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5 Ideas to do with Preschoolers... When homeschooling multiple ages it is easy to forget about the preschooler- after all those older kids have real work to do like long division, learning the planets of the solar system, mastering past perfect tenses, etc etc… However, there is a wealth of studies highlighting the importance of preschool education. But regardless of the educational and developmental benefits of investing in preschool/nursery activities, ensuring your little learners are catered for will make the homeschool day go more smoothly....
Free Multiplication Worksheet: 6, 7, 8 times table... After the long summer break, children can easily forget the skills they had been mastering before summer. So we will start the new school year with a gentle introduction, reviewing the things we were doing before the holidays! For The Girl this means multiplication: 6, 7, and 8 times tables to be precise! This short review sheet also includes a word problem and some area questions… all which depend on these multiplication skills. Multiplication Practise Sheet 6, 7, 8...
Activities for Easter Here are a list of activities to do over Easter with the children: 1. Make an Easter Banner Decorate a large piece of paper, then glue on it the key events of Holy Week. I have kept it simple focusing on Palm Sunday, Jesus clearing the temple, The Last Supper, Jesus arrest, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. Have the children draw simple pictures on pieces of paper, and either write a scripture verse or a sentence about what has...
Animals and the Natural World Study, for multiple ages... As we are going to be visiting the zoo this week, I thought it a good idea to plan an animal project. As we currently have an 8 year old, a 6 year old and a preschooler I want to teach them all something which will be appropriate for their ages. The Girl has already learnt about mammals, reptiles, amphibians etc. But we did make a poster, and her role was to write a description of what a mammal...
Easy Spanish Pork Recipe At the weekend we had a truly massive joint of pork! We have been left with enough to do another three nights of dinners. So I have been looking for easy creative ideas for left over pork- before we all get fed up with it. So tonight I came up with an idea inspired by a dish my mother makes crossed with paella, hence the Spanish flavour! I love paella rice. It is so easy to cook with. You...
Introducing Shakespeare to Children... The work of Shakespeare can seem a daunting prospect. And yet to give children a route into enjoying and understanding his work is precious. Few can argue Shakespeare’s importance to the English language, to be able to read his work and enjoy it, and not look upon Shakespeare as a punishment to be endured as part of one’s education, is a gift indeed. There are a number of resources I have used to help my children access Shakespeare. My...

Having a Fun Summer Without Breaking the Bank

Even if you are not going on holiday, creating a summer holiday that will leave great memories and happy children can, quickly, become expensive. A trip to the cinema, an outing to the zoo, a day out at a theme park- these cost a lot of money. But, a great summer does not have to cost the earth to create. One outlay I have made was to purchase Historic Scotland membership. This gives us all free entry into all the Historic Scotland sites. And since many of them are within an easy drive we can have lots of days out, at a fraction of the cost that it would be to pay entry into each one individually. There are other organisations that have membership schemes that provide free entry into their properties. The National Trust is another favourite with many families. Family membership is also something relatives could give as a family Christmas present. Obvious places to go for outings is the beach, forests, botanical gardens, hillwalking and parks. These can be the sources of many adventures. Consider building a camp fire, toasting marshmallows and having an evening picnic. By inviting friends to join you, then their is the perfect recipe for fun and great memories. It goes without saying that you first make sure you light any fires in a place where they are permitted, and do so safely, especially if it has been very dry. Or what about a disposable BBQ on the beach? For wet days many museums and art galleries are free. You can also have a movie day, or a baking day. Also look out for special summer holiday deals on swimming pools. More and more local authorities are offering free child swimming over the holidays. Local councils often have free sports activities as well, it is worth phoning a few leisure centres to see if there is anything on offer. Many churches also offer holiday clubs for a week of the school holidays. All my children (besides Thomas, who has not yet been old enough) have loved attending a local church club. Throughout the years our family have had some wonderful happy days through the summer. The days which have left the best memories have been the free days. My children still talk about building a camp fire in a wood with friends; playing in a burn (small stream) in the hills, on a very hot day (yes, they do sometimes happen in Scotland); and an unplanned trip to a beach. We also save money by doing lots of picnics. Each child has...

