Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's that catch up time again...

I really can't believe we are in mid March already.  I'm sure I must have slept through February as it whizzed by so fast, I must have.

We have been trundling along here in our little bit of Devon heaven, still very much loving our lives despite the horrendous weather we have experienced.  I can't recall ever seeing so much rainfall, day after day after day.  Our poor goats were really thankful for their cosy dry stable and spent such a lot of time inside eating copious amounts of hay.  Our dear chooky ladies often appeared to be some sort of hybrid rat as their feathers became sodden and unrecognisable.  They always have the opportunity of shelter, both in the back field and around the 'garden' area, but they are a hardy bunch of gals and shrugged off the rainfall seemingly taking notes from their ducky pals.

It finally feels as if a corner is being turned and Spring has at last decided to break free from her restraints and join us.  Oh how gorgeous it is to once again feel the warmth of the sunshine as we work outside, or to not have to feel like the Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters every time you step out of the door.  Do you know what?  Today I actually walked around our land without wellies on!  In normal shoes!!!  To most of you I'm sure you are wondering why I care to share such a tedious snippet, but I know that some will share my absolute feeling of ecstasy.

Our home-education life is going well, with all of the children (bar the youngest at just 5 months!) enjoying various learning experiences on a daily basis.  Taisia at 3 has discovered a real passion for learning and I love seeing her excitement and enthusiasm shine through in everything she does.  She really gains a huge amount from having her older siblings around and she learns so much from them each and every day.  Her vocabulary is superb and I often have to remind myself that she only has 3 years to her name.  She is still a great thinker and offers her opinions readily, never one to sit quietly and let things be.  Her giggles are heard often and she is such a happy little soul. A huge character and she is very much adored by her elder siblings as well as hero-worshipped by her younger one.



Callum at 8 is now a prolific reader (I was so right not to stress!), and he is often heard reading stories out loud to Taisia (who often has him reading book after book after book to her, poor chap).  He doesn't appear to mind though and actually seems to enjoy 'proving his skill' so to speak.  Although a late reader in terms of school going standard, he is doing just as Joseph did and launching himself head on into reading as many things a possible - books, the news ticker at the bottom of the TV screen, newspapers, websites, games instructions, etc etc.  I think out of everyone, it is Callum who is benefiting the most from the current dry spell.  He is absolutely loving being outside again, talking with the animals, kicking a ball around, sitting on the swing seat, getting his hair tangled in the rope swing...hmm, let's not go there!  His current interests include the Human Body, telling the time every 5 minutes (another new skill), learning languages (he greeted me in Welsh this morning, Japanese yesterday, and Spanish the day before), and sports.  He is definitely taking after his mama for his interest in sports.

Tiegan is going through the typical pre-teen changes at the moment and we are both adapting to what can be a tricky time in a young girls life.  Body changes are significant and mood swings and general personality change is noted on bad days.  She is still an absolute gem of a daughter though and nothing asked of her is too much trouble.  Her current main interests include crafting (jewellery making is a new hobby of hers), chemistry and biology, all things in nature, and reading - she still reads and reads and reads, books of all genres, fiction and non-fiction.

Joseph is such a lovely lad, I'm so proud of who he is turning out to be.  At 16 he is a massive help around our smallholding and loves being outside and mucking in with all the jobs that need doing around the place.  Joseph has always been more of a hands on learner as opposed to a long essay writer, and the joy of home-education is that it Joseph's education has been adapted to suit him.   He recently had an interview at college with a view to start in September.  He wants to study Plumbing and gain himself a trade that will hopefully stand him in good stead for the future and possibly open doors worldwide.  He got offered a place, I was ultra proud of him.  So, apart from working through his father's old plumbing textbooks, Joseph is currently studying World War 1.  He is also working on his mathematical skills as they need to be brought up to speed ready for college, and is very much involved in any of the family projects and science experiments we do.

Chelsea is also planning on attending college in September.  At the moment she is being home-educated and is very much involved in our family studies.  Individually she is working through various textbooks and study guides and continues to have a passion for learning.  She too is getting her numeracy up to speed as that is by far her weakest subject, something which has hindered her since her experiences at school.  Fortunately as a home-educated young person she can take her time and she works with me to focus on her own ability.  It's nice not having to be guided by age and what she 'should' be learning when.  Alongside her text book study, her days are spent making art, currently writing a sci-fi type novel, teaching herself how to play the guitar (she has the plasters on her fingers to prove it!) and learning Japanese.  Chelsea is still very much enjoying baking and regularly makes dinner from scratch for the family - she will definitely know how to cook and eat well when she has to stand on her own two feet!

The baby of the family Amara Rose is now 5 months old.

Wow.


