Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Seven Days

Crafting with foam.

Big brother having a go too.

Pink Candles at ...

... Make and Cake.

Winter Sun.

 Chasing a sunset.

A visit with grandparents and a trip to the beach.

Nature's Bounty.

"Teacher" is still on sick leave, so it's a case of everyman/boy for themselves.  The leave them alone and they'll come round to doing their own thing surprisingly does work, Benedict finished his Famous Five book from last week and in the past two days has read the first two books from the Secret Seven series. 

We watched a fascinating programme on Maps this morning, Maps:Power Plunder and Possession.  We learnt that in the Middle Ages the maps at the time were more likely to portray a spiritual than a literal space and place dimension.  As the centuries progressed maps have been used in epidemiology with particular reference to the cholera outbreaks in Victorian London and  the movement of peoples, touching on sinister aspects such as ethnic cleansing.

Nowadays they are used as a powerful visual tool in highlighting areas of concern throughout the world from AIDS/HIV infection, infant mortality, teenage pregnancy rates and poverty.  I found the programme very interesting and although I think most of it went over Benedict's head, it will be interesting in the days that follow to see what and how much he remembers from the programme.

We've had a very peculiar day the sort of day where occasionally I do wish he were at school and that the burden of education was lifted from my shoulders.  I've learnt that when these days occur I just have to accept them for what they are and roll with the punches and in the words of Postman Pat, "Tomorrow is another day!"

Thursday, 26 January 2012

English :: Practical Work :: Interactive Games

Night time blood sugars are much improved but the day time readings are still problematic.  Thankfully I was able to be in bed not long after midnight and no middle of the night rooster alarms, thank God!

We worked together on the first chapter of our new English book.  Benedict did an amazing job considering his mid morning reading was very high.  He was also thrown in at the deep end and was dealing with work that was quite taxing.  In between my help I managed to tidy around and sort some washing.  There was no point pushing for more work to be completed as his concentration was very poor, so I gave him the box of chalk pastels and he worked quite happily on his own.

Once the extra insulin had worked he helped with some practical jobs: clearing and laying the table, lunchtime preparation and serving.

After lunch he used the computer and played a maths game courtesy of IXL Maths followed by an interactive programme about The Highland Clearances.

We've been watching the BBC programme An Island Parish and it is through this programme, we have been learning more about the hardships involved in the island way of life.  Of course the clearances were much worse and the movement of whole clans was a direct result of money and greed.  Regardless of the motivating factor behind a mass exodus both resulted in a loss of heritage.  Very sad.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Yarn Along :: Book Review :: Trouble Shooting

Joining Ginny again with the yarn along crew.  Still working on the Shalom cardigan, more than usual sickness at this end means that progress has been slow.  I've almost finished the body and am hoping that I'll have enough wool to add some sleeves... albeit on the short side, as I do not have enough wool for anything otherwise!

 Two books are on my bed stand are " The Permaculture Way" by Graham Bell and "The Rhythm Of The Family" by Amanda Blake Soule and Stephen Soule and I pick them up and put them down as the mood takes.

I've been interested in Permaculture for some time now and most especially in relation to the garden.  This book although interesting doesn't quite provide the in depth information I had hoped but I think the same author has written a follow up specifically for gardens, so will check it out further. 

He did make an interesting point however in relation to sickness and disability, that we all have something to offer and that, a true community needs all types of folk to make it work.  An ideology I wholeheartedly agree with but in practice, in this day and age it seems almost an unreachable target. Ironically we live in a city that, is trying to gain transition town status, but when I look at where some of the meetings are held, it is nigh on impossible to attend if you have a mobility impairment and would like to take part.  Maybe it is a cue for me to get off my soap box and flag this up!

I love the Amanda Blake Soule books but being honest I'm glad I did not buy this one, much of the information written in the book could be easily gleaned by reading her blog.  If you are looking for loads of project ideas then, I think you would fair better with her "Handmade Home" book instead.  I have the "Creative Family" book and love that one as it is a good mix on projects, ideas for activities for kids and seasonal stuff too. 

