Wednesday, 28 March 2012


The sun has been shining and it feels like summer. It's been a long term, a long winter and we are all very excited about going on holiday on Friday. We fly to Pisa and are driving a brand-new camper van home through Italy and France. When the idea first came up, in September, it seemed a little crazy, but here we are, less than 48 hours away from setting off. A much needed break, much needed fun time together, and perhaps, a line in the sand as life moves on from the old to the new.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Water of Life

I am irritation personifed today. I ran 13.1 miles yesterday in 1 hour and 46 minutes exactly, an achievement of which I am very proud. It took me the same time (just 17 seconds quicker) than the last Half I ran but this was an undoubtedly slower course, as judged by comparing the winning times, due to a few narrow bridges and gates, which means I ran harder and better. My shoulders are sore, I have a raging thirst and the slightest difficulty makes me want to cry - all signs of a good race. My children are being patient and understanding, education has consisted of watching the last installment of BBC's "Great Expectations". Time for a hot chocolate and a lie-down!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Funny week

It's been a funny week. Endings and beginnings and uncomfortable waitings in the middle. Situations I can't change, control I don't have, frustrating obstacles to changes I'm trying to make, situations I have no idea what to do about.
It all felt too much on Wednesday morning; it all just got on top of me. So we cancelled the day. (Well, not quite but we did do a bit of rearranging and a bit of explaining). We got on a train to London and rode the buses. We went to Foyles and the Ferrari garage and Harrods. We saw Marble Arch and Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square and Big Ben. We had fun.
Today the sun is shining, the children are eating pancakes and we are off to the climbing wall for the afternoon. Some things won't change. Some things will change in their own time, no matter how much I fret. But I can enjoy today.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Nest Building

Monday morning. Chapter book, tea, cookies.
We watched a magpie flying to a from a pine tree, huge sticks in his beak, building a safe home to raise a brood.
We finished our book - Because of Winn-Dixie -  and reflected on loss, reconciliation and new beginnings.
We enjoyed the sunshine being warm enough to sit outside and we enjoyed a relaxed start to the week. We enjoyed each other's company and the gentle rhythm of our life.

Friday, 16 March 2012


I want to cry. My head hurts and I am fed up of being a person that regularly loses my purse and panics, even though I tell myself that I will just have to deal with it, and have someone else find it. Every time. And I’ve just told the children that I know it’s wrong to have my own issues and be taking it out on them but I am doing it anyway. I am tired of listening to my children’s feelings and trying to hold on to my own. We have been up to London today which was heaps of fun but I find travelling round London stressful with three little ones. Well, not so little really and much less likely to throw themselves headlong into the path of an oncoming Tube Train than a few years ago but I still can’t control the urge to insist they stand absolutely still and well back on the platform and to grab hold of their hands as the train approaches. I worry that they will skip into the road, walk headlong into a stranger or simply get swept away in the crowd. I am sure that I will give them a neurotic complex but I reckon I’m a pretty laid back mum about getting up on time, climbing trees and using adult scissors as toddlers so maybe I’ve got some slack. It gets hard to process the big stuff in the tumble-drier of day-to-day life and I am looking forward to some time out this weekend. In the meantime I will reflect on a fun day in Hamley’s, on the bus spotting McClaren sports cars and Classical Spectacular at the Albert Hall.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


I don't normally like photos of myself but this one was taken by my friend this morning (the invisible drinker of the green mug!) and it says a lot.
The flowers are from a student who I spent a lot of time with last term. He just got an A in his A Level and brought gifts to say thank you. His mum said that he couldn't have done it without me and, while I am quite sure he could and he deserves to be very proud of himself, it is good to feel that I have made a difference.
The mugs are new, as is the tea-cosy: important parts of everyday! I love theses mugs (Kiwi and Teal) and I have two other colours, purple and yellow (Cassis and Dijon). I love the moment of choice every time I have a cup of tea: which colour for the mood I'm in right now? The bright colours make me happy.
The family organiser behind me is filled with activity and work: a busy, productive and fun life. The last box this month reads HOLIDAYS!  - a ten day camper van trip from Pisa to Calais.
And I am smiling. Spring is approaching, I have got a cup of tea and a friend to share it with, and life is good.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Crying Out

