Thursday, May 12, 2016

A few more snapshots...

Butternut & Sweet Potato pie - home made, pastry and all, by the fair hands of Abbie. 

Macro-art by DD. There were faces drawn on the bricks.

BBC-inspired art by Stitch

This took him three attempts to get it to work, 
simply because he thought he could adapt the instructions ;-)

Can you think of anywhere better to study your geography :D? 

He was having to hold the pages against the breeze though.

Meanwhile inside...DD cooked fudge.

He did really well, but then boiled it a little too long, so it crystallised and I had to rescue it for him. Thankfully I succeeded and it tastes alright, but perhaps a bit to 'strong' - a little bit liquorice flavoured we think - and it still has some grit to it. Next time...

At the same time, Abbie was doing some cooking with Chip - making cookies.

He did all the work. She really just helped him with the weighing and the order of things. Look how chuffed he is with himself :D

In other news, Abbie had her college interview today and has a place to do her Level 2 Btec in Patisserie & Bakery, with GCSE Maths and English concurrently. It was a bit of a boring, paper pushing exercise tbh, and they didn't know quite what to do with her 'no GCSE's' status, but in the end it wasn't an issue. The chap we met at the open day popped in and remembered her - and pretty much said 'no problem' - I think he can tell she is going to be a great student to have around. As she is starting a year early, they just need to pull down funding for her, but having looked at government stuff online tonight, that really should not be an issue for them, especially as they are already providing 14-16s educational courses.

And, Phoebe has her college induction day in a couple of weeks too. Again, I'm waiting on confirmation of a couple of details, but she looks good to do her VOP + GCSE maths and English a year early (alongside Abbie), which will enable her to jump early onto onto a Level 3 course next year.

It's all change - and it's happened quickly - and been a so much simpler process with Reaseheath than it was first time round with Jake at SCC.

Saturday, May 07, 2016


It's kind of handy being born on a bank holiday weekend - it means your almost always free to have a party! You can't always guarantee the weather, but you win some, you lose some.

So last weekend Jake turned 19. It still seems odd to think I have an working, adult son who will only be a teenager for one more year. Thankfully, working also means he can contribute to the cost of his own party - i.e. if he wants alcohol he can buy it!

So, he arranged to have a BBQ with a bunch of friends over. The weather was a warm, but a bit tempermental, with showers and cloud intermittently. Overall though, it was good and the teens did manage to spend a bit of time outside - and Paul did manage to cook without getting soaked :D

Heather, his girlfriend was also able to be here for the weekend, which was nice. He and she had been clubbing in Manchester (where she lives) on the Saturday night, until the early hours, so by the time they arrived home Sunday afternoon they were both a little tired. Unfortunately, due to a turn of events, Paul, myself and all the chids were in Wigan at gym competition, so when they got back to ours they couldn't actually get in. They camped out in our playroom (which thankfully has a seperate door to the main house and is not locked) until we got back at tea-time. Poor kids. It wasn't the warmest day, so they huddled together on the sofa and kipped I think. And then they went to bed pretty early, ready for a busy day on Monday - which was party day.




Caleb's gym comp went well, and he got possibly his best scores to date, but the competition is tough now he's in the under 12's. He's little and dinky (but strong none-the-less). He couldn't do floor due to a weak ankle at the moment, and not wanting to take a risk because he has a grades competition coming up in June, which is more important. He didn't medal, but I was very proud of him all the same. 

This week the sun has come out at last, and we have mostly migrated to hanging out in the garden, and working there as much as we can. I am in fact in the garden just now, typing this out on my tablet. It's warm and breezy and I love it. This morning has been a little stressful - seriously, how long can it take for 3 boys to tidy one room, and why do things always get damaged in the process?! The chids are supposed to get their chores done by Friday evening, so they can chill on a Saturday, but invariably they push it back and the Saturday ends up being a long round of nagging to get jobs done before the next week comes around :( The sunshine has definitely been an added distraction this week too. I, on the other hand, have done so much washing and drying on the line this week that I have run out of washing liquid!



Monday, April 25, 2016

Almost April Over...

I seem to find myself wondering, almost every single month, where on earth the last 30 days have gone! But they do, and life moves rapidly along side time...

So April was a whirl of... actually I'm not really sure tbh!

Main events included:
~ Phoebe Henna-ing her hair...


~ A family trip to the park (and brook) one afternoon, when the sun was really WARM for the first time.


~ and a visit of the Watoto Children's Choir to our church - which has given most of my children quite a 'taste' for visiting Africa ;-) They were incredible!

Other than that there's just been the run-of-the-mill home-ed life stuff and quirky family stuff here and there.

Stitch has been stretching my patience again. I'm not sure who's most to blame for my impatience with him. He is inherently bullish ~ charges at everything and takes care over nothing. I find this incredibly frustrating. It's not that he's not willing to DO any work, so long as he can do it REALLY fast and charge on to the next thing! He doesn't see the point in any of it. I think that's the problem and I lack the creativity these days to spoon feed him inspiration! The work he produces MIGHT be really good, but it's so illegible (not for lack of ability to write legibly anymore, but through lack of effort to do so) that I can't really 'mark' it (or even read it) to help him improve. He doesn't care though and I think I struggle most with his not caring. Eventually, last week, I had reached almost boiling point and decided something had to change in the atmosphere. 

