Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Another week done and dusted...

I'm currently taking a break from watching an egg hatching in the incubator.  I don't think I will ever bore of witnessing such a joyous vision.  One very healthy looking chick (a cream legbar for those in the know - female I believe) arrived in the early hours of this morning and is currently drying off and encouraging the other eggs to make a break for freedom.  I've just left the second chick frantically beating its way out of the shell, with pieces flying off in all directions.  There is a third egg that we can hear chirruping from and it is giving the odd violent wobble, so there may be hope for another hatching.

So, what have we been doing over the past week?  Well, on Sunday 24th March Chelsea and I headed off to Meldon Viaduct for a spot of abseiling.  Oh it was nothing - it was only 120ft high!! We were raising money for one of the most wonderful charities, Marie Curie Cancer Care.  For those not familiar with the charity they have 2,000 nurses here in the UK and last year they worked for 1,200,000 hours caring for terminally ill patients, including half of all cancer patients who die at home.   Marie Curie also have 9 hospices and are the biggest provider of hospice beds outside the NHS.

We were aiming to raise £200 for such an amazing cause.  We were absolutely thrilled when we were able to actually raise £338.50.  It really did make all the fear and worry about doing an abseil from such a height well worth it.

*Quick edit*  The second chick has hatched!!!  A third egg has pipped and a fourth is wobbling...

Back to the abseil.

Fortunately the weather was dry, but oh so very very very cold.  There had been a few days of really awful weather - high winds and terrible rain - leading up to the big occasion.  I was unsure whether the abseil would actually go ahead because of it but a quick check in the morning told me yes, it was going ahead but we were ordered to wrap up very warm!

Our registration time was 10 am and we arrived at the meeting point just before.  We went to the desk and got our names ticked off before being shepherded towards the helmet and harness station.  Gulp.  This was really happening huh?  We got all kitted up and got taken by minibus to the abseil site.  To reach the actual point we would be descending from, we had to walk across the viaduct along with many others out enjoying a stroll.  We then had to follow a pathway downwards until we reached a ladder that would take us to the underside of the bridge itself.  An obstacle course of over and under the metal structures (whilst safely clipped to a rope I hasten to add), and we queued up to take our turn.

Oh my, it was high.


The worst bit for me (and Chelsea agreed) was the actual leaning backwards and letting the rope take the strain stage.  We had to lean right out, with our feet still fixed to the side of the bridge structure.  We had to lean so far back that our bums were lower than our feet (that was hard and felt so unnatural), then 'walk' our feet down the metal structure until our heels were below it.  I found it really difficult not to allow my feet to slip as it felt so precariously unsafe.

Anyway, we did it...

This is me....

and here is Chelsea...

Chelsea was an absolute star.  I went first and waited at the bottom for Chelsea to do her bit.  She did it without hesitation and looked like a pro.  I was so very proud.

So, as said, we raised over £300 for the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity by conquering our fears and stepping outside our comfort zone - and believe me, it was a HUGE LEAP outside that comfort zone!  If the photographs aren't evidence enough of our completion, we also gained certificates of participation...

If you haven't done so already, it still isn't too late to add to our sponsorship fund.  The Just Giving page means that all monies donated go straight to the charity, I don't get to see a penny of it so you know I'm not on the fiddle!  The address for our Just Giving page is http://www.justgiving.com/classroomfree  and I believe that the minimum accepted donation via that page is just £2.  Every single penny counts.  I know that times are hard for so many right now, and please only give what you are sure you can afford.  I also know that there are so many wonderful charities out there and you can't possibly support all of them.  Please don't feel guilty for not donating if you are not in the position to do so, we can only do so much.

After Sunday being such a high point, Monday and Tuesday were absolutely awful.  I had a dreadful migraine, complete with mega-sickness, banging headache, light intolerance, and general yuckiness.  I felt like a complete waste of space but genuinely found it impossible to move from the sofa.  Every time I stood up I threw up, every time I ate something - no matter how small, I couldn't keep it down.  Wednesday was much better but I felt very weak due to the lack of food.  The children were wonderful and helped me clean and tidy so I didn't overdo it and feel really bleurgh again.

Thursday was so much better.  We headed off to the library in a nearby town, restocked with new books, and bought Easter Eggs from the supermarket in preparation for Sunday.  On Friday we made a trip to Exeter and the teens met up with one of their good friends.

On Saturday Joseph wasn't feeling very well so we stayed at home.  We had got plans for a bedroom rearrange but that didn't actually develop into anything other than a good idea.  Chelsea is going to have her own room and Taisia will then take her place sharing a room with Tiegan.   I'm sure that the plan will be put into action over the next week sometime.

Sunday was started with a visit from the 'Easter Bunny' who very kindly planted thirty coloured eggs and a few treats around our garden for the children to search for.  Having an acre of land for such a hunt certainly made things far more interesting than in previous years, and it definitely lasted longer!

I love it that the older ones were still up for joining in - even if there were still pyjamas on show :)

Taisia absolutely loved the whole idea.  She walked around seeking out the goodies but wouldn't put all that she found in her basket.  Instead she preferred to share out her finds with the others as she didn't want them to be left out.  Gotta love that girl.  

I am very thankful that the weather was dry and the land not too muddy.

Wanting to make the most of the fine weather, we decided to go for a family walk by Tiverton Canal.  We went into the new visitor centre and generally enjoyed the sunshine - although the wind still had a severe chill factor at times.

We finished the day with a late roast dinner and after enjoying so much fresh air, a good snooze!

On Monday we decided a day at the zoo was in order.  Joseph chose to stay at home and look after the animals, and as Paignton Zoo is now a fair trek from here, we agreed that that was a good idea.  With baby goats still up to much mischief and incubating eggs on the verge of hatching, it felt wise to have capable hands  nearby.

The rest of us had a wonderful day out.  Again the weather was kind but a little on the chilly side, although walking around with hot-chocolate drinks were an ideal way of warming hands.

We got home and had a 'party food style help yourself' dinner, much enjoyed by all.

There has been a great deal of talk in the household of late regarding self-motivated learning and direction.  The older children have all mentioned that they sometimes feel as if they lack ideas or self-motivation at times, and wish that they could have some direction from me - not on an every day basis, but just on days they feel they may be floundering a little.  I found these discussions interesting and thought provoking.  The children are always telling me something new that they have learnt about or about a book that they have read.  Documentaries are always being re-told in detail as they inform me of one they found fascinating, and requests are often being made regarding sourcing of further information.  Despite all of this, it appears that my children are seeking a bit of structure and obviously as their facilitator I'm happy to do my best to oblige with their request.  I think that it has gotten to the point where they wish to do more written 'work', gain more project experience and seek out different ways of displaying the knowledge they gain.  We have always agreed that being home-educated means that we don't have to rely on written work to gain evidence of learning and progress as would a teacher with a class of students.  I know that my children are learning and progressing.  I speak to them in depth daily and can clearly see their changes in vocabulary for example and know of their day-to-day experiences.  We don't need to keep records, we don't need to make formal comparisons, and we don't need to do tests in order to bear witness to what is being learnt.

So, we shall be looking into bringing just a squidgen of structure to our usual routine and see how we get on.  As it stands at the moment, I have only a basic idea of what this new format will look like for us and I really have no idea of how it will work.  All we can do as home-educators is evolve.  Listen to our children, hear their needs and wishes, and formulate something that suits them.  I shall of course update with progress or lack of over the next few days.

Of course I shall also update (maybe this evening) with pictures of our new chick arrivals :)  

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