Friday, 3 January 2020

Looking Back - 2019

Well over a year ago, I wrote a little about the struggles one of our children had been going through. When a child is in crisis, it affects every aspect of family life. We are thankful to God, and to many who have supported us at this time, that he is doing much better now - though he is still some way from a return to full health. Along the way,  he has received a diagnosis of autism, which has made a huge difference in helping us to help him. One of our other boys also received an autism diagnosis at about the same time.

Although tough times have been part of our experience over the last year, there have been many good days too.

Running, and especially Parkrun, has been fun throughout the year. Four of us have now reached the 100 Parkruns milestone.

Peach Parkrunners

All the children enjoy baking, but my 12 year old has spent much of the year trying our new recipes. He's also made all our birthday cakes.

Guinea Pig Birthday Cake

Easter Cake

Michael has always enjoyed bird watching, and our daughter has become equally interested this year. She's become pretty good at identifying many birds, and was pleased to increase the number of different birds she has spotted during our holiday in the Lake District in the summer.

Bird Watching

We've had many trips out - to museums and parks, to the zoo and to Parliament.

British Museum Trip

Puddling in the Park

Zoo Trip

A Visit to Parliament

Furness Abbey

It's been a year of growing, changing, learning, and adjustment. God's faithfulness has sustained and strengthened us day by day.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Friday Reflections - 113

We have ended our week with a meeting of our home education group. Our session was focused on the Babylonian empire, with a number of activities on this theme. I was organising the children in coming up with their own laws to attach to junk modelled columns, imitating the code of Hammurabi inscribed on a stele.

They also made models of gardens, after learning about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and edible ziggurats from wafer biscuits.

The core book work of the week is what takes up most of our time (and is not generally photographed!), but we always try to fit in plenty of other activities day to day too.

My 11 year old enjoyed collecting and testing hydrogen using our chemistry set this week.

The Doctor Who cookbook was in use again, and I found myself making meringue bones one day, while Michael assisted our 13 year old in making fruit kebab dalek eye stalks another.

Meanwhile, my 7 year old daughter has discovered Spirograph, and has made many patterns.

We've been out and about to local parks during the week too. The cold weather has meant that we have had the playground to ourselves at times - though it was still a lovely day to be out.

More of the same next week I imagine - plenty of work, outdoors when we can, and a fair amount of baking.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Friday Reflections - 112

It's been a bit grey and grim much of the week, but here are some Peach highlights:

Post-parkrun tree climbing. My daughter is demonstrating that she can get down the tree on her own if she only climbs up halfway; yes, she is better at up than down, and I've rescued her numerous times!

Wintry walks at dusk. We have a favourite loop we walk on a Sunday afternoon, and the light at this time of day in the winter is stunning.

Doctor Who baking. My eldest and I made these slightly alarming brownies together this week.

Sewing and crochet. My daughter and I searched through the local charity shop for a t-shirt for her to turn into a skirt: £3.50 well spent. I also got my 11 year old and a friend started on learning to crochet. He's beginning to get it now - we'll have to see if he continues to enjoy it.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Friday Reflections - 111

The start of term has coincided with me reaching the halfway point of my marathon training plan (I've signed up for a marathon in March). I imagine that I will be pretty tired by the end of this half term - but at the moment I just seem to be ravenously hungry all the time.

Home education is mentally consuming, so running is a great way to relax, to leave the house alone for a while, and occasionally to come up with plans for the term ahead. I entered a half marathon last weekend, which was fun - though I received a text from Michael on the way home telling me that in my absence he'd allowed a child to buy a crossbow!

The beginning of term has gone fairly well for the children. We seem to be settling back into our usual pattern of work and outings. We try to get outside in the middle of the day when we can, when it is sometimes a bit brighter and slightly warmer. We even picnic outside with friends most weeks all year round after running together - and I think being outdoors is cheering for all of us. It is good to get inside and warm up afterwards, though.

