I suppose I don’t talk much about the large family that both Slaveboy and I have, or our experiences in home educating them. I’ve deliberated on blogging about it more but in all honesty, our home educating journey has been dictated by not popular home educating philosophies or some particularly well discussed parenting ethos. A lot of it has been governed by the need to exist and function given the amount of money we can plough into it (home educating is the biggest expense in our family), our abilities (Slaveboy and myself) to channel the energy, the child’s present demands, aptitude, ability, perseverance and attitude about their active role in the family, the space we have and we take all that, we bundle them all up and tie it with a rubber band and then multiply it by 9. Yes, 9. There are nine members of this family, not seven with a set of parents who hardly have any time to be their own person with their own pursuits. There have been times in our lives when we have done pitifully little. The first six months of the 7th Wonder’s life, we almost went into hibernation. The 7th Wonder was quite ill and the whole family’s pace of life just slowed down tremendously. Instead of fighting it and trying to accelerate matters, we just adjusted to the pace. At times begrudgingly. We are in our 9th year of home educating now (I think) and I feel we are pretty old skool. I’m not au fait with current trends in home educating, nor am I remotely interested to be honest. I suppose our present challenge is to consolidate the needs of four different age groups (mine included). I became aware of the fact that with seven children, I would be raising teenagers for far longer than most other parents I know, and for Slaveboy who have had children previous to our marriage, it’s been 32 years with a good 18 years to go. Hence my drive to make sure that we both have a well rounded relationship with each other as partners as old aged with mild incontinence is not the time to be fixing one’s marriage. That’s the time for M&S meal deals and sex without contraceptives. Making these adjustments to accommodate all family members have been the hardest to date. Well, for me it has and still is. Having been raised by a mother who was never tactile and certainly not when I was a teenager, I have to remind myself that teenaged girls still like getting hugs from their Mother, never mind that this was alien to me as a teenager. I have to also remind myself that my teen children’s experiences are their own and many would be personal and private to them, but in no way am I lesser to them. I also have to remember how achingly lonely I was as the youngest child in a large family of older siblings who were busy living their social lives. You can know that you’re loved but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re lonely. The Small Shouty One is gloriously SIX now. She’s still ethereal and sweet and larger than life. It’s been a bit of a struggle. The Small Shouty One has done a lot of growing up and I have been slow to realise it. She can swim lengths at her swimming club. Her over active little legs are long enough that she now can start drum lessons. Her hair still grows at an extraordinary rate and she berates everyone else about how their mess is making me feel sad. Because the cooking is shared between Slaveboy, the three oldest children and myself, the Small Shouty One has been increasingly keen to contribute to the food production in the house. For today’s dessert, she had a go at making a Victoria sponge. I did the scooping out of flour and sugar and she told me to stop when the scales showed the right numbers. She poured in the eggs and folded in (rather vigorously) the flour. She also divided the mixture between the two tins that she had lovingly greased with her fair hands. It was a little bit of a task to convince her that we couldn’t put the whipped cream on until the cakes were properly cool and she poo poo-ed Slaveboy’s suggestion that perhaps damson jam would be a nice alternative to Bonne Maman strawberry jam. I have to admit the proportions of the Victoria sponge was a tad overwhelming. Slicing it was tricky and it was never going to lend to dainty morsels. But! But it was impressive. It was big and as far as the Small Shouty One was concerned, it was just like her, larger than life. The flavour was acceptable. You couldn’t fault it, perhaps slightly rubbery but that was due to all the love she patted into it when she was spreading the mixture into the tins. And maybe a little bit of saliva and sweat. The recipe if you want it is 400g of butter and caster sugar mixed well with a mixer. Add to it 8 eggs, one egg at a time. Mix in 2tbsp vanilla extract and fold in 400g self raising flour. Do not overmix. Divide the mixture between two 9 inch tins and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 40 minutes. Do check it at 30 minutes. Allow to cool and sandwich together with whatever you fancy.