Friday, October 31, 2008


Paul has an interview in Anniesland, Glasgow. Not sure when it will be yet, but watch this space :) Nothing is certain or set in stone, but it looks like it might be a strong possible.

It's been crazy in my house today. J2 and E each had a friend over and A&P had 2 sisters over to play (A&C). So in all 11 kids for lunch & most of the day - that made short work of a loaf of bread!! Surprisingly it was relatively peaceful - aside from the occasional crash & ride of drums. The children kept themselves very nicely busy. I managed to get on and sort out all my re-usable nappies for storage/sale/freecycle and sort out some fresh toys for N so that he is not so bored in the daytime. It's great bringing out toys I'd almost forgotten we had - a bit like an early Christmas. Hopefully it will help N a little next week, but it serves the dual purpose of helping me know what we could get him for Christmas without doubling up. In all honesty, he doesn't need anything and last year everyone put money in the bank for him I have then spent it over the year on odd things here and there that he has needed or I have thought he'd enjoy. But this year I think he will want to be opening stuff like everyone else, so I don't think we will get away with that again. I'm going to try and make sure that whatever I buy he can use for a good long time (value for money), or it's cheap and chearful and will 'break and bin' quickly enough to not add to our ever increasing ,mountain of 'stuff' (and then I'll put his real present in the bank!!).

I haven't been to bed before 3am all week - really trying to get the house straight and sorted even if it's not very clean. At least if its tidier it's easier to clean and it looks better generally. Problem is I am now pretty exhausted and getting grouchy, so when I walk into the girls room, after spending an entire day tidying it on Tuesday and a bit on Wednesday too, and find sooo much stuff out and bits spread everywhere again (due to have 3 extra girls playing in there I guess) it does make my heart sink a little :( It would have recovered fine if the girls had then continued on to put everything back away in it's right places - being that everything now has a new and better organised space to be in - but No! I go up to find, having been told they had finished tidying, bits scattered around, books and make-up stuffed under cupboards, things in the dressing up that simply are not (towel, nightdress), things just dumped on the nearest available surface through lack of thought where it should properly go, etc... Would you guess what I did?... Yup! I blew my top big time. I was SOOO mad with them. I am 'this' close to getting rid of everything and cancelling Christmas presents. If they continue to show so little respect for their things, or the time and energy I have put in over the last couple of days to improve things in their room for them then I might just do it. My guess they wouldn't let it happen again!!

Oh well, tomorrow is another day - I hope they will do better. I think I might make it a 'homework' day as they all have bits they need to do before school next week; Spanish practice, spellings, unfinished poster (A), unfinished Maths & History (JA). That will keep them busy and stop them making so much mess - maybe ;-)

It is a good time to be sorting though. I am managing to find things for the shoe box appeal parcels that my Mum does every year, for selling on Ebay to raise cash for Christmas, and to generally get rid of by whatever means so that there at least a little less to take with us when we do eventually move. Tbh - I am dreading it. We are going to need two big lorries I think - we have sooo much stuff! And sooo much furniture to contain it and us! But if it is organised before we start trying to pack hopefully it will go some way to making the whole thing less stressfull (c'mon, you've got to let me deream a little)!!

The Previa has a bid on it for £150 with 11 watchers, so it's sold at least this time (second listing), but I hope the bidding will go up a little bit.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Suddenly Things Got a Whole Lot Louder!

Today JI got his new 'Kit' - a set of brand-new (reduced price) Arbiter Flat's on a rack. He was absolutely thrilled (understatement of the year) as he didn't know they were coming! Neither did I actually - I was expecting them tomorrow! They came without instructions (nightmare!) so J2 and I spent the whole afternoon figuring out how they went together; what drum went where and how! Victory at last and here is Daddy just adding the finishing touches, tightening things and tuning up! J couldn't even stay off them for a minute while we fitted the last floor tom in place! (Notice the shorts!!) I am very impressed with his playing - he is completely self taught so far!

