Friday, 14 November 2014


This is a different type of post to my usual ones. It's deeply personal and a bit out of my comfort zone if I'm honest. 

We've made some huge decisions as a family recently and people have asked why. I'm going to start the story almost two years ago. 

January 2013, just after Georgiana's first birthday. I had suffered what is still to date the worst cold/flu I've ever had. A few days later my vision in my left eye started to blur and then fade. Everything was sort of whitewashed. I was scared. In fact, I was more than scared. It was an emotion that there are no words to describe. After many trips to ophthalmology at the local hospital, I ended up with an MRI scan and a referral to neurology. That led on to a diagnosis of MS (Multiple Sclerosis)

Wow, it hit me like a train. On the one had I was devastated, on the other relieved that it wasn't more serious. I read and read and read some more. I read amazing stories of hope and defiance and stories of increasing disability and loss of life. In May I had a second relapse. That time I went numb down my right side. I could feel touch as light as a feather but if I pinched myself I couldn't feel it. It was odd and unsettling and confirmed the diagnosis. 

It also made me realise that I can still achieve so much. I also made me determined to live life and every dream to the fullest. My new mantra quickly became "if I can I will"

We then made the decision to start a business. There were some incredible high points and dreams came true, however sadly, it didn't go the way we planned and we decided to close up. It was an amazing experience but closing was difficult and painful, especially for DadaSmu who was the owner and manager of the whole business. I'm very glad we did it, even though it didn't quite go according to plan. 

So, here we are. Almost two years on from when the story began, we're in a period of healing. We're living by the sea finally. A dream we've had for a while. The sea in incredibly cleansing. I've always felt as though you can pour your troubles into the sea and they will go out with the tide. I love the power that the sea has. I'm fascinated by it and now I can see it from my bed, from my kitchen and my living room. It changes whilst I walk from room to room and it's always beautiful. 

Having a new baby has also been incredibly healing. He's brought a light to our family that broke through all the darkness of the previous years. He's happy beyond belief and he loves me unconditionally. I appreciate every moment I spend with him, even the odd long night. 

On the day we moved in I got a letter from my neurologist with the results from my most recent MRI scan. It showed that I have had no disease progression in the last 18 months and the lesion I had on my brain has healed. Right back at the start, I had no idea where MS would take me. I still have no idea but I now have hope, determination and faith that regardless of where it takes me, I will be able to live my dreams, complete my mission here on earth and most importantly be happy. 

I love my life. I don't know where I'm going to be or how well I'll be in a few years but right now, today, IF I CAN, I WILL!

Too much news for one post

Why is it already November? What has happened to April, May, June, July, August, September and October? That's a lot of months and so much has happened it's unbelievable.

In April George 4th was born. I think that's the most important and wonderful thing that's happened this year. How incredible it is to have 5 beautiful, happy children to raise. I often wonder why I'm the mother of 4 boys. What an incredible responsibility to love, nurture and teach 4 sons of God to discover who they are. Then my little daughter. What a privilege to have her developing right before my eyes. 

We're still home educating. George 3rd wanted to give school a go a while back. He went into Reception class but he decided he didn't want to stay after a few weeks. It was a great thing to see my almost 5 year old using his ability to choose his future. Choices and consequences are something we've been focussing on a lot lately. 

The next huge thing that has happened is that we've relocated - to the sea! We now have a beautiful sea view which is hugely distracting when I'm trying to unpack boxes. We already feel at home here and we're enjoying discovering new people and places. We're meeting an incredible array of new and wonderful people both in the church and home ed worlds. 

Today we went for a discovery walk at a local disused quarry. Whilst there we were able to talk about the geology of the rocks, how quarrying has changed over the past 200 years, local history, weather and the all important topic of whether flat rocks or round rocks make the biggest splashes in puddles. It served to remind me that education happens whenever and wherever we are. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

We've been busy

Just sometimes I decide to record a fraction of what we do in a week to post. I helps me to remember that we actually do a lot all of the time but I rarely record it. So here's a snippet of this weeks productivity in photos. 

