Sunday, 31 May 2015

Wrapping up May...

It definitely feels like I've wrapped up May-literally its been bloody freezing!!! Sometimes I think I am far too nesh to live in the North, I think I should live some where much warmer. Its been a bit of a tough month and I'm realising that is because I am feeling tired so often, the effects of severe hayfever mean that I don't sleep well during the summer months and often have insomnia too. It doesn't make me very productive and makes for me being even less of a morning person than I am normally.

We've had a busy week catching up with lots of friends, it often happens that way during half term week! We had a nice walk in the woods with friends at Sherwood Pines, always a favourite place. Despite the car park over flowing with cars we hardly passed anyone on the walk and R and his friends R & M played in the playground for ages. They made a game where the pine cones, bark, sticks etc were "currency" and all made little shops, this including the majority of the kids in the playground too! Ruben found a stick that he thought looked like the Grim Reaper's:



Cordelia had a show jumping competition with Pony Club and came 5th, so she was really happy, she has only entered one or two of these competitions before and since she doesn't have her own horse..(yet!) to practice on she did really well.

Piper has been thinking about her Silver Arts Award and starting to plan what she will be doing, she's also helping out with lots of Lolita group admin as well as practicing her drawing and even maths!

I'd love to say it was nice having Bailey around this week but I haven't seen him anymore than I normally would to be honest. Since he barely got out of bed before lunch and spent most of the time huddled over his PC working on his final college project. But here is a photo of him in a rare moment of playing Lego....



I was so pleased to have a lovely response to my birthday blog hop, it was the first time I'd ever attempted it and after a few teething problems it all worked well. So thank you to all of those who joined in. The Princess Poet wrote a lovely post on how much her life has changed in the last 5 years and her hopes for the next 5, it must be really wonderful to have known you wanted to home educate when your child was so small, I really wish I had known when Bailey was so young. Sandra over at Take Two Bods wrote about the changes in her home educating journey now her son has nearly finished HE. This reminded me so much of my journey with Bailey and it was lovely to read in detail about her son's (and Sandra's of course!) achievements, many of which I didn't know about. Its always wonderful to have people ahead of you in the home educating world, such an inspiration when you have those "wobbly" days. Jo over at Our Field Journal spoke about how much her three children have changed in the last 5 years-including her youngest who wasn't even born then, again so lovely to see HE from the beginning and the video of Noah and the Whale's "In 5 Years Time" actually had me in tears! Paula over at Our Education Otherwise Diary shared her wonderfully, exciting journey-most of which I didn't even know!-things have changed a lot for them in the last 5 years and I really look forward to reading about their next 5 years. Lucy at Educating Sausages had a big change in the last couple of years and I could relate to so much of what she said about schools as it was a very similar story for us at one point. I'm so glad I found home educating and that we have been able to enjoy so much time with our children. I love how Lucy said she had adapted herself to fit with her children's needs because I feel so strongly that is something essential for being a good parent and essential when you are a home educating  parent! Higglepea Home Ed has been a blog I've followed for a long time, I find her blog to be so inspiring and as she is ahead of me in the teenage years I've sought much comfort from her words. Her girls are on a fantastic journey and have already achieved so much on their HE journey, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what is next for them. I'm lucky to know Higglepea in real life too. Katie over at The Gallivanters is also a real life friend and despite living 300 miles away from her we have managed to meet up on two occasions, her daughter S and my youngest son Ruben are great friends. I have always enjoyed reading her very honest blog about home educating and found it very reassuring on my "wobbly days", she is full of lots of great ideas! over at Life Love and Literature I could relate to the Badman review as that is sadly, some of my first memories of HE, I've also encountered some of the self doubt that comes with home educating and not having the same experiences as lots of other people. It is easy to see other's lives with rose-tinted glasses on and can make you feel pretty rubbish when that isn't the case for you. I'm glad she has found a balance that works for her and her sons. Angela at Journey Unique is also a friend I've managed to meet in real life through the power of blogging, I've always enjoyed reading her blog and seeing how interesting life home educating two sets of twins can be. I've loved seeing how her children have grown and flourished in the last 5 years and look forward to reading more of their journey. Happy Hema is quite new to home ed and it was lovely to read her experiences 6 months in, she has so much to look forward to with her two children and I really look forward to reading more of her journey and adventures.

