All posts by lucindaleo

The Joy Of A Rainy Bank Holiday

Grey skies and strong winds, plus a nasty calf sprain poor Big J suffered trying to keep up with the children at the park on Saturday, brought us back inland yesterday, so we’ve spent the second half of the bank holiday weekend at home.  I had planned to use the rest of this week decluttering while the children are on a sports course but – yay – I got ahead of myself!

I am blessed with a wonderful room here all of my own. It has bookshelves, a desk, comfortable chairs, a little table, and beautiful curtains (I love the curtains.  When they were first hung I renamed the room – formerly my “office” – “Mummy’s Parlour” 🙂 )  But …  Mummy’s Parlour had begun to drown in paper. The desk, the stool, and a large proportion of the floor were covered in old bills, invoices, guarantees, swimming certificates, school photos (from Cordie’s nursery days – ahem) – you get the picture.  I had found myself, lately, opening the door a crack, and lobbing in a bank statement before making a fast retreat, shutting the door tight behind me to stop anything escaping the kittens going in and having the time of their lives.

And now … it’s all put away [smug, happy grin].

Now, instead of avoiding my room, I can’t resist taking a peek every time I pass.  Ahhhh.  Bliss.

It’s All Unfolding Beautifully

Two summers ago my dear friend Sarah visited us at the coast.  It was a windy summer and on that particular day the high tide sea was completely wild, but having made the journey from London, Sarah was keen to try the water.  Once we’d mustered our courage and run down the steep slope through the point where the waves crashed mercilessly down on the beach, we found ourselves in deep, deep water, waves as tall as us hitting us every few seconds.  Once we were in, I realised this was the roughest sea I’d ever “swum” in (I decided not to share that observation with Sarah until we were safely back on dry land!).

We spent an exhilarating 10 minutes making split second decisions as to whether it was safe to let ourselves be lifted up high by a still-rising wall of water, or whether an approaching wave had passed the point of being safe to float over and had to be dived through.

My experience of home-educating over the last few weeks has felt a bit like that day in the waves.  Making a decision about whether C is to take up an offered place at a local (“outstanding”) junior school has put our homeschool under a magnifying glass, at a time when it’s probably not wise to look at it very closely at all!  It’s been a very intense few weeks, with some highs – I’ve loved researching different homeschool styles  and exploring some of the wealth of practical and inspiring home ed information out there – and some more, as we deliberate creators say, “contrasting” experiences!

Listening to an Abraham workshop CD in the car earlier (one that just happened to be still in my CD changer – my boot is so full (I’m not sure what of 😐 I don’t change the CDs often), I was reminded that “it’s all unfolding beautifully”.  After over four years of school (including nursery), C has been at home for just five months.  I’ve only been home-educating for a year, and the changes I’ve seen over that time have been profound and wonderful.  The children are happy, bright and confident, they have plenty of friends, and they participate in a broad range of activities at home and within our community.

That day two summers ago the children played happily on the beach as we grown-ups were tossed around by the wild sea.  I would probably never have gone in if I’d known quite how scary it would be, but it was also one of the most fun experiences of my life.  And so is home-educating my children.  It’s all unfolding beautifully.

The beach that evening


Sometime over the last 29 years I forgot how to tell the difference between a moorhen and a coot.    A fact which has mildly bothered me every time the children and I have seen one (or the other), and I’ve found myself exclaiming “Ooh look! A coot! … Or is it a moorhen? … I can’t quite remember which…”

Just as I learned almost all the trees I can name on one walk when I was eleven, so I acquired my entire waterfowl-naming repertoire on a school trip to Slimbridge Wetlands Centre around the same time.  (Evidently my nature study career peaked in 1982, A grade biology “O” level  notwithstanding.)

So, inspired by my recent intention to heighten my enJOYment of nature, I was excited to set off today for Arundel Wetlands & Wetlands Trust.  A lovely lady at the entrance booth spent a good five minutes talking us through the free map she gave us, which enhanced our visit enormously.

We started out feeding the ducklings.

Then moved onto some pond-dipping.

We ate our sandwiches in one of the two play areas.

Then strolled around the boardwalk through the reeds and bulrushes. (Well, two of us “strolled”, anyway.)

En route we came across a camera obscura, which excited Big J very much.  C and J loved being in a dark den, though the science was a bit lost on them (but is, I’m sure, one of those experiences they’ll recall one day in the future).

