Friday, 31 January 2014

Be open to opportunities.......

At the beginning of the year, I decided against compiling endless lists of resolutions that were more than certain to be broken; never to be resumed again. Of course, as most of us do, I have things in my life that I would like to change. So I made myself two promises:

Firstly, to be true to myself. To me that means to follow my own dreams, engage in activities, friendships etc that I believe in.

And Secondly, to be open to opportunities (this could be a fun year!!).

I've always been one to make excuses in life in order to make life easier, to take the direct familiar route, rather than the unknown. In doing so I feel that I'm limiting myself and sometimes it's just easier that way. I'm comfortable with the familiar and don't always like to step out of my comfort zone into the unknown.....I'm not alone, I know.
An example of this behaviour and the first challenge to my 'self promise' was an invitation to a 'jolly Sunday knit and natter' with some wonderful friends. Now way back in the days of old when childcare wasn't an issue, I would jump at the opportunity of such an invitation to sit around drinking tea, eating cake (lots of cake) and chit chatting....oooh and knitting of course. Such wonderful and inspiring moments of 'wrap around friendship' that warms the heart and nurtures the soul. How could I miss such an occasion??? Of course I would go.....or would I????
In order for a moment of 'me' time to even be considered I have so consider the logistics of what to do with the children. It is often precisely these factors that prevent me from accepting and embracing every opportunity that comes my way.
You'll be glad to hear that I was true to myself and worked out the rather complicated logistics of childcare and had a jolly good afternoon!

Now this event seemed rather a dilemma back then but was really nothing at all compared to the second opportunity that came my way. Oh no no, the second opportunity was one that I realised straight away was/is totally bonkers, I'm still laughing at myself now a week after the deal has been done. I am completely, totally and utterly out of my comfort zone on this one......
So, what crazy, idiotic, wildly nutty thing have I done now????
Well........I've bought some shoes......children's shoes. Between 700 and 900 pairs to be exact. If I'm being completely honest I have absolutely no idea how many pairs I have purchased but it is no exaggeration to say that they have taken over two rooms in my cosy little cottage!

How many pairs of shoes does a girl need?

At this stage I am feeling rather proud that I have embraced the opportunities that have come my way. This one is by far the most random and was totally unexpected.

I've become an over night 'Del Boy'!

My dearly beloved used to do a bit of buying and selling here and there, but me - haha, I've only dabbled a bit on Ebay, never anything on this scale.
What makes this whole scheme even more ridiculous is that I am really not the kind of girl who's into shoes. My personal collection consists of only about five pairs that accompany me through life's journey. If shoes could talk they'd have some tales to tell!!

So what is my plan of action with my stash? Well, many little thoughts have popped into my head, many sifted through never to be considered again and others left to mull and simmer in the hope that they'll come to fruition in some form or another. Things seem to be happening rather organically really without any real plan. We're only a week into ownership and we're well into making plans for re-establishing 'home space'. There's a long way to go and I have to remind myself that I MUST remain motivated for fear that the shoes will take root in the house like the furniture and almost cease to be noticed if they stick around for too long. That would never do.

The shoes are lovely, gorgeous, utterly scrumptious, in fact top quality European brands.
I have school shoes in all sizes from 25-44 (that's about a 5 child's to a 10 adults) in several different styles and a selection of casual shoes and trainers. Summer shoes, oh boy, loads and loads of those....'Oh me oh my' sooo many pairs of baby and cute little toddler shoes...please if you have little people........ The retail price of these delightful numbers are mostly between £35-£60 and I'm letting them go (really letting them go) at £20 and under a pair, really cheap SERIOUS BARGAINS!!!!
Miss P kindly set up a Face Book page today on which I am going to try and post pictures of ten pairs a day (will have to be well disciplined there too). You can find us here  please check us out and like the page. And if you like what you see or wish to delve into my stash, please feel free to make contact :-)

Totally bonkers!!!!!

Thank you :-) XXXXXX

Sunday, 26 January 2014

What did we do in school today?

