J is writing to Father Christmas!

He started his Christmas list a while ago, but this is a proper letter 🙂

So far the letter goes: “Dear Father Christmas, I would love to help. Please can you pick me up and return me before morning?”

He then asked if we could leave a cheque out for Father Christmas as well, “to help him out, so he can get more toys and more materials to make things. I’d love to help him!”

Let’s hope he’s forgotten by December or we (I mean FC, obviously ;)) could have some diplomatic quick-thinking to do 😆

Yay for Friday club!

Definitely a big hit!
We arrived early because I wasn’t sure what time it started (if it had started when I thought it might we’d have been late lol) so did a couple of workbook pages in the car 🙂 – definitely feels more like fun and less of a chore that way 😉
The session itself was great – quite structured, which I think suits my guys well, but with enough flexibility for them not to feel that they were being railroaded into things. Among other things we discovered that balloons filled with air burst when held over a candle flame, but water-filled balloons don’t (well not immediately, anyway 😆 ) because the water conductes the heat away. This was done in the context of the Earth being the only planet we can live on because the amount of water here keeps it temperate.
We also made a new friend in Amelia Bedelia The boys loved the stories and her literal-mindedness and have spent time since trying to work out other scenarios where she could get things wrong.
After a picnic lunch at the park with a few other families (and a lovely dog) we eventually tore ourselves away and came home. We tried again with the Diet Coke and Mentos, this time with a 2l bottle dangling from the climbing frame, but the thread holding the Mentos broke 🙁 setting everything off too early – and all over me! At least we proved that Aldi cheap Diet Coke works just as well as the Real Thing 😉
Once I’d dried off a bit we realised it was time to go and collect Bob from work if we were to make it to our blood donation session, so off we went, picked him up, dropped him off at the hall and then popped to the supermarket to get things for tea so that everyone else could eat while I did my donation – organised or what?! The children chose all sorts of healthy things, like baby carrots to dip in houmous, baby orange peppers to munch, fresh peas to shell (the cashier didn’t know what they were!) and stripy cheese (five counties) to go with Cream Crackers (does that count as healthy?) – then made up for it by pigging biscuits from the donors’ refreshments table 😆
At least this time I didn’t end up needing two different people to get the needle into my arm (as happened last time), nor did I have a lovely bruise to show for my troubles (as usually happens) – although I did have the inevitable 20 minute wait to tell the appropriate person that I had been born in Zambia, lived in Kenya, travelled all over the place, yes, possibly exposed to malaria, no, haven’t had it… The nurse this time suggested that rather than having to remember the list of countries I’ve visited ever since then (yes, all of them please!) I should just write them down and hand over a copy of the list – why has that not occurred to me earlier?

Romans in the kitchen…

Parents and Tots is starting to be a bit more of an all-age group now, which is much better for J and will probably suit K better in future. This week S was unable to come, but another CHEF family came along instead, with boy a similar age to J and girl between K and L. They use The Story of the World (which we are about to start for this very reason) and it looks as though P&T may be a good opportunity to do some of the activities which are not really suited to younger children. This time boy plus mum took J, K and a visiting older sibling into the kitchen to make Roman coins from clay while girl did Playdough stuff with L and me 🙂
They had a great time and J and K were very proud of their Roman coins and of the feet and hands they made to do measuring. A satisfactory solution all round, I think 😀

I want one for our bath

A prototype from Japan for writing on water using waves.

The boys have got a toy plane that happens to be a stealth fighter, and I told J that it was hard to see with radar. He asked how this was, and I told him that special paint on the plane cancels out the radar waves, and I’d tell him more when we went to Hunstanton, by drawing on the beach. Due to the unpleasant weather and cramming lots of things in this didn’t happen.

He reminded me of this tonight and I told him that it would have to wait till tomorrow but there’s an interesting thing that uses the same physics (the Japanese writing bath thing) which impressed him appropriately and got him off to bed. So tomorrow, if he remembers, we’ll be talking about the superposition of waves. I don’t think I’ll use the word superposition, probably adding instead.

On the way up to bed he asked me in a slightly worried voice “If the President of America finds out that we’re talking about this will he get cross with us?” I asked him what he meant, and he was worried about the wave stuff (not stealth technology) and I said it was just the special paint on the stealth plane that was secret. The physics itself was alright, and his aunt, grandfather, grandmother etc. all knew it already. Phew! Not about to be carted off by Americans in dark glasses just yet, then.

