What Happened To Our Plans?

Today is Abbie’s 12th birthday, where on earth has the time gone? I remember clearly the 110 mile trip to be at the hospital when her mum was in labour and the anxious wait until the nurse brought her out and she was handed to me.  It does make me feel ancient though, I remember feeling old when my children got to secondary school age but this is my grandchild! Do I feel old enough to have a 12 year old grandchild? Mentally NO, physically YES!

I’m sitting here waiting for her to wake up so she can open her presents and my mind is working overtime. I had so many things I wanted to do and now I just see myself sat stagnating, feeling like I have achieved very little and the years are going nowhere. I brought up 3 children of my own (not very successfully or I wouldn’t have custody of 2 of my grandchildren) and now is supposed to be time for me and my husband, but it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the situation we are in, it’s really nice being such a big part in their lives (most days anyway) but I feel we’ll be too old to get what we want by the time they are adults.

One of the hardest things is finding people to talk to who understand. We have very little in common with people who have children the same age as they tend to be 20/30 years younger than us. But, we also have little in common with people the same age who have raised their families and are now enjoying their new found freedom.

This isn’t the vision we had planned once the (first lot of) children had left home, but it’s what we’ve got and we will work through it, like we always do.

 

 

#Walk1000Miles Challenge – End Of The First Month

Well, we did it. We got to the end of January and we walked everyday. If the weather was really bad we just walked to the local shops, the long way round, which can be as much as a 2 1/2 mile round trip.  We’ve been out in the rain, high winds and temperatures of -2  but I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every walk.

The walks also act as a replacement for the school PE sessions the children miss from being home educated. A 3 miles walk and 30 minutes on the play equipment in the park more than make up for a couple of 30 minutes sessions they would have at school. Abbie has mild asthma and used to get out of breath regularly when we walked and also got ‘stitches’ in her side quite often.  All that seems to be changing after such a short time, no more stitches and she can walk a lot further without stopping.

The walks are also very useful as topic starters. We have spoken about so many things over the last 4 weeks ranging from evergreen trees through to the hole in the ozone layer and so many things in between. In seems that almost everyday we see something that sparks a conversation and quite often a project to do at home.

Now the important information, the mileage:

I managed 113.62 miles

Abbie did 104.46 miles

Jessie did 105.36 miles

I should point out that these are ‘boots on’ miles, we only count the mileage where we have purposely gone out for a walk. Miles around the house aren’t taken into account. it is amazing how many you do. Just in case anyone is interested my total mileage for the month was 228.14 miles WOW!!! This is just me, I just keep track of all my fitbit miles.  I make sure I do a minimum of 5 (fitbit) miles a day, even if that means that I end up jogging around the kitchen at 10pm to make sure I get to my target (and yes I’ve done this several times).

I’ve taken so many photographs and it was so hard to choose but here are a few of my favourite photo’s from January:

Usborne Quiz Tins – Review

Another home educating mum recommended that we try the Usborne quiz tins for the children. Being home educated we make a lot of general knowledge information into games whenever we can and these were ideal to save my brain from trying to work out the questions, and answers, myself.

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I bought them mainly for my then 8 year old Jess who suffers from dyslexia. I loved the idea that the cards can be used over and over as they are wipe clean. We tend to just use a piece of kitchen towel, this cleans them perfectly.

The tin contains 75 wipe clean question cards, 5 answer cards and a scorecard. There are 5 categories on the cards which are Long Ago, Science, Dinosaurs, Animals and Travel so will suit lots of different interests. There are 15 cards in each category which have 8 questions on each. That is a total of 600 questions. All the cards are colour coded for ease of sorting them out.

Most of the questions are multi choice which are perfect for children, the rest of the questions (about 5%) are simple one line questions.

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As I said earlier I bought them for our 8 year old but I have caught her older sister having a look on a few occasions she seems to like the long ago cards. My adult son and his girlfriend have also been sat answering the questions more than once.

So far the cards have already been used in several different ways. We have given them to her just to write the answers on by herself and then marked them, we have asked her the questions and given her a choice of answers and also asked the same questions without the answers to check if she is learning.