She is pretty much sitting unaided now with minor balance issues, and has just learnt how to roll from back to belly - but not quite back again as yet.  She adores being on her feet and I am very thankful for the Jumperoo as she adores it.  I usually have long enough to eat my dinner when I place her in it!   I can't begin to tell you just what a little entertainer she is.  Her smiles are contagious and her giggles infectious.  She is such a happy little girl, not often niggling, but attention seeking none the less.  I start each day with the most amazing greeting of joy from Amara's face and it puts me in a great mood.  It's a shame babies smiles can't be bottled and provided on the NHS.

As for our animal family, it grew by four today.

A few weeks ago Callum mentioned to me that he would like a pet of his own.  He was missing Mickey our hamster who died at the beginning of this year and really wanted something he could sit and cuddle gently.   He thought that a guinea pig would be a nice pet and as we already have the necessary housing, it would be relatively cheap to get (ok, the latter was my thinking!).  I suggested that he go away and do some research as to how they are kept; their housing requirements, nutritional needs, common ailments, etc, and said that when he thinks he is prepared to take on the responsibility of an animal of his own, to come back and talk to me.

He did.

Last night.

With absolutely no intention of buying a guinea pig today, we somehow ended up bringing home two.

Introducing....

Nibbles


and Topper


In reality of course these are family pets and responsibility for their welfare rests with us all (particularly us big people), but Nibbles was named by Callum and is counted as his, and Topper was named by Taisia and is thought of as hers.

A very proud guinea pig 'daddy'...


A rather happy guinea-pig 'mama'...



We also gained two new chooky ladies, both as yet non-named and non-photographed.  They are of Speckled Gold (just beautiful!) and Cuckoo (or Cou Cou) Maran in type and they are currently separated from the gang of others whilst they settle in.  They are doing just fine though, very relaxed and not flighty.  They are eating and drinking and appear rather settled already.  I shall be sure to do photograph duty tomorrow in order to share my new loves.  All of our girls are laying really well and we are gaining on average 6 eggs from 7 daily.  We also seem to have been adopted by many of our neighbours chooks and a few have seemingly taken to laying for us instead.  One regular (read as daily) visitor (but non-layer!) is this rather handsome fellow...


He stalks our girls coop in the morning until they are released and spends the day with them, sharing their food and treats, before heading off to bed in his own quarters over the fence.  I don't mind at all, I love seeing them all roaming freely around enjoying each others company and scratching for grubs.  We get on really well with our neighbours which makes it easier when it comes to animals home swapping.  Our neighbour is very clued up on animal husbandry and smallholding life and I very much value his input and I treasure each conversation we hold.

Hmm, what else can I share with you?

Well, I have gone back to being cheery and bright again, hair wise anyway!  A couple of months or so ago I dyed my hair a dark purple, almost black colour and I kind of enjoyed that 'almost normal' feeling it offered.  I could walk down the street without the disapproving glances and the shaking of heads.  It didn't really feel like me though.   I like having bright coloured hair.  It cheers me up.  It makes me feel uplifted when I look in the mirror and I like that happy feeling the brightness evokes.  My hair is at that horrid in-betweeny stage at the moment and I'm really having to resist hard shaving it all off and going for the short and never have to be styled look again.  I'm hoping that my really want to grow it side keeps fighting back.


We have been watching our garden visitors as per always.  I really don't believe that I will ever feel fed up of watching our feathered friends visiting and I always make sure that food is in plentiful supply for them.



Of course, a blog post wouldn't be complete on here without a peek at one of our walks...






Of course, puddle jumping was compulsory as always.

In other 'about me' news, I've been back in my creative realm again and reignited my passion to make art.  I am totally in love with the journey I'm undergoing and I will be setting up a blog dedicated to my arty farty stuff very soon.  For now I have a headache and need to get off the computer so I shall share my pictures here with you for now...



I am half way through a couple of bigger pieces and really loving the mixed media experience.

Plans for tomorrow include more outdoor duties, a nature walk in some form, gathering supplies together for our home-ed week ahead, and hopefully finishing off those two paintings.  Time will tell.

3 comments:

  1. Glad you're feeling so good in the gorgeous spring sunshine. I love your blogs x

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  2. Hi Julia, I love hearing about your family life and it so good to hear how well the kids are doing and fantastic news on your son getting into college too, can I ask did your two older children do exams? my son also home educated he's now 14 and we are wondering do we do exams or not??? do colleges take them without??? I love the photo of all the girls together by the way and your mixed media pictures are fab you shall have to do a tutorial I would love to have a go at something similar.

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  3. What a lovely surprise to see you're back. Enjoyed catching up with you and your lovely family. Really like your art work, the bright colours, I think it's college? Also love the use of the letter stamps. I love the affirmations too. Hope you find lots of time to do many more. Glad your bright hair is back, good call.

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