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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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

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 …