Commemorating 10-10-10 in photos

OK so I saw this on a friend's facebook page and it looked like fun.  The idea is to post a photo on the hour every hour of whatever you are looking at right then, no doctoring allowed, no retakes.  Sounds like a challenge right?  Well I'm always up for a bit of a challenge so here goes.  If anybody else wants to join in the link is below

Commemorating 10-10-10 hourly photos

Since I didn't see this until almost 11 o'clock the first photo is a pic of what I was looking at at 10am but not taken at 10am (otherwise I can't fit in 10 pics)

10am - Putting Ruby and Rascal, my rabbits, out in the run to munch on the never yet cut new turf.  It has been down over a month now and really needs a good cut.  My son Jack and I put it down ourselves and as we'd never done anything like it before I think we did a pretty good job.  However it's a terrible photo! Taken quickly as I had just noticed the camera battery warning indicator was flashing red.

11am - On Facebook! (Not a huge surprise there).  This is moments after I read about the challenge on Jax's FB feed.  The autumn sun is steaming in the windows behind me making me wish I was anywhere outside rather than stuck in here cleaning (and going on facebook in my coffee break!).  Now to put the battery on to charge so it's ready for the next photo!

12 noon - Doing the ironing! Oh most hated of Sunday's tasks for most people but sadly I actually enjoy it!

1pm -  Folding nappies

2pm - Two for the price of one!
Eating lunch (Cheese and cucumber sandwiches and cherry toms)

and watching Jack and Max play Mario. 

3pm - 2 confessions: 1) I just missed the hour because I was cutting this grass, 2) I've had to cut the left side of the photo off as it had our address clearly printed on the bin and this is a public blog (and sadly there are some very weird people out there)

4pm - Preparing vegetables for dinner. 

5pm -

6pm -

7pm -

8pm -

9pm -

10pm -


A Teeny, Tiny BBQ

The first one of the year! BBQ that is...

The general plan for today was that we were going to go to Lyme, have lunch, play crazy golf and generally do the tourist thing.  But the best laid plans and all that - we didn't quite make it. 

Instead we wandered down to the co op and bought a mini BBQ and some burgers, ribs, salad etc and then wandered back home again, via the cafĂ© to have a quick cuppa with a friend.  I also bought the makings for a roast dinner just in case the weather changed - see how good at planning I am!!! ;)

Jack lit the BBQ (I can't believe how small it was!) and I rushed around like a mental old hag trying to cover up all the rabbits as the smoke poured from the little bitty box!

After trying to poison us all by BBQing ribs that were supposed to be defrosted first, I left Jack to sort out all things BBQ whilst I pottered around to make salads etc.  There's a reason why men BBQ, woman are too darned stressed out, trying to keep everything running smoothly, to think straight!

The kids both seemed to enjoy the food and the cat even tried to get in on a little meaty action!  Not overtly of course, stealth is more her style!

Note how she lays lazily in the shed, and then when you're not expecting it she's almost at your food!

Not that she stands much chance of getting grub away from these two!  Well, they *are* growing lads!

Why do people...

... follow blogs invisibly?

Not that I care who is reading or it wouldn't be in the public domain but I find it rather weird that people want to hide the fact that they are following and /or reading.

Perhaps it's because people are shy or uncertain. If this is the case, don't be shy, I don't bite.  I may be a bit too honest for some people's tastes but I really don't bite...

So a little message to my very many 'hidden' readers... "HELLO!!" :o)

General Mish Mash

Today has been a day of general mish mash.  No one thing stands out as an achievement or something learned, just a general day of seemingly doing nothing very much.  So why do I feel shattered???

I woke as usual at some stupid time around six, walked the dog, fed him and the cats etc and finally settled down with a cuppa and my computer - big mistake and a habit I really need to get out of!

I looked out into the garden and decided something had to be done so set about tidying it up, moving the rabbit cages to their winter places (near the house for those torrential  rainy days when  a quick dash out to feed and water and collection for an indoor hugging session is all you want to do).  I have to admit it was a job well done and looks so much better now.  The turf Jack and I laid 2 weekends ago has taken nicely and is very green and lush making it a pleasant outlook from the lounge/playroom windows.  I'm so proud of Jack, he worked really hard to get that done and I'm sure he could have still done it if he was at school, but really question whether he would have wanted to give up his Saturday afternoon to help his Mum lay turf in the garden.

The boys both helped me walk the garden rubbish down to the tip - one of those times when a car would have been great but hey we don't have one so no sense in wishing...  Luckily it's not a long walk, lol!

Jack spent much of his afternoon reading Eragon.  He's read it all once but we saw the boxed set of hard-backed books in the Works for only £9.99 and I thought I'd treat him.  He does love to read, must take after his mum! ;)

Max has been playing on x box games.  I so wish he'd get fed up of them like so many of my HE acquaintances children seem to do, but no he's as stuck into them now as he was when we first started to HE so no change there then.

