Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas. Holidays.

It's been a long, hard term. It's been a tumultous year. I am desperate for the Christmas holidays. So, we have started them early. How often have I had that experience of arriving at a longed-for break only to feel too exhausted to enjoy myself or to succumb to some lurking germ. So, I made a conscious choice to start slowing down. We finished Chapter Book and filed away the children's work. We have got out the art box and sat all together at the table drawing and painting. We have stopped over a cup of tea and read one or two poems. We have stayed in bed longer in the mornings and I have even stayed up late completing a jigsaw. It's 8.30 in the morning, the children are chatting upstairs in their rooms and I have drunk my first cup of tea, eaten toast with chocolate spread and am enjoying some quiet time on the computer. I'm still in my PJs. It's nearly the holidays and I'm relaxed and ready.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Chapter Book

Already it is time to be looking ahead to January, and that inevitably means looking at the term just gone and asking myself what went well, what we enjoyed as a family, what we long for more of, and what we can't wait to be rid of. Reading a chapter book has always been hugely important to me and to the children. Through all kinds of literature we have learnt so much, not only about historical events, geographical places, mathematical ideas and classic literature; not only about good writing, story structure and well-crafted sentences; but also about being a family, the value of all stopping and being together at the same time and the extra-special feeling of a long hug on the sofa with mum and the dog.
But somehow it hasn't worked so well this term. The book I wanted to read in September wasn't in the library and, although I placed a reservation, was a long time coming. I picked something unknown by a famous author and it didn't take long to realise why it was unknown! We tried and old favourite of mine and my eldest son's, but the other two children found it boring. Having a looser time-table and working more hours myself meant that we found it hard to make the time to read. 
However, in just the last few weeks, we began "The Eagle of the Ninth" by Rosemary Sutcliff, a book I had had on my "to read" list for a long time. After a slow start (oh please, not another to give up on) the story got going and is now racing along at an exciting speed. Today, for the first time, I had a request to go straight on and read the next chapter! Reading it has reminded me how important this shared experience is, how much I love reclining on the sofa, the dog's head in my lap, one son listening in stillness, two other children drawing and colouring, interrupting with the occasional question or observation. It has been warm and precious and not only contributed a huge amount to our knowledge of Roman Britain, but has deepened our emotional connection, soothed scratchy relationships and reminded me again of so much that I love about our lifestyle of home education.
Books for January are already on order!

Friday, 2 December 2011

All of a rush

I am definitely someone who does things in a rush. I sometimes think that I deliberately, though sub-consciously, generate lateness. I faff about, fiddle with things and waste time and then, all of a rush, find myself dashing out of the door.
Last September I thought it might be a nice idea to consider getting a puppy, perhaps in the spring. I had a conversation with a friend in which we agreed, on the Saturday morning, that it just wan't a good time to introduce a new dog. By Monday evening we had arranged to buy Coco!
My life has turned upside down this summer and starting back to term in September everything was totally different. Yet, at the beginning of July I had no real inkling of the storm that was coming.
Ideas often ferment in the depths of my brain and arrive, fully formed, in my conscious thinking.
Worries that have been hanging over me for weeks have finally come out into the light in the last week or so. I have faced up to and am with some tricky issues. Some have been easier than I feared, some much harder and many are as yet unresolved but I have been reflecting on a conversation I had recently, telling a friend of my progress in an area that, only a fortnight ago, I had been too scared and overwhelmed to face. Unexpected problems have come up, obstacles that seemed to be insurmountable, but I have come up with a plan, received love and support and am working, bit by bit, to bringing my hopes to fruition.
The reactions of others still causes me surprise, from the outright coldness of those I never dreamt would let me down to the unexpected solidarity from someone I hardly know. A close friend, whose initial reaction to the events of the summer hurt me and caused me to consider ending the friendship, empathised with and reflected back with a sensitivity and understanding that brought tears to my eyes.
As Christmas approaches and I begin to open the doors on my calendar I am shocked by how different my life it to this time last year and how suddenly it has all happened, but also excited about the new doors opening and the hope for all our futures.