This year things have not gone the way I like them to. I like to try and keep Advent quiet of extra things so we can focus on preparing for Christmas. This year I have been ill and had lots of extra training to do for a new job. Many of the things I like to do, including not being rushed, have not happened.

Some of the good things though have been:

Going to a folk festival with great friends, I loved The Young Uns and Edwina Hayes (we heard her on the Introducing Stage and she was great). We were also brave enough to sing at the sing around – first time we’ve done that at anything other than one of the local little folk nights here on the Island at The Hideaway, we opted for our attempt at Beth Rowleys’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine

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 After the folk festival I had a week of training for a new, and only very p/t, job. This meant lots of trips to the mainland, dashing too and from the Red Jet, being in a not quite as warm as I would like swimming pool and this was not good for my cough, so I went downhill rapidly the week after and had to cancel loads of things I was planning to do – most notable the Learning Zone Christingle. However I was just well enough to manage to do the advent meditation i had planned for church and it was lovely I was really pleased I managed to get this done it was probably the highlight of the advent period for me.

However I was well enough to contribute to the cookie exchange and one of the joys of having older kids is that they can make their own cookies without help too and Jonathan took them to the meet up and distributed them and came back with a mountain of yummies from other home ed families.

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I was too ill to sing carols with any gusto which I felt very sad about but did manage to get out for a cocktail with some friends and we managed to:

decorate gingerbread houses

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Get the Christmas tree put up – the girls did it the Monday before Christmas when Rebekah came home from uni.

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Get my driftwood tree up and the potato advent wreath made

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make a very plainly decorated Christmas cake

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Jonathan managed a large star for the window

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and we played some games

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Christmas Eve didn’t start too well for us – we had storms the night before and this was the view over our garden:

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Four fence panels broken, but I know we are lucky compared to some of our friends who have flooding.

The view inside was much more attractive:

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We had a relaxed morning, then spent the afternoon listening to Carols From King’s preparing the vegetables for Christmas dinner and even managing to persuade Rebekah to do a little bit of crafting.

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A quick dinner and then one of our most important Christmas traditions watching, the best version of A Christmas Carol, The Muppets.

Martin, Jonathan and I then went to a friend’s party for nibbles and cocktails, then back home so everyone can get in bed before Santa comes to visit. This year we gave Santa a hand and did a secret Santa of stockings, but he was coming round to check we had done everything properly so we left out something to eat and drink for him and the reindeer!

I’ve had a great day.

I went on a walk with Martin to work and instead of just rushing back I went down to the sea and just stood and watched for a while, peaceful and beautiful.

Then we got the pre-Christmas cleaning up done – all the children joined in and so did Caleb who, unfortunately for him, was around to help out!

We had a bit of time to spend making a few decorations and some gingerbread trees and snowmen followed by a quick spot of lunch.

Then we had friends over to decorate gingerbread houses. Jonathan made a gingerbread camp site complete with a fire and an abominable snowman. Val was quite sure we had made a brilliant gingerbread city. There were a lot more sweets at the start than managed to end up on the houses!

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I also got some mulled apple juice going , non-alcoholic but with a little kick from some Rochester dark ginger drink  and while the icing was setting (we used Mary Berry’s royal icing method and it was brilliant) we made some decorative stars.

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This scene could have taken place over 10 years ago now and I love the fact that in some respects nothing has progressed and nothing has changed!

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We have a nicer house now than 10 years ago, Caleb is taller, Rebekah is less bossy, but Caleb is probably her oldest IoW friend and it’s lovely that they are still sitting on the floor making paper-chains.

Sometimes people ask “So if you don’t do lessons, what do you do?”

A couple of weeks ago I decided to keep diary of a week with Jonathan (11) but only got half way through before I forgot. So here instead is just one day – Friday. This is not particularly a typical day but most days aren’t!

We start with a late rise (Thursdays have a late night activity) and rush out of the house as Martin and I need to get to an appointment at the bank. Ruth and Jonathan stay in the car and listen to the radio/read.

Rush into Lidl to buy Ruth some new boots.

Off to ice skating, Jonathan hasn’t been for the whole year and Ruth has maybe been once, we’re going today as we have other things to do in Ryde so makes the petrol costs worthwhile. Jonathan enjoyed meeting up with a friend he doesn’t see often enough and despite the fact that this pic just has Jonathan and Ruth in it we met up with quite a few other HErs there – they were just later than us!

After 3 hours spent in the ice rink, and lots of knitting in the very cold cafe for me, it’s time to go on to a friend’s house for lunch and continuing with some mosaics. We got completely drenched on the way and ended up crafting in an assortment of borrowed clothes!

Coming home with a stack of crafting stuff so we can continue at home we are stuck in lots of traffic. We still manage to get home just in time for Ruth to grab some tea and head out to volunteer at a local YFC kids club and then off to Catalyst.