Thank you all for taking part!

I know for some of you, looking back isn't something you find useful but for me looking back and reflecting on what has happened and where we have come helps me work out where we are heading. And I rather enjoy it, I feel as if the last 5 years have flown by and it was incredibly enjoyable to think back to that time, I'm always learning being a parent, I'm always adapting to the needs of my children. I'm adapting to having teenagers and I'm adapting to the fact that in another 5 years time I will most likely be at the end of our home educating journey, although who knows what could happen in 5 years time.

Image result for quotes on reflection  Image result for quotes on reflection

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

All play and no work!

Was strange this morning only having three children at home, Bailey had gone to his friend's for a sleepover and I always think how quiet it is when he's not here even though he's usually in bed! I do love that the holidays mean he is at home at bit more. I can't believe he will have finished his first college year in a matter of weeks just in time for his 17th birthday!

We've had a home day today, or at least the girls and Ruben have. We have had my niece over since this morning and a visit from my dad too, normally the girls are great little helpers but they have had one of those lovely days where they have just hung around together, in their rooms, drawing, listening to music, giggling, chatting and just generally having a great time. Their bond is such that I am rather jealous, even though they are so opposite they really "bounce" off each other. Cordelia is working on doing some art to sell at comic cons so she has been super happy and Piper is still excited that she managed to find a foundation that matches her skin after I took her to the No7 counter in Boots on Sunday. Make-up is becoming much more important to her and I've enjoyed helping her pick out colours that suit her and giving her tips. I've told her she has amazing skin and doesn't need foundation but what do mums know! Even the No7 make up lady told her she had beautiful skin and really didn't need any foundation, but when you are 14 those things can seem so important! (Piper I've written this down so in another 20 years when you are my age and say "I wish I had appreciated how beautiful my skin was when I was 14!" I can direct you back to this exact blog post :D)

Ruben has been playing on Minecraft, he did his IXL first thing too. He's had chats with his friend S and he also managed to finish off a little parcel to send off for her today, his sisters have both helped too. He's basically avoided me today as he doesn't really do babies/toddlers. Bailey kindly showed Ruben how to download an emulator so he can play old Nintendo gameboy games on his laptop. We've also continued with our Doctor Who viewing after tea, we have started right back at the beginning with Christopher Eccleston as Hubby found some more dvd's at the car boot. He also bought a copy of the Doctor Who film with the Eighth Doctor so we'll probably watch that this week too. I'd forgotten how scary some of the older episodes seem but Ruben seems completely unfazed! I put the photo up from the Dr Who Experience of him and his friend S in the Tardis on his wall last night, its so sweet!

I meanwhile have had a day of toddler activities, a much simpler day with water play, a trip to the park, reading some of Ruben's Julia Donaldson books, a bounce on the underused trampoline and a day spent chasing our poor cats. Thanks to my sister buying my niece shoes that squeak when she walks the cats managed to get away before she reached them! I've even had a play in the underused/abandoned Minehut, sort of like a trip back in time today ha!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Catch up post!

The week's trial is over and have to say it was a much bigger success than I thought it would be. They all said how much they enjoyed it and everyone got along so much better than spending time alone in their rooms. It was a bit like what happens when we go on holiday without wif-fi, everyone takes a day or two to adjust and then they all start to enjoy each other's company. They still had plenty of time online but during 9-3pm. Cordelia, who normally is up late (late to bed late to rise) was up and dressed early and actually enjoyed not missing all of the morning in bed!

It was only 5 days but they survived and I think its shown that what works for us is a little more structure. Doing the IXL maths practice everyday had a real bonus of Piper saying it was actually getting easier to do! I think we will keep some aspects of the week.

Ruben enjoyed doing lots of the Doctor Who activities, he even started doing a script for his own episode and a cartoon strip.

I managed to pick up these books from last weekend's car boot, Bailey used to have a lot of these books but I thought Ruben wouldn't be interested so they ended up going to the book bank a while ago! Ruben has started on one already so I will keep looking out at car boots and charity shops. Its funny when you start looking at something how much you see it everywhere. All I noticed at the car boots last weekend were Doctor Who stuff!


The girls are feeling put out that Ruben is getting so much great post a week from his friend S. He was really excited to get a box through the post this week containing this cool necklace:


He has hardly taken it off! You can read the story behind it on S's mums blog The Gallivanters, its a lovely story and such a sweet idea!


Bailey took a break from his grass cutting duties to play with his cat Coco on the trampoline. Its rare he's on the blog or even in a photo at all any more so I thought I'd just remind everyone who he is and what he looks like!


This weekend we had a very stressful game of AtmosFear, I wouldn't recommend it as a fun family game unless you enjoy being shouted at by a man dressed as an Egyptian mummy whilst time is of the essence and everyone is rushing to take their turn before he shouts something else! Maybe it is a game for 3 rather than 6 but it won't be played again here I don't think....


For no real reason other than I like this photograph of my youngest daughter, which she messaged me via fb. She made the mask herself as part of her Ticcy Toby cosplay costume. Today she finished the ratchets which are now fully painted, including blood stained fingerprints (thankfully just red paint rather than real blood..she's actually very squeamish and not good with blood!)

We've been continuing with the Doctor Who episodes on a nightly basis too. Ruben had a great chat to his BFF on Friday whilst we walked the Monsal Trail out in the Peak district, he was telling him all about the Dr Who Experience!

The girls are both working towards their Silver Arts Awards and so hopefully at some point this week they will be putting together the starts of their projects.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Wednesday

Bit more structured work again today, Ruben started off with these Doctor Who activity books that I picked up new from the car boot for 50p. We made a physic paper wallet from the model book and then did some code breaking and a crossword from another book. 


After Ruben had a play on the Dr Who android game app "The Doctor and the Dalek". He really loves this game.


Meanwhile Cordelia was making a start on her new cosplay costume Ticcy Toby (creepypasta). She is making some ratchets out of foam so she began by sketching one on paper first:


Using a knife to cut out her ratchets out of foam (she was being supervised!)



And here she is having cut the first one out and deciding to celebrate by sucking on a piece of fresh lemon!?!


All done and ready for priming and painting:


Piper continued working on her IXL, did some craft projects for Ruben's friend S, and her usual several posts for our website loki the confused horse.

We've been watching the Doctor Who episodes with Ruben before bed every night, I'm really enjoying re-watching them again. I haven't enjoyed the much older episodes though have to admit but love it from the Christopher Eccleston period, we started watching them with Bailey when Ruben was far too small to watch it!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Tuesday swims!

A day out today since we were looking after our niece Bella, we took her swimming and then up to the museum. Plenty to tire everyone out today!

Here's Ruben showing her how to draw...


And the girls having a cuddle with her...


Having a little cousin to run around after is great exercise and proves highly fun..especially when said little cousin is always running off in the opposite direction..


The beautiful Weston Park was looking very pretty.



Monday, 18 May 2015

Dr Who & "Can we get some actual work done please?"

Every now and again we have a week that resembles what most people, usually non-home educators, think home education resembles. Hubby decided to get the children to do some "actual work" (the title is a quote the girls use frequently!). He's been a bit fed up of the grumpyness/moodyness which comes from spending too much time online and alone in their own rooms. I stress here that these are just OUR observations, I know there's a whole load of info about letting children play to their hearts content on line/on screens and I know several friends who do just that but it doesn't work for us. I fully support his decision and so we said we'd do it for 5 days. This was how Day 1 went:

Hubby had planned activities for Ruben going from his Dr Who interests, he got him to finish his timeline of Doctors by filling in each doctors' assistant...


The finished timeline...


He also did a design for a new Dr-the 13th Doctor and his assistant. he also helped me bake some chocolate chip muffins, which went really well until we found out a certain someone had eaten the chocolate chips out of the cupboard.....


The girls meanwhile got on with some other bits of work, including Arts awards, and some Open University Open Learning courses. They both really enjoyed it-not sure who was more surprised them or us!


They all had 45 minutes of IXL and then we had a go at challenge 3 on the James Dyson science cards.


I've seen this challenge on so many home ed blogs but we've never done it before, the geodesic domes, made with cocktail sticks and jelly sweets.



We didn't quite get domes but they enjoyed making different shapes, Piper's had to be all colour co-ordinated:


Cordelia went for a multi-coloured jelly design that was the biggest structure:


Ruben's attempt, he actually ate more than he built with..


Cordelia's doubled as a crown too..


the really, really nice thing about the children doing some structured work this morning was that they all chatted to each other and had a really good laugh. I'm finding more and more that the girls have little time for Ruben, they find him a bit annoying and too giddy-all typical sibling things. They used to be so close and play these huge games for ours on end, I have very fond memories of them playing playmobil, lego and Lord of the Rings. But these days its more of a door slam in his face. I know he finds it hard that his big sisters have grown up and don't want to "play" any more, the younger three are so close in age that its always felt they've grown up together. Especially since they've been home educated and had the opportunity to spend so much time together in comparison to if they had all been at school.

They had so much fun that they decided to make an assault course from the cocktail sticks pots to send Ruben's remote control Dalek around. There was so much noise! But it was good to see them having such a good laugh together.



Ruben got a postcard from his friend S which we put up in his room.


We also had a trip to the library. Last night we were looking at trips to the Isle of Wight and hoping Bailey would come with us for a little family break but he said no..unless it was France! So we had a look and ended up booking Paris!! I'm SO excited. We managed to find some good guide books in the library, similar to the ones we used for Belgium last year.


And I ordered this one from Ebay for the children to read.


Saturday, 16 May 2015

Saturday Sharks

Thankfully a full nights sleep last night, I'd forgot to mention on yesterday's blog post that Cordelia woke up at 1.30am with a trapped nerve in her back. She was in a lot of pain bless her and was stuck on the landing on all fours but thankfully Piper heard her and came and woke us up. After some iburofen, ice and the wheat bag we managed to get her back in bed and comfortable but I slept with her to keep an eye on her. She was fine again the next morning, we were all pretty tired yesterday though, she seems to have taken after me with trapped nerves unfortunately. Probably because we both sit in such uncomfortable positions for way too long!

Today Hubby and I headed to the car boot sale whilst the peeps stayed home, minecrafting, drawing, skyping and playing on the xbox.

After lunch Bailey cut the grass, which has become his weekly chore, whilst the others tidied their room, hoovered up and emptied the dishwasher. Chores are something everyone does around here, mostly daily, they only usually take 5 to 10 minutes of each child's time but I think its important for everyone to help there are 6 of us and 4 pets-who are currently malting due to the warmer weather so the house needs to be hoovered twice a day. They all get pocket money on a Saturday in exchange for their jobs.

Cordelia got out her body art crayons and decided to give hubby some tattoos-she loves drawing on him!



A bit of a lull afternoon with a few hormonal arguments, meaning everyone in their own rooms including me! Whilst Hubby helped Bailey in the garden. Hubby cooked fajitas for tea and then we had a family game, something which we are trying to do at least once a week. We used to play board games daily but no one is that interested now.

I quite liked this Dr Who Time Travelling Tardis Game, its electronic so the tardis makes noises and it moves the monster spaces around every few minutes so you have to plan your attack on the monsters quickly using the energy counters. Bailey won and then everyone dispersed back to laptops in their rooms for a bit.


