Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Fortnight to Write...

I don't think in reality I can actually remember all that has happened in a fortnight. Fortunately I have kept up my 365 reasonably well so that will jog my memory :D

Sat 15th - spent the day sorting out the garage. WOW - that was a mammoth job, but well worth it and as we now have use of 'The Zone' (minus any light or power yet) and it's loft space (which is room-sized and fully boarded) that made it much easier. All the moving boxes were sorted and those we can we will store in the loft, together with all our cumulative 'memorabilia' and 'JIC' stuff. BOY! Do I have a LOT of memorabilia!! - letters, souvenirs, stuff I made as a kid... but I don't like getting rid of it, it just feels like it's part of who I am and one day my kids might find out some interesting things about me from some it! Also, I do like to look at it all, albeit only when we move. The memories flood in then and each time I find something I haven't seen in a long time and it makes me smile to remember. SO I don't get rid of any of it - it goes from house to house with us - a whole trunk full!! My kids can just burn the trunk when I'm gone if they like :( . The Ivar shelves were assembled in the garage and stuff sorted onto them. The camping stuff was sorted into one corner on top of our 1970's sideboard full of TGI shoes (TGI = 'to grow into' / JIC = 'just in case' (of another baby) ). At the back of the garage remain a mountain of plastic boxes FULL of kids clothes that I have the onerous task of sorting through and making sense of. I really struggle parting with them (JIC), but the amount we have is ridiculous and I know that - so I need to find my generous spirit and get rid of a least half of what is there!
So garage sensible and all-but sorted - makes me smile :D

'The ZOne' has also gained some new carpet (2nd hand-Freecycle) and looks MUCH better). A lick of blue paint and it'll look great in there. All it needs is some power now and we can keep it warmer and escort the Wii to it's new destination - leaving the children NO reason to make a mess playing in my lounge :D
The broken red suite has been carted off to the tip, thanks to the generous gift of a fantastic 4pc leather suite on Freecycle (it's amazing what folks give away - her husband developed an allergy to the leather and she didn't want the hassle of selling it!). A bit of a clean and condition and it's looking fit for our family for a good number of years yet :D When the kids are all grown my plan is to get it re-coloured Ox-blood and restored (would still be cheaper than replacing) - and it will feel good as new then - but that's a long way off just yet :D

Over the summer many people have left our church to follow Regents College down to Malvern (it's new home) and with them many of our musicians. This has left us bereft of drummers. We now have only one other than my J2, so he has become a regular fixture - and no-one has commented on having a 10 year old drummer - he really is VERY good - loud, but good! The other Sunday it was a bit of a Hampton Family Band affair - I was singing, J2 was drumming and Paul was playing keys and leading. Two other teenage brothers (also J&J) were our guitarists. Considering we have lost so many of our best musicians we made a reasonable sound :D

Sun-16th: We spent the afternoon with some good friends of ours (J&J and their Mum & Dad C&B )- having a BBQ at their house. It was a lovely afternoon. The sun shone, the wasps were out in force and the food & the company were very good! My boys spent much of the day playing on J&J's Wii and playing Guitar Hero on their borrowed X-box. I had considered buying guitar hero for our Wii, but now I am glad I didn't. They had the guitar and the drums, but it was boring compared to the real thing. The drumming was to easy for J2 and the guitar playing is simply not at all realistic. They got bored quite quickly and went back to Need For Speed.
Boo & Beefie were away in a caravan in The Lakes for the weekend with some other friends from church so Belle was a bit bored. Bleb and NJ managed to amuse themselves quite nicely - NJ throwing C's slate stones from the garden into the little stream that runs along the end (not good). It was good to spend the day with C&B. B has been seriously ill for a number of years. She was diagnosed with brain cancer a long while ago (about 10 years I think) and received treatment, but it was a 'splatter' growth and therefore not completely curable. She has been in remission since we have known them (about 7 years now), but not fully well - having petite-mal seizures and unable to drive and lately to work because of them. Then it was found that the cancer had begun growing again. She has had surgery, more radiation and been on Chemo' for some months, but all they have succeeded in doing is halting the growth (for now) - it has not reduced and the long and the short is no-one knows how long she will be well for, but they have decided that she will not have any further treatment now. B is a lovely lady, so kind. Her boys are grown now (one in final Uni year, one going in final college year), but all the same... It's hard to imagine our Church without her in it and I don't even really want to. We pray she will have a live a good few more years yet, and have a full and happy life while she is living it :D

Mon 17th - We were visited by some friends who moved to Al Ain (Abu Dhabi) about 6 months ago. They were home for 6 weeks, but this was the tail end of their visit. They won't be home for another year :( It was great to catch up and chat and fill each other in on our half a year, to have lunch together and for the children to play. The kids all went down to feed the horses (a regular thing to do with visitors) and a lovely day was had by all :D

Tues 18th - J1 had S round to play and the boys all decided that building a 'shelter' in the neighbouring field would be fun, so they offed down to the brook to gather sticks for the said shelter. They were gone about 3 hours and then spent the evening digging them in and covering them with ferns. I didn't hear much from them, but it so lovely to have my lads doing lad things and NOT 'sass'ing all the time :D The shelter is still standing (albeit after a redesign last weekend) but the fern are dead and it needs recovering. I am impressed though!

