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!

 

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Africa

 

 

Some readers may have noticed that I always use the name of a song as the title for my blog posts.  This week is no different.  Africa is the song choice for this week … chosen by Son No1 as it’s a song he’s enjoying teaching himself to play on the piano.  It’s also highly applicable as it bears no relevance to anything that’s happened in GGHQ this week … it’s not been a bad week, not at all, but it’s probably best described in this way  …

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Early on in the week while we were out exploring we found these teeny, tiny frogs.  There were so many of them hopping about around our feet and we’re all hoping we made it home without reducing the frog population at all.  The boys managed to catch some and hold them, they were the smallest frogs I think I’ve ever seen.  Son No3 was keen to bring one home as a pet but, thankfully, he realised we don’t have a pond and couldn’t dig one quickly enough so the idea was abandoned … phew!

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The chickens have been on house (run) arrest this week as they were having routine worming treatment.  This meant that they weren’t allowed any treats which did not go down well.  We’ve all been grumbled at and told off by the girls and if we went near them we were pecked.  Thankfully tomorrow is the last day and Monday we’ll be back to normal.  Beryl the Peril however, whilst voicing her dis-satisfaction, has proved that a week without treats has done no harm and produced these two massive eggs for us … I can’t help but think it must hurt!

Garden wise everything is rumbling along nicely, the last of the leeks were planted and we used an improvised tub having run out of proper tubs to use and being too mean to buy any more.  We picked the last of our raspberries and Mr GG added them to some delicious wild raspberries picked by my parents to make some jam.  It is SO good!  We also harvested the peas … which is a fancy way for saying we got half a dozen and rather than going from farm to table it was more a case of farm to mouth!

Our simple living efforts continue and this week I tried semi-drying excess tomatoes we had left over from the veg box we got from a local farm.  Personally they’re not my taste, I prefer tomatoes fresh but Mr GG seems to think they’re delicious and I’ll admit they look nice in the jar. 


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Halfway through the week the Junior GGs mentioned the ‘bored’ word … I’m surprised that they’ve not yet learned how dangerous this word is to use.  I always find something for them to do, somethingIMG_1976 they’d probably not choose … this time I set them to stripping the walls in the living room.  Now, this wasn’t planned.  Not at all.  To be fair, the living room is crying out to be redecorated but decorating is just a bit bigger a job than we’d anticipated at the moment.  However, the boys took on the challenge and we’ve now got paperless walls.  I’d forgotten how much fun stripping walls is so I think Mr GG is hoping they don’t mention the ‘bored’ word again next week or we’ll start stripping the hall. 

IMG_1977I have finally dug out my knitting once again and set to making some more squares for a patchwork throw I’ve been working on for, at least, a couple of years.  It’ll probably never make it to ‘throw’ stage as, the squares are all different sizes and I hate the sewing part … I keep promising myself to start sewing a couple together each week but something more exciting always distracts me.  Nevermind though, I enjoy knitting and feel ridiculously proud of the different patterns that can be made.  I’ll never become so dedicated to simple living that I start knitting jumpers for the boys so they can rest easy on that score.  Little knitting projects are fine for me!  I just seem to have a problem with the finishing part!

So, all is happy in GGHQ, life doesn’t work out as we always anticipate it and we go off on random tangents from time to time but the kettle is always on and we love it when folks drop in for a cuppa … hint hint!

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Simple Life

There is peace in GGHQ as I start writing today (oops, that was Saturday and now it’s Monday!).  Mr GG is outside mucking out the chickens, Son No1 is chatting online to one of his local friends, Son No3 is playing a game and Son No2 is watching television. 

We’ve had a fun week, quietly busy but also relaxing at times too.  The weather has been brilliant still although there were one or two wee much-needed rain showers.  Most of the GG family don’t like the heat too much and Son No3 has been overhead grumbling that he can’t wait until winter!

IMG_1889Mr GG & I have been looking at a curriculum we would like to use next term.  Unfortunately, and much to the dismay of the Junior GGs, this involves diagnostic testing to determine the level of work that will be appropriate for them.  The tests (four in all) have nearly been completed with just one left to do … it’s probably fair to say that they’ve not been completed with happy, contented hearts!

 The Juniors had a fun day at the beach with Grandma GG during the week and managed, between them, to bring most of the beach home with them … always, I believe, a sign of a successful day. 

 IMG_1894We had a visitor one day too which was fun … it’s been a long time since I’ve had a really little person to look after and this wee lad could not have been a more perfect houseguest.  He smiled and gurgled and waved and was fascinated with the chickens.  Son No3 was a fantastic helper and spent the whole time making sure our guest was OK.  It was so lovely to watch him … he’s desperate for a younger sibling (never going to happen!) so I think that was what encouraged him.

What else did we do?  Oh yes, we had a couple of days spent in and around the house as well as a lovely walk one day which involved lots of rolling down hills … I didn’t partake this time having learned my lesson from a previous time that didn’t end quite so well!

Mr GG and I are enjoying our ‘simple living’ challenge.  We’re getting used to thinking twice about things and, you know what?  At the end of the week we’ve done all we wanted to do, we’ve not always gone for the ‘time-saving’ options and we’ve not missed out on anything.  The challenge has really made us think about how often we would try to save time and end up more frazzled than ever.  

 So, when we made frog in the bog for tea (toad in the hole to those not in know) we didn’t opt for our usual choice of bought Yorkshire puddings but decided to make these bad boys!  Instead of keeping a jar of ready sliced lemons in the fridge, we sliced and froze them ourselves.

We even opted for the simple option when it came to cutting the grass this week.

 We’ve had a couple more harvests during the week … our raspberry plants have yielded this wee crop.  Not enough for jam but we’re planning to add to it and make jam anyway.  Also, I was ridiculously excited that the first pea was ready for picking … it made its way into the kitchen purely for the photo before being eaten … delicious!  Small beginnings but a step in the right direction.

The simple life is becoming more and more appealing (although maybe you should ask me again in winter!) and we’re enjoying making the best use of everything we have although, I do think Mr GG was taking things a wee bit too far when he tried to make himself sunglasses out of a plastic bottle … the only way to keep it on was to hold the sides which left him looking slightly reminiscent of Kevin from Home Alone!

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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’.
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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!

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!)

 

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 …