The skeins of wool are a recent purchase I made from my friend Debbie... a Ravelry dude and fearless knitter!  She was culling her wool stash and I kid you not that gal had a bin bag full of wool.  I think there was still an odd bag or two lying around the house!  Apart from the labelled blue mix which is a super wash BFL in "Licorice" all the other colours were hand dyed by her using kool aid.  In fact it was Debbie that, first introduced me to hand dying last summer.  The super wash is earmarked for a pair of socks and the other colours will probably be used in a scarf/shawl project, since they're 100% wool and do not have the much needed acrylic to make them workable in a sock design.

We're still sick at this end and the situation is made worse by totally unstable diabetes.  Three nights on the run now, I have gone to bed and set my phone alarm to wake me at midnight and then at one thirty so that I give extra insulin to Benedict.  Thankfully he is blissfully unaware of all this extra worry, it's just me that is "plum tired" and little wonder I cannot shake this heavy cold and cough.  I've re-programmed his basal rates throughout the twenty four hour period and am hopefully that, things should stabilise.  It is always a worry when he gets like this, as there's an increased chance he'll become insulin resistant and the only way of dealing with him then, is a hospital visit and an IV drip, not good.  Praying that this will not be the case.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Another bad night/early morning on Saturday.  Dave, Pip and I were downstairs in front of the fire at four am.  After reading a few of Pip's books and gradually losing my voice, we managed to avoid the TV, by listening to the 'Muzzy' French programme.  It kept her quiet for twenty minutes after which we did resort to CBeebies!

Bed head gals.

Thankfully Saturday night was a better night, Pip actually slept till seven!  What a difference a full night's sleep makes.  

This morning we covered one of the lessons from the "Home Economics for Home Schoolers" book and it involved making scrambled eggs.  Naturally Pip wanted to join in too, so I was grateful for an extra pair of hands courtesy of Sara.  Dave was the photographer for this session:

 Instruction Reading.

 Egg Cracking.





Benedict and I visited friends this afternoon.  Sara walked Pip to our local park.  She's been walking loads with Debbie and this was the first time ever the pram was not needed on the walk!

I've also been pondering.  My lovely blogging friend Eva made a very kind comment about Benedict's colouring on some of the recent posts and she made me think.  In my haste to tick box and finish our week, I neglected to comment that, he did have some input from me, in the background colouring of his St George narration work.  I did "fess up" in my comments box but the whole thing got me thinking.

We've been homeschooling for two years in February and this is the first time ever we actually have something concrete to illustrate our learning journey.  For sure Benedict has been learning loads in this time period, but  in truth I have found it difficult when we have "failed" in my eyes to produce anything tangible.  I've lost count the different curriculum and learning methods we have tried during this time period.

  I am the product of a grammar school education where all work had to be of the best standard possible and to maintain standards, your end of year exam results were read out by the headmistress in front of the entire class... a pretty good incentive to ensure you stayed ahead of the game!

Add to this inheriting a type A personality from my parents and I have enormous difficulty doing anything substandard.  Little wonder I'm constantly stressed!

I do not find homeschooling easy and am often overawed by my responsibility to educate and  help a young man navigate his way through life.  I do not want him turning around to me at sixteen saying, " Mum, why didn't you do more to help?"

This curriculum we are using which is a Charlotte Mason inspired Orthodox based programme, is helping loads.  Benedict is an avid reader and from this preferred method of learning all else follows.  I've added the Galore Park books as a supplementation and although it is very early days, I'm hopeful they'll help.

So this is me warts and all and from now on, any input I make will be duly added to my posts, after all I would not anyone thinking I was raising a child prodigy! 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Maths :: Art :: Sickness

We've been dosing with homeopathy, echinacea and elderberry extract.  Pip and Benedict both have coughs and colds, mine is the usual throat infection and swollen glands.  I was determined however that, we were going to finish our home school week with the work list ticked and through sheer determination we did it, yay!

We tackled the first chapter in the new maths book working on place value of numbers, it is an area that can at times flummox Benedict but thanks to the working practical examples in the book, I'm hoping this time it will finally click. 


He was looking ghastly towards the end and upon checking his blood it was clear why, 32mmol/l... not good, gave a hefty insulin bolus and made him a drink to flush out his system.  We opened a brand new box of artists chalks and he had a peaceful time creating a picture of his choice:

 Artist in residence.

Finished Masterpiece.

Whilst Benedict was busy working independently Pip unleashed her own creative force:

Using big sister Emma's oil pastels, it has been many years since these were used.

Making patterns with the wooden triangular tiles.

  Practicing her cutting skills ... why do all small children cut with their mouths hanging open?!!

After this she'd had enough and was looking rather tired, so I put on the "Mary, Mungo and Midge" DVD and watched two episodes, "The Crane" and "The Toy Shop."   The programme was originally aired as  part of a "Watch with Mother" half hour daily series just after lunch time.  I know my mum did sit down with a cup of tea in hand to watch, but like most mums welcomed the chance of a half hour catch up on the housework!

After lunch Benedict finished reading his Enid Blyton Famous Five book, which he had only started on Monday and wrote a book report, on his own and with no nagging or input from me!  We then had a visit from the homeopath, after which he finished his written copy work for the St George story.  His drawings and writings for yesterday and today are as follows:

 'The knight did not want to be burned up again so he fell from the dragon.  Weary and wounded, he lay under the apple tree - it's branches were covered with red fruit and healing dew dropped from them.  Night spread over the earth and the knight slept under the tree.'

'They went back to the castle and told the story of the dragon slaying.  The King announced that the knight had earned his rest but he replied, "No My Lord.  I have sworn to give knight's service to the Fairy Queen for six years."  The knight and Una were married and he made many adventures and was known as St George of England.'

It has been a very productive and enjoyable week but I'm glad that, "teaching duty" is over for the weekend... I need to give my brain a rest!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Knitting :: Reading :: Home School

Once again I'm joining Ginny and others over on here:

I'm making another Shalom Cardigan only this time I have read the modification tips and have decided to add sleeves for extra warmth and also four buttons on the yoke as opposed to one.  In fact my previous Shalom will be frogged back as a result of my not liking the one button yoke thing.  Needless to say I've learnt my lesson and will read the project and comments pages before casting on!!

Patons Eco Wool in Charcoal Grey.

I'm re-reading this book:

I read this book from cover to cover one evening during the Christmas Season.  It was a peaceful and inspiring read.  As a result I'm now working through it with notebook in hand as I'm hoping to implement some of the strategies outlined by the author.  As a shared effort Benedict and I will be working our way though this stack which arrived this afternoon:

I've already peeked at the maths book and given the fact Benedict and I prefer the written word as opposed to numbers, it should  go down a treat.  The explanations and examples are written in a story like fashion, so here's hoping.

We certainly had fun with the bird decorations and the pictures here are living proof of that:

  "Hmm, Benedict the peanut butter is meant to be on the pine cone!"

 " A spoon for the birds and some for me!"

Benedict was at Shein's this morning and worked incredibly hard.  After lunch, he completed a spelling test, added more co-ordinates to his axes surprise picture and completed today's narration and accompanied drawing. 

I'm also working on a steep learning curve of my own.  Dave's Christmas treat to me was the Olympus E-520 digital SLR camera and thankfully the very useful book, "DSLR camera for dummies!"

My first go - him taking a picture of me taking picture!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Another Productive Day

Pip was at Debby's today, she had great fun at messy play, enjoyed charging around the playground after lunch and using the computer for a short while on a pre school web site.  Needless to say after all that activity she had a short nap in the car on the way home!

