Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Review of the Year 2014

We started this year home educating Four Pesky Hobbits and finished it home educating three Pesky Hobbits. Bailey going off to college has been the biggest thing that has happened this year because it has had a huge effect on all of us. Its strange without him here several days a week, I always feel like I have lost something and its weird counting 5 when there is normally 6 of you. But, and I mean BUT in a good way he is flying, he is doing so well, which isn't a huge surprise to us because we knew he would. But it is so wonderful to stand back and watch him doing so well, we had his parent's evening this month, which was really bizarre as we hadn't been to one in over 7 years! His tutor could not speak high enough of him, he even said he was one of the more social kids in the class, which he thought funny since he was "home schooled". I tried not to take that offensively... so the proof as they say is in the pudding. Seven years of home educating and with only the two GCSE's he took in the summer he has managed to successfully go into college, be moved up from level 2 to level 3 in a matter of weeks and is expected to get some of the highest marks in his class. Home ed works.

And the rest of the year went like this:

January

Lego continues to have a huge hold in this house and inspired by December's The Hobbit movie and receiving the Hobbit Hole for Christmas it continued to be played with.
Lego and The Hobbit

I always find January a tough month and last year was no different, especially as hubby badly sprained his ankle and was pretty much sofa bound for several weeks but there was still much to be thankful for, Cordelia started drawing lots and its amazing to see how far she has come on in a year.
January

We headed off for a 4 night break to Center Parcs in the Lake District, a lovely retreat to cheer us up in bleak January.
Ullswater

Including a boat trip on Lake Windermere:


February

We went to see the highly anticipated Lego Movie at the cinema. The kids had been waiting to see it ever since Bailey had shown them the trailer in 2013 and lego has had around 15 years of being huge in this house!
I blogged about a very average day in February An average home ed day.

March

Was pretty quiet too but we did have a lovely 4 night break in Keilder Forest, Northumberland. It felt like we were miles away from everything with no wifi or even a phone signal but that was actually rather nice. We had lots of cold but dry weather and did a lot of walking and eating! Keilder Water
we had a tough walk up to the Keilder Observatory but some lovely memories of eating our lunch on these chairs by the water'e edge:



And I can't believe how much the children have grown up since this photo!



April

Milder weather saw us getting out and about a little more, We are definitely winter hibernators in this house. Piper had a huge image makeover, which is still evolving, hair cuts. we went along with the Superhero theme that has become huge here and painted Superhero Eggs


Cordelia celebrated her 12th Birthday with a trip to Whitby:



Ruben and I painted the playhouse and gave it a bit of a makeover with a Minecraft theme Mine Hut.
I finally got around to making some keepsake boxes for all of the children and Hubby and I even managed to squeeze in a date day with a bike ride in the Peak District, its a shame it finished with an injury! You can read more about March here: March summary

May

We had a wonderful holiday to Holland, stopping first for a day in London on our way south. We also managed to visit Belgium several times too! We loved Brugge and its waffles!



We visited The HagueBreda, GhentAmsterdam and Brussels-marking 3 capital cities for us in 6 days!

We had such an amazing time and saw so many things. I think if you asked the kids one of their favourite days would have been the trip to Beekse Bergen Safari Park and being so close to the animals there:



A very memorable trip for all of us ;D

June

We grew things, waited for things to arrive in the post,  Bailey had his first ever GCSE exams, which was a bit overwhelming but he did fine, we had some nice walks. Including a trip to the RSPB Old Moor


And some horse riding!



Cordelia went to see Hetty Feather with friends at the theatre!

And the major event of the month.....our biggest boy turned 16!!!!!



Halfway through the year already!!

