|If you like to see pictures I've added them to last nights post now :)|
Today I took the boys swimming and got my last but one pressie - going to wash up tea things and wrap those last pressies now.
I expect tommorrow will be too busy for blogging, so it remains to say - Happy Chrismas Everyone!
Friday, December 23, 2005
Dear Friends & family,
As always my Christmas newsletter is a little late in being written, but hopefully, you’ll get this before the year is out (more likely if it’s coming by email)!
It’s been a very busy year for us - perhaps even more so than most!! To be brief some the main events included Paul studying hard to complete and pass his degree, the birth of a new baby in June, moving house (please note the new address at the top of the page) and then Paul’s appointment as a minister-in training at the Nantwich Elim church, where we have been worshipping since we moved here over 3 years ago now. Then there’s been the college commissioning event, Paul’s graduation, the usual birthdays (Oh, so many of them now!!!), Caleb’s dedication, holidays to visit relatives & Jacob starting state school (more on that in a mo’), etc... Wow! - when I list it all like that it really does seem that so much has happened in one year!
Life is good! As I write all the children (except Caleb, who is sleeping) are playing happily downstairs together - boys on the PS1, girls playing Mums & Dads, just being together & listening to Christmas music - they are great pals really, although I can’t say they never have their spats!! The house is warm and cosy - lit with various festive lights and a beautiful REAL tree in the lounge. In the evenings we have a real-flame gas fire to add to the effect! Everyone feels an excited tingle as we wait eagerly for Christmas day to arrive (. This year the cards are posted (just in time I hope!) and all the presents are bought and wrapped in plenty of time. The food is just now being purchased and stashed way ready for the feast! I LOVE this time of year!! I love watching as the children, year by year, come to understand more of what Christmas is truly all about and this year the added bonus of a pocket advent calendar, filled with the 24 gifts from the Playmobil nativity scene, has added to their anticipation and their understanding. Day-by-day they have watched the scene grow from Mary and the Angel to a busy stable buzzing with animals and people - all waiting for the arrival of the baby. (OK, so I know that's not quite the right order of the story, but you simply have to open Jesus last in an advent calendar!!) The Christmas story never ceases to amaze me and this year I have felt a fresh sense of the wonder of it all - how a tiny helpless baby can be the saviour of the world - and of ME! Holding a baby in my arms again this year has reminded me just how vulnerable our saviour was when He came and yet how mighty a plan God had for Him - and because of the fulfilment of that plan we too can know the God of the universe as our personal saviour, friend and Father. WOW! It’s the same for you & I as it was for Jesus - God has amazing plans for us too! We too are His adopted sons - we share His name and His inheritance!! So all of you have a very Joyful Christmas and Blessed New Year! Anyway - enough preaching..! News....
The children are growing rapidly and are ever more of a challenge to us (
Jacob is an increasingly independent 8½ year old lad. Although he is a lovely, happy boy and generally not naughty, he does continue to be a challenge to us. This year we have decided to look into the possibility that he may suffer from ADHD, or some such similar problem and he is currently being assessed. He has seen a Speech and Language therapist who has confirmed that he has some auditory memory problems (i.e. difficulty retaining information he has only heard and not seen - thus giving him problems when he is instructed to carry out tasks). Although Jacob was learning well at home and excelling academically in most areas, I was struggling to give him the amount of one-on-one attention that he was demanding of me. He was unable to continue in a given task without constantly being distracted away from it or calling for my attention. Given the knowledge that after Christmas Abigail will be joining us in home-school I felt that I would not be able to give either her or Joel enough of my attention if I had to continually give this high level of supervision to Jacob. By the end of each day the constant nagging at Jake and having to ‘sit on his shoulder’ was becoming exhausting and he and I were falling out too often to be healthy to our relationship. It was on this basis that we made the difficult decision to start sending Jacob into State schooling. We hunted around for a school with a good Christian ethos and feel really blessed with the school we have found. It is our nearest CofE aided school that had a place available in Yr4 for Jake and, because it is some distance from our home, he is entitled to free transport to and from ( . There are no other children having transport provided so this turns out to be a door-to-door taxi every day - the height of luxury - the car his driver used the other day had a portable DVD player in the back and he was watching Casper on the way to school! So, no trooping to school in the pouring rain and sitting around in wet clothes all day for him then (that’s how I remember my winter journeys to school)! Not only does he have door-to-door transport, but also the school is only 86 children strong. There are 26 children in Jake’s class (which is Years 3&4 combined) with a full-time teacher, a full time classroom assistant, a reading assistant twice a week and another special needs assistant who is there for one little girl, but who is present in the classroom full-time too. There is a strong Christian ethos and Jacob is VERY happy there. Although he is not really learning much that is new to him (most of the English grammar and Maths he covered a long time ago and finds too easy), he is being provided with other opportunities that he is enjoying; like more Art, PE of a different sort (dance at the moment, which he loves) and school outings (one to a farm and one to Manchester Museum as part of the class’s study of Egypt. Isn’t it typical that they are covering Egypt when we spent a whole term on it at home last year, but hey-ho, at least he feels clever and knowledgeable and he is able to share his knowledge with the others and add to it also. He even took in his ‘lapbook’ to show, which the teachers were all suitably impressed with ( ). As the academics were not the reason he was sent, it doesn’t bother me too much that he’s not really learning much at the moment, but I am pleased with our decision because it has made such a definite difference to the relationship I have with him. (
On a different note, Jake continues to excel in sport. He’s about to complete Level 10 of the ASA swimming scheme, which means his lessons soon come to an end. A conversation with his teacher last week confirmed what I have always thought - that he is VERY fast (he was lapping the 11yr old girls in his class)!! She called me over and recommended to me that if he wanted to swim in competitions (which he does) he shouldn’t join the local Nantwich Swimming club, but the Crewe Flyers, as his level of swimming is exceptional for his age and this is the better local club (like a Premiere division team as apposed to a 3rd division)! ( Obviously, this will mean big commitment on his part and on ours, but we are thinking it is probably worth a shot! We would hate to deny him an opportunity when he obviously has talent!
