Saturday, August 30, 2008

Spending Too Much Money...

A car, a tent & a holiday (albeit short), car-tax and now school-books - OUCH!! I hope we don't have to move too soon now because I've spent the money we set aside. It mostly went on the tent and the long weekend, but the books have been pretty expensive too. I had to buy a whole curriculum for Yr 7, but a few bits to keep Phoebe going and a couple of top up bits for Boo. Joel has 'on-going' books and I haven't bought anything for Els either as I think I have all I need to get her through Rec' year. I don't plan on being very intense with her. She is a very natural learner - and a very verbal one, so I'm hoping she will just absorb what all the others are doing and I will drip feed her phonics a bit and she needs to learn her numbers, but that'll be it. I need to think about Caleb though - whether I try to get him some extra mornings at playgroup or find him more constructive things to do at home. He spends far too much time screaming at us at the moment - with either frustration, or boredom, or both. Even when we set him to a game it often only lasts a very short time, but if he does get stuck in he will start screaming if his playmate (whoever that happens to be) has to leave him for any reason. It's very hard to handle. Today the neighbour paid me a visit because she was in the garden having a cup of tea and was worried when she heard C screaming "help me, help me!" - he was trying to take a kitchen stool into the garden and when Boef helped him he screamed because he wanted it back inside!! We can't win with him and consequently try to ignore the screaming as much as we can. I know some would say that attention to it would cure it, but I'm not so sure - he just changes what he is screaming about! Others would say ignore it and he will learn it doesn't work - to which I say - "really?" In all honesty neither method works really well. What we do do is try to encourage him to 'talk nicely & sensibly' about what he wants instead of screaming in the first instance. It's a long haul though - Jake was very much the same and now at 11 he still reacts this way sometimes, but on the whole he more reasonable these days. So, only 8 years to go!!

Other than that it's been a bit boring round here. Time spent drying out the tent (it's taken days!) and find a home for it + all the other 'stuff' we have acquired for camping all of a sudden. Sorting out school-drawers x 2 today. Got another 3 to do yet. Boys went to tennis today - a knock about session. Another week of hols and then time to knuckle down again. It's going to be tough getting the kids back into routine I think this year. Need to do some serious planning next week.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Just a Little Test..

Just testing a little FF extension.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Camping & Conversation...

So we headed off to The Lakes for the weekend and in summary we had a lovely time. It was a bit expensive to buy a tent and some of the other stuff we needed, but we had money set aside for a move which is now not imminently happening, so we used about 2/3rds of that. Not sure we entirely pitched the tent correctly (esp' at the front), but the main bit was right enough and it was stable enough to stand up to a fair amount of wind and rain. :) I've decided P needs to do the heavy work and I need to do the pegging out in future as he is far too laid back about it. FIrstly he didn't bang the pegs down far enough for my liking (I smacked them right down hard), or have enough tension in the guys to be of much use in high-winds ( I sorted that out too) and then he decided it would be fine to leave one back corner a bit baggy as he could not find somewhere to put the peg that wasn't rocky (we were a bit squeezed between a 'track' and a craggy bit). I was too tired to try myself by then so I left it too - big mistake!! Our first night was still, calm and dry and in fact I awoke to this outside;

Our second night was a bit different. The weather forecast was in fact spot on - sunny with showers towards evening. It began to ran just as our car came into view after our walk and continued through the night then. About 1am I woke up feeling a little damp and discovered things were only likely to get worse. We had a 'river' running under our inner tent. Natty - in between P & I was already pretty soggy, but sleeping soundly regardless (fortunately it wasn't cold). P at this point was still dry! We moved N onto a drier spot and contemplated what to do... Decided to sit tight in whatever dryness we could and keep warm till morning - and that is what we did. By morning, the duvet we were sleeping on was a soggy mess (we didn't have enough camping mats and the shop we got the tent from had sold out), as was the dressing gown I had put down for extra warmth under me AND the towel I had shoved under the inner tent to absorb some of the river! So we heaved out all the wet stuff, got into dry things ourselves and mopped everything out. Miraculously the problem was only in our section of the tent and a little had run down under the carpet, but had pooled at the bottom and wasn't much of a problem. The kids bits were the bits I had pegged out - and they were bone dry - thankfully, or else we might have had to cut short by a day. Instead we decided to go and buy 2 more mats and two sleeping bags for P & me - which we duly did (more money!!) Then back at base I pegged out the corner of the tent that P 'couldn't', nice and tightly - peg fitting snugly UNDER the rock and down into the ground. Night three - despite much rain - was dry inside :)