We had a bit of a wobble last week (rather, I had a bit of a wobble)! Us home edding folk do that occasionally, most commonly when a child visits and shares their school skills and experience with us. As most of us in the home ed community steer clear of the National Curriculum and instead tend to opt for a more organic style of learning that encompasses all of life's events, it is easy to become jittery when confronted with a child who is meeting set targets within the system.
So last week following one of our little wobbly moments, the Little Lady thought she might like to have a look around the local primary school. It wasn't just the feeling of underachieving that set us on this path of discovery, no, it was in some ways a clash of personalities between myself and the Little Lady whose willingness to cooperate has in recent times been a little hazy.
For a brief moment of time I lost myself in the thought of only having to teach two different aged children who are both quite willing to please Mummy dear and complete the tasks was only a brief moment.......!!!
So a visit to the local school was arranged. From the moment I entered the school yard I was reminded of why I have opted for 'Life without school'. There's always a sudden sense of needing to ensure the children are dressed appropriately, to have brushed their hair, to look and behave correctly.
Momentarily I felt a flutter of anxiety at the prospect that I hadn't achieved such self-set standards on this occasion. One Little Lady had escaped the house wearing a coat that didn't fit with hair that was quite literally thrown into a pile on her head, and the Small Boy had slipped my attention wearing his faithful wellies! It wasn't looking good but I turned my back on anxiety and proceeded just as we were.
The Little Lady looked less than impressed at the Head's speech informing us about the academic standards of the school, I could tell she wasn't really interested in being there at all. It was a welcoming environment and both myself and the Little Lady know many people involved with the school but I have to confess it remains 'not our thing'. So we walked away having reminded ourselves why we aren't part of the school community and continue with what we've been doing for the past seven years. I couldn't help but feel a sense of sadness at the way the system works. With so many radical changes in so many areas of life, it is surprising that one of the main services provided by this country still remains so similar to how it was when it was set up over a hundred years ago.

Our lives are so different from those of the average family, many think that by home educating you shut the children away from the world and that they don't have any friends. How sad that would be and how totally wrong that view of what we do is. We have such a fun and varied life and we have soooo many friends (real friends).
Let me share a non typical week with you.....(I say non typical as no two weeks are ever the same!)

Monday - Forest school. A group of us tree hugging, outdoor loving folk, congregate in a beautiful piece of Millennium woodland where we play, do crafts, copice trees, build fires, build shelters, chop wood, get muddy (get very very muddy), get wet, eat burnt food (eat food that isn't burnt)....and much more. We cruise along  just before lunch and fit in just perfectly with whatever is going on. Last week it was catapult making, this week we copiced the hazel trees.
The fire is a major part of Forest school sessions for warming us up, cooking lunch and a good warm brew of course.

Building mud sculptures

Toasting marshmallows

 A fire is like a good friendship, needs starting, building up, a good heart to keep it going and nurturing so that it doesn't die out.

Last week I did have to chuckle at our food situation. We'd taken pre-cooked potatoes wrapped in foil to pop on the fire, half a tin of baked beans to share that tipped out into our bag en route all over our cutlery and plates and a tub of grated cheese. The potatoes burned a little whilst in the fire so we had bean juice covered plates with a light covering of charcoal, muddy hands - oh the joys! Standards are far from those permissible at home but most acceptable for life outdoors.
Then as predictable as the weather is in this country, it rained! So we gathered around the fire, munching our lunch, pretending to be oblivious to the down pour that enveloped us and soaked us :-)

Tuesday- Science. One a fortnight we meet at a friends house with five other families (16 children in total) to do some science activities, play, share lunch and generally put the world to right. We're a lovely bunch of folk with similar ideas on HE, raising our children and life in general, there's never a dull moment but much laughter and mutual support. Of course the teaching side of things can be tailored to meet the wide range of needs of the children within the group. It's lovely to share ideas and learn from and inspire each other. Tuesdays are my days of nurturing and being nurtured :-)

Wednesday - Amazingly, Wednesday was a 'home' day. That was when we did traditional 'book style' work. When you are teaching so few children you can achieve so much so we really only work during the mornings so the afternoons are quite literally 'play' times :-)

Thursday - Once a month about 30 home educating families get together at a group in Woodstock for activities, social time, play and cake!
This particular week we had a visiting 'Mathemagician' to show us some magical ways that maths works. He was a very enthusiastic and inspiring young chap from the University and kept the children enthused for quite some time. Maths really can be fun if taught in the right way!
The younger children made giant marble runs in the car park and then later I ran a patchwork workshop (we're making little quilt samplers), young non-participating children scooted round the room and outside on scooters, skateboards and the like. We're just like one big extended family, it's lovely :-)

Friday - Another day of home-based stuff primarily, the children were feeling particularly industrious today. Miss P made a new bed for the cat as poor kitty vomited on her last one! The Little Lady baked delicious lemon and poppy seed muffins that rose beautifully and tasted devine and Small Boy cooked lunch......

In the afternoons the children go to RAD club in Charlbury, I get an hour and a half of totally uninterrupted 'me' time in a little upstairs room. This particular week I set to work on my's going to take a long time to get my story out there!!

So, that's what we did in school last week, it's not surprising that school isn't so appealing! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Four Teas......

                     And now let us welcome the New Year
                     Full of things that have never been.

                                                                                        Rainer Maria Rilke

January, the month of new beginnings and cherished memories, beckons.
Come, let Winter weave her wondrous spell: Cold, crisp, woollen-muffler days, long dark evenings of savoury suppers, lively conversations, or solitary joys. Outside the temperature drops as the snow falls softly. All of nature is at peace. We should be too. Draw hearth side. This is the month to dream, to look forwards to the year ahead and the journey within.