Church Farm, Stow Bardolph…

is fab!!! :mrgreen:

Some time ago my aunt promised my cousin’s little boy that she would bring him on the train to Cambridge to see J, K and L. They finally got round to it yesterday, but we decided to meet at Ely (also on the train journey for them) instead. We met them at the station (late due to an accident on the A14 meaning traffic was diverted up the A10 so we were travelling with lots of lorries 🙁 ) and tried to find somewhere to park, but everywhere in Ely was full except for short-stay and we didn’t fancy having to keep moving the car, so we got back on the A10 and headed up to Stow Bardolph, which I had only heard of yesterday – and it was great!
Somebody has obviously put a lot of thought into the way things are set up, so there are lots of little touches which make a big difference. As an example, the main picnic area is roofed and has thick netting around one end, which means it is lovely and shady even on a hot day (and I should imagine also sheltered on a windy one). The picnic tables are large – and there are high chairs too (yes, even outside in the picnic area!) – and it’s right by the sinks for handwashing and near to the toilet block. Another example: there are three large trampolines, all of which are sunken so that the bouncing happens at ground level and there is no need to worry about lifting children on or off or catching them when they fall.
The sandpit is enormous and largely undercover (fantastic on a day like yesterday when it was so sunny and useful too when it suddenly changed to torrential rain) and as well as lever controlled diggers has ordinary buckets and spades and a tap, so that anyone can get involved in making sandcastles, rather than having to just jostle and queue for the diggers 🙂 There is also a wooden rail with tipping wagons to push along it and a turntable to operate – lots of fun and necessitating a fair degree of teamwork.
Then there’s the straw barn. Now I remember as a child visiting my friend who was a farmer’s daughter and spending hours playing in the straw (and then suffering for it as my hayfever flared up 🙁 ) but it’s something my children have never had the chance to do until now – and they loved it!
K, L and I went on a tractor and trailor ride round the main part of the farm while J and J continued playing with sand and straw; we saw rare breed sheep and goats and managed to catch a bit of breeze whizh was worth the £1 in itself! The children all enjoyed rushing around on toy tractors too 🙂
As well as all the activities there were animals to see, but the heat had forced the closure of the petting area so we’ll have to go back sometime to see that. We did meet the sheepdogs who help look after the 100 or so sheep, though, and stroked a large and friendly goat. The small animals (and the large, but it was most noticeable with the small, especially compared with other places we have been) had loads of space and were able to chill out unmolested (ie small children couldn’t reach them 😆 ) – our favourite was the seriously relaxed ferret

We also saw lots of pigs, including some babies and a shepherd’s hut.
A well-timed rainstorm helped us to lure the children into the cafe for tea and cakes, then we reluctantly set off back to Ely and thence home.
Definitely a place worth a second visit, though 😀 (and Kath, is it anywhere near you?)

More Fun and Games

Having failed to organise birthday parties of any description for the children this year, and wanting to help J and K keep contact with old school/preschool friends, we decided to set up a few half-birthday picnics, the first of which (nominally for K) was on Tuesday. Unfortunately many of the school friends were already on holiday so turn-out was not great, but Naomi, a childminder who used to do science sessions with J and a few other CHEF children, was able to come, which made the children very happy, and she brought with her three of her charges who also happen to be both school and Sunday school friends of J (and K, I guess). We played a few very silly games, including Tidy Your Room, where two teams have to attempt to clear their side of the room (or skipping rope, as the case may be!) of balled-up socks by throwing them over to the other team’s side whilst shouting “Tidy your room!” Also attempted (and failed 🙁 ) to remember a few elastics rhymes and actions and ended up using the elastics for limbo dancing instead 😆 How is it that Chinese elastics were such a big part of my school life and yet I can’t remember anything now except broken bits of rhymes and chants?
A couple more friends turned up later, bringing with them delicious cake (thanks Rebecca!) and Bob came along to join us after work, which meant we stayed a little longer than planned – just as well, as it happens, because a preschool friend of K turned up with his mum and seemed totally surprised to see us there. Apparently the invitation we had given to his teacher had never made it to his mother, so they had no idea the picnic was on! Of course we then ended up staying and playing/chatting for another hour or so…
The next picnic, if anyone would like to join us, will be on Friday 11th August for lunch and the last on Saturday 2nd September for brunch – email me if you’d like to join us and I’ll let you know details 😀

Old friends, new house, lovely day

Monday found us on the train to London, off on a visit to E, O, M and F (recently moved and much missed 🙁 ) in their new house. After walking the length of the train looking for enough spare seats with at least one facing in the right direction (I have to face the engine!) we were rescued by some very kind people offering to shuffle about for us so that we could have two seat forward and one back, with a table in the middle 😀 Followed a few scuffles about who would sit by the window (sigh) which were solved by agreeing that the boys could change over halfway through the journey. Then L and K did lots of counting (using flashcards with fish pictures on) and J made a start on an English workbook (by reading all the way through the story and ignoring the writing exercises – ho hum!) while I inserted appropriate words of encouragement and praise and answered random questions about the passing scenery :mrgreen:
Negotiating the Underground was surprisingly easy (thank goodness for the Ergo and for travelcards which mean you don’t have to queue to buy tube tickets 😉 ) and we arrived in South Ealing with only a couple of delays.
It was lovely to see them all again, and to catch up on news while the children played. In the afternoon we even did some artwork (painting with lavender – inspired idea E 😀 ) and then suddenly realised quite how late it was, ended up staying for tea and walked back to the tube station with surprisingly little fuss from the boys and L sound asleep on my back within minutes.
Now we’ve done it once, we’re looking forward to doing it more often – and maybe getting in the occasional museum trip too. J would happily make the Science Museum his second home 😆

Juggling in church!