July

Hubby and Ruben made a Pokemon training centre out of Lego:



We got three new pets in the shape of Stick Insects May, Skullduggery and Hawkeye:



We watched the Tour De France come through Sheffield:


The girls took books and the summer's craze of loom bands and sat loom banding whilst the cyclists came past. It was a pretty cool experience. We also celebrated Hubby's 36th Birthday in July with homemade chocolate fudge cake:


We had a most fantastic day out in Liverpool to see the Giants, utterly, utterly epic, such an amazing atmosphere and such an amazing experience for all of us, a real "pinch me" moment that I will never forget:


And we managed to squeeze in two nights in Norfolk camping! Our first trip away without Bailey which was very strange ;( but he was fine at his grandparents and he even got himself a part-time job whilst we were away!


August

We went to see the much anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy film, which we thought was brilliantly funny!
We finally visited the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta I had been wanting to visit for around 5 years, but now hubby can drive we shared the drive there and back meaning that although it was a 7 hour round trip it was manageable and so so worth it. The girls and their friend went on this ridiculously high ride


The famous night time glow:



August saw Bailey get a place at college on a full time Games Design Course, he was interviewed and within 5 minutes offered a place without even knowing his GCSE results yet. They said he was "the bright light amongst a lot of dim ones" which he quoted at us at every available opportunity! When his GCSE results did come through a week later we found he had got B's for his Maths and English. Not bad to say he had spent 6 years being autonomously home educated with very little in the way of formal maths or English.

September

We had a first trip to a Comic Con, which the kids loved, actually we all did! Lots of costumes to coo at and lots of geeky cool items to browse. It definitely inspired the kids to think about costumes for halloween this year.We had our own Not Back to School Picnic with best friends at Chatsworth:



Bailey started college, which left a really weird void for us, but he was having a brilliant time. We headed out to Scarborough for the day for my birthday and Bailey rang to tell us he had been moved up from his level 2 course and on to the Level 3 course, he had been at college for a week and a half!

October

Didn't blog as much as I would have liked in September and October because there was really a lot of things going on here, that I don't want to blog about, feels a shame as I feel we have missed a chunk of the year out. Happy to say though that things have moved onwards and upwards since and things are definitely calmer.

October was a very busy month! We took part i schools film week and enjoyed How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Long Walk to Freedom and a brilliant IMAX Space Station film.We had a lovely time visiting Saltaire Vintage Fair and I think we might make it an annual trip. And we also squeezed in another 4 night family holiday, which was much needed and as Bailey was so up to date on his college work he got to come along too! We finally got to visit the Iron Bridge, something that has been on my list for ages:



Had a fabulous but tough walk in Llangollen , one of our favourite places in Wales.We saw the highest waterfall in Wales:



And believe it or not we actually ate ice creams on the beach in Llandudno, here's the proof:
 Just look at that sky! October, it was really in October!

Hubby and I had a fantastic date day watching NFL football at Wembley Stadium, it was quite an experience but unfortunately ended rather badly, when I accidentally tipped an entire cup of scalding tea on myself and ended up in A&E. Was one of the most painful experiences I've ever had, but the staff at the Burns Unit were excellent and thankfully I should make a full recovery. No tea in cars for me anymore.

Halloween was a little difficult for me this year as I was pretty much covered in bandages but I managed to walk around whilst the children went trick or treating. I loved the effort they went to for costumes this year:
  

Link from the game Zelda, Marceline (Adventure Time) and a Ringwraith (Lord of the Rings!). I booked them tickets to see E.T. at the Sheffield Showroom, they thought it was very funny, Hubby had to take them as I was still recovering from my burns. They also went along to Sheffield's Out of This World themed halloween event, but from the sounds of it, it was very far from Out of This World.......
October was the month Ruben learnt to Skateboard:


November


We had a quiet month due to the fact we had a lot of things planned in December! So there were lots of things going off like craft activities that I didn't blog about as we were just too busy. We did have a lovely trip to the former home of Lord Byron, which turned out to not be very far from us at all in Mansfield. Newstead Abbey was stunning, if not a little chilly!


Ruben and Cordelia attended a brilliant film making workshop at the Sheffield Showroom, they had an entire weekend there by themselves! So Hubby, Piper and I got all our Christmas shopping done and also managed to squeeze in seeing the Benedict Cumberbatch film The Imitation Game. We enjoyed it very much and hopefully will have a trip next year to see the Enigma machine at Bletchley Park.

