Friday, 9 November 2018

Friday Reflections - 108

We've just arrived back from a trip to Centre Parcs over the last few days - a welcome rest after a long half term. Swimming was very popular as ever (I think we went swimming three times one day!), but we had lovely weather which meant we enjoyed some gentle walks outside too, and some bird watching.

Glorious Autumn Colours

Since the weather was pretty mild, we even had a barbecue one evening, albeit in the dark!

Barbecue in the Dark

The previous week was a fairly full of activity too, as we finished up some book work for the half term, had our home education group meeting, spent some time with visiting grandparents, and went to a museum.

The museum trip was just for me and my younger two, and we visited the Imperial War Museum. My youngest in particular has been interested in the Second World War recently, so we have been reading a few books on this topic. Both children were fascinated by all they saw, and are keen for a repeat visit to explore more of the museum.

Outside the Imperial War Museum

Beautiful Poppies

Our home education group has an art and music theme this term. At our last meeting, my 9 year old gave a presentation about Vermeer, we experimented with making egg tempera paint, and also made some clay sculptures using leaves for making patterns.

Experimenting with Egg Tempera

The book group I am leading are reading Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce this term. Inspired by this, we designed shop window displays using a mixture of items I had brought with me. The children decided to take turns to be part of the display too!

A Window Display

In the middle of all this activity, I needed to fit in making our Christmas pudding. This year, I let my 11 year old make it for me.

Making Christmas Pudding

I also ran a half marathon a week ago. It is great to be able to get out and run on a beautiful autumn day - and a good chance to forget about all the stuff I need to do for a couple of hours!

Friday, 26 October 2018

Friday Reflections - 107

While other children are enjoying a half term break, we have been continuing with our normal work this week for the most part. This is not as harsh as it sounds - we have a trip to Centre Parcs planned in a couple of weeks!

Although we have been working this week, I thought we needed an extra day off at the beginning of the week to rest up a bit; the children are tired, and have all come down with a bit of a cold.

Colds didn't stop most of us from heading out for an autumn picnic with friends, though, including den building and enjoying the rope swing in our local woods.

Den Building

Rope Swing

Sadly, one of the children has asthma, which is exacerbated by a cold, so he had to spend an evening in A&E. He was on the mend pretty quickly once appropriate treatment had been given.

In our usual work, the highlights have included reading Oliver Twist aloud to the children. I was unsure about whether my youngest would enjoy it because of the difficult language, but she has been particularly enthusiastic about this book.

My 11 year old began an online English literature course through Dreaming Spires Home Learning this September, and has been willingly diligent in the completion of his homework; he is really enjoying himself, and engaging well with the Middle Ages Literature course.

My daughter was keen to get the paints out this week, and take the easel out into the garden. I particularly like her pictures of the guinea pigs!

Comical Guinea Pigs!

Friday, 19 October 2018

Friday Reflections - 106

Since I haven't written a post for a while (see here for the reason), here are a few of the highlights from the past few weeks rather than just from the past few days.

Baking has featured quite a bit. My 9 year old particularly enjoys making bread, and his cinnamon loaf went down well. My 11 year old has baked so much I can't keep up, but his birthday cakes have been particularly impressive this year.

Cinnamon Loaf

The Pandorica (from Doctor Who)

A Dolls' House

My youngest is keen to keep up as much as possible, and made some delicious mini sponge cakes just a few days ago.

A Baker with her Cakes

We've all been enjoying Bake Off again this year; my 11 year old has an even longer list of bakes he wants to attempt now!

My daughter has also recently started sewing, after we were given a small sewing machine by a friend from church. She's made little bags, a cushion for her brother's birthday, and a skirt for herself (she chose the material herself!).


My Daughter in her Dog Skirt!

As ever, running, and especially parkrun is popular. Both my 7 and 9 year olds have reached their milestone 50 runs over the last few weeks. They are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their parkrun 50 milestone t-shirts.

Volunteering at Parkrun

We have also, of course, been working pretty hard at our day-to-day studies. There's a lot to fit in, but overall we seem to manage to do most of what I plan most of the time - which is pretty good.

Friday, 12 October 2018

A Season of Suffering

Over the last year, one of our children has gradually been struggling increasingly with growing anxiety and other issues It's fair to say that he is going through a very tough time right now. At the moment it isn't appropriate for me to write more about this (for his sake). Although his struggles are the most acute, he is not the only one in our family who is facing mental health difficulties at the moment; we feel hard pressed, worn down, tempted to despair at times - but held by the Lord in his faithfulness.

It has been a season of tears and suffering - for my son and for the whole family. We have been endeavouring to support and help him while still teaching and caring for our other children, and persevering in serving in our church family.