Benedict despite suffering from a cold and crazy blood readings mid morning worked very hard:

Spelling test including the corrections, two pages of grammar on suffixes and compound words, co-ordinates on x and y axes and one addition logic puzzle, by then his concentration was off whack and upon checking his bloods it became obvious why... 22mmol/l!!  Cue for me to bolus insulin, make a cup of tea and leave him with a tray of Lego whilst I finished making chicken soup for lunch.

Once the soup was bubbling on the stove he worked on his copy work for this week's scripture memory:

"Truly I say unto you repent - change, turn about and become like little children - trusting, loving, forgiving, you can never enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven."

He then worked on his narration from St George and the writing and accompanied drawing were completed after lunch.


 Sun and Shade.

A fierce and colourful dragon.

He's not the only one being busy, late last week I finished my sewing projects and finally have had the chance to upload my efforts:

A Colourful Array, a bag holder in the top corner followed by...

... cheery napkins for the dinner table and ...

... a hankie holder courtesy of " Rhythm of Family" by Amanda Blake Soule and co authored with her husband Steve.  This book has been kindly loaned to me from my blogging friend Jacqui over at

her pictures always make me smile and the scenery is just awe inspiring, truly our God is great!

We are at the days end just before dinner prep and we've just had a sticky and messy time trying to cover pine cones in peanut butter and bird seed, they are decorations for our Christmas tree, which is happily ensconced outside.   Needless to say quite a lot of the PB ended up in little one's mouths as opposed to the pine cones, *smile*

Monday, 16 January 2012

Slowly, Slowly

We managed our first official day of home school for the beginning of the year.  As usual when we are trying to find a rhythm after a break for whatever the reason, the working relationship between Benedict and I is a tad strained.  Today was not helped by the fact that, I had an awful migraine and Dave was struggling to remain awake, let alone keeping Pip occupied.  Still we made it through 'til lunchtime without any major problems and the following was achieved:

  Four math logic puzzles, the first part of our history reader, "Lief the Lucky" another Viking tale, grammar exercises on silent letters and adjectives, the first part of our First Communion Programme and our literature narration based on the story of "St George and The Dragon."

Whilst all this was going on Dave and Pip chopped the veggies for our soup lunch and made the bread, they ran errands and coloured with the crayons.

After lunch Benedict finished his narration piece and Helen our diabetes specialist nurse made a home visit.  As I thought she concurred that, there is very little we can do to stabilise him when he is having a particularly bad spell and it is a case of micro managing and weathering out the storm.  We did actually manage to be in bed by 10pm last night as opposed to the usual crawling under the covers by 1:30am and for that I'm grateful.

Thanks to my friend Eva over at "Untrodden Paths" I've ordered two home economic and responsibility books based on the home schooling child, I was able to track them down from The Book Depository here in the UK and so saved on shipping costs.

I've also ordered maths, English and science books from 

 they were recommended from the home ed site   

The mum and main blogger, Merry has been home edding for many years and apart from running a successful online crafting and toy business she is a mind of information, sharing what has worked and not worked for her and the family in their home school journey. So if she recommends something you can pretty much guarantee it has been thoroughly tested by her gang!

Later in the afternoon Benedict and Pip attended a play date with friends and I had some quiet time at home, catching up and making tea.  Sara very kindly settled Pip this evening as Dave has actually gone to a model engineering meeting (a talk about locomotive valve gear- DH), for the first time in ages.  Benedict and I wrapped up today's home school with our weekly spellings, writing them and sorting into dictionary format as well as the drawing linked to his chosen narration on St George.  He is currently playing with Lego but it is now supper time and story time, I also have the kitchen to sort and tidy, so better get on with it!

Friday, 13 January 2012

A Day With The Grandparents

We are still struggling with ongoing health problems at this end, so have made resting and reading our priority for this week.

