Sunday, 26 February 2012

On this Sunday

I am feeling inspired, motivated and purposeful. I have just had a completely restful day whilst Russ has played with the children in the garden and worked alongside them on the veg patch and other outdoorsy jobs. I started feeling unwell Friday night so felt that a really restful weekend was in order. Nothing major but I felt really tired and shivery shakey and my head hurt. I am pleased to say that right now i am feeling a lot better.

I have mostly spent today reading blogs. I hadn't read any in ages and my google reader was brimming full of posts to be devoured! So I cut down some that I am not too fussed about and I caught up with online friends, and a few real life friends, and some mama bloggers i follow. Its been really lovely to just relax and read.

I have also done quite a bit of thinking and now feel really clear about the direction we are headed this year. I'm so keen to declutter and simplify our house but have really lacked the time to do much about it. I am in awe of people who seem to juggle so much and still 'get stuff done'! But I have to say with the weather we have been having and the children playing in the garden happily alongside their Daddy I am feeling much more optimistic about the possibilities of 'getting stuff done'.

I thought it would help to set myself out a list of jobs so I am about to start working on that. Baby steps towards a simpler life. It feels exciting and I feel hopeful. Its nothing new, not even to me, that simplicity is the key to success (as I saw a poster reminding me the other day) but it is the first time I have felt like I might be able to do something about it now. To move forwards rather than be engulfed and overwhelmed with all the jobs that go with a homeschooling, cooking from scratch, trying to be green and frugal family. I could take many shortcuts which would save us time but compromise on our family's values and so they are not right for us. I am happy with our path but time to myself and time to make steps forward has been sparse. I hope that for a time now we can burst forth like then green shoots of spring with new purpose.

I have been inspired by this post by Meg of Sew Liberated about Montessori Practical Life Exercises or as I would call it allowing children to join in with household tasks.  We used to do this a lot, but not so much lately. I think it went by the wayside when I lost the little basket with our beeswax wood polish in. I believe it is in "the messy room" (our choc full of crap spare room) so must dig it out.
I also liked this post about meaningful work for toddlers and this post by Shannon Hayes of Radical Homemakers fame which made me consider the presence my iphone may be having on our lives and productivity. I think I gain an awful lot from it but I am tempted to set myself boundaries around its use for a bit to see how that goes. I know I turn to it out of isolation.

That brings me to my next point which is the thoughts I mentioned brewing in my previous post. Once again,. for the umpteenth time, i have felt like moving. I have wanted to put the house on the market and go.  It has really got to me the past few weeks. I have felt desperate. After journalling a lot and meditating and thinking and contemplating, I have I think summed up what the issues are.

It was sparked this time by my Grandad's house being for sale. He passed away in Ocvtober, as I said before. His house is small but there are many quirks I love about it - the layout, the big kitchen window looking out onto the street, the sweet little corner garden, the big big windows in the dining room and the little covered patio outside which I would totally paint turquoise and fill with pot plants and hanging jars of tealights.  This house was the house my mum and her three siblings were raised in. It was the house that hosted Boxing Day gatherings and Sunday Lunch and I have many happy memories connected to it. Yet... yet, me wanting to buy it didn't feel about that. It really felt more about the benefits that I could see to US living in the house.

If we were to move there it would cut our mortgage by a whole third (and to be frank our financial situation is not good - we bought at the wrong time and pay substantially more on our mortgage than our friends, in some cases we pay twice as much!). I like the idea of a smaller, simpler space to maintain - it is easier to clean and decorate. I have also mentioned the quirks about it that I like. Its location is a big thing as it is back in Stevenage, which would mean we would be close to my parents and a very good friend, but Russ would have to commute again and I would miss friends near here.

But the main thing I realised about the location was that in Stevenage you are pretty close to everything. Hop on a bus and in ten minutes you will be in town. Or you can use the extensive and well planned cycle paths. There are a variety of parks and a swimming pool, a museum, shops, classes to take children to and in the next town, which is not far away, there is a thriving home ed community. My friend is finding an increasing number of home ed families in Stevenage now too.

Which brings me to here. I live in a large village. It has many houses but few facilities. We are in Cambridgeshire officially and our council is Huntingdonshire, but I am convinced we are far enough away we are last in mind when it comes to the budget. The 'shopping precinct' (ie local shops) are in need of an overhaul. We are on the edge of the fens and flat agricultural land stretches in all directions. I struggle to find the beauty. There is no where nice to walk to from my home. I cannot walk out of the door to a nice little wood or park or pond or lane even. I really really miss the trees and paths I grew up with in Hertfordshire. I crave the forests and beaches that i swore I would move to 'when I'm old enough'.