I went inside and started weeding out all the broken and damaged toys.  One of the hardest things about childminding is that the mindees seem to have no, or very little, respect for the toys, books and other equipment.    My requests of "Please don;t swing on that gate, you'll hurt yourself/break it" or " please pick up the toys you've just thrown on the floor" are often met with a firm "NO" or "I don't want to".  I must have thrown away hundreds of pounds of damaged or broken toys etc already this year and it's really beginning to get to me, especially as my own children have never behaved in this way.  :'(

I've now read all 5 books in the Twilight series and am quite sad to have finished.  Edward, Jacob, Bella and co. became a part of my life for a month or so and whilst I do not think the books are particularly well written, I did enjoy reading them on the whole.  Not sure what to read now as nothing seems quite 'right'.  I'm sure something will turn up that will captivate my imagination though. :)

I'm kinda wishing we had a bigger house right now, this place is getting awfully small with all the childminding stuff in it as well as our own.  Actually childminding stuff is beginning to take over!  I really do not want to move though as we have so many great friends locally, the area is fabulous for kids to grow up in, the people are so very friendly and kind, and we have built good lives for ourselves.  Of course my business is here too and whilst I could pick that up and move it anywhere it would mean starting again to some extent.  Not something I really want to do.  I'm sure the answer is out there somewhere and in time it will present itself just as this house did when we needed it most.  Maybe I just need to keep decluttering...

Prioritising... or maybe Fitting in... or even Tangents... who knows?

I suppose one of the drawbacks of having a nicely successful business is that it takes lots of time to keep it  successful...  I've learned to prioritise!!  I've given up trying to be all things to all people and put myself and my family first. As a result, my table is sometimes cluttered (ok more often than not), there can almost always be found a very fine layer of dust if you search hard enough - thank goodness I don't have friends or family who run their fingers along the tops of picture frames - and my grass is usually slightly longer than is deemed 'tidy'.

BUT, I'm spending more quality time with the boys, the dog is getting walked regularly, both by me and by the children, the house is somewhat tidier, I've more time for my friends, more time for cooking proper meals and more time to relax.  I'm not trying to be something that I really am not. 

I've de-cluttered, both my house and my personal life, and I'm feeling much better for it.  The boys can find things they want far more easily and I have discovered that HE bumbles along much the same way if I have a room full of overflowing bookshelves or one bookshelf with the things we actually really need on it.  It's quite strange that all these things/stuff/people/routines etc that I thought we needed so badly haven't been missed in the slightest.   Of course the best thing about de-cluttering is that there is now space for the good things :)

Now I've got time to hear myself actually think I've been thinking a lot about home ed and where we fit in.  The simple answer to that is sadly that we (or at least I) do not.  We are not structured home eddors, or un-schoolers or autonomous HEors.  We are all those things and none of them. We are us.  For some reason as we enter our sixth year as a family who do not use school, I have finally realised that it's ok to be who I am and for the boys to be who they are and it really doesn't matter at all if we do not tick boxes or fit into a Home Ed 'type' or group or friendship ring. At least it doesn't matter to us.  

As Dr Seuss said:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”**

As my very bright and switched on son Jack would say:  We are unique - just like everybody else. ;)  

** Thank you to 'A'  for that quote.  Every time I see it I smile because I can see the truth in it. :)

Making Stuff

Following on from the bracelet I made a couple of weeks ago, I made 2 more. One I really like, the other is a little bit "something and nothing" and I'm not so keen.  Good job it's too small then and I am likely to be restringing it...

Today I decided I was sick and fed up of not being able to get high vi vests in small sizes so bought some hi vis material and made my own!


They haven't been worn yet so I'm hoping they'll fit ok!

Hmm best not to rely on me in an emergency then...

I've spent the day today doing a first aid course.  :)

The trainers were fab and made everything fun and interesting - much better than when I did my paediatric first aid course.  We seemed to cover so much I don't know how I'm going to remember it all!

At the end of the day who do you think got something wrong in every category?  Yep, me! *blushes*  I forgot to yell for help, forgot to lay my casualty down (who was bleeding everywhere so risk of shock)  and forgot to do the secondary assessment on the unconscious casualty. In my defence I was getting pretty tired after 6 hours of having first aid drilled into me and knowing it's all not real made me that little bit less sharp perhaps.   Even so it's probably best not to rely on me in an emergency...

Got home and Jack quizzed me from the first aid book - By some miracle I managed to get it all right (so why on earth could I not get it right on the course? ).  Max very kindly lent me his arm, wrist etc to practice bandaging _ something I'm actually pretty darned good at after having sons! - and do slings, something I needed a LOT of practise with, lol!

Lets hope that I pass the assessment tomorrow...

***EDITED TO ADD***  Passed with flying colours, remembered everything I forgot yesterday and did everything right except one minor detail - next time I need to phone an ambulance it may be a damn good idea to know where I actually am!  ROFL!!

Friday the 13th

There's something about Friday the 13th that makes you feel as if you should stay safe at home in bed...  It was one of my minded children's last day though so no chance of that.  I wanted to give her a really good last day so we went back to Crealy.  Obviously I cannot post pics of the minded kiddies here so you're just gonna have to put up with seeing my lot again...

They went back on the slides.  I had a young baby with me today so no slides for me.  We all watched and cheered as people came down them though.  I was aimed at the base of the slide for ages and looked away just for a few moments so almost missed them!

 A little over a year ago we chose Sam from a litter of pups in the big house.  Sam's big sister has just had her first litter, these cuties are only 6 weeks old.  I ummed and ahhed but decided having 2 mad labs in one small house is possible not the best plan.  They are soooo darned cute though and Sam would benefit from having a playmate sooo much...

So what went wrong?  Absolutely nothing!! ;)

A Perfect End to My Holiday

Today I took the boys to Crealy to make up for our midweek trip which got postponed.  They had a fabulous time!

We queued for a short time to go on these

I went on the 'easy' one, by the steps, which was terrific fun and I didn't bump my head on the top of the tube as the boat leapt about even though it felt as if I would at any given moment.  If the queues had been shorter I'd have been up again like a shot but as it is can console myself that once all the holiday makers have gone home the slide will still be there and the queues much shorter.