I was preaching at our home church this Sunday morning. Unfortunately there was nobody to do Sunday School in my “absence” – so I ended up doing both! Split the sermon into two parts, each with a reading as intro, with suitable activity for the children as part of that and then Bob took them over to one side of the church and made their own version of what we’d been using. Not clear! Example: Jesus and disciples crossing the lake to find a quiet place; crowd see this happening and get there first. Two paper plates, joined with a split pin; smaller top one painted blue, larger back one with finger painted people on one side… while tell story move a paper boat across the blue plate lake and spin larger plate round so that people are there when boat arrives. Clear as mud!

It went okay, I think, and a couple of people spoke to me afterwards about how they think this must be the way forward for the church (or at least for our church) as we don’t have enough helpers to sustain Sunday School, if we want children to come we need to make them feel welcome, modern attention span seems to be getting shorter and shorter so split sermon is easier for most people to concentrate…
I did feel as though I was juggling and coming very close to dropping all my hoops at times though 😆
Not going to get into philosophical debate about the future of the church right now, but it’s something I think we really need to reflect on 😕

Sunny Hunny

Shame about the rain :roll:
Annual church family outing to Hunstanton was today – and the day started with a little thunderstorm which set the tone…
The boys made us take buckets and spades so they could play on the beach and studiously ignored our mutterings about wellies and raincoats 😆
Thank goodness for the Sealife Sanctuary! We spent a couple of hours there (and L would happily have stayed for much longer at the Rock Pool section, where you could handle starfish, crabs and anemones) before being lured out by the promise of sun and some time on the beach – and then got side-tracked by the amphibious vehicle waiting to take people on a trip and did a cruise to the cliffs and lighthouse instead of building soggy sandcastles 🙂
On the whole it was a good day (although it cost a fortune!) but a couple of things were really sad, including an overheard (could hardly have avoided overhearing as it was at top volume) exchange from a family walking ahead of us at one point: Woman to girl (presumably daughter) “If you don’t stop your bitching I’ll smash you one!” There were several people there so I assumed (not sure why) she was talking to one of the teenagers, but the girl who responded (inaudibly) could only have been about 5 and mum replied, with great venom and malice (and round a cigarette) “On your face!” Girl suitably cowed they all walked on 😯
Maybe I’m just soft, but I was so sad that a little girl should be spoken to like that 😥 I know I have no idea what had happened before but in the time we had been walking behind them she had been as good as gold, walking nicely and not saying a word – and she and the rest of the group seemed unsurprised at the threat 🙁
The other sad thing was even worse 🙁
We saw a man with a little puppy, something like a Jack Russell, I think. We noticed because the puppy was very cute 🙂
A while later we saw the man again, this time on a bike in the middle of the road – with the puppy on a lead desperately trying to keep up 😯
The man was veering all over the road, which was causing problems for cars trying to get past as well as for the puppy 🙁 It became clear that he was veering so much because he was watching, and shouting and swearing at, a girl (presumably his daughter) riding a bike along the pavement on the other side of the road (iyswim). One particularly violent lurch to the middle of the road nearly got him run over by a van and he was so busy turning round to swear at the driver that he almost stopped, the puppy managed to run on ahead, then the bike lurched back over to the left again and he RAN OVER his own puppy 😥
The poor little mite squealed and he scooped it up and made his way over to the side of the road, still shouting at the little girl and swearing at the driver as if it had been his fault. The front wheel had gone almost all the way over the poor little thing’s tummy and when he put it down its back legs wouldn’t support it 😥 He got cross and tried to make it stand up but it couldn’t. By this time we were closer and I was asking Bob what he thought we could do, but we just didn’t know 🙁 The man handed the lead to the little girl, who had crossed over by now (not sure how he thought the dog was going to escape, but there!) and disappeared into a nearby cafe, then re-emerged with a handful of paper napkins, which I thought odd until I saw the drops of blood on the pavement. The poor little dog was spitting up blood 😥
I heard the man tell the girl that there was a vet’s round the corner, so presumably he had also asked about that in the cafe, and we didn’t really want the children to see what was going on and be upset so we walked on, but I felt so bad not to have done anything. Bob says there is nothing we could have done, except call a vet and we didn’t know where one might be and it seemed the man was going to take the puppy to one anyway, but I have to admit I’m not sure he would bother. I mean, he was stupid and thoughtless enough to cycle with a puppy on a lead (bad) in the middle of the road (worse) whilst weaving in and out of traffic and concentrating more on shouting at others than on steering (appalling)… I really felt like phoning the police, but I don’t suppose there’s anything they could have done either 😕
Surely he would have taken it to the vet?
Ack – I’m so sorry, this is a totally nonsensical post! I was just so shocked and I have to get it out somehow 🙁
What should we have done?