Elliot’s not first week at school

This week all the kids Elliot’s age have been starting school. The hubster and I were talking last weekend about the fact that he would have been starting this week. N said “I’m really glad he’s not going”. I am too! We’re really pleased we’ve made the decision to home educate.

The time we’ll get to spend with him when he’d ordinarily be at school, the learning we’ll get to see first hand just as he plays and explores the world, the character we’ll get to see develop and the freedom we’ll have to do things as and when it feels right – these are some of the things we’re looking forward to. 

I bought a couple of workbooks for when he or I feel the need to do some “formal” learning. I’ve been offering them to him most mornings – he’s done a couple of pages this week but I’m not pushing it at all. I’m trying my best to trust that he’ll learn as and when he’s ready to – after all, that’s what he’s done so far in his nearly 5 years of life 🙂 

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Achievement

Being a stay-at-home-mum is often rewarding, but sometimes there are days when it feels like we didn’t achieve anything. N will come home from work and ask “what did you do today?” and the answer will feel inadequate – “nothing” or “we went to asda” or “the kids just played”

It can be difficult to feel like I’ve done anything of worth sometimes. I was feeling a little like this the other day, so I did a little exercise to help me recognise what we’d done during the day. It actually made me feel loads better!
Here’s my list:

Reorganised the dining room from having friends around the night before – straightened table, put extra chairs away etc.
Put a load of washing on
Got breakfast for 3 children
Got children dressed
Sorted nappies (we use washable ones) and put them away
Fed a baby (a total of 6 times on this day)
Swapped toys over (we rotate our toys monthly to keep things tidy and interesting)
Swept playroom and kitchen
Hung washing outside
Built a trolley with Carys out of Build It
Played with the farm with Elliot
Showed Elliot how to skip
Pushed children on swings
Made lunch
Called someone to pay for a HE day out coming up
Put the baby to bed for a nap
Did dishes
Changed nappies (5 times)
Cleared up a wee puddle and changed wet child!
Took 3 children for a bike ride
Got washing in
Helped Elliot with some games on the laptop
Wiped noses and bottoms!
Cuddled children and met emotional needs
Cooked dinner
Cleared table
Did dishes (again)
Put children to bed
Tidied up
Put washing machine on

Still when I read the list it brings up thoughts of “was that enough?” “does that make me needed?”
I have to remind myself that my worth is not based on how much I do, but on who I am, and more importantly WHO’s I am.

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Moving on

I took my son to nursery today…
…for the last time.

It is the end of an era. My little boy is growing up. He has had a lovely time at nursery – he’s gone 2 afternoons a week for the last 5 terms.

I can tell it’s time for him to move on. Recently he’s been a little more reluctant to go, he’s still enjoyed it, he’s just not been as excited about it, and occasionally has said he doesn’t want to go, or wants me to pick him up early. When I’ve quizzed him about why, it’s not because he doesn’t like it, or anything wrong is happening, he just would rather be at home. “I like being able to do things with you mummy”, or “It’s more interesting and exciting at home”. He sure knows how to make me feel good!

And so move on he will. He wasn’t at all fussed about not going anymore. “Will you miss your friends at nursery Elliot?” “Erm, well not really mummy, because I’ll be having fun with you and Carys and Lydia, and anyway, my friends aren’t staying at nursery, they have to go to school.” Told you he knows how to make me smile 🙂

Only another 6 months until Carys will go! eeek. My little girl is growing up too!

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Jam

So we’re very lucky to have become friends with a lovely Home-ed family with kids similar aged to ours. The other day we met up with a plan to make Jam! I’ve never made Jam before but it sounded like a great idea. We decided it would be great to pick the fruit ourselves to give the kids experience of the whole process, so off we went to a pick your own farm.

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We settled on strawberries (because who doesn’t love strawberry Jam). The kids enjoyed selecting the right strawberries – it was interesting to watch the kids pick as each had a different standard of which ones made the cut and each had a slightly different method of working!
Yara (aged not quite 3) picked a few but was pretty content to mostly eat the strawberries.
Carys (having eaten a couple and been told that any more would give her tummy-ache – she’s fructose intolerant) picked a few and then helped Eli by transporting the picked strawberries to the basket – back and forth many times over. She loves repetitive tasks at the moment, more of that later!
Lingard (aged 5) was pretty speedy and fairly selective – mostly picking pretty ripe strawberries.
Elliot was his methodical self – once I’d explained that we needed strawberries that were red he was very intent on picking only the strawberries that had no sign of green or white flesh. This made him pretty accurate but a little slow!
Anyway, eventually we picked enough strawberries (about 2.5kg). Here’s Elliot with half of them.
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We then went for a walk around the farm looking at (and trying) all the other crops. There were blackcurrants, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, apples, broad beans, peas and more. The sun was shining and it was very pleasant!

