Don’t You (Forget About Me)

Just when you think it’s safe … here I am again!  I’m never going to win awards for prolific blogging but the intention is always there to post regularly and that’s what matters.  Isn’t it?

So, when I left you all back in January (eek!) Son No1 had just had his surgery and was back home.  I believe I was waxing lyrical about how proud I was of my boy … and I’m bound to do it again … unashamedly.

IMG_4710The past weeks have whizzed past.  Lots has happened in GGHQ, lots of work has been done by the Junior GGs, Son No1 has dyed his hair purple, Mr GG has gone back to work, I got a wee car so, happily, no more zooming around in the Great Behemoth and six weeks ago this little girl joined our family.  Harley Quin has absolutely won the human hearts with her antics … Princess Leia, however, is not so smitten and is generally living upstairs although, on the occasions when she has to come downstairs, she gives Harley a hiss and a swipe … we live in hope of harmony in the future! 

Son No1’s six weeks of being completely non-weightbearing passed smoothly.  He quickly became adept at whizzing up and down stairs on his hands (although not in handstand style as one doctor assumed) and made sure he missed out on as little as possible.  In early March he returned to Glasgow for his bright yellow casts to be taken off in readiness for learning to walk once again.  To begin with he was incredibly weak, his legs struggled to obey the signals from his brain, his feet railed against being in a position that was alien to them and he found it exhausting to travel even the shortest distance with his walking frame.  However, once again I was left in complete awe of my son’s strength of character and determination and within two weeks of the casts coming off he was doing this:

Physio is ongoing and unpleasant but my boy is working hard (when reminded) … he doesn’t enjoy physio at all and is still in some pain but he is an amazing lad.  I feel truly blessed to be able to call him my son.

Life has carried on as usual around Son No1’s hospital adventures.  The younger boys have particularly enjoyed some extra days without school work when we were at appointments.  We spent a lovely day at the National Museum of Rural Life where Son No2 appeared quite at home in a tractor.  We celebrated Down Syndrome Awareness Day with our odd socks … I was particularly touched by the readiness of my lad with OCD to take part, I thought he may find odd socks a step too far for him but he embraced it happily.  Son No3 has continued building and creating with his Tinker Crates (my favourite is the wee robot clip below) and is beginning to ponder moving on to the more technical Eureka Crates. 

ede56320-e116-4e8d-b701-751e4e483a5aAt the beginning of March I escaped to Northern Ireland with four dear friends.  We went primarily to go to a conference where Nancy Guthrie was speaking but the time together, eating, laughing, crying and just enjoying each other’s company was incredibly precious.  I am so thankful for their friendship and encouragement and for the knowledge that they are praying for me just as I am praying for each of them.  I am truly blessed to call them my friends.

A few weeks ago my Dad reached the milestone of 60 years since his ordination.  To mark the occasion we all travelled to Cumbria for the weekend for Dad to preach in the first church he pastored as a young man back in 1959.  It was a special time and we all enjoyed the weekend even managing to fit in a wee game of crazy golf for some of us.  I am so very thankful for my Dad.  He has remained faithful to his calling throughout his life and has never lost his passion for and love of the Word of God.  I am truly blessed to be his daughter. 

As a wee aside, one of the funniest moments of the weekend has got to be my misplaced confidence in letting the boys pack for themselves.  One boy (I’m not saying which) accidentally took his younger brother’s trousers and nearly ended up going to church like this!  
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Back home Mr GG and I continue in our quest to live simply.  The dream is to have a small-holding one day but, for now, we continue to make wee changes at home using what we have as efficiently as possible.  For the past few months I’ve been making my own laundry powders, shower gels and soap which definitely seems to be making a positive difference to Son No2’s skin … result!

Well, I’m writing this at the table in our kitchen, my favourite room in our house.  The back door is open for Harley to come in and out despite the fact she’s fast asleep at my feet.  The sun is shining, birds are twittering about in the trees and the chickens are quietly clucking as they dust bathe in the garden.  There’s an air of tranquillity and I like it.  The sun reminds me that summer is approaching and, with that, the anticipation of a holiday from school work.  As much as I love home education and wouldn’t change it for the world, this is an exhausting life and I find myself looking forward to the holidays just as much as I did when the boys were in school.  I am immensely proud of how hard my sons have worked over this past year and look forward to all that they will achieve over the coming months but, for now, we’re all looking forward to slowing the pace a little, going on some adventures,  and relaxing together.

However, the air of tranquillity will soon dissipate as, any moment now, three hungry boys are going to descend on the kitchen hollering ‘What’s for tea?’ ‘When will tea be ready’ ‘I’m starving’ … so on that note I’ll sign off for today and leave you with this …

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I’m still standing …

Did you miss me?

This blog post has been started, scrapped and re-started (and re-scrapped) dozens of times since I last posted.  Life has taken over, we’ve been wrapped up in learning and working and it seems as though the weeks have passed without me realising!

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In the past months (I can’t really justify saying ‘weeks’ really) we’ve celebrated birthdays (there are now two teenagers in GGHQ, gasp), wedding anniversaries (well, just one actually, 17 years with Mr GG!), Christmas and New Year.  We have delighted in academic achievements and rejoiced in how well all three junior GGs have adapted to the new routine in our home ed life.  We have had at least two ‘holidays’ – one spent glamping in Aviemore (stunning) and an incredibly lazy week in the beautiful Isle of Skye.  In the past months there have also been tears over the deaths of two much loved pets … sadly Pringle, Son No2’s guinea pig and Steve, Son No3’s hamster have reached the end of their wee lives with us.  There were many tears over the deaths, many discussions over what (if anything) would replace them and, no, we’re not replacing Pringle with a snake nor Steve with a budgie … my suggestion that a ‘useful’ pet like another chicken or some sheep, however, was not well received by Mr GG!