I would recommend them for when you are going on holiday or long trips as they are perfect for warding off boredom and stop the ‘are we there yet’ type of questions. Perfect for ages from 5 upwards, but some of the questions are quite challenging, even teenagers and adults will have to think about the answer so they are perfect for the whole family.

Available Now At Amazon

Newstead Abbey

Yesterday we went to Newstead Abbey. I’d seen a post abut a home education meet up there and we’d never been so thought we’d have a look.  The children don’t, yet, have the interest that I have in history  but we still find something that we can talk about or research later, everywhere we go. This visit the topic for home was Boatswain.

The Abbey was founded as a monastic house in the late 12th century, and it still retains much of its medieval character. The most famous survival is the iconic West Front of the church that dates from the late 13th century and is now a scheduled ancient monument. Inside the house the medieval cloisters, Chapter House (now the Chapel) and a collection of medieval stone carvings and manuscripts enable visitors to discover the Abbey’s early history. We didn’t actually go inside the house this time but will in the future when Tom comes with us.

There was one very famous resident of the abbey, Lord Byron who lived at Newstead Abbey at various times from the autumn of 1808 to the autumn of 1814. The house contains many items which belong to Byron including furniture, letters, portraits and even his pistol.

One of the most interesting things to do with Byron for us was Boatswain. As animal lover’s the story of Boatswain was the one of the highlights of the visit. “Epitaph to a Dog”  is a poem by the British poet Lord Byron. It was written in 1808 in honour of his Newfoundland, Boatswain, who had just died of rabies. When Boatswain contracted the disease, Byron reportedly nursed him without any fear of becoming bitten and infected. The poem is inscribed on Boatswain’s tomb, which, as a matter of interest, is larger than Byron’s, at the abbey.  The tomb was intended for Byron and Boatswain but Byron was in fact buried at the family vault in Hucknall.

It’s difficult to read much of the poem on the monument now as you can see by the photo below. But I loved it so much so I’ve printed it below:

Boatswain's Monument

Boatswain’s Monument

Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
Boatswain, a Dog
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18th, 1808

When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown to Glory, but upheld by Birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below.
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well, must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who behold perchance this simple urn,
Pass on – it honours none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one — and here he lies.

The gardens were beautiful. The children particularly liked The Japanese Garden  with all the water, see a couple of images of it above.  Because of the amount of time spent in the Japanese Gardens we did run out of time before we had a chance to properly look around the rest of the gardens. I’m hoping to go back again in a few weeks.

 

 

#Walk1000Miles Challenge Week 1 Totals

We went out walking everyday this week, only local walks though. Jess managed to go for a walk  everyday which made her happy as she didn’t think she could o it.  We saw a couple of interesting birds but the weather was wet and miserable most days so not many scenic shots.

Blackbird with partial albinism

Blackbird with partial albinism

Treecreeper

Treecreeper

The 1000 miles sounds very daunting but it works out at just 2.74 miles a day. The weekly total we are aiming for is 19.18 miles a week. Of course if we do more we will be finished earlier.  Our total miles for the first week were; me 29.11 miles; Abbie 27.11 miles & Jess 28.29 miles.

I think we did brilliantly for the first week!

I’ll be updating on a monthly basis from now on. Back with an update at the end of January.

Parkour & A Very Busy Day

We’d read about parkour on one of the home education groups. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a child’s version of free running. Both Abbie & Jess wanted to try it and so we went to our first session this morning. The girl’s loved it, this is an excerpt from Abbie’s blog post:

” It was honestly LOADS better than I thought, and the instructors were quite nice as well. I can do a lot more than I thought I could. There’s a huge pit as well full of foam, so you could either jump off the baby ramp (like Jess did) or you could climb up to the high one (about 2m up), the first step is easy the second on too…. but the third is very hard to get on but it’s worth it when you jump off!!!!”

We will be going back as I think the children will make my life unbearable if we don’t.

