FOMO

In Exeter at the moment, there is a veritable plethora of opportunities for home educated children. Choir, yoga, athletics, veterinary classes, theatre trips, craft sessions, nature groups, science workshops, Forest School, trampolining…the list goes on and on. Although I am obviously thrilled by the opportunities on offer for the kids, at the same time I’ve been finding myself getting a bit panicked every time a new post goes up advertising another group or activity. After talking to a friend, she suggested I may be suffering from FOMO, a Fear Of Missing Out. Not an acronym I was familiar with but when she said it, I immediately identified with the ‘syndrome’!

Without a time machine and an unlimited supply of funds, it is simply impossible to do everything. But although in my heart of hearts I know this, every time I turn down an opportunity I find myself worrying that I’m doing the kids a disservice. What if there is a future Olympic gymnast in one them and they never realise that potential because I didn’t take them to the relevant classes? What if one of them has an unrecognised passion for singing but they never actualise it? I do know that I’m being a bit ridiculous and that these are extreme examples. But still, that fear (of missing out) remains!

And it doesn’t just stop with their education. I have a tendency to try and make sure that we can accept every party invitation, that every time the sun shines we maximise the opportunity to do something exciting outside, that we fit in as much as possible as a family. However, having pondered the matter somewhat, I had a bit of an epiphany. Namely that actually, the kids (and Dan) aren’t bothered about doing everything. They are all perfectly happy having a day at home, playing board games, hanging out with the guinea pig, building lego spaceships, watching a bit of TV and generally chilling out. In fact, if it follows a busy few days, it is their activity of choice when asked what they fancy doing on a rare free day.

I realised that I’ve been focused on making happy memories for our family that I’ve been getting caught up in doing big, amazing things whereas it doesn’t really matter what the content of the memory is, what we’ll remember is how we felt whilst doing that. So dragging them all onto Dartmoor when they’re tired and just want to chill won’t be a day to treasure, it’s more likely to be something we have to endure before heading home to relax. Likewise, if I want to ensure they have a full, rounded education, that doesn’t necessarily mean dipping superficially into everything physically and financially possible but following their needs and interests to develop their knowledge and skillset to a deeper (and therefore, more useful) level. No need to fear missing out, what we’ve got is pretty good already!

What’s my name again?!

As I write this at 7 in the morning, I have a 2 year old monkey climbing on my back, attempting to strangle or cuddle me (I’m not sure which) in between taking breaks to eat his cereal. We’ve been up since 5am and he is impossibly full of beans. My bean counter is looking noticeably less full. A situation that many parents are finding themselves in this morning and for those of you will older or grown up kids, an occurrence that I’m sure you don’t miss! But with this phase of 5am waking looking more and more like a longer term arrangement on my youngest son’s part, I’ve decided to try and embrace them and get on with work and tasks. I often struggle to fit everything in and realised I could utilise these early hours to create more time. At least that was the plan last night. This morning I sat, comatose, on the sofa whilst the electronic babysitter did it’s thing before finally rousing myself at 6.30 to make a cup of tea and find my laptop. It would probably help if I went to bed a little earlier but there’s always tomorrow right?! Sleep deprivation is a funny thing, I’ve written about it before so apologies for any repetition but given that it’s still an ongoing issue, I think there’s probably more to be said.

The biggest affect it has on me is forgetfulness and irritability. Ironically, for someone who loves to talk and write, my forgetfulness manifests in a complete inability to remember the names of the children I’m talking to, to be able to finish sentences and to formulate any sort of coherent thoughts without the aid of caffeine. The irritability needs no explanation but I do feel bad that it often ends up directed at the two children who are actually sleeping. Not only are they sleeping without regularly appearing in my bed but they actually like a good lie in, often not appearing until gone 8 and then often only with some prodding on my part. But I digress.

As the New Year dawned on us earlier this year, I read an article about how ‘clean sleep’ was set to be the trend of 2017. The concept being that there should be more awareness on the importance of a good amount of decent quality sleep. I wonder if the idea was planted by health authorities as a campaign and taken on my health and fitness websites. Or whether people simply love trends and ‘clean eating’ has somewhat run it’s course. Then just a few days ago I saw a video about how lack of sleep impacts your cognitive performance and your wider bodily functions.

