Monday, 30 March 2009

New blogging spot

No I don't mean, a new blog completely! Just a new time spot for doing such things. Be it reading or writing.
This is mainly thanks to Louis who is obviously much like having a new crawling baby that wakes early. When he wakes, or I wake or Rob's alarm goes off, i sneak off downstairs to let him out in the garden. Then I make a cup of tea and we go back into the living room where it is warm and he plays while I drink my tea and read my emails and do a bit of blogging. Well, that's the plan anyway!!!! Writing is proving to be much more difficult while wrestling with a 5 month old puppy who is all teeth and legs!!
I like the early mornings when everyone is still asleep and all you can hear is the birdsong. It's a bit later today and now I can hear cars and a few voices too. But generally it is quiet.
Soon I'll be sneaking off on early morning walks too, but for now I'm enjoying being able to sit in the living room with Louis and use the laptop undisturbed! I said undisturbed, Louis!!!
I have just been reading some blogs of other HE'rs that have much younger children than me, and it has occurred to me how much the school system has an effect on your lives, long after you remove them from it. I love the way their lives sound...they seem to have so much more time, or is it just head space to reflect upon things, or are they just better at letting things happen and observing such things?
Life here always seems to be so full of things we ought to do, things we need to do today, or things that we have to do before something else happens. Yet compared to others around me here, we seem so laid back and relaxed with no fixed agenda or plan for the days ahead. I know blogs are great at only showing others what you want them to see, but you can get a feel for people from their writing can't you. I want to be more relaxed. More laid back and more appreciative on a day to day basis of things around me. I do notice the nature around me but it always seems that I take it for granted now. Never really seeing what is there, as I would've done when my big boys were small.
That's my one down side to HE I think, that the littlest one is somehow missing out on precious slow walks, playing his way in the garden, going to the park, cooking with mummy and just doing things for him. Does anyone know what I mean?
I will muse further on that and lots of other things in the coming week...they are all off to Cornwall tomorrow in the Moon Buggy and I will be left alone with Louis for a much needed break. Trouble is, I have so many things I want to do!!!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

A couple of things that I forgot..

Our Landrover 110 was sold last weekend :-(
As much as I liked it for it's cool and groovy, rugged, adventurous looks and practical nature when it comes to our outdoorsy activities, it really wasn't the best car for us.
2 reasons mainly...
1. It was incredibly slow.
Now I'm not such a speed demon in my old age ;-) but I do like to know that if there is a tractor chugging along the main road I have enough cahoonas to overtake, and to time it from 0-60 you certainly didn't need a stop watch...more like a calendar!!!!
2. It was like a teabag.
No, it didn't stain your clothes when you sat on it...(hmm well, actually it was so muddy inside that it did if you weren't already muddy)but it was prone to a little leakage when it rained!!

Now this wasn't just our one that was like this, but a general feature of Landys that age or possibly newer it seems. Rob has been in a couple of newer ones recently and they all seem to be keen on dripping on you from the windows as you go round a corner, and none of them are particularly speedy on acceleration or top end. They were designed for over mud, lumps and bumps and for pulling or carrying heavy loads...and that is what they do best!!
So for a family outing to a National trust house or similar, it really wasn't the best thing!!! You'd turn up slightly damp and muddy when you had definitely made an effort to put on clean clothes before you left and made you feel under dressed for the matter in hand.
So, was I sorry to see it go? YES but no, if you know what I mean!!! I am a car person and despite my moans about it, I did enjoy driving it around. I felt cool!! I had loads of friends!! (Most Landy drivers flash their lights or put their hand up to you when passsing on the felt odd to start with , but now I miss them!)
So we have got another vehicle. I say vehicle, because I don't really know what to call it. It is neither car, despite it having comfy seats, nor van even though it says vanette on the back. It is certainly not an off road vehicle despite it saying 4Wd on the side and it certainly NOT cool looking although Rob says it looks a little like the A Team van. It is cool in its own right though, as it has a single sliding door for access to the 4 very large and roomy rear seats. 2 of the seats can be swivelled round when it is stationary to make a seating area that you could put a table up in, and the other 2 rear seats can be folded right up out of the way to make a massive boot space!!
Oh yes, and when you open the bonnet you are confronted with a spare wheel and just a few odd engine parts!!!! The engine is not there, where you would expect to find is located under the front 2 seats and is accessed via a hatch inside the car!!!!
So what is this vehicle I hear you ask? No, you probably are not that interested...sorry to go on about it, but it really is an odd one!!
It is a Nissan Serena. Never heard of it before. Never seen anything like it. Would certainly not have picked it out from a line up of MPV's but as it just seemed to kind of land in our lap, maybe fate decided we should have it.
I'll upload a picture really is rather odd and worth a giggle. Or I think so anyway!
Obviously, I won't be driving it very often...I like my Passat, and my brain still works on the MPV/minibus/school trip scenario thread and I hate feeling like sardines!!!!
Maybe some decals on the side would help?
MY OTHER CAR IS A LANDY (not strictly speaking true, I know)