Jack and Max both went on the fearsome one, totally black inside, loop the loop and has some sort of dry ice or something inside as well - which of course means I cannot go in it :(

Immediately afterwards we went on the log flume.  I don't know what they've done to change this but it was sooooo much better!  We got totally drenched!  For once the photo that they take was brill too so we bought that, can't show it on here because we had to made into a keyring...

The boys had fun in the indoor play area after lunch, easily making friends with all aged people from little kids right through to much older teens.  I love the way they can just slot in anywhere and be accepted.  I'm sure that HE has got a lot to do with that.   We had some lunch (I ate Crealy's wonderful top beef burger - never again - yeuck!!) before moving on to other rides.


I managed to read a fair bit of my current book 'Twilight' whilst the boys were in the play area.  For some strange reason it has the effect of making me feel very sleepy!  Perhaps because it's my bedtime read, lol!!

We were having such a fab time that I actually forgot to check the bus timetable to see what time we had to leave!  OOPS! We'd managed to spectacularly miss the 'through' bus!   Fortunately there are buses which went half way to our town so we rushed out to catch one of those and then spent a delightful couple of hours  at the beach before we had a fish and chip supper in one of the town's seafront restaurants - delicious!

The boys had a friendly competition to see who could throw pebbles into the sea the furthest, and then played 'dunk the crisp packet' which some reckless person had left laying around and had gotten swept up in the sea.

Finally the time came to catch the connecting bus home.  I have to say that although I often wish I could drive, it was bliss to be able to just fall onto the bus exhausted at the end of the day and wait to be magically transported home.

Absolute bliss until... 6 miles from home the bus broke down!

We managed to while away the time playing 'Who wants to be a millionaire' on Max's phone (whatever did we do before mobile phones?) before Stagecoach sent a mini bus out from the city to take us the rest of the way.  I was going to just call a friend to come and pick us up but the driver had already arranged for the bus to be sent out so I thought it better to wait.

It was hilarious being raced around the country lanes in a tiny city minibus.  As we were the only passengers it felt like out own private limo!  Well a girl can dream can't she? ;)

Look what I made Yesterday!

Ok so I know it's not brilliant but I really like it and it's the first  piece of 'jewellery' that I've ever tried to make.  I'm not a lover of 'off the peg' stuff, preferring to have something a little bit more original, but then there almost always seems to be something that I don't quite like about it.  Luckily I'm not the same with clothes!!

Very Hungry Caterpillar

Several childminding friends of mine tried out the Insect Lore Butterfly Garden and highly recommended it so I thought we'd give it a go too.  I really did it for the minded children, thinking that Jack and Max would be too old to be interested,  but to be perfectly honest I think my own children got far more out of it than the little ones did, possibly because they were old enough to understand the incredible changes that go on during the short life of a butterfly.

When the caterpillars first arrived they were about the size of ants!  I've never seen caterpillars so tiny before - quite a shock to know that we look around us all the time but perhaps never really see what is right in front of our faces!  I foolishly didn't take any photos of them on the first day, the picture below was taken on the Monday, 2 days after arrival, and they'd doubled in size!

They are encased in a small plastic tub with a fudge-like substance in the bottom.  The 'fudge' is their food and for a while they graze gently on it.

Eventually they get quite big and if you took a look at the state of the fudge you'd think they were almost almost frenzied about their eating!  The 'fudge' ended up smeared everywhere.  I have to admit I was quite glad our cute little caterpillars were encased at this stage as they weren't quite so cute and looked more like slugs than would-be butterflies

After about a week of eating they cocooned at the top of the jar, and after leaving them for 24 hours to ensure they'd hardened off, I moved them to their new home (completely forgetting that they should only be 4cm off the ground - oops!)

A week or so after they cocooned they emerged as beautiful butterflies which we kept and watched for 2 days, during which time our beautiful but rather stupid cat decided to jump up on top of their (folding) home and flattened it - luckily the butterflies all seemed to be ok!

Letting them go was bitter-sweet.  I found I'd got quite attached to the little things and had this whole 'proud mum' thing going on.  It felt wonderful to have them come out and sit on fingers before they finally flew off.

One even sat on the emerging 'butterfly tree' we had bough especially for them in the hope they may stick around for a while - which of course they didn't.  The last little one to come out fluttered to the ground rather than up in the air.  Turned out she had something wrong with her wing and couldn't fly so I scooped her off, put plenty of fresh flowers and sugar water on tissue paper in the netting 'cage' and kept her for almost a week until she died, presumably of old age - I'm sad that she didn't get to go free but hope that the life she did have was a happy one.
Mona, the Painted Lady

My minded children worked hard and made a fabulous display to go with our theme.  I'm very very proud of them.  Some of the children who contributed to this are as young as two, the oldest was 4.  I 'drew' the outline for the caterpillars in PVA and the LOs popped the red lentils on to make their caterpillars.  They were so careful not to smudge the glue and worked very carefully and quietly until they were satisfied with the outcome.  The butterflies flutter in the breeze when the door is open which brings their display 'to life'.

Wonder what we'll do next...

Holiday time

Hmm, not too good at this bloggin lark am I..

This week we've been on holiday, it has been fantastic to be able to spend some real quality time with the boys without having to put other children first.  I really do love my job, but as with all jobs it's nice to take a break.