It must be the week for new things! We were given a couple of Bonde (Ikea) bookcases yesterday - resulting in me spending the entire day sorting and resorting the girls' room, to make room for the shelves and then to organise the toys into them somehow. Sadly the boxes the girls currently have (poppered cardboard ones) don't fit, so I need to go and buy some that do - now do I get the these from Ikea, or do I get Trofast ones (also Ikea) so that they are multi-functional (but slightly smaller), or do I see what I can pick up cheap else where that will 'do the job'... hmmm...dilemma! I know what I'd like to do, but money is an consideration! Whatever, the shelves have made such an immediate difference in their room - I can't tell you how happy I am :-)

Then lastly, on Friday we pick up our new car... how nervous am I about that! I so hope and pray we've made a better purchase this time. We are all out of cash now and we have a birthday less than a month away (E will be 5) and Christmas only 56 days away!

At least Joel's Christmas is already done and dusted - although I'm not too sure how he will cope with that on Christmas morning. I might have to tie a ribbon on the kit just to remind him! Or, we might buy him a proper stool to go with it at a little extra cost, just so he gets something. These look nice and I think they would do the job well for him. I feel an Ikea trip coming on!! A wants Sylvanian Families sets, as does P, so that's easy but not cheap! They have agreed to sell their Playmobil Grand-Mansion (3 years old now) because they really don't play with it much. It is huge and takes up loads of space. They will use the money for SF stuff, so that will help. JA inherits the mesh-head drum kit (it was half his anyway), but the cymbals are broken to bits and one of the heads is torn, however, he hardly ever plays it; it's not really his thing. So, he has agreed to sell what's still good, probably as separate bit; the good heads, and the stands, and use the money for whatever he would like new. I'm hoping this way the kids will feel they have new things without us spending too much money this year - after-all, the car is for us all! P wants a decent music system for the car (not sure what it's got yet though) and I'm looking at this one on ebay - and in a way we will all enjoy that too. I would like a GPS so we can start treasure-hunting - it's not for me alone - honest! Not sure what to get C & N yet, but might invest in some Mellisa and Doug toys, if I can get hold of them (I have a shopping list!!).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lets Try Again!

Following the disastrous episode with the Previa, which I am now selling on Ebay (3 watchers so hopefully will go tomorrow) for as much as I can get for it, we are trying again, but this time we have bought a 9 seater Tourneo. Paul is going down to Gt Yarmouth to collect and pay for it on Friday and staying over with some friends in Kings Lynn. It'll be good for him to catch up with them too as we haven't seen them in WAY too long.

It's very scary buying another car from Ebay, but is really our only choice with the money we had (our savings) and the fact that we are unable to get credit (past history) and therefore finance is not an option - not that we want it anyway. We would rather not have debt hanging over our heads these days. God willing this will be a great car for us and as it has been 6 monthly MOT'd I can't see why it wouldn't be. We won't have any money left for repairs for a while so I pray it doesn't go wrong or need anything at all until we have built up a little fund for it - which is what we have to do.

It'll be lovely to travel as a whole family and will save the added expense of me and train fares. The added bonus for us is the roof rack
of course :) That was something we were thinking we might have to add for our camping trips anyway, so we are saved that expense. No tow bar, so, unless we had one fitted, a trailer is not an option, but we will wait and see how much we can pack into the bus itself! We have hired a Tourneo before (about 6 years ago my Mum drove us to Chester Zoo for the day) and it was a comfortable drive with lots of boot space, so I'm hoping for many happy holidays in this one. P says it will be a little odd to go back to manual again, but he has been using Mum's car this last week so I think he is back in the swing of it. Shame it's not an auto though - I was more keen to learn with the Previa because it was. Maybe I will just stick to letting P do the ferrying and I will stick to walking with the kids when I need to. I have no desire to drive really and the thought of driving a bus, well, it's just a bit too much for me!

On another note (and probably more important in many ways)...
JI turned 10 on Friday! It wasn't the most exciting BD for him because he didn't get much in the way of pressies. He wants a drum kit, so the deal was that all his BD and Christmas money would go towards getting one. As we don't have all the money in yet and what with the car... we didn't have the money to put up front for a kit before Christmas (as we had hoped to) :( He is mad into Gogos atm, so his day was made with a gogos sticker book and several packs of the same from various corners of his world + a 'Stig sticker book' that Paul got him as a little something to open. He was chuffed with that so generally happy enough and then today P took him and his 3 best 'mates' to see High School Musical 3 followed by a MacDonalds. So he's a satisfied lad, although the sooner the drums are purchased the better in his eyes - of course!