Ruben spent hours and hours designing and making his own board game complete with cards:


He also managed to finish a book all by himself when he read The Iron Giant, a much loved favourite film of Bailey's as a child, so fond memories for us. We booked on to a workshop building an Iron Giant with the artist Johnny White at the Showroom and then watched the film in the cinema afterwards.

Ruben had his haircut, like loads and loads of it cut-marking the third biggest haircut of the year after his sisters:
     

And he also celebrated his 11th Birthday!



December

We had what is becoming, an annual trip into London to see the Christmas Lights, this year we went to Covent Garden to see the Lego Santa and Reindeer:



It was lots of fun but I never got around to blogging about it!
I suppose one of the biggest things for us in December was Hubby and I celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. As we got married very quietly, we literally went to Stratford-Upon-Avon with a very tiny Bailey and our two best friends and got married. Was lovely though but we always felt a bit guilty that our family didn't get to share it with us. So we planned a church vow renewal, it took a lot of planning and to be honest was quite stressful but oh my it was so worthwhile. And I think such an important event for our children to both see and take part in.





Was such a wonderful day.

Two days later and Piper celebrated her 14th Birthday! Unfortunately it did not get off to the best start when at 1.30am both boys awoke only to start throwing up and continue through the night :(
So feeling shattered I dragged myself out to the shopping centre and took both girls shopping. It cheered Piper up and we even got a box of Krispy Kremes for a different kind of birthday cake this year, sadly the boys had to wait until the day after to eat one!
We had an early trip to see the final part of The Hobbit movie trilogy. Was lovely and I even managed to stay awake during the whole film!
Then we set off for a Christmas holiday/Honeymoon to Berwick upon Tweed. Our first Christmas away from home and one of our best Christmasses so far, we visited Edinburgh marking our fourth capital city this year! We totally fell in love with it there and ended up visiting twice! We also visited Holy Island and Bamburgh  and just generally had a fantastic end to a busy year.

This year has been so incredibly packed, and even now looking back over it I am amazed by how much we have actually done and also now realise why I am so exhausted. If I had to pick a word for this years' home education journey I'd say ADVENTURE was it. This year more than any other I've blogged about has seen the most changes in our children, the most changes in our journey with Bailey going off to college and although there have been some scary, low points there have been so many more high points. And I suppose that's life isn't it? You take the rough with the smooth and it all adds up to life. So many experiences this year that I can't help but feel will shape us all in the future. So much growing up, learning to let go a little in the case of the older three children, standing back and watching how mature and amazing these four beautiful people are and feel so incredibly blessed that we get to share so much of their journey with them. Its very humbling.

For 2015 I'm hoping the word will be BALANCE, I think a much better balance is needed. Although I enjoyed 2014, it was tiring and a little full on. I love travelling but I think it will be a bit closer to home in 2015 and then maybe some bigger places in 2016 but we shall see.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the blog, it is always nice to read comments. Wishing you all a wonderful 2015. Happy New Year




Monday, 29 December 2014

Back home and it snowed!

The younger two were so excited to see snow when we got home. The first thing they did this morning was get dressed and build a snowman:


Here's Ashley the snowman:



As usual they were only out for half an hour and then they were back in for hot chocolates to warm back up!



Sunday, 28 December 2014

Bamburgh

We got up early to pack up and leave our holiday cottage, feel a little bit sad as we have had such a wonderful, relaxing and fun, family Christmas. I'd go as far as to say its the best Christmas I have ever had and I can't imagine not going away for Christmas every year now but we shall see what next year brings..

On our way home we decided to stop at Bamburgh as I had heard so many great things about the castle that I wanted to see it with my own eyes! It was even more stunning than I had imagined, especially against the backdrop of the beautiful blue sky.



The volcanic rock its built on is so high, it makes me wonder what would give anyone the idea to build a huge castle on it?!!!

