Seasons

Life has found a peaceful rhythm recently. We’re in a season of (relative) rest. Since January this year we have had more time at home and fewer pressing commitments. It has been a time of strengthening family relationships and finding time to pursue interests and education more fully.

Princess working in the sunshine. Window seat for the win!

Prince and Princess have settled into a routine of waking, personal devotional, Morning High Five, then on to Learning Fun. By the time I finish my own personal time with God and come downstairs they have usually started on their work. They have always been good at working independently, but this season has seen a real step up in this. It seems I have hardly noticed them getting older, and all of sudden they are Big.

Big is good. Big is exciting. I love the people my Littles are becoming. But I have to confess – I really miss the Littles, too.

Our days are a mixture of learning independently and together. We do the hard things together, because it’s so much more friendly with two. We do the fun things together, too – read-alouds, walks, picnics, games, day trips, play-dates, church. But we also have time to work, play and rest independently, completing our own tasks and following our own interests. Our days are rich in love and fun.

Enjoying this season; preparing for the next.

I’ve had more time this season for reading. As some of you know, we had been pursuing the idea of adoption over the past four years. This journey took a twist earlier this year, and we are now part way through fostering training and assessment. This season of rest has allowed me to spend more time learning about how to help the types of children who may come in and out of our family in the future. The reading has also helped me develop skills, understanding and new ways to help Prince and Princess during time of anxiety, sadness and change. My favourite book so far is Building the Bonds of Attachment – a great read for anyone interacting with traumatised or challenged kids on a regular basis.

I don’t know when the next season will come, or what it will bring. I suspect it will be much fuller – in both trials and joys. But for now we are soaking up this season, full of its own beauties and blessings.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Homeschooling on holiday: our camping trip

We recently took our first family camping trip to one of our favourite places – the New Forest. I had been looking forward to this trip as an opportunity to enjoy some unique learning and bonding with the kids. I envisioned rustic evenings and adventure-filled days.

Yeah, I’m an idealist.

As it happened, hay fever and a terribly uncomfortable gravel tent pitch meant we didn’t embrace the fullness of my camping vision, and had to leave for home a couple of days early. However, we had some fantastic fun with some very special friends (who, very sensibly, ‘camped’ in a nearby cottage). We made the best use of our time that we could, and overall enjoyed learning, laughing and loving despite the set backs.

Day One:  After setting up camp, we spent our first day picnicking, walking and playing in the forest. The kids had tons of fun just ‘being’ in the natural woodland. The educational benefits of being outside are often overlooked and under-supplied, but this day was a feast of connecting with nature.Day one

Day Two:  Having just signed up for membership with the National Trust, we took advantage of unlimited free visits and went to Kingston Lacy twice. This day was our first visit, where we enjoyed relaxing on the lawn, exploring the hidden bamboo garden, and reading poetry in the shade. After a lovely lunch in the cafe, we then went to Studland beach, another National Trust owned area, where we licked ice-creams and paddled in the sea. I highly recommend National Trust membership to homeschooling families. There are properties all over the country, and they offer opportunities to enjoy beautiful gardens as well as historical houses.IMG_2033

Day Three:  Salisbury cathedral is one of Hubby’s favourite buildings, so this day was dedicated to enjoying the architecture with our friends. We were blessed to be there while the boys’ choir was rehearsing, and all our musical drama kids got to watch as the boys treated us to some high quality singing. The kids followed an activity trail here and learnt a bit about the history of the place, as well as appreciating the craftsmanship of the building itself.IMG_2184

Day Four:  We went back to Kingston Lacy to explored the house this time. We got to see beautiful marble staircases, real cannon balls from the destruction of Corfe Castle, the cutest turtle footstool ever, and Prince’s favourite – an extensive Egyptian artifacts collection. The kids completed an activity trail here too, and collected badges at the end. We followed up this morning with a little walk around Christchurch castle ruins and another beach trip. Then we headed home to our oh-so-comfy beds.Day two

Although we didn’t get to do all the things we had planned, our few days away were full of blessings. They gave us a chance to spend more time together as a family. They offered new and exciting learning opportunities. And they created memories which we will hold close for years to come.

But I am never camping on gravel again.

To Daddy

In honour of my father and husband – two men who fill my life with love.

Daddy and me

Daddy and me

To Daddy, from Me ~

All my life you have shown me what it is to have fun. I love playing with you, even now that I am grown. You have taught me to hold high standards, and strive to stick to them. Now I try to pass those standards on to my own children. You have been my provider, reflecting the way God is our heavenly provider. Thanks for being my friend and my father. I love you and miss you.

To Papa, from Prince ~

You are very fun. You show me what to do to have fun – like you are. And great Papa parades, riding on motorbikes in the back garden, and it’s SO fun with you, Papa! I can’t wait till it’s Christmas and you come to open presents with us. All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth! Well, Papa – thanks for being my fun and funny Papa.  Bye, bye! See you again soon! [Squeezy hug] Love, Prince.

The best Papa in the world.

The best Papa in the world.

To Papa, from Princess ~

I’ve got two teeth missing, but maybe I can find them! So – all I want for Christmas is them! And Papa, I really love you. Thanks for being our Papa. I’m very pleased about you. You’re the best Papa in the world. Love, Princess. ooo xxx

To my Husband, from Me ~

I love the way you teach our children to love God. I love the way they adore you, and can’t wait to play with you every evening. I love the way you show them how to love others – especially me. I love the way you protect us all, and work hard for us all. I love the way you support our home education, spurring me and the kids on in our learning adventures. We are so blessed to have you as the servant leader of our household, a role you fill so well. ‘You’re the million reasons why there’s love reflecting in my eyes.’ I love you.

