When we moved here I dreamt of children working hard on the land. Cleaning out and feeding the animals, digging the ground and thoroughly immersing themselves in our smallholding. Has this happened? Yes, in most ways. They do take the scraps to the animals, collect the eggs, change the animals’ water and sometimes help with the gardening. In other ways life is not always roses around the door.

Let me share with you an example. For the first year of having chickens, the children took it in turns to clean them out. To start with they did a fantastic job, but over time I noticed the job wasn’t being done quite so well, or with quite the same enthusiasm. I felt that our lady layers deserved a bit more time being spent on them. So I volunteered to be the number one chicken cleaner.

Now I come to the confession. I feel that I’m supposed to be retraining the children to do the job properly, but I don’t want to give the job back! You see every afternoon around 4pm my older children give me a welcome 20 minutes of brain space. They care for their younger siblings and I get ‘chicken therapy’. I spend 20 minutes picking poo out of their hen houses and run and I feed my grateful girls (they’re not even picky eaters 😉). This is often the only quiet time I get all day and I love it. These lovely layers don’t whinge at me, they don’t ask me questions, they don’t tell me they’re bored, they don’t ask what they can eat next and they don’t even complain about their siblings. It’s bliss!

My love for such mundane tasks goes back a long way, to my turbulent teenage years. I remember the day after Mum died, it was right at the beginning of my year 10 summer holidays, and I wondered how I would fill the days ahead of me. My instinctive thought was to work, so I opened up the Yellow Pages (yes I’m that old) and phoned round all the local catteries and kennels, looking for a holiday and weekend job. Thankfully I found someone willing to take on a 14 year old and my cleaning therapy began. As I plodded through my daily tasks I had brain space, time to begin to process all that I was going through. I found the mundane routine entirely comforting, something predictable in a world turned upside down.

Now again, I feel as if life has been turned upside down, I’m sure many others feel the same. For me the memories of losing Mum have been relived as I have lost time with family and connections with those I love. The pain of loss and the uncertainty of the future has once again been brought to the fore. So I return to my animals, to my cleaning, to my mundane silent work. In the silence, my head can think and I can begin to process the changes in the world.

Maybe when lockdown ends and life gets busy again I will retrain my little helpers, but for now I need my daily dose of chicken therapy. A mum in lockdown with 9 children has got to find a way to carve out a moment to herself! ‘I’m cleaning out the chickens’ has become the perfect excuse to have my much needed time and space 😉.


I was asked by one of our readers to share a little about how we raise our children to know the Lord Jesus. I need to be completely honest. I know that nothing I say will guarantee that anybody’s children, including my own will choose to follow Jesus. I often say that my children can’t piggy back their way to Heaven on my faith. We can tell them who Jesus is, we can model a living relationship with Christ, we can read the Bible daily, but we cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit. Only God, by His grace can save our children, but as parents we have the task of teaching His ways and nurturing their relationship with their Saviour.

Practically speaking, what have we done to help our children to know Jesus? Let me preface this by saying that we are far from perfect, but we do worship our perfect God and He says that we can take anything to Him in prayer. Wow, what a privilege! We have a free entry into the throne room of the most high God and we can speak to Him and petition Him for the needs of our children. The most important thing we have ever done for our children is to pray for them. From before conception I, as the family’s prayer warrior, (well I do like to take every opportunity to talk!) have prayed for our children. I have prayed that they will know their Saviour, that they would love Him and serve Him every day of their lives.

I know that children who love the Lord will have a positive impact on this world and they will have a joy filled life, as well as eternal security and this drives my prayers. Their lives will not always be easy, but they will know the peace and joy that comes with following the One who loves them so much that He gave His life for them.

We continue to pray for them daily throughout their lives, by their beds each night when they are small, or as they grow older when we say goodnight, and every time there is a hurdle in their lives. If they come to me with a problem, the first thing I will often do is pray. Each night before bed, Phil and I pray together (Phil sometimes mumbles between snores if we hit the wrong side of midnight 😉). It is at this time that we will bring our children before the Lord together and ask for His help in their lives.

Arrow prayers during the day, when the children are driving me nuts, help to bring peace where there is conflict and wisdom where there is confusion. Asking the Lord for help with every situation saves us time and enables us to help our children handle everything that comes their way. It doesn’t guarantee that at least once a day I won’t need to hide in the utility room with chocolate though! These kind of prayers also demonstrate to the children the best way to handle any problem. If we pray before we act, things always go better.

We also read the Bible with our children. Once a day, normally at the evening meal, we read the Bible to our children. This post explains more about how we do this. https://www.lifeinallitsfullness.blog/uncategorized/goldby-food/

We encourage the children to read the Bible on their own, preferably before their day begins, but this is more of a goal than a reality. Like the rest of us, they are still growing in self discipline, and often prefer sleep to Bible reading! We don’t force it, we just encourage and leave the Holy Spirit to do the rest. If anyone has any suggestions to encourage this I’d love to hear them.

Each home ed child, in our family, receives Postal Bible School every month. I LOVE PBS. They send out free age appropriate Bible worksheets each month, to anyone who registers. It teaches them the Bible, it’s free and it’s fun. The worksheets drop through our door once a month, what child doesn’t love receiving post? I just need to get more organised to not lose any sheets and get them all back on time (tidiness and order are not my strengths). Anyway, the children are each designated a specific person to mark their work and the last month’s sheets are always returned with lovely comments and points earned. Every six months there is a prize sheet from which the children choose prizes from. What’s not to love?! Here is the link, if you want to register. https://postalbibleschool.com/

During the lockdowns we have worshipped as a family or in the park with other Christians. Sometimes the children complain about joining in, as without friends it is harder to be motivated, but we just encourage, we don’t make them. Showing the children that worshipping God is something we believe is essential even when church is shut, demonstrates to them much more than telling them ever could.

I would say that the old adage of ‘more is taught than caught’ applies to this subject. Our faith is everything to Phil and I, although it is lived out imperfectly. We try not to make decisions without first praying and when we read the news we consider it from a Biblical perspective. When people contact us with problems we pray for them, often on the phone and the children hear those conversations (privacy is my dream, not my reality!). We take our children with us when we help neighbours, or when we attend evangelism events and so for them this is a natural way to live. By nature, Phil and I would often rather do things without the children, because it is often easier, but home education means we are almost never alone during the day, but the bonus of that is that the children see our lives of faith lived out. The children see our failings, and there are many of them, but they also see us asking God to help us with them. If children see a life lived in Christ and the joy that brings, that will encourage within them a desire to seek this way of life for themselves.

We don’t shield our children from the events in the world, on the contrary, we want them to make a difference in this world and so they need to understand people and understand world events, but all through the lens of faith. We want them to have compassion on everyone and so we try to show compassion. We want them to love God and so we try to show them how much we love God. It’s all about seeking first the kingdom of God for ourselves and trusting that He will help us with all other things, including giving us all the wisdom we need to raise our children and to point them to Jesus.

We do our best to bring our children up in faith, but we know that it is God which does all the work. He helps us to parent when we struggle with patience, when our children don’t treat each other kindly, when we just want to give up because attitudes are sharp and angry. If it was down to us then our children would be lost, but thankfully God works through our small efforts. It’s a good job, because some days we’re completely hopeless!

P.S. We have figured out how to add a share button to the posts now, so please do share any posts you feel would bless others.

When we first saw our home we fell in love with it. It was not its beauty that drew us in though, but a calling, a vision, a sense of ‘knowing’ that this was where we should live. We have always loved the plot and location, but we knew that the house needed some TLC.

TLC would be a mild description of the complete overhaul required to make our house the home we dream of, but until then, home is where the heart is, and our heart is here. I somehow love the anaglypta wallpaper and the pub carpets. Upstairs in particular reminds me of a 1970s B and B, with its bedrooms off corridors and landing bathrooms. When we do start to renovate I think I’ll miss the drinks cabinet left here, which is reminiscent of something Margo and Jerry might have had in ‘The Good Life’, but it won’t fit in in the room my imagination is picturing.

The house has numerous projects needed which we are now beginning to work on. The first one began this week. Our house has had a nose job!

All week long three great window fitters and our fab builder have destroyed and rebuilt part of our home. Nearly all the windows have been removed and refitted and the pointed section in middle of the front of the house (which was a design feature added in the 1960s) removed.

There is of course inevitably some scarring, but when the whole house is rerendered in the summertime it will look like it was never there.

We are already feeling the benefits of the new windows. As I stand next to them the whistling wind doesn’t come through and make me shiver. They also all shut and lock, how exciting is that!

Now we’ve begun, we are all full of enthusiasm to see this lovely old farmhouse being given a new lease of life. We’re aiming to hold onto the best of the original features of the house, whilst updating it to make it run in a more energy efficient way. Onward and upward, we’re now making plans for phase 2….bathrooms…we’ll keep you posted 🙂.

This is for all parents who are currently ready to tear their hair out with children at home all day and struggling with home schooling.

I wrote this poem 10 years ago when I had little experience home educating and 4 children 7 and under, and no big children to help me. Some days still feel like this, but now I know that they pass and that I learn to be more patient through every trial I go through.


I feel the fight,
From the start of the day,
I don’t want to get up,
I try to delay.

Then the children descend,
In great one big heap,
It’s not fair I cry,
I just want to sleep.

I feel in my soul,
There’s a battle within,
And prayer is my weapon,
With which God can win.

The battle continues,
As schoolwork commences,
My son has a strop,
He puts up his defences.

‘I don’t like this work,
I won’t do it today,
This is too hard,’
I hear him say.

I know he can do it,
It’s just so frustrating ,
What more can I try,
To be motivating?

Every day I wish he’d,
Work on his own,
But he just isn’t ready,
To do it alone.

So once I accept,
He wants me by his side,
My frustration and anger,
Begin to subside.

A new challenge arises,
As toddlers unite,
They’ve been making a mess,
I’m not up for the fight.

There’s dolls, clothes and puzzles,
There’s pens, books and toys,
I can’t hear myself think,
Above the noise.

So I call out to Jesus,
Turn frustration to prayer,
And the day turns around,
As He carries my cares.

So tomorrow I’ll learn,
And remember to pray,
For the strength and the patience,
To do it God’s way.

Don’t give up on reading this, I promise you it soon changes direction!

I awake gently from my peaceful slumber to the sound of children chattering and the smell of our home-bred bacon sizzling. The homemade bread the children made the night before is waiting, warm and fresh on the kitchen side, ready for one of the children to slice. They have done a great job laying the table, collecting the eggs and doing the other farm jobs before breakfast.

Following our feast and joy-filled conversation the children brush teeth and clear the table, ready for their school day to begin…..

I can but dream. I awake back in the real world, to the sound of a shouting child, it was a lovely dream, but I know that reality is running down my corridor. I hide under the duvet and hope that they will stop yelling and leave me alone for 5 more minutes. Mission accomplished, tiny feet retreat back down the corridor and I grab 5 minutes with God and a quick scan of the news. I can feel that my quiet moment is about to end, when I hear an argument begin in the boys’ bedroom. Hungry tummies are causing angry words and my day must begin. Reluctantly, knowing that it will be 14 hours before I am truly alone again, I open the door and face the day.

Dressed in dressing gown and slippers (getting dressed can wait) I bleary-eyed go to Katie where I am greeted by her gorgeous smile, the day is starting to improve. Unfortunately the boys’ argument wasn’t resolved amicably and so I intervene before they do something painful to each other.

Breakfast is a casual affair with cereal or porridge except for one fussy eater who has toast, due to the ‘unpleasant sogginess’ of cereal! I write up jobs on the white board and a chart with all their morning tasks, including, dress, teeth, bed, jobs, schoolwork. They get on with this with varying degrees of success, depending on how motivating I am feeling!

When we moved here I dreamt of children following Daddy out to milk the cow, but let’s get real, it’s minus one and nobody wants to leave the house at 8am. So instead we focus on life skills inside, until about 10am.

We follow the ACE curriculum. We started out planning our own curriculum, but as our family grew I reached out for a readymade curriculum, to save me planning time. We cover Maths, English, Social Studies, Science and Literature. With the younger children I focus solely on reading, writing and maths and then gradually add other subjects in as they grow in confidence. ACE is fairly self led, although each child needs help with marking, difficult questions, attitude issues, motivation and reading for the early readers.

We spend about 2-3 hours accomplishing our written work and aim to be finished by lunchtime. I keep it flexible though and sometimes they are busy doing something productive and so I don’t stop them to come in and do schoolwork. I find that quiet moments are rare and so when I get one, I run with it. They normally come in when they are hungry, at which point we have an early lunch and do our book work between 1 and 4. The little ones only work for 30 minutes or one hour and then it goes up with age.

Spare time is spent pursuing their other interests like woodwork, animal care, gardening, gymnastics, riding bikes, reading, art and baking.

I am often pulled in multiple directions at a time and I won’t lie, it can get overwhelming. It’s been especially hard over lockdown because we haven’t had any groups to go to. Normally we have gymnastics, swimming, home ed groups, church, visits to grandparents and friends to play, all which help to break up the week. The endless lockdown days have meant that I have had a lot of extra demands placed on me. Phil is very supportive, but he also has a job to do and this property to care for. Thankfully the children have each other and that really helps. They do play well together, although they can also fall out really well. I am trying to reach out to God in prayer when things overwhelm me. I am often reminded of Susanna Wesley, mother of Charles and John and 17 other children, who would often, when overwhelmed, throw her apron over her head and pray. I don’t wear an apron, but I do have a toilet with a lock, it sounds less holy, but it’s a bit quieter 😉.

Much of our home ed learning takes place when we’re not doing book work. It’s in the conversations, it’s in the shared experiences, it’s doing life together. A phrase that often sticks with me is, ‘more is caught than taught,’. Hopefully, through our example, we show our children that the most important thing they will ever learn is to put God first and all the rest follows. Thankfully God doesn’t require us to be perfect parents or perfect home educators, he just requires us to look to him, the rest will follow.

We have been very blessed by our choice to home educate, despite the challenges. I have only skimmed the surface of home education in this posts, if you want me to write more posts about this, or if you want to ask questions in the comments, please feel free. Blessings to you all, Vicki

We love to eat in this house! We also have some family members who are particular about what they like to eat😕. This calls for creativity and an acceptance that someone will be unhappy with my offering most nights, but I try to remember that you can’t please all the people all the time.

I thought I’d share one of our favourite dishes that goes down well with pretty much everyone. I probably make it most weeks as it is quite simple, fairly healthy and the complaints are minimal!

We tend to cook from scratch (with the help of a few select premade ingredients)most of the time because it is cheaper, the portions can be as large as you want and it is healthier. So this meal, which is my version of chicken pie, is a home cooked feast that fills us all up.

This is an approximate recipe, but then I tend to cook by eye, please ask any questions if this doesn’t make sense.

1 whole chicken, roasted and picked (this is Matthew’s favourite job)

Make I litre white sauce in a large saucepan, I eyeball the quantities (google will be more precise)

Add one Knorr chicken stock pot and stir until dissolved

Then in goes half a bag of frozen sweetcorn to the sauce

Add the picked chicken

Heat it aIl up leave that on a low heat while I roll out a pack of puff pastry

Then I put the pie filling in a dish and top it with the pastry

I brush milk on top and then cook it at 200 C for about 30 minutes, until it is golden brown.