The tent was a palace and invoked several "that's what we need" comments from passers-by :) Stacks of room for frugal camping with 8 of us in. We only just got what we took in the car and if we build up our 'kit' we will need to get a trailer or a top-box I think. The kids couldn't move in the car - which is fine while they are small enough to stuff things under their feet and legs, but not so much as they get bigger. Need to work out how to pitch out the front of the tent and the front ground sheet better though - Michelle? Probably being on a fairly interesting slope didn't help a great deal - but did make sliding around on the carpet inside kinda fun for the kids. More like an indoor playground!!

Aside from the actual camping side of things (which for us as a family is all new and exciting, but probably boring for you old-hands!).

Friday evening we went and had a late tea (once we got pitched and sorted) of Fish & Chips. Despite a late night, kids rose early (like 6ish) oon Saturday, which forced me to get up for a wee and I was so glad I did. The scenery and the sunrise was amazing! I decided to stay up and have a quiet wander looking for a shower block. I did find one - just one - down at the back of the farm house, but in the end we never used it (I know - minging, but hey! we were camping!!). After a make-shift breakfast of toast cooked in a dry frying pan and dry chocolatey squares (no milk), we headed of to Haverthwaite Railway. This was very reasonably priced too, as under 5's go free (which meant 3 of ours!) and the family ticket was 2A+3K's @ £14.80. The kids really enjoyed it, but when we got to Lakeside they seriously pestered to go on a boat, or into the Aquarium (neither of which we could afford this weekend). We had lunch and headed back on the train.

Then we took a very pretty drive through Grizedale Forest, up to Hawkshead (which is supposedly very pretty), but it was very busy and three kiddies were asleep by the time we got there. We thought maybe we would go and take a look at Beatrix Potter's cottage over at Nr Sawrey, but it too was heaving (thanks to the film apparently), with bookings more than an hour in advance! It was another £15 to get in, so we gave it a miss - this time - and promised it to the kids for another time. Instead we drove back down to Thwaite Head Village (SE Lakes OS 1:25 - 349,906) and took an walk for about an hour and a half through some pretty woods, up to the edge of Grizedale. It was a bit muddy mind and at one point this was the puddle we had to negotiate :)

Abs had found a fantastic stick, which was a great help, but I broke it by putting too much weight on it to get through a muddy spot! She was so cool about it though.

Sunday, we went to church at Lakeland Christian Centre, which meets in a local primary school. It was very friendly and significantly more 'full' than WCC, but somehow did not quite fit with us. There were plenty of children there though. Next lunch and then a troop up School Knot. Joel has been nagging to do this walk since Jake told him about it the first time we went up. It was a lovely sunny day and it is a lovely walk. Going up there are lots of little craggy outcrops to clamber around on and scramble up and coming back down there are lots of little streams to play around in - and why stay dry when getting wet is an option!

When we got changed back into our Crocs at the bottom (boy do they feel good when you take walking boots off!) we decided to pop in one of the guys from WCC, who we sensed was a little unsettled by the decision that was reached. So went and watched the swans by the lake and the kids played 'tig' while P went and checked the bank balance. Then we nipped up to M's for a cuppa - and as it turned out eats in the end. Then we were joined by L (also from WCC) and M's neighbour with her two little girls - who coincidentally we had met at church that morning. It was lovely! The kids played on M's Wii for the evening while we chatted and ate and had a giggle :) It really was a positive evening and we eventually went back to the tent about 10pm! That night the kids slept in - like we didn't plan that!