My daughter also had a chance to complete another sewing project this week when Grandma (my mum) came to visit. She has been helping my daughter make a patchwork cushion cover, and it has turned out beautifully.

Finally, we have met today for our first home education group of the term. We are beginning a series of sessions focused on various civilisations, starting with the Assyrians. We had an excellent presentation given by one of the children who attends the group, followed by a treasure hunt (with clues found by answering questions about the Assyrians), a chance to build siege towers from Lego, and an opportunity to make clay tablets with cuneiform writing on.

It's been a pretty positive week all in all - time to start getting ready for the next one!

Friday, 4 January 2019

Friday Reflections - 110

The Christmas season is certainly finished in the Peach household; the tree is down, gifts have been carefully found new homes, all the decorations have been packed away for another year. We still have enough biscuits and chocolates to last for weeks (or possibly months!), and half of my 11 year old's delicious Christmas cake to munch our way through though, so there is still evidence of December's festivities to be found.

My 11 year old with the Christmas cake he made and decorated.

I really enjoy Christmas. It's a hectic time for everyone, and the extra church services and activities add to this. Nonetheless, a chance to remember the incredible truth of the incarnation, to spend some time thinking again of what it means for Jesus to have come as our saviour, and to celebrate his birth with family and friends is a genuine joy.

My younger two as Mary and Joseph at a carol service (as the other children all wanted different parts!)

While we have not been following our usual studies over Christmas, the children have found plenty to keep them occupied. My daughter has loved learning to use a sewing machine, and used some beautiful Christmas material given to her by my Nanny, her Great-Nanny, to make a little Christmas tree.

A Mini-Tree

My 11 year old completed the cooking challenge he set for himself with a friend this year. His finale was a three course meal, with a melting chocolate ball pudding for dessert. It was dramatic, and also delicious!

Our pets are very important to our children, so my 13 year old made a special present for his hamster, including a Christmas tree covered in hamster food for her.

A Christmas Gift for a Hamster

Running has also been a feature of our Christmas break. Michael and I ran a 10K race together in Greenwich Park just before Christmas, and the younger 3 children all ran a Christmas Day parkrun with us, before we raced home to ensure we made it to church on time for the service.

10K race in Greenwich Park

Ready for a Christmas parkrun - in matching parkrun 50 T-shirts.

We also ran parkruns on New Year's Day, with our 9 year old joining Michael and me in running two parkruns in a row. His legs were aching the next day!

Aside from these activities, the Christmas break has given us a chance to play some board games, work through some necessary household jobs, and to get a little extra sleep - all much needed. Now the new term is about to begin, and I think the children are ready to get back to work. My 9 year old said he was missing his maths today - so I had better make sure that I am also ready for them to get back to work on Monday!

Friday, 7 December 2018

Friday Reflections - 109

It seems like a long time since our break at Centre Parcs when I last wrote about our various activities. In the mean time we have been enjoying the normal patterns of home and church life, while also gently preparing for the Christmas season. For Michael, this means planning services at church, while for the children it means getting started on making Christmas presents. As ever, there has been some cooking involved, though our 7 year old daughter has been making use of her sewing machine this year.

My 11 year old has been doing plenty of baking over the last few weeks. He has made our Christmas cake, run a successful bake sale with a friend (they did all the cooking themselves), and is working towards finishing his baking challenge for the year.

I took my two youngest children to the Museum of London a couple of weeks ago. I realised that museums we visited quite a bit 3 or 4 years ago they only just remember (or don't remember at all!), so we have been enjoying some trips out together.

A highlight for my 9 year old was sitting a paper for the Primary Maths Challenge. He really enjoyed it, and is chuffed to have earned a gold certificate. We'll have to wait and see if he has scored highly enough to get through to the next round.

Probably the absolute highlight for the children over the last few weeks, however, was making a slide down our stairs using the mattresses from their beds - my 13 year old's idea. We've agreed to let them repeat this tomorrow...

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!