We are reminded again of our weakness and fragility, and of our need of our Lord who loves us. I  have been reading Mark's gospel again recently, and seeing the compassion that Jesus had for those around him - the sick, the sinful, the suffering- has been a comfort in the midst of this hardship. My husband has also been preaching through the book of Job, and the depths of Job's grief as he clings to the Lord by a thread has been moving, and given voice to our own struggles.

I plan to continue blogging about our home education journey - what we are learning, resources we are using, good days and bad days. I will endeavour to be honest about hard times as I don't think it is helpful to anyone to give an idealised version of our life together, but I won't be writing in detail about the struggles of my children when it isn't fair for me to do so.

 A happy time on holiday at an Awesome Cutlery concert.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Friday Reflections - 105

We are limping towards the end of our academic year - almost there now! We are all but finished, with just a small amount of work left for some of the children to complete next week. I'm ready for a break, and I have a number of lists of jobs to do around the house that would fill more days than I have available over the summer; not long to go now.

I'm also conscious that I need to evaluate where each child is up to with their studies, and to prepare thoroughly for the year ahead. More than ever, I will need to prepare differently for each child, and this will take plenty of time and consideration to do well.

Although we're not quite finished yet, we are doing considerably less book work now, and the children are enjoying having time to play or create.

My 11 year old made lime macaroons earlier in the week:

My 9 year old has been crocheting, my 6 year old has just been learning to cross stitch, and my 12 year old has got us all playing a Doctor Who board game he found in one of our local charity shops. It's surprisingly good!

We have also started our Summer Reading Challenge (after being badgered about it for about 3 weeks by all 4 children). They are all enjoying a bit of time to get stuck into some books. It's particularly encouraging to see my 6 year old immersed in proper chapter books this year, and to see how much her reading has improved since last summer.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Friday Reflections - 104

We are still working, but definitely winding down towards our summer break. My nine year old has been continuing to work on learning to crochet, and has begun to make a blanket.

My 9 year old's Crochet

My 6 year old has also learned French knitting; she wanted to crochet too, but I thought trying something simpler for now would be less frustrating - and she has really enjoyed it.

Learning French Knitting

The highlight of the week was a trip to the beach. It's always a bit of a trek from London to the seaside, but I took the train to Littlehampton with my younger 3 (and a friend), and it was a glorious day of sandcastles and sea swimming. It was well worth taking the day out.

On the Beach!

Sandcastle Building

Sea Swimming

Today was our final home education meeting of the term. It felt like a bit of a rush to get anything together this week, but we seemed to have a good afternoon.

We looked at the which places yielded the most bacteria growth from the samples we collected last week. The door handle and the bin had the most impressive results.

Bacterial Growth from the Door Handle

Our topic for the week was bones and muscles, and the children enjoyed icing skeletons onto gingerbread men, and also making a model of a diagram of a joint out of cake and jelly (for the synovial fluid).


Model of a Joint in Cake

I am now very much ready for term to end and the holidays to begin. We have a little for finish up next week, and then we'll be done for the year!

Friday, 6 July 2018

Friday Reflections - 103

Last weekend began with a parkrun PB from my 9 year old. He's been getting faster over the last few months, and wanted to attempt to run 5K under 30 minutes - and he did. He even managed to jump back up and keep running after a fall, finishing with grazed knees and a scraped elbow.

Another highlight of the week was a trip to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition with the three younger children. We've visited for a few years now, and it is a great opportunity for the children to engage with scientific research.

There were many highlights, but the children were particularly excited about the Quantum Brain exhibit where they were able to operate simple games by concentrating hard!

They were also fascinated by the lab grown bone material:

And they thoroughly enjoyed using Virtual Reality to learn about detecting neutrinos.

The children have all been creative in different ways this week.

My 11 year old made some lemon cheesecake cupcakes to bring along to church lunch. His homemade lemon curd was particularly tasty.

My 6 year old has had a knex project on the go for a while, and this week she found time to finish her windmill.

I have been teaching my 9 year old to crochet, and he has been getting the hang of it pretty well. He's almost finished a practice square, and is planning to embark on a bigger project soon.

My 12 year old has added to a picture of Marvel film characters as hamsters!

Today we met for our home education group. We were learning about bacteria. My group swabbed various places to see which would yield the best bacteria growth; we will see what grows in our petri dishes over the week.

They made junk models of various bacteria, and also of a typical bacterium cell.

We've managed to fit in quite a bit this week, and it's good to look back and see all the positive times we have enjoyed. For various reasons, it hasn't felt like an easy week - and has been challenging in many ways - but it has been good to make time for some fun activities in the midst of the difficulties.