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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Mad about the boy …

A wee update on Son No1’s surgery.

An early morning alarm call woke Son No1 (and Mr GG & I) for breakfast before fasting began. If I’m honest, I think I was more apprehensive about dealing with the fasting than the surgery itself! It’s no mean feat keeping an ever-hungry, ever-growing teenager out of the kitchen.


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Grandpa and Grandma GG arrived at 10 to take Son Nos 2&3 off out for a day at the zoo (the joys of home education meant that this was a ‘day off’ for everyone!) and we set off for the hospital.

Hospital was mobbed! The waiting area was packed out and noisy which immediately cranked the anxiety up another notch or two … what if we don’t hear our name being called? It’s irrational I know, but I’ll always be a bit of a worrier!

img_4184Eventually we heard Son No1 being called … phew … and off we toddled to a wee room where he had to put his pjs on, get temperature, weight & blood pressure checked. Lastly some numbing cream was applied to his hands … apparently that was the worst part … so far!

Due to the busy-ness of the hospital Son No1 couldn’t get a bed on the ward until after surgery so we were back in the waiting room to wait … list began at 1pm and was done in age order so we were expecting a long wait.

Over the next couple of hours we saw the anaesthetist who talked Son No1 through the difference between using a drip or gas for going to sleep. We also saw the surgeon once again who reassured us he would definitely operate on both legs and, thankfully, gave us an idea of the time we could expect surgery to begin.

Eventually we were called for theatre … I was able to stay with Son No1 until he was asleep which was great. He opted for the drip (with a little encouragement from me!) but two attempts to insert the img_4183cannula failed so he had to have gas. There is something eerie about watching your child clutching a mask to his face and slowly drifting off to sleep … I can’t say I liked it!

Once my lad was asleep my nerves left me (although still kicking about as since then I tried to spell ‘failed’ with a ‘ph’, ‘cannula’ with one ‘n’ and ‘eerie’ with a ‘y’) and I felt incredibly calm until we neared the time to expect Son No1 back from theatre, then the time seemed to drag … so … terribly … slowly.

Finally we got word that Son No1 was in recovery and we went to wait in the room he’d been allocated. A very quiet, woozy boy was wheeled in, struggling to keep his eyes open and shivering in that horrible uncontrollable way that seems to happen after general anaesthesia. He rallied enough to give a couple of hugs then drifted off into a deep sleep so I took the opportunity to leave my boy and Mr GG and go home to relieve the GG grandparents from their duties.

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When I got back to the hospital the next morning a bright, sparkly, hungry boy met me with two new casts on his legs … he opted for the brightest yellow I’d ever seen which, given the weather warnings we’ve had lately is probably a good idea … he will never get lost!

Shortly after I arrived Son No1’s transport for the next six weeks was delivered and he practised transferring from bed to chair and back again.  All went well and, just like that, he was discharged!

There aren’t words for how proud I am of my lad.  I am completely in awe of him.  In the, little over, 48 hours since surgery he’s not complained once.  He’s mentioned a couple of times that he’s sore which is to be expected but no complaints at all.  It’s no mean feat for a teenager who’s been relatively independent to suddenly be dependent upon his parents for pretty much everything once again.  He has to bear Mr GG lifting him and out of our car as it’s too high for him to shimmy across using his arms.  He has to put up with my somewhat clumsy attempts at wheelchair pushing and I’m sorry to admit that, already, I’ve bumped him into a wall and squashed his foot in a door … I’m hoping practice makes perfect!

The next six weeks are going to be tough.  A real lesson in patience.  There is to be absolutely no weight-bearing until the casts are removed in early March and then the real hard work begins as my boy learns to walk properly for the first time.  We’re all adapting to this temporarily different way of life.  Our plans to have Son No1 pretty much living downstairs fell to pieces when his chair wouldn’t fit into our downstairs bathroom so he’s confined to living upstairs most of the time for just now and seems to be relishing the opportunity of having me, Mr GG and Son Nos 2&3 at his beck and call. 