Next we glided through the bulrushes on a silent boat, where we spotted baby grebes among other things.

We rounded off the day with tea and cakes and a play in the “Pond Skater” playground.

And I learned – for the second time –  that a coot has a white beak, and a moorhen has a more colourful red beak.

Van driving

I’ve spent the last two days driving around in a 9ft high van that takes up one and a half parking spaces. No big deal for some, maybe, but I’d spent at least a fortnight dreading the experience and expressing my anxiety to anyone who was unfortunate enough to ask how I was!

So it’s over – and guess what? It was a fun! It was an adventure! I loved having the children up front with me looking out of the huge windscreen, chugging along in a vehicle that almost seemed to drive itself.  I loved remembering  (eventually) that I can do gears.  I loved being able to pop into Ikea and get the children desks we’ve been wanting to get for over a year, slotting them easily into the cavernous back of the van along with the second-hand furniture whose collection was the purpose of our trip.  I loved the easy companionship I shared with J on the drive home today (C having stayed on a few days at Grandma’s) as we laughed out loud listening to Wishing For Tomorrow, Hilary McKay’s fabulous sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess.

Four hours down the M4 later, Big J and I unloaded the van and I returned it, all the while enjoying the wonderful high that comes from overcoming fears and transforming them into accomplishments 🙂

Playing Shop

One of the things I love about home educating is being able to work at each of my children’s individual pace, skipping laborious drills on things they grasp quickly while allowing them a little more time on topics they’re having trouble with.  J gets most maths concepts pretty quickly but a few random answers yesterday gave us a great opportunity for some hands-on maths fun today.

J first gathered up some things to sell in our “shop” and then set about making price tags with an enthusiasm I’ve never seen in him for any other kind of writing (“no, I want to do them all!”).  His money box, heavy with dozens of copper and silver coins, also came in handy.

Setting Up Shop

C, of course, wanted to join in the fun, and we took turns playing shopkeeper, customer and shop assistant, counting out the customer’s change as we filled our baskets.

Counting the pennies

Much as I admire parents who enjoy spending hours playing  “let’s pretend”  games, I’m really not one of them.  If someone had tried to tell me a few years ago how much fun I’d have playing shop with my children, I’d have been sceptical to say the least! But the buzz of putting into practice ideas I’ve been immersing myself in since I began this wonderful home educating  journey, combined with the thrill of seeing first hand how effective they are, make for a pretty magical experience!

As an almost unschooling mom says, “it’s great to be a homeschooler”.

Sand Sculpture

Weekends By The Sea

My school friend S is half Iraqi.  As a child I remember being intrigued and enchanted by her story of how, although her father celebrated his birthday in April, it was equally possible that he had actually been born in September.  Born into a very large family in Iraq, it seems all anyone could remember as to the timing of Faruq’s birth was that it had either happened when his family were moving their beds up onto their building’s roof, where they slept during the hottest months, or when the beds were being moved back down once high summer had passed.  No one could quite remember which!  While there is, I am pleased to say, no such ambiguity surrounding my own son’s spring birthday, April and September do mark a significant change in our family’s lifestyle as between those months we spend almost all our weekends at our house on the south coast.

This is the third year we’ve had the house and the pleasure it’s brought us really has exceeded all our expectations.  I grew up five minutes’ walk from the sea (in South Wales) and the house was the manifestation of a strong desire for my children to experience the joys of the beach as a part of their childhoods, too.  Big J, meanwhile, grew up in a leafy London suburb, but he is the one who has taken to beach living most of all! Whatever the weather, barely a day goes by when he doesn’t go in the sea, whether it’s an hour on the kayak, body boarding with the children, or a sunset swim on a beautiful summer evening.  The children, meanwhile, spends hours at a time on the beach with their friends, in and out of the water swimming, body boarding, pushing each other jumping off giant inflatables, hitching a ride behind someone’s boat, digging for worms, building elaborate sand cities, or hunting crabs by the breakwaters (what a wonderful invention wetsuits are!).  As for me, I was surprised and delighted to discover that it’s possible to surf on the south coast, and I’ve used my surf board for the first time since pre-children days in Devon, Cornwall and Australia.  I’m also the family’s midnight swimmer – there’s something completely magical about having the whole sea to yourself, wrapped up in a giant dark blanket twinkling with stars!

