Yearly Wrap Up {2017}

As this year comes to an end, I am left pondering where it has gone… It seems like I have blinked and Thomas has become a young man, Charlotte and Lillie young ladies; A9 has crept into adolescence with her usual placidity and B6 is no longer a toddler, her podginess has left her and she is becoming a beautiful young girl.

And Gary and I?  Well, we are noticing actors from our childhood are now looking unrecognisably old and wrinkly, which probably means we are also unrecognisably old and wrinkly.  Seconds pass, minutes pass, hours pass, all in a blur of everyday life, and before we know the days, weeks and months trip over themselves and a whole year has gone.

A year and a half has passed since the disintegration of a favourite friendship.  I thought I would never get over it, and yet God has brought new friendships into our lives.  These are healthy, balanced and loving friendships.  Precious in their newness; precious in their beauty.  No-one could ever take the place of the friendship I lost, but God has given us a family who think like us, who live their lives in a similar way to us, and who are tender and loving.  We love together, we laugh together, we work together.  We pray for each other, when one falls the other is there.  It is a nurturing friendship.  And best of all, the whole of the two families are close.  Thomas has found a wonderful friend in their eldest son, the twins have found a very stable and uplifting friendship with their eldest girl and all the littles play beautifully together.  It is a peaceful friendship and one I am so grateful to have in our lives.

Then there is Nik.  My oldest and closest friend, we have been in each other’s lives since I was 20.  We have been through everything together: infertility, adoption, cancer, the death of our dads, the birth of Thomas, followed swiftly by the twins…she has been there for me and me for her.  I think sometimes when you end one close friendship, it creates a deeper appreciation for the healthy relationships in your life.

We have both always prioritised this friendship, but this year we have grown particularly close.  But what we both enjoy the most is watching our children (Nik has two boys the same age as our older ones) building serious, and loving friendships with each other.  They are great, great friends who adore each other.  Nik and I stand on the side-lines sometimes, our hearts warmed by the sight of two dark heads sketching together as J and Lillie enjoy creating together; Thomas and C talking animatedly about scooting and skateboarding; Charlotte and C share secrets together; and all of them helping each other to get through the ups and downs of teen-dom.  We are so blessed to have them in our lives.

This year I have spent more time on home-school than I would like.  It’s funny, I always thought schooling the older ones would be a doddle, after all they would be independent, right?  Well, yes, they are.  However, because they are working towards IGCSEs there is not so much freedom in their days.  They are beating to someone else’s drum, and taking lots of past papers whilst doing so.  Past papers are the BANE of my life 🙁  Honestly.  I mark them on a Thursday evening.  Each week there are English Lit papers for Charlotte and English Language papers for Thomas.  They take forever to mark!  It feels good though to see the improvement each week in their work, and I guess it is a good way of keeping in touch with all they are learning.  Fortunately I don’t need to do Latin papers just yet, or Law, or Biology (next year we will start all of those in preparation for their summer exams….yay, can’t wait!).

Lillie’s photography is still taking up lots of my time, which I am happy to give.  She is doing an A level equivalent which is meant for 17 year olds and above, and she is doing it in a year instead of two.  If we had understood the leap from what is expected at level 2 (IGCSE) to Level 3 (A Level), we probably would have held off for a year or two (or three…).  Lillie is holding on by a thread, with lots of support.  She has an average of 88%, so obviously has some talent.  It is jolly hard work though and very time consuming.

I seem to be reaching some sort of comfortable pace with the little ones.  A9 is so very interested in maths and science, history is taking a bit more of a backseat.  I am thinking of simply doing the Mystery of History with them rather than unit studies, and use the rest of the time to focus on science and maths.

For someone who struggles so much with the basic skills of reading and writing, A9 shows real promise in science and maths, and understands tricky concepts relatively easily.  They both LOVE maths, and I love teaching them.  Life of Fred and living maths rocks and is soooooo much more enjoyable to both teach and learn compared to text-book or video learning.

I think in the new year I will probably up the ante with their science and nature studies and reduce the amount of history and geography.  Regardless, I am thoroughly enjoying my time with them each day.  They are at a fantastic age to teach 🙂

My mum still helps out for an hour each day.  She has the little ones and listens to them read, does hand writing and some English language work with them.  They love this time with her, and she with them.  I don’t see or talk to her as much as I would like.  We are so close emotionally and physically (she lives next door), but I am so time poor at the moment.  We both try to prioritise our relationship and often go out to dinner or to the cinema together, and each Saturday we get together and she cooks for me and watch Strictly Come Dancing together.  Once that has ended we’ll go back to watching the Monarch of the Glen with a veggie lasagne round at ours.

All this school related work means I have had less and less time for my blog.  This makes me very sad.  I love my blog, I love writing it, and looking back reading it.  I love the friendships I have made (and am particularly appreciative of the blogging friends who continue to leave messages even though I am struggling to get to their blogs).  Maybe this year my priorities have needed to change, but I am determined that I will rejig my days next year so that I have time to blog as I did in the past.

As this year comes to a close, I am counting my blessings.  I have been cancer free for six years now.  Six incredible years in which I have had the opportunity to watch my five gorgeous children grow and blossom.  Six years to impart (my very own brand) of wisdom in their lives (stop sniggering Thomas!!).  Six years to watch my older three change from the most wonderful 9 and 10 year olds into ever more incredible teens.  Six years in which my then three year old has blossomed into a chatty, happy and confident 9 year old.  And six years of warm snuggles from my not so babyish baby.

I will never take these days, months and years for granted.  Each day is a blessing.  Each day an excuse to hold my five babies close to my heart.  Every talk we have, every cuddle we share, every tear I wipe….I am honoured to be such a large part of their lives.  And I thank God for every single minute with them.

Then there is the man I am blessed to call my husband.  Sometimes I look at my life, my family and my soul mate with disbelief.  Even after twenty years of marriage, I still can’t believe he chose me.  I get to wake up next to him each morning, and I get to snuggle last thing with him at night.  I didn’t know marriages like ours existed until I experienced it for myself.  We are a partnership in every way possible.  I never have to face anything alone, because he is always there.  My biggest cheer-leader, and the one who always sees the best in me even when I can not see it for myself.  I can not imagine my life without him in it.  I am the best version of myself because of him.

So, as I bring my yearly wrap-up to an end, I can see that it is the people in my life who have taken central stage in my year: from my precious family, to my equally precious friends.  It is as it always has been: relationships, relationships, relationships.  This coming year I want to be able to say that I prioritised relationships over and above everything else.  Something needs to change to slow our lives down a little; to catch hold of the moments and cherish them a little before moving on.  I will be purposefully taking December off from blogland.  I want to pray over my priorities.  I want to make sure I am spending the right time on the right things.  I want to know that next year will move a little slower for us all.  We don’t ever know what our future holds.  Really, now is all we have.  And I want to make next year’s nows matter, and ensure that the now of tomorrow is spent in an intentional and blessed way.

I wish all of you a very merry, delight-filled Christmas, surrounded by those people who mean the most to you.




  1. That was a post well worth the wait! It made me a bit misty eyed Claire! Thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us. I always look forward to your updates. Congratulations on six years of being cancer free. I wish you and your family a most wonderful Christmas! Blessings to you all.

  2. Lovely to hear about your very busy year.
    I can empathize about lack of time to blog. My blog has suffered in the same way.
    Hope you have a happy and relaxed Christmas and New Year.

  3. Aw, this is such a heart warming post! I am feeling like we bit off more then we can chew this year in our homeschool and I’m taking this month (when things are dying down a bit) to look over our schedule and see where we can cut back. I love getting out and seeing all of our friends each week but I missing those quiet times at home, those times when it’s just me and the boys out and about during the school day exploring together, those soul filling moments that make me remember why we chose this life. Enjoy your Christmas and your time with your family.

  4. Oh, my goodness, Claire…it is if you wrote a post for me about my life. I am amazed at how much we have in common despite the fact we live in different countries, right down to the disintegration of a lifetime friendship that made way for new close relationships. Have a great Christmas break, and see you again on the other side!

  5. What a wonderful post, and a wonderful family. Your marriage is an inspiration to me, and your relationship with your children shows me what is possible. Like you, I didn’t know that families could be like yours – but I have hope that I can emulate you in some small ways if and when we have children of our own. Also, I love your blog even if you can only post occasionally. I am currently supporting two families who are newly home educating their children and yours is one of the blogs I want to share with them for inspiration and encouragement. You’re a shining example in so many ways! And now I have probably embarrassed you, but sometimes it’s important to hear what an impact you have on people’s lives just by going about yours.

  6. Claire, that is such a beautiful post. I got teary eyed reading it. I have enjoyed reading your posts and have been so encouraged by your beautiful family over the years. Congratulations on being cancer free for six years. God is so good!!!! Have a wonderful Christmas season. Many blessings to you and yours. Lots of hugs sent your way.

  7. I have the privilege of living close to this wonderful lady and she truly lives all she says and her house is a special as it sounds. My beautiful friend inspires me and her children and husband precious. Keep going J! 😉 You are all inspiring the families in the Lord

  8. Such a lovely post . . . and such lovely experiences! Like you, I am finding that teens need so much more time and attention than I thought they would! Mine accuse me of spending too much time with our littles, but when I look back on the days, I see how it is the teens that dominate most of my energy and thinking.

    Enjoy your December! I wish you success in your efforts to focus on relationships and feel the joy and miracle of each day the Lord has given you. Truly, you are adding light to the world.

  9. What a lovely, lovely post. Your beautiful heart shines through in this post. I love all of the joyful pictures as well.
    Blessings to you and yours.
    Blessings, Dawn

  10. The love for your family shines through every sentence of your post, and it is always so encouraging to read.

    I know what you mean about teens taking more time to homeschool. I’m realizing my direct influence time on the kids is slipping away and I have so much more to do still.

  11. What a brilliantly written post, you have amazing people in your life. Hoping you get the guidance you want, all the best for 2018.

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