Thursday, 29 August 2013

The fish that got away..

Today we met up with friends at one of our favourite local parks, Hubby really likes coming along too because it means he can sneak in some fishing!

Last night Ruben had a late spurt of creativity and out of nowhere decided he is hugely back into Warhammer, he hasn't touched any of it for weeks/many months! Obviously Bailey's Warhammer influence is infectious... He sat and painted an Orc figure including putting "blood" on it. This morning he has poured over several of Bailey's White Dwarf magazines and planned everything he wants for his birthday including a trip to Warhammer World not for a game but because he likes the restaurant!

We had several errands to run this morning so we left the house at 9am, we met our friends at 10 and left Hubby enjoying some peace and quiet with the fish whilst we had a walk. My legs are still super achy from Tuesdays walk!


Ruben reading the White Dwarf magazines in his camping chair..

He found a caterpillar too



Daddy caught a fish!! But he also lost a rather large fish which he has been gutted about all day-the fish that got away! He is still finding his fishing groove after a long absence..


Showing Cordelia the ropes, they were fishing with a pole today rather than a rod.


Wasn't long before she had caught a fish of her own..


We had chips and lemonade from the cafe and sat watching all the wildlife, we saw a fish trying to eat a fish that was far too big for it, a Cormorant flying above looking for his lunch, and a very funny Goose which made Piper jump and in turn made the Goose jump.

Then we headed into town to run some more errands, food shopping before picking Bailey up. He'd been into town to meet up with friends at Games Workshop. Back home and he had a delivery of new dice to open before tea and an episode of Top Gear. Girls caught up with their emails and games after whilst Ruben did yet more Warhammer painting and Bailey played on the Xbox. Another busy day!!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I Have a Dream...

Today marks the anniversary of 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr made his famous speech "I Have a Dream". I thought it was important to read the speech to the children, we also watched it on youtube. We had a huge discussion over tea (homemade pizzas!) about racism, the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, the speech Martin Luther King made. I love that the children are so open minded and non-judgemental and really hope that is how they will bring their own children up.

After tea we got the noticeboard off the wall, its been full of postcards from all of the children's friends, we took them all off and started a Martin Luther King board. I printed off these dream clouds from the Scholastic website and we did some reading online about him, his wife Coretta and their four children. We read how his funeral was attended by 300,000 people and that Coretta's funeral in 2006 was attended by 14,000 people!

It was interesting to see what the children wrote in their dream clouds, Ruben insisted on writing his own without any help which was sweet! Cordelia printed off a picture of MLK with one of his quotes and we also wrote some facts about him and quotes. Its now back on the wall and hopefully we will add to it over the coming weeks/months.


Today has been full of running errands, catching up on the never-ending washing pile, playing Minecraft, Howrse website, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Playmobil, Bailey did some Warhammer painting, the girls did some reading, Ruben poured over the White Dwarf magazine and decided he wants a new Warhammer army for his birthday.            

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Blue Skies and Sunshine..

Look at those blue skies:


God I really love summer, more this year than ever for some reason?


After a pretty chilled out Bank Holiday Weekend which included a BBQ yesterday afternoon with friends and family, we had another pretty chilled out day today on holiday countdown. We had plans to get some house things sorted today but the sunshine was just too lovely to miss out on so we headed out for a walk after lunch. We are lucky to be bale to have some lovely walks right on our doorstep, it was lovely and quiet today and we only passed one other family on our walk.

We had some lovely chats today which covered-owning horses, places we're visiting on holiday, nature, animals....

We spotted some deer in a field..


And some pretty, funky fungus..


We were all pretty done in after our walk as the weather was pretty muggy so we came home and chilled out in the garden. Hubby decided on a BBQ for tea, which was yum! Feel like we have barbecued more this summer than any summer before but I'm not complaining.

Also today: Minecraft on the Xbox, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles watched and played, lego building-for TMNT, Top Model drawing, lots of reading.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Tree Project Part 7


Tree project part 7.

Painting, Walks & Holiday Plans

A very grey start here this morning, so hubby just took Ruben around the car boot sales with him and left the rest of us in bed. Cordelia and Piper played on Minecraft for a while after breakfast and Bailey played on the xbox so a very quiet morning with just the four of us. 

After lunch Cordelia did some painting, she is really interested in painting eyes at the moment so she had a go at that. She did a really good job, even painted all the red blood vessels but wasn't happy with the results in the end and before I got to take another picture she put it in the recycling!

Piper spent most of the morning/afternoon reading in her room, Bailey had a break from xbox to paint some of his army figures. Ruben played Lego in between a few early-morning strops and bounces on the trampoline.

I did some holiday research, there are so many things to do I don't know how we will fit everything in. We are all getting so excited about going back to France, need to have a couple of quiet and cheap weeks before we go to save up some money now,


Outline of the eye..