We've been to the cinema a lot this week.  On Saturday we went to see Inception, courtesy of some free tickets kindly donated by a friend, Sunday we went and took the dog for a walk by the river in Sidmouth but I ended up getting shouted at by some bizarre woman and it kind of took the 'nice' edge off the day.  Monday we went to see Eclipse - wow what a great film!  No idea what everybody sees in 'Edward Cullen', 'Jacob' would have been my choice!  lol!  Tuesday we went down to Sidmouth for the folk festival but it was very busy and I hated it.  On Wednesday we were supposed to be going to Crealy but pouring rain made it necessary to change plans and we ended up at the cinema again to see the new Karate Kid film (one free ticket courtesy of Orange 241), another fantastic film which had the effect of making both Jack and Max talk animatedly about it all the way home!.  Thursday was a day spent catching up with family, long overdue, and getting our pup a new (and huge) crate.   Friday I actually stopped procrastinating and made myself get on with sorting out our front garden!  It looks so much nicer now and was well worth the energy it took to do (we wont mention my aching muscles, lol!).

It turned out to be a very full week and whilst our trip to try out the new rides at Crealy had to be moved to another day it all actually fell together quite nicely in the end.  With regard to the cinema, if you're ever at The Vue and they ask if you want to upgrade to VIP seating I can categorically state that it's well worth the extra £1.40 a ticket to have the comfy chairs!  (But stay well away from the bags of sweets, they also have a £1.40 or more mark up!)

Today Jack is off to River Cottage HQ for the day and Max and I, well I'm not quite sure what we'll be doing yet.  I think it will be a go with the flow kind of day...

Chatting Like We Used to Do

Okay, so yesterdays post was a bit of a bummer but I'm leaving it there because it's how I truly felt right at that moment.  I am scared.  I am a lone parent so the buck stops with me.  If I get wrong footed that's it, that's my kids' futures messed up and it's all down to me.  In 2 years time Jack is at school leaving age and it scares me silly that if I get this next two years wrong I've wrecked things for him. I can understand why so many people choose school, there is such a huge responsibility when you choose to educate your child yourself and I think it's only just dawned on me quite how huge. 

Add into the equation two teenage boys who quite frankly don't give a monkeys and we're in a bit of a bad place...

Anyway, out of yesterdays bit of free speaking on my part came good.  Both boys read my heartfelt words and I think it made them think a bit.  It also made me think a bit.  Jack and I had a really good chat this morning whilst sitting on a gorgeously sandy beach in the sunshine (like you do).  We talked like we used to do and it was really good.  I'm hoping we've sorted stuff out a little bit but can only wait and see...

Playing catch up

I cannot believe that I haven't been blogging again for five minutes and I'm already paying catch up!

I never seem to have enough time to do everything - and then find myself taking something more on...

Last week, we had a couple of fabulous days out, Thursday we went to Crealy and the boys ran wild with one of their friends whilst I entertained the little ones.  Apparently the new water rides are fun but I didn't get to go on them (or anything else) because I was working.  We'll go back another day and I'll give them a try...  On Friday Max and I took the LOs to Lyme beach and had a truly lovely day without spending a fortune (once I'd gotten over the fact that he'd come out in filthy clothes and bought a new T shirt and new flip flops for him!)  There were some serious digging competitions going on with holes dug as far down as children could actually reach and absolutely no fuss when for safety's sake they had to be filled in again...

Jack and Max spent the weekend days at River Cottage HQ.  Jack really idolises HFW and can often be found glancing through one of his cook books looking for something to make.  Sometimes he even goes as far as to actually make something. If only I could get him to clean up the kitchen after himself...

Today and yesterday both boys have apparently been poorly, too poorly to get on with any work,  They had the whole of half term off after I said they couldn't because they were behind with their work, had most of the week before half term off cos they just skived and now seem to be just totally ignoring me when I tell them they have to get on with their school work.  In fact if I'm honest they've skived most of the bloody year.  They have nearly pushed me far enough and I'm seriously reconsidering school as an option.  The way they are going they will have no futures and I really don't want that for them.  It's all very well saying that can catch up with college as adults but the reality is they probably wont bother, just like their older brothers didn't bother.  I know I shouldn't let it worry me if their lot in life is serving up burgers, after all it's their own choice to slack off, but it does.  I know that everybody will blame me, including the boys themselves, they won't stop to think the kids had a choice, they won't think of all the hard work I've put in and all the money I've spent getting them lessons and courses for this and that which they've just thrown back in my face and not bothered to practice or do any of the work, people will just say it's my fault cos I chose to take them out of school.  Maybe it is...

Bicton With the Pink Ladies

We had a pretty good day today.  It could have been better but I'm trying very hard not to dwell on that...

As it's half term I have big mindees in as well as little ones so we decided to go somewhere that suits all ages: Bicton Gardens near Exmouth.  It's a bit of a hike for us to be honest but usually well worth it.  Today the mindees were all girls and nicknamed 'The Pink Ladies' simply because they like pink, *really* like pink, not because they resemble in any way the Pink Ladies from Grease! ;)

Getting 5 children up and out of the door on time to catch a bus can be hard work, when none of them are used to deadlines, but we work together pretty well and were out of the door on time despite a certain young man not tumbling out of bed until 15 minutes before we were due to leave!  No hassles with catching buses, none missed or run for and we were lucky enough not to have to dismantle the pram which had all the day's junk in whilst the tiniest pink lady snoozed away in the sling.

The children had a fabulous time playing in the indoor play area after we had a good look around the museum.  Max and Jack delighted in showing the bigger PLs around the museum giving them information about this or that exhibit and bringing the whole display to life for them.  Meanwhile the tiniest PL snoozed in the pram having gotten rather too warm in the sling ;)  Max very kindly pretended he was under 12 and raced around the indoor play area with the bigger PLs, can just imagine him doing that if he was a schoolkid - not!

