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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Road to Nowhere

You know those days that start off with one thing planned and then end up flying off in a totally different direction?  Sometimes the diversion isn’t pleasant and sometimes it’s absolutely brilliant!  Well, Friday was one of those brilliant days.

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Fridays are usually kept free in GGHQ … they’re an opportunity to catch up with work that’s not been finished or to go out somewhere or just to chill.  It was another beautiful day so I thought I’d take advantage of our Historic Scotland membership and visit Cairnpapple Hill … enjoying time out in the fresh air along with learning a wee bit more of the history of our beautiful country.

All three boys and I piled into the Great Behemoth, set the sat nav and headed off arriving safely at Cairnpapple Hill with no wrong turns (not altogether usual for me). 

We sorted out the backpack with bottles of water and snacks, checked our shoes, tied hoodies round our waists in case it got chilly as we climbed … and turned round to see this …

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Nope!  Never!  Not on your life!  Are you wise? 

There is no danger I’m going anywhere that has a sign warning of a bull in the field.  It appears I wasn’t alone as Son No2 & Son No3 jumped back into the Great Behemoth and shut the doors.  I mean, it wasn’t as if it was an empty warning for at the top of the wooden steps we were about to start climbing was standing the most massive bull I have ever seen … or so I thought … as the bull lumbered forward a few steps we realised that, quite clearly, she was definitely not a he!  But anyway, Cairnpapple Hill may well be very interesting, have a lot of history and be somewhere we would have enjoyed visiting but it’s never going to happen!

Climbing back into the Great Behemoth I had a quick search to see what else was nearby and, most importantly, free.  We landed on Malleny Garden, a National Trust for Scotland property in Balerno, Edinburgh.  Setting the sat nav once more we took off flying along country roads (I’m sure I’d love being a rally driver) and landed safely at Malleny Garden.   

Wow!

 It was beautiful, peaceful and all four of us enjoyed spying different plants and trees.  We even found a pond with tadpoles in it (and even more importantly, my water magnetised son stayed dry!).   

It was a lovely way to end another good week here at GGHQ which included an afternoon out for Son No1 and I visiting another home educating family.  There is something special about time alone with one of my boys, sometimes it’s not so easy to arrange but we both enjoyed our time together as we travelled, chatting together, laughing about funny things, trying to find solutions to problems and, of course, listening to music.  The afternoon was great in so many ways … I benefited so much from talking with another HE mum who has years of HE experience … we compared notes and talked about things that worked and things that didn’t.  Son No1 loved spending time with lads his age and disappeared off on a quad bike exploring. 

Last week also saw our long-awaited trip to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow for Son No1’s spine MRI.  It was the first MRI experience for any of us and wow, it was noisy!  Unfortunately tics mean that it’s hard for my lad to stay still but he tried really hard and the radiographer was confident that she had managed to get the best images she could.  Now for the long old wait for results … we couldn’t make the original appointment given so the next available is October!  Thankfully we’ve no real concerns about the results, the MRI is more to rule out any problems before making a decision on surgery on my boy’s legs. 

And because I can’t post without mentioning any of the less human members of the household … our chickens are now all laying eggs … in true GG style the white hen lays brown eggs and the brown hen lays white ones!  And Princess Leia is maintaining her disgust at the arrival of chickens, refuses to go into the back garden where they are, preferring instead to spend her time sitting in the plant pot glaring at us … whoever says animals don’t have facial expressions!  She’s going to get a wee fright soon as that pot is ear-marked for the leeks to be planted in!

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!)

 

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! 

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 …