Monday, October 26, 2015

Taz Turns 17

On Saturday Joel (aka Taz) turned 17. He hates me taking pictures of him, but I do anyway. 

I figure one day he might like the record ~ and at any rate I know I will!

He had already had the bulk of his present in the form of the new mobile phone he really wanted, when he upgraded in August. 

So he didn't get too many gifts, just some sock and chocolate from us, but everyone else gave him money. He was pleased with that though, because he can put it towards driving lessons and/or new instruments!

A friend came over, Abbie and I made hid cookie-dough cake and he generally had a nice day. 

Next year 18.

Happy Birthday my lovely, silly, serious son!


Every few weeks I like to take a 'games week' : we down all books and do whatever style of learning we please ALL WEEK ~ be it games, outdoor play, screen learning, or anything else really. They have to keep busy and they have to stay off the PS2 or screen time that is just idling, but other than that anything goes really.

So the three littlest boys, and sometimes Lilo, spent a good deal of the time outside building dens, which was excellent in all sorts of ways ~ team work, problem solving (especially when it all slid down the bank), perseverance, safety (using garden tools) and of course good physical labour!

Then there's been some of this... 

a good deal of this...

and a fair few games of this, amongst the girls especially...

And now it's half term, so time for me to do some marking, DD to head off to his cousin's for the week and us all to chill ~ and maybe bake a bit :D

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Due to computer issues I've not been on to blog (or anything else) much lately, but having spent the last couple of days building a new PC ~ yes, I built my own, with a bit of messenger help from a friend here and there ~ I can hopefully get back into a bit of a routine with my online-life. But I must say, it's been nice to take a break and focus on other things for a bit :D

So, I promised an update on how our new more-flexible system is working and on the whole, I'm pleased to say, it's working very well for MOST of the children. For Stitch however, the person who I thought this would work better for, it is not working SO well as I'd hoped. This might be more because he is basically 8 and rather work-shy. It doesn't matter what I ask him to do ~ learning activities, or simply picking up his mess ~ he walks around in a dream-world: he begins things, stops, doesn't go back, gets into trouble (and doesn't really care that he has) and is generally quite difficult to motivate to do ANYTHING constructive with his days! He is a mud-up-your-fingernails kid and I need to find a way to be a Mum who is more happy-with-that than I currently am. I still am not managing to be very hands-off tbh and trusting the process doesn't come easily to me :-( That said, he makes it all that much harder for both of us by not showing me any willingness to do anything other than play (and distract others). When he does do some work, he tries to do too much at once and gets in a tizzy. He doesn't seem to register his own limits, or want to listen when I try to help him. So, instead of doing some maths (for example) for about 10 or 20 minutes, and then taking a break and doing something else for a bit before going back to it, he tries to cram for a whole hour and wonders why he hates working so much - he has fried his brain! Then, because the last experience wasn't great, he avoids doing anything at all and ends up with hours and hours of work left to do at the end of the week, having used up all his 'free learning' time in one or two swoops, or spent the whole day playing!  I don't know if I'm doing the right thing by leaving him to learn the hard way, meaning he misses out on free time with his siblings in the evenings and on weekends (because he has work to catch up), or whether I would be better to come down a bit harder on him so that he has more free time. He, by the way, doesn't see that all the playing he does in what he considers 'school time' counts towards his free time. My children are very stuck in a 9-4 routine and it's proving very hard to get any of them to break that mindset. Stitch, however isn't so much in the routine as his mind likes to think he is!! We're only 6 weeks in though, so I'm hoping things will improve. For the others though, the new way has proved very successful. It enables to my early risers to get up and get on, and my late risers to take it at their own pace. DD, for example is a 'plougher' - this week he has worked really diligently and completed everything he 'must' do by Thursday late morning, leaving himself free to get his chores out of the way and carry on building his den in the garden all afternoon and all day tomorrow if he chooses! We've also done some baking this afternoon, so that was 'extra' that he chose to join in with. Stitch on the other hand, just by comparison, still has about 3 hours worth of empty spaces on his chart, so will end up with a day of work and chores tomorrow (and maybe Saturday), but instead of doing some of it, he is currently in the garden den-building with his brother. It's not that I don't count the den-building as educational - I know it is - and I would be fine with it, IF every now and then he just came in and did a few minutes 'work', to chip away at the back-log he has left himself. I wouldn't mind either if he didn't care about working in the evenings, but I know that I will have a tantrum on my hands if I ask him to do anything after 4pm. I'd be happy with him working in the evenings ~ after-all that is definitely when I work best and it might well be for him too, but HE is not happy with that arrangement, because it means he doesn't get 'screen time' (screens aren't on in the day time, other than for educational purposes, as they are too distracting to EVERYone), or to 'play' (lol). I've been out and reminded him of the time and his need to do some work, but he just 'nnnyah'-ed at me and carried on, so I'll be facing upset later then! This really is a catch 22 ~ fuss now or fuss later... let him choose to make bad choices & face his own consequence, or coerce him into doing things my way and face the long-term consequence of a child who is possibly less able to make good choices on their own. Right now I'm fighting the urge to coerce him and letting him be because I THINK that is the right thing to do, but I'm also dreading the melt-down that will be inevitable later. 'Training' children is no easy task, when you have one that doesn't want to listen to any form of reason - and doesn't easily learn lessons from the consequences (good or bad) of his actions. 

As part of my 'make it better' this year, I've have decided that we need to go out more. I don't drive, so this can prove challenging, but Paul's hours at work have changed a little and he now has two days a week working for the church. This is great for us too, because it means on a Tuesday he is free to drop us at the train station in the morning (saving us a phenomena amount of bus fares) and we can off out for the day and be back in time for tea :D. So last week I renewed my family railcard, courtesy of Tesco vouchers, and we took advantage of the tail-end of the Indian summer and headed for Colwyn Bay. Just an hour on the train and we spent the best part of the day on the beach! The kids loved it and the day was not too long. The clouds came over and it began to rain just as it was time for us to get the train home :D. I think we will go to Liverpool next month. It's a year since we were last there, and we never got out of the Science Museum that day!! This time we won't go there, but instead will head down to the docks, where The Tate and the slave museum are ~ or we might spend some time looking at the amazing Architecture! Liverpool is definitely a city we need to make several trips to, to get the best from it. 

This weekend my eldest children are all away... four are going to The Gathering and their levels of excitement are rising as I speak. This is one of the highlights of their year. Lots of meeting up with friends, and LOUD worship with about 2000 other young people from around the country. Worship to D&B music may not be for everyone, but they love it!! Joel decided not to go thought this year, so he is going to a different worship conference in Bradford with another friend. 

I'll leave you with some of the highlights of the last few weeks in photos (and video).

Beach Day...

Male or female?

The English trench!

The German trench.

The bombing!

Other fun that's happened...

This is possible Phoebe's favourite subject this year. She's loving being left to do her own thing with this and work at a her own pace.

There's a stop motion that we made to go with this too, but I've not uploaded it yet.

Stitch & DD's


Chip's first 'proper' people drawings :D

(with spontaneous art and literacy built in)




The girls and DD made shortbread...

whilst Stitch and chip made simple biscuits.

And today we made these!

...which were seriously INCREDIBLE ~ so incredible they left Chip speechless - and he is SO fussy about his goodies!