On my part - I can't believe I have two sons in double figures already! Where did that time go?! before I blink N will be 10 too - and I will be grey (although thankfully no signs of that yet)!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blog to Blog…

Not blogged for a few day because life's not been that exciting really! Today was not that exciting either, but thought I'd blog anyway J

The day started well and having Mum here for a couple of weeks (her school is on half-term already) means I get an extra 45 minutes in my day when I don't have to collect C, as she does it in the car for me . Everyone seemed to work fairly well today and we got quite a lot done, although somehow I think Jake managed to get away with a couple of bits of incomplete work (hmmm). I spent some time working with E today because I somehow felt there was more time to do so. We began by learning the letter 'n'. Last week we covered 's', 'a' and 't' - which she seems to be remembering ok if she visualises the pictures that went with them - especially the 't'. She apparently knows the letter 'i' (which I didn't realise) and today she actually sounded out s-i-t and read it as 'sit' - her first real read word!! YEAH!! Tomorrow we cover 'i' (which, as I said, she seems to already know), so we might do 'p' as well and put six letters under her belt to practice on over half-term week. These are great letters to springboard reading from too as so many CVC words can be made with them - watch this space.

My other strong desire atm is to have E recognising the numbers 1-10. She has 1-5 down flat - no trouble there, but 6-10 she seems totally stumped on. I'm really not sure why, but she cannot move on with number work in any way really until she can at least verbally label and receptively recognise these numbers. She had done a workbook page on the No.9; writing, drawing objects, colouring, counting were all included in the page, but immediately after the book was shut she had no recollection of what number we had been working on! So I got out the flash cards. I'm not one for 'drill' tactics on the whole - can't think of anything more boring, but the softly, softly is simply not sticking with her and I think that short, sharp shock might work better in this instance. I laid out 6 (as she seems to have almost got this one sorted) and 8 (because she likes the 'train-track' clue on this one) and got her to repeat them over and over. Then I called out a number and she had to point to the right one and say it as she did so. When I thought she had it sorted I added in 6 and then she forgot the lot! After 20 minutes we stopped. By then she was befuddled and we weren't gaining any ground anyway. It was very frustrating, to see her apparently know a number one minute and completely not know it the next. She was tearful too and said it was too hard L ! I don't want her to hate school, so I tried to explain to her as best I could, why it is so important that she try to learn these numbers.

Later in the evening P - with his special-needs skills - had a go at teaching her too. Admittedly he was a whole lot more adept at it than me and seemed to make it more fun for her (she was giggling instead of looking glum - how does he manage that?!), but he didn't actually do anything very different to what I had done (I must have learnt some techniques from him along the years J) and he came across the same hurdles as I did: she came away just as confused by those numbers as she had done earlier. So I think over these next two weeks we are going to have to FLOOD her with 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 - and HOPE that she gets it! Scary to think that she would actually be learning 13-20 right now, were she at school! Bright as she is, she would already be getting left behind - or riding on the backs of her friends' understanding!

She is definitely going to be linguistic I think - and tbh has very little interest in numbers (maybe why she isn't learning them easily). I guess she sees no reason to learn them just yet, whereas she sees a point in learning her letters - she desperately wants to be able to write stuff down. That was her little achievement today; a piece of slightly more than emergent writing. She wrote n - E - i - i - S - e on a piece of paper - really big and a bit giggledy-piggledy, but none the less the letters were all formed correctly and she could tell me what letters she had written when I asked her. She asked me what she had written. Now, I have read Peggy Kaye's 'Games for Writing' and I know this is an important stage - it was her first 'story' - her first real attempt at writing her very own word! I told her she had almost written 'nise' (spelt wrongly I know), but she also like the sound of the 'neeeice' - what's the betting she makes up her own meaning for it too because that's the kind of thing she would do that none of my others would have thought of doing. In fact I don't recall any of my others going through this stage at all - I hope I didn't just fail to notice it L.