Any other suggestions?!!!Here they are as a kind of comparison....hmm now which one would you choose?!!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Here's what we've been doing

My feelings of this morning have subsided slightly and thought I would upload these pictures now.

Louis has settled in really well and is proving to be the source of much hilarity. He is excellent at asking to go out to the toilet and we have only had a couple of accidents which have been due to us not seeing him ask. He has also been very good at night which I gather can be a real difficult time for pups...the first night we had a little whining, but each time I let him out and he squeezed out a little wee and then eventually settled for the night. Since then he makes a few noises but settles very quickly...thank goodness! I guess it is just because he is so exhausted from th edays activities here!! He has been to the local shop a couple of times, the park, the bridleway and even a short outing to our local woodland.

He is also looking forward to his first bike ride!!!

We went to a different farm shop the other day and they have piggies that you can go and see. I lurve piggies. They are so funny to watch!! David loves them too!!!

David and I had an afternoon to ourselves the other day and we managed to fit in lots of 'schooly' things. He finished his The Very Hungry Caterpillar colour in yourself book that he started a while ago. He wanted to get it finished for William's birthday but the last page was the butterfly and needed lots of work!!!

A few pages of words with the same vowel sounds which he did really well. The best he has ever done. The writing was coming more easily as was the spelling of the words. He was as pleased as I was!!

A little book about the life cycle of a frog which needed colouring and writing. These little books from Enchanted learning have formed a large part of the 'work' that I do with David.

Will wanted to do one of his own!

And here are our tadpoles that Jonathan collected the other day, well some of them. Some others had already hatched and he has taken them outside in a bigger container.

That just leaves me with an update on Tom's off road buggy...

The frame is almost there now.

He took the photos himself, so this picture must be of a bit of welding that he is particularly proud of!

A bit of a whinge...well, quite a lot of one really.

