Friday, 30 December 2011

New beginnings

I know officially there is still 1 more day to go but I'm SO excited about 2012. It really can't come fast enough for us. Nothing terrible happened this year but it hasn't been so easy either and I'm feeling excited and positive about the things coming our way next year. I have SO many plans its a real wonder my head can physically contain it all to be honest, my mind is literally awake very late into the night, thinking of all the things next year will bring. Before I jump head first into 2012 though I want to take a minute to drink up 2011 and some of my favourite posts:-

Hoping to do more of this in 2012 : Geocaching!

Cordelia wants to do more of this : Fishing

Piper wants to go back Here and also back to the Doll Museum.

Bailey will be undertaking his first IGCSE, all things well, but he most enjoyed Bailey's Blue Ice Cream Experiment this post has had 195 page views!!

Hoping at some point in the next month to experience this again Snow!! This post along with Lincoln Castle has had the most views on the blog..

My favourite post of all though is this most-perfect-day-ever? Quite-possibly and this is what I want to do a LOT more of next year, be outside, on the beach, in the woods, in the countryside, outside everywhere!

Here is wishing all of you reading this blog out there a Very Happy New Year in 2012 xxx

Inspiring journalists

#welovedhomeed this week-Inspired by a surprising factor-the Xbox kinect we bought as a family games console this Christmas-the children have begun their own newspaper "The Weekly Watch". Just goes to show that its always the things you least expect to inspire your children that actually do. We have all thoroughly enjoyed the fun we have had on the XBOX this Christmas, showing that not all video games destroy your mind. Our favourites have been Kinect Sports, Viva Pinata and Dance Central 2, I have even waited for the children to get in bed before having a practice on Dance Central 2 (I always wanted to be a dancer when I was little, I loved musicals from an early age and love all kind of dancing, ballet, street, ballroom so I'm indulging). What else has been popular from our Christmas this year? Piper was THRILLED with her purple sewing machine, Cordelia loved her Playmobil campervan and vet's clinic, Bailey loves his gamer chair and Gadget Show gun(he went to the Gadget Show Live at the NEC in Birmingham with his best friend and had an amazing time, he's a huge fan of the show), Ruben has loved his nerf gun (Can't say we are all feeling the love of being randomly shot in various places unexpectedly though) and his Big Trak. There maybe some of you out there that had one of these the first time round? I didn't but they are a lot of fun. My only gripe is that its a bit loud, especially when Ruben programme's it to shoot 99 times, hmmmm. A lot of skill is being used to programme it though so I'm very impressed with it. Ruben had been super hyper since his birthday last month but surprised us all by sitting patiently and building his new K'Nexosaurus too.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas too!

Thanks to the kindness of strangers.

On the way over to our house Christmas morning my mum and step-dad saw an old couple sat with their hazard lights on. My mum stopped to ask if they were both ok, the lady had had a stroke in the car and her husband was clearly in shock. My mum and step-dad spent 30 minutes performing CPR to her before the ambulance arrived but sadly she passed away. They were both shook up and cold by the time they arrived and we all felt very sad. So many people drove past whilst they were trying to help her and yet my mum and step-dad were the only people to stop and help. I'm very proud of both of them and also incredibly sad that they had to witness something so sad on what should have been a happy day.  Its a stark reminder, if ever one were needed, that life is very precious and also very unpredictable. Needless to say the rest of the day was spent being thankful that we were all here, in this moment, happy, healthy and loved.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Education Outside School Magazine

In case there are any of you out there that are unaware of this fabulous magazine for home educators I have copied a link in for you to have a look. Its a magazine designed and written by home educators and is full of interesting articles, fun activities and lots of useful information. I have enjoyed reading it for a while now and was very lucky enough to be given an opportunity to write a review for this current issue! Please take a look and support this great home ed magazine!
Education Outside School

Merry Christmas!