After we got home it was a quick bit to eat then out for a walk as part of our #Walk1000miles challenge. We managed just over 3.5 miles so not too bad.

It’s now almost 5pm and I’m finally sat down, Tom has just taken Abbie to St John ambulance cadets so her day won’t be over until around 8 when she gets home.

 

#Walk1000Miles Challenge

Today is the first day of our challenge that will take up to a year to complete! The challenge is to #Walk1000Miles this year.

There are several different ways to complete the challenge, some people count every step they take during the year to reach the total, others exercise at home on treadmills  or you can do what we are planning on doing and only count ‘boots on’ miles which means we only add up the mileage when we are purposely going for a walk.

The ‘we’ is myself, Abbie who is 11 and Jess, 9. Jess has said that she doesn’t think she can do the 1000 miles but as it’s only 2.74 miles a day (if you walk everyday for the year) I think it’s well within her ability to do it. We will encourage her to join us on the walks and see how she does.

Most of our walks will be just around the local area, which luckily enough includes woodland and a country park on the doorstep. As Sherwood forest is also very close by (and the parking is free during the week until the end of April) so we might have a few walks around there as well.

There are several reasons for me wanting to do this, the main one being that I need to lose weight and get healthy. It also fits in well with the home education as it’s not only giving the children exercise but we will be combining the walks with nature lessons. There will be lots to see on our walks and we’ll be identifying trees, fungus and birds amongst other things. Finally I want to do just so I can say I did that 😀

 

I will be doing regular updates to let you know how we are doing, plus I’ll post photo’s of some of the things we see along the way.

Watch this space, or check out the hashtag #Walk1000Miles 😀 for more posts.

Fitbit & A New Health Regime

I received a fitbit for Christmas which is going to be perfect for my new health regime. From tomorrow I’m setting myself a goal to walk a minimum of 5 miles a day and  do 10,000 steps a day. This will fit in brilliantly with my #Walk1000Miles challenge. More about that on the 1st January.

Due to an ongoing stomach problem I need to lose weight and also change my diet. Once all the ‘nice’ food has gone from Christmas we will be starting, as a family, reducing the amount of processed  foods and ready made foods that we eat. We are also cutting out chocolate, cakes and sweets for a couple of weeks as the children will have eaten a lot more than normal over the holiday.

I’m not actually going on a diet at the moment but I’m hoping that the lack of sweets and junk foods plus the walking will result in the loss of a few pounds.  This will all be starting as soon as possible but I’m estimating that it will be the 8th of January and will carry on until Abbie’s birthday on the 3rd February.

Once I’ve worn the FitBit for a few weeks I’ll do a review on it to let you know how it performs.

 

 

TinyMe Personalised Books Review

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to review one of the personalised books from Tiny Me.  The book we picked was the Australian Adventure one for our then 6 year old.


In the story your child joins Cheeky Monkey as the star in this book as they travel around Australia in search of their friend Kanga Jack. An exciting, adventure filled story full of fabulous friends, new and interesting places and lots of fun facts about Australia. Great for developing an understanding of Australian landmarks, native animals, cultural foods and geography.  The main thing that Jess loved was the fact that her name was on the front cover and also mentioned a total of 25 times in the book.

The book is aimed at pre-school to early primary and I think it’s ideal for that age group. This is a perfect present for a special occasion such as Christmas or a birthday.

Dyslexia Testing

Yesterday we got the results of Jess’s dyslexia testing (GL assessment). This showed that she may not have dyslexia but we will need to wait for another 12 months so she can be tested again. 12 months is a long time to wait for a child who is already over 18 months behind with her work.

The ‘test’ showed that she has a lot of problems with numbers and single word spelling. We did already know this of course but we still think she could be dyslexic as the problems are quite severe especially where numbers are concerned. As today is the last day of term we are going to show her what home education will be like by giving her work to do over the next 9 days.  Abbie has agreed to work as well to see if Jess will actually work and if I can manage to deal with 2 of them.

If by the end of the half term she seems to be enjoying it and actually working we are going to make a final decision on her joining her sister at home.