The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves to Others

I stood grating parmesan cheese, for yet another dinner, my body aching with tiredness and my soul weary. The noise of children playing in the garden on a summer’s evening. As I prepared food I thought how I wanted someone else to do this for me, but how that was not going to happen. I thought how I didn’t want my tiredness to overflow into grumpiness towards the children over dinner. It’s easy at times like these, the times when the mundane drudgery of the everyday, when the relentlessness of daily life becomes overwhelming, to compare ourselves to other people. To think of that friend who appears to have it all together, to have an endless supply of energy. To compare ourselves to the women we know surrounded by support and help, who has scheduled days off, and “me time” on a regular basis. The problem with comparing ourselves to these women is firstly it does not help us, it adds to our grumpiness. It can also lead to bitterness, if we are not careful. Such thoughts do not change our circumstances, but they make the circumstances harder to cope with. Secondly, such women do not actually exist. We take someone we know and create a distorted image in our minds of what they are like, what their children are like, what their husbands are like, and what their circumstances are like. All of which, at best is a charactercher of reality; at worse a complete deception. The truth is every signal one of us have days where we cannot cope. And there are times where we do just need to grit our teeth until bed time. The devil wants us to believe the lie that that family are better, that that women is a better mother, that those children are more obedient, that their marriage is stronger….. the list goes on. But that’s what it is: a lie. Knowing Your Own Identity One remedy for this is to know our own identity. Keeping our vision fixed on what God has called us to do. God has called us to raise the children He has given us, with their unique personalities. He is in control of our marriage, our finances, and where we live. Therefore he will give us the grace to cope. It is like David trying to fight in Saul’s armour. He couldn’t do it. David was not Saul, he was David. David had to fight Goliath as David, only then could he win. We will not be the mothers our children need if we try to...

Summer Holiday 2016…Is Here :)

I always like to have some sort of plan for summer: last year we made a “sunshine list” (basically a bucket list written inside a sun, with activities to bring a little bit of sunshine into even a Scottish summer), and on other years we have done traditional bucket lists. This year after reading Sally Clarkson’s latest book “The Life-Giving Home” I was inspired to do a historical summer holiday. In “The Life-Giving Home” Sally and her daughter Sarah share how they would do historical road trips in the summer. Where they would chose a theme and visit historical sites linked to that theme, for example the Civil War. This would enable them as a family to immerse themselves in a particular time in history. Although we are not going to do a road-trip, we are going to choose a period of Scottish history and explore it by visiting locations linked to that period. This year we have been looking through Scottish history, so I thought it would be good to visit sites linked to Mary Queen of Scots. This was a period in Scotland’s history in which the country went through tremendous change: both religious and political. It can be a complicated period for a child to learn about. By visiting various sites the memories created will, hopefully, bring history to life. The idea is not so much rigorous academic study into a subject, but the development of our minds, the creation of memories, and the building of a heritage rooted in where they are from. We learn a lot about ourselves from studying history. To prepare for this I have drawn up a list of sites which have played a key role in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. Some of these we have visited before, so may not visit at this time- concentrating on new places. This has the added fun of two boat trips. The young Mary was kept on a small island on the Lake of Monteith, to protect her from the English who wished her to marry the young Edward VI. And another boat trip on Loch Leven to the site of the Queen’s imprisonment for a while. In doing the list I have found that we have enough sites to go to at least one per week over the summer holiday. In visiting our first castle, a ruin on the east side of Edinburgh, as well as learning what role the castle played in Mary Queen of Scots’ life, they also had a jolly good time. They had the joy of...

