Thoughts turning to Autumn

Summer seems to be slipping away in a delicious haze; it’ll be September next week, the season is changing before our eyes. We’ve been eagerly watching the blackberry bushes and watching the blossom turning to small hard green berries, reddening and slowly, slowly turning dark. We went for a nature walk this week down to the marshes which are protected/cared for by the RSPB and as well as doing some bird watching (with the help of some friendly locals Sophia spotted some curlews and black headed gulls as well as the obligatory ducks and pigeons!) we were hunting for that autumnal treat. Most of the berries we saw just weren’t ready yet but then I found a bush high up with an abundance of juicy blackberries; I picked them for the kids and before I knew what was happening little hands were invading the basket and they were gone faster than I could say crumble!

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2013-08-26 12.07.23As several of Sophia’s friends are heading to school full time this September, I’m trying to inject our lives with a bit of a home – ed rhythm this ‘term’ (as it were).  She’ll be 4 in December and she likes to know what’s going on (like mother, like daughter!) so I thought we were probably ready to not be super structured but to have a loose idea of what’s happening each week. I had contemplated starting  this  seasonal based kinder curriculum this September but I just don’t think it’s the right time. Isaac is still quite full on and shortening his naps so I don’t think I’d be able to properly focus on it with Sophia and then she’d get frustrated. Also, she’s still really interested in learning to read and write and basic mathematics (addition mainly – more on that later!) so I thought we’d just dedicate this academic year to continuing aiding her in her exploration of that and to really embrace their youth – lots of baking, arts and crafts, time outside, playing..etc.

Sophia will be starting Pebble House (a lovely gentle childminder/pre school with 5 other children) for one day a week in September which I think will do both her and Isaac some good. I can’t really explain properly why; I realise she’ll only go for one academic year and then be at home full time again but I think Isaac could do with some regular time just me-and-him and she is really excited about going and it fulfills her desire to try out a preschool type thing.  As well as this I am aiming to do a weekly nature walk in the same spot so that we continue to observe the seasons changing and stay in touch with that element of things. We already bake weekly but I want to try and include Isaac in that now. We need to get the garden in order; after harvesting nearly everything this month it’s very empty so we need to buy some seeds or possibly seedlings at this point to fill our beds in time for the winter growing season. Sophia is also still going to do her dancing class which she is very excited about starting after a long break over the summer.

We are also continuing Exeter Forest School’s preschool group (Tree Tots) which I think all 3 of us have missed! However, I’m aware that Sophia is fast approaching the upper age limit and is by far the oldest in the group. Embercombe run a natural learning group on a tuesday morning which attracts a lot of home educators. We haven’t been yet as it is the same morning as Tree Tots and also costs twice as much (although includes lunch which is probably why). I am very keen to go so my vague plan is that Sophia will do Pebble House for 3 terms and we’ll continue with Tree Tots for that time and then I think both those will stop and we’ll move over to the Natural Learning Group. I am mildly concerned that she’ll not appreciate leaving Pebble House but she’ll be too old to continue then so hopefully I’ll find a good way to transition her across and I’m hoping the Natural Learning Group will be a good replacement.

As well as all of the above, we’ve been part of a new home education group in Exeter for parents with younger (mainly preschool) children; we’ve been meeting weekly all summer and it’s been lovely to watch friendships between such small people blossom and to be able to chat to parents who are taking the same path as us. In fact, I think it’s been really helpful in helping me feel confident in our decision and Sophia loves going and seeing everyone.

That looks like we do a lot but really, it all seems to come together quite nicely, I would say we’re out of the house most days but never for a 9-5 amount of time and as both of mine love going out it suits us all well and we still have a fair amount of time at home to rest and just be a family together.

I was going to go on to talk about some books and resources which I’m hoping to draw from this academic year but I think that probably constitutes another post in itself now! I realise this post isn’t particularly interesting but I’ve written it mainly to make a loose plan somewhere that I can refer to easily and in case anyone else with children of the same age might find it useful; especially in context of having peers that are all heading off to school.