For anyone, let alone a young person who has a diagnosis of autism and ADHD, Son No1 has coped brilliantly … so brilliantly that I’m tentatively scouting around the internet trying to find something to add to his collection of retro games consoles … he’s getting suspicious because of all my questions about them though … I’ve no idea where to look.

So, that’s us for now.  Academic work has been limited to just two days this week to give Mr GG and I time to recover and get our heads around everything as well as allowing Son No1 time to adjust.  The next two days won’t be taxing workwise but enough to get him into a bit of a routine again and let him see just how well he can adapt.  

Lastly, if you see a luminous-yellow-legged boy in a wheelchair being pushed erratically along a pavement by a wild haired crazy woman then give us a wave before you jump out of the way … we’d love to say hello!

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 … 

 

 

Top of the World

In previous years as the school holidays ended I’ve had a horrible empty feeling as I prepared the boys for going back to school.  I always grudged giving up so much time with my sons, especially when deep down I thought I could be doing more for them.  This year has been the polar opposite!  I was really excited about starting Home Education once more.  There was no school uniform shopping and, even better, NO SCHOOL SHOE SHOPPING!  Instead Mr GG and I were preparing workbooks and sorting out work areas for the boys.  Our return to HE was delayed by a week due to a very inconvenient bug deciding to knock my family down one by one but we’ve all rallied and work successfully began on Monday.

There aren’t really words for how proud I am of these three boys.  They’ve taken to the new curriculum so well.  They’re enjoying getting out for a mid-morning walk to stretch our legs and get some fresh air before getting stuck back into the rest of the day’s work. 

We’ve still several wee kinks to iron out.  Last year we tended to keep Fridays free for trips and things.  This year I’d love to do the same but, for the first few weeks at least, I’m planning that we work a bit more until we all (including me) get used to the new set up.   

 IMG_2110As a mum of three I find it hard sometimes to get one to one time with the boys.  Yes, I spend time with them at home but there’s always noise and interruptions … time alone, time to chat, time to laugh and just spend time together … that can be hard.  So, I’ve decided to take advantage of the days Mr GG works from home and take the opportunity to go out with one of the boys a week.  This week it was Son No3 … we went to a local garden centre (he wants a Venus Flytrap) and had snack there.  It was a real treat … for me at least!

 The latest Tinker Crate arrived a couple of weeks ago … it’s so hard not to push my way in and take over, they look so much fun.  This one was a glowing pendulum … so clever!  Son No3 really enjoyed building it and was fascinated with how it worked.  Great box!  We’ve still got a mechanical bird to build but when we started it the blueprint was missing … a wee email to the company got that sorted quickly enough but we’ve just not had the opportunity to build it yet.  I wonder what will be next!

 

 

Not content with allowing us a week to focus on HE, there’s been drama in the chicken coop … Minnie the Minx has gone broody.  She’s, mostly, a happy broody chook but she growls if Ivy or Beryl go near here when she’s sitting on the eggs she’s gathered.  I have to admit, though, it gives me the fear when she stares at me as move her to get the eggs from under her … fortunately Mr GG is usually here to do it for me!  I’m really hoping the broodiness doesn’t last too long … but maybe if she or one of the others is Attachment-1broody next year I’ll be able to persuade Mr GG to let us get some fertilised eggs for her to sit on.  To be fair, she’s not too bad … once we turf her out of the nesting box and gather the eggs we close the coop to stop the temptation for her to go back in and carry on nesting (on nothing) … she’s quite happy to potter about as usual during the day and when the coop is opened again late afternoon/early evening she doesn’t rush straight back in. 

 So, the first week of our first full academic year is over.  We’ve all survived.  We’re all smiling.  We’re all happy with how the week has gone.  We’re all VERY glad it’s the weekend!  For now though, I’m sitting back with a chocolate chip cookie and a cuppa, enjoying listening to the (generally) happy chatter as the boys play and discuss some new game that Son No1 has just bought. 

Until next week folks …

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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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 …

I’m so excited …

… and I just can’t hide it

In the past six months two of my long held dreams have come true.  How great is that!