Cordelia has been working on this picture today, its Ticcy Toby (creepypasta)


She finished it this evening, it took around 4 hours she says. Although I'm not a fan of the creepypasta stuff I really love this picture, especially the shading detail:


Ruben had more time skyping S, whilst Piper was working on articles for the Loki the Confused Horse's blog. She's been planning making a dress today so hopefully we'll get around to starting that next week...

Ruben came down at 8 to watch Thursday nights recording of the BBC One program Sharks, again another brilliant episode. The Lemon Sharks were so amazing, and I loved seeing how the Port Jackson Shark hid its corkscrew-shaped eggs and how you could see the shark growing inside. A little bit like Nemo. The footage is really breathtaking. Hubby and Bailey are watching the Alan Partridge film as I type this up......

Friday, 15 May 2015

Four Pesky Hobbits 5th Birthday Blog Share!




This blog is now officially 5 years old! If I'm honest I'm quite surprised its still going, I've been tempted to stop writing on several occasions, I've made the blog private a few times too when I've worried about the privacy aspect of writing about our family.  But I've made several really wonderful friends from blogging and even met up with two of the families back in 2013 and again only this week which you can read about here. Reading their blogs has become part of my daily/weekly routine. When I've had wobbles its been their blogs and words which have reassured me, kind of like a supportive school playground!

Writing about our home education journey has been really therapeutic, its been wonderful to look back on too. The last year has seen a huge change in our journey in that Bailey has gone into college and so Four Pesky Hobbits has turned more into Three Pesky Hobbits! I still write about him on the blog and I still feel that we are involved in his education just no longer "in charge". Our family dynamics changed two years ago when Hubby left his job in insurance to work from home running our Ebay business. This has meant having two adults at home full time, which has been brilliant and even though I would have very much appreciated the help when I had 4 under 5's at home, its actually been much more of help now.  Its allowed us to both have more one on one time with each child and also spend much more time as a family, now Bailey is off at college I am even more glad that we've had that time. Even though its been hard living on a smaller budget, the ability to be more spontaneous and to spend so much time together has been a gift that no money could change. Money isn't everything after all.

When I look back on the last five years I am astonished by the difference in all of my children, when we started the blog the children looked like this:


I can remember the day this photo was taken, just as we were releasing our butterflies into the wild and not long after we had just moved into that house. We've moved house again since then! And this is what the Four Pesky Hobbits look like now (I can tell you that it wasn't easy at all getting a photo of all four of them together, no one likes photos anymore!)


I know right? Its crazy how tall they've all got!! And just how grown up they look, makes me feel so proud and also a little sad that they are growing up so quick.

Five years is one of those funny things, it seems a long time but then when you are busy with four children its just kind of flown by and it seems to have just struck me how quickly things are changing. Five years ago the idea of GCSE's and college seemed so far away, our whole home educating journey seemed to be a little bit endless and I would have struggled to imagine exams! But now we have steered the waters of exams and getting into college I feel even clearer about our journey and decision to home educate. There was always so many questions about the future, from other people, family, friends and even total strangers! I had started to get quite panicked and even questioned myself, what if we failed them? What if I couldn't teach Ruben to read? (if you are a regular reader you'll know that that is something that has really stressed me out, until he just did it by himself one day you can read about that here. What if the exams were too hard and we'd not prepared them enough? What if they couldn't get a job? What if the college wouldn't accept IGCSE's? What if we've sheltered them from the "real world" too much like so many people argue??? All these questions flowed their way around my brain keeping me up at night.