Parenting and Pain

You do not need to have suffered the loss of a child to know parenting is painful. The pain we feel when our child is hurt, rejected, or fails is as real to us as to that child. Having children is like having a piece of your heart cut out and forever placed in another person. I have recently discovered the poems of Wendell Berry and he describes this feeling in his poem “The Way of Pain”, the pain that comes from love. The Way of Pain by Wendell Berry, 1980 1. For parents, the only way is hard. We who give life give pain. There is no help. Yet we who give pain give love; by pain we learn the extremity of love. 2. I read of Abraham’s sacrifice the Voice required of him, so that he led to the altar and the knife his only son. The beloved life was spared that time, but not the pain. It was the pain that was required. 3. I read of Christ crucified, the only begotten Son sacrificed to flesh and time and all our woe. He died and rose, but who does not tremble for his pain, his loneliness, and the darkness of the sixth hour? Unless we grieve like Mary at His grave, giving Him up as lost, no Easter morning comes. 4. And then I slept, and dreamed the life of my only son was required of me, and I must bring him to the edge of pain, not knowing why. I woke, and yet that pain was true. It brought his life to the full in me. I bore him suffering, with love like the sun, too bright, unsparing, whole. “by pain we learn, the extremity of love.” how very true that is, I love these words. It is impossible to love without suffering pain as well. The two go together. Berry’s words are comforting, when the path is all too painful, too raw. What more can be said. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Our Journey to Removing Toxins From Our Home: the Beginning...

It all started a couple of years ago when I began to see more and more, from various sources about the dangers of antiperspirants. At first I thought, antiperspirants can’t be that bad, if they really cause cancer they couldn’t possible sell them… there are laws, standards, tests that all have to be passed. However, the more I saw the greater the doubt as to their safety increased. I think one of the biggest clinchers was when someone told me that one of the first things women are asked if diagnosed with breast cancer is: “do you use antiperspirants?” So I switched to a deodorant, made with natural, plant based materials. I was a bit nervous at first, since high school I had a fear of being thought of as smelly or sweaty, I’d seen teachers be victimised by pupils because of body odour problems. But I stuck with it. To be honest it took a couple of weeks for my body to get use to being able to sweat- we are meant to sweat it’s a natural, God ordained mechanism. It helps our body remove toxins. And once I saw that the deodorant worked, and I did’t feel dirty I was happy. My thought process is not so much that any one chemical is going to cause terrible health problems. The question I don’t think we know the answer to is what is the effect of so many chemicals, from so many sources, building up over years in our environment and our bodies? And how do these different chemicals react together in our environment, something that my be ok in isolation is it ok when combined with this other chemical from a different source? The fact is cancer rates are sourcing in the West, as are other health problems and our exposure to chemicals is huge. Yes diet, and lifestyle factors also play a role but think the evidence is their to also support a detoxification of our homes also. The next step has been cleaning products. I am trying to replace much of the chemical based products that we all have in our homes. I already didn’t use air fresheners- they give me head aches; and I’d stopped using fabric softener years ago, have never missed it. Now was the time for the multi-purpose cleaner in the kitchen and bathroom, here’s what I’ve replaced it with: I bought a plastic spray bottle. And I fill it with 1 part vinegar, 1 part water, and a squirt of washing up liquid. I also had around 10 drops of...

The Wisdom of Not Over Scheduling

Over scheduling: it is one of the easiest traps we can fall into as mum’s! We all do it, we’ve all regretted it. It leaves us exhausted, frustrated, and grumpy; it also leaves our children the same way. As well as learning to be intentional about rest, I have also had to learn to be wise as to how I apportion our time. With four children I cannot have each one at lots of activities, but at the same time I want them to have “something”. So each child has their thing (apart from Thomas, who doesn’t want a “thing”). I also try not to arrange more than one play-date/other activity out of the home on a week day per week. This is not always possible, sometimes opportunities arise that are too good to miss, but I try to balance this with a quiet following week. As summer approaches a great way to meet up with friends in one go is to send a email to lots of people for a meet up in a park, or at the beach. It is not only activities and socialising that lead to burn-out, but the busyness of day to day life: shopping, doctor appointments, errands to be ran. With these I try to arrange them to dovetail together, so that I use the time efficiently, this does not always happen- that’s life! Minimising the day-to-day errands is something I like to try and do. I try to make sure I have a rough idea of what meals we will eat through the week (a weekly meal planner is one of these things I aspire to… perhaps one day 😉 ) that way I know what ingredients to have in the house when I do the weekly shop, and therefore cut out those extra visits, which end up costing money needlessly anyway. In the organising of our time I want to have at least a couple of days each week where we are at home, where we are not jumping in and out of the car. Days where we can all be a bit more stilled and quiet. I also try to be wise about going our in the evenings. It would be very easy to go out most nights with prayer meetings, house groups, meeting other mums- without children, a quick trip to the shops… I try to find balance here. Spiritually it is important to be connected to the church, and therefore I make it a priority to be at at least one meeting a week, and usually it is...

