We haven't been here for a few years and as Ruben still loves animals...
The girls safely dropped off in town after having Freya sleepover, they went to the cinema to watch Guardians of the Galaxy.
First up were the goats, supercute :)
Reindeer, which walk very clumsly on tarmac and look like their wearing slippers?!..... one had a huge wee too...
Still cool though
The playground is fab here, lots of things for Ruben to play on. He loved the tubes but it did look like a huge hamster cage. A bit hot for running through tubes..
Spiderman on the climbing frame
At the top of the climbing frame
Thank god the smell isn't possible via photographs, because the smell here was awful...but adorable piggies
All snuggled up
These were so so so so cute and tiny. Cordelia would have loved these ponies..
We had our picnic in the gardens behind the museum before we headed to the farm. After we had hot chocolate and chocolate cake in the cafe whilst it rained outside. A fresh farm meant n potato pie for tea :)
Girls thought the film was good but not as good as Avengers.
A question I myself am trying to understand. When I took my son (then aged 9) and my two daughters (then aged 5 and 7) out of the primary school they were in, the end of school seemed a very, very long way away. And I suppose for my youngest son, who has never been to school it still is quite far away, he's only 10 after all.
Bailey has spent the last 9 months or so taking two GCSE's in Maths and English online, which has been provided by our local college with no cost to us. Something which I used to worry about quite a bit, exams/gcse courses/igcse courses can all be very expensive, we would have found the money if needed be but when you home educate it is something that changes your life in so many ways. By this I mean maybe the type of choices we have made since becoming a home educating family. Jobs have changed to allow us the freedom of both of us being around for our children, we buy lots of second hand things-which we hardly ever did before we home educated-things that might have once been important to us no longer are-I suppose a little keeping up with the "jones'" kind of thing? Yeah we don't have a new car, we rarely wear branded clothing-unless its second hand or heavily reduced, we don't spend our spare time shopping or eating out (unless its a home made picnic!) Things that are important to us now, as a family who home educates, are spending time together, following child led interests, reading, having a happy (not always tidy or perfect!) home and really being there for all our children. Its a tough job but I know we wouldn't want it any other way too.
The decision to home educate was so much bigger than I had imagined or anticipated, it has changed our lives in so many more ways than I could have dreamt. Its also meant, and I see this as a really good thing, that we have met so many people from different walks of life, different cultures and religions, we've had more visits/trips/experiences than I think the children would ever have had in school.
The children have been allowed time, space and freedom to develop their own characters, personalities and interests with no/very little peer pressure. For Bailey in particular this has meant he has been able to follow his interests of reading, warhammer, xbox, pc games, lego etc. He hasn't been forced into doing things he dislikes such Physical Education (except maybe a walk through the peaks haha). He has been to so many places not just in the UK but also Europe, he has learnt history through visiting places such as Hampton Court Palace, Welsh Castles, The Hague, Isaac Newton's home, English Castles, Southwell Workhouse and London Museums. He's been allowed to sleep in when he needed it and has hardly been ill since leaving school.
If I'm honest I think Bailey would have done well in school too, there are some things I think he might have struggled with but I think he is the kind of boy who is thoughtful, kind, polite,clever, funny and sensible. And some could argue he has been "sheltered" from certain things, but I don't think that is a bad thing. He has had longer to mature than perhaps he would have if he'd stayed on at school.
We are only two days away from his GCSE results, he's not nervous as he has already secured a college place doing something he is passionate about-Video Games Design-in fact the next stage of his life is all going really well. He recently got himself a part time job at a local pub and for a 16 year old he's getting a good pay, he is working really hard and we couldn't be more proud of him. He has so many exciting new adventures ahead of him, I'm sad that he doesn't come out with us anymore and I can't tell you how strange it is that we often have only three children or less with us. But that's plenty to be busy with ;)
The answer to my title is still a bit unanswered really, what happens next I'm not 100% sure but I know that we have a very close bond with our son and if don't think that will change with him being in formal education again. I'm going to miss him dreadfully though!