Some weeks ago DD had asked how butter was made, Thursday afternoon, I decided, was the time to find out. I told them all to down their books and we headed off on a 2 mile round trip to the Co-Op and came home to 'make butter.' It held their attention for a short while - at least until the double cream 'turned,' but after that they lost interest and just did gym and romped in the garden instead. I persevered with the single cream until it turned a bit, but to be fair it did take AGES and gave me blisters in the end! Some friends of mine had by then taken Stitch and Chip off my hands to play at their house (to give me a break :D)

Before this week escalates out of hand too, I have decided we are taking a trip out tomorrow. So we are heading to the Imperial War Museum in Manchester for the day. Stitch of course has declared his complete disinterest and Phoebe is not terribly keen either, but is coming all the same. Jake has the week off this week, so he is joining us, and Heather (his girlfriend) might even meet us there too. It's an early train and a full day, but we can be home for tea, so it's great to be able to do. We are so fortunate to have three major cities within an hour's train ride - and the beach also - I keep telling myself we should make better use of our railcard!

The challenging part of my 'solution' to the Stitch problem (i.e. DO more non-book based learning) is that it throws DD into a spin! He likes to slot everything into tidy little compartments of learning and know 'where to write it down' on his chart. He can't cope if I say 'anywhere' - because these things cover a plethora of learning. He needs his 'boxes'. He is quite content with his books and tick-boxes. It's not that he doesn't enjoy the other stuff too, he just needs to be able sort it out in his head and if he can't then HE kicks off! H'edding 8 (now 6) such different children is not without its issues ;-)

One trip they are all keen to do though is a trip to Media City, so I've tasked them all with getting themselves Blue Peter Badges in the near future, and then we can go for just the price of the adult admissions! :D

On another topic; this weekend Abbie, Phoebe and I headed off to Reaseheath College's open day to have a look at their options going into next September. Reaseheath offer 14-16 education and are happy to have under 16's on campus. It's a very different environment to South Cheshire College - and to be honest, felt more accommodating and friendly all round. Abbie was brave enough to go off on a 'tour' by herself, to look at the Patisserie and Bakery course, whilst Phoebe and I went on the Animal Management tour.  

Abbie was very impressed by the look of the P&B course and after discussion with staff, has applied to do Level 2 BTec P&B alongside GCSE Maths & English. This will mean college 4 days a week (3 +1) for a year. She'd  be able to get her M&E out of the way before tackling any Level 3 courses :D. She could then carry on with L3 Btec in P&B (or Food Technology/Dairy if she wanted to change), or she could explore her other idea of doing Performing Arts at South Cheshire. She is very happy and quite excited about next year now, I think!

Phoebe is likewise applying for a course next year ~ a L2 VOP in Animal Care (equivalent to GCSE) and MAYBE, depending on what the college decides to do, her M&E alongside that too. She would be taking her M&E a year early, but would then be able to head straight into a L3 Btec Animal Management the following year, without having to do those as well. However, we threw the college a little by asking if we could do it this way, so we are waiting to hear back from them on that. It would be good if she could be in the same class as her sister, as they could then work together on difficult things, but failing that, she can do her M&E alongside her L3 Btec the following year - no issue. Either way, as of Sept she will be at college 1 (or 2) days a week too. 

I'm so glad we have such a fabulous agricultural college on our doorstep which enables Phoebe to follow her dreams :D And I am also grateful that the same college has begun to offer other more 'out of the ordinary' courses too, and we have managed to find something that Abbie should enjoy doing. Both girls can travel on the bus together (which is free from our village), and they and Joel can all walk to the bus-stop together because they go from the same place, at roughly the same time. The future is shaping up nicely for my teenagers :D

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Time MARCHes on...

Finally the sun is beginning to shine, and temperature is climbing degree by degree. I'm not quite sure where March has gone, but we have managed a little bit of Home-ed in between birthdays, poorly-bugs and Easter ;-)

We've also spent some time out and about and basically I'm just going to blog a few pictures. There's not a lot to tell really!

Out for some fresh-air...

Colouring ~ again!

Some time at the park...

We spent Good Friday morning in the town square, joining in the Good Friday service in the town square, and then the afternoon at Wheelock Farm - always a great place to go. I wonder when the big chids are going to get bored of it, but they never seem to - and of course there's always ice-cream thrown in to encourage them!



Meet Lucy ~ Joel's girlfriend. She fits our family like a hand in glove! :D

We managed a bit of individual and 'family' art time...

Chip's Park (chalk pens)

DD's watercolour lighthouse

Lilo's watercolour lighthouse

Stitch's '2'

Chip's '10'

A poorly / lazy day was spent watching Yesterday TV - all day!! 

 This almost never happens in our house, but I figure it doesn't hurt once in a blue moon and we all enjoyed the no-pressure-to-do-anything day :D The most memorable of the day were Time Team- digging up the remains of Roman praetorium, and Chemisty - the atom, atomic weight and the development of the periodic table (fascinating), and Coast - about the Isle of Wight boat race (and other things).

Some table-based educational moments...

Rainbows through raindrops!

And that was March!
Hello April :D