We serve it with homemade sauté potatoes and a medley of vegetables. Family favourites are broccoli, carrots and sugar snap peas.

I don’t really buy sugary treats for the children (although Phil sometimes sneaks them in the trolley!), but they are allowed to bake homemade treats, which doesn’t reduce the sugar content of their diet by much, but it does increase their baking skills 😉. Without exception our children are very motivated to bake and have all learnt to bake at a very early age. There is quite a lot of competition in our house when it comes to baking, it sometimes feels like Bake Off in our kitchen.

In the past few weeks we have had 4 birthdays and a school bake off, for which they have baked multiple cakes. Here are some of their favourite cakes.

We always eat around the table and then once a day we do Bible time together. We know that food is essential for our physical strength, but that God’s Word is essential for our Spiritual strength. We don’t want to leave the table hungry in any way. We use a book called Old Story New https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/old-story-new or its companion book https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/long-story-short. It takes about a year and a half to go through each book, which includes a Bible reading and questions for each day. All the children join in and answer questions. It is very Gospel focused and we love it. We then pray round the table from oldest to youngest. We also give thanks before each meal and each child takes it in turn daily to lead us.

What do you like to cook? We are always looking for new ideas, I would love to hear some of your suggestions.

We had a surprise last night! Our TV programme aired again and it caused quite a stir on our blog stats. It’s so lovely to have lots of new visitors. Welcome to you all 😊. Unfortunately you can’t all come to my kitchen table for a cuppa, but if it wasn’t for Covid you’d be very welcome. For now though I will come into your life through this blog and share my heart with you.

I really love spending time with people, sharing life together and putting the world to rights as we talk through our challenges. As that is my personality it tends to reflect in my writing, therefore I want to spend my writing time being helpful and interesting, and that’s where you come in.

It would be really helpful if you could tell me what you would like to see on this blog. What subjects would you like me to write about? Do you have any questions we could answer? I am very happy to write about parenting, pregnancy, Christianity, renovating our house, our small holding, and other subjects which you might suggest. I could also add more of my poetry to the blog.

Please don’t hold back, I need your help to inspire my writing. Looking forward to hearing from you.

One routine for which I am truly grateful is our evening story time. At about 8pm every evening, once the littlest two are in bed, we settle down in front of the log burner to soak ourselves into the world of this nineteenth century family, as they seek to survive during the coldest winter they had known.

I first read this book to our oldest two sons about eight years ago and it has found a firm place in our winter reading library. This year the story spoke to us, in our current situation, as we read of Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary, Carrie and little Grace, trapped in their homes, with school cancelled and little to do each day. Our grumblings are daily put in check as we read of frozen ceiling nails, needing to eat only twice a day due to lack of food and a lack of heat and light.

I have found myself wondering from time to time what Ma and Pa would make of our current situation. I have laughed as I have thought how ridiculous they would find smart phones and all day distractions from technology. Pa was quite sceptical of progress, he thought it made you dependent on others. He probably had a point. As our family seeks to be more self sufficient, we are daily reminded of how much we do not know and how many skills have been lost to ‘progress.’

We are trying to embrace the best of the new, with ground source heating, insulation, electric milker and washing machine, to name a few items which are hugely helpful. We are also seeking to rediscover some ‘old ways.’ We hope to find a slower pace of life, a life based around the rhythms of nature, seasons, sunrise and sunset. We have already begun this journey and already, we are feeling the benefits of this simpler life.

I recently had a Bible verse brought to mind, one that in many ways reminds us of what we are working towards. ‘This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Jeremiah 6:16. We often find, in the busyness of our modern life, it is harder to find time to stop and hear God’s voice, but when we follow the ancient paths, the ways of our forefathers, we stop our rushing, we put down our technological distractions and we take time to listen to him.

