Update on Real Life

I thought as I have posted almost entirely on our Around the World adventures for the past three weeks I would do a quick update on our day to day life.  To be honest, there is not a huge amount to report but I shall do my best, starting with the youngest….


steam punk 5

B5 has learnt to read this summer!  Only short words, but the whole blending thing is starting to make sense to her and she very proudly reads a very simple book to us each night.  My last reader.  It is bittersweet.  She continues to go round to Granny’s each day and LOVES it.  One to one suits her so well 🙂  She and I have been doing art each week, as well as her taking the initiative and painting by herself.


It has been so hot recently that we have all spent hours upon hours playing Go Fish and Whist, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the fact that she is now old enough to not only understand the rules of the games but also to begin understanding the nuances.  She loves to win and (for one of my children) is fairly good at losing 😉


Her slightly older sister and her have spent hours in the garden and come in everyday covered head to foot in mud and dust.  Add to that beetroot stains from lunch and you have two very grubby (but very happy) little girls.


This coming year I want to make sure she is getting lots of opportunities to create.  I have a feeling (although I can’t really explain why) that she might very well enjoy working with textiles.  She spends hours drawing clothes on mannequins and is my first child who has a preference for certain clothes and styles.  I suggested to her that she learn to sew, maybe starting with some rag doll clothes, and she was pretty excited.

Steam Punk 7


Byron 3

A7, who will become A8 very soon, has probably blossomed the most over the summer.  She is reading independently, and seems to be showing a preference for non fiction rather than fiction books.  She would spend hours before tuck down time, if I let her, reading her Encyclopedia of Animals.


As always she is incredibly easy going and the perfect companion to her less easy going sister.  Together they have many adventures in the back garden, often instigated by A8.  This has been rather special to watch because for so many years she did not seem to have an imagination.  Now, she can play for hours, all by herself if necessary, in the land of make believe.

Dinosaur Dig 3

I have also been quite impressed by both the younger girls growing independence.  Each morning they get up and make their own breakfast and then proceed to wash up, dry up and put away (their allotted chores), all without me needing to ask at all 🙂


A7 has become more and more interested in the natural world around her, and Gary and I have decided that this is where we will focus her studies next year.  She will be doing lots of science but I think she would enjoy doing a year long project on endangered species.  Granny is going to buy her a subscription to a wild life magazine and together we will all adopt whatever animal she finishes a report on.  I think we have fun times ahead 🙂


Charlotte (13) and Lillie (13)

Usually I would write separately about the twins because they are, of course, two separate identities.  However, this summer they have become conjoined twins at the hip and to save time and repetition I will write about them as a whole 🙂

Victorian Steam Punk 10

I think the best part of the summer for them has been the socialising.  Their social circle seems to have widened and each week they enjoy more and more of their friends.  They have some truly gorgeous friends so I am a very happy mummy.


Lillie has been continuing with her art with her friend, G13, and has produced some gorgeous pieces, all of which she asked poor Gary to hang in her bedroom.  To say there is no wall space for any more pictures is an understatement, but I love that she loves what she does enough to display it.


Charlotte has been practising the piano every day for half an hour after I threatened to stop her (very expensive) lessons.  It obviously did the trick because she has been very diligent ever since.  Given that she has only been learning a term I think she is doing very well.  She is still perfecting I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.  She sings along as she plays and it is beautiful <3


The twins’ relationship, which has always been incredibly close, seems even closer now.  It is fun, because with three children of a similar age, most of their friends are friends in common.  It is great watching them all enjoy each other’s company so much.


Thomas (14)


I think this has probably been a summer of much growth for Thomas.  At the end of last term, Thomas was emotionally exhausted (due to worry about a close friend) and was finding everything much harder than normal.  Also, for the first time ever, he seemed unwilling, or perhaps unable, to take any advise from Gary or I.  I felt he needed to get some perspective on the situation and to do that he needed some distance from it.  Thankfully our gorgeous family in Northern Ireland all rallied round when we asked if he could come over for a few weeks.  He was away for two weeks and had the time of his life.  He has so many cousins over there, all of whom he adores.  They each arranged sleepovers, days out, coffee dates……Grandad and Granny, who he stayed with, treated him with love and tenderness and very slowly he healed and got the perspective he needed.  He came home a very different young man to the one who had left two weeks prior.


A couple of weeks later he went away to Soul Survivor, a Christian camp for young people.  Wow!  I am speechless….well no, not really 🙂  When he came back he must have talked for the whole afternoon, relaying everything that had gone on.  He was so incredibly joyful.  He had strengthened friendship bonds, and yet had missed home and his sisters also.  But most of all, he had strengthened his relationship with God.  He received the gift of tongues and had heard from God concerning a particularly challenging situation he had been struggling with.


He returned home full of the joy of the Spirit and managed to slot back into home life with much less effort than I had thought would be the case.  He is back to the young man we all know and love, and Gary and I couldn’t be happier!

whist day 2

Claire (of indeterminate age) 

This summer has been a summer of ends and beginnings, and most importantly for me, it has been a summer of ‘finding myself’ again.  Yes, I realise that is a bit new age-y but it is how I feel.  Somehow, over the past year or so, I had become very bogged down with every day life.  My enthusiasm and joy, which are usually so effortless for me, had faltered.  I had even begun biting my nails.  I have never bitten my nails in my life, yet here I was biting them until they bled – what was that all about?


This summer, as certain things came to a painful end, I realised that I was significantly more relaxed without them.  My former delight with everything in my life began to return.  I stopped biting my nails.  I didn’t try to stop, I just didn’t need to do it anymore.  Sleep has returned, and much like my son, I too began to heal (from a completely different situation).  Life is good right now.  Really good.  I have much more balance.  I feel healthy and vigorous, and ready for all life has to throw at me over the next year.


I was also interviewed via phone from America about homeschooling in the UK.  I was so nervous.  I’m not sure what was worse, the beginning of the interview (when I was so nervous) or the end, when I realised I had completely forgotten I was being recorded!  I think I might very well have come across like a complete numpty!!  I shall have to listen to it before I share the link here.  It goes live sometime in September/October.


Gary (one year younger than my indeterminate years 🙂  )


Gary has had much ‘fun’ flying Thomas back and forth to Ireland, squeezing in enough time for traditional Irish fries and some rounds of golf.  One of his flights was delayed so long that he didn’t return home until coming up to 1pm.  Bearing in mind he had been up since 3am the morning before and had to get up for work at 5 the next morning (ie four hours away), he was a little tired!


As you already know, Gary leads worship at our church.  The last couple of times he has had some of his children by his side.  One time he had Thomas accompanying him on guitar and Charlotte singing, and another time Thomas was on guitar and singing.  He was so proud to have his boy and one of his girls beside him worshiping God.  I see a lot more of this in our future 🙂

Well, there’s our summer in a nutshell.  How was yours?