Monday 10 September 2018

"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend."

The last few months have been all about making the house ours, moving rooms around, de-cluttering and making use of all of the space we have. We decided that one of the rooms downstairs needed to be a relaxing reading space. We couldn't quite decided what to put on the wall though in a relaxing space dedicated to one of our favourite past times. That was until I thought about a gift that my bestie Helen had got me for my birthday. She has really helped me through a lot of the harder parts of all this heartache and she was eager to help with putting some personal touches into the house. She had very Kindly bought me 3 canvas's so that the boys and I could create one each.

I asked the boys if they would use their artistic flair to create something each around a book (or series of books) that were important to them. I knew straight away that mine was going to be based on A Series of unfortunate events as Ive been reading them to Opeie at bed time and Ive really loved how excited he's been as we have ploughed through them. I didn't want to draw an obvious picture of the Baudelairs or even their nemesis Count Olaf so I went for a random singer from the Volunteers fighting disease, as the song about the heart shaped balloon always stuck out for Opeie.

I wasn't at all Surprised when Opeie decided he was going to base his canvas design on Beetle boy by M.G. Leonard. The Beetle boy trilogy will always be very special to me as they were the books that really opened up Opeie's imagination and made him realise just how amazing the world of books can be. He hung off every word of those stories and after the first and the second books we were both eager for the release of the next one. I was genuinely gutted when Battle of the Beetles ended.

I not quite sure what I expected Seth to choose, as he mainly reads on his own these days and he gets through so many books that I can't keep up with him.  I was pretty surprised that he chose Enid Blyton's 'The Secret Seven' as they are books that I have been reading to him at bedtime. The secret seven and the Famous five were books that I grew up on and I wanted to share those adventures with the boys.When I asked Seth what was so special about the Secret Seven books he said that he loves me reading to him and finds my voice really relaxing (which made my day).

Emotions may be all over the place at the moment but these little personal touches around the house are making fun new memories and giving us the relaxing home that I think we all need.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

"And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow."

With Seth's first day of secondary school being tomorrow, I should be really thinking about starting the home ed for Opeie tomorrow too. In great home ed style though I'm not. Instead we have decided to have a 'home ed appreciation day' before getting into all of the adventuring and creative learning. We both feel really lucky to be in a position to be educating/learning on our terms and were going to spend tomorrow really thinking about that as we see the local children leaving for school. Tomorrow will be a day of staying in our pj's, reading, baking and playing because... well we can.

I think its amazing how far we have come as a team and I often think back to those unnerving few months around (what would have been) his official 'start date', all the 'what if's' and 'Am I doing the right thing'. It seems crazy now to think that I had that little confidence in not only myself, but Opeie's ability to learn outside of a classroom environment. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't still have the same occasional thoughts every now and again when I am having an off day, but luckily on these days (which thankfully are getting less and less), I take myself back to a single moment.

We had decided to go on a spur of the moment mid week camping trip (because as home edders you can do that kind of thing). As we pulled into the campsite car park at Devils bridge the heavens opened. Not a light delicate shower but the sort of rain that meant that we couldn't park next to the tent pitch for fear of getting stuck on the field. We managed to get the tent up in the rain and flopped onto the beds to read for a while. The rain died down and the sun came out and we saw that as an opening to go exploring. We decided to walk Devils bridge falls (which is beautiful) while reading the local legend that surrounds the bridge.Within 5 minutes of the walk the rain came down even harder than before. We were drenched! usually I love the adventure, but I felt like the trip was going to be a flop and I seriously started questioning the whole 'Home Ed' thing. As we walked up the waterfall though with the rain still coming down and the spray from the falls almost hitting us too, the sun came out behind it all and what appeared a few feet in front of us was the most beautiful sight. 

In an instant, all of those negative feelings I had about Home Ed seemed to vanish and as we stood and stared at a rainbow (that we could almost touch) curving over the waterfall in front of us, I was left with an enlightened feeling of 'This is exactly where we should be right now'. 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that"

I genuinely had no idea that the transition to becoming a single dad was going to be so difficult. I'd felt like a single parent for such a long time, so I figured everything would just fall into place. Being there for the boys though during this confusing and upsetting time has been so exhausting. Its hard enough dealing with my own confusion around why someone could walk out on their family for what seems like no reason at all, without having to also be damage control for those two very special boys in my life and the hurt and disappointment that they are feeling. Keeping busy is all I've got these days and I'm trying to desperately hold on to my passions and creativity, while keeping it together.

LEGO for me has always been so much more than a building toy, it has become a way of life in our home and a way for the boys and I to not only explore our imaginations but to also communicate with each other. Recently LEGO is the one thing that is keeping me sane of an evening, which may sound dramatic but there have been moments over the last few months where I have felt like I'm not coping very well and the evenings can be quite lonely. The rummaging, the designing, the entire process of building has become like my evening meditation and Ive started using that to build things to make the boys home more interesting. 

All the heartache aside, it has actually been pretty nice transforming our home into the home that we want and the first thing we did was to scrap the lounge and turn it into a LEGO room. It made so much more sense to actually make use of the space that we have and it has really helped the boys to look at our family home in a new way now that its just the three of us. 

The past couple of nights Ive been busy making small changes to things in the house. A couple of damaged picture frames have been replaced by frames made of bricks and (not being a fan of the main lights in the house) I decided to create some new table lamps for the house for a little more relaxed lighting (we could all do with a little more 'relaxed' these days). Opeie recently bought the Powerpuff girls kits with his pocket money and after building them they were just sitting on the shelf not doing much, so I decided to build the first lamp around them, mainly because of all the bright colours. It came out looking pretty cute and fit perfectly into the room.

Well, I'd got the buzz, so the following evening I started to build a Spider-man themed one for the boys bedroom. As I sat there clicking those bricks together it was the first time in what seems like such a long time that I really felt like myself again. Not only did the lamp come out looking really fun  but it really got me thinking of more things that I wanted to create over the coming weeks. I think it has been good for the boys to see me getting excited about something again.

Ive always had a thing for lighting around the house, especially of an evening and I can't believe I've not thought about doing this before. The great thing about building the lamps with LEGO is that if we get bored of them we can take them apart and change the theme. The boys also pointed out that we can create lamps for Christmas, Halloween, Valentines etc. It looks like this may be a new family tradition and as Opeie keeps saying 'Im glad we are are making new fun memories over the bad ones'.

As always, another amazing win for LEGO in our house, Its amazing that something as simple as plastic bricks, could have such a huge impact on us three boys.