Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Work-Boxes, Bees and Seriously Warm!!

Today was the first try out of our new work-box system for real. Yesterday I had a little try of it with C and he really seemed to enjoy it - eager to move on to the next number, but still making a decent attempt at all of the activites. Today the others were having none of it - they all wanted me to fill up their boxes and get cracking on it. It did seem to work really well today. There are bits that need some fine tuning admittedly, but on the whole it was met with enthusiasm, a general understanding of the idea and a good attitude. Not quite all the activities got completed but that was mainly because we didn't start on the dot of 9 and we needed to finish on the dot of 3.30 to get the girls to their drama group :D
I'll post up some links to the system another time. In our home it has required a little modification, but it think this will work OK - it did today ;)

On the way home from drama Boo spotted something on the ground in the undergrowth and asked what it was. On closer inspection it was this;
I think it's honey bees - correct me if I'm wrong! That'll be one to keep an eye on over the summer for more reasons than one!

Later in the evening R came over for a couple of hours and this is what ensued... It was scorching hot, yet sticky and humid here with spatterings of rain on and off all day. This was good way to cool off before tea and bed :D

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I'm busy updating my 365 blog these next couple of days and coupling that with getting the new work-box system hopefully up and running for a trial run before summer break. So take yourself over and have a look at my piccies - comments always welcome :D

Human Body Lapbook

Check out the pictures :D We completed this just before we moved.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

School in Alternative Forms…

Sometimes life just haps upon your path and great things happen. Today we needed to get access to the room where the swallows were nesting (to install a TV point) and to our pleasure the babies had fledged this morning, only into the room instead of outside. So when we entered they were a little disturbed by us and we were worried the babies would hurt themselves flying into the windows. Fortunately the aerial man was a bird watcher (how excited was he to find four little newly fledged baby swallows sitting on the door of the room!) and knew exactly what to do :D With a little tuition from him, Joel was able to capture four little ones and release them outside, followed not far behind by mum swallow. I was so glad Joel had learnt how, as just a bit after the TV man left, Joel decided to investigate the loft of the room (boys will be boys!!) and out flew another baby (stunning itself on the window for a moment or two). He knew exactly how to catch and release it and this afforded all the other children the opportunity of a tiny little stroke of its head whilst Joel was holding it - and me a photo op!! :D We now have two families of swallows swooping around our yard (and pooping everywhere)!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Today in brief…

J1 - Bible study, reading (for English), drawing, maths, science & ????

J2 - Bible study, made bird feeder, maths, English, science, spellings


A - Bible study, spellings, maths, did a bit of origami, science, English

P - Bible study, spelling, mental maths, watched me do some origami,

E - worked with the letter j and reviewed the ones we have done so far.

C - pottered about, danced to some music, played on Reader Rabbit & Alphabet express.

Natty - did more wees on the loo!! Enjoyed the dancing :D

We are getting there - just in time for summer holidays ;D !!

Another lovely thing we saw this morning was a family of swallows fledging the nest from the outbuilding next to us. We saw the mother literally teaching them to fly around our yard :D It was a beautiful thing to witness. There is another nest in there of about four babies who are yet to fly, but they are out of the nest, so maybe in the next day or so we will see it again. I don’t know if swallows return to the nest after flight or whether they are gone now.

This is the family yet to fly;