It rained all night and into the morning. So we packed up the tent in the wet (which is a pain because it means we have to find somewhere big to pitch it to dry) and decided to make our way home. We were out of cash anyway - only just enough left for lunch and BK on route. It took us an hour to get to Lancaster services and then after eats it took us about 3 hours to get home - nose to tail the whole way near enough. But the kids were good (not!) and we made it home in one piece.

Today I have spent washing, washing and...washing - oh and washing up - with a little interlude to write this!!
And now I'm off to do more of the same.

Sleepy Head!

Somehow we just knew he'd had enough!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And the Verdict is…

…Well, for those of you who have been following our story…a decision was made today about who Windermere Community Church were going to accept as their pastor - and it didn't go in our favour L. So Paul doesn't get to be pastor of WCC and we have to take a step back and consider what we do now. We still believe we are called to Windermere - but we need to be sure that's not just us and our wishful thinking. So the plan is to go up to Windy this weekend (minus one child for transport reasons) and 'take stock' - attend a different church (one we would likely think about going to if we were still going to church plant) and also take a stop-off in Kendal, as this might be an alternative destination.

We are very sad and disappointed and are struggling to reconcile ourselves to this decision, as we had allowed ourselves to become very attached to the little family there. We have to keep a clear head now whilst trying to think through the future. It is very strange that the only place I truly feel at peace is there in The Lakes - it's like home to me, although I have never lived there. They say that 'home is where your heart is' and my heart has been there for many years now. If not now, I know that one day my prayers will be answered and I will get to go 'home' - I just hope that I am not too old and fat to enjoy it by then!!

Our other alternative to church planting is to go on the 'stationing list' and see where we end up…

Whatever we decide to do, we know it is time to move on from here. I am beginning to feel bored and stale. I need a new challenge - and Paul feels similar - which is good J

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Keeping Busy...

I find the best way to keep the kids from bickering is to keep them busy, but that usually means spending money...sigh...
Today we had to visit the dentist late morning, so after we were given the all-clear (smiles all round) we went into town for some lunch - not a cheap affair with 7 kiddies! Then we walked up to Stapeley Water Gardens (Jake's idea) and spent a couple of hours in The Palms. It's a reasonably cheap place to go as it only cost me £20 for me and seven kids to get in (N was free + I had a voucher for one other). Natty toddled around most of the time and thoroughly seemed to enjoy the fish, although he has not been himself the last couple of days. He is off his food, which is so unlike him, and I think he might be teething as he is just little more grizzly than usual. The highlight was probably the bay meerkat (very cute) and the spiders seemed to hold their interest today as well. Personally I love the lizards - I would SO love a lizard! I've always wanted one since I was a kid, but P says no :( The kids seemed quite keen on the idea of doing the stick insect thing though, so we might give that ago next year.
P met us and we had a look at some of the tents on sale. We liked the look of some of the big Outwell tents - any thoughts? They are a bit pricey, but we are thinking family hols for years to come so might be worth investing, IF we can raise the cash!
Kids were wiped by then so P ferried us home in 'the bus' and the boys pedalled home as they had made their way ahead of me on their bikes (tee-hee - it was raining & I got a ride!!).
Now going tent browsing online :)
Photos to follow - only they are phone pics as I forgot my camera, so they likely won't be that good.


I can't take credit for these last two shots - thanks Nic - I love em!

