Friday, 29 July 2011

An usually busy week... and an unusually long post!

We had three different groups of visitors this week, which is totally unusual for us, since we rarely see a soul!  So like buses they all turned up at once... it was good though!

Last Saturday Benedict, Dad, Amy and Simon headed to our local museum for a free puppet making session.  The chap who ran the event had created some of the puppets for the children's programme, "Button Moon", I vaguely remember the girls watching it when they were little.Whilst they were out Sara kindly took Pip to her dancing class and I was able to catch up on chores and general tidying.

Sunday had both good and bad moments.  I woke with excruciating back pain yet again and Benedict refused to get out of the car once Dave, him and Pip had arrived at church.  Blood sugars were crazy so they arrived home sooner than expected but just in time for Sara to take Pip to our local church over the hill.  Dave and I sat with a huge mug of tea and pondered the meaning of life!!

Later the same day Nanna and Grandad H arrived bringing tea with them (thanks mum!) and they successfully entertained the kids so that Dave and I could finish the finer details on Pip's newly decorated bedroom.  Grandad also brought Dave's old Meccano Steam Engine along and it kept the kids entertained in the workshop for some time.  I think I did manage to have a snatched conversation with mum in amongst the chaos!

Grandad and Pip near the swing.

Alfresco eating at the side of the house.

Pure fascination!

Thanks to Grandad my beautiful hanging basket has a permanent place on the side of the garage and can be admired from my kitchen window as I ponder at the sink!

On Monday Benedict began his week long Mad Science sessions at Uni so Pip and I had a very productive practical start to our week.  First she...

...pegged out the washing, then she...

... loaded the machine yet again!  This was swiftly followed by...
 washing and ...

 ... drying.

After all that work she was ready for her snack time, she poured her own milk and helped ladle the stewed apple in to her bowl, here she is enjoying the fruits of her labours:
Our next task was to sweep around the side and back of the house, so she had her own little wooden broom and worked alongside me, her most favourite part was gathering the debris into the dustpan and brush:

By now it was eleven o'clock and the young lass from next door wanted to come and play so whilst the two of them charged around the garden I prepped the lunch and finished tidying, here they are enjoying a well deserved rest:

After lunch Sara very kindly walked Pip in to town and this meant that, the lounge had a thorough cleaning.  So far I've tackled two bedrooms, the kitchen, bathroom and living area.  It is very satisfying sorting, organising and clearing something I rarely have time for when we are working on a full curriculum.

On Tuesday Sara, Pip and myself visited Barton Grange once we'd dropped the lads off at Uni.  We had a gluten free coffee and cake treat and bought some seeds from the garden as well as a new ball for Pip, the other having mysteriously disappeared! 

After lunch Sara and Pip sallied forth and baked three lemon drizzle cakes, two for tomorrow's visitors and one as part of a birthday hamper for big sister Kathryn:
Assorted bowls and spoons were used in the process but a great time was had by all!!

On Wednesday our long standing friends from Cheshire arrived, we've known them for twenty years this year!  We had moussaka, baked potatoes and peas followed by Lemon Drizzle cake for dessert.  The meal was washed down with  a very fruity glass of red and once again outdoor eating was the order of the day:

 Say "cheese!"

Dave decided that the food could do with a little extra something being added!

On Thursday big sister Kathryn arrived for her belated present giving.  Both her and her "older" sister Emma hit the quarter of a century mark this week, they do grow up so quick these days!  Here she is with her baby brother and sister:

Hmm, they all look a bit subdued especially the birthday girl, yet hardly surprising given the fact that she works in excess of forty hours each week in her capacity as deputy manager of a residential home.  She looked heaps better once her and I had a treat lunch at a fantastic veggie restaurant in town followed by calorie laden Starbucks hot chocolates!

After tea and once Pip had settled Dave and I visited our dear friends Bea, Dave and their gang.  We went armed with cheeses, crackers, nachos and dips and they very kindly supplied the wine, coffee and lively conversation!

Today was Benedict's last day at Mad Science here are some pictures from the session:

"The Team" with three overly enthusiastic students!

So... I guess at nine thirty on a Friday evening it is no wonder I'm feeling a tad jaded.  Thankfully we have a quiet-ish weekend ahead of us, erratic blood sugars not withstanding and next week is looking positively sedate!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A Changing Rhythm

I'm caught between winding down for the Summer and attempting to keep to some learning rhythm for the sake of everyone's sanity and well being!  This week has seen us tackling math, literacy and spelling on a daily basis.  The whole programme takes just over 1 1/2 hours and thereafter the day is free to do as one pleases.  This afternoon however Benedict was quite happy to spend some time working on the space lap book, followed by a session on "form drawing". 

Form Drawing is a new concept for us and I'm pretty sure we did not follow the rules exactly... Benedict wanted to incorporate the chosen shape into a series of rockets and I guess the process is meant to be more of a rhythmic meditation!  Still he completed the task and was pleased with the results and in my book that's OK.  After all, learning whatever form it takes is meant to be enjoyable.

