what we’re enjoying this week, 2

What we’re enjoying this week….

Kittens! Our adorable 8 week old kittens are going to their new homes this weekend. The last few weeks, they have been in prime cuteness and we love having them around….they provide comfort and entertainment for us all. I’ve taken a couple of snaps to remember them by.

The Menu!

Since moving house, we have implemented a 3 week rolling household food menu. It is transforming our family life. No lie. Less complaints, less grumbling, more eating. Because they know what’s coming. And we are saving a lot of money because I just order what we need for the week and its delivered to us. We can just pop to the local farm shop for more fruit, milk etc as required (giving the kids a chance to use money and exercise some choice in a quieter shop). We have an empty slot on a Saturday tea time where the kids eat up any leftovers from the week and we either join them or treat ourselves to a take-away/dine-in meal after they’ve gone to bed. In all honesty, we’re yet to achieve the take-away as their bedtime is going on for ages at the moment, but we’re trying for tonight!

We had a lovely afternoon playing Post Office. I was in my element making tax disks, stamps and magazines to stock up the shop! Everyone joined in, it was role play heaven.

I’ve taken up storytelling on car journeys. Previously, this would be some relatively relaxing time, except when they’re arguing, where we listened to music and I would try and be lost in my thoughts. But I’ve been inspired to tell more stories and I thought car journeys would be a good time. So all this week on the journeys to and from the holiday club they’ve been to, I have told The Marvellous Adventures of Mavis and Barney. I make it up as I go along which I find quite hard work. So I’ve been trying to plan the next chapter beforehand and if I get really stuck for ideas, I ask the kids. They love it, are engrossed in the story and attentive to any detail I may forget! So, the story so far….Mavis is a dynamic older lady with a dog called Barney and they love to go on holiday. At the moment, they’re in Spain (after forgetting their tickets and having to go back home for them) where they have had adventures with Pirates, a golden Gromit statue in the woods, eaten in the purple picnic room, and are now daily visiting Bob the thief who stole their passports. Bob has become a friend of Jesus while in prison and is sharing his new joy with Mavis! I think perhaps these adventures may go on for some years! I must record the summary of each chapter before I forget… I really am not a natural storyteller. I find it difficult to think aloud, so if I can do it, anyone can. The older two keep asking me to tell them more stories and they particularly like stories that could be about children like them. They have lots of ideas. It’s fascinating to hear how the imagined crosses over with their reality.

We have taken away (or hidden) all screens….tv and iPads. Our kids seem to default so quickly to the tv if they can’t immediately think of what to do. The constant battle with how much the tv is on drives me crazy, so I find it easier to just remove it. We’re having a weekly film afternoon and the kids have done well to wait for it this week (well, they’ve been forced to). As the week has gone on, their requests to watch something have become a lot less frequent and I have LOVED watching their creative play. The role play stories they come up with are awesome and it’s so nice for these to be uninterrupted by the tv. It does create for more mess though, but we’re good at ‘blitzing’ the house at the end of the day now.

So, onto another week, I’m looking forward to new things beginning this week and the world seeming a little quieter with schools starting again. Have a great bank holiday weekend whatever you’re doing.

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in the beginning

As September approaches and everyone else, it seems, gets ready to go back to school, I have mixed emotions about this new journey of ours. I’m mostly very glad to have all my children at home with me every day…I enjoy their company and love watching them play together. There are also many stressful moments with fights and disputes and falls and everyone talking at once! But my capacity is always growing and I know these moments pass before too long….

Don’t you love that September new-pencil-case feeling?! It always feels like a fresh start, a new day, a new year to me.

As well as this excitement, I have a background sense of ‘alertness’, shall we say! Matt and I have talked and talked about home-ed. We’re totally sure it’s the best decision for now, but it’s hard to completely ignore the question about whether our children are missing out on something…..both in terms of what children learn in the classroom and of being part of the community of school.

So, in case you’re interested, here’s what we are bearing in mind at the beginning of this journey….

  • Home-ed is a way of life which doesn’t need to fit into the Monday-Friday, 9-3, term-time pattern of school. We have 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year to play with – and can pace ourselves. Matt can use Saturdays to do building and gardening projects with the kids while I can have a film afternoon with them one afternoon a week. The freedom we have during the day can mean there’s not so much pressure on the ‘after-school’ time so the kids can join activity groups a plenty, without it making us too busy.
  • We use everyday opportunities for learning and can to some extend be guided by what they’re interested in. The kids are loving the Clifton Suspension Bridge near our new house. They’ve walked across it, drawn pictures of it, learned about its structure and Matt is planning a little building project inspired by it! We can write letters to friends and family, use money in shops, read recipes and measure ingredients….and of course continue our enjoyment of books and stories. I have more ideas than we have time for at the moment!
  • There is a big network of people home-educating and so loads of groups and activities to join in with. So far, I’ve found groups learning singing and drumming, forest-school skills, multi-sports, gymnastics, pottery, drama and lots of social meet-ups. These will help to fill our time, enjoy learning new things as well as provide friendship opportunities for us all. And there is a lot of support out there for me (including from the local council) when I want help, information or reassurance about our home curriculum!
I’ll let you know how we get on! For now, here’s a taste of what I left Matt and the kids doing when I left this morning to come to Starbucks and write my blog (Me Time!) 🙂 