Sat 22nd - We spent the afternoon and evening over at Sam's (Beefie's best friend K's Mum). It is her birthday next weekend but she had her party early and she wanted to have a 'back to your youth' kind of party, so she organised a game of rounders on the school field behind her house and invited a tonne of people. Sadly for one reason (all legitimate) or another a fair few couldn't make it in the end, but the rounders was played none-the-less and the sun shone and everyone had a lovely time. I didn't play, but I did take photos! I hated rounders at school, and I still can't hit a ball or catch it, whenever I have played I still run people out (even though I am not that fast these days) and although I could have bowled I suppose, my right shoulder is still not too good, so I didn't want to risk making it worse. Just as well I was taking photos though - I was the only one who was :D

In between all the 'stuff' we've done life has ticked on as normal. There have been numerous sleep-overs both with friends here and going to friend's. There have been mini-breaks: I mentioned the girls in the caravan with their friends, but the boys are right now in The Lakes too, camping with Hydro-G (our older kids church youth group) since Sunday, returning today and doing lots of walking up hills in between. I believe they have had great weather, but J2 rang me about 9am this morning to say it was teaming down and they weren't sure if they were going to walk or not today before they come home, but they are not home yet so maybe they did in the end. Shame they had to take down the tents in the wet though :(
We have had family film nights (last night was one) where we play a film on the 'big screen' in the lounge (actually the wall and a projector) & have tea watching it - that is always fun.
Paul and I have managed a night out at the cinema too. We went to see 'Time Travellers Wife' - it was good and I cried too much, as I always do. It's humiliating when the lights go back on!!
There has been a little bit of crafting and a little bit of puzzling and a little bit of getting work finished before next term. A little (well quite a lot) or preparing on my part, but mostly of Tot-school stuff and a LOT of photograhy :D

Well - that's all I can think of and if you're still reading - well done!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It got too late!!

I was going to blog tonight but I kept dozing off with the laptop on my lap - and it got too late, so I'll try again tomorrow!! Lots to catch up on, but nothing very exciting! :D

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Down By The Riverside…

I decided today to get all the chores done and out of the way before lunch. This was made easier by Boo not making any fuss and while I hoovered through she followed behind me with a mob and bucket :D I must say it is nice to finally be able to see and hoover the floor in the study (up until now the pit of despair!).

We ate lunch and I gave Joel a game of pool - I won - he potted the black and then Belle asked if we could go to the brook. The sun was shining. The washing was on the line and everyone was awake. I could see no reason why not and it was sufficiently late in the day to make it possible that Paul might meet us down there when he got home from work. By the time everyone got dressed (I know, but it is summer hols!!) and organised themselves (involving swimmers, changes of clothes and body boards!) a little more time had passed, but it remained a beautiful afternoon, so off we trotted…

Paul met us about half way there and the younger ones were thrilled to have him join us. We then spent a great hour or so playing around down there. For lack of a beach this is about as good as it gets :D. It’s safe enough for even NJ to play in - if he were willing brave the cold. Admittedly there are bits with slightly faster currents, but not dangerous and the little ones did not venture into them anyway. The body-boards are great for the little ones to ride on, pulled along by the bigguns. Totally good fun :D It even had Boo and JI saying “I’m so glad we moved here.  We didn’t want to, but I’m so glad we did!”


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It’s just a shame that there weren’t any other children down the re. I have been reliably informed that it is usually teeming with kids on a nice sunny day, but none of the times we have been down has there been any others :( Sometimes there are some kids in the park, but mine are not so enamoured with the park - there is nothing there really much except for a few swings and a big field. I hope the big two will begin to make some friends with village kids soon, but getting them to go down to the park ‘just to see’ is a bit of an issue, especially as neither of them is that keen on footy anymore :(

They came home and chilled in front of the TV for a bit, while I uploaded the photos and Paul cooked tea (and read his paper). Chores were done and now it’s 9.30 - the kids are all in bed and the house is clean and tidy - wooo hooo! That doesn’t happen too often believe me!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunshine and Flowers...

