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!

3-P1130180

1-P1130175

2-P1130179

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

1-P1130191

2-P1130196

3-P1130206

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

1-P1130228

2-P1130234

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.

1-DSCF6954

1-DSCF6964

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

1-DSCF6948

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:

 

 1-DSCF6969

1-DSCF6979

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

1-DSCF6989

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

2-DSCF6970

And easy to follow comprehensive signage:

3-DSCF6972

 

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:

1-P1120814

 

3-P1120819

 

Various watery activities to do with things like surface tension:

4-P1120821

5-P1120823

 

Psychological memory testing:

2-P1120817

 

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:

7-P1120826

 

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.

1-P1120249

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,

1-P1120256

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

2-P1120260

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.

01-P1120263

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

04-P1120283

and then moved on to some beach shots

 05-P1120293

06-P1120296

07-P1120297

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

10-P1120323

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.

1-P1120244

 

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.

Photo0056 Photo0057

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

P1120163

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.

P1120166

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!

P1120171

I haven’t managed a single blog post throughout Lent so now a quick round up.

Facebook:

For the 3rd year in a row I gave up facebook for Lent, this was surprisingly both much harder and much easier than previous years.

It was harder because I found that I use facebook in a different way to the last couple of years. I am using it much more to arrange things and to keep in touch with local friends and I realised part way through that a number of my local friends I only have facebook contacts for and it was very hard to connect with them in a practical way without. at one point I had to get one friend to contact a group of other friends to let them know about a meet up I was having as I didn’t have any other contact details. I also run a maths tutor group and I have a facebook page that I interact with them on – in the end for this I set up a different facebook persona so I could keep doing this group and felt this wasn’t cheating. In the last couple of weeks a friend was trying to keep a number of us updated with some important news and in the end I joined this group with my second persona as I felt keeping up to date on this issue was more important than my facebook fast a case of “the Sabbath being made for man not man for the Sabbath!” I don’t think I will do this again next year as I actually found it very hard to practically contact people without facebook, particularly in a group setting.

It was easier because I found I didn’t miss sitting at my computer wasting time on it as much as I had in previous years. I think this was due to my increased interest in crochet and zentangling as well as connecting with my other Lent discipline.

P1120113

Living Intentionally:

I decided to try this for a second year, to not specifically take up or give up something but rather to try and live as I intend rather than what just happens to happen to me. Some time ago I read a book by Michael Neill called You Can Have What You Want. This was really the first specific self help book I had read as I had been rather snooty about the genre as the people I saw reading them seemed to jump from one to the next and never actually changed – I have now become one of these people – I love self help books. The main thing I took from this book was the concept of “do what you want not what you feel like” and this is what my living intentionally is about – doing what I really want to do not what I feel like doing at the time. This has worked in some ways and not others, I have been trying to keep on top of things at home by making sure that everything gets put away when they are finished with, doing the last of the dishes before going to bed. these things were very successful for the first 4 weeks and then suddenly seemed to get much much harder for the last 2. I have tried to meditate more – this worked well for the the first couple of weeks but then rather went by the wayside! So I have definitely been more thoughtful about how I’m living but sometimes i haven’t let my actions follow my thoughts.

P1120062

Family Stuff:

We decorated eggs – keeping it simple this year with shapies

We’ve done our family beans again. We get a dried bean for every good deed done and on Easter Sunday they are transformed to jelly beans, This year we also gave bravery beans and achievement beans.

The girls have done 40 acts again and Jonathan, Martin and I have been doing the Love Life Live Lent booklets again. The girls did well and were fairly consistent, Martin and I were rubbish at doing ours and Jonathan has been trying to do about 3 weeks worth of activities on Easter Saturday!

I tried to do Lent candles with the the family as suggested by Sacraparental but this hasn’t really been adopted by us as a family in the same way as our advent candle and readings – perhaps because it isn’t dark or just perhaps because it is getting a little late in the day to start new traditions with the kids.

We also managed a Learning Zone Easter egg hunt.

 P1120086 P1120084

P1120092

P1120089

Rebekah is clearly getting indoctrinated by me. She suggested on Good Friday that we lit a candle for each of the 7 last saying of Jesus which we did while listening to At The Foot of The Cross on Radio 2

Church Stuff:

We took the palm Sunday service at church and I was scheduled to preach on the cross – you can listen here if you have 20 minutes with nothing better to do! This gave me a good excuse to give out palm crosses. We also took a meditation service on Good Friday – this has become a tradition for us now and every year our congregation grows – it’s a chance to be quiet and reflect – I love doing this.

Jonathan and Rebekah did the Good Friday walk of witness through Newport and the rest of us stayed at the church and prepared teas and hot cross buns.

P1120102 P1120104

 

Baking:

We usually make an edible Easter garden but this year we have made hot cross buns, Easter biscuits, nests and a simnel cake.

 P1120145 P1120114

 

 

 

I have been think a lot about happiness recently – at some point I expect I’ll get round to blogging about it. But for now I have been thinking about things that make me happy right now, today. There is so much.

Because we are having a new bed made in Ruth’s room there were a pile of mattresses in the middle of the living room floor – I leapt on them and had a bit of a bounce, Martin joined me :-) Then Jonathan had a go and Rebekah also couldn’t resist

P1110809

P1110813

Then the kids were heading out to various places and I needed to do the dishes so I found a radio 4 murder play and listened while I happily did the dishes and cleaned the window and window ledge in the kitchen.

P1110818

And the sunshine was glorious – even have a little washing on the line.

P1110822

A good walk out through the park to Gurnard

P1110823

and some time spent watching some of my friends doing some Morris dancing in their troop Moonshine along with The Oyster Girls.

P1110845

P1110888

P1110890

DSCF5843

 

A few weeks ago Jonathan was baptised at West Wight Pool. He wanted to do it inside (not in the sea) and when he could swim. So this was the opportunity.

DSC04562

The church hired the pool for an hour and we started with a quick swim as everyone came in, then we had about 8 baptisms, children, teens and adults.

DSCF5853

Making his statements of faith:

DSCF5866

ready to go under:

DSCF5867

back up again:

DSCF5871

We had some friends and family joining us which was lovely – Jonathan particularly wanted to give his grandfather a big hug!

DSC04565

DSCF5840

And then there was more swimming afterwards followed by some time spent down at the church. We had to rush off afterwards as we had Burns’ Night celebrating to do as well :-)

Once again I am very behind with my blogging.

A couple of weeks ago we hopped on the ferry for a very brief trip to London. We managed to go on a lovely calm day in the midst of all the recent storminess.

DSCF5541

We were hurrying over to go to my mum’s 70th birthday celebrations. My sister had organised a party for her and we decided we would surprise mum by turning up at the last minute.

We only arrived slightly before my mum did, so only managed to do a little to help. Jane and Jonathan with help from Michelle had done almost everything fantastically by the time we arrived.

We managed to help out a little in the kitchen though:

DSCF5581 DSCF5789

Jane seems to be a little frustrated with me and Ruth nibbles a naughty bit of lettuce!

DSCF5564 DSCF5575

The food looks great as it always does when Jonathan and Jane make it.

DSCF5651

 

The room was well decorated too.

 

 

 

 

DSCF5596 DSCF5603 DSCF5835

 

Mum started off the evening in character with a nice cup of tea.

DSCF5546

She had lots of her friends around her to celebrate.

DSCF5708 DSCF5659

DSCF5608 DSCF5636

 

Mum seemed to be having a good laugh with us too.

DSCF5731 DSCF5774

 

It looks like mum had a happy birthday

DSCF5689 DSCF5817

DSCF5810 DSCF5811