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!

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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!

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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.

 

 

 

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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!

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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!

 

 

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.

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

 

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 …

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 …