This is going to be my very last "public" blog post, I'm still going to write the blog but I'm not putting it online. Things are changing and I need to change with them, thank you to all of you for reading, I've had some really wonderful comments over the last 4 years of keeping the blog and today the blog hit 95,000 page views which is amazing!! I've even managed to meet some fellow bloggers which was wonderful.
The four pesky hobbits and their mama thank you for reading xxxx
So far 2014 has seen us make some amazing visits/experiences and, for me anyway, "pinch me" moments. Another one to add to the list is Bristol Balloon Fiesta, I've wanted to come ever since I saw it on a Cbeebies art programme that the peeps used to watch when they were little, I'd never heard of it before then to be honest! But every year since I've checked the website and finally I talked Hubby into the L-O-N-G drive down!!!
The girls brought along their friend F and Bailey stayed home as it's not his "thing". We arrived about 3pm to find a huge, sprawling, music blasting funfair. The girls had a few rides together and Ruben had a go on the funhouse and ghost train before the girls friend talked them into this ride:
I still can't believe they went on it to be honest, hubby and I were nearly sick watching them on it but I'm also in awe of them for giving it a go. They actually really enjoyed it despite initial nerves!
We kept seeing people wearing Pikachu hats so went in search of the source, turns out Nintendo had a big stall. They made a hunt for Pokemon (perfect for our huge Pokemon fan!) so Ruben took half an hour to fill in his sticker sheet including diving into this ball pool to find one painted as a pokeball:
This was his prize:
Then he got to meet Mario & Luigi!
There was a helicopter doing mini flights so they all went off to watch it taking off/landing:
Then we took all our camping chairs, mats & picnic to watch the balloon launch!!
Loved the smurf balloon & the balloon covered in balloons:
There were so many:
Perfect backdrop against the super blue skies
We loved the dragon one:
Cordelia loved the winking flower balloon:
It was a bit of a wait to the night glow and it got very busy! I even had an argument with a rather grumpy lady in the queue for toilets! Cordelia and Ruben stood patiently waiting whilst this lady was huffing, puffing and being a complete misery-and they say the young have no manners pfff!
When it finally came on it was brilliant, the music was so-so but a wonderful thing to have seen:
The fireworks after were spectacular too, the best I've seen in a long time. All in all a really fantastic day and have to admit I love Bristol, wish we'd had time to visit for longer.
I have to admit to thinking our camping days were behind us, we sold our big family tent earlier in the year and it made me a bit sad but the peeps are growing up and so it was fair enough. We're lucky to fit in term time mini breaks because it's so much cheaper than school holidays but there were places we wanted to visit because it was summer that cost a small fortune. So we decided to buy a much smaller, quick to put up tent that only needed to sleep 5 as Bailey no longer wants to come with us :'(....... He was fine though as his grandparents looked after him very well and it meant he could still do his social things but I know he was being well looked after (and well fed!)
It was still a strange experience though, the first time in over 16 years that I've been on a beach without him. But he isn't a fan of the beach or camping so he wouldn't have enjoyed it and it's not fair to the younger three that they should miss out.
It was a longer drive than I remembered to Norfolk so we were relieved to get out of the car at Sheringham and feel the warmth of the sun. It's a lovely little town with lots of pretty shops, great charity shops too! So we bought lunch, picked the girls some books from the charity shop (they had read all the book they'd brought in the car on the way down!) and headed to the beach...
Some of us even braved the water (not me!) which actually wasn't too cold for the North Sea!
Cordelia even did some sand art, here is her sand horse head...
We headed to our campsite which was in Cromer, it is one of the nicest campsites we've stayed at, good facilities, a playground with goats-which Ruben & Cordelia loved- and no noisy campers keeping us awake. We set up camp, very quickly thanks to our new tent and then headed into Cromer for fish n chips by the sea! We slept great until the owls woke hubby and I at 4am, kids managed to sleep through their hoots completely however!