As you walk around the castle (it was open but we didn't go inside this time, next time list!) the landscape opens up to the most stunning stretch of beach. I felt like we were in another country!


What a beautiful backdrop to a stunning beach, must, must, MUST come back here on a sunny, warm day and build sandcastles on this beach....


The children wandered off, deep in conversation with each other and discussing what they were going to do when we got home (wifi!) which was a bit of a shame as sometimes I feel a bit like they don't stop to enjoy the in the moment things. Maybe that is something that comes with age because I stopped, I looked out towards the Farne Islands and thought about Grace Darling, who I only read about on a trip to Southend on Sea pier a few years back with the children, and what it must be like living on such a remote little island in the North Sea. I looked at the lines on the sand that the sea had made, and I listened to the crashing of the waves-a sound I miss living in a city-and I felt so happy and in the moment. One of those bottle it moments. I love my life. And I love that home educating means that I see opportunities to learn everywhere I am, because the world is our classroom-cheesy it may be but its also very true, and its not just the children who are learning. I am learning things about myself all the time.



A trip into a big supermarket in Newcastle to get supplies for home-with the weather being so bad at home we had to stock up!-then a three hour drive home. We didn't actually hit any snow until Barnsley which was a bit strange! But it was pretty bad at home, thankfully my in laws had left us the heating on so we came home to a nice warm house ;)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Edinburgh again!


As we were only an hour away we decided to have another day in Edinburgh, the children still had some money to spend and we realised we hadn't had chance to see the Queen's Edinburgh bolt hole aka Holyrood Palace or the Scottish Parliament building.

We took the dog for a quick walk on the beach first thing again. It was very icy and the sand was actually frozen in parts!


We had a walk around the older part of the town centre and saw this amazing building that look like it came straight out of a Hogwart's film set.


It was called TolBooth Tavern and has been around since the sixteenth century, its actually a haunted pub! We didn't actually go in but continued on our way down the Royal Mile-which Hubby and I quickly realised walking down the the palace that its called the "Royal Mile" because its a mile from the palace to the castle (where we were the other day!) doh!...


Loved the design on the palace gates!

Its a rather large building considering the Queen only actually spends one week a year here. Its called "Holyrood Week" and usually takes place at the end of June to celebrate all things Scottish, including a garden party at the palace with around 8,000 guests!!


You have to pay to get in but I managed to get this shot from next to the toilet block lol!



We loved the unicorn plaque





Just across the road from the palace is the Scottish Parliament Building:


Which to be fair was a little underwhelming and since later in the day we saw the old parliament building, I know I'd prefer the older building to its new modern design. Towering above both the palace and the parliament building is Arthur's Seat which is a dormant volcano and sits 251m above sea level. It was very busy with lots of people walking up it, but as we were wearing the wrong footwear we have put that on our "next time" list of things to do, I think the view must be pretty spectacular from up there.






These are the old Parliament buildings, this was Parliament Hall and this statue of King Charles the second was erected in 1685. It is the oldest lead cast statue in Britain:


The parliament square is partially hidden from view by the beautiful gothic looking St Giles Cathedral:


We managed to have an hour in the museum again, as Tallulah was tired out from her walk and went for a dog-nap in the car. The kids headed straight for the animal section again! Bailey, Piper and I went into the space section which was really interesting whilst Cordelia and Ruben showed Hubby around the animals.


On the top floor we found this Stegosaurus next to a great children's section, it was really busy. My mother in law sent us some photos of our house covered in snow and I sent her this one of the Edinburgh skyline with not so much as a flake of snow back:


The gallery view down through to the animal section was pretty epic:


Cordelia spent ages taking photos of the taxidermy animals and finding out lots of info about extinct animals. There was even a Dodo skeleton (although not real sadly). As we came back down the stairs we noticed there was a drawing competition being held and as we had 20 minutes left on the parking meter Cordelia and Ruben decided to have a go..



This is Ruben's emu drawing:


And Cordelia's Arctic Fox: