Thursday, 19 July 2012

Dreams over breakfast...

...Sitting here listening to my youngest son play his guitar, cuddled up with my border collie...could life be better? I love watching my kids grow and learn...

 This morning over breakfast youngest son was telling me how he wishes 'Cherub' existed, this is an organisation that trains child spies in the book he is reading, The RecruitAlong with wanting to be a spy, he wanted to know what were the views like from the top of Mount Everest, iPad came out, over sausage and eggs we googled mountain views, came across an interesting blogWe especially liked the facts about how most of the year because of the jet stream there are 118 mile an hour winds across the top of the mountain.Then his eyes got bigger at the thought that Mount Everest is getting higher ever year by a few centimeters, he started calculating how high it would be in a thousand years.'s very hard to type a blog with a wet dog nose snuffling under your iPad, the dog has worked out how to flip the cover of my iPad shut, so I have to look at him instead!...

I asked young son if he knew what acclimatisation mean't, he said no but when I said its your body adjusting to the reduction of Oxygen as you climb the mountain, he then said, oh I know how climbers deal with that, they go up the mountain, then come down a bit to rest, then go up some more, so they gradually adjust to the lack of Oxygen.

...Oh ok! Now the Border Collie is snuggling up to me, by pushing and wriggling, knocking my iPad out of my hand...shove off Mutt!...

Then we checked the weather for the Lake District, we head off in two days for the mountains, I am seriously excited now. Camping equipment is piled up on our floor, I am getting slightly fed up of tripping over it, so I will be happy to get it all organised in to my car on Saturday. The weather is going to be perfect and the day we climb Scarfell Pike is looking to be the best day, so I have checked I have enough batteries for my camera so I can get some mountain photo's.

Young son is now planning in his head, he wants to climb all the highest mountains and he asked whilst munching his sausage,"If I climb enough mountains, do you think I could climb Mount Everest?" ...I love big dreams.

Son's on a mountain in the Italian Alps

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Turning off the Sat Nav...

Now our boys are older Hubby and I try and escape once a week for a quiet coffee and actually talk to each other. Today was no exception.

We headed out, firstly to a rough looking farm shop, with scruffy ponies and rusty farm equipment....It's lovely being in a rural area, we are so near a modern town yet you can find slow country life with all it's charm only a few miles away.

In the farm shop we were served by a hard working farmer, wearing dirt as evidence of his labours. We tried to stroke the small shy cat who was cuddled up in a box of bird food, grabbed a big sack of dog food then headed off to find a café.

At first we decided play the game 'follow the first brown sign you see to a destination'. We ended up at Shaw's Corner, the country home of George Bernard Shaw a playwright from the last century. I was counting on the National Trust tradition of tea rooms, the thought of coffee cake with walnuts was making me hungry.

Unfortunately the National Trust failed us, but this didn't dampen our spirits. As we had not explored this part of rural Hertfordshire before we felt adventurous, also curious about how many of the huge houses tucked away here, with embossed iron gates, belonged to famous celebrities.

Our next game was turn off the satellite navigation & drive. We ended coming off unknown lanes into a village near to ours. As we pulled onto the high street we spotted a lovely little restaurant which looked like it might serve coffee. It was beautiful I knew instantly this would have to become a new favourite place to eat, with low beamed ceiling and cosy corners filled with cushions. We grinned at each other satisfied that our travel games had led us somewhere lovely which we may never have discovered.

Hubby mentioned to me how this is so like when we chose to home educate the boys. We had no map to guide us, no sat nav to direct us, but we don't regret it....

Journey with no map.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Why get out of bed?

The roar of the river was in competition with desperate cries for help from my youngest son, who was eight years old. He was stuck in his kayak half way down a fast moving weir. My heart started pumping double time as adrenaline rushed through me. My husband and eldest son had just shot the weir and were paddling hard to hold position near the bottom to wait for us, I knew I was going to have to rescue him.

 The water was drowning out my shouts of reassurance back to him as I paddled fiercely over to the bank to abandon my kayak on some rocks. Amazing how you never forget to pray in these situations, usually along the lines of "Oh God help!", which was the prayer on my lips at that moment. I stood on the rocks that led out over the river, I could see myself being washed over the weir if I didn't take care, the water in the middle was a couple of feet deep and a strong flow. My sons cries where getting more desperate as he was helpless to do anything, I yelled back, but again he couldn't hear me, no time to waste I got on all fours and clambered out across the slippery cold rocks. I inhaled hard as I entered the icy water, there seemed to be a ridge of rocks just where the water tipped over the edge, I managed to wedge my feet under it as I crawled up to my neck in water, holding on very tightly. I got to the middle where I could reach the end of my sons kayak, my mind was working fast, do I pull him up or give him a big shove down? I decided down, hubby and big son could drag him out quick if he capsized at the bottom.... It worked and he didn't capsize.... Feeling pretty shaky by the time I reached my kayak again, I dragged it over the rocks to the bottom of the weir, I didn't need the thrill of shooting it.

