Yearly Wrap Up 2014

When I look back on the past two yearly wrap ups, I can see just how much of a struggle 2012 and 2013 were.  Each wrap up was tinged with the feelings of being overwhelmed – by cancer in 2012 and burn out in mid-2013.  This year is a different story.

I began the year feeling stronger than I had since B3 had been born.  She was, at last, sleeping through the night and Gary and I had some respite.  I had reached the two-year anniversary of being cancer free – an important mile stone with Invasive Melanoma.  Things were looking up.  However, I was still plagued by the insomnia I had endured since a young child and I was anemic from health problems resulting from B3’s birth.  Whilst not exhausted I was still permanently tired.

This year my fabulous GP figured out what caused the insomnia and put me on a very low dose medicine.  This was not a sleeping pill but a medicine which has become the off switch for my highly creative and busy brain.  I now happily get up to 10 hours sleep each night.  This GP, at the same time, referred me to a consultant who investigated the anemia and in November I had a very successful operation which has sorted out many health issues.

This year I also embarked on a weight loss journey.  Prior to the operation I had lost almost 26Ib.  The operation stopped me focusing on my weight for a short time, but I am now back to trying to shift these excess pounds.  I am hopeful I will reach my small goal of a 30lb loss by the end of the year.  My incredible husband has joined Slimming World with me.  Whilst I have never joined Slimming World before, I have walked this path many times before.  This coming year might just be my year for finally conquering these fat cells once and for all.  Having the support of Gary, following the Slimming World’s healthy eating plan (which is a plan the family can follow and requires no counting, weighing or measuring) and making exercise a priority for our whole family means that I am hopeful for the results I desire.

School wise we have gone through many changes this year.  We embarked on project based learning  at the beginning of the year, with the children taking on self chosen topics based in the middle ages for further study and culminating in a medieval banquet:

The three older ones look a little nervous as their presentation time approaches

T12 focused on the War of the Roses, making a video to reflect what he had learnt:

He used the map of Britain we made last year to show the positions of each battle fought during the war of the roses, illustrating which side won

C12 put her hands to good use whilst learning about fashions during the medieval period.  She focused her learning on peasant and noble fashions, making dress up for her dollies to demonstrate her learning:


C11 had decided to be one of the fasion house (which probably didn't exist -  a bit of artistic license was called for here)  Her presentation was basically about advertising her dresses.

L12 surpassed all our expectations of what an 11-year-old could achieve by researching medieval banquets, and then fairly independently organised and put on a banquet all of her own, designing everything and cooking everything:

And brought it to the table

A3 with her trencher

I think it was one of our most successful and interesting school terms.  It was homeschooling at its best!  We have not been able to replicate the success of those ten weeks during the rest of the year, although the native American unit came close.  Next year we will make a foray into deep project based learning again, mixed with some unschooling in an attempt to experience the wonder of those previous ten weeks.


This past year has also seen my older children shoot up, in size and in maturity.  T12 has surpassed Gary in height, has had his voice drop now three times and was asked to pay adult fees when he recently went to have his hair cut.  Life is good for T at the moment.  He has made a few close friends, is on the rota to help with AV at church and is one of the helpers in B3’s Sunday school group.  He still fences, sings in a choir and will soon begin a Condenders of the Faith club with his sisters and good friends, K11 and B13.  He and C12 have worked very hard on their relationship over the past wee while, choosing to love each other even when it is hard, and both have been rewarded with a reblossoming of their previous closeness prior to hormones.


Adolescence has a lot to answer for and having three going through it at the same time has made for some tricky times over the past two years.  The three older ones had always been particularly close for siblings, having spent their entire childhood in some imaginary game or another.  When T hit his hormonal stage he pulled away somewhat which broke his sisters’ hearts.  Adolescence seems to be a time of introversion in terms of thoughts and Gary and I have trained and retrained our three eldest to try to think outside of themselves.  It has been gratifying to see that such training does pay off and I have come to realise the importance of the parental role in helping tween children to navigate the often tumultuous journey through adolescence.  As I write this the three of them are upstairs in T’s room playing The Bird Table game with much laughter and enjoyment, happy noises floating down the stairs.  I am grateful that I have a son who was able to see the bigger picture of family relationships instead of focusing on small niggly irritations.


L12 and C12 absolutely hate growing up, with a vengeance!  They find the ups and downs of hormones difficult, although they are dealing with it all much better than a year ago.  Both sometimes come crying to me, begging me to make them carefree children again.  They are also tall for their age and, as vast as my laps are, fitting them both on for a cuddle is now a thing of the past, and something all three of us mourn.  Of course, I want them to grow up.  I mean I completely don’t want them to stay as children forever, but really, does childhood have to be so short?  I blinked and here they are trying to figure out boy-girl relationships and make-up.  They’re not old enough, I tell you!  More to the point, I’m not old mature enough!  I just thank God, again, that he led us to homeschool so we could all be together, building the most wonderful closeness that even hormones can’t rob us of.