Jack was getting bored in the indoor play area and I have to admit I wanted to be out in the sun too so we wandered off to the outdoor play area.  Tiniest PL enjoyed some sling time and 'helped' the bigger ones play there for a while.  Have to say I totally love this sling and wish they had them when mine were small.  It's so comfy and no danger of baby falling out when you bend over. No idea how you're supposed to get them in when it's on your back, but tiniest PL is only a few weeks old so no need to worry about that for a good long while yet.  Perhaps any fellow sling wearer out there could advise?

On the way home we called into Sidmouth for an hour to get some fruit and veg etc.  I bought a huge amount of strawberries which got mushed into pulp on the way home :(

We managed to get in the door a few minutes before parents came to pick up so it really was a 'day' out for them, hope they sleep well tonight!  Jack, Max and I relaxed, "Bertie the 'bot", hoovered up for me whilst I chilled.  Already loving having him!

Whose Bright Idea?

Looking around the house this morning I wonder whose bright idea it was to use the long weekend 'off work' to clean and tidy and completely turn around my house!

In principle, of course, it's a fab idea but the reality stinks when all you want to do is sit out in the glorious sunshine which has made its way back here today...  Okay so there will also be a sense of satisfaction when it's all finished and nice and tidy, but there's also a sense of foreboding knowing that by the end of my first day back working it will be a pigsty again - kinda takes the fun out of it all.  Thank goodness I have the sort of job which means I can wander the countryside or the beaches, which the children all love, during work hours! 

I need to be more organised! I feel a need for lists and tick charts etc coming on...

Sooo tired!

Either I'm getting used to the caffeine in my coffee or the lack of sunshine is having its usual effect as I'm shattered.  I even wake up tired, lol!

Yesterday I decided, somewhat foolishly, to reorganise the playroom.  I've let things slip a little bit lately and do not think I'm worth the 'Outstanding' grade I was given at inspection so time to pull my socks up and sort my 'enabling environments' out a little!  I have two major problems: lack of space and lack of storage!  Yesterday I tried twice to put an order in for some storage units but the website I use seems to have gone mad as the order won't go through..  As for space, well I can't make more of that so just have to use it more wisely...

Another reason for wanting to sort out the playroom is because this little devil will be arriving on Tuesday!

I'm hoping he will be the answer to some of my prayers but will leave you to work out what it is, for now... ;o)

Home ed:  Half term next week for the school children, which of course means I will have more children to mind during the day so we have chosen to have the week off but get back to it with gusto afterwards.  It's hard to take in that Jack would be doing GCSEs next year if he was at school and I'm getting kind of worried about what we should be doing now.  There could be a possibility that I could get him into a very good local(ish) school for the last two years but I'm unsure if this is a good way to go.  I think he would thrive there but, well I don't know what the 'but' is really but there is definitely a 'but' in my throat...

I'm a little bit cross with the boys at the moment too.  Every week they have music lessons in their chosen instrument.  Every week I have the devil's own job at getting them to practise!   Jack seems to have a natural flair, as he has a natural flair for everything, and can just pick up his guitar and sound ok but I cannot get through to him how damned good he could actually be if he bothered! Grr.  Well, this week his music teacher told them both that it's really not worth her time coming if they cannot be bothered to practice so I am making renewed efforts at getting them off/away from screens (Jack seems to be literally addicted to Runescape) and back to their instruments.  I have to say I'm in agreement with their teacher and have told them that if they are unwilling to practice then I'm not going to keep paying out for lessons. 

On other subjects, the boys did not go to their usual Thursday night youth group this week. Not altogether sure how it came about but there was some sort of altercation between Max and another lad and Max ended up hitting the other boy.  Jack said the other kids had been getting at Max all night and he'd been asking them to stop.  When I said to Max he shouldn't have hit the other kid no matter what his response was 'but you told me if another kid hit me I should hit them back twice as hard!', which indeed I did (after having four kids bullied for years and schools doing nothing to stop it!) when he was 5 years old and just staring school!  Somehow he didn't actually compute the 'if another kid HITS you' bit and just lashed out which is totally unacceptable and I made sure he knew that.  He doesn't want to go back as he says he's fed up with the other kids picking on him all the time.  When it came to time to leave this week, Jack didn't want to go either so I'm wondering if there is slightly more to it than meets the eye...

Now I must stop procrastinating and get on with the cleaning and tidying, and they call weekends 'time off'!   I'm not sure who they're time off for, possibly the men of the house (if you're lucky enough to have one that is).

Changing Names

I'm never any good at choosing blog names on the spur on the moment  and wasn't really happy with what mine was called but couldn't think why.  Yesterday it came to me that the title of my blog was the tag line for a friend's blog many years ago... Now I know why it bothered me I have changed it.

'Multicoloured Mayhem' is the title of a book I've just borrowed from the library.  The blurb says its about living with people who have ADHD, Aspergers, Autism etc which of course we do.  I'm hoping the book will give me some insight into what Max's life is for him as just lately his 'problems' (for want of a better word) mixed in with a good dose of puberty are causing some fraught moments which I would prefer to avoid...

Factor in that I also childmind for families from all corners of the globe and sometimes have 7 or 8 children here at any one time all vying for my attention and we really do have mayhem, at least life is never boring!

Anyway, for those reasons I thought it was a very fitting name - hopefully I will not change my mind over the next couple of weeks and confuse you all again!