And then we did it, well I say "we" but I mean Bailey, he got accepted pretty much straight away for the online GCSE courses through Sheffield College. Which meant he could still be at home and only have to go in on the occasional day every few months and for his exams. He managed to do both English and Maths without too much worry, showing a really exceptional grasp of Maths even though he hadn't done any formal maths in quite a while. He managed exams which were always a worry for me, as he was quite nervous and apprehensive. He got a place in college after a 10 minute interview for which he only had 40 minutes notice with only his two GCSE's (it should have been a minimum of 4). Then within 2 weeks of starting his course was moved up to a level 3 (which should have required a minimum of 5 A-C GCSE's) and so now instead of 3 years at college he will only need to do. This all means he is no further behind than if he had gone through school but he had the added bonus of being able to mature in his own environment, pursue his own interests, enjoy his childhood, spend time with his siblings (not sure how much of that he enjoyed ;)) and spend time with us. Meaning that we have a great relationship with our teenage son, he tells us things, he shares his day with us, he comes and talks to us if he has a problem that he needs help or guidance with. He still has all the traits of a teenage boy-forgets things, is messy and sometimes just generally needs a kick up the bum! But we have a really good bond with him from spending so much of our time together. I'm pretty much 99% sure it would have been a different story if he'd gone through school. I can't say for certain obviously, but I don't regret the decision we made, I only regret not making it earlier on.

As for the girls and Ruben, I've no idea where their home ed journey will end. They have grown and changed so much in 5 years that its impossible to say but I know that I don't doubt myself anymore (or at least a lot less than I used too, I'm a Virgo so I worry a lot naturally!!). Our life looks different to 5 years ago and I'm not sure if this is how I would have imagined it but I'm so very thankful for it and so excited to see where the next five years of our journey will lead us.

I've taken part in lots of home ed blog carnivals/hops before but never been brave enough to do one myself until now, so I hope it works! I'd love to hear what has happened over at your home school in the last 5 years! What big or small changes have you seen? have you any highs or lows? How are you feeling about the future of your home school? How have your children changed? Please join in with the Four Pesky Hobbits Blog Bounce and share your stories and experiences with us.

Here are the rules of the blog share:
1. Write your blog post
2. Use the blog graphic below as a header for your post
3. Copy the URL of your blog post and share it below
4. The closing date for the blog share is 31.5.15



If you have any problems or questions please use the blogger contact form and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Looking forward to reading your posts!


Trans Pennine Trail Killamarsh Station

Catching up first with yesterday! I've been busy with my birthday blog share (see previous post) so spent more time reading blogs than writing mine, most enjoyable!

Anyway yesterday....Minecraft, Skype with S for Ruben. They are getting on so well it's really heartwarming to hear them chatting and laughing. 

Ruben reading the instructions for a Dr Who Time Travelling Tardis board game ready for Saturday Night family game night. 


Just as he was having his lunch the delivery man brought a surprise!


From friends over at http://thegallivanters.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/saturday-3pm.html?m=1


He has hardly put it down since! I got a lovely postcard from S's mum Katie too which was a lovely surprise :D

After lunch, we headed out for a walk as the weather was much nicer than forecast! Lovely sunshine. So we took a walk down the Trans Pennine Trail past Killamarsh Station, this is what it used to look like: 



Quite amazing considering now it's just a path through the countryside with fields on one side and Rother Valley Country Park on the other side! It was opened in 1841 closed in 1843 and then reopened in 1873 until it was finally closed in 1954. The only thing remaining is the old platform which is overgrown with grass and weeds. The train line goes around a different route close by and you can still hear trains passing.

Hubby wants us (without the kids!) to do this walk one day, I looked and its approx 140 miles! Yikes....


We only walked 4.4 miles today much to the relief of the children!


This explains the statues we saw, a local solider who was killed in a roadside explosion, a local steel worker who walked his dog here and local boxer Clinton Woods (who lives not far from us!)



Back home after ice creams :) and Cordelia played in the garden with our youngest cat Bibby who's now 7 years old. Since he was one of our older cat's-Kittyfantastico's kittens, he's by far the favourite and completely spoiled:




Ruben finished the last two episodes of the Dr Who DVD he started watching yesterday "a Rememberance of the Daleks" he thought the special effects were hilarious!