Whilst we spent time in the learning zone Pip had interesting travels of her own; a charge around the park in the morning followed by driveway caravanning and garden helping in the afternoon.

I can foresee a quiet Summer with the occasional trip out/ activity session and for the best part this is fine by me!  I'm hoping to spend some time finishing some long awaited sewing, resting if possible and  planning our curriculum for September.  Thankfully I'm not on my own as I've joined Melisa Nielsen and others, in a grade three yahoo focus group.  I think this next year is going to be OK.  

 Squidgy play therapy.

 "Look mama, I've put my boots on!"

 Form drawing.

 Lentil and aubergine bake with crispy breadcrumb/cracker and cheese topping.  The recipe is from the mystic cookfire with a few changes of my own.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


With the home ed report safely ensconced in the LEA, all of thirteen pages long(!),  I've been able to turn my mind to much needed house sorting and cleaning.  The loft room was tackled on Friday morning when Pip was at Debbie's and Benedict was at his art class. With a clutter free room,I'm hoping to finish some sewing projects in the next few weeks.

Next up was the main bedroom and whilst Dave and the kids were running errands on Saturday I was able to make a start. The task was completed after tea and I'm pleased to report that I no longer have to dodge piles of paper work /clean washing.  Hooray!

I'm currently planning our next year in the home school and have enlisted the help of Melisa Nielsen over at A Little Garden Flower.

We are currently e-mailing one another regarding planning and the implementation of the grade three curriculum.  I'm feeling a lot more positive than I did a few weeks ago and can see that, failing to adequately plan last year was a contributory factor in some of the pitfalls I experienced this year.  I do know however that, given our combined health needs, the plan is not set in stone; it is meant to be a working document full of scribbles, changes and notes.

We actually managed to attend Mass this morning, albeit in different directions!  Dave and Benedict attended the Cathedral Mass, across town followed by coffee in the social centre.  Sara, Pip and I attended our home parish where Pip had a lovely quiet time in the Children's Liturgy.  Ironically, Benedict was baptised in our home parish but Pip was at the Cathedral; ho-hum, isn't that just a perfect analogy of our upside-down, back-to-front, topsy-turvy lives!  It actually worked really well as Dave was able to keep Benedict focused and Pip I think was glad of a change in company.

After lunch Dave, Pip and Benedict went out with friends for a strawberry picnic and steam ride.  Sara painted the back fence posts and I quietly worked on my planning.  It wasn't all work and I did make some Lemon Oat Cookies for tea.  I'll leave you with steam pictures and the latest addition to the family:

All steamed up and ready to roll.

 Picnicking on the grass.

 Meet "Harry" a tongue wagging, googly eyed, paper mache puppet!  Benedict has talent I did not know existed, mind you it helps if you have someone on board to show you the ropes and Simon has worked hard in helping Benedict achieve his goal.  If you want to check out Simon's work then a display of it can be found at

We have various medical appointments this week but we're hoping to fit in an exhibition of liturgical vestments at the Cathedral and a trip to Jodrell Bank Science Centre as part of our lap book project.  Here's to a happy week... with a bit of luck!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Space Quest

I think we might have begun a space based rabbit trail and lap book project for the Summer.  I hesitate about being any more concrete than this, as Benedict's intentions can wane quite quickly, however he has made a concerted effort these past days and little and often seems to be the key.

His first self allotted task was to design a space buggy and from this he chose to draw a series of diagrams indicating the Lego pieces used and how they fitted together.  His final piece also involved some writing, it's the most I've seen him write in the entire year!! 

The creative process at work.
  A closer look at the space buggy.

In addition to space related learning, Benedict helped make waffles for breakfast on Tuesday and  we actually managed to eat them outside, even though woollies and a fleece blanket were the order of the day!  It is Summer you know!
Pouring the batter.

 A yummy treat chocolate spread and crunchy Meridian peanut butter.

Dad and bairns attempted the same feat on Wednesday morning only to be deluged by a sudden downpour, so breakfast items were quickly cleared and breakfast was eaten on top of the kitchen worktop!!  After all where else would you eat it?!!

 Benedict looking a tad precarious!

We also had our weekly visit from our diabetes specialist nurse and amongst other things she tested his HBa1C reading, it was the lowest ever at 8.5mmol!  This is great news for his long term health but sadly is not a true reflection of our daily management.  Despite altering his basal rate he continues to have daily hypos and for the past few nights my bedtime has been between 1-2am as I continue to micro manage the diabetes.  I felt heart sorry for him at one point for he had a crashing hypo. It was truly a blessing that, he happily chomped on the jelly babies albeit half asleep!  Most times he refuses treatment in the night due to being confused and it can be a very tense time for all concerned.

