his back out talking to the chickens (yep … I know!)

It’s been a busy Home Ed week as usual for us … lots to pack in but, also, lots to learn and, on the whole, willing learners!  The sunny weather meant that several of the lessons were completed outside … the sun and the lure of the chickens proved too much to keep some boys indoors.

IMG_1453Of course, part of the HE life involves learning life skills so we made the most of the sunny weather to practice our gardening skills … we are planning, and growing, a vegetable patch this year.  Our garden doesn’t really lend itself to a lot of gardening scope so lots of tubs, planters and hanging baskets are being filled with herbs, fruit and veg.  We’ve grown fruit for a few years now (apples, blueberries, raspberries and sometimes strawberries) but we’re pretty much newcomers to growing veg … it’s an exciting time and we’re all looking forward to eating the produce.

Not all the outdoors jobs are pleasant and whilst there are plenty of volunteers when it comes to feeding the various animal members of the family, I’ve noticed that many aren’t quite so keen when it comes to cleaning up after them.  However, they’re all skills that need to be learned and looking after pets helps the boys learn responsibility which will help them when they eventually leave home (shhh, not a pleasant thought!).  Don’t tell anyone but there are some of jobs which I’m more than happy to pass on as learning experiences … whilst Pringle the guinea pig is a loved member of the family and interacts with us all I can’t bear the feel of her wee feet … handling her and Steve the hamster is a job happily left to others to deal with … ick, ick, ick, shiver!

Sunny weather also opens different doors for our daily exercise time … thereIMG_1471 were lots of Swingball matches and, although this one was a solo match, some of them got quite competitive.  I also managed to persuade Son No1 that muscle definition could be developed by moving a massive pile of roof tiles that has been sitting in my front garden for a while.  Yes, HE certainly exercises the creative side of the brain … watering the garden with watering cans is good for muscle building or with a hose helps with target practice, weeding develops flexibility, washing the car is aerobic exercise (well, if there’s music involved) …

IMG_1450Unfortunately the past couple of weeks have seen a rise in anxiety for one of the GG boys … I can always tell how worried he is by how carefully he shuts the door when he wants to talk to me and we’ve spent lots of time talking, reassuring and praying about the worries he has.  It’s painful to watch someone I love suffering so much … his anxieties have a physical impact too because one of his coping mechanisms is washing his hands … I feel so sad for him.  However, he is loved and supported by Mr GG & I and his two brothers and we will never stop trying our best to help him.

We’re feeling quite settled into a routine now but still keep trying out different ideas to see what works and what doesn’t.  A few weeks ago I came across a kids subscription website called kiwico … one of the boxes, a tinker crate, helps kids around the age of Son No3 (he’s 9) learn about the principles of physics and engineering … just his thing. 

I ordered the crate but didn’t say anything about it and waited to see the reaction when it arrived … he loved it … and we spent a fun morning making a spin art box.  Now, I know the boy was pleased … but I was over the moon when we switched the ‘on’ button and the plate began to spin.  It’s yonks since I was at school and I certainly could not have been described as scientifically gifted so I was really chuffed that between us we managed this:

Apologies for the angle of the clip … I help my phone upsidedown … I’m not the most technically proficient haha!  All the same I’m impressed with Son No3’s efforts and think these four would look good in a wee frame together.  The tinker crate was most definitely a success and both Son No3 and I are impatiently waiting to see what will arrive next month … physics was definitely fun this week!

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PS: For those who are interested, no eggs yet … but we’re checking each day with excited anticipation …

I’m so excited …

… and I just can’t hide it

In the past six months two of my long held dreams have come true.  How great is that!

The first dream was beginning our home education journey back in January … and I’ll talk more about that in a wee minute or two.  The second dream, oh, I can’t believe it’s finally happening is this:

Mr GG has been working for the past wee while on building a fabulous chicken run … it was his birthday present to me and now, today, our birthday presents from my parents have arrived and are scratching around inside it.  Already, within a couple of hours their personalities are shining through and we’ve had many laughs at their antics already. 

IMG_1413Beryl the Peril is the noisy one so far – apparently she lays pinky/brown eggs.  She’s, naturally, a bit wary of us but has beautiful feathers and fluffs herself up now and again, I think, to make us think she’s scary!  She can’t bear anyone to do something without her so if Minnie the Minx flies up to the roof of the chicken coop, she’s right there too

IMG_1442Ivy the Terrible is in the inquisitive one and has explored all around the run – she lays brown eggs.  So far, Ivy is the only one who has allowed me to touch her … so currently she’s my favourite!  She seems to be quite placid and likes to sit and watch what’s going on around her.   She also seems to have cottoned on to the idea that she goes into the coop at night … she takes herself off into the coop and then pops her head out as if to hurry us along!

 IMG_1416Minnie the Minx lays cream eggs but, sadly, not Cadburys – Minnie is the most timid so far and spent most of the afternoon hiding under the coop when any of us ventured into the run.   Minnie & Beryl seem to be teaming up and tootling about together.  It’ll all be fun and games trying to catch those two to put in the coop tonight … hoping Mr GG will be here to help!

I love that, as a home educating family, everything we do can be made into a learning opportunity.  Our new chickens are providing endless sources of learning, right from before they even arrived today.  Our youngest GG helped his Dad with building the run … he’s a practical lad, has lots of imagination and regularly comes up with ‘inventions’ of his own.  Son No1 is doing a course with a local university on chicken welfare and behaviour (I think I’ve told you that before … blame old age … my sons do!).

