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?


  1. What a wonderful update! So glad to hear things are bright for everyone. And extremely glad to hear you were interviewed! I have a feeling I know which show that is. 😉 Very exciting. Looking forward to hearing it.

  2. What a summer!!! I know how hard it is watching our kids grow and have to deal with difficult situations in their own ways while watching. Having a 21 yr old and a 19 yr old who’s already graduated from college means she’s working through a lot of adult issues on her own. Lately, she hasn’t wanted any help or guidance until the last possible moment. But we are making it. She’s growing and so are we in the understanding on how to transition to partnering with an older child instead of totally guiding them.

  3. So glad to hear you sounding so joyful, Claire. I LOVE that song from Les Mis! Cordie sings it around our house too – often brings a tear to my eye (and then for the next few days I find myself singing it rather tunelessly, making up the random words I don’t know, much to everyone’s ‘enjoyment’). It sounds like this has been a hugely growthful summer for Thomas in his road to manhood. And congratulations to B on reading!!

  4. Please do share that link to your recorded interview! We’d all love to hear it! Your update on everyone is just lovely. You and Gary work so diligently and with such intention to bring about joy, contentment, and loving relationships in your home as everyone grows and changes. Your family are truly blessed to have you as wife and mama.

  5. I know exactly what you mean about things coming to a painful end and yet bringing the needed relief and return of joy. I had that a few years ago. My older two have seemed to come into a new and happier phase in their lives as well. Beautiful post!

  6. What a wonderful update. Your sections on your teens brought tears to this mother’s eyes – so good to see them growing with love for each other and Christ. You are extremely blessed with a beautiful family.

  7. Such a joyful update. Glad to know that God works all things for our good, and your sharing bears witness to this(with respect to Young Thomas and yourself). I am amazed at what personalities your Littles have become. So sweet! Your Girls are lovely as well. I have been so busy preparing for transitions in our homeschool, and changes in other aspects of our lives, I haven’t had as much time to simply sit and enjoy all of your posts. I’m glad i did today. Now I remember why I love your blog so much. 😀

  8. I so enjoyed reading this post! What an accomplishment for B5!!! My B5 is still struggling with the blending! He too would probably do well with more one-on-one, but sadly that is not an option right now! I love how A7 is so interested in non-fiction… is she possibly considering working with animals as a career? Your twins are blossoming beautifully – all three! It is so uplifting to see how well they get on as a group, yet are such special individuals. As for your and Gary’s updates – may I just say that you guys are an inspiration to many!?!? I too have recently pulled away, let go of somethings, started healing emotionally, and am reengaging in what God desires of my life without all the “extras.” Some of the “extras” have been hard to let go of… and it has been a painful process in someways. With that said, I am trusting God and am determined to follow Him and His leading <3 I know He will lead you and your family, showing you what is best! Looking forward to seeing what this next semester brings!

  9. YOur posts really lead me to think teen years are going to be fun, which is so encouraging to read.

    You should check out “Sewing School” book, if you were remotely local I’d send you my copy, because I figured out it doesn’t really fit my teaching style, and my kids never really took to it, but it’s an amazing book for teaching kids to sew.

  10. What a lovely summer! I am so glad to hear that you are feeling better and getting proper sleep, and thank you for sharing about the different learning experiences you are planning 🙂

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