Thursday, 3 January 2013

Day 3 - new year, new challenges

Thursday 3rd January 2013 I can already see a pattern emerging. As the light on the day begins to fade my thoughts to turn to my blog. I am not one for routines but I think I will like this one. The blog puts a fullstop on the working day - perfect! I don't really do new year resolutions but, instead, I make a list of challenges for the year ahead. Some challenges will take me all year to complete while others can be achieved in a single month. New learning is at the heart of most of the challenges and this year is no different. My challenge for January may well take me most of the year if my previous efforts are anything to go by. I desperately want to learn to spin. I tried a few years ago but just couldn't get it going and then I got frustrated and abandoned it. Not like me to give up so this will be the year I finally master the art of spinning. With luck we are about to foster a small herd of alpaccas in search of fresh grazing. Ideally, I need to master spinning in time for shearing later in the year. I will keep you posted! On the animal front tomorrow sees the arrival of our new rescue kitten Mimi. She will be adopted by my third child, George, and the excitement is building. Like his older sister George has a deep love of animals and I sure he will be the perfect kitten parent. I am also sure there will be chaos for a while but so be it. George is 15 and has recently decided he would like a career working with animals. He is particularly interested in dogs and their mental health. When he was much younger we visited a dog rescue centre and he saw a dog running about in a constant circle. It was explained to us that this was the dog showing anxiety and that he had been mis-treated in the past. That memory has stayed with George and now may well shape some of his future. His older sister, Molly, is at Lincoln university studying conservation biology with an emphasis on animal behaviour. I think her interests have influenced George and they will now both work with animals. I should probably explain our slightly unconventional approach to schooling. We home educate our children and have done for many years. I do not want you all to think that there aren't any schools on Arran because there are both primary and secondary schools on the island. Our decision to home educate was not really anything to do with the local schools and, indeed, three of our children attended them. The decision was based on a belief that, in the UK, our education system had drifted away from a style of learning that required the learner to play an active role in the learning process. We wanted our children to be passionate about learning and that was just not happening. Both Pete and I are trained and experienced teachers so we thought we would give another route a go on a trial basis. That was more than 10 years ago and we have never looked back since. It is true that we are not the only ones on Arran to home educate. Perhaps it is more common in more remote areas? It is true that when we first moved here we did find that we were more able to think outside the box. Some of the conventions of everyday life seemed less important to us here. I do not, for one minute, believe that home education is right for every child but it has worked for us. I am quite sure that this topic will feature highly throughout the year as it is my job to do most of the home schooling. I would also say that it is not an easy route. It is incredibly demanding on time and energy and it pulls at the purse strings quite a bit as well. Once Molly decided she wanted a career that required a degree that meannt GCSEs and A Levels the same as most other children. The difference being it cost us a minimum of £300 per subject, per qualification! The next child in line, Harry (now 17), decided on a route that didn't include university so he is moving through more vocational qualifications through distance learning and these are even more expensive. That said, we have long ago accounted for these fees and they are just part of our lives now. Harry would, ideally, like to join the fire service but has a plan B as it is not the easiest service to get in to. He is working on his plan B at the moment as he is studying for a diploma in health and fitness. Harry is the least academic of the four children and he always needs a strong reason to study. This course has provided him with that reason and he is flying through it. On the subject of Harry we come to the issue to winter colds. Harry is a body builder and a fitness fanatic. All good, I hear you cry! Sort of I would reply. The good is that he is fit and healthy most of the time but because he pushes his body so hard he leaves himself open to colds etc. In September last year he had a very nasty cold which led to a chest infection and antibiotics etc etc. In November he got another bad cold but this time I decided against antibiotics and went down an alternative route. With the help of manuka honey we managed to avoid a course of antibiotics and I was really pleased. After too many late nights and new year's eve, when I don't think he slept at all, he now has cold number 3. Been the the shops to stock up with ginger and lemon that I mix with a teaspoon of honey in boiling water. We shall see... So you have your challenges for the year sorted and on day 3 a new one pops us and requires us mothers out there to adapt accordingly. My work studio is at the front of the house and I am prone to losing time staring at the view of the sea so the picture was taken on a grey miserable day.
The intention is to capture this picture a few times throughout the year and hopefully with some sunshine. I will end just mentioning my year long challenge so we are all on the same page. In 2013 I want to spend as little money as possible. This is probably a reaction to the whole Christmas thing but I have wanted to do a year like this for a while. I am investigating ways to cut costs so I spend less. It is not a matter of making more money, it is absolutely about spending as little as possible without changing the quality of our lives. This topic will also, no doubt, feature quite heavily. Obviously, as a result of todays extra expenditure I would like to grow ginger and lemons. Not very realistic, I know. Keep well everyone. x