So here I am, feeling miserable and wondering what the hell I am doing it all for. I seem to spend all of my time cooking, cleaning (only surface cleaning though as the real deep down stuff just takes more time than I actually have), tidying, picking things up off the floor, putting people's shoes on the rack (Come on hard can that be?!!), sorting washing in one state or another, reminding the boys to wash and brush their teeth, tidy their rooms (and not real tidy, its just that I draw the line at dirty clothes, fishing bait, pieces of cut up wood, food remains and cups etc etc) and sweeping up the endless trail of dried mud (well, I guess at least it is dry at the mo) and still I feel as if we live in a complete tip.
How can this be? Whatam I doing wrong?
I feel miserable, underappreciated and down right fed up with the whole thing today. The boys are supposed to be off to Cornwall on Tuesday to visit granny with Rob so I can have a bit of a break away from them all. But you can bet your bottom dollarthat I'll be spending most of it cleaning and tidying and sorting out this pit that we call our house.
Is that going to be a good use of my time? Will I feel better that it is tidy and clean? Or will I just resent their return on Saturday when they destroy all my hard work? I am yet undecided.
Don't get me wrong, generally speaking they are good boys that pitch in and help when asked/pushed/coerced (depending on which boy we speak of) but there are times when it all just gets too much. I have no regular time away from the boys. I seem to always be in th ecompany of atleast one or other of them, and although I consider them to be my friends the majority of the time, we all need space don't we? Is it because I am the only female in an all male environment (even the new puppy is a boy!!) ? Do I expect too much? Am I fighting a losing battle?
Heaven only knows....and does anyone have the answers?
And is what I'm doing for the boys the right thing? And at what expense? My sanity?
I love that the boys spend time making things that they have designed themselves....wooden boxes, rat traps!!, go karts, snorkels for the car, boilies for fishing, stunt bikes....the list is endless. They decide how to spend their time. They can feed themselves. They can entertain each other. They are considerate, polite and well mannered when out and about. They choose to be here at home with me and see their chosen friends as and when they want to. Thay are nice boys (compared to so many others that I see coming out of school etc) but what if it is me that is not ok?
This is a bit of a rant I know, and not in my usual style, but I seem to be hitting this wall fairly regularly. I don't seem to be able to get the balance right for me. I am no good at being selfish, (despite what a certain person said to me about 18 months ago) and putting my needs first. I don't seem to be able to get a break mentally from it all. We have no family close. No one to help with the youngest one, from whom I/we could really do with a break from on a regular basis. But I am not going down the nursery route....pre school...whatever you call it. Been there, done that. Never again.
So how do others manage it? Is it all just because of having another baby when I didn't want one? ( Thanks NHS) Have I really not conquered the mental anguish of being mummy again in this 'new' relationship? Or is it just the HE too much? But would them being at school be any better? I can remember the feeling of peace and tranquility all day and then all hell breaking loose from half three to bedtime. A frenzy of freedom, homework, feeding, bathing etc etc The jostling and fighting for my attention or whatever. Not to mention the awful hassle in the mornings to actually get them there. Ugh. That was the worst. Knowing that you were pushing them to do something that they really did not want to do....something that you never liked doing yourself either.
And with that, I will go and hang the washing out.
I do have HE things that we have been doing to blog about but I think I will do that later, when I can summon some positive thoughts to go with them. After all they deserve positive descriptions not just labels.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Spring Equinox and a new arrival

Well, I think it is now finally safe to say that Spring has sprung. The weather has been totally glorious and we have been very busy in the garden, which ties in nicely for celebrating the Spring equinox. No photos of the garden as yet but it is starting to look a little better, which is largely due to our next door neighbours wanting to sort out their own garden. They started their own sort out last week, with a very smart new fence along the back boundary and along the other side of their garden. Then they wanted to put a more secure fence between us to stop their Jack Russell from breaking through! They initially tried to put a small one at the foot of the existing conifer hedge but as some of you may now that conifer hedges aren't that simple!!!! When you cut out th ebottom of it, you invariably lose half of the dense greenery from the top we were left with something that looked like a gorgonzola cheese!!!!

After the initial shock wore off (!), we talked it through with them and they assured me they would put up some trellis to grow some things up to ensure our privacy, that we were both used to. But they have two boys....friends with ours, and we all know how long it takes for things to grow when you are desperately waiting for them!!!

So we were kind of pushed into drastic action....we replaced the conifer hedge with a nice new close board fence...paid for by us, but put up together. It sounds so simple doesn't it!!!! But the conifers had been up for nearly 20 years and had been badly neglected, so the 12 or more trees were just that!!! The trunks were soooooo thick and they were still over 7 feet high despite us having lopped 3 feet off last was a MAMMOTH task. Jonathan and I did a lot of the demolition with Mark from next door wielding the chain saw, and then Rob and the boys helped Mark dig the holes and set the posts in the concrete. Then he nailed on all the boarding.....job done!! 3 days from start to finish!!!

I miss the greenery of the conifer hedge but we have gained about 2 ft 6" all the way along one side of the garden and it is letting in so much more light.

All quite appropriate at this time of the year.

And this is our new arrival....

