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 or its companion book 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.