The day was rounded off by a game of King Size Uno (only ours is jungle animals). C played this too and He and E really enjoyed it. C won 4 times out of 5 and the last two times I didn't even really help him pick his cards. He could match the colours, and with a little prompting the numbers - he even knew when to play a 'colour pick' card. I was VERY impressed with him. He seemed to understand it almost as fast as E and certainly his concentration was more sustained. E got silly towards the end and stopped really thinking about what she was doing. She did manage to win one game though (phew!). I think that may be coming out again tomorrow J.

On the subject of C - he is learning his numbers too - and may just learn to recognise them before E does at the rate he is going! He knows 1, 2 and 3 consistently already J. C has a real keenness to learn stuff; numbers, letters, colours, shapes - anything! He is asking lots of questions now (including 'why?' !!) and seemingly taking in the answers quite well. So as long as his language can keep up with his inquisitiveness he will be fine!

If any of you are wondering what is happening about us moving - we are making enquiries, but we are not at liberty to reveal any info atm!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Car Update

Quintessentially our car is done for L . It turns out that the head gasket has gone and on Previa of this age it's a very major repair that will cost us over £400 to have done, so that just about makes it not worth our while as we are pretty certain there will be other things go wrong with it before too long. Maybe that's us being pessimistic, but it has cost us a lot of money already since we bought it and we do feel like the person who sold it to us knew what was on the cards, but c'est la vie - stuff happens I guess!! So now we have to decide what to do next. We think we are going to try to sell it for however much we can get for it - spares, repairs or scrap! Then we might cash in our savings to get us back on the road, but that will leave us with no reserves anywhere, so that's a little scary - and our savings really aren't that much anyway. It's a dilemma!

School's been good this week, but I'll blog that tomorrow maybe.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Past, Present and hacked off!!

Well that is a weekend not to be repeated in a hurry - and it seems it's not over yet!

It all started off well with a trip over to QE Country Park, but it rained and was pretty cold, so the picnic was had in the cars L. Then a visit to Paul's Gt. Grandad was a nice occasion and gave him chance to meet Natty, who he has never met (we don't go down south very often). We topped this off with a quick stop at Hayling Island beach, but it was wet and wild, so really only the boys enjoyed that! On the way home from there the car started to play up - it stalled and being an automatic we thought was not a good sign! It then stalled repeatedly every time we slowed down and was VERY reluctant to restart each time - which totalled about 9 times by the time we got back up the hill to M&D's. By now there was smoke coming out from it and it smelt awful! On investigation there was NO engine coolant left (which we filled up before our last trip to the lakes) and v.little oil (which we topped up in the lakes). As P poured in the coolant it drank it up and by the time we had eaten tea it was empty again, as was the water tank. P put more water in and it disappeared instantly so he suspected a leak - and yes, as he poured water in it came out the bottom of the car! We hoped it might be just the hose, or a valve, but when the RAC man came out he thought we needed a new radiator. This meant the car was out of action for our trip to the other side of the water that evening for the reunion. Kindly Dad offered to ferry us to and fro, but it meant a rather late night for him too! So, anyway, yesterday morning our bus was towed to a garage and yes - the RAC man was right - a new radiator was needed and cost us an "ouch" amount of money! Still better (maybe) than being towed all the way home and me ferrying kids back on the train. BUT - there were also 'recommendations' - the garage heard noises in the gearbox and back axle when they did the road test - a bit worrying! Apparently the car then struggled to start when P came to leave Portsmouth, so he didn't stop until he got home (3.5 hours flat)! And guess what … this morning it clunked nastily and started NOT! Something tells me it's going to cost us a lot more money yet - which would be fine if we had some & if we didn't have two birthdays just before Christmas!! Sigh! We'll see what my friendly mechanic says in the morning…