Then back to the house to make Jam. First off washing and then cutting the fruit. All the children joined in with the cutting – although the girls did the majority.
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Carys sat and cut strawberries from the first one to the last. I think the boys must have done about 12 each, Carys must have done nearly 50. So you see why I know she loves those repetitive tasks. She also loves to help and join in with whatever I’m doing. Sometimes this is lovely, and sometimes it’s a nuisance! I’m trying to learn to see her ‘helping’ as time we get to spend together, rather than as extending the amount of time it takes me to finish a job. This is sometimes difficult when there’s a hungry baby waiting!

Then onto weighing strawberries and sugar (1kg of fruit to 600g sugar for those interested)

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Elliot was watching the scales to let us know when it got to 1115 (the bowl weighed 115g). His ability to identify numbers is fab – I love how mathematical he is naturally.

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After this the pictures run out as we forgot to take them! And because the kids couldn’t really help with boiling sugar and strawberries! We added lemon juice to the jam after it had reached the right temp. Lemon Juice contains pectin which helps it to set. I did not know this!

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Plenty of time for playing outside afterwards too.

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Such a lovely day. Even though we’re not officially HE until September (when Elliot would start school) days like this remind me why I’m really glad we have chosen to. The kids learnt so much and so did I! We can all learn together and do it as and when we feel like it! 🙂

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Sunday rest (at the park!)

A typically busy Sunday and an exceptionally busy week was rescued by a trip to Preston park this afternoon.

By the time we were home from church and had lunch it was after 2, but we knew we needed some family time together so off we went.

We had a quick look round the museum (thanks to our £5 for a year’s entry ticket). They had some Victorian demonstrations on today so we briefly – because to a 2 & 4 year old it’s not that exciting – watched a basket weaver which was fascinating.
Then we decided to go for a walk – although the kids were on bikes. Elliot has just learnt to ride his pedal bike and Carys has got the hang of her balance bike and it is so precious to watch them zoom away. Lovely to be able to walk at a fast pace too without having to stop every 30 seconds to encourage a child along.
The miniature train was running too so we had a quick go, £4 for 5 of is isn’t bad. It was another thing that created joy and happy feelings all round. Even Lydia liked it! Then continued a walk/cycle down to the river – Elliot hasn’t yet mastered stopping as his brakes are a little stiff so some of the downhill bits got our hearts beating a little!

On the way round Elliot found an orienteering post and asked about it. We explained what it was and he said he wanted to find a map and try and find some more. Managed to locate a map (for £1) and he loved it and after finding a few posts was starting to get the hang of orientating the map and identifying landmarks. Great to see his little brain learning and loving it.

I really need to start taking more photos as that would make this a whole lot more interesting!

Anyway, the afternoon restored us a little, it is good to have fun together to go with the busyness and stress of life (did I say it’s been a crazy week). It is especially good to do it on a Sunday – slowing down on the Sabbath and recognising that whilst rest with small children is tricky, it is certainly possible! We often find it difficult to rest because with 3 kids under 5 everything gets a bit manic, but this afternoon just seemed to be perfect. Don’t get me wrong, now they’re in bed I still feel exhausted, but soul rest has been achieved even if physical rest hasn’t!

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Lovely day

Today was lovely! It didn’t start out that way. N had to go down south for the day to meet estate agents at our old flat. He left at 6:30. Kids were basically a nuisance most of the morning – I didn’t have anything planned to do (always an error) and they were just winding each other up and generally not doing what I’d asked. By the time they eventually got dressed (around 10:45) I was feeling frustrated BUT the sun had come out. Yay!

So off we went to Broken Scar with a picnic, wellies and spare clothes! It’s a lovely little picnic spot with an interesting play area and a river. When I’d asked the kids what they wanted to do Elliot suggested we could go to a river but Carys said she wanted to go to a park. This managed to cover both. Lydia fell asleep on the way there which was perfect as got her out in her car seat while we had a picnic, and then could help the other two on the play stuff for a bit. Elliot is getting mightily adventurous! Climbed up to the top of the bird’s nest climbing frame thingy and then wanted to slide down the central pole. Lovely (and only slightly frightening) to see him becoming more able and trying things that a couple of months ago he would have been far too scared of.

Then when Lydia woke up I popped her in the sling, put the kids wellies on and we went down to the river. There’s a nice shallow bit with rocks and stones so the kids chucked stones, splashed about a bit and (just) managed to avoid falling in completely! The sun was beaming down on us but there was enough breeze to not be too hot. Everyone was content.

When we got back the kids played pretty well (always better once they’ve been out). Then after dinner I took them out on their bikes. The 45 mins between tea and bed are typically pretty difficult but I’ve found going out for a walk or bike ride really helps. Yes it means the dishes don’t get done, but it does mean everyone is less stressed and we have a happy end to the day 🙂

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Sunshine

Designed this (with a little technical help from my lovely husband) to print out for when we finally get round to re-doing the kids’ bedroom. Going to frame it to go above Carys’ bed as it is for her really. She makes me think of the song and the song makes me think of her. When she smiles it lights up my life, and when she giggles she sends joy into the whole room.

You are my sunshine 5

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