Day 2 of our camping trip and we woke early to sunny, blue skies and headed back into Sheringham as we really enjoyed our day there yesterday. We went more prepared this time with a board for the kids to play on in the water, we've had it since we went to St Tropez in 2007 so it's great to see it being used again!
Hubby even made some beach art:
Piper enjoyed the picnic and read her new book "Noughts & Crosses" by Majorie Blackman-she finished it in a day so we barely even got spoken too! Which is why she's pulling this face when I said "welcome back Piper"
Digging with his dad
We had a lovely four/five hours on the beach, another walk around the shops, ice creams and bought bacon for tea before going back to camp to cook it. I really missed Bailey today, and even had a little cry behind my sunglasses on the beach! But thanks to mobile phones he was always in contact :) we cooked our bacon and then I decided to drive us all down to the beach at Cromer to watch the sunset, we live quite far from the sea at home so it's not something we get to do and it was really lovely.
Looking for driftwood on the beach, whilst Cordelia drew "Loki was here" in the sand with a stick....
Ruben and I were sat watching breakfast news, as is our usual routine of a morning when we saw the giants. They looked Epic and so Ruben asked "Can we go?" The beauty of home educating/being self employed is that of going off when we feel like it-not always possible but in this case there was no reason why we couldn't! So early Friday morning we got up and drove the two hours from home to Liverpool, we haven't been for 4/5 years, I used to live in Merseyside so have a soft spot for Liverpool, there are so many amazing museums/galleries/things to see. It's an amazing city.
The traffic was a bit crazy so hubby kicked (not literally) us out of the car which happened to be great timing as the Grandma was just setting off:
She walked right by us:
I can't quite describe the atmosphere, it was amazing, there was a live band just behind the Grandma and the music was so good, really upbeat, it was one of those "pinch me" kind of moments. I'll never forget it.
We met hubby, who sadly had missed the grandma, and walked around the city to get lunch, we headed down to Albert Docks to eat lunch only to find that's where the Grandma was heading! Perfect timing. We had a great view and Bailey even spotted the creator Jean-Luc, his company The Royal Luxe are amazing. Here he is:
I thought it was brilliant that he walked among the crowds and watched the giants from ground level. The Lilliputians who work the giants were fantastic, totally transfixing as they jumped ropes to move her. Cordelia even spotted two of them being fed chocolate up on the top whilst they moved the Grandma's face!
We watched from across the docks as they put her in her wheelchair for a siesta, such a feat of outsounding engineering! We had a walk around the Titanic museum and the Tate before heading back past the sleeping Grandma. They even made her snore and her chest go up and down as if she was breathing!
We headed up to see the girl and her dog, it was really hot so we found some shade and waited an hour for them to finish their siesta. The dog came first and he was brilliant, they even made him drool! When she finally came she was on the roof of a car, we presume because of the hill? But not sure. She was beautiful
We headed up the hill quickly as we were going to go back to the car, but they made the dog run too which was so funny. His ears moved in the wind and he looked so lifelike!
As we got further round we realised that they were due on the road and we could be right next to them so we decided to wait again. I'm glad we did as we got such a good views!
I think the Lilliputians are brilliant, the costumes/uniforms they were wearing were fab, I loved the red velvet ones the Lilliputians who worked the Grandma/Little Girl were wearing but they must have been sweltering!
The girl was a bit behind the dog but it was great to see her not only walking but enjoying an ice lolly!
We watched as they took her ice lolly down and knelt her carefully on the ground whilst asking for children under 10 to sit on her arms! Ruben and Cordelia were a bit disappointed to be too old but it was lovely to watch as they even moved the little girls head and eyes to look at the children on her arms, just so realistic!
We headed off after that as it'd been a long, hot day and we still had to walk back to the car and drive two hours home. We got home at 9pm but it was worth it, such an amazing experience that we'll never forget.