That said, Bugs would be in year 9 next year (scary stuff) and Taz too would be in secondary. I feel this is a year when Bugs really needs to consider knuckling down a little harder. He is quintessentially lazy and will get away with as little as he can and yet he does know that his future lies in his own hands. I am under no illusions about him - I very much doubt he will choose a university career (and if he does it won't be for academic reasons!!), but I would like him to have a reasonable 'portfolio' to present to a college in a couple of years, as I am equally certain he will want to do that. I cannot do the work for him, and I have no intention of forcing him, with twisted arms, to do the work, so I hope that this year he chooses to undertake for himself.
Taz on the other hand has been working above level for some time now, but I think he may kick back a little at 'real' secondary level work ~ we'll see!
Anyway, enough 'school' talk - it's holiday time after-all! (Yes, we take the summer holidays off completely ~ I deserve the rest and tbh, so do the children).
So what have we been up to since (skip a few weeks) the end of July..?
The second week of July we headed off to Weymouth for our family holiday. Paul parents own an 8 berth luxury Haven caravan down there, so as family we get to use it for free :D! I know there are 9 of us, but three littlies in a double bed worked quite well. We thought we'd get in before the schools broke up, the prices soared and everywhere was uber-crowded! It proved to be a good move ~ the sun shone the entire time and we got to really relax and have fun together. I discovered before we left that HEdders can gain free access to any English Heritage site (if you can prove you HE) if you book in advance. Then not only do you get in FREE, but you also get access to all the 'schools' resources on site. SO, having discovered this I booked us in to visit Portland Castle and it was a really fun day, made all the more so by having access to a box full of Tudor lawn games and Tudor dressing up costumes :D On the same day we also visited Portland Bill Lighthouse, which Stitch hasn't stopped talking about since! It wasn't even that exciting, but I think the sheer adrenalin rush from climbing up that many steps - THAT high, was enough to make him remember it!!
Next year (if we go again) I think we will book to visit Lulworth Castle (for free) as I think there is quite a bit to do there by the looks of things.
Other things we did; lots of catching crabs at the beach local to us, at Charmouth and at Lulworth cove. Lot of scrabbling over rocks. A bit of fossil hunting. Lots of Ice-cream!! A visit to Nothe Fort (another HE bargain ~ kids £1 each (normal cost) and parents FREE with proof of HE!). This was another EXCELLENT day out that all the kids thoroughly enjoyed and, I believe, learnt loads from. Swimming at the Haven site (and free swimming lessons for DD) which was free too and reasonably good fun, despite the lack of water 'amusements'. Crazy Golf (on site) which at least the smallest ones really enjoyed.
A couple of visits to Abbotsbury ~ one day to the Children's Farm, which was 10/10. The children were kept busy with animals all day long feeding, grooming, petting animals. Even Stitch got to ride a horse for the first time ~ a little Shetland Pony actually, but a horse to him! DD refused to get on at first, but managed to hang on all the way round to Dad's hand and relax by the time he got round the circuit! They also got to take goats for a walk - which was very fun and funny to watch! And to add to the value there was an brilliantly thought out indoor play area ~ soft play frame for the smaller ones, table-tennis and table football, giant Jenga and a reading corner for the older ones. There was also lots of information about smuggling (interesting read) as Abbotsbury was a smugglers village (more or less) at one time. The whole place is set in the grounds of an old monastery and both Paul & I were really impressed with how they had used the old buildings and environment without spoiling it in anyway. The indoor play area was inside a HUGE 100yr old Tithe Barn that had a history all of it's own.
Our second visit to Abbotsbury was to the swanery, which was a lovely day too. Although not quite so much for the children to do, they did enjoy it and especially enjoyed feeding the swans.
Another day we met up with my family in Salisbury and spent the day with them, in a little park by the river. It was good to see my aunty. For those of you that don't know, she has cancer and her prognosis is not good (lung, liver and pancreas), but just now she is managing incredibly well. She is often in a lot of pain and is on quite high doses of Morphine, but she has a mind set to get as much out of the time she has left as she can. She even played a little gentle badminton with Paul! I don't see them as often as I would like, due to our family size and Basingstoke (where they live) not having a campsite! In fact I don't think I have seen her for over 18months, maybe more! It was good to see her so strong though.
Of course no holiday near the coast would be complete without a 'beach' day to two, so we did those too, complete with stone skimming, ice-creams, fairground rides, doughnuts and candy-floss, sandcastles and wave-jumping & sea-swimming.
Me - I loved the day when we wandered along Weymouth harbour and looked at all the fishing boats ~ they are so smelly, but there is something about them and the hard way of life that they represent that just gets to me!
When we got home from our holiday we took a week to catch our breath - I don't think we did ANYTHING that week at all! Also it seemed to rain and rain and rain back home (and hasn't really stopped since) making 'doing' much a little difficult! The following week had a couple of exciting moments...