Things have been busy here at the Barras Home-School of Excellence and so my posts have been a little few and far between but I would just like to take this opportunity to say thank you for reading my blog posts and especially a big THANK YOU for all the supportive comments (especially after my candy cane post!). I love reading all your comments and appreciate the time taken to post a comment, blogger does not always make it so easy! Its been a super busy year and I am already so excited about 2012, my head is full of all the things that we are going to do/see/visit/experience but I am trying to not run to far ahead and enjoy the last week of this year because it has had far, far more highs than it has lows. So here is wishing you all a wonderfully MERRY CHRISTMAS and a SUPER NEW YEAR for 2012 for all of us here at Barras Towers :) xxx

Piper's Party at Sew in the City

Piper is really into sewing and designing, she is very patient and also very interested in the whole textile/creation of fashion and so when I heard about this new sewing cafe opening up in Sheffield, I knew she would love it. She picked a few of her close friends to take with her to the party and it took place a few days after her actual birthday. We were a bit late due to car problems and it was all a bit frantic, but after a fabulous friend helped us out we made it on time. Thank goodness because PIper had been looking forward to it so much. The room was really large and full of such inspiring sewing, materials, buttons, fabrics etc. The girls all sat and got started on their russian doll cushion, which Piper had chosen for everyone to do.

After they had stitched all around the edges they stuffed them and then took a break to have some snacks in the party area. I had made Piper a winter scene cake on her actual birthday but had also attempted a sewing machine cake for her party. Here it is :

After we sang Happy Birthday the girls eagerly went back to put all the finishing decorations to their cushions. Piper wanted her photo taken with the Singer sewing machine as she has read so much about them. She sat there for a while before looking around at all the different sewing accessories and materials. The manager told us how they are setting up their own textile printing workshops after Christmas and Piper's eyes just lit up!

The cafe has only been open for 8 weeks but its fantastic and I would very highly recommend it to anyone, all the girls had a wonderful time. It even inspired Ruben to do some sewing when we got back home so boys would enjoy it too. The staff are so friendly and were so inspiring. I've come home with a million new projects and ideas for us to do in the new year and Piper had a wonderful time with all her friends.

If anyone is interested here is the link: Sew in the City

Thursday, 22 December 2011

11 we have landed!

I can't quite believe it but my beautiful daughter has turned 11! The tiniest of my babies, weighing 6 lbs and 10 1/2 ozs, (also the most painful labour, albeit shortest too), she was born, not crying, but simply blowing bubbles. She has been the most laid back girl ever since! She is funny, clever, very sarcastic and a total bookworm! Seems only right then that her birthday present of choice was a Kindle. Which has barely left her hands ever since! She is really into her fashion designing at the moment too and was lucky enough to get the new Paper Fashions by Klutz book, they are really good books as you get to know a bit about the history of fashion and then lots of inspiration to make your own designs. Piper is a huge fan. The last Friday group meet for our home ed group also fell on Piper's birthday so we had the group's Christmas party which was so much fun. We all took food to share, and some of the other mums and dads had took games to play too. The kids had a fantastic time and so did the parents actually! Will post photo's up tomorrow as they are on my other camera.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Its not always smiles and candy canes......

Well because some days it just isn't. Today has been one of those days, I'm thankful really because there aren't many of these kinds of days and I do think a lot of it is to do with this time of year. I love Christmas, truly I do BUT it does not behave in the way it should. The excitement and build up is great but I think halfway through I begin to feel some kind of pressure to be the perfect Christmas mommy with perfect Christmas, film-style children and the fact is that just doesn't happen. With two birthdays near/in December too expectations are even higher than usual! And sometimes being a perfectionist can work against you. I don't moan too much on my blog because that's not really what it exists for (that's what my other blog is for!) but I hope I don't come across as a smug-mum either because neither are true. I struggle too, I have s**t days too and wonder what on earth I am doing! I felt like this earlier today after our disastrous candy canes, and wondered whether I really am capable to be everything to everyone all the time, its more than a full time job its a 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job with very little help. So really I should give myself a break because no one else is going to but I'm a perfectionist and I have super, super, miles high expectations not of anyone else but myself. Rarely do I reach them as I've stacked them way too high, I doubt anyone could reach them actually. Today I have really struggled with my eldest daughter's moody behaviour, despite knowing its her hormones and pre-birthday excitement, doesn't help when she walks off halfway through conversations if she isn't going to get her own way, slams doors etc.. And an 8 year old who has an attention span of a good 2 seconds and doesn't want to do anything I suggest. I've reached a point today where I have decided autonomy just isn't working for us. My children need more structure, despite all these amazing autonomous home edders I read about, it just isn't for us. So I'm planning on weaning us ever so slowly into some Charlotte Mason time-wise structure e.g. short bursts of different topics, I'm hoping this will build until maybe we will come back to autonomy. I realised today (whilst making pizza dough) that you can have the same ingredients every time but it still comes out slightly different each time you make it, that's how it is with children. Its the same things every time but out come four different children who need different ways of being parented because they each come with their own needs, abilities and characters. I'm glad of it and not a day goes by without me being thankful for these amazingly smart, articulate, funny, super-smashing children that we have created but that doesn't mean that each day doesn't come with its own set of challenges, because it does. I'm not perfect and neither are they so on days like this I need to remember that and give myself a break.........Anyway what have we done today

Made candy canes which went a bit wrong to be honest but if you don't try you just don't know.