sorry…

I’m realising that my children have a lot to teach me about reconciliation…I’ve always wanted to teach them to say ‘sorry’ and have asked them to do this, as appropriate. I know it’s important for them to hear me say sorry and apologise to them when I need to. I find myself apologising regularly for being cross and cranky or a ‘stress head’ …..but we can’t force repentance, which is more a state of the heart. I don’t think I can teach them to feel sorry, even if I can ask them to say it (and sometimes they refuse!)

But when they’re left alone, often they reconcile in their own way. They might not say sorry but draw a picture or offer a gift instead. Usually, no words of reconciliation are exchanged, but they just begin to play together again, offering forgiveness. And they forgive much more than we give them credit for. I’m sure if my friend, spouse or sibling shouted something awful in my face, I would not be ready to forgive them quite so quickly!

It’s tricky to work out when to intervene or not….like so much of parenting!

I can be impatient with their fights and arguments. Its not enjoyable listening to the awful way they can speak to and treat each other! And my own emotions at the time (dealing with disappointment, anger and a loss of control!) usually lead me to shout, which makes the whole thing worse! I expect it all to be resolved too quickly because I want to move on and have happy times together. Without intervention, they will eventually forgive each other and play together again. But I find that intervention is usually necessary! 

I need to remind myself of the importance of all this working out of relationships. Plenty of adults, including myself, struggle to resolve conflict in a healthy way. We can either bottle it up, allowing resentment to build up, or inappropriately explode at others…some call these hedgehogs and bulls (do you relate more to one?) 

I will serve my children well if I help them to resolve conflict…..treating others with love, being free to express their emotions and also learning to forgive and move on.

Relating to this, I’m thinking about how my husband and I model this. I recently read a good article in the Guardian Family section, by Tim Lott (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/05/showing-emotion-front-children) encouraging us to allow our children to see more of our adult disputes. He reasoned that we’re not setting them up so well for life if we hide all our arguments. It’s unrealistic for a couple not to have disputes, the trick is to learn how to deal with these fairly and lovingly. And how else do we learn this except by copying each other? Matt and I are both ‘hedgehogs’ but, over 11 years of marriage, we have learned to voice our hurts and troubles to each other. We still get it wrong of course but when I think back to the early days of our marriage, I realise we have come miles! 

what we’re enjoying this week, 1

What we’re enjoying this week….

Digging up the neglected vegetable patch in our garden….not sure what we can plant at this time of year, but getting the patch ready is a start…

…and the things we find while digging….we now have a pet worm!

Painting. The kids each have a small watercolour set and a huge pad of paper and we are exploring paints a lot. I’m finding this so relaxing and want to paint my own ideas but I’m usually called upon to ‘paint a cake’ or ‘paint a bus’! The warm dry weather makes it easier to paint in the garden. It really is eden mess!

We were able to watch some hot air balloons take off this week….the kids didn’t understand why we couldn’t join the passengers, but I am happy to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground!

Headstands. My daughter in particular spends at least half her life upside down at the moment! She can hold a headstand for ages and seems to have incredible core strength (I think she gets it from me ;-))

stretch

I wasn’t surprised that my children showed an interest in an old and very beautiful Chess set that I put on display when we moved house. It had been hidden away in a cupboard for a long time so they hadn’t seen it before. I was, however, surprised by my own sudden burst of energy to try teaching them how to play. I honestly thought it would be too difficult for them to grasp and have been pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm for the game. It’s the latest craze in our family, with several games happening each day. Matt had to correct some of the ‘rules’ I had taught them, and also has introduced me to a few rules I never knew about…..Did you know that if a pawn makes it over to the other side, it can become a Queen? And she is a versatile lady!

I’m sure playing Chess is doing wonders for these growing minds…not just remembering what each piece can do but planning and strategy. I enjoyed playing with Matt yesterday and trying to actually win, rather than trying not to win when playing with the kids (I made a huge error of judgement when I beat one of them for the first time, thinking they were in the mood to cope with it!!)

There are plenty of websites telling you how to play if you can’t remember either! Enjoy…..