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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Daydream believer

Hello folks!  Another week over and a new one beginning … just like that!I’ve been pondering what to write this week.  Not much has happened for me to report about home education … we’ve just been enjoying time in the sun and making the most of holidays … well, some of us have … to be fair on Mr GG, he’s been working hard as usual but this past week he was working from home which we all love.    IMG_1785One of the things I’ve noticed lately is how easy it is for us all to slip into an attitude of entitlement … I’ve been trying to foster a sense of thankfulness and gratitude in myself as well as trying to encourage the boys.  A wee while ago I shamelessly stole this idea from a friend on Facebook … 30 days of gratitude.  Most evenings, as we eat our meal, we’ll discuss what we’re grateful for for that day.  There have been some interesting ideas and it’s fair to say that Son No1 nearly spontaneously combusted when he was tasked with naming just one piece of technology that he was thankful for!  At new year I set myself the challenge of recording something I was thankful for each day … I’m pleased to say that we’re now more than halfway through the year and I’ve not run out of thankfulness!Mr GG and I have set ourselves a challenge to reduce our spending each month as well as reducing our electricity/gas bill.  I’m enjoying the challenge although it seems that ‘living simply’ seems to make for much more work! Naturally one of the first ‘cut backs’ has been to dry our laundry outside rather than use the dryer.  For several years I’ve opted to give washing dried outside a wee blast in the dryer as it seemed to help with Son No2’s hayfever.  For many years he struggled so badly each year, ending up with eye infections and, sometimes, eyes that were so swollen they couldn’t open.  It was awful.  However, ditching the dryer this year doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on him so it appears his susceptibility to hayfever has reduced as he’s got older.  Something to be thankful for! Simple living means I’ve been baking more which I’m enjoying.  I’ve always loved baking but tend to get caught up in life and fall into the trap of just buying biscuits etc.  One of the main things I bake is chocolate brownies … it’s a favourite of all three boys (well, four if you count Mr GG) and something I’ve baked with the boys so often that two in particular can make themselves with little intervention from me.  We also discovered lately that gluten free brownies are even more tasty that ordinary ones! IMG_1810In the middle of the week I discovered a full packet of Lotus Biscoff which were going out of date soon.  Rather than waste the biscuits I made fifteens which, in turn, left me with half a tin of condensed milk I didn’t want to waste.  A wee google led me to this recipe … chocolate chip cookies … they are awesome!  I’ve never managed to make cookies that had the right crispy/gooey ratio.  These do!  And, even better, the cookie dough stores in the fridge for a week so I’ve been able just to make as many as I need at a time to keep the boys happy.  Win win!  I feel virtuous that I’ve not wasted anything and the boys are delighted with an almost daily supply of cookies.Bread has also been something that I’ve been making more often.  We have a breadmaker but I don’t really like using it … it’s bulky and takes forever to use.  I found an easy bread recipe which I’ve been trying out and the results have been delicious.  Previously when I’ve made bread I’ve been able to set the dough on the dryer to prove but that’s no longer an option so I’ve taken advantage of the sunny weather to set it on the windowsill of our front room.  Mr GG assures me that our neighbours already think we’re a bit quirky (chickens do that!) so they’ll not really be surprised by us!IMG_1811We’ve already enjoyed some of the rewards of our garden in the past few days.  We have a lone blackcurrant bush (well, technically there are two but one is in the chicken run and only has two wee leaves left at the top … chickens do that too!) which has excelled itself this year.  While Mr GG loves blackcurrants, I can’t stand them so we weren’t too sure what to do with them … eventually we decided on jam … maybe seen as a bit of a waste of effort as this was the result, but Mr GG is enjoying it so that’s good enough for me (to be fair, he made the jam himself anyway).

 In this sunny weather I’ve been experimenting with infused waters rather than fizzy drinks or diluting juice.  Some have been successful, some not so much.  I’m enjoying gathering herbs and some fruits from the garden to try out and one of my favourites so far has been lemon, raspberry & rosemary.Our faltering attempts at making our garden pay are beginning to show results.  Some of the potatoes are nearly ready for digging up and we have a steady supply of herbs, lettuce and salad leaves.  Not everything is working out though … the tomatoes are stubbornly refusing to perform and have, so far, only produced one manky looking tomato.  The mystery veg that we planted looks like it’s possibly peppers … no fruit appearing but I’m fairly chuffed that we’ve managed to identify it.   The peas we planted are mostly doing well and I can see some pods appearing … few, if any, of them will make it to the table for, in a nod to a happy days spent with my Grandad ‘helping’ in his garden, I’m likely to sit outside and eat them all. IMG_1720Beryl, Ivy & Minnie continue to delight all five of the GG clan and have completely won over Mr GG who was adamant he didn’t want them.  They’re all laying pretty much every day and are ever so patient with me hopping about outside the coop waiting for eggs so that I can bake.  I have dreams of one day having meat chicks, and quail and maybe a pond for ducks, as well as an orchard with a bee hive or two, and a field with pigs, sheep and maybe a couple of cows (for Mr GG).  I can see me working in the fields in my wellies (pink of course, in a houseful of male-ness there needs to be some pink) and scooting about in my land rover.  But, for now, I’m content … I’m already seeing some of my dreams come true … home educating my awesome boys and chooks in the garden … truly living the dream!IMG_0016

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!