Can't do a full day in the house and so in between doing a mammoth pile of washing, I can now get the lid of the washing basket but that is all, we had a local walk with Tallulah.

The girls were in secret chats walking behind us, think I overheard them discussing Miranda Hart's book which they are both reading at the moment.



 Ruben walked ahead swinging this stick and pretending to be Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he wants me to make him an eye mask next..



A very sweet donkey which Cordelia is convinced is pregnant...


A very chilled Sunday here, making the most of the summer which seems to be slowly but surely leaving us, darker mornings and evenings are closing in.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Are Women's Body's Still Beautiful After Pregnancy?

I read this article: Are Women's Bodies Still Beautiful After Pregnancy? a while ago now but it is something that continues in my thoughts still. What our bodies looked like before and what they look like after birth. With celebrities like Victoria Beckham shrinking back to pre-baby weight almost immediately whilst other mums take more time. It takes 9 months for your body to change so surely it take sat least 9 months to get back?

When I had my first child I was 17 and I think I put a grand total of 1 stone and 7lbs on, taking me from a size 8 back to a size 10. I did lose quite a bit of weight thanks to extreme morning sickness though but I was back in my jeans within a week of giving birth-mixture of being young and breastfeeding I think.

When my daughter was born I'd put on 2 stones, which is about average for pregnancy weight gain, took a bit longer for the weight to come off even with breastfeeding again but I never dieted. I fell pregnant again when she was 7 months old and only put a stone and a half on this time. After my second daughter was born I was a size 10/12. When she was 10 months old I fell pregnant again with my second son (not bad to say I was told after my first son that I wouldn't fall pregnant again naturally!). I put on two and a half stone this time and felt H-U-G-E. I think at the end I weighed 11 stone, which is the most I'd ever weighed full term pregnant. I was a size 14 for a while after he was born but breastfeeding and having 3 under threes and a 5 year old meant I quickly dropped back to a size 10.

My skin on the other hand has never quite recovered, I had stretchmarks even as a teenager but the stretchmarks I gained with my first pregnancy were much more severe, bright red and looked like someone had dragged their fingernails through my skin. I was devastated really and its only now 15 years on that I have made my peace with them, well almost really. I still feel self-conscious about them despite the fact that I would rather have them and my children.

I really loved the photographs on A Beautiful Body Project and it made me feel a bit sad that I had never had any photographs taken with my babies. Whatever my feelings are towards my own body now I'm immensely proud of it for birthing four beautiful babies and breastfeeding for a total of three years. The feeling I had when giving birth will never leave me and I think I will forever be chasing a high to come anywhere close to that feeling.

Even though my youngest child is nearly ten years old I have decided that I can still be proud of my body and all its stretchmarks because I have the most wonderful and precious gifts in my four children. So maybe I will take some photos myself like the ones on Jade's blog, I'm not sure if I will be brave enough to share them but we'll see.... I would be really interested to read anyone else's thoughts/feelings on this so please feel free to leave a link to your blog or comment below :)

Saturday & Sticks

This morning started with Myth Busters on the TV and Ruben building a lego set he got for Christmas but has yet to build..



All four children helped with housework chores this morning too, six people plus four family pets makes for an untidy house come the weekend. We've had a busy week so a much quieter pace today. Piper was feeling much better this morning too thankfully.

A quick trip into our local library to pick up book 3 of How to Train Your Dragon for Ruben and a new Cathy Cassidy book for the girls before heading into town. Bailey headed off with multiple cases to his Warhammer group whilst we headed into the central library. I picked some French films on DVD to watch whilst the girls and Ruben headed to the children's section. Piper didn't get any books out but Cordelia got several novels and Ruben got some animal books in preparation for his Aqua-Zoo.

Back home and it was time to have a sort out of Ruben's bedroom, really it seems the only things in there apart from toys are sticks! Sticks & twigs everywhere!!!! But we managed to tidy round and sort through some of the sticks so he can at least get in bed without being suffocated by soft toys.

The girls have been busy on laptops, Cordelia did some of her pony project. Piper hoovered and polished their room without Cordelia present which is probably for the best since she's pretty untidy in comparison..

Bailey arrived home on the bus in very high spirits, he's always in a good mood when he's been to his group :) just in time for chicken fajitas for tea cooked by hubby. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Economics of Home Educating

A real-life friend and fellow blogger Katie over at Outside the Box (hubby and I chatted today about how we are living very much outside the box but that's another story!) did a brilliant blog post about the economics of home educating which I found fascinating, so when she suggested we do our own post about it I thought it was an interesting idea so here is our own version:

We have been home educating now since January 2008, having made the decision in October 2007 to home educate after reading an article in the Sunday papers. Back then Bailey was 9, Piper 7, Cordelia 5 and Ruben 4. I have been a SAHM since Bailey was born, having had him at 17 I was at college before he was born studying English and Law. Hubby and I both decided it was important one of us was at home as we didn't want other people bringing up our children. Therefore its hard to compare a salary before children for me because I didn't have one. With four children in five and a half years it would have been very expensive in childcare. In fact I'm not sure whatever I did would have been able to pay for that much in nursery fees!! And being with my children has been beyond priceless anyway.