One of the things that I’ve found hardest about our journey into home education (HE) is holidays!  Now, anyone that knows me knows that when the Junior GGs were in school I was continually counting down to the next holiday … and why not … my boys are fantastic company, they keep me amused and, well, we enjoy learning things and getting out together.  Family time is special … not necessarily calm or harmonic but definitely special.

However, any mother (or probably parent … but I can’t talk for dads) knows that no matter what you do someone has an opinion … and if you don’t fit into one of societies perceived ‘norms’ then often folks feel obliged to offer their thoughts.  Our journey into HE has been littered with masses of advice … some of the advice from those who already HE has been invaluable whereas some, from those who’ve no experience of HE has been, well, not very helpful.  Yes, I do know how old my sons are (child birth is not an experience to quickly forget!), I do know that how important education is (precisely why we’ve removed them from school!) and no, my sons are not going to suffer socially from being out of the school setting.  That’s just for all the doubters out there, haha!

Anyway, I’ve digressed into a moan … I was talking about our problem with holidays.  We have a decision to make … do we follow the school timetable and stick to holidays when schools have holidays or do we take holidays at the times that suit us?  Guess what we’re thinking of?  Yep, we’re going to do our own thing.  At present, we’re working along the guidelines that if the boys get all their targets met in a week then Friday is a free day for us to chill, or go our somewhere, or just enjoy doing whatever we fancy.  We will have holidays planned but if we can see that the boys are tiring or losing motivation we can take an additional holiday.  Love it!  After all, most days the boys are like this:

But we know it’s time to take a day out when they are so tired they start looking like this:

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In every way the flexibility of HE is wonderful!  If a day is sunny in the morning we can take advantage of that and turn our day upsidedown … after all, sunny days can be few and far between so why not take advantage of them when they arise!  Work can always be done later in the day … we have no school hours … if we want to work in the evenings then, that’s what we’ll do.  Good times!

Can you tell I’m happy with my dreams coming true?  I’m thinking maybe a smallholding is next … I’d love some sheep and maybe even a pig … shh don’t tell Mr GG ….

Absolute Beginners

Starting a new blog is a little bit like trying on a new pair of jeans … the old ones feel comfortable and familiar whereas new ones feel tight and unyielding. There’s a little part of me that’s been putting off writing this post, making a proper start to this blog … I love my other blog, it feels homely and I’m happy dipping in and out of it whenever I’ve something to say (which is remarkably less often than those around me have to listen to me yabbering on!). My gingergnome blog will continue, but as this is a new start for my wee family we decided that it was time to have a blog dedicated to our journey.

So who are we and what is our journey?

Firstly let me introduce my family. There is Mr GG, lord of the manor, my lovely husband and best friend. Mr GG works partly at home and partly office-based. I have absolutely no idea what his job is, something involving faffing about with computers is about all I can make of it … I try and make intelligent noises when he talks to me about it but the bottom line is, I haven’t a clue! Mr GG is creative … he plays guitar and writes songs, he enjoys woodwork and is, thankfully, very handy with DIY.

Then there is me, Mrs GG. Thankful for my long-suffering hubby putting up with my wild ideas, sometimes running with them and sometimes talking me into more realistic plans. I enjoy spending time with my awesome family and am passionate about my calling as a mother. I enjoy baking, being crafty and writing … none of which I practise as regularly as I ought!

Then there are the three Junior GGs, ages 14, 12 and 9. They (along with Mr GG) are my absolute world … they take me through a spectrum of emotions every single day … from frustration, to bewilderment, to hysteria, to contentment. I give thanks that I’ve been given the opportunity to be their mum.

Our family also includes a regularly increasing variety of pets … Princess Leia the cat, Steve the hamster, Pringle the guinea pig, several fish and two shrimps … and, if life wasn’t busy enough, Mr GG is busy building a chicken run for, well, unsurprisingly, chickens!

From January this year we have been a home educating family. It’s been a huge step for us but one that, several months down the line we have absolutely no regrets about (apart from not starting sooner!). Becoming an HE family is a dream come true for me … and is absolutely living up to all my expectations. We are an ‘out of the box’ family … autism features, as does ADHD and, from time to time, anxiety raises its ugly head and tries to rob some members of their peace of mind. However, we are a strong family unit, we focus on working as a team and are fiercely protective of each other.

The past months have been a time of great adjustment for all five GGs. I no longer can be a lady who lunches … gone are my sneaky coffees with friends … I can’t just head off out for the day at the drop of a hat. Mr GG now has children popping in and out of his office on his days working from home (he quite likes it … and it’s lovely having lunches all together). The boys are having to get used to being with each other nearly 24/7 which caused a few ructions at first. Son No1 misses the social side of school but keeps in contact with his friends. Son No2 has taken to HE like a duck to water … he was desperately unhappy in school so is flourishing at home and is much more sociable which we’re loving watching. Son No3 is a wee pickle, he is enjoying the variety of learning from home and certainly benefits from being able to bounce out his frustrations when he’s finding something difficult to grasp.

We’ve slowly settled into a good HE routine and are now fairly well established covering core subjects as well as enjoying the opportunities to develop individual interests and strengths. Son No1 is currently taking a distance course with a local university on chicken behaviour (I’m tagging along with him in the hope that, between us, we’ll be well prepared when our chickens eventually arrive). The opportunity to tailor education to suit our family is one of the most exciting journeys we have been on … the options are endless and, for once, some of my wilder ideas are actually turning into possibilities …