But I will end things with a more ‘human’ side with some pictures from things we’ve been up to over the last few weeks.

Upon our return home from Creation Fest our lovely friend Sam came to visit with her two gorgeous boys and we had a lovely few days swimming in the rain, playing in the park and visiting Bicton Park. We melted on several occasions at how well the kids got on and especially enjoyed Isaac and Tom who are only a month apart playing silly shouting racing games with each other. I love that the friendships we made in Brighton have endured with the distance and look forward to many more mini visits (both ways) and breaks with the lovely Brightonian lot! (If any of you are reading this, join us for Beautiful Days next year?!)

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Then before we knew it it was Topsham Carnival Week. The Committee did the town proud with lots of events and activities on. We went to the Dog Show on Tuesday (to satisfy the dog mad Isaac) before my parents babysat so Dan and I could play at the Topsham Town Fayre Musical Extravaganza. It went really well and we very much enjoyed ourselves! (Check out Dan’s music page for some pictures of us playing and info on upcoming gigs)

On the Wednesday was an afternoon of craft activities for children including the judging of the decorate-a-welly competition. Sophia was ecstatic to win second place in her category and was rewarded with a box of puzzles. The look on her face was priceless, especially as they misread the list at first and said Sophie won only to be corrected by the judges. Her face just lit up!

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This was followed by a flower arranging competition on Thursday which Sophia again eagerly took part in. Her disappointment at not winning this time was quickly dissolved when presented with a lollipop as a thank you for taking part.

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The week culminated with the Carnival Procession on the Saturday evening, Isaac slept through it but Sophia was mesmerised. She especially loved all the majorettes and Dan was enamored by the war hammer robot!

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Finally, after a plan to go camping was thwarted, Dan and I ended up playing a set at the Chill Out session at the Passage House Inn (where I work) on the Sunday afternoon. Late notice meant we couldn’t find a babysitter so we took the kids with us, Isaac rocked out on my back whilst Sophia danced around with a little drum loving the whole thing.

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All in all, a brilliant few weeks. The gigs especially have reignited my love of playing music so I’m hoping to practice enough to maybe be able to gig with Dan on a regular basis. Watch this space…

 

In our garden

Apart from a few carrots and the tomatoes which are slowly turning red everything we planted earlier in the year has either been harvested or failed. We’ve had varying degrees of success and I thought if I made notes here then I might remember what to do differently next time.

So, first up…our garlic. I had such high hopes for it at first, it seemed to be growing really well and I was so smug. But then all the leaves started to wilt and turn yellow, I pulled them and found this:

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I am no expert but it looks like they just stopped growing. Each head is just one big clove. We’ve been using them in our cooking and they taste good but I’m so disappointed with their failure to thrive.

Next up, our carrots.

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As you can say, beyond teeny tiny! Comedy carrots if you will. Again, no real idea what happened apart from that I planted them quite late as I was trying to avoid frosts but it was still pretty cold so maybe too cold for them?

Our potatoes have done slightly better though the harvest isn’t as large as I’d hoped considering how many plants I planted. I think I know where I went wrong though, I didn’t earth them up many times and they were in a narrow bed so I think they didn’t have enough space. Still, a decent enough amount. We used them in our roast on Sunday and they were scrummy and we still have a fair few left.

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Our tomato plants have produced a lot of fruit and we’re just waiting for them to turn red but I forgot to nip out the bottom branches when they were smaller so they are towering beasts with lots of yellowing leaves. Oops! Still, tomatoes a plenty so I’m happy. Now if I could just stop Isaac picking the green ones we’d be set!

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Our sunflowers had a happy life and we’re just starting to harvest the heads for seeds so that’s exciting.

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The last successful venture, which I can claim no credit for, is the fruit trees at the bottom of the garden. No plums yet but lots of apples, I don’t think they’re at their peak yet but we couldn’t resist picking some! Lots of fun to be had!