A Bit of a Scare!

A bit of a scare is what I had yesterday...

I've had a bit of a cold, nothing serious, just an annoying muggy head cold with an aggravating dry cough.  I've had loads of colds before so didn't think a lot of it until yesterday when it began to be a bit harder than normal to breathe (I have asthma) and I kept having coughing fits.  Not good.  Throughout the day it got a little bit worse and a little bit worse and my reliever meds weren't doing anything to help.  Eventually I got myself to hospital and had a little go on the nebuliser which sorted me out.  I've had asthma since I was eleven and have never needed to go to hospital for it so was pretty scared, especially when we got behind somebody pottering on at about 30 along a narrow country lane with no passing...

The doc gave me a different preventer and things are a lot better today I'm happy to say, still not right but normal(ish) for an asthmatic with a cold.  I'm kind of glad we've got that out of the way now because I always wondered how the boys would cope if I had to go in and now I know that they will be fine.  I also know I have a lot of people who care for me by the amount of offers of help I received and the help I got which was not offered, just done.  I'm a lucky lady :)

Today I had to take the day off work as there's no way I could easily relocate 5 children to their parents if I needed to go back in (which they said I may have to).  I've been made to rest by my friend and neighbour but am not good at just sitting there so have been pottering in the garden in between resting.  Sam has barely left my side all day and keeps battering me with his cold wet nose.

Meanwhile, one of the parents I mind for has taken Jack off for the day and given him some experience in motor mechanics which he loved.  They've been busy doing something or other to brakes and callipers or something - I'm not mechanically minded as you'll have noted...  The parent has very kindly offered to give Jack some more 'lessons' in motor mechanics which I think Jack will jump on.  It's funny but I never realised they miss out on this sort of thing having their dad so far away, in many ways I'm sure it doesn't matter but in others ... well it allows him to be a boy and use tools and get oily and stuff...

Paperwork and Sunshine

The only thing I do not enjoy about my job is the amount of silly paperwork which never sees the light of day (unless you are having an inspection of course!).  This morning I was stuck inside going over and over a huge amount of paperwork whilst the boys relaxed in the glorious sunshine we are having at the moment.  Most of the parents I work with think it is pathetic and they chose home based care rather than a nursery so their little ones were not institutionalised from an early age, but hey ho it's a massive case of government knows best for us all as usual.  It will be interesting to see what this new government have in store for childminders and home educators...

Moving on... Thankfully I got most of what I needed to do by 11am so was still able to go into the garden and enjoy the sunshine a little.  We'd been planning on having a BBQ but the one we bought yesterday was broken and has to go back to the shop so that's not going to happen today. :(  Ah well, worse things happen at sea...

I've been rearranging the garden to make it safer and more fun for the little ones and still practical for us big ones at weekends.  I bought a load of rubber safety matting from ELC a couple of months ago and that has now been positioned under the climbing frame/slide which in turn has been moved as we are expecting the new playhouse to be delivered in the week and need a space to put it.  I'm hoping Jack will help me put it up, lots of DIY skills for him and huge amount of help for me...

The day seemed to zoom by and I ended up in bed by nine again, this cold has really knocked me off my feet and I feel shattered by about 6pm!  Thank goodness we have wireless internet so I can still do things online even in bed!
The boys hate when I go to bed early as it means they have to too but at least they get to read in bed.  It's a funny thing that Max, who always hated reading at school, loves to read as much as Jack nowadays.  I'm totally sure that's because I didn't try and push him into it but let him come to it in his own time.  I'm so glad they came out of school when they did, I cannot help but wonder what different children they would be if they stayed in school (especially when I see what their friends on facebook write!), they are not perfect in any sense and would far rather play on games machines or computers all day if given the chance but on the whole they are polite, thoughtful and kind.  All traits which I really rate even if society in general doesn't...

Those Crazy, Hazy, Lady Days of Summer!

 Thought I'd start off with a few pics today!  I'm sure you're sick of seeing photos of Sam but all the ones I took of the boys also had minded children in them so cannot be printed on the blog.  The munchkins love the 'big boys' so much and always want to be around them so it's a little hard to separate them...

As you can see we walked down to the beach today.  It was boiling hot, the sun was shining and poor Sam was on his last legs so I thought a dip in the sea may cool him off a little bit.  He loved it and now he is almost an adult and very strong I don't have to worry quite so much about the currents in the water dragging him off.  Did you know Labradors were originally bred to bring in boats?  Nor did I until I had one myself!  Explains why he pulls on his lead so much (ok so I know that's really slack training...).  We bought hi a halti today to see if that would help...

The trip to the beach was closely followed by dripping ice creams for the humans and a cool bowl of water for the canine.  I'm loving this weather and feel really sad to hear a lot  of people complaining about it, funnily enough it's the same people who complained about the rain and the snow and the ice...  Why is it that people are rarely happy with their lot?

It was nice to see a lot of happy smiling faces along the seafront today, clearly mostly holiday makers, lol!  There were even people swimming in the sea on the human part of the beach (as opposed to the doggy end).  It was hot (about 26 degrees) and I would have loved to have had a dip too but it really wasn't going to happen today...

But tomorrow is the weekend!

Walking the Dog

One of the things I love most about living out in the country is living out in the country! Okay so that sounds mad but with this on your doorstep I think you'd feel the same!

I love it here!  With beautiful country walks right outside the front door and some small family run shops in the town for necessities it feels like Heaven on earth to me.   That probably seems a little extreme but I'm sitting here writing this and the door is wide open, the sun is streaming through and all I can hear is birdsong.  I feel as if I was made for this kind of life and at last I have 'come home'.