Marshmallow Beach Barbeque
Sand Sculpture

South Coast Surfing

It sounds unlikely, but being away from our main home really is like being on holiday every weekend.  When we’re not on the beach, the children spend most of their time in the communal gardens with their friends, leaving me with acres of time to float between the balcony, gardens and beach indulging in book after book after book, rounding off the days with early evening drinks on friends’ balconies … ahh … introvert bliss! 🙂

Rediscovered Mojo

I’m inspired to blog again! Driving home from dropping C and J off at the football course they’re doing this week, I put the Hannah Montana movie soundtrack on (loudly!  I love the rare treat of being in the car on my own), and as I belted along with Miley  I felt my mojo come back – yay!

Last weekend I came across a box of old CDs in the loft and I’ve been enjoying rediscovering old favourites – the Bluetones, Belle & Sebastian, Squeeze, REM – in my solo car time this week. I still love the old tunes, but I’m not always up for being pulled back into the old moods and feelings my unconscious mind associates with the time when those songs were the soundtrack of my life.  Of course they were mostly happy times, but I love the wisdom and experience that comes with age and I wouldn’t go back to my 20s for a million pounds!  So it is without apology that I write about my enjoyment of Miley Cyrus’s upbeat, well-produced songs, that evoke  nothing but joyful memories of singing along with them in the car with my beloved children!

I don’t know where my mojo temporarily disappeared to.  We had a lovely week at the beach last week, the children playing out with their friends from breakfast til bedtime. Perhaps I just had too much time to think 😉  I tried not to panic; I reminded myself that the sunshine of wellbeing was still shining brightly somewhere out there, even though clouds were temporarily obscuring it from my view. Yesterday I was ill and being forced into survival mode (no energy to do anything except relax in a sun lounger, yes it’s a hard life, I know) seems to have interrupted the over-thinking.  Today, more relaxing in the garden; it’s good to enjoy the sunshine while it’s out 🙂

Scrumptious Love

A lovely start to 2011.  Despite having gone to sleep 5 hours after her usual bedtime last night, seeing in the new year with friend Tom, C was a delight all day.  This morning she made us all Happy New Year cards and wrote poetry. Her  card to me said “You Opened Up My Heart For 2011”.  While writing her poem (“Boots”) she learned how to use Microsoft OneNote, illustrating her poems with clipped photos.

C's New Year Cards to brother J (left) and me

This afternoon C and I looked after my month-old nephew T for an hour.  There’s nothing like cuddling a newborn to fill you with that scrumptious feeling of love.  And of course law of attraction worked its magic and both C and J were full of cuddles for the rest of the day.

Remembering Mother’s Day

I remember breathing a big sigh of relief as I sat down at the end of last Mother’s Day. It had been a nice day but I was caught up in “too much to do, too little time” – we were about to leave on a two week holiday, I had a nasty cold, and we were hosting several generations for lunch, including my grandmother.  Relaxed entertaining has long been a goal of mine, but not one I’ve ever had much success with, and by the end of Mother’s Day I felt tired at best, vaguely resentful at worst.

My mum stayed here last night on her way back from boxing up my grandmother’s things following her death a couple of weeks ago. She told me that one of the few things written on Nanna’s 2010 calendar was “Mother’s Day – The best day of my life.”

I’ve re-languaged that someday-maybe goal: I’m not going to let anything stand in the way of being fully present every moment I’m with those I love.  Committing to that one is a total privilege.  Thank you, Nanna.  I love you.

A Very Special Day

A Portrait

I spent half the weekend away at “Questfest”,  a biannual conference for Quest Institute trained cognitive hypnotherapists. Lots of food for thought, hugs, laughter and dancing – what more could one ask for? Unfortunately I missed the second day (and the lovely David Hamilton, in anticipation of whose wise and lilting words I had stayed sober the night before, disco and all) as I woke on the second day feeling dreadful and spent the day in bed at home instead.  All part of fine-tuning my vibration 🙂

J, especially affectionate following my absence, brought to my sick-bed a picture he’d drawn of me.  I wasn’t particularly flattered at first glance, though I appreciated the gesture.  Then J drew my attention to two things – “you’ve got love in your eyes, and a big smile on your face”.  I looked again and noticed the heart-shaped pupils and the enormous smile.  My heart melted.


L by J


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