                                                                                         Sarah Ban Breathnach

A warm welcome to the New Year. 365 new days and scope for many fresh and exciting new adventures ;-)

Having plans pencilled into my diary always offers a sense of hope and things to look forwards to.
This year, one of my major aims is to try and remember to acknowledge birthday's on time. Everyone else surrounding my space seems to be very efficient and organised in this area. I do have good intentions but some how such matters always manage to slip my mind or get put off. I am a self confessed 'rubbish friend' being on time with such acknowledgements!

My grandmother's birthday is in February, and although last year I did probably manage to call her on her birthday, however,  it took me until June to actually post her a gift!
I had huge plans to write to my niece and nephews in the US on their birthdays, but after failing on the 5th January with the first child, I'd blown all good intentions from the onset. Perhaps I'm destined to always been the one who remembers such events late??!!

Last July it was my good friend Jen's birthday. As usual I was totally absorbed in the moment and totally forgot until several days later and it took until last Friday for me to actually get around to organising her birthday treat. She was kind to me and actually said it was rather nice to have a treat between birthdays!
So 'treat day with Jen' became the first 'real' entry into my 2014 diary.

With all children paired off with suitable sitters (well apart from one), we tracked off to Stratford Upon Avon for our little outing.
Stratford is only a 45 minute drive from where I live, the children and I love to go there for an afternoon excursion. Much of the town is dedicated to William Shakespeare and as a result of that it attracts an interesting variety of people. The communal ground in the centre, is the place to see entertainers of all kinds  (especially during the Summer months) and the river and canal are home to beautiful narrow boats and host of wildlife.
The wind was blowing a gale on Friday and the copious amounts of rain that have recently fallen, meant that the river banks were under strain with the extra volume of water. On a dry day it's  a pleasure to stop and watch the dozens of geese and swans that gather to relieve visitors of their bread offerings and to stand in awe of the many folk who spend the day busking with their talents. Very few people were standing around Friday. My usual casual meander across the park was a definite determined walk snuggled within my thickest Winter coat.

We were heading to a gem of a place for afternoon tea.

The colour even cheers up the dull text in this blog!!

Winter can be such a dull season with darkened days, bare trees and lack of colour, and on our walk from the car park it was just that. ........that was until we were struck by a rainbow of colours. The local yarn bombers had been out in force and had decorated the biggest and most splendid tree in the park with a colourful blanket of crochet squares. What a delight to see!
On closer inspection, everyone of those delightful colourful creations had been carefully crocheted and stitched together in memory of a loved soul past by. Such beauty stemming from such sadness.

**(Note made to self of wonderful idea for future fund raising activity.....)**

Onwards we go......

Last year a couple of my friends told me about 'The Four Teas' ( It's a little 1940's themed tea room (very up my street). Honestly, I should have been born earlier in time!
I know the war years must have been tough for those who lived through them, but I do find myself rather drawn to the fashion, family life and community values, plus all the hard work that was endured.
We studied the war years as our Home Ed project a few years ago and as a family, spent a week living on War-time rations. (Tim was thrilled of course!!) You can read my blog back in the archive.


The Four Teas, was quite obviously dedicated to the post rationing era, judging by the array of sugary treats that we sampled, but we didn't complain.
The spirit of the era was there in her glory with 40's music playing, propaganda posters adorning the walls and the vintage crockery that the tea was served on, not to mention the waiting staff who worn tea dresses with pinny's and house caps!
What a wonderfully justifiable treat -

Belated Happy Birthday friend :-)


Sunday, 5 January 2014

Festivities photo style

Well 2013 was a strange year, not a bad year, many good things happened, just a slightly unusual one. It felt very transitional in many ways, isn't that how each living day is??

I thought I'd share some of our festive photos with the world of Blogger.....enjoy!

Pretty fabrics, ribbons and trimmings were made into......
My lovely friend Jen and I did our annual buying and wrapping of little gifts, whatever we can find for £10, items can be new or used but all must be sent with love and intent. It's a great challenge and exchanging is a huge amount of fun!
This year I made a Christmas stocking to contain the gifts, Jen was thrilled! She'd mentioned a couple of years back that she didn't have a stocking. Her lovely children filled it for her on Christmas eve too :-)
Carol singing in Charlbury with friends, not for money just for joy!
Christmas crafting...lots of that went on!

Running the toy store at our annual parish bazaar....
Lunches with friends.....
Finally having time to finish craft projects that have been waiting patiently.....

A family photo shoot :-)
A Christmas day birthday celebration for my wonderful grandfather who turned 86!

My sister's cleverly crafted gingerbread house, all done from scratch unlike my co-out Ikea was a shame that Dad set fire to it, the children then knocked it down and I accidentally spat a mouthful of water over it in a moment of laughter!!

My grandmother still taking part in the traditional family 'chocolate game' .....
Small boy testing out a new present.....


A brisk chilly walk with a beautiful family of friends....
Plan B -  New Year frolicking......

Yeah...okay I know!!!! Hehe.....