The End of and Era

As Natty has turned two, so he has also come out of nappies and, without any more children on the horizon (although I’m not promising there never will be of course) so heralds the end of an era - no more nappies in the Hampton house (except for the packet that is reserved for night-time use for the next week or so - hopefully he’ll go 24-7 dry). It seems odd to be considering how/if I am going to try and redeem some of the money I have spent on very many re-usable nappies in varying forms, some of which are barely used, if at all.They  can’t be sold on Ebay these days and I’ve never had much success anywhere else…anyone interested let me know and I’ll tell you what I’ve got (I may post up some pictures anyway). Odder still is the concept that my potentially last baby is now officially not a baby any longer, he is now a little lad in pants - not that he hasn’t in reality been a lad for some time in attitude! As he moves swiftly through toddler hood - a stage that I simply adore, a time of discovery, rapid development both physically and mentally, a time of exploration and innocence that has not yet moved into whining and constant ‘why’ questions, a time when independence and with that defiance are beginning to rear their heads, but are still quite easily diffused and manipulated, a stage that bridges between baby (dependent, snuggly and small) and child (independent and characterful), as he moves on from here I know I wlll quietly mourn the thought of never having a toddler in my home (actually brings tears to my eyes to think it). In my heart I really feel Natty has made my family complete - my perfect balance of boys and girls, my perfect 7 - and that I won’t have and don’t really want any more. I’m not sure, organised and relaxed as others think I am, that my patience or parenting would withstand the strain of another. I love my children, would not want to be without a single one of them and would exchange them for none, but I’m not sure I want to add another into the mix! All that said, if God were to choose to bless us with another we would embrace and love the child and I know I would cope, because I’d have to, but I would really like to do more than just ‘cope’. I actually feel that just now I am beginning to be a point where I am enjoying my children (more of the time than I was) and I don’t want to go back to less than that. So, much as I shed a tear about the thought of never having another child growing in my womb, or suckling at my breast, or toddling around in a nappy/bare bum, making silly faces at me just to make me laugh, plunging to the ground in mortal despair at the word ‘no’, and all those other lovely trade marks of baby and toddlehood - the deep heart truth is I do want more of it and love it and crave it, the REALITY truth is I don’t - and in case you hadn’t spotted it yet, this is our biggest ‘without child’ space we have had our whole married lives!


Sail on little Natty boat - sail on til’ manhood!

May your journey be safe and your seas be calm.

May the tiller of God’s word steer you straight.

May the distant shores of Heaven shine bright in your eyes.

May the wind of Praise be strong in your sail

May your anchor of Love be fast and true.

Sail on little Natty boat,

Sail on to manhood!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

An Eventful Month, or so…

Landlords - as hinted we have had a little hassle in this department. Our old landlords have decided that we are not going to get ANY of our deposit back because they have had to spend too much getting the house back to rentable standard. We asked for a break down of the costs and lets just say, there are a quite a few things we would contend. That said he is a lawyer and as the ‘upgrade’ is now done and it would be our word against theirs, I don’t think we really stand much chance! Looking at the inventory of the condition of certain things when we moved in we would contend that we were to blame (beyond reasonable wear and tear over almost 4 years) for excessive damage. A number of things we would not take great issue with except for to say that they did not give us a CHANCE to get the house & carpets to a standard we would have liked to hand them back in. They were literally moving in as we were moving out - which we felt was a bit much really. They even had the nerve to put down £40 in ‘cleaning substances’!! The most we are left with is the ability to right a letter in our defense and see what comes of it, which I suspect will not be much :(

Weekend in Lakes - A week after our move was half term. The three eldest were booked out to Energi Kids Retreat (a Christian youth camp organised at Quinta Hall) and 4 & 5 arranged to be spending a couple of days at their cousins’ in Birmingham (while their eldest was also away). Just leaving the two smallest home with us. As my Mum also spends her holidays with us we decided to cease the opportunity to only leave her with two and escaped for a couple of nights away in The Lakes. We stayed at a stunning B&B called Ella’s Crag, nestled on the lower slopes of Causey Pike. I would highly recommend it :D Our original plan had been to do some serious climbing and a half day of Gill walking, but the exhaustion that sets in with a house move meant that neither of us really wanted that after all, so we had to think what we could do that we might not otherwise do with kids in tow. We decided to give sailing a go! It wasn’t the cheapest option by any means, but we had a three hour ‘starter’ tuition session and we loved every minute of it. I enjoyed keeping it at a leisurely pace and an even keel, Paul preferred to give some lean and speed!! definitely something that, if i was rich enough, I would like to get into.

