Gobstoppers and ‘Doughnuts’.


For months Jessy was on a mission to find a giant gobstopper. One of the really huge ones about the size of a tennis ball. I got a very excited phone call one day when he was out in Sheffield with my ex, to say they had found one! I remember having one as a child and how the novelty wore off about half way through. The same happened for Jessy and the gobstopper has been abandoned on top of the chest of drawers for weeks, getting the occasional lick. The other morning Jessy declared he wanted to smash it. I thwarted his plan to smash it on the wooden bedroom floor so he suggested we do it outside and went to find a box. He wouldn’t even pause to get dressed!


Checking to see that smashed gobstopper still tastes good!

Nothing happened on the first throw. Next time he threw harder and bits of gobstopper shattered and went flying. We scrabbled to pick them up, both subconsciously aware of the ‘5 second rule’! Then I had a go and perfected the technique of ‘Smash & Slam’, whereby I hurled the gobstopper as hard as I could into the box and then slammed the lid shut to catch the flying pieces. It was fun! The gobstopper looked really pretty. It was interesting to see all the layers,which Jessy seemed to find hard to conceptualise as the gobstopper revealed its coloured rings and I explained they were layers. It also looked like a partially destroyed planet which appealed to my love of fantasy space scape art.


The partially destroyed planet of Gobstopper!


We were both excited when reached the core of the gobstopper which wouldn’t smash. I’m sitting here wondering whether I should try and attribute some kind of educational value to this. I can’t think of anything that fits neatly into a ‘subject’ or a defined learning experience. That’s a lot of what this autonomous journey is about though, learning to relax, and trust that following what interests you and enjoying the experience means you are inevitably learning, even if you are smashing gobstoppers in the garden!

The unsmashable core.

Yesterday Jessy asked about his donor. We often chat about him and I try to mention him in casual conversation if it seems relevant. Jessy has known he was conceived by donor insemination since he was first able to grasp the concept. It began with the simplicity of ‘you don’t have a Dad, you have a donor. He’s a special man who helped me to make you’ and went on from there. When Jessy was 3 years old he asked ‘what’s that?’ pointing at a doughnut I was eating. “It’s a doughnut”, I told him. “Like my special little man in America!” he said. It was a brilliant word muddle and we still refer to him as Jessy’s doughnut from time to time.


We snuggled up in an armchair and I got out the whole file of documents I’ve kept from when I conceived him at the clinic with Manchester Fertility Services. We read through his donor profile together. Some of it he already knew and some of it he hadn’t remembered. Interestingly, even though Jessy knows his donor has curly brown hair and hazel/green eyes he said he always imagines his donor with grey hair and grey eyes. Trying to describe Jessy’s eyes makes me feel sure he has inherited his donors eye colour as ‘hazel-green’ is probably the closest description I could manage for a form – they change all the time! We read about what he liked to watch on TV as a child, which famous people he admires and even his favourite flavour of ice cream! I talked a little about why I chose him as we read. We wondered whether Jessy was the first child conceived using his donor and whether he might have half brothers and sisters, possibly all over the world!


Perhaps the most important part on the form was the place where the donor said he is open to being contacted by children conceived by his sperm once they are 18. It was strange to think that we may meet this man one day. Perhaps I will look into the eyes of a man I have never met before and see the eyes of the child I have loved all of his life. That would be quite something!

Art and friendship.


One of my favourite things about living in Manchester is being with my friends again. The people I met in Sheffield were friendly and welcoming, and one person in particular really made the effort to be a friend, which I’ll never forget. Friendships take a long time to grow though, and I’ve appreciated that all the more since coming home. Jessy seems to have matured at a surprising rate since being back here, and I think that no small part of that is down to being amongst his friends again, where his confidence and character shine.


Another thing I appreciate about Manchester is the diversity of groups and activities available. One of the groups I missed was the Proud2BParents group which meets once a month. It’s a place for gay parents to get together and hang out with their kids. I like that Jessy can see for himself that other children have gay parents, although if I’m honest, I don’t think it matters to him in the least! We were back in time for the Halloween party and Jessy was excited to win Pass the Parcel. It was probably all the more exciting because the way we play Pass the Parcel is that the middle of the parcel contains treats to share and the person who unwraps it gets to share them out so he’s never had his own prize before!


One of the prizes was a little set of beads that you iron to make them stick together. Jessy got a little frustrated when trying to follow the octopus pattern provided, until I pointed out he could make whatever he liked. He came up with some great little creations. I am allergic to ironing so realising that this may be the only time in his childhood he saw one of the awful contraptions, I took the opportunity to teach him the basics. I went over the safety issues and then let him have a go. Perhaps he’ll take a liking to it and there will be someone in the house who can actually iron!