It's been so beautiful here today, but we had no plans, so I scheduled the dusting for 4 O'clock and had fun the rest of the day. The kids had spent some time on the computers before lunchtime came round, so that was their lot for the day, meaning they had to find other forms of amusement for the rest of it! I asked the girls to don their newly inherited beanies and pose for some photos for me - which they willingly did. I'll not post the pics here, but you can see them on my 365 and from the link on the slideshow. Once outside they stayed there for a while, playing in the pop-up tents. I captured butterflies and grass hoppers :D After lunch JI, Boo and Beefy decided to head on down to the brook (JA stayed to put his photos on iheartfaces, but I think he wished he'd gone later on). They took down JI's body board to float downstream on. They had a ball by the sounds of things and, whereas the brook had been extremely cold the other day, today it was apparently 'perfect' - but they were playing in the shallows, rather than the significantly deeper bit that JI fell into the other day (fully clothed!!).
When they came home they were hot and thirsty so tucked into bowls/cones of ice-cream (so nice now they can help themselves to those kinds of things) and chilled out in front of the TV for a bit.
All in all it has been a lovely day. I'm hoping to be able to take the little ones down to the brook tomorrow if the weather is nice. If you are wondering why we didn't all go today - NJ crashed out on the sofa mid morning while I was hanging the washing out and when he does that I do NOT disturb him else he is foul for the rest of the day, plus I'd far rather he napped in the morning than just before teatime, which is his other choice of time! Paul finishes earlier tomorrow, so I'm hoping we can go paddle en-masse!

Late Night Tot-School

My smallest likes to get up when all the others have gone to bed and do this (taken a few nights ago);

You just have to check out that pencil grip though - not enforced by me, just natural. The only thing I have to train my kids to do is put that second finger under the pencil, which actually can be quite a challenge! Looks like NJ won't have too much of an issue with it though as he does it sometimes already. I think it's just htat his fingers are to small to always hold a pen like that. He has recently taken to colouring small and fine - it's very cute :D The only thing that is not so cute is that it is not always on paper!! Washable markers are a wonderful invention ;-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Annual Visit...

Today was the day that I had my annual visit from the HE Support/advisory person (CP). She has been visiting us for 7 years now and we get on really well. We chat over philosophies over a cup of tea and I twitter on about the kids as I would to a friend while she hurriedly tosses from sheet to sheet jotting down stuff about each of the kids :D I never stress about it. I seldom show any work and this year, as it is holiday time the kids weren't even working. They were all busy milling about and asking to go the computer and/or Wii. The house was a relative mess as befits holiday times and no-one getting up very early, sleepovers of friends the night before and me only remembering about an hour before she was due and rapidly running around trying to make sure everyone was dressed and chores were done, as well as putting away all the underwear that was drying on pipes (I do have some pride)! In the midst of our conversation R&R arrived to take Babsi off for the day - and the phone rang at least twice, but I left it to the kids to say I'd ring back soon. We sat in the kitchen to chat (often the quietest place to be) and then I just showed her the school room before she left - and the new workbox system, which I very briefly explained. As ever she proclaimed me highly organised (which I suppose I am really, even if it doesn't always feel that way) and left with a smile on her face . I did broach the subject of 'current reviews' with her (didn't want to mention 'Badman' as I think that is a bit undiplomatic, as she is so nice...) and she said she was not really sure what would happen. She anticipates the main change being compulsory registration and perfectly well understood that everyone in her 'trade' was as open minded as she and that this is a major cause of concern to many HEers - their concerns come out of past bad experiences and are not unfounded. I expressed a distinct distaste for the idea of my children being interviewed without me present and she said that actually that left a bad taste in her mouth too and she could not see that as being right. She thought there would have to be TWO interviewers (for safety reasons) and I said that that would make it more like an interrogation than a friendly chat! I expressed that I could not see how any child faced with two complete strangers would be flowing in conversation about how wonderful their schooling was (home or otherwise). For instance, take your average, well developed chatty 2yo and put him/her in a room with a Health Visitor for their developmental check-up and how do they behave? Most hide behind their parent and won't do or say a thing!! It is not possible to make a fair assessment of that child's development without having a conversation with the parent - the child is giving NOTHING away! I suspect this would be how any child would behave under the duress of what I can only see as an interrogation. When CP visits us just now the children are always about and because we are having a friendly chat over coffee they often voluntarily come and show her something they have done/are doing and they do not feel under any stress if she looks over their shoulder to watch them for a minute or two (as she has done in previous years, but only ever at my invitation). Surely this is a far better way to assess the happiness and progress of children than any 'interview' would be. That said - I am not actually very pro the assessing of progress at all because unless you have someone very open minded (as CP is) then they might not be prepared to consider ALL the areas in which children progress as being relevant to 'school', but again that would depend on what their idea of the purpose of school is. For me it is to see my children functioning as confident, independent, intelligent individuals who can hold interesting conversations and be strong enough to cope with what life throws at them, but even more importantly than that, I want that their lives are deeply rooted in Christ and their faith in Him be the underpinning of all that they are and do. Tall order...maybe, but actually, it just means listening to the hearts of your kiddos and I do feel we are making progress to that end :D The academic stuff is all in there too, but that is just PART of the progress I want my kids to make.
I know we all have different purpose for our HE, hopes and dreams for our children - as different as the children themselves are! And THAT's why I resent the idea of being squeezed into a one-size-fits-all mold where someone else, who doesn't know ANYTHING about us or or family, or our genetic make-up, etc..., gets to say whether or not my child is making the progress they 'should' be. Here's hoping on this one that they throw out the baby AND the dirty, stinking bathwater!!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Just For Michelle...!