Today we met with Benedict's new art teacher who will be taking over art therapy in the September.  She is a lovely lady and Benedict took to her instantly.  He also loved playing with her cat "Candy" and had great fun making a play den for kitty out of material, pine cones and stones.  After lunch Dave, Sara and Pip had errands to run and B and I worked on an alien drawing for the space book.  I named mine "Fuzzy Wig" and B's was "Bloblin!"  It has been a good day.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Mystic Cooking

Dave took Benedict and Pip to the park this morning and i had the chance to catch up on chores and make lunch and dinner from the Mystic Cookbook.  I originally had intended to cook just the "Italian Lentil Gratin" but since the oven was on and it would be a shame to waste the heat, I added "Aubergine Tart" to the mix. 

The recipes were very easy to follow and once again I traded up some ingredients and added others.  The lentil gratin had mushrooms as the extra ingredient to the tomato/lentil sauce mix and I also layered left over greens into the mix.  The aubergine tart recommended tofutti soft cheese and tomato paste in addition to the aubergine, onion and pepper mix; I used red pepper pesto instead and we did add some grated cheese on the top.  So the second dish was then vegetarian instead of veganRegardless, the family verdict was evidenced by the clean plates and a resounding chorus of "really great food!"

 Italian Lentil Gratin.

Pip's portion of the above.

Aubergine Tart.

A simple  salad was the only accompaniment needed.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Slow Down Sunday

I had a whole heap of "things needing to be done, yesterday" but the kids had other ideas and although we didn't manage Mass due to health reasons, we made a good attempt at a Sabbath rest:

 Pip collecting chard to add to the vegetable curry.

Mixed vegetable and green lentil korma, served on a bed of greens and basmati rice.

Outdoor painting.

Pip's finished piece with a little flower doodling from Dad!

 Lemon cookies made from...

... this cookbook!
The book is a pleasure to read  and is essentially a journey into the forgotten ways of nurturing a family/community through loving preparation and thankfulness for the harvest.

We are breeding a generation of kids whose only concept of food is the "pierce and ping" microwave television dinner and the book reminds us that, over 57% of families do not sit down to eat together, so sad. 

The recipes look straight forward to prepare and the cook is encouraged to alter the recipes as one pleases, there are plenty of spaces to scribble and doodle!  I actually added gluten free oats to the biscuit recipe as I needed to add a long acting carbohydrate to counteract the quicker acting gluten free flour.As the author states no fancy gadgets are needed to make the meals and some have even been made at The Mother camp where fifty or more families are nurtured with wholesome fayre.

For every copy of the book sold Starflower Press will donate money to feed a South African child for a week.

If you want to know more about the author she can be found here:

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Quarry Bank Mill Styal

We visited here on Wednesday:

Quarry Bank Mill 

It was a good job the site was large as there were at least four school visits going on at the same time!  We arrived just before lunch so bagged a table near the entrance and sat down to eat.  Benedict has been having daily multiple hypos the past ten days and true to form he was having a hypo as he was eating! He was totally unaware of what was happening, very worrying:-(

Once we'd stabilised his sugars we made our way around the mill.  The first room we entered was a private exhibition entitled " Losing The Thread" by this amazing artist:  

Louise Gardiner 

Her art work is second to none and all done with the help of a  Bernina sewing machine and a lot of creative flair.  She is actually running courses at the mill throughout the year and if my family circumstances were better I'd jump at the chance of attending.  Still I can drool at her website instead!

We then followed the prescribed route from the cotton plant to the finished article.  I was on Pip duty and all she wanted to do was run round the exhibitions and Benedict as a result of constant hypos was "away with the fairies" for most of the visit, grr!  Having dragged ourselves around the site Dad and I had afresh coffee fix in the cafe, whilst the children ate and drank their own snacks.  Dave then very kindly took the sproggles to the engine room and I sat on a bench listening to bird song and watching the world go by.  As usual give Benedict a steam powered engine and he's off, needless to say he learnt a lot in that part of the mill, maybe we should've visited there first?!!!

 Dave accosted a passerby to take a group shot!

 Multi-tasking eating and hypo -ing!

Examining a hand operated loom.

Pip running rings around Mummy!

 A spinning demonstration.

 Loading and unloading a wooden cargo ship.

 Pip was not keen on the noisy weaving machines!

Cotton, cotton everwhere.

 Changing tastes in fashion and design.

 A quiet moment.

 The engine in action.

 Benedict enthralled!

As for the rest of week we've kept up with our usual rhythm.  Benedict and I were at Shein's on Thursday, he worked incredibly hard despite having another hypo!  I worked incredibly hard writing our home education report for the year end.  As I write, it is finished and will be in the post by Monday.  On Friday Benedict worked with Simon designing and making a paper mache puppet.  He has taken over from Kamilla and will be working with us until September when the Art Therapy teacher will take over.
Today has been an appalling day regarding Benedict's behaviour, it was only towards the end of the chaos he was actually able to verbalise that, he's sick of the diabetes.  Dave and I are totally exhausted and our combined health is very poor at the moment, so we are truly being tested at the minute.  Despite the outbursts we did manage some productive moments:
Pip buttering her lunch time sandwich.

 Trying to help herself to a lick of Benedict's butter!

 Re-cycling broken crayons, from this...

 ... to this, cupcake crayon love!