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Well, pumpkin season is in full swing, and I couldn’t let October go past without sharing some photos from our trip to the pumpkin patch at Pickwell Farm in Netley. Despite what it looks like in these photos, it was really busy when we visited on a Sunday morning in mid October and I must admit, I did enjoy it a little bit less this year for this reason. Last year we went at the beginning of October and there were only a few other families there with us, in fact we pretty much had the field to ourselves for a while and the children had loads of fun running around to their hearts content while I snapped away on the camera. I’m not a fan of busy places with kids, it immediately puts me slightly on edge, so although we still had fun, I think we’ll be visiting early in the month and on a week day next year so we can make the most of it. It’s so fun to have family traditions and places that you go back to every year isn’t it? We could all reminisce about Ernie being tiny last year and just sitting in…

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What would you pack if you were going to spend the day in a forest with three children? Do you want a peek inside my backpack? Recently we’ve been getting out and about a lot more during the week while Carl’s at work. This makes me so happy because to me, one of the biggest benefits of home educating is being able to spend copious amounts of time outdoors and we just weren’t taking advantage of this possibility as much as I’d like. The truth is, I’ve been battling with it all year but I just hate driving. I can’t do it. The thought of it makes me sweat and feel sick. If I drove somewhere, I would spend the entire time thinking and worrying about the fact that I had to drive home again. And, living in a city means that if we want to go anywhere close to nature it means a trip down the motorway. I’ve tried and tried to sort myself out and get to grips with the driving for the sake of the children but, at the moment there’s a mental block there and I just can’t get past it. So instead of beat myself…

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On a grey sunday morning in mid October, we headed up to Swanmore in Hampshire to visit Hill Farm Orchards on their pick your own Apples open weekend. I didn’t know what to expect because it seems to be the first year they have done this event, but I saw a post on Facebook, and I’m not about to miss out on a chance to do a traditional Autumn activity now am I? It ended up being not only a really lovely hour or so picking fruit as a family, but it also led to one of my favourite sets of photos that I’ve taken this year. I’m such a sucker for Autumn colours and those Pear trees are just beautiful. The orchards are absolutely gorgeous with rows of pear trees as well as a few different varieties of Apple trees such as cox, gala and braeburn. All of the children loved pulling the fruit from the trees, with Mabel and Greta hunting for the best and biggest looking examples they could find and Ernie just going for whatever was closest to his hands. He was our most enthusiastic fruit picker though and was particularly determined that every apple and…

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If you are reading this post, first of all I have to let you know that you are absolutely sworn to secrecy! If anyone so much as mentions the words Paris and January in the same sentence around my children I will be an extremely unhappy Mama! That’s right, we are taking the kids to Disneyland Paris for their Christmas present this year and if they catch wind of it before December 25th I’ll make sure the person responsible gets nothing but a lump of coal in their stocking this year. But yuletide threats aside, I am so excited about our winter break that I’ve already started secret preparations and the holiday planning lists are long and many. It will actually be our first time taking kids abroad and my first time abroad since the last time we went to Disneyland as fresh faced newlyweds 7 years ago. We went in February for that trip and I remember well how bitterly cold it was and how unprepared I was for the weather. Having nothing with me that was really cut out for a whole day outside in freezing temperatures, I ended up wearing pretty much all of the clothes I…

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Last Thursday we had a perfect afternoon. I mean everything about it made my heart happy. You know when you look around you and you just think ‘Yes. This.’ It’s funny how I never get that feeling after I’ve folded all the washing and put it away, or after I’ve achieved some other level of mundane domestic perfection that I feel like I should be hopelessly aiming for. Neither is it usually on those big exciting days, the big birthday celebrations that have required a military operation to organise, or the expensive day out that we’re late for because it always takes us at least double to the amount of time to get everyone in the car as we allow for it. Those things are fun, of course they are otherwise we wouldn’t do them, but they don’t give me that ‘I am home. This is exactly where I need to be right now.’ feeling. Sometimes it happens when I’m cooking a yummy dinner on a Sunday afternoon, I look into the front room and see candles lit on the mantelpiece, Carl and Ernie cuddled up on the sofa watching Toy story, Mabel and Greta drawing at the coffee table or playing…

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Eating out as a family is for me one of those things that usually seems like a much better as an idea when I’m imagining it in my head than it actually turns out to be in reality. Let’s go for the stress free option, I think to myself. Yes, much nicer to have somebody cook and clear up for us, what a treat! But inevitably, before we’ve even ordered I end up mediating a fight between the two girls over my iPhone whilst simultaneously wrestling the boy away from stealing ice cream from the nice couple at the next table over whilst Carl repeats himself over and over through increasingly clenched teeth ‘Do you want pasta, sausages or chicken? Mabel? Pasta, sausages, or chicken? PASTA. SAUSAGES. OR CHICKEN???’ Eating out family style for us usually includes at least one spilt drink, 3-4 trips to the toilet, more time spent by the kids deliberating over what they want to eat than spent actually eating it, a lot of noise, a lot of mess and a lot of laughter. When Prezzo invited us down to try out their new family style range of dishes LA FAMIGLIA, I was intrigued and excited.…

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So after my post the other week, I think a few people might have been a bit worried that I was completely loosing it. But the funny thing is that although, ok that weekend kinda sucked in some ways, I was actually in a really good place when I wrote that post because I knew that life was heading in a good direction and my grumpiness that Saturday morning was mostly just frustration that circumstances were stopping me from doing what I needed to do and going where I needed to go and although I had all this intention to start changing my life… the momentum hadn’t really got going yet. Have you ever felt like that before? I think I’ve felt like that on and off for a long time actually. Having young children and babies that are breastfeeding and up in the night often… a lot of the time I felt that I knew what I needed to do, but I couldn’t do it. I was stuck being too tired to exercise, or too busy to clean my house properly, or I had a baby that was stuck to me 24/7 like a little koala bear in a wrap and I couldn’t possibly…

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There are so many benefits of children learning abut music and I think a lot of parents would say that they have ambitions of their children learning to play an instrument at some point in their childhood, if they want to. But for someone like me, who loves and appreciates all kinds of music but can’t play and really doesn’t have much of a clue about the different instruments, what they sound like and how they are played, I’m not sure how I would be able to help them make a choice of which on to take up. Monty the Maestro and his Marvellous Magical Orchestra seeks to solve that problem, by introducing children playfully through stories, illustrations and musical accompaniment to all the different instruments in the orchestra. The books and audio books work together to show children what the instruments look like, how they are played and what they sound like individually and together. Recently, Gabrielle, the creator of Monty the Maestro story books and audio books got in touch to ask if we would like to try out and review the first two books in the series. I’m always keen to introduce my children to new things…

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