Lookin' cool dude!


a wellyboot
Originally uploaded by nicgee

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This seems to be the holiday for milestones…

First Nat learns to walk and then Phoebe learns to ride a bike J Yup - today she did it. She has been asking to try for ages and it only took her and Paul all of 1/2 hour to get her sorted. So we all piled over the park for some practice. Boo needed some practice too because although she has been able to ride for a while she is too scared of falling off and has never really learnt to stop and start. Today the girls both got themselves going and riding and stopping. I might need to do a few more sessions in the park with them before they are ready for street riding, but I was really pleased with them both J. So four down - three to go! Now Els is asking to learn, but I'm not sure she is quite ready yet…

Friday, August 15, 2008

And We Did It All!

oday went according to plan and was very lovely! Paul & I awoke late (about 9) as P doesn't work on Fridays and came down to find the children watching Cheaper By the Dozen 2 (they watched No.1 yesterday morning). Later found out they had also watched The Wild this morning, so I have no idea what time they all got up, but hey, they left us be J. So once they had all eaten a rather late breakfast, and got themselves sorted out we headed off to the sweet shoppe. P said he would get the bits I needed in Morrisons, for which I was grateful as the thought of Morrisons and 7 kids does not thrill me! I also picked up my new glasses while we were in town, which Big J took great pride in telling everyone he picked for me - all credit to him, he did and they look nice - we think! Also made Joel an appointment while we were there as he needs new glasses after standing on his (ho-hum)!

Mission accomplished in town and children happily chomping of sweeties, we wandered along the river to the park. Paul had agreed to meet us there so we spent a lovely hour or so just playing around there. The boys managed to fight even whilst playing football though! Natty has really discovered his feet and was all over the park - walk,plop,side-step, walk, plop, etc… He was quite comical to watch, but even funnier was his experiment with the roundabout. He decided to stand in the middle to begin with, but then got sillier and sillier and was trying to crawl around and kept lying down on his back, then his front, then trying to walk around on it and you could see the amused puzzlement in his face when he simply could not find his balance, or control his movements. It really was very funny, but maybe you had to be there!

After the park Paul had a pastoral visit to do, so back at home with the kids we had lunch and then embarked on our cooking session. I was grateful that not all the children wanted to take part. Little J wanted to play on the 'puter for a bit (he is not into 'messy' - art, cooking - not really his thing!), El's went to play busily upstairs and N & C crashed out. Boo went off to best friend R's to play. That just left me with two mini-chefs to work with. Big J was the one who really wanted to learn to make cheesecake, so I encouraged him to follow the recipe. He did pretty well, but I had bought enough to make two - one with cream cheese (how P likes it) and one with Cottage Cheese (how I like it), J made one and P and I made the other alongside. It's great because there is no cooking involved, so they can safely make it without me now - at least that is the theory! I loved their faces when I held a bowl of double cream upside down over their heads J Phoebe said "that's magic!"

Once the cheesecakes were in the fridge, Big J went off to join Little J at the 'puter and Boeph (pronounced 'Beef' - my nickname for Phoebe : Phoebe = Boephe = Beefy = Beef!) and I continued baking. We made some choc-choc-chip muffins. I think she was more thrilled about making these than the cheesecake J They too came out very lovely - light and yummy, although not as gorgeously gooey as Katy's (please Katy can you email me that recipe - yours were stunning!). Meanwhile Paul had arrived home and was cutting the grass with the 'assistance' of C!

By the time we were all done it was 4.30pm. The boys were happily playing on Mini-clip, E was still playing upstairs and N was still sleeping. P, Boephe, C and I all veg'ed out watching the Olympic Gymnastics on TV, accompanied by lots of exclamations of amazement from Phoebe J.

I cannot say that, despite this being holiday time, our days have been completely non-educational, especially today…I simply don't seem to be able to stop myself ;-)

I think just lately the world is suddenly 'waking up' in Phoebe's eyes and she is beginning to be 'amazed' by it. Whilst cooking today she was asking me all sorts of interesting food-related questions - intelligent ones that required thoughtful answers. I enjoyed spending those 45 minutes of Muffin cooking time with her. I seldom get chance to just be with her. She is always so busy playing games with her sisters that she seldom wants it. Today made me think that maybe I need to schedule in some cooking time for just me and her (or something else she might enjoy doing). The other thing she was pleased with herself about today was a little 'maths' problem. She knew we had to use 4oz of butter. I told her that the whole pat was 8oz and then asked her how much of the pat we needed to use. She just 'knew' it was half J She hasn't done any multiplication, division or fractions 'in school' yet so I was a little surprised she knew that - and very pleased that she did. It encouraged me to think that at last she seems to be absorbing life around her more than she has seemed to in the past, and that things are beginning to 'make sense' to her now.

