It not been the most sunny of summers ~ weather wise, or other wise really. If I look at it broadly, it feels like we have hopped from one struggle to another ~ and we aren't out of the woods yet. I'm not really complaining (much), because I know life gets like that at times, and then it has a habit of sorting itself out again ~ thankfully!
I haven't blogged seems Stitch's birthday, which seems a distant memory now and there's no way I can cover every even from the of May onwards, so I'll link to Flickr albums here and there through this post, so you can see the pictures if you want to.
Early June was DD's birthday ~ the big 10!! I can't believe he hit double figures ~ a significant milestone in this house ~ and I didn't even do him a blog post :(
But he had a lovely day: he received the lego set he really wanted (Police Station) plus a few other Lego bits, and he got to go to Costa with Daddy for the, what has become traditional, drink and cake.
The week before we set off for Devon the car was due an MOT (why we get it done just before hols each year makes no sense ~ need to change that), but for the first time since we had it it failed. There were a couple of things that were not that big a deal, but then it needed some welding work doing too ~ and that was a major deal! We drew breath and paid the bill and contemplated a holiday on a tighter budget than we had hoped. Kindly my nan offered the children some spending money ~ so that would help a little. BUT THEN, two days later, Paul ran over the hugest nail and got a flat! Knowing we had a long journey ahead the spare was not an option, but then it turned out the spare had perished and needed replacing anyway - so two new tyres later and we were truly skint!! If we had been going camping at that point we might have had to cancel the holiday because although the accommodation is cheaper when we camp, we end up spending a lot of money on 'easy' food. It's very hard to cook for 10 on a camping stove, and we certainly wouldn't want to try every night for a week! Not only that, but camping also means we 'go out' every day - come rain or shine - because there's not enough to do in a tent, or space! The cottage meant we could have a more home-from-home arrangement. We could cook 'budget' meals and if we ran out of money there were things to do in and around the farm that would keep us occupied. We also took toys, games, laptops, films and even the Playstation with us, just in case of skint, rainy, stuck-in days!!
As it turned out, although we had the odd shower here and there, and enough over-night rain to make us all very grateful not to have be worrying about leaks in canvas, it was an overall lovely week, and we got to spend a significant amount of time on the beach :D.
All the pictures can be found here; http://www.tmfh.me.uk/devonholiday. The titles that start 'Devon' are from our holidays, but here's some mix and match highlights...
Other than holidays the kids have had a holiday club at church one week and the older ones have spent time with friends. We have tried to take a few trips out as a family, but this always seems to be quite challenging to make happen. We managed a quick jaunt around Dearnford Lake one Sunday afternoon and a day out in Delamere Forest one Saturday. But somehow our lives seemed to be pretty crammed despite not formally 'schooling'.
Other significant time-consumers this summer have been computers! Both of our main PC's bit the dust. Mine (a little over 18 months old, and just outside warranty) hit a graphics error, which doesn't sound like much, but is a bigger deal than it could be if it wasn't an all-in-one touchscreen PC. Because of what it is it needs to be sent back to the manufacturer and quite frankly, probably isn't worth the repair cost. Then Jake's died too, refusing to power on. His was a PC I had repeatedly repaired, and it kept blowing out various components (including the power unit once before). In the end I concluded that the motherboard is probably shorting, so I removed the hard-drive and declared it defunct. Being that money was extremely tight already, I had to figure a way to make the best of a bad situation ~ being left with three vintage, but working laptops and one relic laptop that also worked, but barely! I decided to investigate & upgrade the RAM status of all of them, and try to make them all a little quicker and functional for as long as we need to use them. I did succeed in speeding up three of the four, but one refused to accept additional RAM (even though there was no real reason why it shouldn't). So now I have two moderately quick, but still vintage laptops, my SLOW vintage laptop and the relic, which is now a teensy bit faster, but still a sloth really. My final investment ended up being a Raspberry Pi-2. I had looked at this as a cheap little 'hook up to a monitor' option to give us internet access for some of the websites we use, but chose against it until I was discussing with the children what they would like to learn about this year. Lilo said that she would like to learn how Minecraft works ~ and so at that moment the RPI became a very real option again :D. She was so happy to receive her little computer in the post and I think it will be very useful to all of us - it's certainly faster than the relic and my laptop. Sadly though, we still can't afford to buy a new PC, but I do have a plan...
OK so I think that might be my summer summed up. I'll do my 'planning' post separately for those who are more interested in the home-ed of our life than the ins-and-outs of all the family stuff ;-)