Joel seems to also be growing up very fast - 7 already and in Yr2 (or would be). This photo was taken this week with him acting Joseph in the church nativity play (“The Bossy King”). He is as cheeky as always, with the added stroppiness that 7yr old lads seem to have - something to do with hormone surges so I’m told! He is a fine and avid reader and a keen learner, so long as it’s not maths or doesn’t involve too much writing, both of which he is pretty good at but doesn’t love (typical boy)!
He is a bright button and still very fond of his hugs and cuddles! He too is doing well in his swimming (now on Level 5), but for him it is more of a necessary than a joy. His loves in life seem to be his sisters (he adores them even though he’s pretty mean to them at times!), his best mate Dominic, cars, books, football and computer games! He’s not bad a footy and he also plays tennis and enjoys it. He has potential... (
Abigail has now officially left her playgroup days behind her and joins us at the ‘Wellyboots Home-school’ at the start of term. She is five in February and boy do I know it! She is great; fun-loving, caring and very imaginative, but she too can be a handful in her own way (can’t they all). Sometimes when she has been at home on school days she has wanted to join in and she has simply devoured whatever work I give her to do. She can’t get enough of writing and will do pages and pages of the same letter just to practice getting it right. She has recently mastered writing her name in a legible form! She writes stories (well dictates them anyway) and colours everything that she is allowed to. She likes to spend lots of time on the computer and that is helping her learn her letter sounds & other concepts too. All that before she even starts school for real! She joins in project work on occasions too and we are in the middle of a ‘body project’ at the moment. She loves cutting, sticking, drawing and painting, etc.. Besides learning, her other favourite pastimes include playing Mums and Dads with Joel &Phoebe (all day everyday and in every situation!) and playing with her Playmobil and Barbies. She loves her Ballet too.
Yes - she (Phoebe) is as beautiful and cheeky as she looks! She is the quietist of the bunch so far, but has a very determined little character. She too has a zeal for learning and an apparent flair for art (in a 4 yr old way). Her colouring is gorgeous. She takes great care over the things she does and has an eye for detail. She loves all things girly - dolls, Mums & Dad’s, Barbies, ballet (which she is pretty good at considering she has only done one term). She loves nothing better than to be dressed in a twirly dress and do spins (I remember that feeling!!)
Elisheva is a total two year old, with all that comes with the age. She is funny and determined, stroppy and gorgeous, clever and daft all in the same breath!! I love having a toddler in the house - she’s the one that keeps me laughing I think, although at times the whining can get a bit much! She really is a treasure! (
Favourite pastimes are most definatly playing with Playmobil people (in the boys ship-wrecked pirate ship) and her ‘babies.’ Her make believe play is quite developed and she chatters away in the voices of all the characters in her game as she plays - comes of having so many older siblings I guess.
Caleb is six months already and quite a little character. ( He loves to be around the others and hates to be alone. He chatters, shouts and laughs and when he’s not teething he’s great fun. I think he will be quite a lively little man as he grows. He reminds me very much of Jake as a baby. He’s sitting well now and his favourite time of day is probably bath time - he loves the water!
Paul completed his studies in May and graduated in November. He attained a 2.1 for his degree and now is Mr P. Hampton BA (Hons)! In September, he joined the team here at Nantwich Elim Church as one of the Ministers (in training). He also currently works 20hours a week for Teletech - answering the phone to people calling with VAT and customs queries and putting them on the right people to help them. The rest of the time he’s a pastor! His heart is to see a real heart needy people touched by the love of Jesus. He is looking to start some kind of evangelistic activities on Friday and Saturday evenings in the town square when people are coming out of the pubs and clubs - yes even our small rural town has them!