The first picture was taken travelling home this afternoon, and the second was investigating the garden when we arrived. His name is Louis (originally Ludo, but as we have a friend who calls himself that it didn't seem quite right some how!) and he is a gorgeous 5 month old working Cocker Spaniel. And worthy we think of the title of Survival Family canine companion. You all knew that I wouldn't last very long without a dog didn't you!!!

He is currently asleep on my lap having been playing in the garden with the boys before they all went to bed. He seems to be settling very well and is loved by all!

He has come from a lovely home and I think we are very lucky to have found him...and I hope, he thinks the same. Thats all for now...will update soon with some better photos!

Oh, and I hope you all had a pleasant Mothering Sunday!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Carolyn and the blustery day.

I'm finding it hard to do much today...part of me wants to get outside and sort out my vegetable beds in the garden ready for my potatoes that are chitting, early sowings of carrots and possibly a row of cauliflowers; but the other part wants to stay in and tidy my house. The kitchen and dining room especially, as these are the rooms that suffer most from 'I'll just put it there for now' syndrome.
The trouble is that although outside the sun is shining, it is very blustery and so is interspaced with sudden very cold grey moments, and as I'm feeling a little fragile today (possibly keeping a sickness bug at bay) it isn't really happening.
But neither is the tidying! The trouble there is it just seems such a gargantuous task (is that a word?) and I know full well that even if I do achieve something anywhere near tidy, it will only take a couple of days to return to it's untidy state.
So what am I doing instead? As Big Mamma Frog would put it, a displacement activity. I'm reading other peoples blogs and wondering if others suffer from the same affliction.
I mean, how come there is a whole heap of William's clothes on a chair by the computer desk? Just the worn once kind of pile. But no matter how many times I pick it up, I just can't seem to decide what to do with them!!!
And the floors need washing, desperately, but the demoralisation I experience when one of the boys walks in the door in his muddy shoes and leaves muddy marks where he has taken them off, just doesn't inspire me to get up and fetch the mop.
Ho hum.
There is a plastic, small animal carrier ON my kitchen table that was returned, I think by our HE friends about a month ago...and it is still there!!!!! Where does it live? I have no idea!!! Maybe in the loft? In the outside store? The workshop? The thing is, it has never really had a home, proper. It kind of just gets moved from one place to another but had remained in use for the best part of last summer for one reason or another. And now, it just sits there looking sorry for itself...on MY kitchen table!!!
OK, so by now, you are all thinking that I have lost the plot completely...why am I worrying about such silly trivial things? Why don't I just get up and sort them out?
Well, it is just such a mammoth task that I don't feel that any one of these things will make a big difference to the grand scheme of things, and that while I type this the boys are all occupied happily in various activities, but you can bet your bottom dollar that as soon as I make a start, they will all suddenly appear wanting food or such like and I will have to stop mid flow.
Why is that?
Is it like the law that says toast always falls butter side down? Or the one that makes it rain as soon as you leave the house and have left your washing on the line? Or the one where you remember that you have forgotten something as soon as you are too far away from the house to go back to fetch it?
Ho hum.
I have made bread today, and hung out three loads of washing, cleaned the quails out and chatted to the chickens. But that is everyday stuff that I can do with my eyes shut...its just the bigger tasks that I can't manage!!
And another one...why is it colder in my dinig room than it is outside?!!!!!
Todays weather seems to mirror my state of mind...grey and windy with sunny spells!!!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Long live the sunshine...for without it, I am lost.