December marked the first anniversary of our home education adventure.  There has been much reflection, many chats and discussion and the over-riding opinion is that the past year has been a great success.  We are all loving the freedom and flexibility that home ed brings to our lives.  There is something so incredibly special about being able to have guilt-free days off as a reward for working hard.  There is also something satisfying about watching children going to school when my own don’t have to!  I’m proud of how well the boys are learning, all three of them.  They are working hard, reaching and exceeding targets we set for them and one in particular, is well on the way to completing a full year’s work in two terms.

Becoming a home ed family hasn’t been completely straight-forward.  Workwise we are pretty much where I expected and, if anything, the workload on me is not as heavy as I expected but there are times when it’s overwhelming!  There are times when one of our lads misses the social aspect of school, he enjoyed the bustle of school but, workwise, he has done far more in the past terms at home than he achieved in over two years of school, something he recognises himself.   

I recently read a post on Facebook about the best and worst aspects of home education.  Many, many parents commented that the best part of home education was being with their children all the time and that the worst aspect was being with their children ALL the time.  I’d agree with this.  I love the company of my sons and I don’t get tired of them being around but I’ve found it much harder to achieve things at certain times.  It used to be that, on birthdays, I’d spend the time the birthday boy was at school to decorate his birthday cake … I can’t do that now as there isn’t school.  I also found preparation for Christmas much more difficult this year.  I didn’t have so many opportunities to nip out and do present shopping and wrapping was done sitting in my bedroom with my back against the door so that they couldn’t come into the room accidentally and ruin surprises!  These are such minor niggles though and compared to all the incredible benefits of taking ownership of the education of my children pale into insignificance.  I am also incredibly grateful to Grandma GG and Grandpa GG who take the boys for a few hours each week and I’m learning to use this time for ‘me’ not spend it rushing about doing housework!

Mr GG and I still yearn to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle although our garden has been sadly neglected over recent weeks … I have to hold my hands up and say I’m more of a fair-weather garden girl than anything, I don’t like being wet and cold!  However, I’ve started dabbling in essential oils and for the past wee while have been making my own cleaning products, including washing powder and fabric conditioner.  I’ve also been making hand soap as well, mainly in the hope of relieving some of the damage continual handwashing does to the skin of my lad’s hands … OCD is such a horrible illness, it breaks me to see the pain he is in, both physically and mentally.

Ivy, Minnie and Beryl still delight us every day.  They are amazing wee characters and provide great therapy … Son No2, whilst too nervous to venture too close to the chooks, spends time every day sitting beside the chicken run chatting away to the girls.  When we go out anywhere he goes straight out to see them when we get home.  Son No1 is a dab hand at catching the chooks to put them in the coop at night although he’s not so keen at getting up early to let them out in the mornings!

The past months have, sadly, seen a decline once more in Mr GG’s mental health and he has had to take some time away from work.  In times like this, manual labour really helps Mr GG mentally and he’s been using the time to be creative … he made some beautiful wooden Christmas trees which were really popular in the lead up to Christmas.  As I write he’s outside making a wooden compost bin for the garden and he also has several other projects in mind for the next wee while.

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Watching Mr GG making and crafting has encouraged me to begin making jewellery once again.  I’d stopped making jewellery when Mr GG was first ill nearly five years ago and it’s been lovely to be creative again … so much so that I’m tentatively contemplating selling at craft fairs once more.

So, that’s where the Life of Five is now … we’re trundling along well, enjoying our new life, battling the gremlins that attack mental health and striving towards the dream of a more independent. 

Until next time folks … 

 

 

Breathe

Apologies for the lack of a post last week … life in GGHQ took a wee unexpected turn and writing ended up taking a back seat. 

We’ve been up to our usual high jinks over the past weeks never fear.  Mr GG took a week off work and we had lots of adventures planned.  However, our week didn’t turn out as planned and, instead, Mr GG spent the week visiting his doctor’s surgery as they tried to come to grips with why he’s been progressively more ill over recent weeks.

It turns out Mr GG has diabetes. 

It’s been a shock.  We’re generally a healthy family and things like this don’t happen to us!  However, it has.  And now we have to get our heads around how this affects us as a family as well as supporting Mr GG who can, thankfully, now begin the journey towards feeling well again.   Once again I’m thankful that Mr GG and I always approach things as a team … it’s important to us to work this way and it’s how we’ve got through so many different things.

 In the midst of the appointments and blood tests (he has to check his blood six times a day at the moment) we’ve managed to enjoy time with my cousin and her lovely family … Son No3 particularly enjoyed having cousins to play with and had a blast zorbing on water with them.

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Our latest ‘self sufficiency’ challenge was making butter which was a fun experiment for us all to take part in.  OK, so we don’t have a cow or goat to get milk from and had to buy cream to start off with but the butter tasted amazing!

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Last time I wrote, the chickens were on lock down for medication.  That’s over now but, feeling a bit sorry for them afterwards, I gave them the bucket of kale that was growing beautifully … it doesn’t look so healthy anymore!

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All our workbooks arrived last week in preparation for starting back to home ed soon … our plan is to start back on 13th August and take an early half term for our family holiday.  The boys are all quietly looking forward to getting back into a routine although more loudly protesting that they’d rather stay on holiday!

 Lastly, just before I leave you all in peace for a few more days … we have finally bought a polytunnel for our garden.  I love it!  I planted lettuce in it two days ago and wee shoots are already peeping through!  I particularly love that we’ve got a polytunnel as it sounds way more smallholdingy than a greenhouse does haha.  See you all next week … when normal service may just be resumed!

 

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 …