So the headline news is Ruth got A*s in psychology and sociology and A grades in graphic design and her EPQ. We were already happy going into the college to get the results as her UCAS track had been updated and she had been accepted at Bath very much her first choice! This made getting the results envelope a much less stressful thing.

The history is not what you may expect. Ruth would not have been my predicted child to get the academic qualifications. She didn’t read until she was nearly 9 , didn’t write a paragraph until she was 13 and doing her environmental management IGCSE. We didn’t hot house her we had a pretty autonomous approach to home-educating and Ruth definitely was more artistic and physical rather than academic, although she always had a great instinctive feel for maths ( and did her maths GCSE when she was 12 having done no formal maths before starting the GCSE study (blog post about maths here)).

She studied 4 IGCSEs/1GCSE at home before fighting to get a place at the local 6th form college – they weren’t happy to accept the English IGCSE – bet they are pleased they took her now! At this stage she was ready to do more formal study and really apply herself, she worked amazingly hard whilst still keeping her job at Robin Hill.

We are so pleased that she got into her choice of university and very proud of her – regardless of her results we were so proud of how she decided what she wanted to do and really applied herself to it – but we are delighted that she got grades that reflected her hard work and dedication. Well done Ruth

 

One of the best things about The Learning Zone is our annual cookie exchange, organised by one of our members. This year we had a whole afternoon of festive fun. The English and drama group put on an amusing play with magically growing hamsters – yes seriously. Then we exchanged cookies – some of which had the most amazing wrapping this year. Then we sang a mix of sea shanties and carols rather raucously which was great!

Here are a few cookie pics to make you which you had joined in!

Our basket of rather cheaply and simplistically packaged cookies, we made chewy chocolate-chip cookies, German lebkuchen and Dutch pepernoten :

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But got these amazing cookies in return:

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And just look at this house – I think some people were just showing off!

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We loved these boxes too:

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and there were so many other lovely and delicious cookies from so many other generous people, we feel really blessed to be part of such a great group.

 

Between Christmas and new tear we met up with both the Gibson and Anderson sides of the family.

Boxing day saw the traditional Boxing day visit of the Gibson family.

We had the usual walks, games, food and fun.

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Telestrations – the new game Iain gave us for Christmas was so funny I could hardly play as all the hilarity was making me cough!

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We had a gap in the family celebration while Martin went and played on the Saturday night with his Boy Band at The Hideaway in Shanklin

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Then Sunday saw a departure from our usual Christmas traditions with a meet up with the Anderson side of the family at a restaurant in the New Forest. The ferry was packed but we squeezed in around a table and while 3 of us played our usual ferry card game of Yaniv 2 of us were swottily attached to textbooks!

 

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This was my first experience of eating at a Michelin starred restaurant and it was a really interesting and delicious experience for me. It was so yummy I forgot to take photos of the food until we got to the pudding – which was definitely the best bit!

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We managed to meet up with some friends and found the teenagers thrashed us at Demons – did you know the Archbishop of Canterbury also plays.

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And then we saw out the old year and in the new at my favourite place on the island with some of my favourite people, eating curry and chocolate, drinking some sloe vodka, playing games and generally being silly – a great way to end and begin a year!

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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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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

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Baking:

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

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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.

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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.

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Making his statements of faith:

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ready to go under:

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back up again:

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

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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.

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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:

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

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

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The room was well decorated too.

 

 

 

 

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

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She had lots of her friends around her to celebrate.

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

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It looks like mum had a happy birthday

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