Anyway... Moving on... I'm not the only one who loves it here, Sam does too (although he's never really known anything else...)

He really enjoys sniffing out rabbits!

and sniffing to see if any of his doggy mates have been along today (he just likes sniffing if I'm honest!)

He does occasionally turn around to see if I'm coming though!

He has to stay on the long lead on this walk because the path borders a nature reserve.  He's still very much a pup in his head and I don't totally trust him to come back if there was something interesting to chase.  He doesn't seem to mind though and since the night when he pulled me off my feet with his exuberance he has been a lot more careful I'm glad to say!

Ruby's babies - update (PHOTO)

They are beginning to come out and run around now but mostly when they think nobody is around!

A Bad Egg

A very very long bus journey (really must learn to drive!) culminated in a picnic at Exeter Quay and a visit to see the swans and ducks there.  We seemed to spend forever on the bus but the munchkins were very well behaved as always and a credit to their parents as they did not complain at all. :)

Once in Exeter we decided to take them to see Stepcote Hill and the Tudor houses at the bottom of the hill.  We counted the steps but lost count with so many of us doing it, lol! I know from years ago that there were more than 100 though and I bumped the buggy down each and every one - major mistake!  Luckily the buggy had fantastic suspension so the child riding in it didn't feel a thing...

 We enjoyed a leisurely walk along the quay discussing the ducks, the views, the people etc and were really happy to be there until we happened upon the saddest thing I have seen for a while: A smashed swan egg.  Yes, some lout (or indeed loutess) had decided to steal the egg from its nest and smash it on the pavement. The mother swan was nesting not more than five or six feet away...  At that precise moment I hated my species and their casual disregard for all other forms of life, I can only hope the male swan gave them a damned good peck before they left!!

All through the picnic the munchkins asked if they could share their food with the swans, I'm not totally convince that swans would thrive on cheese or ham sandwiches so made sure there was only a tiny little bit for them!  Have to admit that the swans themselves had no such misgivings about their food source and greedily looked for more!

How Many??

This morning I saw, for the first time, all Ruby's babies stretched out in their nest.  They are now getting to look beautiful rather than cartoonish.  Markings are just like Mums but I've heard the Rex fur doesn't come through if they're cross bred so I'm expecting a curious mixture!  Their little eyes are now open too, ahhhhh. Today I could count them for the first time too, we have 8!!!  Yes 8!! Ruby's is doing so well for a first time mum, I'm really proud of her.

Last night the boys had their annual inspection at St John's.  Jack was given an cup for putting the most in of all the cadets (ie most duties, most helpful etc etc).  I'm very proud of him and his little cup has pride of place on our dresser.  Today they have gone off to Peco on duty leaving me spring cleaning and cleaning out rabbits.  One of the adult rabbits (R.J.) took umbrage to me today and took a sizeable chunk out of my knuckle!

A couple of days ago Sam was the cause of mayhem and disaster!  The stupid mutt completely forgot he was on the end of his long lead and bolted off at 40 mph!  I found out first hand how everything had an equal and opposite reaction when 30 kilos of racing dog reached the end of his lead length and I got catapulted head first through the air and onto the ground. OUCH!! (Have you finished laughing yet?).  Luckily I got away with a bit of a shiner, a cut face where my glasses broke and a few minor bumps and bruises.  Next time I'll try and remember to let go of the ruddy lead!

The boys have been working on their projects this week so haven't done any 'busy work' for the LA.  Max is forging away at the Romans and Jack still doing his project on veterinary nursing and animal care.  Jack wants so much to go to college to do veterinary nursing but at the moment the local college's future is hanging in the balance so we are unsure how that will work out.

The polls gave us another chance for education this week.  Hung Parliament is something that had never before been discussed but now all three of us are totally able to converse at length at what it is and what it could mean for the country.  Jack had read an article about how democracy cannot mathematically be fair in this month's New Scientist so was able to answer our initial wonderings, the rest we gleaned from online and newspapers (The Telegraph had a pretty good explanation I found). I wonder if they are also covering it at schools or if it just gets lost amid the national curriculum?  I must remember to write it all down for the LA who are insisting I keep a dated diary.  I'm sure their remit doesn't got that far (yet?) but hey it's good for me to know too so I'm going along with it for now...

So... This morning I am trying to get on with the spring cleaning.  The cleaner I believed I had hired doesn't seem to have come to anything so its back to busy busy busy for me.  Sometimes I wish I had the OCD for cleaning because at least them I'd have a tidy house!  I saw the oven cleaner where you put the oven shelves in a bag at the supermarket this week and finally decided to give it a go.  I cannot imagine it will be much good but it would be good if I'm wrong! I've taken a before picture of my embarrassingly dirty shelves so I'll  be able to have a really objective view in 6 hours time!  I cannot believe it takes 6 hours but if it works it will be worth it - just have to make sure none of the pets or the kids touch it as its apparently really corrosive...

Before                                                                           After

I guess you could say that was a success then!

Long Weekend!

One thing about working full time that I hadn't really thought about before was how much weekends actually mean to you.  I love my job, I mean I really love my job, but weekends are our time.  That is to say it's the time that the boys and I can please ourselves what we do without having to worry about getting back for deadlines or to be in for parcels, pick up from schools etc etc.  Weekends are bliss!  This weekend has had 3 days which is even more bliss but stupidly I completed wasted yesterday doing nothing very much at all.  This, of course, means that today I have had to clean and tidy and sort all day long which is not my idea of fun...

