Monday, 28 January 2013

Gratitude Sunday (posted on a Monday!)

We've had an unusual week these past seven days.  Pip went down with stomach flu and spent forty eight hours virtually comatose on the settee:

I should have been at 'make and cake' but God is good and I had my respite of sorts sat in front of our fire knitting in the lounge cum sick bay.
During this time Benedict put his craft and design skills to good use and made this:

It has since had a partial coat of paint and battlements. 
Whilst all this was going on Kathryn spent two days in hospital as she was experiencing some unusual symptoms, that might have indicated early labour.  Needless to say there were countless phone calls and much consternation.  She finally left for home having endured two lots of steroid injections which resulted in a very sore leg.  Thankfully her and 'Midge' are doing fine.
Hardly any wonder therefore that my already 'swinging in the balance' health took a nose dive and a considerable relapse ensued.  I've dosed up with meds as well as homeopathy and acupuncture and I'm currently riding out the storm.  I've finally had two nights of full sleep as Pip has fully recovered, so this goes a long way to aiding recovery.
It was quite timely when a package arrived that lifted our spirits and was greatly appreciated, thanks Dorina 
An origami crane mobile.
Beautifully made and the birds twirl gently in the conservatory, reminding me of a loving connection that spans across the miles.
The school room has been fairly quiet in these parts but I remembered some sage advice from my dear friend Eva and so we've kept up with maths and english and let other activities slide.  I did however find a fab art and music appreciation resource from harmony fine arts  This mum also runs the handbook of nature study blog which also incorporates the 'outdoor hour challenges'.  So I went ahead and purchased the grade five curriculum which encompasses the medieval and renaissance period, as I knew this would tie in neatly with our history study. 
This week we've been looking at Giotto and Benedict's challenge was to talk about 'The flight into Egypt' and draw his own version of what he saw:

He has added colour today and as a result the whole image has come to life.
Thanks to some Godly timing; I don't believe in co-incidences, they are God- Incidencies a quiet message appeared in my email box and it was just what I needed to hear.  Even more it provided me with a written down strategy, so grateful.


Monday, 21 January 2013


Our unit study for these next few weeks is focused on time and the various ways it can be measured. But what about how we spend our time?  how is time wasted and frittered away?  If you get a chance watch this video link and be uplifted and challenged to spend each and every moment wisely:

Friday, 18 January 2013

Frugal Friday

 I thought I'd write a list of our food menu for the past week and how our £65.00 shop translated in reality.  Our food for the week included a variety of fruit and vegetables, milk, cheeses, eggs and a samll amount of meat, namely 250g minced lamb and a medium sized free range chicken. With judicious portioning the chicken alone constituted four of our meals!

Sunday ~ Root vegetable bake with greens
               Chicken and vegetable korma with rice.

Monday ~ Chicken and vegetable soup.
                Homemade gluten free pizza and salad.

Tuesday ~ Shepherd's Pie made with lamb, vegetables and cannellini beans in a
                 rich tomato sauce.
                 Caramelised onion, apple and camembert tart served with peas:

Ready for the oven.
Cooked and ready to eat.
Wednesday~ Leftovers ( curry, shepherd's pie and tart) 
                    Chicken and leek pies with mixed veg.

Thursday ~ Lunch with our home ed friends, so no cooking for me!

                  Chicken and mixed veg frittata with oven baked spicy wedges.

Today I've made three different soups:  mixed vegetable, celery with potato and courgette with potato.  One we had for lunch and the other two are now in the freezer.  Our tea was a good ol' standby, baked potatoes, houmous and winter slaw salad.

I made our weekly food shop last night as their was a severe weather warning of snow today.  As a result Aldi was out of the question so unfortunately Sainsbury was my next best and nearest bet.  I swear you can add at least twenty pound to your bill the moment you walk through the doors!  I'd estimated the shop to come in at £80.00 and in fact it was £100.00 and there was only one miniscule portion of meat in the basket aswell!  See there's that infamous twenty quid discrepancy and guess what it didn't snow!!  Gah!

I'm still grappling with the whole SOLE model of sustainable, organic, local and ethical in addition to shopping within the constraints of a tight-ish budget.  A friend told me all about her local farmers market and so I'm going to give them a go and see what transpires.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Homeschooling (it's what we do)

I know that the title might seem just a tad obvious but for me that one word, "homeschooling" was ridden with angst, pondering and much soul searching this past year.  When we first de-registered Benedict from the school system as a result of his ongoing medical needs, someone mentioned to me that, "homeschooling becomes a way of life" and my inward reply at the time was "not likely!"  You see I had every idea that he would eventually enter the "system" and in turn Pip would follow in his footsteps.