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Finally, our complete failures…the onions never made it past wispy stage and the squash never made an appearance. I have a theory that the incredibly cold spring might be to blame for some of our veggie fails but there might be nothing in that. Hopefully, next time will be better!

But now I have 5 empty beds and no idea what to plant so please give me ideas! I’ve heard I can plant Brussels and purple sprouting broccoli now so gonna give that a try once we make it to the garden centre for seeds. And possibly more garlic although perhaps that’s meant to be later in the year? More research to be done methinks!

But all in all, we’ve had fun with our first into vegetable growing in the new garden and looking forward to keeping going with it.

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(Taking a well earned break!)

Creation Fest

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We have spent the last five days camping in our new-to-us bell tent at the Royal Cornwall Showground attending Creation Fest, a Christian music festival.

It was the most relaxing holiday we’ve had in years, helped partly by our very comfy hobbit home (as my Mum called it), partly by the beautiful setting, partly the welcoming but undemanding activities put on by the festival and more than partly because of my absolutely ace Mum and Dad who did a lot of grandparenting this week, allowing us a fair bit of rare and appreciated childfree time!

The picture above is the only one I have of the week (apart from one of wind turbines) which was somewhat due to my phone having no battery for most of the week but also felt like an unconscious move into switching off, I was having far too much fun to be taking pictures of it!

We played on scuttle bug, the balance bike and skateboard a lot around our tent and the site, went to meetings, watched bands, the kids jumped on bouncy castles, Dan hit the skate park (specially built for the festival) and just generally relaxed as a family. It was lovely.

On Wednesday we left the site for the day to hire bikes and cycle part of the Camel Trail from Wadebridge to Padstow where we locked up and went to the beach for a picnic, swim in the sea and some epic castle making and people burying. Upon our return we had a fish and chip supper by the River Wade.

We saw an amazing band twice this week called The Grenaways who I would definitely recommend checking out. They are a fairly new Cornish folk band and we were really inspired by them. Whenever people have mentioned Christian bands before I’ve only ever been able to think of folk like DC Talk and Delirious! who, whilst great in their own way, are overtly Christian so it was great to hear talented musicians who were making music that could appeal to anyone, regardless of their faith.

The teaching at the festival was solid but I especially enjoyed Joel Turner who made a lot of sense. I think we all heard things we needed to this week, God is good to us like that!

But anyway, I feel like I’m starting to ramble and this is turning into a review so will finish up! Basically, a good week was had by all 🙂

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(A good reminder of renewal energy sources, especially in light of the Balcombe anti fracking protests)

Switching off

I’m putting my lacklustre blogging down to fully living in the moment this last month…or at least attempting to!

I am joyfully embracing this summer where the days roll into one, we live on BBQ’s, fresh fruit and ice creams, and we spend so so much time outdoors…in gardens, pools, forests, at the park, the beach…

I had started writing a post two months ago about how I need to switch off. I was finding myself almost permanently attached to my phone; checking Facebook, reading blogs, texting, replying to emails…etc I realised I was not fully in the present with these gorgeous little people that just want me to delight in the small things with them but couldn’t understand why I was being vague and vacant.
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I’d get frustrated with them, and what for? Distracting me! Ridiculous eh and embarrassing to admit. So I’m making a conscious effort to put my phone down and commit fully to these lovely little monkeys and unsurprisingly, we’re all happier and more chilled as a result! Granted, it might be more challenging when the weather keeps us indoors more but I’m hoping the good habit will have stuck by then.

I do still have it handy for snapping pictures though which is just as well because it means I can share with you some of our recent escapades!

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A lovely post-work trip to the beach during the heat wave. Just a perfect evening.

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Swimming and picnicking on Dartmoor to escape the heat, love having it on our doorstep.

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Forest School and gardening fun

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Miscellaneous trips out, pottering indoors, seeing friends.

I’m switching off, not over thinking what’s next, trusting it all to God and just enjoying the here and now.

Life is good right now.

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