I took these photos last week end, on one of those much valued, soul restoring days. We went up to the Big City and ate bacon sandwiches with Creative Auntie and Uncle at an outdoor cafe we all used to enjoy years ago.
Then the girls and I met up with some home school friends and went to an excellent concert. It was given by a local orchestra especially for children, so I didn’t feel too bad about all the fidgets coming from my girls. They played extracts from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. I’d had fun preparing the girls beforehand, reading them the “Ella Bella” story of Swan Lake, and watching some of the ballet on you tube. We will watch it all one rainy day soon. As it was free it was pretty full, and lovely to see lots of home ed friends who we hadn’t seen for a while.
Afterwards we explored a nearby park; it was sunny and peaceful. I’ve seen more holly berries than I have for a while…I wonder if this means we’re in for a colder winter.
Meanwhile HWH dropped the boys off at some more home ed friends so they also had a good afternoon and we all returned home feeling refreshed and restored.
So, it’s half term now…yeh! I’m so grateful that it has all gone so relatively smoothly; I’ve known God’s faithfulness, provision, protection and kindness as we’ve moved into this new season. We always have pizza and a movie on Friday night, and as an end of term treat I bought the latest Pirates of the Caribbean DVD, so HWH and the boys are enjoying watching it. As I look back over our scribbled and full family calendar, I remember some of the things we’ve done in addition to our regular activities…and maybe it’s no wonder I’m feeling tired But, it’s often so worth investing time and energy in these activities, many of which are the ones that form memories and build relationships within our family and outside.
The girls and I have enjoyed going to our local Anglican Church a couple of times. Everyone is always very welcoming, and, as I get older and the world seems to be rapidly spiralling more out of control, I appreciate the tradition and timeless structures of it. We attended a Harvest Festival service with Dancing Toes’ Brownie pack. It brought back memories of similar services when I was a child. God and our country seasons don’t change! And then we went to their annual Beetle Drive, which is always great fun. I used to take the boys (children have to be old enough to vaguely add up), but they have now moved on and went to a friend’s 16th birthday party instead. So, I took the girls and we had lots of fun and ate a fair bit of cake too!
Other highlights have been when the fair came to town one sunny September day, and Dancing Toes’ Brownie pack trundled along on a hay bale filled trailer behind a tractor, all dressed up as various fruit and veg from the harvest festival. It’s a time when most of the town seems to turn out, including the teenagers, who enjoy the adrenaline rush of the rides. I was touched to see our two boys coming down together; choosing to enjoy the fun with each other.
The three younger ones and I went on a homeschool group outing; lovely as always to meet up with friends, and the girls especially had fun, but it did feel strange without Lanky Dude. Several of his friends were also at college, so it was good for me to chat to other mums who understood my slight empty nest feel.
Then, we all pushed the boat out and journeyed up to see some home ed friends in a play in the Big City one evening after college. It was fab, and even Sparkly Eyes kept fairly still once she’d consumed all the chocolate and juice so she didn’t need to focus on that! Lanky Dude appreciated seeing friends, and it was fun all going out together again. As the grey, rainy days seem to increase, there are some compensations; time to light the fire in the evenings, and dust off the board games. (A good alternative to the teenage default of turning on their phones). We recently played the shortest game of Cluedo ever; Lanky Dude guessed correctly first time, so that was the end of that!
Life has been overly busy recently. Lanky Dude is doing really well at college; I had my first parents’ afternoon, which was reassuring. His teachers are lovely, and I like the ethos there. But I’ve been surprised at how much this one change has impacted the rest of us, too. I pick him up sometimes as it takes so long on the bus, so that’s time out of my day. Rhythm Dude misses him and has excess energy which he successfully puts into winding up his sisters. There is one less person to whom jobs can be allocated; Dancing Toes is now doing more, but she needs some training up! And we’ve had some challenging behaviour from the younger ones…. maybe sensing the wider change. And on top of that Rhythm Dude has just sat his first two exams. He’s tried so hard, and I’m so proud o him. But, I’ve needed to be much more involved in the revision process than I was with Lanky Dude, and it has been stressful! We drove up to the exam centre early in the morning as usual and had our breakfast in the van when we got there. I always bought Lanky Dude a bacon sandwich afterwards and did the same for Rhythm Dude…some reward for all that hard work! I was amazed at how chilled Lanky Dude generally was, but his brother was so nervous. However, he did it…and they are all over for a while now.
But, all this has meant that I’m a particularly over tired, frazzled and short fused mother at the moment. One of my friends picked up on this and took the girls to the park yesterday while the boys were having band practice at her house. I was so grateful. Over busyness is such an enemy to my parenting. I feel I can be so busy whizzing around doing what I think is good for my family, that I miss out on what is best…just being around them, enjoying their company, chatting, reading, playing….We have nearly done half a term of our new routine, and although it’s working, (ie everyone is getting where they need to be at roughly the correct time), I feel this level of busyness is unsustainable, we are in danger of missing out on what is more important…and I could crack up!! So, half term will be a good time to reassess and make some small changes.
We’ve not been on as many walks as often; however, there are lots of mushrooms which Dancing Toes has entered into her nature journal. I’d like to know which ones I can eat…but we stay well clear of them all.
Some of the leaves have turned and fallen already, but many trees are still green, which is odd. Still waiting for the spectacular colours in the woods. Last year Rhythm Dude, Dancing Toes and I walked up there regularly, but without Lanky Dude at home so much to mind Sparkly Eyes we’ve missed this.
So, I’m really very grateful for how smoothly this transition has gone….but longing for half term when we can have a few quieter days and just enjoy chilling at home.