Jonathan had tea and then we listened to 3 chapters of Harry Potter while he made giant cookies, started outlining his plaster of Paris leaves and then continued to practice drawing dragon heads.

 So we don’t break any of this down into subjects, we tend to view things more holistically, but if you were to do so we fairly obviously have:

Art

PE

English (Harry Potter, reading in the car, lots of discussion about everything)

Home Economics

We also have lots of hidden subjects – either because we have dealt with them conversationally through the day or because they are not immediately obvious – here are a couple as examples:

Maths – our meeting in the morning was about out mortgage – so in the car we had a discussion about debt and percentage interest, Jonathan was dealing with weights and conversions in his cooking, we covered everyday maths in money and timetables and I’m sure more that I can’t remember.

Music – while doing the crafting we were treated to some acoustic guitar music and discussed styles of music, as they did somewhat critically in the car while listening to a lot of 80s dance music (I just enjoyed the reminiscence).

For those of you who actually know us and wonder what Rebekah was doing all day, she is typically out all day on a Friday too with Foodbank warehouse in the morning, volunteering at church in the afternoon and off to Catalyst in the evening so we only have the most fleeting of conversations with her as the day passes – in fact I’d gone to bed before she got home last night!

So there is a day in our lives and what we actually do, another day might and probably would look completely different.

I’ve done lots of crochet over the last month or two but not much blogging – so here are some catch up photos.

Valentine hearts – some inspired by Bunny Mummy and some by Red Heart

 

 

Pot covers – inspired by Attic 24

  

A variety of table mats

  

Work on-going on leap-year blanket:

 

Other odds and ends:

  

Wow – we have had a ludicrously busy time since returning from camping in September. Every week has had about 5 extra activities in it on top of the usual and Ruth trying to do the hated chemistry revision, as such I am very behind on the blog and have missed out some brilliant experiences we have all had. So a quick overview:

Bristol:

Went to Bristol so Ruth could do a trip to ciromedia for an aerial course. Jonathan, martin and I went and looked at the local street art having got a taste for it in London. We also enjoyed a rather nice park – as you can see I have my “home educators” trousers on!

  

  

 We finally finished the van and even had the re-registration from the DVLA, so we spent the night in the van and then went to Beaulieu in the pouring rain with Martin’s parents.

General life:

We had sumo night at youth nite, Martin and Jonathan had a go. I made an autumn table mat that I was really pleased with.

 

 

London:

Another trip to London – this time with Rebekah and Martin. Had a lovely day mooching with Rebekah, great meal out with mum, Jane and Jonathan and then a great visit to Oasis college.

  

 

Rebekah’s Photography Project:

  

  

 Fire Station Visit:

  

Ruth’s Crafting:

  

Ruth’s Birthday:

  

Art Afternoon at Mike Rodriguez‘s art studio:

  

Inspired by some of the crafts I’ve been busy pinning to my autumn pinterest board we made plaster of Paris leaves today.

First squidge some creamy plaster of Paris onto a leaf:

Then wait 20 mins and peal off the leaf – not as easy as it looks and the newspaper stuck – next time will use grease proof paper like the instructions said.

Then painting:

  

I like the end result and think with practice they could get even better.

Yesterday evening our friend and slightly-crazy-inventor Dan Roberts came round to help me with some bits on the van. It turned out we didn’t have quite the right bits and I was feeling slightly bad that I’d dragged Dan over for no real purpose. “It’s ok” says Dan “I’ve got something we can do that might mean its not a wasted trip”. Assuming he needed a hand with something, possibly requiring use of a computer, I was happy to help out. It turns out that he actually wanted to show us his bubbluminator (as I have just named it). It had to be set up in the dark, ideally outside, so we cleared some space around the patio table and set it up.

 

It’s a fairly simple box with a light bulb inside and a plastic dish on top. You add bubble mix to the top and blow a bubble with the straw then sit and watch (ideally from below the height of the bubble).

  

 

The results were simply amazing. The bubble goes through a “lifecycle” the basic structure of which appears to be fairly typical, though each one is unique. I’ve posted some pictures below and more (and higher quality.) on Flickr, plus you can watch a 5 minute video of some of the clips I recorded strung together.

Not content to be mere spectators we also did some experimentation along the way and discussed what scientific principles might be involved along the way. We brought out a full-spectrum light box from the loft and tried that with a new bubble. It definitely made a difference, with more vivid colours. Jonathan also managed to make some amazing patterns by blowing bubbles inside the main bubble, while Rebekah used the opportunity to experiment with her photography.

It wasn’t the evening of apple bottling and laptop working we had planned, but being friends with Dan invariable means things take an unexpected direction with surprising frequency.

 

The two pictures above show the bubble just after being blown, with some interesting stripy effects. It then moves into brighter colour bands as shown below.

Towards the end it fades into a wispy black and white, looking a bit like a snowglobe. This stage happens just before it pops.

You can see more of the variation (there is lots!) on the video.