These were all taken my last week of school (age 16) - 21 years ago! The last one was at our leavers party - on the Gosport Ferry!!.

So now you see - you can all have a giggle at my expense now too :D. I was not one for fashion. I very much did my own thing. Everyone had nice bags that night, but I hated them, so I took my carrier bag and wore my tatty old grey coat - thankfully I left the ridiculous bow out of my hair though for the occasion!!
One thing though - I wish I was that slim again! I thought I was fat at the time!!
You know though, the really odd thing to think about this, is that it was only 3 years after this that I met Paul and only 4 years later we were engaged! We will have been together 18 years this November - that's more than half my life time :D

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Chill Pill Day!

I woke this morning with a sore back - still. It was a bit better yesterday, but not so today, so I popped a pill and hoped it would improve, but it didn't much :( Boo and Beefy were round at R's for the day, so I decided to leave big 2 boys to their own devices this arvo and head (slowly) down to Playworld (soft play) with the smallest 3. This was a better plan than I knew. We played I-spy with colours and shapes for the entire 15 minute walk, which C really enjoyed :D When we arrived, much to my delight there were comfy sofas (never been before) and quite nice food :) So I ordered myself a steak pannini and a latte, a jug of juice for the three and 3 large cookies and settled myself down on a sofa. The children mostly played beautifully then for the rest of the afternoon. When NJ had had enough (after over an hour of playing hard) he climbed up on my lap and I dozed off with him there for a few minutes, semi-conscious of the noise of the other two in the background. It was unexpectedly very quiet, probably owing to the fact that it was actually one of the few nice days we've had so far this summer, but they have an outside play area too, with a big climbing frame, swing and a huge sandpit, so outside was an option too :D All in all money well spent when I wasn't up to doing anything at home with them that required me to move!

As we walked home the swallows were gathering for their evening bug-catching flying session. It is fascinating to watch them, and to see how the flock has swelled in number over the summer (with the addition of this years brood). Our resident family has nested again (same nest) and the babies hatched yesterday and today (3 this time), so a few more days and they will be fledging too - hopefully we'll get to see it again - third time this season :D We really have become quite fond of our swallows and the way they dive-bomb us when they want to get to their babies and we are in the way! We will miss them when they are gone, which probably won't be all that long now. I hope we catch the moment when the, now quite large, flock gather together en-mass and fly south to Africa for the winter. I imagine it will be quite something to watch. Apparently they fly in large groups and return to the same area in the same groups in the spring. So I guess one day they will simply be gone and then with the arrival of spring they will suddenly be back :D

Fun in the Sun

Check out today's story HERE - rather than posting it twice!! :D
There's not much more to say really!
It's been a good one.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Goodness gets Better..

and Better...

The fantastic-ness of this house keeps increasing...we have now discovered we have fruit trees - fully established and flourishing - plums (three trees I think) and in the adjoining, rather neglected field full of ferns, which we permission to access (and where the kids have built their 'den'), a HUGE pear tree! There is another one there too that looks like it could be currants of some kind, although there is no evidence of fruit on that yet, it's just that the leaves look familiar. Then of course there are blackberries in abundance all up and down the lane - and a huge bramble in the 'den field' which no-one else will be picking from :D
JI said to me the other day, having been the one who least liked it here initially, "this house is awesome. I love living here. We have everything we could ever want!" And he's right - we do!!

I'm not feeling too good today. I have a raving sore throat and I woke up with excruciating back ache. I don't know how, but I've definitely pulled a muscle :( So I've crawled back to bed and am trying not too move to much. Stationary typing on here is fine, but movement is not very enjoyable at all! The kids are being great. JI made noddles for everyone and now they are all playing. NJ is lying next to me kicking me and the laptop intermittently just to make sure I don't forget he's there! I'm hoping he will nod off in a minute - he often does this time of day. It's so nice to be on my normal bed (not loft-bed), in my normal room (not shared with the study), hearing to my children playing happy games around the rest of the house and have my 2yo dozing off beside me. Even if I'm not feeling great, life feels like it is just how it should be right now :D

No pictures to post today. I've just been doing some sorting out these last couple of days (probably how I've hurt my back) and there was not much to shoot.