Big J, on the other hand, seems to want to avoid learning anything when it's not official school time! He had to find 6oz of butter from a pat. I asked him how much of the pat he had to leave behind. He told me 2oz. This of course was a right answer and I think he thought I was having a laugh asking him, but when I said, " so what 'fraction' of the pat is that?" he tried to duck out of answering me, with… "Oh Mum, do we have to do maths..?" To which I answered - "Yes!" After a couple of seconds more he answered that it was a 1/4 left behind. Later he told me he was thinking about the answer while he was protesting and it wasn't as hard as he thought! I then explained to him that the whole purpose of Maths is to make our lives easier. He is a very 'box' person; Maths in this box, Cooking in that, English in another, Games in another, etc… He would not consider digging into one box to help with another unless it was suggested to him that he might find it useful to do so. So, when I said to him this evening that we do not learn Maths simply just for the sake of being able to do clever things with numbers, but to help us out in 'real life' - you could see the "seriously…is that what it's for? That makes sense!" look on his face. It's scary that my son has got to 11 years old and never realised that Maths is meant to be useful - that it is meant to give us short-cuts and tools for life! Maybe I really do need to de-school him for a while…

So, all-in-all, a happy, successful day. Boeph & E were both heard to say - completely independently of each other - "it's been a lovely day today." I like it when my children say that J - and when they are right!

A snip of Natty toddling!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Off the Path and Back Again!

We are back into 'real life' after a hectic but very enjoyable weekend 'Off The Path' with J&J - and many others (hello everyone J). It was so nice to put faces to names after so many years of reading everyone's blogs. The kids all had a ball and are talking lots about all their new friends. It was lovely to even see E hooking up with a little team of girlies. A seemed to rather enjoy Big's assertiveness and really enjoyed her company. Big J was happy to team up with a 'giggle of girls' and let them do silly things with him. He is such an attention seeker! Anyone have any pictures of him dressed in the pink jumper?! It was so great to be amidst a big crowd of really nice children J And I don't think I have felt as comfortable in a big crowd of people I hardly knew - ever! I haven't laughed quite so much in a while either!

Shame the weather was not so great as the company L Just one night camping was not quite what we had planned. I was just grateful that first night was calm and friendly as when the foul weather hit, our tent was the first tent to go down - and we didn't take it down. Everyone else's at least survived most of the following day, but ours broke in the afternoon. Admittedly it was borrowed and we did not have any instructions on how to put it up, so we had done our best, which might not have quite been good enough! We managed to end up with 3 broken sections of the poles and a very flat tent L. So the rest of our weekend was spent bedding down in J&J's playroom - which was warmer and dryer, but more strain on J&J - sorry guys L

Come Saturday night though we weren't the only ones camping inside - and here is the evidence - can you spot a borrowed child bedded down amongst my crowd?

Gradually the crowds dispersed to the four corners of the country. Paul went home on Sunday evening, but the kids and I stayed on till Tuesday afternoon (when P came back for us).

Monday and Tuesday, Jan and I knuckled down to keeping the kids occupied with crafts and games. So out came the paint, the Hama and numerous board games - all of which were much enjoyed. I like to try new games. It gives me ideas for games to put on the Christmas list…so this year it's Carcassonne, Set, Rummikub and Ticket to Ride (which I didn't play but the kids seemed to enjoy a good deal). Hopefully we can stretch to some or all of these after we have bought Joel's drum kit!!

