Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2 Birthdays and Christmas, over for another year.

Well, as many people know, it isn't just Christmas going on in our household at this time of year. My eldest son Joseph was born on the 24th December 10 years ago. Joseph was the main reason for us choosing to home-educate. He went from being a cheerful, confident, happy-go-lucky child to becoming withdrawn, unhappy, and extremely shy after just a few weeks at primary school. The change in him at that time were dramatic and heartbreaking. I started searching online for school phobia and bullying, and fortunately for us, Education-Otherwise kept popping up at the top of the search engines. Until that point I didn't know that Home-Education was a legal alternative to school in this country.

Looking back, making the decision to de-register Joe from school was an easy one, but a little daunting. Our original plan was to just help him regain his confidence and for him to return to school a year of so later on. We removed Chelsea at the same time for various reasons. Of course it was easier for us to home-educate both children at the same time, but we had other reasons for her being taught at home too. We were fast becoming disillusioned with the school system, and we didn't feel that Chelsea was getting the help and support she needed in a few of the subject areas. Again, we had no intention to home-educate permanently, it was just a short-term solution for us to help her "catch up" with things.

Nearly 5 years later, here we are...

Joseph has grown into a kind, caring, responsible boy. He has overcome a fairly severe speech problem (the speed of which has surprised us all, including the speech therapist. She even remarked that it almost certainly wouldn't have been so swift had Joseph still been in school). Joseph is fun-loving, with a wicked quick sense of humour. Hardly a day goes by that he doesn't crack a joke or say something witty that has me laughing aloud. His confidence has been restored, and it is a great relief to have "my boy" back again.

So, 2007 has seen Joseph turn 10 years old. Trying to organise anything at this time of year is difficult, so we usually settle on just having a quiet time at home, with family visiting. I keep meaning to organise something a little bit special, but having it a week or so before his birthday. We try so hard to make sure that his birthday doesn't get wrapped up with all the goings-on at Christmas time, and now it almost seems that Christmas gets all wrapped up in birthdays instead! We put on a little party spread, and my parents came over to give gifts and spend some time with us. Joe had chosen a Golden Compass birthday cake (I am going to try and make a cake for next year, if I remember!) For his main present, Joe chose his own budgie. So we have to introduce Scrufty...

We cleared away all of the birthday food and the children had baths and put on their pyjamas and cosy dressing gowns. Whilst they drank hot-chocolate, we snuggled together and read from this book. We have been reading a shortened version of The Night Before Christmas for a few years now, but I wanted to introduce a family tradition and thought a new book could be part of it. It is such a lovely heartwarming poem, and the accompanying illustrations really made reading it a pleasure. Afterwards it was a quick dash outside to lay a trail of the "reindeer food" (oats mixed with sparkly glitter) outside. The children then laid out the traditional feast for Father Christmas, consisting of mince pies, milk (we are alcohol conscious here!), a carrot and a bowl of water for Rudolph, and a piece of birthday cake. Then it was time for bed.

We were fortunate with the children not waking until 7am this year. Actually, Callum didn't wake until after 9am, but the other 3 had opened their presents by then :o) It was lovely watching them all opening their presents in front of the fire. We hadn't had a fire before moving to this house, and the novelty of instant warmth hasn't worn off yet.

Chelsea had dyed her hair pink for the Scouts Christmas Party as she went as a punk. She actually loves it so much that I doubt she will return to being a blonde for a while yet. Here she is opening a few of her presents on Christmas morning...

Joseph opened some of his presents...

and got rather excited at having his own camera...

Tiegan opened her presents...

and eventually, Callum opened his (with the others being "helpers")...

The children had already had one of their big presents for this year, a laptop, but we had another one for them. We had (at the last minute!) managed to get hold of a Nintendo Wii. They were thrilled, and couldn't wait to get started. After we had worn them out with the boxing game, we headed on over to my parents house for Christmas dinner :o)

Once again there was a pressie opening ceremony...

and Tiegan got hold of her much wanted and long awaited for "Make me better" Chou Chou doll. She hasn't left her alone since, and has named her "Princess Belle". Here she is being the wonderful mummy...

and Chelsea looking scarily grown-up...

Callum had an absolute ball, surrounded by his favourite things...

After a rather scrummy dinner, we settled down to more Wii playing, and then had a stroll around the neighbourhood for a look at the spectacular light displays many of the houses have. I stupidly didn't take my camera though.

We packed up the car with goodies, and returned home to watch Dr Who. The children then went to bed and after watching the Christmas versions of the soaps, we started to get organised for Tiegan's birthday. Phew.

I got awoken this morning by a rather excited new 6 year old, jumping around the bedroom at the delight of it being her birthday.

Tiegan had also chosen a budgie for her birthday, which she has also called Belle (it was named before she got her doll, so it may well get changed).

We have had a lovely family day, with my parents visiting again for a party type lunch. We have played on the Wii, and had a game of Family Fortunes, and Tiegan has spent much of the day caring for her new doll. Very sweet to see her playing with dolls actually, as she rarely does.

I am so proud of my gorgeous youngest daughter. She is very kindhearted, thoughtful, and considerate of others. She spends much of her day looking serious and deep in thought, but has a smile that lights up the room. She has a really contagious giggle, and hates to think of people being upset. She is generous to a fault, and would happily give away anything she owns if she thought it would make someone else happy. I can't believe that it was 6 years ago that I was at home anxiously awaiting the midwife to arrive so I could go and give birth to my baby in the local maternity suite. It was less than 5 minutes drive away, and I had been sure all along that we would get there. Instead, the midwife arrived so late there was no time. My first home-birth, unplanned at that. It was that experience that led me to planning a home-birth for my next child.

It's quite a relief to think that the festivities are almost over for another year. Although I have very much enjoyed the past 3 days, they have also being rather exhausting and it will be good to get back into our normal routine. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about priorities, and making plans. I have been easily spending less time on the computer which I'm really pleased about. Now that I have cut back on my online commitments, particularly the Freecycle group, I don't feel the need to keep checking things on the computer and I am loving the extra time I have to spend with the children or doing things around the house. I know that this will continue into the coming year.


  1. Glad you had such a lovely time. :-)

    Its a lot of hard work with a birthday 6 days before Christmas so one either side must be exhausting!

    Loved looking at your photos.


  2. Please all went so well. Happy birthday to the two children and best wishes to you all for 2008.


  3. Lovely post Jules in so many ways :) Glad you had a great few days.