Jessy ironing his bead creation.


This week we’ve been staying with some friends who also home educate. My friend and I have helped out a lot with looking after each other’s children over the years to the point where they sometimes seemed like siblings! I’m always in awe of how my friend can create a delicious feast out of a pile of fresh vegetables and thin air. This visit was no exception. I have fond memories of eating artichokes at my Aunt’s house as a child. They always seemed so exciting, so I was keen for Jessy to try them too. My favourite though was what I call ‘Magic Turnips’ because they are so delicious it’s magic. My friend assures me they are very simple to cook!

Exciting artichokes!

We enjoyed a typical autonomous home ed type afternoon. Anastasia wanted to make meringues with the left over egg whites from the artichoke sauce. Jessy, meanwhile, was engrossed in Fractiles which I also found to be quite compelling when I had a go!


Anastasia beating egg whites while Jessy creates with Fractiles. 


A pattern I copied from the ones provided.










Back from our friend’s house today, Jessy has been very patient while I spent most of the day online, ordering furniture for our new house. Later on I introduced him to ‘Picture Consequences’. He hadn’t thought through what the ‘consequence’ would be as we drew and folded and swapped our papers. When he saw the first one he burst out laughing so hard he went red and it was quickly infectious and we laughed for ages at our hilarious creations! We played lots of times.  A really good laugh together is a perfect consequence I reckon!

My favourite one.

The first one we unfolded.

Gulliver’s World for Halloween

This Halloween blog is a bit late, we’ve been busy! I don’t generally draw much of a line between what is educational and what is fun. Some things though are so much fun that they can definitely fall into the fun camp! Halloween is much anticipated and one of those legitimate times when you can stuff your face full of sweets. Do other parents feel that these ‘sweet stuffing’ occasions seem to arise with alarming regularity? It’s someone’s birthday, let’s eat sweets! It’s Easter, let’s eat chocolate! It’s Christmas, let’s eat as much of everything we possibly can until we burst! This year I tried to balance out the sweet stuff by making good use of the pumpkins we carved. I made pumpkin soup and roasted the seeds. We also made pumpkin cake which was a combination sugar and vegetables and therefore fits with the theme of balance. (Ok, ok, we just wanted cake!)

Pumpkins carved by me and directed by Jessy (back) and one of our current housemates John and John’s Mum.

Soup made from the carved out pumpkins made a tasty dinner.

Pumpkin Cake made by me, Jessy and Anais. Moist and delicious.










We went Trick or Treating with Jessy’s cousin and another home educated friend. It was pouring with rain. My friend and I huddled shivering under the umbrellas while our little vampire, ghost and ghost buster zig zagged across the streets unconcerned by the downpour. We’d planned to go to a fair and fireworks display and we muttered anxiously as the children gathered their booty. We wanted a hot cup of tea in the warm and dry. My friend came to the rescue. I’d forgotten we’d planned to go to Gulliver’s World the next day. We presented it as a huge surprise that we would do instead of the fair and fireworks. Three bouncing screaming children and lots of squeezy hugs confirmed our plan had worked.

I didn’t get a photo of Jessy in his ghost costume, but this shows the mask with the roasted pumpkin seeds.

Anais in her ghostbuster costume (it had a great backpack!) with her pumpkin.













Gulliver’s World was brilliant! It’s aimed at children but I had a great time too. Jessy liked the rickety wooden rollercoaster best, Anais (Jessy’s 9 year old cousin) liked the Pirate Ship, Anastasia liked the Joker which took you up in the air and then dropped you over and over again. My friend S and I abandoned the children to go on the crazy spinny thing. It was a giant disc with seats around the perimeter which went up and down a giant skateboard ramp whilst spinning around. We screamed and laughed and waved at the kids who looked at us as if we were insane. I persuaded Anais to go on just before we left and after conquering her fear she loved it too. As we left the sun was setting and we all wandered tired and frozen with big grins back to the car.

Jessy and Anais on the Teacups.

Jessy on the dinosaur carousel.

My friend and her daughter Anastasia at lunchtime.

We headed to Ikea for quick hot food (meatballs!!) and bumped into another Home Ed family we’re friends with in the car park. It was a lovely way to wrap up a great day out, sitting as a group of friends, eating and chatting while the kids played and we laughed at the antics of our friend’s toddler who kept running over the table and jumping onto his Mum. Happy Halloween!

By pinkylucy