Conference - the last week of May usually sees us at the Elim annual conference in Prestatyn. This year all but Natty were well occupied with children’s clubs. If nothing else conference is a good fun break that leaves us almost kid-free for best part of a week - that is refreshing in itself ;D Spiritually - no thunderbolts this year, but for me a quite knowledge of the presence of God at work in my life. It was good :D

Car - Our wonderful bus has done a fair few miles just lately. I think Paul counted almost 1000 in one week of to-and-fro’ing with the kids to various camps and things in May. Not long before it had needed a new alternator, and this week that alternator needed replacing (thankfully under warranty) then not two days later the starter motor gave up the ghost! Now it seems fine again - just in time for summer expeditions :D

Oven - When we moved into this amazing new house, with it’s brand new fitted kitchen, one of the first things we discovered was that the oven shorted out the whole house!! So for the first three weeks we cooked on the hob. No big problem as we do a lot anyway, but it is nice to have the oven working now. It needed a replacement thermostat.

Toilet Training - can’t call it potty training because he isn’t using one! I knew Nat was ready, but didn’t expect him to suss it in just one day! The first day he had his nappy off full time he was totally dry - and CLEAN! I was more than a little stunned, he is more than a little proud of himself, and rightly so!! :D Now I just need to get him in trousers ready for tomorrow (Sunday) so we can go to church nappy-free. So far today he has wet two pairs. What is it about fabric on bums that confuses them so much? Commando works so well, but I haven’t given him a full week (silly me), and I need him decent tomorrow - looks like I might be carrying a lot of spares!

Sad Goodbyes - As Regents College (the Elim College where Paul trained) prepares to move from here down to Malvern, we are having to say a few sad and some very sad goodbyes. Amongst those moving is my (and the children’s) very close friend Helen. She had a barbeque last Sunday and invited everyone to come and buy bits of their furniture, as they are seriously down sizing. The money is to be donated to an African orphanage we have connections with. As I looked around there were so many people there that I knew (and a fair few that I didn’t) and it was glaringly apparent what a huge hole the departure of this family will leave in the life of our local community. It is weird too, to think that physically speaking we have already moved out of that immediate community, but are still part of it in many ways. I am not looking forward to saying this “goodbye”. I am not good at them at the best of times, and this will be one of the worst! They move on July 3rd :( There are others leaving too who it will be hard to see go - our church is going to feel this quite sorely (we will be losing some pretty key people), but it will provide some opportunities for still others to step up to the mark :D

Another sort of ‘goodbye’ will be in the middle of July. my Mum retires from the school in two weeks time and will departing for the south on July 17th. As yet she has not replaced her car so I am not sure when we will next see her after that. Although in some ways I am relieved that this weekly thing is over (although it doesn’t seem nearly so difficult in this much bigger space), I know that I will miss her and the kids will miss her a lot, alot. I hope she gets a car reasonably soon and then it won’t seem so bad! Of course we can always take the tent down and camp at the local camp site in Gosport (Kingfisher) if we want to go and see her, but there is rarely any such thing as free accommodation for us lot!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Month of Birthdays!!

From the end of May to the middle of June we celebrate four birthdays in this house.

Nat turned 2

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Paul grew a year older wiser! We went to Pizza Hut to celebrate as we are always at conference for the occasion and it makes a change from pot-cooked stodge!


Caleb turned 4

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I grew a year older wiser! Of course - I am the photographer in this house!! LOL.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Big Move - in retrospect!

I had intended to keep up with my blog off-line and then just post all the entries when I was hooked back in, but guess what … nope, it didn’t happen!! This is the first time I have really set to putting anything down, so it’s all going to be retrospective, which never makes for such a good read, but hey-ho, sorry folks!!

‘Big’ move is perhaps a slight understatement!! We hired a big Luton, with tail-lift and I think it took about 6 loads (the last two not being quite full, but bulky bitty stuff, like garden accessories). We had also run a whole load of boxes over in our Tourneo a couple of nights preceding, so I think we might have filled all six in reality! We are eternally grateful to our very good friends, who without their help, it would have been almost impossible to do ourselves. By the end of moving day my kitchen was virtually unpacked and functional (thanks to my super efficient girl-friends), the majority of the house had been wiped down and out and some of the windows had even been cleaned. The garage was well stacked (cough, cough - another serious understatement) and although there were boxes everywhere I was amazed that we still had space to move about. Whilst packing up in the old house, we had really run out of anywhere to put the packed boxes, but whilst they were all just being piled in here thick and fast at the end, we still had room to put mattresses down to sleep on and space to move and sort in. I don’t think I had really realised how big this house actually is until I started to move our things into it. When we had looked around it empty, perhaps we were tainted by thoughts of another certain house, but we had perceived this one as not being very big, or workable enough for us (layout wise). In REALITY though this house is HUGE. The only place that is not so big is Paul’s study. It is much more of a work space and less the kind of ‘comfy Pastor’s space’ than he had been looking forward to, but none-the-less, with a little modification of our desk arrangements, it is perfectly functional. The rest of the house is so big that the ‘comfy’ spaces can be found in other ways anyway :) 