As for me, I continue as Mum to six small(ish) children and home-educator too. Life is a rich blend of pleasure, pride, joy, laughter & exhaustion! Couple this with my now added role of being a ‘pastors wife’ - hmmm - not quite sure I’m doing much in that role as yet, but I know it’s around the corner and I do recognise that it is now a responsibility I have!
I enjoy my down-time in the evening fiddling on the computer and as one of the products of this I designed the new church website (which you can look at if you are getting this by email by clicking on the church name above, or check out http://www.nantwichelimchurch.org/ ( ) and have become the newsletter editor for the church too. I spend too many hours surfing the net for ‘stuff’ to use for school, but it has cut down the costs of buying curriculum for the children - there are so many resources out there!!
So, that’s us really. Not exactly in a nutshell and Paul tells me off for saying so much when all you really want is a brief catch up, but I figure as most of you only hear from us once a year there simply is a lot to say - especially in a year as eventful as this has been for us.
Just a couple of little added extras! In the summer, we took a short holiday down south to visit family & various friends, and to celebrate with my Nan at her surprise 80th birthday party (sadly, a ray of sunlight caught my camera’s memory card and wiped all the wonderful pictures I had taken ( ). It’s always a slightly nightmarish experience to travel on a train with 6 children, but it was worth it and we had a lovely holiday. It was fantastic to catch up people, and particularly to renew some long-standing friendships. It’s simply lovely to realise again just how much you value those friendships and people. Moreover, on that note I’d like to say to all of you who we too often neglect in the busyness of our lives - you are valued, you are in our thoughts and you are in our prayers. We are constantly thankful for your continued support, love and friendship -even if we don’t seem as though we are!
Well, I think that’s about it now, as I’m sure you’re bored with reading! But if you’re thinking of us at any time here are few pointers for your prayers (
• That Paul’s ministry would grow. That his ‘vision’ would become a reality and that he would be an effective evangelist! And coupled with that, that our church would be an effective & relevant witness for Jesus in the local community.
• That God would continue to meet our needs as a family as He has so faithfully done these last four years.
• That Jacob would continue to flourish at school and that he would enjoy it (.
• That our home schooling of the other children would continue to go well.
• For Paul’s grandparents (Ron and Joyce) who are now in their 80’s and increasingly frail. In March they are hoping to move into a McCarthy and stone flat nearer to Paul’s parents which will make it easier for everyone. Pray that all goes well concerning this.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Well with Jacob at school and the girls at playgroup life is ticking along and school is going well. Joel is an often reluctant, but very capable learner and although at times it takes a bit of effort to get him started at a task he can usually stick at it till it’s done and do a reasonable job - sometimes he even finds he enjoys it in the end! ( A maths exercise that would have taken Jake at least 3 hours, just took Joel 40 minutes. He was sure it was going to take him at least 2 hours (I think that comes of having seen it take Jake that long), but once he got going he was fine. It wasn’t 100% correct but that doesn’t actually bother me - I’ d rather he have a go and learn from his errors than be so worried about making them that it takes him forever,
Phoebe had a bit of a wobbly this morning (not unusual at the moment) about going to playgroup. She does sometimes and I don’t know why because she is very happy there and enjoys it actually - painting, sticking, etc…much more than I do with her at home, but she really is a home-bird. Strange thing is though; she is the one who has been saying that she wants to go to ‘big school’ like Jacob. I know that she would be very unhappy in reality and probably wouldn’t last 5 minutes there. She is so much more introverted than any of the others. Anyhow she went and had a nice day, but I am dreading after Christmas when she will be going on her own – only 2½ more weeks before Boo leaves playgroup…I’m counting down - I am so going to know I have her at home!
Abbie seems to be suddenly ready to learn and today at playgroup she traced over the letters of ‘snowman’. It was really neat and legible. Apparently she wasn’t willing to try and copy the letters without the under-print, but she’s defiantly making some rapid progress. Next step is to try and get her to actually recognise some of those letters and know their sounds I guess - that could take a little longer!! The days when she is at home I simply can’t seem to fill her up - she’ll have to slow down a ouch though or I’ll run out of resources (if that is possible I have SO many downloaded now, but to use them all would be paper costly!) I am not going to make any formal attempt to teach her to read until after September (she will be 5¾ by then and should be more than ready, if she hasn’t started to do it by herself already!). Just now we are going to work on some basic maths concepts - shapes, (she still doesn’t know a rectangle and a triangle) numerical order, heavy/light - that kind of thing (using Singapore EarlyBird) and on her pencil grip (which is really not bad), getting her name more legible, cutting skills, sticking, gluing, making, drawing (all of which she loves and is quite good at for her age IMO () also on initial sounds of words (we play” I Spy…” a lot for that - using letter sounds instead of names. It worked really well for the boys). Hopefully that will keep us busy for a bit!
Anyway I’ll post this and let Jake get on the computer. He wants to play Cluefinders. (