Rebekah managed a number of celebrations of her 18th birthday.

The first was a week early, Jamie took her off to the big city to see Phantom of the Opera.

Looks like they had a great time.

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Well the summer has past and I haven’t blogged about one of our most significant events. Rebekah hit 18 in July. Not quite sure how my first born got that old, it doesn’t seem very long ago at all since she was like this.

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Or even being a naughty as she clearly was here:

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There is a saying I have come across recently – The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short – and this definitely sums up how I feel just now. The baby years seemed endless and then the childhood seemed like we had all the time in the world to do the things we wanted. Then suddenly she wanted to do some exams and our carefree existence was suddenly taken up with past papers, exam boards and timetables. The last couple of years she has been working, volunteering and back to learning as she goes (as well as a few small diverse level 3 courses). Now she is 18, passed her driving test and is off to the big city to uni.

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I would have quite liked to have frozen time in the last year – it has been fantastic, no one doing exams, everyone at home but busy doing the things they were interested in. Now we have all change, Rebekah going, Ruth doing A levels at college and Jonathan starting on the (I)GCSE train, a very different year. But I have relished having one last year of some of the joys of home education of when they were small without so many of the stresses of little children.

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Writing about the passage of time of my family I feel quite emotional, but when people ask me if I’m upset Rebekah is going I honestly say no. This is very much the right time and the right thing for her to be doing, it is the natural way of things. She is ready to go and it feels right for her. I am slightly jealous of her though – I’d love the chance to do uni again right now! I’m sure I will have a cry when we finally leave her but I don’t feel like that now (some of you may remind me of this later if I fall apart as some of you are predicting)!

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We had a number of different birthday celebrations for her and I’ll post about them later

Some days are more difficult than others. Two of the main things that seem come up again and again when you study happiness seem to be gratitude and being present in the current moment and activity. Even on a difficult day I really really want to stay happy. So these are some things that have made me happy today.

 

Walking to work with Martin and having some time to walk through town and sit by the sea, I am grateful for the time and the fact that I can walk to the sea.

 

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I love listening to the sea and I live so close to it and yet I don’t always take the time to head down there and just enjoy it!

I also found this lovely red chilli in our cold frame thingy, it’s our first and I was very excited, I am grateful for its vibrant colours and the anticipation of its spicy taste.

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And tonight there is music to be played with friends so what’s not to be happy about!

Church camp with just 3 of us means we didn’t have to put up the awning so it was nice and easy in the campervan.

Music was good:

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With a reasonable sized congregation:

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Birthday cake was amazing:

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Jonathan enjoyed the pony rides:

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And the BBQing was well done:

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Great time, good company, very nice welcome :-)

 

My last month has been manic – extra maths classes, festival outreach at church and Rebekah’s 18th birthday celebrations. By Wednesday I had finished all of that and could head off to Oxford for a day with Martin, Martin had a meeting to go to and Jonathan and I tagged along for the ride and I could spend a day with no agenda just chilling out.

We started with a trip to the Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museums - we did stuffed birds, skulls and shrunken heads, and weapons and armour. Jonathan was a little disturbed by some of the human models which were a bit to anatomically graphic for him!

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Then we waited for Martin to join us at the University Parks.

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When Martin caught up with us we had a wander around the parks and played a quick game of table tennis.

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We headed back to the covered market and shared some delicious Thai food, junmped back on the park and ride bus and headed back to Southampton somewhat earlier than expected. We managed to get on an early ferry and were back in time to head out to Freshwater Bay and a quick swim before bedtime!

 

We had a fabulous time in The Netherlands and for me the highlight was definitely the cycling – I managed to get out on my bike everyday and sometimes two or three times.

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 We’re about to set off on an expedition apparently:

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I love how safe I feel cycling there and how the infrastructure and the attitude makes for such a pleasant experience.

Look at the size of these cycle paths:

 

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See the depression for the bicycle wheels to go alongside the steps for the underpass – what a simple and yet clever idea:

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Love the height and ease of use of the traffic light button:

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And easy to follow comprehensive signage:

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It’s been ages since we had a “circus” in The Learning Zone so I thought I’d host one. Everyone brought an activity and we had fun trying out different things.

We had sherbet making (acids and bases) and paper chromatography:

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Various watery activities to do with things like surface tension:

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Psychological memory testing:

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The well known milk, food dye and washing up liquid demonstrations – we experimented with Ecover and cheap washing up liquid there was quite a difference:

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And balloon rockets and the ever fun to play with non Newtonian fluid which I didn’t manage to get a pic of.

We had a long standing plan to go to Osborne House with another home-ed family. One of the great things about home educating is that you can get free entry into English Heritage sites for educational visits – but they need to booked at least two weeks in advance so you can’t go based on the weather – which was mixed today to say the least.

It was dry enough for us to walk there so I thought we’d properly play tourists and take pics on the floating bridge.

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We had planned to go and do some sketching so weren’t actually planning to do the house just the grounds.

We started a walk down to the Swiss Cottage and then it started raining,

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and then it started hailing and they hid under a picnic blanket.

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Luckily a friendly minibus driver stopped and offered us a lift to the Swiss Cottage which we thankfully accepted.

They have just redone the Swiss Cottage and I thought their interpretation was excellent, interesting information in small easy to read segments and appropriate hands on activities.

The picnic area had a handy covered table so we snaffled all the dry chairs and sat in the relative dry to do some sketching. The area wasn’t very interesting to draw but having a friendly author, illustrator on hand to give you some ideas really helps.

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After a bit of sketching and some running around the new playground we moved on to the beach. The beach used to be only accessible to the public during guided walks but now is open all the time – it used to feel more special going there. Ruth pinched my camera on the walk down there and photographed some wild garlic

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and then moved on to some beach shots

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Then it was time to head back towards the house and go on home.

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Had a lovely day.

Rebekah was out at work in the morning then spent the afternoon and evening planning and preparing music and then going out for a drive with her friend who has recently passed her test.

Ruth was heading to the hovercraft and a day on the mainland with friends thanks to one of their mums getting some free hover vouchers.

Which meant that I had an excuse to take Jonathan over to Ryde and to the skate ramps which he had just recently asked me to do. Add in a couple of his home-ed friends and he had a great morning getting more confident scooting. A trip home discussing tax avoidance along with Jeremy Vine on Radio 2.

He suddenly decided to start learning the ukulele so spent the afternoon swapping between youtube clips teaching him and games on the computer when he got too frustrated with it. Then he spent an age reading in bed.

It was a day I was very happy with.

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Happy Easter.

I woke up at 5.30 so rolled out of bed and dashed off to East Cowes for their dawn service – I was a wee bit late, but in time for communion and bacon sandwiches. They didn’t sing Thine Be The Glory which was a slight disappointment and the sun rise was hidden by the clouds but it was still brilliant to be on the beach at sunrise celebrating Easter Sunday with other Christians from the island.

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And our mantelpiece is transformed from the solitary bare cross to a vibrant fruitful display.

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After much debate and searching of the ethical consumer website we decided on a compromise of Thorntons eggs, Thornons came out better than most of the mainstream fairtrade chocolates. I was very pleased with my Attic 24 inspired Easter wreath.

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And our bare branched tree is now covered by crosses and eggs – the girls thought my moustachioed eggs were not in keeping with the Easter tree but I was very pleased with them!

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