The reunion itself, was kind of surreal. It was nice to meet up with a few people and interesting to see how others have and haven't changed. One person I had really hoped would be there hadn't arrived by the time we left at about 12.30am, so I figured she likely wouldn't after that. It was nice to find out that I was apparently a positive influence on a couple of people and also that I managed to conceal my unhappiness rather well! Odd to know too, that people you rub shoulders with day by day do not necessarily perceive you, or even themselves, in the same way you do. Generally it was a positive evening, but it had it's sadness about it. Sad to see how many people had perpetuated the cycle of a 'make-do' life and still carry their 'can't be bothered' attitude from school into adulthood. One conversation was quite enlightening. One with someone I wasn't close to at school, but chatted to a little now and then. She was saying how she saw me as clever and thought I would do a lot with my life, and how she never really thought she would because she wasn't clever enough. She was sporty and a dancer, but not clever (her words not mine). In actual fact, she was not unintelligent and her sister has done very well for herself. I chatted to her about the fact that intelligence was not always so much to do with attainment as 'drive' and 'determination' - of which I had plenty; motivated by not wanting to be stuck in the rut that was my life to that point. She chatted about emigrating and starting again in NZ, but that her eldest child did not want to and in all honesty she 'couldn't be bothered' - she was in inadvertently saying that she was content with her lot. Now, I see nothing wrong in that at all - being content is a good thing, if it is true content - but if it is underscored with a quiet discontent and longing for greater purpose and/or happiness, then that is a sad thing. I guess if you 'can't be bothered' to change things that means that it cannot bother you enough - and that is where so many of my school'mates' seemed to still be at. Others had moved on and made something of themselves to be proud of, which was lovely to see and hear about J.

Aside from the car going wrong & it being too wet for any real time on the beach (which all the kids had hoped for) a number of other things worked together to make the weekend less than lovely; Nat came down with Chickenpox, which is good in most ways, but meant he was a bit feverish, clingy and grumpy for the most part - and contagious!, M&D's back door sprung a leek, their toilet blocked twice, their electricity tripped when the roast was cooking on Sunday - delaying tea because nobody realised for a little while, Jake confused the shower and it wouldn't turn off!, and other annoying little oddities that just made the whole thing rather stressful. So much for a relaxing weekend - and then my train was almost 40mins delayed coming home last night, making my journey almost 6 hours long! I was wiped, but P and I got home within minutes of each other, so we joined forces to get the kids back to sleep (it was 10pm and they were asleep in the car), but N woke up too much on transfer and took ages to settle back off. Then I had to make up our bed as I'd washed the sheets before we left - too much energy - I crashed straight in it once it was done!

Back to school today - made more eventful by the non-starting of the car this morning and the alternative transport arrangements that quickly had to be made to get C to playgroup, i.e. re-fitting P's bike with a child seat that hasn't been on in ages and peddling there as swift as the wind so that P could carry on and get to work in time! The children were all slightly weary, but the day went OK. But to top everything off - I have started my 'monthly' a whole week early - I never do that!! Oh well - things can only get better, or so the saying goes!!

Just to cheer you up I've uploaded some piccies of the better bits on Saturday :)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Blog At last…

You won't believe me if I tell you I have been trying to get time enough to write my blog for three whole days! And even now I'm writing it with a wailing baby grabbing at my arm! I'm a bit cheesed off actually. It just seems that everyone wants/needs my time and then some, and I haven't had any to myself this last week or so. It's been a non-book week which is supposedly meant to be a rest for me, but in actual fact has been anything but. We've done some fun stuff, but somehow even that has been tinted with stress. We are going away this weekend for my 20yr school-leavers re-union. Right now I should probably be sorting clothes for the smalls' suitcases, washing up a very messy kitchen and tidying the house so that it's respectable to come home to. The bigs have all just arrived home from club and C is begging for someone to do his Tot-Book with him. N is grizzling - having just napped on my lap for the last half hour when I sat down to write my blog - but then couldn't because I didn't have two hands to type with and it's too frustratingly slow to do with one! But I AM going to blog if it kills me!! I'd have done it last night if it weren't for a lengthy phone-call, evening having coffee with a friend till gone 11, and then P wanted to spend some time with me too - I didn't even get last nights washing up done! I have been ploughing through the washing for the last two days, so as to not leave any dirty pants lurking in our absence and so that P & I have enough clean clothes to wear over the weekend! Not sure it will all get put away though L.

Anyway - grumble over - lets see how much I can type before the next person comes calling for my time!

Monday: On Monday afternoon Caleb brought home with an activity to make a Christmas card to be printed and raise funds for the playgroup. So we all did that and enjoyed it. The results were quite good too J. I guess I had better invest in buying the cards now, as the kids put the effort in!