Lots and lots of Lego creativity

Making pizzas with paper plates to cut up into fractions

Some painting and creating

And plenty of Minecraft. 

George 1 has also been working on a fascinating lapbook project about Norse Mythology. With the second Thor film available to view we decided to make something of it and found out more about him. I realised that I knew nothing of our northern neighbours and we've found out things that have helped to explain more about not only Thor, but also the How to Train Your Dragon series. We especially enjoyed looking at the similarities between the creation and end of the world myths and our own Christian beliefs. 

This has all taken place in amongst Parkour training, forest school, German practise, friend play dates, a trip to the beach and getting organised for a mini holiday and a new baby! I don't always give us enough credit for how busy we are and it's important for me to remember just how much we're achieving on a daily basis even when it doesn't feel like it. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Simon Says and other games

One of things I've learned since home educating is just how many learning opportunities there are in every day games. 

Take the simple Simon Says game for example. We often play it to get a bit of rainy day exercise in. It's a fantastic way to channel pent up energy in 3 boisterous boys! Whilst playing I'll drop in maths equations, science questions, compass directions, spellings, anything I can think of. The children love it and will answer questions that they would otherwise think of as a test and refuse to engage with. 

Yesterday we went on a car journey for an hour. In the car we played a game (it must have a name but I don't know what it is) where I would say something like, "I am huge, I'm made of gas, I emit heat, you can't survive on earth without me, the earth spins around me....." and they had to guess what I was. It was fantastic. We described buildings, cities, plants, animals, people, the list was endless and so much fun. 

Another game we've played is story telling. I'll start a story then the next person makes up the next section etc. It's a fantastic way to build story telling skills, use imagination and pass the time on a long car journey. Along with the number plate sentence builder game of course!

We play board games a lot too. They love the '80s Game of Knowledge. One of the questions is 'how many tv channels are there in the UK?' The answer is 4!! It's a very old game but they love it and we can incorporate a bit of history too. They're always amazed by the fact that we only had 4 channels! 

I don't play games with them enough and I need to work on that. I know the value to their education is immense and it takes virtually no time or effort - especially in the car. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Education is about more than......

I was involved in a conversation about education on a friend's Facebook status last week and one of the comments was "education is about more than building dens out of boxes" or words to that effect. It's really got me thinking about what education means to me as an educator. 

I'm going to complete that sentence again using just a few of the things we have been doing this week so far. 

Education is about more than.......
 -Learning that Mozart wrote the tune Twinkle Twinkle and then learning to play it on the piano
 -Learning how to make white sauce
 -Building a den
 -Playing on Minecraft and learning to code, make friends with home educators all around the world     and creating amazing things using team work
 -Dictation of sacred hymns
 -Playing with friends who normally attend school as it's half term
 -Making a vegan lasagna from scratch and without using a recipe
 -Creating wooden spears at Longleat
 -Reading books
 -Learning about maps
 -Making pictures
 -Blowing eggs and then decorating the shells
Education is about so much more than all of those things individually, education is about all of those things collectively. It's about broadening horizons, trying something new, learning a concept because it's interesting at that moment. It's about more than school, more than home, more than books and museums and being with other people. It's about living. 

"There is no difference between living and learning.... It is impossible and misleading and harmful to think of them as being separate" - John Holt

Home education is hard work. In no way is it the easy option. My house is noisy and messy and I'm exhausted all of the time. It's frustrating when it goes wrong and my plans don't work. It's a trial when for whatever reason, family relationships are not as harmonious as they should be. But, home education is about living, about education and about so much more!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Term time holidays

One of the great things about home educating is the freedom. We can go where we like, when we like, often for a lot less money that families who choose to send their children to school. We gat discounts all over the place and definitely take advantage of cheaper holidays.

I'm reading so much lately about term time holidays and the changes that the Government have made regarding authorised absences. Head teachers are no longer able to authorise an absence except in exceptional circumstances. This does not include any holiday of any description.