School uniform wise, now with Cordelia entering her first year at Secondary school that would mean three children in Secondary school. At a rough estimate using the school uniform website for our local comp I'd say it would be at least £285 each, so that's £855. Ruben's uniform costs would be around £150. Grand total £1005. School trips would inflate that price hugely for 4 children. I'd estimate at least £100+ for minimum school day trips not including residential visits which can cost as much as a family holiday. Not to mention that we'd still have to buy clothes/shoes on top for weekends/holidays etc...

Our holiday accommodation this year in September has cost around £450 for two weeks for the two weeks before it is £2018 so that's a saving of over £1500! We simply would not be going away in the school holidays but given how difficult it is to have holidays term time that would possibly mean no holidays...

Food wise, school dinners would cost around £2 per child per day so that's £40 a week but I spend around £100-150 a week on food anyway so probably no difference there.

As for resources we pay £36 a year for our NT home ed membership, we had IXL maths for a few months at a cost of £15 a month but have cancelled recently. We use bbc schools website for maths, there are lots of free sites though. We bought a years membership for the royal palaces which cost £86. Sports, the younger two have started climbing which is £9 each per month. Horse riding costs £50 a month for two lessons. Both of which I think we'd be doing even if they were at school.

Books wise, we use the library A LOT, we do buy lots of second hand books and the occasional new books but think this would be the same if the children were in school.

I think we probably spend more on petrol simply because we do go out a lot during the week, that and food costs are probably higher than if the children were at school.

Maybe if the children were at school we would need to spend more on "branded" clothing/footwear, its not something that our children are really bothered about tbh but then neither are most of their other HE friends so that probably helps too.

As hubby and I chatted in the car today on the way to Newark we talked about how things that are important to us such as quality family time together are worth not having more material things. Since hubby left full time employment back in April to start up our business we have had to be more careful with money but we both agree that being home together with the children and spending time as a family is afr more important than us having two cars etc. Hubby worked away frequently in his job before which none of us enjoyed and it is so lovely having him at home every day, no amount of money would make me change my mind.

I like that our time is spent as a family and with the children, there are no panics about how will have the children for the 6 week holidays or working out what to do when one of the children is unwell. I don't think I have ever relied upon any family member to look after our children. When any of them has been unwell I have been there.

Home educating four children is a full-time job, its not for everybody and its not always easy. I rarely have much time to myself or even go out by myself but then I didn't want/have four children thinking that would be the case either. I love our life, I love how close the children are to their siblings, how they are having the chance to enjoy their childhood, how they are finding their own paths/journeys without pressure and how they are being allowed to grow up with confidence in a very happy home. All of that is priceless.

1000 Places to See Before You Die..Newark Antique Fair

We've been to Newark a few times before but not to the Antiques and Collector's Fair which according to this website is one of the 1000 places to see before you die! Quite a statement.. but I have to admit I really enjoyed it.

It takes place over two days and started yesterday, part of me wishes we'd gone yesterday really because it must have been packed with stuff. But yesterday it would have cost us £40 to get in and today it cost us just £10. A bargain really.

It was very busy and there was so much to look at, the children got a bit overheated and poor Piper ended up not feeling well so we only stayed for about 2 & a half hours. We saw so much stuff though and talked to some really interesting people. It was hard to get photos but I wish I could have taken more, it was huge with so many stalls even though lots of them must have sold nearly everything yesterday as there were some half-empty stalls.


I loved the blue bed in this photograph...



Cordelia and I had a great conversation with a lady who had a vintage button stall, she said she had started collecting them when she was a little girl and now she has thousands of them. She said she made a lot of money yesterday as two ladies who make button bouquets for brides bought lots from her. She also said she went to America and sold thousands over there! She was really lovely and we ended up buying one of her buttons. I'd have loved to have bought more really, she had beautiful French buttons and an antique Japanese one that was £300! We only bought a £4 button, but its started Cordelia's vintage button collection off nicely.

Back home and Piper had a two hour sleep and felt much better. Cordelia and Ruben played in the garden for a while being Pippin and Merry before deciding to bake a cake. Was lovely seeing them play together so nicely and then bake. Ruben has decided he wants to bake more often. 