It's a familiar sight: she stands, weight on one leg, hip jutting out, eyebrows tense, not quite catching my eye. Her voice is hard and she fights her corner. I am, she claims, being just as rude to her as she is to me. I have two other children who need my attention, a few minutes left of the half-hour I had allowed myself for a coffee and catch up and I have not yet switched on the kettle. Water is trickling from the bottom of the washing machine which just spun as if it had a house brick in the drum. I don't have the patience. I don't have the time. I suggest, firmly, that she goes to her room, stops winding her brothers up and tries to calm down. She deserves my attention I tell her and I can see that she needs some positive parenting, it just isn't going to happen right now.
Later, flood abated, new washing machine ordered, bread rolls shaped by my middle son and dictation and graphs completed, I do sit down. I'm curious, I say, as to why she is in such a bad mood. She admits that she can see now that she has been very rude, but that it's hard to see in the moment. She is fed up and frustrated. Her eagerly anticipated bath was ruined by a fresh and sore knee graze and then she had to shower after anyway because she'd forgotten to rinse her hair. It can be tough being eight. I express sympathy, commiserate with her frustration and she softens. Her shoulders drop, her face relaxes and she slithers from her chair to climb on my lap. We all need to be heard.

Monday, 12 March 2012


It's been a while. Seven years apparently. Seven years since I've had the piano tuned. I feel pressed into it now not because it sounds too bad - although I'm sure that to a sensitive ear it must do - but because there is a tiny doll stuck under one of the keys. Or behind a string. Or somewhere else inside, somewhere that stops one note from making even a sound. As I explained to the lady on the telephone, the children were playing hide-and-seek with the doll. She's really well hidden.
The piano doesn't get played much. Mostly by young visitors. I used to play as a teenager. I practiced hard and I got pretty good and I got certificates to prove it, but I was never a natural. I have tried to teach the children to play but somehow it has always got squeezed out. When I read "The Artist's Way" a few years ago I began to play again, but it fell by the wayside. My middle son has been trying to teach himself and has asked a few times recently to be helped to play. I have been tempted to try a tune, but the clunky missing note is really quite a problem and puts me off. It's time to get it tuned and fixed and, hopefully, played again.

Friday, 9 March 2012


It is 100 years since the tragic sinking of the Titanic.We took the trip to Godalming today to visit the exhibition in the town museum based around Jack Phillips, the ship's chief telegraphic officer. He was undoubtedly a brave man, staying at his post until the last, his final transmission cut off mid-way as the power cut out three minutes before the ship went down. I found the telegraphic transmissions sent and received by the Titanic especially moving - the simple descriptions of the increasingly desperate situation, the frantic responses of ships promising that all their boilers were at full steam, and the last few from the surrounding ships: nothing heard for half-an-hour, for two hours and then the Carpathia reporting that the Titanic has gone down with all hands.
The children all took a ticket from the reception desk, found "their" suitcase and dressed in character. My eldest loves the chance to look smart and enjoyed being William John Parker, ship's crew.
Middle son was also a crew member, although clearly not of such rank, and my little girl part of an upper class family's entourage. Their friend was a first class young master.
We stopped for a runabout and a tree-climb on the way home. Fridays are definitely fun!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Friday Fun!

Sunshine in the park.



Looking good.

Bonfire in the garden.

One of the best days!

Friday, 2 March 2012


Sometimes I don't feel that I am "doing" home education very well. It all feels a bit random, a bit unpredictable, a bit "colouring-outside-the-lines". I worry that I am not "doing" it as well as I was. I don't feel quite as on the ball or as if I know what the children are doing, learning, all the time. They are growing up, increasing in independence, becoming more and more themselves, the way they were created. My idea of their future seems hazy, but I so strongly believe that they will propel themselves into it. One of my children has his heart set on an English degree at Oxford. I'm not sure if he'll make it, he is unlikely to have A* GCSEs in double figures, but he will have something special, something different. He will  have a strong idea of who he is; hours of reading, writing and film-making; Self-motivation, direction and discipline.
Someone asked me this week if I thought my other son would go to University. Possibly, probably, but maybe not. I replied that I could see him happily working at the local climbing wall, doing something he enjoys and earning enough to live a life he loves: outdoors and adventuring. Would I really be happy with that? Yes, if he was; far happier than to see him trying to live up to anyone else's expectations, having an office job because he thought he should, even studying for a degree because he thought that was the right thing to do.