To Daddy, from Prince ~

I love you. Thanks for being our Daddy. You are the best one in the world! It’s so fun being with you all the time, on very special days like Father’s Day and Saturdays. You’re very cool too – you can draw very well, and you make very cool Lego outlines for me too. Thanks! Love from Prince. [hug, hug, squeezy hug]

To Daddy, from Princess ~

I love you so much. Thank you for working for us. And Daddy, you are my very special daddy. I’m so pleased that it’s Father’s day. I love about you that you are so special to me, and you are my Daddy and I love you. Sometimes you are a bit like Jesus, I feel, because you save me sometimes. Love Princess x

Special times with Daddy.

Special times with Daddy.

 

To my daughter


To My Daughter

 

Delicate dancing girl

you spin your silk around my heart

and twist your

baby fingers

around its chords

 

Floating fairy girl

you sprinkle smiles around the house

and leave your

laughter lines

in every room

 

Little Leora girl

you shine your light into my life

and sparkle

boundless joy

into my days

Moments to hold close

There is such beauty to be found in the everyday-ness of life. It’s easy to get distracted by the big picture, sometimes. You know, the ‘what have we got to get done today’ mindset. We go through our day focussed on the ‘next’ thing we need to do, then the next, then the next. Then all of a sudden it’s the end of the day, so we sleep and wake up ready to continue the endless list of tasks, and forgetting the joy and love of life.  As good as it is to be diligent and busy, it is just as good to pause to notice how many little joys are sprinkled in and between our daily jobs and routines. In fact, I think that with ‘stress’ so familiar to the modern adult, taking time to simply notice and give recognition to the joys of each day are vital combat strategies that we should all employ.

Love every moment of life with this family of mine!

Love every moment of life with this family of mine!

Whenever I share cute or funny moments with my Dad, he is always telling me to “write it down!” He tells me I’ll forget – and regret – if I don’t. And he’s right! So here are some of the beautiful moments in my family this past weekend. Moments I want to remember and treasure for years to come, and which make the normality of life sparkle and shine.

  • As we drove home from church the journey was filled with worship. The CD player was loud, but the voices of my husband, son and daughter were louder. Prince held my hand, his sweet, strong voice finding the words as they came and he raised our hands up high. Princess danced, played air guitar, danced, played air drums, danced and danced some more.
  • Saturday night Hubby & I stayed up late, just watching our cute new bunnies explore the lounge. They bounded around, and we laughed together.
  • Sunday morning Hubby sat down on the couch with his Bible. One by one, without being asked, the kids and I picked up our own Bibles and sat quietly down to read, too.
  • Hubby put country music on the CD player one morning. Some songs played that I hadn’t heard for ages. We delayed our jobs to dance together in the middle of the lounge.
  • As I brushed Princess’s hair before church, we all sat on the couch together looking at old family photos on the TV slideshow, chatting about memories we share.
  • Sunday night we all snuggled up close with popcorn, fruit and veggies, and laughed together as we watch ‘The Cosby Show’ before bed.
  • My Prince so often tells me he loves me. This weekend he also reminded me that I am his best friend.
  • Bed time = prayer time. Each night we pray together, and I am always moved by the deep heart-felt prayers of my kids. Sunday night Prince prayed he would be a ‘faithful warrior’ for God, and Princess thanked her ‘Dear Father in heaven’ for friends.

Just a little something

A few days after my Prince was born, and my life was changed forever.

A few days after my Prince was born, and my life was changed forever.

This week is pretty jam-packed busy for me. We’ve got cousins visiting from Wales, so all the family is together most the week. That’s ten children, three sets of parents and a grandmother or two. Totally fun!

As I don’t have time to write I thought I’d just share a poem I wrote recently in my Open University ‘Creative Writing’ course.

 

To My Son


I thought I knew love:

How it sparks, ignites, alights

consumes the mettle of your soul

till vaporous you float,

like a firefly drunk on nectar.

 

I thought I knew what loving meant:

To give yourself entire,

tsunami of selfless devotion

rising high, empowered

by a deeper force within.

 

But when you held me in your heart the day we met

I knew nothing.

I was breathless, drowning in unknown waters.

Then you caught me, filled me, taught me:

Incomprehensible mother-love.

Homeschooling with bunnies

Yesterday we got bunnies.

I’ll let that sink in.

BUNNIES!

!!!!! BUNNIES !!!!!

For those of you who know me, this may come as a shock.  Getting a pet was not on my to-do list.  In fact, I think it was on my ‘How can I avoid this without ruining my children’s childhood?’ list.  But when Hubby showed me an offer of two child-friendly bunnies, along with all their kit, going free to a loving and spacious home something just felt right about it.  The owner, a very sweet lady, loved them dearly but was no longer able to give them the kind of home she felt they needed (running free about the house and garden).  I was struck by her sense of responsibility to do what was right for the animals despite her own desire to keep them.  So yesterday afternoon they arrived to check us out and it soon became clear that we were perfectly suited.  So we told the kids.

Prince was inspired to write this, dedicated to the new loves in his life <3

Prince was inspired to write this, dedicated to the new loves in his life ❤

Princess snatching some reading time before swimming this morning.

Princess snatching some reading time before swimming this morning.

Now we are adjusting to being bunny owners. And not just any bunny owners – Homeschooling Bunny Owners! Pets obviously provide many opportunities for learning, and I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of every one that comes our way.  So far Princess has been doing reading practice with ‘My Pet Rabbit’ and Prince (having already read and practically memorised all three books we’ve borrowed on bunnies) walks around spouting rabbit facts at us, such as “When they flick their paw you mustn’t touch them – they are about to groom,” and “Two sisters tend to get along best.”  Prince even said he’d like to take responsibility for cleaning out the hutch!  [Delighted Mommy giggle here.]

Have you got pets?  I’d love to hear how you incorporate pet care into your child’s education.

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