Over the course of these past few years, I've enquired about schooling for Benedict and in my darkest moments even threatened to send him to school when he's not doing what I want him to do!!  I'm a bit of a slow learner in this respect and God is ever patient with me, much more patient than I could ever hope to be with Benedict or Pip, but as time has gone on I've realised that learning in an efforced and regimented way just doesn't work.  The brain shuts down, the listener switches off and nothing is gained whatsoever. 

 This doesn't mean that I do not value education but it has to be from where the child is at and taking into consideration their own individual learning styles, strengths and weaknesses.   Education is not a one size fits all policy.  With this in mind an interesting milestone was by-passed this week, for you see I had until January 15th to register Pip for a school place starting in September.

  Throughout the course of the previous autumn term I vascillated between homeschooling and sending her to school and in the month of December I nearly drove myself mad trying to reach a conclusion.  It was only during the course of the Christmas break that I was able to truly "grasp the nettle" and wrangle with this concept and I realised that the Good Lord was only able to help me once I had placed my feet firmly on the intended ground:

"If any of you lacks wisdom , he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given unto him.  But when he asks he must believe and not doubt , because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord, for he is a double minded man and unstable in all he does."

James 1 v 5-8

Once the decision had been made a peace swept through me and a silence enveloped my being.  I know there will be difficult days, there always are!  God doesn't promise us freedom from adversity, what he does promise is that he will hold our hands through trials and tribulations.  We are never alone.

So here's to another year of letting go of preconceived notions and ideologies and embracing our family learning journey wherever that may lead:

Impromptu den building complete with a makeshift "campfire" consisting of a rolled up towel and flannel!  That boy sure has a whole heap of imagination!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Yarn Along :: Simplicity :: The Kindness of Strangers

I've made good progress with the Sunday Sweater, the body part is finished and I'm now working on the sleeves:

This pattern is a dream to knit with and I'll definitely be knitting one or two of these for our soon to be grand-daughter.
My reading material is uplifting, thought provoking and challenging.  The book itself was kindly given to me by the author herself.  I follow her blog over here and as the title suggests it truly is a quiet place of pondering.  Pen writes with authenticity and humour and her musings always give me much food for thought. 
 This book has been on my wish list for sometime but in an effort to reduce monetary expenditure I felt awkward about another non budgeted spend, so I left a comment on Pen's blog asking if I could borrow a copy.  Not only was a copy mailed to me but this lovely card contained the following words:
  " No need to return this - keep it or pass it on whichever."
I'm already half way through the book, not bad considering it arrived only yesterday afternoon!  As Pen states this is not a "how - to" book, it is written in a spirit of companionship and encouragement, for dancing to a different drum beat can at times be a lonely walk.  The suggestions on these pages goes beyond the usual clear out your clutter, shop within a budget and buy only what you need.  It challenges the reader to truly embrace and follow Jesus' teachings in particular:
"To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6 v 8
So we think about the purchases we make, are they necessary and ethical?  Are we being a worthy steward of not only Mother Earth but also our finances?  For in each and every purchase we make " is a political choice, an environmental choice and a spiritual choice."  
"Christian simplicity affects our management of time, money, possessions, speech, what we do, eat and hear, our relationships, our resources, homes, transport, the way we dress.  It requires discipline especially at the outset.  But as we journey, a wonderful sense of freedom permeates our lives; the light heart that is necessary to walk gracefully in Christ's way."
                                                                                    Penelope Wilcock. 
Thank you Pen for your words of wisdom, I'll let you know how I get on!
San x  

Monday, 14 January 2013

This past week

We've seen lots of friends, it's feast or famine around these parts!  Our home ed friends from the north joined us for our usual Thursday gathering.  The boys did their own thing and the girls decorated cup cakes which we shared for afternoon tea:

On Saturday we had a visit from some long standing friends, they came for tea and left late on in the evening.  The kids had a blast charging around upstairs and the parents had relative peace and quiet downstairs!  We finally had chance to exchange Christmas gifts and they were gratefully appreciated on all sides.  Our God Daughter A, loved her gift and so teddy enjoyed a ride home in his very own papoose:
I made the carrier using the design from the "Growing Up Sew Liberated" book, there was one for A and one for Pip.
We are making concerted efforts to shop frugally and so thanks to Aldi our weekly shop came in at £65.00 not bad for a family of five.  I still have some gluten free flour to buy, but even with this added on our bill will still be less than £80.00.  I also tried out a yummy recipe that my friend had blogged about here:

Root Vegetable Bake.
I served ours with leafy greens and omited the parsnips and switched to swede instead.  A very simple yet tasty dish.
Benedict worked with Shein this morning.  Whilst I was looking for home ed web resources Sara very kindly took Pip for a walk and then the two of them made our favourite pizzaAfter lunch Benedict read "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator" by Roald Dahl and Pip spent some time with the knitting fork:

It's been a quietly productive day snuggled around the wood stove as the weather outside has been very cold and grey.  Some parts of the UK have experienced snow, we've had sleet rain instead!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Yarn Along Day Book

I'm joining Ginny again for the weekly knitting and reading link up.  Last night I finally finished the last of my Christmas knitting!!  Yeah, I know we are post Epiphany but  only just, so in my book that counts.  I had hoped to take a shot of the garment lying flat but when Benedict realised it was for him, he immediately put it on declaring, "thanks mum, this is just great!", lovely boy!

Wrapped up warm wearing his woolly pully!
I am currently working on this long awaited project:
Thanks Ginny!  so far so good!
I am reading : 
This book is an ongoing read and is always next to the bed. Essentially it's a work book based on the rule of St Benedict and my current challenge is "Benedictine Hospitality" not just within my home but in the wider community and beyond. 
 As with all things change starts within myself  and through that experience, I can only then truly reach out to others.  I find it easier to see Christ in the lonely, the outcast, the stranger but I lose count the number of times I fail to see "Him" in those I love dearly.  Not because they fail to be a reflection of him but that I fail to respond with compassion, patience and love, especially during difficult moments.
All is not lost however and this chapter has some wonderful suggestions such as "making room inside yourself for another person" and  by creating that space we are then free to welcome them as they are, to love them wholeheartedly and to see their God-given talents and gifts. The following well known prayer is also a very useful focus:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,grant that
I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I am pondering:  on that spiel listed above and attempting to put it into everyday use and believe me, I get lots of practise around these here parts!
From the learning zone:  We are quietly working through the "Maths of Practical Life" courtesy of Live Education.  We read an  interesting story about two countries who each had their own way of signifying not only time but weights and measures.  This caused untold havoc when the two countries met along the border at the yearly fair ... rioting featured heavily in the outcome! 
 We've also enjoyed watching some very good documentaries, Coast is always a favourite and Benedict was riveted to a programme about this place.
A snack time TV dinner!!
Pip has also been busy.  On Monday it was just the two of us and we cracked open the glue and paint and had some fun:
We had been talking about the changing seasons and although we have been lacking wintry weather (up until this morning!) we made a collage of a snowman.  Pip enjoyed ripping up the cotton wool which is my least favourite activity it gives me the goosebumps!  Here is Frosty in finished mode:
In truth I think the best part for her was the "free form" or should I say "free from any instruction/interfering mummy" art process and it was magical to watch her come alive as she narrated her painting stroke by stroke:

Taking Shape.

"Santa on his sleigh with a rainbow overhead."
She also had fun re-building a bookcase under the watchful eye of daddy:

 In her element!
Despite having been out all day today at pre-school and forest school she was still raring to go once she came home and enjoyed playing number recognition with the Bingo:

Loading up the whizzy machine.
Numbers on the board ~ she knew most of the single digits so I just read out the number in its entirety.
Plans for the rest of the week:  We have friends visiting tomorrow, a cleaning day on Saturday and plenty of knitting and reading in between, hooray!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Package from America :: New Year Yarn Along

A treat arrived in the post this morning and what a treat it was:

Thanks Eva!

Gluten Free Magazine.
Some lovely tea and a cute teddy bear tin for individual sachets.
We also received a gluten free pizza baking mix and a packet of "Highlander Blend" coffee made over here.  I love the fact that despite adverse circumstances Jeremiah 29 v 11 was named and claimed.  This same verse was "given" to me by a dear friend and religious sister and during times of difficulty I am always "reminded" of those plans the Lord has for me, such a comfort.
I'm still working on some Christmas gift making which is OK given the fact that it is still within those twelve days of Christmas!  I've finally finished the liesl for our daughter Kathryn:
The wool is from the patons Eco chunky range which is undyed yarn.  I think the colourway is "storm", essentially it is a very dark grey shot through with lighter tones.
Not much reading going on in these parts but Benedict and I have been sharing "A Christmas Carol" audio book, will that do?!