Helped Cordelia make her brother a glasses case for Christmas with the sewing machine.

Done some Christmas activities, including getting Ruben to have a go at his first word search, drawing a Robin and I even relented and signed him up for Reading Eggs. I'm a little skeptical about it but we'll see....

Took Bailey, Piper and Cordelia to pick up their new glasses. They are all very excited getting new ones and this is Cordelia's first pair so she is super excited, sadly Ruben is feeling rather left out that he has neither glasses or a case with frogs on. That's what happens when you always make sure everyone has equal stuff, always. Hot chocolates with squirty cream seemed to numb the pain for him ever so slightly.......

Girls Christmas Concert

The girls had their Christmas concert last night and it was lovely. I haven't uploaded the photo's yet as my batteries have died which is such a shame. It was all very festive, we watched a play first which was by another home ed group who have a singing/games group at the other side of town. It was lovely to watch and very cute as they were younger than our group. Ruben actually sat still and everything, which is quite unusual for him at the moment as he is super hyper. I think a mixture of his birthday and Piper's coming up too this week and then Christmas too, I think he may well explode before the day arrives. I'm glad hubby is off next week for a few days and there will be two of us here as he is quite a handful at the moment. After the play we had warm punch and mince pies and then settled back down again to watch our group sing. Its all girls about from the singing teacher's son, which is a shame, Ruben enjoyed going but hated being the only boy so refuses to go except to play with the older brothers in the group. The girls watched some of their friends playing the recorders first and then got up to sing their songs. They all did really well and I've ever so proud of them. Its quite a big thing to stand up and sing in a room full of people and they have done it twice this year! One very proud mama :)

Peppermint Creams

Last week we went over to my super-clever friend's house. There is seriously nothing this lady can't make now, so far in the last few months, she has taught me how to make my own:
Laundry Liquid
Body Moisturiser
Hair conditioner
Spray Cleaner
Lemon Curd
Lip Balms
Hand wash
And last week she showed me how to make hand scrub (which I will probably use as a body scrub too because I am seriously addicted to them!), toilet and bathroom cleaner, and air drying clay too. Cordelia is just in her absolute element there at the moment because she LOVES making things. My friend gave the girls   some bath bombs she had made, (we are still using the handmade soaps she gave us a while back too) and they had a divine bath and game out smelling lovely and looking a bit sparkly. I think Cordelia could very easily learn to do things things herself and think she could easily end up setting herself up as competition to LUSH at this rate!
We also made some peppermint creams which I have been wanting to make for a while now. They are actually very easy to make, just royal icing, water, peppermint extract and green food colouring. Then you dip them in melted chocolate, yum :)

 I have also been a little inspired by Kirstie Allsopp's Channel 4 program and decided to make this heart and bell garland. I quite like it anyway :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Crafty Christmas!

This year we even beat our normal decoration day, normally we put up the tree on the 1st of December, this year we did it on Advent Sunday which was the 27th of November. It was rather lovely actually as I found all these beautiful handmade decorations that the children and I had made last year in baby steps to Christmas. This year we have put them all on the white tree and they look lush, it is quite sparsely decorated but I quite like that. 

Cordelia decorated the tree in the hallway all by herself, its not quite so sparse but I like it! Last year we had a real tree too but not sure we will bother this year.

 I have also managed to make the children an advent calendar which I am hoping we will use every year, but we'll see. It took me much longer to make than I had anticipated, my advice would be not to watch your favourite film (Moulin Rouge) therefore not having to embroider the same number over and over again doh! Also helps if when realising your mistake the first time you then don't continue to repeat said mistake another 3 times!!! Still it has had some rather lovely compliments so maybe it was worthwhile after all? And as I had all the material apart from ribbon and chocolates it hardly cost me a penny, love being frugal!!