This river trip was in France on Haute-Saône Doubs a river that flowed through the eurocamp site at Bonnal. Very beautiful wooded area of Burgundy. All I can say is the French idea of a gentle family canoe trip down the river, didn't quite match mine. Our 'trip', or should I call it 'adventure' was a catalogue of trials; I had to rescue my youngest a number of time, from weirs, trapped under brambles upside down, difficult weirs where the only way to avoid them was dragging the canoes up slippery banks, my husband capsized in a really deep bit, lost his glasses and we ran out of crunchy bars.

 After about five hours of paddling my youngest was getting tired, so he came along side me and held our kayaks close while I paddled us both, I started to teach him how to keep going when something is tough, I pin pointed a tree or bush up river from us and we made that our next goal to achieve. After seven hours and a final weir which I plainly refused to even go near, but the alternative was drag the canoes over a large mound of nettle strewn ground. I felt nettle stings were favourable to more traumatic child rescue missions. We were about to enter our kayaks again and I took one look at little son, his lips were turning blue... That's it I declared we are abandoning the kayaks and walking to warm up... After about a mile we found we were back at the campsite, we arrived at 7.30pm after leaving midday, just as the receptionist was locking the door of the camp office where we needed to return our paddles...needless to say, that evening we treated ourselves to delicious French cuisine at the local restaurant.

This all happened a couple of years ago, but I thought of it again as I have found myself talking to my boys in the last few days about 'mental strength'. Explaining to them how sometimes we want to give up in a moment of hardship, either physically or mental, but we have to stop and remember what we were trying to achieve when we started and ask ourselves do we still want that goal?

Both boys have ambitions for the future that will require significant strength of mind and body to achieve, they are quite determined and set on their ideas. So I am now using their aims as focus for motivation when they are struggling either with exam work for my eldest or exercise and self discipline for my youngest... It's that question we all have to ask ourselves..."Why get out of bed today?"

At our post 'kayak adventure' meal...
"We made it Mummy"

French food is good recovery food...

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Life is for living...

Running with sons is fun, we went running today through the woods. It's a very up and down route, good for preparing our mountain legs I tell my boys. The woods near us were lovely today, with fresh damp smell of the trees, and Woodpeckers and Jays lively over head. It was very muddy, but call me crazy I love running in mud far more than pounding a pavement.

The boys haven't always come running with me, in the last year they have started to ask me if they can come join me on my runs, which made me grin. I started running three yeas ago, determined to regain some vigour and bounce. The boys have watched me run and train for a race in CaniX (cross country running with dogs), which is really noisy, especially on the starting line with the dogs barking and the huskies howling all excited to run. You harness you dog to your waist with a bungee lead and off you go... Like a rocket! I have labelled my dog "a random speed generator" as he loves to run, but then gets distracted and suddenly stops in front of me or veers off the path after a squirrel, but the low branches he dives under are the most dangerous... So yes, CaniX is a danger sport.

I have found there is three ingredients for fitness and sports when home educating; example, inspiration and opportunity. So setting an example, by heading out myself for two years three times a week running, and doing a strength work out at home with the boys watching me and giggling when my dog tries to sit on my face when I am doing sit ups. Now they join in, both are very motivated and want to be strong.

For inspiration, we have watched Born Survivor avidly, Bear Grylls is now my youngest male role model for adventure and what you can achieve physically. My eldest has been inspired to exercise and sports by his determination that he wants to be a pilot, he knows he needs to be fit and is now fixed on that. Also inspiring is our dog, having an energetic working dog living with you who thinks being active is the best thing EVER.. add waggy tail so movitating to movement.

The boys have had endless opportunities for all different sports, through scouting, AirCadets, and group events with other home educators. I had my eldest at one time begging me to buy him kangaroo legs after trying them at a Scout Jamboree camp.

I am slightly bias about sports as I have always preferred adventure sports, like sailing, hiking, basically any sport that takes me some where beautiful or wild... The boys are very competitive so any thing that they can achieve and claim as a victory motivates them.

So in conclusion, anything that inspires or motivates my boys to be able to enjoy life and be active counts as sports too me... Life is for living.

CaniX racing with my dog

Monday, 2 July 2012

Capturing Beauty...

I have seen so many beautiful things when out walking my dog, here is a few I caught on camera.  These were taken all in the same field....every day I head out with a camera and dog, early in the morning. I have been there for those special photographers dream moments, where the light is just perfect and the flora and fauna pose for you.

I love photographing beautiful things it's like trying to capture all that beauty to keep it for a life time, to look back... sigh...but what was reality to get those amazing shots I wanted, it was patience, consistency, loss of sleep and lots of getting wet, cold and muddy.

When I first started home educating my eldest son the reality of what it will cost to do this really hit me, and what skills I needed...I am not talking about education qualifications or intelligence. I went from school to polytechnic to work, with barely a break, with all of these I had someone else telling me what to do and when, but suddenly it was all up to me. Two things I really noticed was I had to learn rapidly huge amounts of patience and bundles of self discipline. I have lost sleep, had crying children with me wondering what to do, a trashed house, no time for me and .... well the 'and' is I have been there to catch those beautiful amazing moments in my children's life and write them on my heart...sigh... so worth every minute.