Saturday, 30 November 2013

Illness sucks

It's been a tough few days.  Meg developed a cough and a temperature, and her inhalers weren't really having an impact.  She's been really under the weather, and naturally very clingy.  I've struggled, not least because at night she's been waking every hour or so.

I missed a playdate, a trip to the cinema with Rob (really sad about this!), a visit to the robot safari at the Science Museum, and I reluctantly cancelled mum's birthday lunch we were hosting.  The GP prescribed antibiotics and steroids, and she's on a million puffs of ventolin.  Pah.

My energy levels have been low, and the older two have had to entertain themselves to a certain extent.  Puzzles, glitter, bricks, ipad/nexus games have been the order of the day.

We did leave the house to pick the car up from the garage, and all three enjoyed being in the taxi.

So, today.  Meg and I went to the out of hours GP at the hospital.  Meanwhile, Rob, Fred and Betsy went to the Science Museum.  The robot safari event sounded great, but the kids weren't that into it.  Rob said the science guys who were showing their robots weren't great at engaging younger visitors.  They loved the hands on stuff in the Launchpad though.  

Hooray for trains.

 Watching the robot fish.

Robot salamander.

Gas and liquid.

Heat sensor.

Changing airflow to make boat move.

Slinky fun.

The late autumn/early winter colour is beautiful at the moment.  Betsy was amazed to see the whole of our path was yellow from the dropped leaves.

As it's the last day of November, I've taken all the autumn stuff down now.  The leaves are gone from the front door, the decorations down from the front window.  I've emptied the nature tray, and will set up some winter surprises for the kids to discover in the morning.

The autumn gnomes had a little party, next to the orange candle that's been on the nature tray since September.

Goodbye autumn, hello winter.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Better materials

Betsy and Meg are prolific creators of art work.  We get through a lot of paper, paint, glue, felt tips, and other crafty materials.  I tend to buy big bottles of kids paint from Hobbycraft or Crafty Crocodiles, for the bright colours and their washable nature.  And I buy bog standard value reams of paper from Tescos.

When we visited our friend Zoe at the weekend, she got out some beautiful thick water colour paper, a roll of quality brushes, and some acrylic paints.  The girls really enjoyed using the different quality materials.  Inspired by this, Meg and I went to The Works to look for some new art goodies.  I came away with some A4 mounted canvases, a pad of watercolour paper, and a couple of acrylic paints to add to the few we had in the cupboard.

Betsy spent ages this evening, mixing colours and painting pictures.  She used all the canvases!  One or two will be presents for my mum's birthday this weekend, and we'll put the others up on the wall.

I think she'd like to use these all the time, but we can't afford those kind of materials for all the art work that gets produced here.  I'll certainly replenish our stock with better quality stuff more often though.

Freddie also had an investment in his creative persuits.  Rob sweated and frowned through the complicated task of installing Minecraft forge, so that Freddie could add mods.  He is delighted!  He got a creature mod, and now has komodo dragons, snakes, fish and dozens of others.

And look - screen grabs!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Conversations and connections

We had a chilled out weekend.  Rob beetled about on Saturday fixing some broken household bits and bobs.  I snuck off to town and had a bucket of mocha from Costa Coffee - seriously, it was medium but they're bloody enormous. 

We had a lovely, relaxed afternoon at our friend's house on Sunday.  Food, wine, music, painting, minecraft, conversation. We didn't want to leave!

This week, we have no plans of any sort.  No meet ups, outings, appointments.  Highly unusual.  

When we have nothing in particular to do, the kids often gravitate to the ipad or the nexus.  I took this photo on Sunday morning, when they were all busy playing games.  It made me smile!

Freddie's been playing a lot of Clash of Clans, and using the global function to communicate with other players.  He frequently asks me how to spell words.  He types them out and reads the replies.  He's learning a lot about how people communicate, what' ok and what isn't, and what might happen if you're rude (one player got kicked out of the clan!).  Fascinating.

Betsy bought an I Can Cook magazine yesterday.  She spent the afternoon doing the activities and puzzles, and really enjoyed it.  By coincidence, many of the foods in the 'abc' bit we'd bought that morning, like apple, egg, lemon and onion.  Some things she hadn't heard of, like zest and figs.  Then by another coincidence, Betsy helped me to make christmas mincemeat, and grated some lemon and orange zest.  And today I remembered there are
green figs on a tree on the way into town.  Betsy picked a couple and we cut them open when we got home.  Some lovely connections made.

Freddie noticed that the water level in the canal has dropped.  We saw a neighbour who said they have changed the flow at the end of the canal as they're doing some work on one of the banks.  Betsy worried about the ducks, but I think they'll be ok!  A young swan has moved in, and we're all a bit concerned about it.  It looks too young to be alone, especially coming up to winter.  Freddie thinks it's a female, by the size and shape of the beak.

On the walk into town, Freddie asked what the council did.  We chatted about roads, street lights, schools etc, and I compared councils to small versions of the government.  Freddie said that he thought the queen was in charge, which led discussion of kings having all the power, to Charles I having his head cut off, and the increase in parliamentary power since then.  He usually tells me when to stop talking (!), but seemed genuinely interested to hear about this.

Other diversions - hopscotch, a new Little Letter subscription for Meg, dressing up, painting, The Phoenix comic.  The car won't start, which is annoying but not a serious problem yet!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Friends and lights and bangs

We spent most of today in Milton Keynes.  Ikea first, to buy their gingerbread house kit.  The kids were excited to go into the creche.  I went to the cafe for breakfast, and wandered around the showroom for a while.  It was strange.  I felt like I was playing hooky.  I didn't enjoy it at all!  I wish I'd brought a book to read.  As it was, after 40 minutes I gave up trying to be on my own, and sat on the sofa outside the creche until the hour was up.  

Meg had a meltdown when she came out of the creche, as she didn't want to leave.  It was about 75% epic - pretty loud and sustained and public.

We bought the gingerbread house and some jam for mum, and headed over to Caden and Mile's new place.

It's fantastic!  For less than our mortgage they have more bedrooms, loos, bigger kitchen, bigger garden.  I think it's worth considering selling up and renting for a while.  For the monthly cost of our mortgage we could get a house with twice the bedrooms and so much more living space.  I love our house, and where we live, and our neighbours.  It's hard, balancing that against what we could get with Rob's hard earned money.

Anyway, we had lunch there, and the kids played a great game of hide and seek (so many places to hide when there are 3 floors!), and we went to the local playground.

Meg as a lion.  She was a lion for most of the afternoon.

Home in time for dinner, and out the door again for the christmas lights switch on.  I'd budgeted £15 for light up toys (rather than being shocked at the price and paying reluctantly, like last year).  Freddie got a double ended light sabre, and Betsy and Meg got flashing star wands.  All very happy with their choices.

There was the countdown, the lights came on, and there was a  firework display (the first time they've watched fireworks with no ear defenders!).  Excellent job as usual.  

We listened to the first CD of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the car.  Betsy was disappointed she didn't find out what happened next ('did he find the golden ticket?').  Freddie wanted to watch the film when we got in.  I thought it was on Netflix, but no.  I think we'll look for it in the library.  He's watching Lemony Snicket instead.