I understand that there probably are a lot of folk that need reminding to get a decent amount of sleep (8 hours being the holy grail) but for parents who would LOVE to get that sleep but can’t, it kind of smarts! Still, I guess in the wee hours we can always comfort ourselves with the knowledge that as teenagers we’ll never be able to get them out of bed and if we really want to exact some revenge and a little fun, we can take to waking them at regular intervals to share inane thoughts or declarations of hunger…

We’re here!

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So we’re here, unpacked and adjusting to life ashore in a new area of the country!

To stave off the missing of certain Brightonians, we have jumped in with both feet by exploring the area thoroughly, attending 2 play groups and a dance class…all in a week alongside unpacking! It hasn’t been entirely successful as a certain young lady is fairly regularly reminding me of how much she misses her best best best BEST friend but despite this she seems to be enjoying herself.

Both the kids and Dan and I are really enjoying being on land again. Having a bath, a separate bedroom and a washing machine are things not to be underestimated! The household bills we haven’t had to pay for the last 2 years haven’t been quite as welcome but it’s swings and roundabouts.

But best of all, for the kids and me at least, is the garden! I feel like I’m stepping into an illustration from a Shirley Hughes book whenever I go outside. It’s long and narrow with lawn, beds for growing veg and some fruit trees, all lined by a crumbling protected cob wall. To me it is a quintessentially British garden and we’ve been spending time each day in it, me weeding and preparing for planting, Sophia digging for potatoes and Isaac eating soil. Bliss! I’m looking forward to warmer longer days and spending lots more time in it.

I’m aware it’s late and this post isn’t really going anywhere but just wanted to quickly check in and update.

I’ll concoct a ‘proper’ post soon but for now, we’re in Topsham, feeling satisfied with our choices and blessed but tinged with the melancholy that accompanies leaving precious friends behind.

And so it’s happening…

…we have moved off Pinafore and our new adventure is unfolding before us.

We are currently house sitting for friends and then we will be staying with our lovely friends who we spent Christmas with for a few weeks and then off to Dan’s parents and mine for a week and then…if all goes to plan, we should be moving into our very own new house at the end of February!

I won’t lie, I had a few panicky nights last week where I almost freaked out; a combination of leaving our home of the last 2 and a half years and not knowing where we’re going to be living was just too much for me! But I pulled myself together, obviously, because what use would I be if I hadn’t!?

These last few months I have been staying calm mainly by meditating on these two verses.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’

Jeremiah 29: 11 

 ‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’

Matthew 6: 34

So now I am holding onto them even more tightly as we wait to find somewhere to live and hopefully get the process completed smoothly and swiftly. Sophia and I have been reading (not really at the memorising stage yet I think!) a bible verse every day from a children’s set of memory verses she has and the last half dozen seem to have been about trusting in God, staying safe with God and generally letting Him protect you…I thought this was appropriate given the upheaval we’re going through! Then at Church this morning the guy speaking was talking about community and I was feeling so blessed and thankful to have a lovely community of friends in Brighton who are helping make the transition so much easier for us.

My main aim for the next 6 weeks it to maintain a modicum of normality for Sophia and Isaac; they are both definitely aware of the change though obviously to differing degrees! Sophia announced in Church this morning that she wanted to go back to the boat to sleep all day long (one of her favourite turns of phrase!) and Isaac has been incredibly unsettled the last few nights (though I’m hoping that might also be due to the emergence of his first tooth…he still hasn’t cut any)!

We will be in Brighton for the next 4 weeks though and staying with close friends for most of that so for now, it’s service as normal which will hopefully help.

I’m aware that I’m digressing slightly and Isaac has just woken again (third time since going down less than 4 hours ago!) so I shall leave you having given you a brief update on what’s going on with us right now. Hope you’re all enjoying the snow and staying safe and warm!

Changes Afoot

Where to start?!

We’ve sold the boat, our home, the good ship Pinafore and will be moving off this weekend and signing her over to the new owners on Monday.

We will essentially be ‘homeless’ for 6 weeks and storing all our worldly belongings in our van and at friends as it looks like we’ll be moving to Devon so there’s no point trying to rent somewhere in Brighton for a month. So we’re housesitting then staying with friends and family for the gap (for which we are very grateful)!

We will be house hunting (for rental accommodation) in the Exeter area during February and hopefully will move into somewhere at the beginning of March.