My family.  Happy, happy sigh!

Parenting this age is much more complicated than parenting littles, and yet, I think, is probably more rewarding.  I enjoy the heated discussions, their opinions, them standing their ground (respectfully and sometimes very humorously) against their father and I; but I also enjoy the tender moments, their openness with both Gary and I.  I love the way they look to their Daddy to cherish and protect them.  How Gary always steps up to the challenge and how, if Gary is not around, their big brother steps in to protect them.  I pity their future suitors because they’ll have not one but two fiercely protective men to get through first!

My little two are such a special joy to me.  I understand now, in a way I didn’t with the older three, just how quickly this time flies by.  A6 is growing into such a placid, eager to please young lady.  And yet, alongside the eagerness is a gentle confidence:

Ribbet collageww4

And then there is B3.  A more rambunctious, mischievous, fun-loving child would be hard to find.  Highly inteligent, she keeps us all on our toes.  She is also loving, cuddly and just adores her big brother and sisters, knowing how to wrap us all round her little finger to ensure all goes right in her world!

Is she not the cutest science EVER?

Yes, it has in deed been a good year and I am looking forward with joy and anticipation to the coming year, trusting it will also be filled which much learning and many good things.

I wish you all a merry, merry Christmas and much joy for your own year ahead.

‘See’ you all in the new year!

 photo 50ee37ee-4f60-43f2-83eb-bb7deb75fd49_zpsbacda61d.pngWeekly Wrap-Up


    1. No need to dread them. They are a bit of a shock to the system because they are so different but it becomes your new normal and you enjoy the ride for the most part.

  1. What a tribute to your entire family! The love just oozed its way all the way “over the pond”. God, in His infinite wisdom, gave you all to each other and you are all just what the others need. I look forward to continued posts about your life and journey through homeschooling.
    Myra, from Winnipeg, Canada where we are back to minus 15C (or lower) temps after a brief respite of spring-like temps.

  2. You brought some tears to my eyes, and a smile. Parenting tweens and teens is hard, but definitely rewarding…and the time does go so fast. Your year sums up wonderfully – beautiful post!

    1. Thanks Leah. I have to try not to giggle because the girls can get upset at certain times in the month over the smallest thing and their reaction seems so dramatic! But then I think back and remember how awful being 11 and 12 really was! I loved being a teen though, so maybe there’s hope for them yet.

  3. A lovely year. It is an encouragement to we moms not quite so far along in our parenting journey to see that the struggles produce good results. Thanks for being a blogger who I don’t have to be jealous of because everything always seems just right, but one I can appreciate because you find a way to work it out alright!

    1. Yes, there’s no perfection here (unfortunately!), but we do as a family try to work hard to keep family life as harmonious as possible.
      I hope you and your family have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas.

  4. That’s a lovely reflection on the year. Merry Christmas, and I hope next year is a wonderful one for your family!

  5. Have a Merry Christmas! I am so happy that your doctor was able to sort out your health issues. That makes all the difference. What a blessed year.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. Thank you Dawn. I too am chuffed I seem to be heading towards a healthier year. I pray that this coming year will be full of wonder-full things for both your family and mine!

  6. I enjoy reading your reflections. It is easy to know that you love your children and enjoy them. I am so glad that you have gotten some answers for the physical things.

  7. I think you all had a spectacular year! Your children are as lovely and gorgeous as ever. Congrats on being 2 years cancer free! Praying for you all to continue having a happy and healthy future

    1. Ooops, sorry, I didn’t mean to make anyone cry!
      Thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave a message. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  8. Oh, what fun to look back over your year. I love seeing the pictures of your lovely family. I hope you have a most wonderful Christmas season. Wishing you a joyous new year to come. Hugs from me to you, Claire. Merry Christmas.

    1. Happy Christmas to you and your family too. I can’t wait to hear about your Christmas. Well done for getting all your presents made – that is fantastic!
      I hope you have a really special time this year. Much love!!

  9. Our year has been richer because of your family, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your lives. You are all very special to us and we wish you a very merry Christmas and may God bless you with a wonderful 2015.

  10. Oh Claire what a lovely year. So much good and wonderful has happened. I am so glad you are healthy and sleeping. And your beautiful children!! I remember so many of these projects. I have always loved the project based learning you do. I hope that 2015 is even better with ‘beautiful; every single day!!!

  11. Claire,

    What a wonderful reflection. Your children are so beautiful and I can see they are close and very loving. I just love seeing siblings hugging each other. Thank you for sharing your blessings!

    Happy Christmas to you and your family!

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