Friends for life

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When we left Brighton over a year ago Jo and I were concerned about the girls would react. Other folk gently advised that at the tender age of 3 it was unlikely that they would remember or be particularly bothered.

The photo above was taken yesterday and the girls would still identify as best friends, proof that some friendships are strong from the earliest of years with the potential to last a lifetime.

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(The girls 2 years ago in Brighton)

For some reason, them leaving this time was especially hard. Silly really,  in the 14 months we’ve been gone we’ve been back to Brighton three times, had four visits from Brighton friends and even gone camping near Gemma’s family in Dorset so we could spend some time with her and her boys.  So it’s not like we’re not seeing them much!

I guess it’s just because we had such a lovely few days with them. The kids played harmoniously, we knitted and talked off grid dreams, we paddled in our stream, explored Haldon forest and our local park and the adults even managed an evening of eating cheese and playing the BN1 boardgame. Just perfect.

We love our life in Devon, especially now we’re in the Barn but the friendships we’ve left behind make it hard not to have a sense of longing to return sometimes.

Some friendships come and go, some are casual, some are through circumstance and then there are those rare but special friendships that run deep and true, where you’re as close as families. Jo, Gemma and their associated menfolk and kidlets are like that to me-love you ladies! Thanks for coming Jo, until we’re all living in the woods we’ll make do on snatched days every few months.
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Musings

The sun has appeared and our annual migration from inside to outdoors has occurred.  And not a moment too soon!

This week has been pleasantly filled with a few days in the garden; sewing, digging, planning a pea den, painting the floor and playing with water and friends, a trip to Dawlish beach, lunch at friends followed by the park and garden center (for more seeds!) and the most amazing easter egg hunt at our friends place during a  gorgeous afternoon which also featured feeding lambs, lots of cake and Sophia getting a chance to ride her friend’s Shetland pony-something I think she’s still buzzing from!
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(Our increasingly cocky – geddit! – neighbours)

We’re currently in Dartmouth for Easter with my family and judging from the weather, an indoor egg hunt after church. All in all, it’s been a thoroughly delightful week!

It’s been refreshing and somewhat restorative as I’ve been in a funny mood these last few weeks as I think about how life in the country, home education, doula work and Dan’s work fit together-or indeed if they do at all. I’ve felt a bit overwhlemed as we’re trying to meet the needs of all 4 of us and make the best decisions for all of us.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Sophia has asked for a timetable and to do a ‘lesson’ everyday at home. That’s absolutely fine but after 4 years of no structure and a lot of emphasis on seeing friends and going places I think it’ll take a bit of time for both of us to get used to having a bit more of a rhythm to our days (despite me trying several times previously)! I love the idea of routine but actually often struggle to stick to it so it’ll be a learning curve for both of us. I think it’s funny that for us, a child led education will actually be quite structured!

I think part of my odd mood is also slightly due to feeling that the future is a bit of an unknown. I’ve no idea how long we’ll home educate for, if we’ll ever manage to buy our own home, if I’ll be able to get enough work as a doula. So many unknowns. It’s becoming a bit of a joke that a lot of my posts end by pondering the importance of living in the moment but it’s obviously something I struggle with! I remember my Dad saying when I was younger that I live from one big event to the next and spent my life looking forward to things rather than just enjoying life day by day. I think I’m better than I used to be but still struggle with the big unknowns. But I’ll get there, slowly and surely, step by step.

But rather than leave you on such a glum note I’ll finish by wishing you all a very happy Easter. Whether you’re celebrating that Jesus died for you and is now alive (hurrah!) or whether you’re just enjoying the long weekend and chocolate I hope you’ve had a great day.
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A constant state of flux

I had an epiphany this week.  And yet it was so blindingly obvious that I can’t believe it took me so long to realise.

Sophia and Isaac have been squabbling a lot recently. But if I step back most of it is Sophia reacting to Isaac being two or being fed up of his hero worship like following of her wherever she goes. Last week she announced that she wanted quiet time by herself every day which I was happy to accommodate but the real issue presented itself yesterday. She was talking to me about school and said she wanted to go. So we investigated together her reasons for this assertion and she declared ‘I want to learn new things in a special order’.

I almost laughed, so keen was I to adopt a child led approach to early years education, to not push her into structured learning until she was ready…and she is ready, keen and champing at the bit! I really think her aggravating behaviour these last few weeks has been due to boredom. Once I told her we could do that at home and developed a loose ‘timetable’ with her she said ‘actually I think I’ll do home education after all’. Funny little thing. And sure enough, the last few days where I’ve dedicated some time to doing a ‘lesson’ with her she’s been much happier and more chilled and the squabbling has been much reduced.

For those interested, we’ve decided to tackle one subject a day (with the exception of Mondays which is when we go to our home ed group) and are starting with maths, English, geography and science. On top of this she wants to practice her violin, reading and French every day.

On Thursday, equipped with a first atlas and ‘A child like me’ (a great book profiling a child from every country) we learnt a bit about France. We discussed Chateaux, cheese, wine and a bit about continents and she did a page in her scrapbook where she coloured in the flag, wrote a bit about France and drew an impressive castle!

Yesterday we did a maths lesson and used cuisenaire rods to practice addition and subtraction. I set up some sums for her at first and then she devised and solved some by herself declaring that she LOVES sums! We had great fun and I’m so glad that we’ve found what was needed to work for us to produce (relative) familial harmony at the moment.
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This week has served as a reminder for me that everything really is a state of impermanence. From the early days with a newborn baby that feel like eternity, to kicking on the floor tantrums from your toddler to any other number of challenges from older children and teenagers, this too really shall pass. Unfortunately this also applies to the good bits, the cute pronounciations will fade and correct themselves, the cuddles will become less willingly given, the make believe will eventually stop. So I reckon we need to embrace the present, to be fully in the moment for the good and the bad. But we must never forget that children don’t stagnate and we have to be prepared to move on when they’re ready. It would be easy to be constantly in a state of grieving for the days that have passed but we still have so much to enjoy. A rollercoaster ride this parenting malarky!

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