The city centre is big and ugly and it takes 20-25 minutes to get there - not including the time spent freezing at the bus stop next to the main road. Sometimes the buses don't come - as my friend found out recently when she spent 45 minutes or more waiting in the snow with her two children. Many places we want to get to I then need to get us on another bus. Ok so I am planning on learning to drive, but even then we won't be a two car family and I'm not sure when or how often I will have access to the car as Russ needs to get to work. He may be able to lift share at times. Plus I am not convinced we can afford for me to learn to drive. Aside from that I would like to be able to walk from my house to somewhere.

I have no friends in the village. My friends live scattered about - they are all at least two bus rides away. I know one person locally whom I barely see as her son is now in school. I have come to realise that home educating can be really isolating when you don't have local support. When we moved here there was a thriving home ed community but at present it has pretty much collapsed. There isn't a venue and people don't want to seem to take ownership of it. My emails to the group have been ignored. There is a smaller group a friend of mine set up but she is not local at all and the group is spread out so it has not got going again yet since November and then it will only be fortnightly. I find it hard hearing from my friend in Stevenage about the thriving community there where ours is almost non-existent now. Though I am so pleased for her, obviously.

I don't feel part of the community in the village, or the city. Back where I was raised I feel i belong. I have wanted to raise my children to be part of their community but that is hard when there isn't one. I notice a lot of people have faith communities to draw on too - another avenue we don't have for support. And I find it very hard being raised one of twelve grandchildren and feeling close to my siblings but barely seeing them or my cousins now. Not that I can remedy that exactly.

Its not that I need all these things, or that I can achieve them all even. But I do feel our current situation is ticking none of the boxes apart from 'close to Russ's work' and 'spacious house and garden'. I can't dispute the fact that the house is coming on well and the children love it. But then they would love wherever we live because its ours.

So... no, we are not moving. At least not at present. But I am dealing with all these awkward feelings of being an outsider. Of being displaced. Of waiting for our home ed group to be rebuilt (oh please, please let that happen!) and of longing for family and friends and community. The most important things in life I feel - they are all made of love.

So for now I am focusing on what is in front of me and I will go and make the dinner and clean up the kitchen. I will write my lists for simplifying the house. I will plan our meals for the week and plan our activities (with scant resources outside the home) and I will get on with it.

I had not meant to go so deep with this post but feel better for having written it. I am still feeling inspired, motivated and purposeful as I said at the start. I also of course have much to be grateful for, and really on a daily basis I am thinking about that. I am grateful for my amazing children who surprise me daily. I am grateful I get to be with them every day! I am grateful for my husband and how hard he works. I am grateful for our home with its warmth and space and sparkly new kitchen! I am grateful for our garden, which makes living away from places of natural beauty more bearable. I am grateful for the simple things - a cup of tea, the smell of incense, lighting candles, a new suncatcher, chitting potatoes in the greenhouse, my knitting. I know I am oh so lucky and blessed to even have been born and to be living this life, and I will continue to look for ways forward.

If you have got this far thank you for reading - I am grateful for you! x

This video brought tears to my eyes...

and so I had to share it here. So beautiful! Its just ten minutes. Please watch.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Today

1. Ezra enjoying his headlight. He likes to wear it on his face. :) cuteness!
2. Another interesting way to wear headgear!
3. Phoebe plucked up the courage to flip over by walking up Russ and now she loves it. :)
Apologies for the numbered posts but it's the only way I can blog the pics straight from my phone. Otherwise you would probably never even get to see them!

Monday

1. Ezra sailing in a "tiny boat"
2. Playdough fun
3. Phoebe's elf painting
4. Ezra and I also painted and elf. I painted it and he added extras!

A Little Wednesday Night Rambling

So I have been thinking for the past few days that i wanted to blog and share what we have been up to lately. Its been hard to find the time but i thought i would take a moment now.

Phoebe wrote a book the other day! I will post a couple of pictures from it soon, maybe tonight if i can, but it is a very sweet little story. I wrote it out for her and she illustrated. It is called 'The Butterfly Who Wanted to go to the Fair'. It is her first book. :)

Phoebe is now going to sleep in her own room. I curl up with her on the big double bottom bunk and rub some massage oil onto her arms and legs while we listen to an audio cd together. Her choice is usually James and the Giant Peach, George's Marvellous Medicine or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She really loves Roald Dahl. We have also been reading A Necklace of Raindrops which she got as a birthday present from her friend Charlie and it is so lovely! We finished it the other night and have since been reading selected stories. Thank you Charlie!

I have been reading a couple of books this week Nella Lasts' War and Both Worlds but have decided they are having an effect on my mood so I have shelves them for a little while. Nella Last's War I bought as a present for my Grandad and it was one of the last books he read before he passed away in October last year. I miss him a lot at the moment and the book reminds me of him each time I read. It is comforting but also maybe causing me to wallow a bit in feelings of loss and childhood passed. I have had a lot of thoughts around this lately and about my children's childhood. Both Worlds is written by a school friend of mine's mum. So it is strange reading and melding together the harsh childhood the 'woman' experienced in the book with the lovely mum who's  house I used to go round to for tea! The combination of these two books (whilst both being fascinating and very readable) has left me feeling a bit bleak, so i am having a break with Goddess Leonie and maybe Momma Zen. Oh and we have also subscribed to Life Learning magazine which I am looking forward to erading when I can!