Another momentous moment was when Natty started walking on Tuesday afternoon! He just let go and walked his first four steps! J I think Katy & Bob's little 'A' was an inspiration to him J

We are all glad to be home now though, and the next day my 7 just flopped around and watched TV & played on computers way too much. Jacobite even took himself to bed at 8.30pm (an hour early) for the last two nights! Boo has been tearful and bored since we got home, but has been spending a bit of time playing on Zoombinis (my new trio arrived - I had to order it because my old Win '98 edition just would NOT run on Vista!). P & E have been quietly occupying themselves upstairs and C & N have both been a bit whingey. Nat however has really found his feet now and is pretty much trying to walk more than crawl, resulting in him getting from lounge to kitchen today (across the hallway) and most of the way across the garden too. Look out world - here he comes!! Jake has spent a fair amount of time creating cartoons on Tuxpaint. And I have spent some time creating things for fun with Sketchup (Google's FREE 3D modelling program - complicated but brilliant!). Jake likes the look of this too and tbh I downloaded it with a view to encouraging his interest in architecture, but it is hard to use until you know how. So I'm teaching myself the basics in order to get him started at least - then I bet he'll get better quicker that me!

Tomorrow I have 'busy' day planned. We are going to go into town to 'Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe' in the morning (holiday treat), nip into Morrisons and pick up a few bits, including ingredients for cheesecake (at Jake's request), go to the park on the way home and kill time till late lunchtime. Then home for lunch, Natty to sleep and then make the cheesecake with the brood. I might even get them to make mini ones. That way they can each pick their own 'topping'. I like mine with tinned mandarins J That should take us up to mid-afternoon. I might get out the Hama after that, or something such like. I started a painting today that I didn't get time to finish, but would like to. I am no artist, but I like to have a go every now and then - just for my own pleasure. Jake is WAY better than me!

Just when I signed up to Twitter updates via SMS - they go and stop them - typical!! LOL

Need to go and write another important email…

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Car Saga

Well we got our baby home safely and apparently she drove nicely all the way. We gave her a general look over and found a few niggly things we wish we had known about, but overall were pleased with our purchase. BUT - at 12.30am she shook the neighbour hood with very loud sounding of her horn. Paul jumped from his slumber to attend her, but the time he was out of bed she was peaceful again. We assumed the rat-cat from across the road had jumped on her or something and settled back to sleep. Next morning she was dead as a Dodo! We were not sure if it was just battery or not, but thought it might be that or the starter motor. P tried to get the battery out that evening, but to no avail as the bolts were in awkward places and he couldn't see well enough by the time he got to it. SO, yesterday morning my friendly mechanic came out and jumped her for me (it was the battery) and advised us to get a new battery as hers was 6 years old and that is twice it's life expectancy. All day she continued to shout at us on and off - warning us loudly that she was dying again. I kept turning her over and that kept her quite for short periods. Finally Paul arrived home with a new battery mid afternoon and fitted her up and she has been happy ever since. To celebrate mobility we took the kids out to MaccyD's for tea (Jake was at a mate's) - something that has not been possible before as the nearest is in Crewe. She started up fine this morning and all looks good. We could have done without the extra £90 of expense, especially as her tax is due at the end of the month, but hey- ho!! The most important thing is we are a more-or-less (me being the 'less') mobile as a whole family now. And, as she is an automatic there is slightly more incentive for me to learn. I kinda' told myself that if ever we had an automatic I might give it another shot. Not sure how I feel about a bus as my first car though..?

Off to bed now - more house cleaning to do tomorrow and then I need to start thinking about stuff to take to J&J's summer party J

Saturday, August 02, 2008

We Just…

…bought THIS car!

Woo-hoo!! And we can nearly all fit in it!!

Looks like I might be catching the train on my own from now on J - peace! Now just remind me why I want to learn to drive..?!

Pick it up over the weekend or Tuesday…just in time for our trip to J&J's

The kids will be SOOO happy!

Our other purchase this week was this;

and it has been in constant use pretty much since. (We already had the slide).

I love summer!!