I was very grateful too, that Paul’s mum was able to come and spend moving week with us. She was a tremendous help - and managed to land herself the job of staying behind at the old house giving it a rough clean through, whilst the landlords ‘moved in’ around her! They decided they did not want us to have the weekend to clean up behind ourselves (which I was very unhappy about as to be perfectly honest, after a month of packing and pulling dust out of every crack and crevice, it was filthy. I did not want to hand it over that way and given my choice would have given it a thorough scrub down - it was not to be - but that’s another story…) Once firmly seated in the new abode she was more than helpful here too - cleaning down stair railings (cast iron trellis sort), bathrooms, windows, you name it, she cleaned it - and she helped with the kids a lot too, which was a true blessing in itself.  I know she went home totally wiped out, but at least she could take her time to recover now that she is retired :) Two weeks following she joined us (with Dad this time) at conference for a ‘relaxing’ family holiday  - glutton for punishment or what!! :D

One thing that slowed me up a lot over the whole time (and still is a bit) was that that my right hip has been giving me a lot of pain. It clicks a lot and constantly throbs and aches. Most days I would get to a point where I could barely walk anymore and bending over was agony. I know I put a lot of weight through that hip when I lift and carry things (and being over weight doesn’t help at all), but the more I did the worse it got, and that was very limiting and frustrating - not just to me! Compensating for my painful hip I began to use my arms more and consequently my right shoulder became painful again (I’ve had problems with that in the past). I became very aware of how reliant I am on my right side - even though I am left-handed!!

I have tried to maintain my photo-a-day, but to little avail and in all honesty there was not a great deal to capture other than towers of slowly emptying boxes. The children have just played a whole lot and have been amazing to be honest - quietly amusing themselves together in quite elaborate games of Mums and Dads (and other things) with not very available to them to play with. This has continued on in the new house too :D Before we moved we had pretty much managed to keep school running too, with internet access making it viable, but since we moved, school has been pretty non-existent and I now realise how important the net is to our school life! I have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter if they have extra weeks off, perhaps we can do a little over the summer - on rainy days maybe..! Back to photography - I have taken some pictures as when it’s been worth it so do check over on my 365 to see the ‘catch up’ post :D

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Funny Things…

You know how sometimes over the dinner table the strangest conversations can take place…well we had one of those tonight. We were doing the quizzes on the mini-smarties packets, leading to chatting about the planets and how ‘Uranus’ is such a funny word - of course leading to sniggers from my older boys. I then chipped in that I remembered a time when Joel was obsessed with the word ‘faeces’ after learning in when we were doing our original body project some years ago - he had forgotten!  After bantering the word about for a few minutes making a few silly sentences with it, Phoebe pipes up “My dolly has a ‘Fifi’ in her bottom!” -  Bless her - we all burst into hysterics, much to her dismay ;( She has not yet quite learnt to laugh at herself too well, added to the fact she did not really know what she had said that was so funny!

Talking of comical words we have another new one in our family, created in honour of Nathanael - it is ‘Natastrophy’ and relates to just about everything this little man does!! In one week (at the Elim annual conference) he managed to get a golf ball in his eye, burn his hand rather nastily (he was so determined to get his hand in that oven despite endless warnings of its heat, he snuck down from the table an in a second had opened the oven door!), and get himself knocked out/passed out by falling backwards out of the doorway onto the rough concrete path outside (with Caleb landing on top of him!). He really is all the crazy bits of each of my others all rolled into one - he knows no fear, is scarily daring, incredibly agile, and boundlessly full of energy. He is strong willed and determined (a good and bad thing) and will persist with anything until he has it mastered - even if it is something he should NOT be doing!