The cake was rather yummy:


Cordelia took this photo of her vintage button, a horse-who would have guessed? It is French too ;)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We haven't visited here for a while and thought it was a good place to meet up with our friends over at 4kids2guineapigs. The weather was lovely, in fact it was a bit too hot for the children but I'm not complaining about the sunshine. Had a bit of a shock when we parked up to find the parking charges have gone up to a very steep £7.50. I know the sculpture park is free otherwise but it still seems a bit much to charge for car parking....

You may remember from this post-Look but Don't Touch!!!!! our previous visits here have been a little unsuccessful.. I still think YSP have a long way to go in making their park more child friendly. As soon as we stepped in one of the galleries today the lady on reception quicjly told us we were not allowed to touch anything or take photos! Not the most welcoming way into an art exhibition or exactly relaxing. Thanks for that..


We did see some intresting art though which used some of our favourite cartoon characters including Teenage Mutant Turtles! No photo's allowed though which was a shame..

I gace Cordelia the camera and she took these photos from around the grounds, although she managed to walk past this huge rocking horse without seeing it! Her horse-radar obviously rusty today.



She really liked these wire dog sculptures



Wire rabbit head/human body figure


This was a really cool sign that was all lit up


Ruben happily climbing a tree


No idea about this one? But we do love trees in this house



All seven of the children happily played in/on this sculpture for ages so I really love this photo of inside the sculpture since my mummy bum is far too big to fit inside!! But shhhh because your not supposed to touch/play on/have fun etc on these sculptures...





Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Many children in many different places..

I felt like I was back making school pack lunches this morning when I had to make lunch for Cordelia, who was off to her second pony day and hubby and Ruben who were off to the Aquarium with friends. As both the younger two were off on different trips I picked up Piper's friend and we set off to Meadowhall shopping Centre. Piper and her friend went to the cinema to watch the new Percy Jackson film whilst I took Bailey shopping for some holiday bits and pieces. Was very strange just having Bailey with me, but also very nice to have some one on one time with my eldest boy!

The girls came out of the cinema very happy having enjoyed their film. We had a look around the Lego shop, where Bailey added about £600 worth of Lego to his Christmas list! At the top of the list is this:

And I thought it was the younger three who were into LOTR!

We picked up Cordelia and dropped back Piper's friend. Cordelia had had a fun day and met some nice, new people who were more her age than last time too so she was very happy, and also very dirty after cleaning out the horses! Maybe cream jodphurs were not such a good idea after all..

We had a chilled afternoon watching some TV before Hubby and Ruben returned from their trip to the Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester. It had been really strange not hvaing the two of them around, I have gotten so used to hubby being around all day now I can't remember it being any other way! They had had a fab day too, but were a bit tired from all the travelling. Ruben had bought a sand seahorse to add to his collection of sand beanie animals and two small plastic snails which have not left his hands! Hubby took these photos:



I really like this one though..

 These very cute otters were outside and Hubby's favourite part of the day!



We were all a bit shattered and very much looking forward to the start of Great British Bake Off. I had a migraine attack halfway through though so had to miss out on all the fun and go to bed instead :(

Monday, 19 August 2013

Climbing Again!

Today was another opportunity for Cordelia and Piper to have a go at climbing. This time it was a smaller group but we still got a reduced rate for being a group. Piper and I had some things to pick up in town first so we walked down to the Foundry when we'd finished. We found Cordelia and Ruben very happily climbing up walls. Ruben did struggle a little more this time I think because his feet have grown a full shoe size and his new trainers seem a lot bulkier, we might be investing in some climbing shoes.

We did manage to have a chat with the manager about having a family climbing session so that we could start coming to use the climbing wall by ourselves during the week. Hubby and I really fancy having a go ourselves too and it would be a great activity during the winter months.



they were shattered after their two full hours of climbing. On the way home we popped into see Hubby's grandparents as it was hid grandad's birthday this week. We bought him this :


I bought one for my mother in law a few Christmases ago and then I bought one for Hubby's Nannan, they have been lovely to read back and something I think will be important for the children when they get older. I think they will really enjoy reading them back and finding out all about their great-grandparents in their own words. Its my father in laws birthday next and he is very hard to buy for so I know what he will be getting!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Nature walks

Sunday afternoon after our usual morning mooching around the car boot we had a lazy walk near home with Tallulah. Cordelia took some lovely photos-mainly of horses!-but we also spotted lots of stripy caterpillars all over some Ragwort. Cordelia told us all how Ragwort is poisonous to horses so it was a good job there were no horses in this particular field.

We saw some rather epic vegetables being grown as we came past the allotments which made me think about growing some of our own veg again. We have plenty of space in our garden here so we are thinking about what veg we can grow and maybe doing some Autumn planting.



















I think I have a budding photographer on my hands here! Some lovely photographs of our walk.