Well, as usual when its been a while since I've posted, it is because we have been so very busy rather than it being too dull to post about.
I've been learning to 'embrace' my melancholy times a bit rather than trying to fight it. I'm not saying that I don't get into a state but I try to distance myself from everyone and get on with what I need to do to put it right, and let things jog along without me screaching at everyone. I'm not saying that I get it right all the time, as I'm sure the boys would tell you!!!! (It is usually the mud migrating in to my house, the huge pile of washing that I have to look at in my kitchen, their belongings left lying around and the state of a certain boys room, that tips me over the edge you see!!)
But I am feeling more in control these days. I don't think the sadness/frustration/regrets will ever be gone, but I am learning to deal with them and allow them to surface before squashing them firmly to the back of my mind where they belong. A good friend of mine helped me to see that.
We have been to visit our HE friends in Pembrokeshire for a few days. The children all had a fantastic time, and despite being together constantly for 4 days, they got along brilliantly. There were no real downs, despite the difference in eating and sleeping patterns between the two families. Boys and girls getting along together, playing with each other across the age groups. 2 boys aged 8 and 2 aged 12 and a girl of 15......would this have happened if they were schooled children? I think not!!!! Such is the beauty of HE
A beautiful place, with woodlands and beaches so close to each other. We had a fire on the beach and cooked baked potatoes, sausages and beans, Jon helped them all to make bows and arrows, and Jon and Rhiannon spent alot of time making and setting traps( not that they caught anything!).

My eldest son did not come with us, instead he stayed behind with Rob and they had a overnight camp in the woods. We exchanged photos of our fires and bragged about what we had cooked! In a friendly kind of way of course!
Whilst we were away, Tom sourced some metal for his Off Road buggy project and by the time we got back it looked like this....

It now has a roll cage which he has cut from a scaffold pole with the angle grinder and welded together. It is all his own work but the design and specifications come from this book, although I expect there will be a few modifications!! It has attracted quite a bit of attention from the neighbours and has been given a steering wheel and a lot of compliments!

My other son however is now the proud owner of three stick insects that have migrated from next door. He had them for about 2 months I think, MAX before the boredom set in. I wonder how long Jonathan will last!!Strange creatures, quite a pointless pet really but the boys like them and they can be fascinating even if only for a few minutes!!

David and I have started a new history resource that was reccomended to us by our friends in Wales, called The Story of the World. It comes in 4 different volumes from the beginning of history (!) up to the modern day. There is a story style book which I can read aloud to him and then there is another book with suggested activities and colouring pages etc in. It seems to really appeal to both me and David, so on to a winner there! It starts with an explanation of history and archaeology and encourages you to delve in to your family history. You suddenly realise that unless you make an effort to record or collect it, then it will disappear. Or at least some of the detail will.

We had a trip to Bletchley Park, home of the enigma machine, last week and although the weather was not very kind (wet and freezing!) we managed to have a reasonable look around the place. It has a lovely Home Front exhibition which I was very interested in. David and Jonathan were both fascinated by the old toys and the house display. Then it got me to thinking...what will remain from our time? With everything being so disposable, and our throw away society, what items will remain for our grandchildren to be looking at in a museum. Will they look at anything of ours in the same way as we looked at the displays from the 1940's? I can't imagine that they will. I guess that era is a very special one given its circumstances. I felt very nostalgic but strangely at home. Does that make sense? I really don't like the times in which we live and constantly battle against some of our 'advances'. I long to run away and live in the woods or some remote place in the hills. Somewhere where I can just be.

On that note...two exciting bits of news!


I had a letter from the Parish Council to tell me I have an allotment that I can take over very soon!!!! Only a half plot but still we are thrilled to bits!



We had a very special delivery today. 6 gorgeous Khaki Campbell duck eggs for hatching from this farm in Yorkshire. A lovely lady with a lovely website. We are so very excited about having ducks. I do hope that all goes well.

I have been doing some knitting recently, and had a go at a poncho for has turned out quite well but needs a couple of small alterations. For a very small boy he must have a very big head!!!!

But overall, quite pleased with it.

And today was William's 3rd birthday. And a train cake I was planning. A nice chocolate train cake. And then, he watched Rainbow again a few days ago...and it is a Zippy cake he wants!!! He went to visit his Grandad yesterday with daddy and was telling him and his Uncle George about his Zippy cake!! So what could I do?!!!
Make a Zippy cake of course!!!!
And two lovely pictures of my miniature daffodils in my clay creation...

There really is a lovely light in our dining room on a sunny morning. The sunshine is my saviour.