Meanwhile Jack has busied himself on his laptop doing goodness only knows what and Max managed to sit through the whole quadrilogy of Alien movies including the directors cuts and extended versions.  I'm feeling a bit Alien'ed out right now but he'd quite happily watch them all again if I let him.

We watched Avatar on Blue Ray, I cannot believe the quality - crystal clear!

Ruby's babies are growing like mad.  They're still tiny but seem  so much more rabbity than they did before.  Their little ears look like rabbit ears now instead of mouse ears and their little legs - well you get the picture and if you don't there's a photo underneath this post so you can see for yourself.  The photo (at least on my laptop) is larger than life size!

I also spent some time cleaning up the pushchair I bought in Newton Abbot on Saturday.  With ebay you never really know what you're going to get.  Sometimes you get a stunner at a bargain price, others you pay a whole heap and get a piece of rubbish.  Of all things it really annoys me when people sell on prams without cleaning them, but this time I think it may have worked in my favour.  I could have done without the dried out raisins and biscuit crumbs and marks and stains but in a way I'm glad they were there because it gave me something to work towards, aiming to make it look a little bit nicer.  Now it's a stunner and fit for a princess and to be honest would probably sell for 3 times what I paid for it!  There was a time when seeing the mess it was in would have reduced me to tears and made me feel the word was out to get me.  Nowadays I am so much stronger I just see it as a challenge to be overcome and get to work.  It's something I love doing too! (perhaps I should open a sideline in used prams...).  Not sure why I have changed so much but I think working has a lot to do with it, so again what seemed like a bad thing has turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

Funny how life works out isn't it?

Ruby's babies - 5 days old (PHOTO)

Barely Connected!

Hmm already slacking on the blogging front, however I do have a really good excuse - my internet conked out!  Or rather my internet keeps conking out and going back on again or maybe not as it feels like it at any particular time...  My new router arrived from BT on Thursday but I haven't had time to put it on yet so fingers crossed...

In other news...

Tesco vouchers, we are finally getting a few more after a very shaky start, not enough to get anything good but hey at least we tried!  Only a week or so left of them being given out now so we shall see how many we get altogether, hopefully enough to get something nice for the munchkins to pay with.

The boys went to an art exhibition in the week.  I'd like to see them trying to reproduce some of the art they've seen but usually get whined at if I ask for them to do stuff like that so we'll see...  They took a few pics of the stuff so when I upload them I'll see if anything is suitable for the blog.  There was also a park there and they spent a very happy few hours on a brilliant zip line.  So, PT and art both covered in a day of having fun.

Our Rex rabbit (Ruby) had babies last week too (on the 27th for future reference) , they looked like tiny naked mice when they were born, very cute!  I cannot believe how quickly they grow though, they must have doubled in size already!  Its going to be so hard to let them go when they're old enough but we already have tons of rabbits so I cannot keep any more!

With the forthcoming election the candidates and their supporters are out in force and on a recent trip to Sidmouth we were accosted on more than one occasion by people trying to thrust leaflets into our hands resulting in Jack,Max and I having a discussion about politics and elections.  One such person was the local candidate for the Green Party.   A few days ago I read something about the GP and what they want to do with  regards to monitoring home educators so I made the most of a perfect opportunity and asked her why the GP want to regulate HEors more than they already do.  Her answers were pretty much the same as the ones from the bill which has just been amended, everything she answered I had a counter argument for but as per usual for people who think they have all the answers she had a counter argument for my counter arguments, lol!  Anyway, just after we saw her the boys and I went to have lunch and lunch time conversation turned to politics.  I asked the boys if they would vote for her based on her answers to our questions.  Jack said no and Max said yes (definitely not sheep then, lol!).  I asked Jack why not and he replied:

"Because she didn't answer a single one of your questions mum, she just cleverly changed the subject every time or turned it back onto you"

You know what?  He was dead right!

I have a tiny baby coming in soon so needed a proper pram, (ok so I have the bugaboo but I'm a bit of a pramaholic and any excuse etc, lol!)  I was lucky enough to win a really nice silver cross pram on ebay so yesterday the boys and I all jumped on the bus buses to go to Newton Abbot to pick it up.  It took hours to get there but only cost £14.50 making the £400 pram a bargain for only £60 + bus fares.  I love ebay! (although readily admit to having been stitched up more than once by unscrupulous gits on there!).  We decided to make a day of it and has a days shopping in Newton Abbot and Exeter.  I spent far too much money but came home with 2 very happy kids and a lot of new things for me!  I'm not really a materialistic sort of a girl but now and then it's nice to get a treat or two!  My latest 'toy' is a DSi.  I'd sold mine to Max when he wanted a DS but sort of missed it so when I saw them cheaper than normal in WHS yesterday jumped at the chance to get a new one.  I'm already enjoying the photo editor on there!

I also finally bough Just Dance! for the Wii.  Been meaning to get it for ages but always forget when we're out in shopping areas as the noise and rush of people drives me batty!  Jack, Max and I played it for a while last night and it is so funny! Goodness knows what anybody would have thought who looked through the window though!  I think it will be good exercise too because I was exhausted after half an hour or so!

The boys music lessons went well this week.  I don't know how he does it but Jack played guitar beautifully even though he hasn't practised for more than half an hour all week!  Max is really getting on well with the keyboards too, I'm thinking about buying a digital piano as I have been told it's a pain to relearn the reach if you learn on a smaller scale instrument.  Luckily our music teacher has a friend who is selling one...