Tuesday: Did some Spanish in the afternoon - learning the alphabet and spelling out place names and our names. This was quite hard, but as Spanish is so phonetic once they have grasped it and the basics of the grammar they will be away. Reading and writing it is pretty easy when you have the building blocks - there are so many less broken rules than there are in English J. The only thing that spoilt this activity was my children's expectations of themselves. They had to listen to some place names and write down as best they could how they thought they were spelt, then the same thing with some people's names and where they lived. I thought this would be fun, but they got a bit muddled and lost - and despite my reassurances this brought tears and frustration - esp' from JI. He and A basically expected themselves to be able to get it all right when they had only been introduced to the alphabet in Spanish half and hour before! When I pointed out that they still spell words wrong in English and they've known our phonetics for a really long time it made more sense to them, but still came the echoes of 'this is too hard, I can't do it…!' Anyway - once everyone calmed down (me included - I get so irritated by whinging and whining) we moved on through the exercise and Jake had done very well. P is not expected to do the writing, but she does listen in on the whole lesson so I'm hoping she will learn by osmosis, if not it will all be very 'familiar' to her when she does it officially later on. The fab' thing is listening to C. repeating Spanish with us - numbers, letters, words - he says them with more clarity than some English words!! He also learns some through Poissonrouge (and French) and I think he might speak Spanish as well as the rest of them by the time he is about 7! E is not really interested and is rarely around when we are doing Spanish, but as the older children learn more of it and use it more generally I'm hoping she will begin to pick some up, if not she can learn it when she's older if she wants to.

Wednesday : We all decided together that we would go for a walk, but as we were getting ourselves together the heavens opened and it poured down with rain. So we didn't go any where - much to C's disappointment (boots at the ready!). Instead we stayed home and Hama'd which made for a peaceful and successful morning. The afternoon was filled with a visit by a HE friend of mine (S) with three of her children (d9, s7 & d1), which was lovely J. Her little 1yod (B) was quite 'loving' towards N, who had just woken up and not quite ready for it! Once he gathered his senses he was quite 'strong' keeping his distance!! LOL. S & I nattered happily for a few hours, until she suddenly realised she had to run for her train home!

Thursday (today): We worked on our Astronomy project this morning and made a pin-hole viewing box - all we need now is an eclipse to observe!! We also did a visual illustration of how eclipses work with a torch, a globe and a ping-pong ball. That worked well too. After lunch I read almost to the end of The Arctic Tern - which has been quite gripping and the kids are keen to know the end now J. It is not easy reading to them all though - they kick, elbow, whisper to, and generally pester each other the whole time, coupled with C's constant brumming of cars around the room (at various volumes depending on the number of seconds since I last asked him to "sssh!") and E's inability to be quiet and listen for more than a minute at a time. She came down to listen clad in a princess dress, but only lasted a few sentences before she started to chatter away to herself again. At which point I asked her either chatter to herself somewhere else, or listen to the story. She stayed another minute or two, but soon left the room in preference for her own little world.

Somehow, despite this all sounding lovely & idyllic, it has been peppered with stress and irritation; kids not clearing up after themselves, older boys fighting, arguing and generally being horrid to each other - and me feeling pretty horrid towards them because of it, arguments over incomplete work from the previous week needing to be finished, far too much back chat and disobedience, screaming and running around the house (which is the inevitable result of wetter weather L), mess everywhere, not listening to seemingly anything I say unless I YELL, chores not being done when I ask or in a reasonable amount of time - and now it seems spitting!! Match that with a baby who has discovered how to climb into my bed, so that we are disturbed in the night (about 3am the last couple of nights), but I'm hoping this is only because he seems to be a bit 'under-the-weather' these last few days (teething I think and a temp') and he will go back to full night's sleep when he is feeling better. I feel SOOO tense and am really, really looking forward to nearly the whole day on a train by myself tomorrow (5hours) going down to Portsmouth, with nothing more than my book and my music - BLISS! J.

OK - not sure why it's was soooo important to me to blog tonight, but sometimes I just need to write 'stuff' down and I won't be able to get on the computer over the weekend I bet. P's dad is very possessive over his PC and doesn't like us surfing much. Oddly though, he likes to send 'chain' emails with silly ditties on which quite honestly irritate me and always worry me, that they might come laden with nasties!

Have a good weekend everyone J.