The Benefits of Reading Biographies

My big girl and I have been having a read-aloud together for a while now. She’s a very competent reader in he down right- she doesn’t need me to read to her, in fact she kept me right with the Elvish whilst I read aloud Lord of the Rings! But she still enjoys being read to, and it is a special time for us to spend together. About a year ago I started to concentrate on reading Christian biographies as her read aloud. These are not the children’s versions of biographies, but the kind I would read. This practise has been of benefit to us both. We are both partaking of the pearls that the patriarchs of the faith have gleamed. From Corrie Ten Boom we were inspired by her faith under great trial, and we’ve been inspired by those who lived by faith for their every need: living lives of prayer. I found last year the biographies we read inspiring for myself. They helped me remain focused despite the struggles we were facing. They helped me stay faithful in prayer, when I felt like giving up. Seeing how God acted through the faithfulness of his servants encouraged me to trust in the God who never changes. Reading biographies of those who have gone before: men and women with the same failings as us all, and yet doing extraordinary things for God creates a treasury of testimony to draw upon. The Bible teaches us to “keep the testimonies” of God: “Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.” Deuteronomy 6:17 Deuteronomy 6 also impresses upon us the importance of passing the testimonies of God onto our children. By reading biographies of the men and women of God who have gone before us we pass on the testimonies of what God has done in their lives. The Hebrew word for testimony comes from the root word meaning to “do again”. This is why testimony is so important. They teach us that the God who was faithful in the Bible, who did extraordinary things for His people thousands of years ago, has been doing extraordinary things throughout his dealings with men, and therefore will do extraordinary things with us too. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Keeping Your Vision

I lay in bed almost paralysed by fear and hopelessness. The grey morning light of a winter’s morning in Scotland beginning to illuminate the room. I could hear the boys in the other room, playing and chatting away. A pretty normal morning. Except for the crippling fear, the exhaustion making me want to hide from yet another day. This was how the days met me in my early pregnancy with John: the combination of grief after Lucy’s death and the fear that John too would be born with ARC was almost unbearable; and I had to still get up everyday and raise my four children, educate them, keep the house, and cope with the issues that accompany first trimester pregnancy. These were hard days. I knew if I did not find a way to cope all of us would suffer. I’ve noticed that a lot of hard things can happen in a child’s life but if mummy has it together they can cope with it. But even with little problems, if mummy is losing it then everyone is all at sea. In the charismatic church we can major a lot with “God’s plan for your life”, when we talk about God’s Plan we are thinking big, purpose of life stuff. But in this season I learnt the value of focusing on today. What was God’s Plan for today? God had given me four wonderful healthy children- they were his plan for me today. Keeping my vision in the small things of life, the day to day and mundane things helped pull me through. It’s easy to drown in a sea of grief, to allow despair and hopelessness to win. But it’s vital to find the hope for each day. “Where there is no vision, the people perish:” Proverbs 29:18 For me it was important to maintain my vision for the here and know. I focused on homeschooling with renewed intentionality, I read books that affirmed my role as a mother, and I spent time with people who would encourage me. I found great comfort and encouragement reading Sally Clarkson’s books. I shut out the “voices” that would make me feel pressure to be what I was not, and could not be. And now that John has died I again recognise that need to recalibrate and renew my vision for today. I think part of the nature of grief must rob us of our vision. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...
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