Some days my soul does not feel at rest, some days are just hard. On those days, if I step outside and start to work with my hands, I feel my shoulders drop, my jaw release, my mind clear and I start to see why we must pursue this goal with ever greater zeal. As the world ‘progresses’ ever faster, we are seeking after the ‘ancient paths’, there we will find rest for our souls.

When I saw this photo my eyes were drawn to the children playing happily, but then I looked beyond at the dishes cluttering the side 😯. All I can say is that I thank God daily for my dishwasher!

Phil walked into the kitchen one day earlier this week, he snapped the above photo, he wanted to capture this moment whilst our younger children were all peacefully working together.

You see our house isn’t always harmonious, the day is punctuated with emotions, some joy felt and some portraying the hurt feelings bubbling over. Sometimes one sibling has frustrated another and often I pause to handle another dispute. Phil suggested I could finish my career working for the UN in a peace keeping position, as I have gained much practice in this discipline!

On this particular day though I had discovered the playdough which had been hidden at the back of the fridge and pulled out the shapes and cutters. Hours later, the children were still busy making ‘biscuits’ and other baked delights for their ‘shop’. The peace this new distraction brought was a welcome relief after the persistent requests of, ‘Mummy, what can I do next?’ I have often found the best way to keep children interested in toys is to hide them for a while, then when they are pulled out the novelty gives them a new lease of life; I hadn’t intentionally hidden the playdough though, it had just got buried beneath the other fridge items(my less than perfect housewife skills can sometimes swing in my favour 😉.)

I have that the found the intensity of lockdown life has been quite challenging. Although we have much to do here, the children still look to me as their entertainment director. Not a day goes by when I am not asked what we are doing, what’s for meals and what our plans are for tomorrow. This is often a guilt ridden experience as I realise that I have nothing new and exciting planned, but it drives me to creativity.

As home educators, our life was once filled with groups and clubs, but now the days blend and the only structure to our days is family church on a Sunday. We are trying to add in new activities for each day. So far we have gardening on a Friday and shopping on a Saturday, with the park on a Sunday afternoon. This still leaves me on a Monday wondering how I will fill the next four days and ring the changes to prevent lockdown boredom sinking in.

With the weather having improved this week we have been outside more and I have enjoyed watching the new buds appearing on the trees. As each new bud springs forth I am filled with a renewed hope that all things change and this is just a season.

I have been seeking this week to make the most of this season, to get our home in order. We hope, God willing, to have friends to stay in the Haybarn this summer and so I am working hard to get the house and garden in a better shape for any visitors. Doing anything with little ones is slow though, they do so love to ‘help’! With nowhere else to go though I am in no hurry, so I am learning to slow down and see the world with the same wonder as the smallest children, cherishing everything as a new discovery. Nature isn’t the only thing to bring them wonder though. The contents of our cupboards, unrolling toilet rolls and emptying cereal boxes seem to provide little ones with equal excitement, when my back is turned! Mummy finds the clearing up slightly less entertaining though🧹😬.

Maybe next week I’ll get something done, something solid I can tick off my list, something that goes beyond the daily tasks. Or maybe I will learn to just enjoy the day and be grateful for this calmer season with less activities to distract us and cause us to rush around. This season will pass, but God is using this season, these quieter days, to prepare us, in all ways, for the days ahead.

‘Behold, children are a gift of the Lord’ Psalm 127:3

A Gift from the King

Reflecting on each baby’s birth,
The beginning of their life on earth,
The day when I beheld in awe,
What did their future have in store?

The potential that each new life brings,
A gift for us from Christ our King,
Not just for us, but all the broken,
His love for us through life is spoken.

Each child is given for a purpose,
Not one life on earth is surplus,
Each child is made in God’s good hands,
Their life is part of God’s great plan.

Each new child can fulfil the goal,
The reason for their heart and soul,
If the One they seek is Jesus’ face,
They’ll make the world a better place.