Thanks for checking in!
I hope that the first few days of 2013 have been good for you all, I look forward to finding some time to catch up with blogs and hearing what everyone has been getting up to. If you blog and I've yet to find you, do please leave your blog addy in the comments section of this post and I'll pop on by :)
So what have we been up to since my last posting?
I was truly blown away by the generosity of one of my friends, when a cheque for a rather sizeable sum appeared through the door, along with the most gorgeous handcrafted box. I honestly couldn't believe it and stood shaking and tearful with hand over mouth in surprised shock. Poor Lee thought something awful had happened as I stood peering at the bit of paper in my hand. Now, I have never met this lady in real, but we have known each other online for a small number of years now. We were given the gift to 'achieve one of our dreams'. Wow, wow and a million wows. People are amazing and I have the very best most amazing friends.
We obviously had festive and birthday celebrations. Some of you may not know that two of my children celebrate their birthdays on rather special days - namely Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. This of course makes Christmas a rather busy and hectic time and we all often need a couple of days or so to recover. This year was rather special also because we had my parents stay with us to share the festivities. As they usually reside in Spain we don't get to see them very often so time spent with them is precious, particularly for the children. They returned back to Spain on December 29th and Taisia has only just stopped asking where her Grandad is. She keeps getting a little confused and asking if he has gone back to 'Space' now. Bless.
We are still having struggles with our oven so creating a Christmas feast for 9 people was a little scary knowing the oven could just switch off at any time. We cooked the meat for the non-veggies on Christmas Eve. The oven lasted, but then switched off completely before cool down - the electricity power switches off and there is nothing that can be done. After a few hours power returned and I was able to bake a birthday cake for Joseph - guitar themed. He loved it but I have no photos (pah silly me!). I really can't believe he is now 15. I even managed to get around to making the Holly wreath for the door, using Holly from our own little wooded corner (I love it).
We had a really lovely Christmas Eve evening, sat by a cosy real fire blazing and chatting.
I had prepared a 'Eve Goodie Box' which contained hot chocolate powder cones topped with vegetarian marshmallows (I can't begin to tell you how much the girls have missed marshmallows for their hot chocs!), cream, new pyjamas each, and a festive mug. The kids LOVED it. Definitely a family Christmas tradition we will continue with.
Christmas day was awesome. We were woken early by the children (of course!) and pressies were unwrapped whilst sat in pyjamas.
It appeared that Santa bought pretty much what each child was hoping for, and maybe a little bit more. New fancy pants cameras for Tiegan and Callum bought a smile to their faces, Taisia loved her new baby and pram, and her play food.
Chelsea was pleased with her requested DVDs and CDs, and Joseph with his. Callum was extra pleased with the Skylander Giants upgrade.
Happy children = happy mummy.
I made pancakes for everyone as a breakfast treat, then started the dinner and table preparation with my wonderfully helpful husband. The oven did switch off for whilst in the process of cooking the roasties, parsnips and yorkshire puds, but they were pretty much done anyway so disaster was averted. Phew. I can't tell you the relief I felt when cooking was over, it had been playing on my mind for a while. We were hoping to have the Rayburn up and running as a 'back up' to the electric oven for Christmas but we were let down by the servicing chap and he failed to turn up or contact us when he said he would. I do so dislike unreliability when you are trying to support a local business, what does a simple phone call take?
Boxing Day was Tiegan's 11th birthday. Yes, really! I know, I couldn't believe it either. We spent the day at home, as a family, playing games and just generally enjoying the day. I made and decorated a cake...
The following few days are a bit of a blur, I remember re-stock shopping and saying a sad farewell to my folks.
On to New Years Eve.
A little while ago we had been invited to a little get together at a neighbours house. Nothing huge, just a bit of a getting to know you welcome do, with a buffet. I was petrified. Really I was. What if we didn't have anything to talk about? What if we weren't liked? What if 5 children in their home was too much for them? What if, what if, what if....
Now, when it comes to meeting fellow home-educators I am pretty confident and ok. I know that conversation will flow. I know that I have a whole repertoire of chatter that can be used to fill awkward silences or put someone at ease. I can offer contacts, advice, talk about reasons, discuss our H.E history, etc etc. We can talk about our children, their personalities, our parenting styles whatever.
But this was different.
This was a family of 7 entering the home of our new neighbours about whom we knew very little about - we did know that they appeared rather darn lovely on first impressions.
Our first impressions were spot on. We had the most wonderful of evenings - the best New Years Eve spent for many a year. I got a little, erm, light headed shall we say. Two glasses of a rather delicious mulled Cider and Brandy concoction and almost 2 glasses of wine were the cause. I never (well, very very rarely) drink alcohol so it doesn't take much. Fortunately we were within a short walk away from home and I got there in one piece.
I think I talked rather too much though. When I am nervous I talk. Then of course the drink started working and I talked some more. Whoops.
The kids had a great time too, we were put at ease and felt very welcomed. I love having nice friendly neighbours.
New Years Day. A new start, a fresh beginning. What better way to start the year than by buying our first 'stock' for our mini-farm. We decided to start small and simply and purchased 6 female Quails. Oh my, I am totally new to Quail ownership but these girls are just gorgeous!
Cute huh? These are the first purchase using the 'dream fund' money talked about earlier. We wanted to get the new year off with a feeling of 'we have made a start' and buying the quails was a token of this feeling. We have their run sited just below the kitchen window so I can watch them as I wash the dishes. The rabbit run is also there at the moment due to the sodden ground so I have a little menagerie forming, it makes the mundane dish washing chore so much more bearable.
We have cleared much of the back land, with one of the neighbours spending a great deal of his precious time sorting out the trees for us, chopping down some and creating firewood for us. We have cleaned out one of the animal houses on the land so that is almost ready for use. It needs a few holes blocking up, then I think it's pretty much ready to go. Chickens are next on the list but we are keeping an eye out for anything else that comes up for offer - particular dairy goats. I was tempted by a pony recently but I have to stop my heart ruling my head, it was cuteness overload though. We have a stable but would need to source further grazing. One of our next door neighbours keeps beautiful chickens and has offered us a clutch in Spring. He has also offered us the use of his field if we want to keep a few sheep - he only has three grazing in it at the moment and it's a large field. Have I said how great our neighbours are yet?? They have all been amazingly helpful and welcoming and I am so looking forward to getting to know them all better.
Before I go I will just mention that one of my goals for 2013 was to get involved in some sort of charity work. With this in mind, when I saw an advert in the local village newsletter for a charity abseil opportunity, I made enquiries.
On March 24th 2013, Chelsea and I will be (ha ha) attempting to abseil down a 120ft (*gulp*) viaduct within the picturesque area of Dartmoor. We will obviously need to raise sponsorship money for this (need a minimum of £100 each) so I will be setting up a Just Giving page as soon as my registration is completed. If anyone feels that they wish to support us, and support the Marie Curie Cancer Care nurses, please donate whatever you can - even pennies will all add up. I will link here with the page as soon as all is set to go.
Happy 2013 everyone, it's going to be a good one!!