I was also very fortunate to find a Playmobil advent calendar in the charity shops for the grand sun of £1.49! Bargain, the kids have loved opening the different boxes every day and this is the scene so far:

The children have also been a little hama bead crazy the last few days and have made these lovely decorations and added them on to the tree, see what happens when you buy 3 new colours of hama beads :-) I haven't bought any yet but have it on good authority that the hama bead selection at craftmerrily is very good if anyone is interested. 

The girls have also made some lovely handmade gifts but I can't put any photo's up because I don't want to spoil the surprise for anyone! Daddy sat with the girls on Sunday and made gift tags from last year's Christmas cards, its such a good idea as we are always recycling here and what better way to not waste cards than turn them into sweet gift tags? Also another way to save money by not buying gift tags, I know they aren't that expensive but at this time of year, every little bit helps. The girls also wrote out Christmas cards for their friends at singing group as yesterday was their last practice before the concert next week :-)) They are both very excited about that and I can't wait to see all their good work coming together. This is the first Christmas concert they have done out of school so its all very exciting.

Ruben's Pokemon Party

Ruben decided to inform me 3 weeks before his birthday that he would like a party, its always tricky at this time of year to do parties at home but we have a big enough house to do a small party so Ruben decided on a Pokemon Black & White Party. We asked the guests to come in black and white, apologies to everyone as I only realised myself what a pain that was when I discovered Ruben didn't in fact own anything black or white, cue a last minute outfit buy on the party day. He also requested a Pokemon cake and so I did his favourite character at the moment- Oshawott, sadly none of the other guests knew who it was but I did get some lovely comments on my snowman/clown cake :-) Still, important thing was Ruben knew who it was straight away and was VERY happy. I also made some pokeball biscuits for the kids to eat, which came out ok, tasted better than they looked thankfully. Daddy was in charge of the games and did a superb job (gosh we are lucky to have such a fabulous daddy bear), he had prepared Pokemon Bingo cards earlier in the week, which went well, the kids all sat still which I thought was amazing. Bailey and Cordelia did a combined effort to produce a paper mache Pokemon ball, which was passed around like pass the parcel but you had to do an animal noise when the music stopped and everyone had to guess what you were. Was very funny. There was also a Pokemon cocooning game, where they had to work in boy/girl teams to mummyfy one of their team with toilet paper, was very entertaining.There was also pin the tail on Pikachu, which Hubby drew himself too. He had prepared some more games but by the time food had been consumed the kids just wanted to play so we let them get on with it whilst the adults chatted, drank tea and polished off the party food. Ruben got some fantastic presents, lots dino related so he should be a very busy boy for some time yet. Thank you to all who came xx

And the Bubbin turns 8...

Yesterday my youngest child turned 8 years old. For the next two weeks my children's ages are 8, 9, 10 and 13. That makes me realise how small they all were when he was born. Pippi wasn't even 3 years old. I can't imagine how we did it BUT we did and I would very, very happily do it all over again. Ruben was 11 day late (although the midwife said he was more like 14 days as his skin was peeling so much!) I remember feeling quite fed up as the people around me were having babies early and before me, plus I felt the size of a house. Piper was born 3 days early and Cordelia 2 days early and Bailey was only 2 days late so this was quite unusual for me. Finally though my labour began just after midnight on the 30th of November and Ruben was born at 4.40 am weighing a very healthy 8lbs 9ozs. It seems so long ago now, people keep telling me that 8 is the age they stop being little but I can't ever imagine that to be true to be honest, my children are always going to feel little to me, even the big one, who is now slightly taller than me. Its a weird feeling adjusting to life with older children, gone are baby toys, safety gates, toilet steps and plug covers and here are Lego, Playmobil piles, moody tweens and teenagers, hormones, a bathroom full of nail varnishes and Lush soaps that aren't mine! Anyway.... Ruben didn't want to do much on his actual birthday yesterday, we offered to take him to the cinema but he wanted to stay home and play with his new toys instead. He is having some friends over for a Pokemon themed party on Saturday and is very much looking forwards to that. Cordelia made him a rather delicious chocolate cake too, I have the job of the Pokemon birthday cake to make for Saturday.

Here he is still aged 7 the night before his birthday, not sure when this idea came about-one last photo before your birthday-but I like it.
Ended in a bit of a pile up though :-)

Here he is officially 8.