Knitting wise I have abandoned  Phoebe's dress and really must pick it up again! But i am working on Ezra's Hudson Hat still. Slow progress. i also said I would make a flower for each time Phoebe went to sleep on her own but due to lack of time and having to prioritise other things I owe her about 15 flowers! I suggested felt rather than crochet but she was adamant they should be crochet so i had better get a move on!

I have discovered I am a total rebel when it comes to making plans! I can't remember if I mentioned here but we are vegetarian now (Phoebe's decision and we are joining her) and I have been menu planning each week but its like as soon as anything is planned I have to break it. But i break it happily and joyfully and usually because something more appealing and of similar nutritional value has sprouted in my mind. I surprised myself completely by making lentil chilli the other morning before 10am! You have to seize these opportunities when they arise! Even more of a surprise was that Phoebe ate it and liked it! Woohoo! Ezra... well, Ezra is going through a very tricky stage with food, like Phoebe did (and is still in to some extent but far better now) and is actually mainly prefering to just eat carbs and a few plain veg. We dish up a range of stuff and he always has enough to eat... just not the wet stuff. ;)

Speaking of food, I am very lucky and have a very lovely friend Anna who signed me up for Whole Food Kitchen: An online workshop. I am really excited and delighted about this. I am not getting a chance to do much beyond print each week's materials and read through so far but I am really loving what I am reading and the recipes are interesting and exciting and fresh. So I can see I will use it a lot over the following years, even if i am not immediately able to do as much as I would like. Thank you so much Anna!

I also have another thank you to say to the lovely Mummybear for bringing us six whole bags of clothes for Ezra! She sorted through all of Littlebear's clothes that she had put aside and brought round enough stuff to keep him kitted out for 2-3 years. I am so so grateful for this. They are really lovely clothes and he loves them. Thank you dear friend!

I am currently looking for alternatives to tea in the day. Any suggestions? If i drink too much tea I don't feel good. I have run out of barleycup and I miss it. More from suma next order i think. I have a green smoothie in the morning but just can't bring myself to drink enough water. I really feel the cold and so cold drinks in water don't work for me. I have redbush chai and pukka love tea and several other things but I feel in need of something more creamy and luxurious feeling. The occasional hot chocolate is nice. Any more ideas anyone?

We are trying to start getting out and about again over the next few weeks as we have had a period of hibernation. Our local home ed group is in a bit of turmoil with no venue, but me not driving and living two bus rides from anywhere, well I don't really feel able to be much help right now. I am hoping the issue will be resolved soon so we can start attending again.
There is another smaller lovely group we go to (and I helped set up - well, a teeny bit) which is about to start again after a winter break and we are so looking forward to that! But our Natural Parenting Club is still up and running in its new venue so that's fun and I have also found there is now a La Leche League Peterborough and Peterborough in Transition though I don't think we will be able to get much involved with that due to too much other stuff going on and needing to be home in the evenings for our children.

I really must go to bed. Had an emergency trip to the Doctors this morning as I had an ellergic reaction to something I ate - dried figs or apricots. I suspect the figs. I still feel a bit weird now. My tongue is sore and I'm pretty tired but just wanted to check in and share a bit. Oh and I am so behind on emails and also owe a few letters to people (real snail mail ones) so if its urgent please mail me again but otherwise I will get round to everything as i can. :)

There are a couple more things I wanted to write about but my thoughts are still brewing on the matters so they will have to wait for now.

Goodnight world!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

End of the week.

And we are ready for another one. :)
A lovely week and relaxing weekend. Food planned, fun things to do organised, lots of time spent in the garden, a party at the pool, home made pizza, tea, newly sparkling patio doors, a bit more of the veg patch dug over, even a spot of reading for me.

Now if my children would please just go to sleep early this evening so we can watch Harry Potter all will be just perfect!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The past week

Decorating crowns
Stomp rocket
Dressing up (always)
Lacing cards (Eric Carle - I love these!)

Sledge fun

So many good snow pictures

...that I have to share more!

Now in appropriate footwear we ventured into the back garden.

So strange seeing the veggie patch covered in snow!

And snow out the back

Snow out the front...

And my wellies were out under the carport so I had to wear mules to start with!
The children played in the front garden while I admired the street and snapped a cute picture of our home. :)

Start of February

Paint
Dressing up
Making lists
Jelly (Thank you BarefootMummy)
Starting to make a castle

Ezra in the snow

Phoebe in the Snow

More pics

Dinosaur photos
Sharing books
Handsome Hubby (at American Football Reunion Dinner)
Loving puzzles