The first dream was beginning our home education journey back in January … and I’ll talk more about that in a wee minute or two.  The second dream, oh, I can’t believe it’s finally happening is this:

Mr GG has been working for the past wee while on building a fabulous chicken run … it was his birthday present to me and now, today, our birthday presents from my parents have arrived and are scratching around inside it.  Already, within a couple of hours their personalities are shining through and we’ve had many laughs at their antics already. 

IMG_1413Beryl the Peril is the noisy one so far – apparently she lays pinky/brown eggs.  She’s, naturally, a bit wary of us but has beautiful feathers and fluffs herself up now and again, I think, to make us think she’s scary!  She can’t bear anyone to do something without her so if Minnie the Minx flies up to the roof of the chicken coop, she’s right there too

IMG_1442Ivy the Terrible is in the inquisitive one and has explored all around the run – she lays brown eggs.  So far, Ivy is the only one who has allowed me to touch her … so currently she’s my favourite!  She seems to be quite placid and likes to sit and watch what’s going on around her.   She also seems to have cottoned on to the idea that she goes into the coop at night … she takes herself off into the coop and then pops her head out as if to hurry us along!

 IMG_1416Minnie the Minx lays cream eggs but, sadly, not Cadburys – Minnie is the most timid so far and spent most of the afternoon hiding under the coop when any of us ventured into the run.   Minnie & Beryl seem to be teaming up and tootling about together.  It’ll all be fun and games trying to catch those two to put in the coop tonight … hoping Mr GG will be here to help!

I love that, as a home educating family, everything we do can be made into a learning opportunity.  Our new chickens are providing endless sources of learning, right from before they even arrived today.  Our youngest GG helped his Dad with building the run … he’s a practical lad, has lots of imagination and regularly comes up with ‘inventions’ of his own.  Son No1 is doing a course with a local university on chicken welfare and behaviour (I think I’ve told you that before … blame old age … my sons do!).

One of the things that I’ve found hardest about our journey into home education (HE) is holidays!  Now, anyone that knows me knows that when the Junior GGs were in school I was continually counting down to the next holiday … and why not … my boys are fantastic company, they keep me amused and, well, we enjoy learning things and getting out together.  Family time is special … not necessarily calm or harmonic but definitely special.

However, any mother (or probably parent … but I can’t talk for dads) knows that no matter what you do someone has an opinion … and if you don’t fit into one of societies perceived ‘norms’ then often folks feel obliged to offer their thoughts.  Our journey into HE has been littered with masses of advice … some of the advice from those who already HE has been invaluable whereas some, from those who’ve no experience of HE has been, well, not very helpful.  Yes, I do know how old my sons are (child birth is not an experience to quickly forget!), I do know that how important education is (precisely why we’ve removed them from school!) and no, my sons are not going to suffer socially from being out of the school setting.  That’s just for all the doubters out there, haha!

Anyway, I’ve digressed into a moan … I was talking about our problem with holidays.  We have a decision to make … do we follow the school timetable and stick to holidays when schools have holidays or do we take holidays at the times that suit us?  Guess what we’re thinking of?  Yep, we’re going to do our own thing.  At present, we’re working along the guidelines that if the boys get all their targets met in a week then Friday is a free day for us to chill, or go our somewhere, or just enjoy doing whatever we fancy.  We will have holidays planned but if we can see that the boys are tiring or losing motivation we can take an additional holiday.  Love it!  After all, most days the boys are like this:

But we know it’s time to take a day out when they are so tired they start looking like this:

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In every way the flexibility of HE is wonderful!  If a day is sunny in the morning we can take advantage of that and turn our day upsidedown … after all, sunny days can be few and far between so why not take advantage of them when they arise!  Work can always be done later in the day … we have no school hours … if we want to work in the evenings then, that’s what we’ll do.  Good times!

Can you tell I’m happy with my dreams coming true?  I’m thinking maybe a smallholding is next … I’d love some sheep and maybe even a pig … shh don’t tell Mr GG ….