  I had one particularly bad night when Benedict woke at 4:30am vomiting with ketones and dangerously high blood sugars.  As always I resort to auto pilot in these circumstances and with the aid of an emergency sub cut injection, plenty of liquid and another set and line change on the pump, he was stable within forty minutes.  I was just settling on his floor when Pip woke, the clock said 5:30am, no point attempting to sleep so I got up with her, made breakfast and caught up with the laundry.  When Dave woke at 7:30am I then made my way upstairs to catch up on some shut eye.  The children took their nap later that day and for an hour there was silence!

 Benedict Bear.

Little Miss Philippa Jo.

  Friday is normally a field trip day but since we are still not in a home school groove, we decided to visit my mum and dad and have family time instead.  We didn't get to see our daughter Kathryn as she was working but still had a lovely time.  My mum did a great job at keeping us fed and watered including sneaking a few treats on a plate for Pip

 Eating a few crisps whilst waiting for the lunch to finish cooking.

After lunch Dad and I walked them to the park, they had great fun in the newly refurbished kids area

Prisoners in the tower.

Down the helter skelter minus her boots... they were thrown down first!

On the wobbly walk way with Grandad.

Benedict at the top of the rope climbing frame.

It was nice for me to spy some of the familiar landscapes within the park, after all I spent many a happy afternoon here as a child growing up.  First with my parents and grandparents and then latterly on my own with friends

The newly refurbished band stand.

The cafe area overlooking the putting green.

It was a shame however to see so many areas neglected and overgrown.  The park used to have a team of dedicated  wardens but as with all things, local government cut backs have affected the resources available for maintaining green spaces.  So sad.

It was a happy day and now finally both children are fast asleep.  Benedict and I have finished reading "On The Banks of Plum Creek" as our shared reader and so we begin "Swallows and Amazons" as of tomorrow.  I'll leave you with a sunset picture taken yesterday evening, the colours across the sky are just beautiful

Be Blessed San x

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Duvet Days and Sun Seeking

Benedict has been poorly these past few days, nothing terrible just a mild cold with an accompanying nagging headache.   Constant late nights due to anxieties surrounding the diabetes has weakened his ability to fight infection and  much needed rest has been the order of the day.  Thankfully there have been no hassles with the diabetes and as usual his blood sugars are always good when he's poorly... what a trade off eh?!

 Reading Peter's Railway a lovely book written by Chris Vine an engineer and now accomplished children's author.  Benedict always has one of his books either at Christmas or Birthday.

We actually had blue skies and sunshine early on in this afternoon and so pleased was I, that I attempted to capture the rays as they darted around the house:

 In the corner by the computer.

At the top of the stairs.

On the top landing looking down.

That sunshine certainly did cheer and was just the tonic to the two weeks of constant greyness.

On the first of January I made myself a small list of things I hoped to manage throughout the forthcoming year.  This was largely due to a prompt from a fellow blogging friend in Norfolk, you can find her here:

My list for the year goes something like this:

 Attempting to keep myself in check especially when faced with the constant daily stresses, you see when the stress levels increase my language deteriorates... nothing totally vile, but still not terribly lady like neither!

Setting good bedtime habits for myself and the children.  Pip's rhythm is set but mine as a result of Benedict's needs is all over the place.  The only way I can reduce his anxiety levels is to be upstairs with him in the evening, so we have house shut down at 8pm.  After baths and supper I play a short game with B followed by two chapters of one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books followed by lights out and prayers.  I then get into bed and read/knit, it's early days but so far looking good.

Regular sewing time.  My poor machine has been sadly neglected these past months, but not anymore!  I'm blessed with a very dear friend who is also qualified as a childminder and instead of sending Pip to nursery, she visits Debs on a Tuesday and a Wednesday for part of the day.  This enables me to keep up with home school for Benedict as well as having a few hours free for sewing time in the loft, yippee!!

All set and ready to go.

In addition to altering a pair of cords that had lain around for three months, I also made a start on a bag holder for the kitchen.  Simple and straightforward work but what a joy to be in my zone in the house.

Well that's us these past days gotta go it's now bedtime.

San x