Wednesday I had an almighty migraine and took to my bed. It lingered a full 48hours (they normally only last about 12 hours for me), forcing me to down a couple of Migraleve despite my pregnancy, but the other children had to be virtually self-sufficient for best part of two days! Fortunately on the Thursday the three girls has a full day of drama in the village hall. Jake had to take them. I dragged myself down to collect them, as they were doing a little 'show' of what they had done during the day. By the time I got there I knew I couldn't make it home again! I called Paul out of work early to collect us ~ I am SO thankful for where and how he works sometimes! Once home I crawled back into bed and stayed there. Thankfully by Saturday the headache was gone, as then we had Paul's sister and family (husband and 4 children) come to stay for the weekend! They are wonderful to have around and the children all get on like a dream. Stitch has been asking to see their little lad ever since they left on Sunday evening! Unfortunately it rained too much while they were here to DO very much (sigh ~ come back sunshine!), but on Sunday afternoon we did manage to stomp out for a muddy walk around The Moss and village.
Monday, some friends of ours that moved to Abu Dhabi a couple of years ago, but who are home for the summer, came up to visit for a couple of days. They too have four children (three girls and a boy). My girls were thrilled to see them and Taz and their lad renewed their friendship nicely too ~ they were thick as thieves the whole time!
Somewhere in amongst all that I had my 20 week scan (well 21 weeks actually) and found out we are having a ..... (now that would be telling!)! We didn't have a full anomaly scan (never have done), which seemed to surprise the scanning lady a little, but confirmed my dates. TBH I wouldn't bother with scans - and didn't for the first four at all, but the Drs get twitchy when I turn up these days and a scan keeps them happy (er)! Last time, when I booked with Stitch, I had to see the consultant, emphatically defend my corner and watch him write 'NOT SUPPORTED BY MEDICAL PRACTICE' across the top of my notes in red pen! But I knew at the end of the day they could not refuse me care should I need it, so it really didn't phase me that much ;) This time, was VERY different! I saw a midwife, who informed me she would let the consultant know 'about' me (in light of my wanting a home-birth, being a 'grand multip' and having an unhealthy BMI), but I don't think I will get to see him/her unless something goes wrong now, as I am officially on the list of the (new) home-birth team :D!! I can honestly say I am pleased that so much has changed in the last 3 years, but I did wonder, if this was my first time around, how confident I would have felt. For instance, it was 'assumed' that I was having an anomaly scan, and had I not been knowledgeable enough to know that I could decline it, then that is what I would have got. I only saw the midwife AFTER the scan. When I was practising I would have seen the woman first to discuss their options, and then they had the scan. Then another midwife would briefly check the scan dates with the woman's and only IF there was a problem would another consultation take place. Yes, this was more time consuming, but at least the options were made clear. These days I feel there is an assumption that people will go along with just about any test offered them without much question ~ or a general lack of understanding that the 20 week scan IS actually a test and not just a nice picture opportunity! Anyway ~ I knew my options :D!! And as to finding out the baby's gender, well I NEVER have before (and never wanted to) - except that I accidentally saw when I was scanned with Stitch and so did Paul! But this time, I have just purely for logistical reasons. In reality our house is big enough for either/or, but this way I am saved from sorting through unnecessary just-in-case boxes ~ I now know which ones I need to go through :D It also helps with name choosing of course, because at this point mutually likeable names are a bit few and far between!!
After all that busy-ness the children have all had a sick bug. Throw-up and feel better kind, so not that bad really, however, it really is unusual for all 7 to get it. They did this time, but so far, THANKFULLY, I have been spared!
And here we are at the weekend. I am 22 weeks and getting fat! I have little/no appetite, which could be a good thing ;) but otherwise feel pretty good. In some ways being fat already has helped ~ I have already learnt to live with the limitations that being large and overweight bring! BUT I have decided that if my Mum can loose a stone in six months, then I can too, and once this baby is born I am NOT eating for two and I am GOING to loose some weight this year! ~ Hold me to that will you!?!
On the Veggie Patch front, we have harvested our first courgette and there's another nearly ready. The pumpkins are beginning to show up (got plenty of flowers). The peas have had their first picking - the children definitely prefer them raw! My beans are all flowering well, but so far I can only see two actual beans growing ~ hopefully there's plenty more to come. I've thinned out the carrots and fed the weedy ones to the bunnies ~ they were happy! I had to harvest all the radishes when we got home from hol's as they were enormous and sadly gone a it woody. I gave loads away and made 'radish top' soup with my share - it was delicious and all the children liked it too, which is truly unusual! I'm wishing I'd planted tomatoes ~ next year!! All in very successful so far! :D
I think that's me caught up!