I was feeling quite chilled about the whole thing and mainly excited about being nearer my parents (for the kids obviously but also for me, it might be a bit lame, but my Mum really is one of my best friends and I hate seeing her so infrequently) but am feeling a bit overwhelmed today. I think it’s just because we thought our van had broken down this morning (Dan has temporarily fixed it by hitting it with a hammer!), I had to have some unexpected and semi-urgent dental work today, we’re moving off on Saturday and I haven’t packed (granted it won’t take more than a few hours but I’m so used to moving houses it seems weird to leave most of the packing until the day) and Isaac, my baby boy is going to be one tomorrow! The last year has flown by!

Nothing negative there (apart from the dentist!), just lots of changes and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the anticipation of it all!

Also, we had just the most lovely day with Jo and the girls on Wednesday, they came to the boat for lunch and we took a walk to the beach on a gorgeous sunny winters day, got chased by the waves and then shared dinner on the boat again. When I think about leaving them and about other folk (especially Gemma who will be having her second baby any day now, I’m so sad about not seeing him or her grow the way she has Isaac) it’s enough to want to make me cry.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we are definitely making the right decision for our family and I’m excited and at peace with it but I will so miss our friends. Our friends from the last 2 and a half years are like family to us and although we will still see them (I’m busy badgering them all to commit to trips to the West Country) it won’t be the same as the often multiple-times-in-a-week relationship that we have now.

So I’m going to stop thinking and writing about it and must focus on the exciting times ahead! And if anyone has any recommendations for things to do in the Exeter area, especially with young and/or home schooled children, please do share!!

(On the home school note, even in the midst of all this Sophia has still been eagerly doing reading eggs and letter worksheets, we’re doing a letter a week which just involves practising writing that letter, thinking and drawing things that start with it and baking something that starts with it-last week apple crumble, this week burnt [oops!] biscuits and birthday cake)

I’ll keep you updated with our comings and goings but for now, stay warm, and if you do get some snow-enjoy!

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Isaac’s best friend!

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Sophia and Seren: inseparable!

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A is for….

A week in the country

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We spent the last week in a cosy cottage/house nestled in a working farm just 10 miles outside of Exeter. Dan was asked to come down here to work for the week and his work put us up here so that we could come down here. The picture above shows you the view from the back garden – quite literally in the middle of the rolling hills of Devon.

The timing was perfect as we’ve spent the last few weeks fighting off colds and possible slapped face syndrome whilst still meeting our commitments and being out and about a lot. Due to the location of the house, going anywhere other than pottering around the farm wasn’t really an option (nearest bus stop is almost an hour’s walk away) unless we went in to the city with Dan early in the morning and spent all day there (we did it on Tuesday and it was an enjoyable but long day). Consequently, this week was a week of enforced rest and convalescence and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

My tired little ones snuggling

My tired little ones snuggling

Knowing that we’d be indoors a lot I prepared last weekend with a trip to the library and got a stack of books, another book bag (this time with an emphasis on counting), some new (to us) puzzles and a pop up play tent. Add to that the drawers stuffed with games and puzzles here, the spying of cats, cows and sheep around the farm and some basic drawing materials and we had plenty to keep us occupied. It was a quiet, gentle week of  books, games, puzzles and yes…more screen time than I’d usually permit. But I figured hey, we’re on holiday (sort of!) and all feeling a bit ill so a bit more TV than usual isn’t going to hurt!

As mentioned, we had a day trip to Exeter where we met my Mum and Dad briefly and sister Julia came with us for a trip to the museum (I love the FREE museum in Exeter, we could spend so much time there!) and shops and then came back to the cottage for a ‘sleepover’. It was lovely to see her and Sophia very much enjoyed having her Aunty around.

We also took advantage of our empty lazy days to do some Christmas craft for the Grandparents…this deserves another post as it was such a lot of fun but I need to wait until after we’ve dished out the goods so I don’t spoil the surprise! We’ll see how long I last before deciding to share!

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Isaac was in his element here with lots of space to crawl, climb and generally explore. Our travel stair gate didn’t fit the stairs and he quickly figured out how to safely get down the stairs FEET FIRST (as Sophia kept shouting at him)!  Despite not being able to turn my back on him for a second (he moves fast!) I found caring for two little ones so much easier in a house and really enjoyed the opportunity to do some knitting and generally relax a bit more than I usually do, especially as they have the most comfy sofas I’ve ever sat on here!

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We’re prolonging our time on dry land by heading down to Dartmouth tomorrow to spend some time with Mum, Dad and Julia for a few days before heading back to Pinafore and Brighton next week for some last minute preparations before Sophia’s 3rd Birthday Party (I can’t believe my baby girl is going to be 3 in 10 days but that’s another post….)