I'm a big believer in travel being the best form of education. I love travel and have travelled extensively. All my children have been abroad as well as on many UK based travel trips. We love to holiday, whether for a week in the sun or a few days to visit some museums somewhere. I truly feel that they learn more when they're away, than they ever could from reading books about places and as a home ed family, we have so many more opportunities.

When George 1 was in school, I took him on at least 3 term time holidays, all of which we're authorised. I'd certainly feel frustrated now by the new rules and I understand the frustration that parents feel. August isn't a great month for going anywhere and the prices are ridiculous. However, I also feel strongly that while the rules may seem unfair, if a child is in school, the rules need to be kept. When you take a job, you can't just go off on holiday whenever you feel like it. If you did you'd risk losing pay or even your job. If you speed long a road and get caught by a camera, you pay the fine, there's no pint moaning about it. If you take your child on holiday, you risk being fined and you need to take that into consideration.

I'd never tell anyone not to go on a term time holiday, but complaining about the consequences is pointless. Sign petitions if you will, I have, but if children are in school, it must be accepted that the Government completely controls your lives during those 6/7 week terms between the hours of 9 and 3 (or is it soon to be 8 and 6?)

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Home educated children don't socialise?

This week has consisted of lots of loveliness. 

Yesterday we went bowling with some friends of ours. I love the cheap entry prices to things like that during school hours! It was so much fun for all the children regardless of age. 

On Tuesday we went to a brand new group nearby. It was wonderful to be in a space with activities for everyone to do. Even Georgiana found a remote controlled car to play with. George 1 just enjoyed flying paper aeroplanes from the mezzanine floor. I enjoyed sitting. Not something I do a lot of I'll confess. 

Tomorrow we're off to an educational event run by the Police. Everyone is looking forward to that. 

Today? Well today I managed to get a nap during Minecraft hour. Georgiana and I curled up on the sofa together and slept. Pure bliss :-)

In amongst all of that, Conquer Maths and Mathseeds have been well used, lots of reading has taken place, we've looked at maps of James Cook's voyages and found out about his life and legacy. We've played a lot of Simon Says, incorporating sums and spelling. I can't believe it's Friday again tomorrow. Where do the weeks go? 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

New year, new life

I've been thinking a lot lately about who I am. What defines me and what I do. I think the start of 2014 has helped me to re focus and put some things into perspective. So, who am I?

I'm a wife, and a mother and a daughter. 
I'm a home educator. 
I'm a Mormon. 
I'm a woman who's supported and helped to fly by those who love me most. 
I have Multiple Sclerosis. 

2013 was not our year. With Dada Smu setting up his business and my health worries leading to a diagnosis of MS in April last year, I wasn't having the best time. I didn't go out as much as I'd have liked to, I didn't socialise. I felt anxious for a lot of the time and just wanted to be home where I felt safe. I made sure that the children's education was kept up with but if I'm honest, none of us had our hearts in it. 

We had some good times too. We went on holiday to Croatia, I spent time with long lost family, we found out that we'll be welcoming baby number 5 into our family later this year, we had the best Christmas we've ever had!

This year has started very differently to last year. Educationally we're on fire. I now have 3 school aged children (although one is not yet compulsory school age) and we're loving doing a bit more structured work. It's still very autonomous in nature, but the children are requesting various types of academic activities. Each of them are discovering their own interests and talents, each of them are so different. Home education works differently for each child and that's one of the beautiful things about it. 

I'm grateful for new starts. I'm grateful that 2014 is looking more promising from day one than 2013 did. I'm grateful to live the life I do. There are things I wish hadn't happened last year, yet our trials help us to grow and I have learned things through my trials last year that I could never have learned otherwise. I'm so grateful to have a husband who cherishes me and let's me fly. For a mother who has passed on her incredible strength to me. For children who love life as much as I do. I'm grateful to live in a country where I'm free to choose the best path for my family to take. And most of all, I'm grateful to be who I am!