K’s preschool parent/teacher consultation

I managed to miss the proper one as it was on the one morning a week that I can’t make and K doesn’t go in 🙄 and then his teacher and I just haven’t quite managed to arrange to see one another – not high priority as I knew there was nothing much wrong anyway.
So with next week being end of year we met today. She gave me his personal profile and folder of memories at the same time and then basically just talked me through them and it was actually almost embarrassing! She is a lovely person and K is in her first ever class of her own (iyswim) but even knocking off a few degrees for overenthusiasm it was a seriously proud mummy moment :mrgreen:
She talked about how sensitive he is, how caring (mentioned incidences like when a friend bumped his head and K went in unprompted to ask for an icepack then took it to friend and looked after him), she said she uses him as a role model quite often in the class (not so sure how much of a good idea that one is!) because he picks things up quickly and then the others can follow his example, how bright he is etc etc.
I’m sorry – this sounds like so much boasting! I may come back and edit but I wanted to get it all out first 😆
The thing is that K is lovely. We always knew he was lovely and it is something people always comment on, but tbh he is often in J’s shadow, particularly academically, so in a way I guess we tend to find ourselves thinking of him as a bit of a nice but dim (that’s not quite what I mean, but I can’t think of a better way of putting it) and it was lovely to hear him being praised in such a well-rounded way and for achievements as wide-ranging as thinking of others, making sensible decisions, coming up with good ideas, recognising numbers and letters, teaching other children how to do things…
I’m almost overwhelmed!
Have to treasure these moments, as he will be HE from next week on, so this may be the only proper report he gets!
ISTR J was often used as a teacher’s model too, and was praised for his ability to help other children learn how to do things. Teaching runs in my family for generations – I guess there’s no escape 😆

It’s nice up north!

What a great evening! The film was very very good and it was lovely to be out with a friend just doing grown-up things and having real adult conversation 😀 We had an unexpected bonus afterwards too, as it turned out Graham Fellowes (alias John Shuttleworth) and Martin Parr (who shot the film) were there and they did a question and answer session at the end of the film, which was fab!
Note to self: must do this sort of thing more often!

Black marks at preschool…

for the parents, though, not for K 😆

K decided he didn’t fancy going on Monday, which suited me as his French club has now finished which means he would have needed collecting at an awkward time (after lunch, but without the extra half-hour for French) and J and L wanted to go to Mustard Seeds (J to work in the corner and L to play with a friend) so this way K could come too 🙂
Bob phoned preschool to say K wouldn’t be coming and wouldn’t need lunch. The secretary asked why, ready to be sympathetic, I guess, and was neutral to say the least when he explained that K just didn’t want to go and further that it was getting harder and harder to persuade him to go now that his friend M has moved. He didn’t go in today either, so I’m a little concerned as to what might get said tomorrow… Ah well – they still get paid for his place, even if he doesn’t use it, and preschool attendance is not compulsory so it’s our choice really – if we choose not to benefit from their wonderful provision, more fool us! 😉

Anyway, the boys decided that they wanted to wash the car, so that’s what we did 😀 Each child had a small bucket and a sponge (the boys used their sponges from needle-felting at MP camp 😆 ) and they did a great job of redistributing the dirt, then finished the job with enthusiasm and spirit, flinging the contents of their buckets over the hubcaps to make sure that they got their fair share of muddy water too.

This meant that we were (inevitably!) late for MS, and arrived just in time for tidying up 🙄 Still, L and K got to join in the songs and eat lots of fruit (K’s idea of heaven!) while J and I did maths and reading, then we all listened to the story (except J, who had buried himself in a book – his idea of heaven!) and had a leisurely walk home, instead of having to leave early and do a mad dash across town to pick up K 😀

In the afternoon we did a bit of shopping and were then due to pick J’s friend B up from school and have him round for tea, but his mum phoned to say that little sister F had a trial afternoon at school and had somehow convinced herself that this meant she would be having a trial tea with us too 😆 and would that be okay? So we ended up with two little visitors, one of them very excited but also a little homesick and both very tired (yes, it was their birthday parties at the weekend!). We started by making butter, then used that to make bread and butter pudding, which we used to top a dish of frozen raspberries I couldn’t fit in the freezer. It went down a storm with ice-cream 😀

Today found us doing a friendship/mercy run to a friend with baby twins (and two older boys as well), delivering a batch of Omega seeds, some fresh bread and soup and the last of the EBM from my freezer which I forgot to deliver last time we went. (Can’t do her any more just now as I broke my dairy-free to go to MP camp and haven’t got back to it yet and her twins are lactose-intolerant and suffer severe reflux 🙁 )
K was disappointed to find that her 4 year old was at nursery, but he and J had a great time playing with her older son (8, I think) and J has now discovered Sim City and put it on his birthday list. Meanwhile I had a lovely time playing with her twins and L pottered between us.

Couldn’t stay as long as we’d have liked because we had to get back for J’s last French club session, which was a special for parents to attends. He even had a part to play (le loup mechant who tried to eat the trois petits cochons!) and words to learn, which he did admirably 😀 Bob took an hour off work to come, which made J’s day 😀

Now we have two very tired boys (and boy is J crabby when he’s tired!) to get to bed and a daughter who thinks the answer to everything is “Mummy milk!” but hasn’t yet realised that I’m off out in an hour’s time – mwahahaha!

A real grown-up evening! In the cinema! Without a child on my lap! Going to the toilet when I need to go, by myself! How will I cope?

A Weekend of Parties

Kiddy parties. 😛

J’s friend B and his sister F both have birthdays at about the same time so it was F’s party on Saturday and B’s on Sunday. F’s was a family affair, so we all toddled along there and spent the afternoon playing (littles), chatting (bigs) and eating nice food (all) – including delicious chocolate crispie cakes with a distinct caramel flavour (reminiscent of Mars bars or Creme Eggs 😕 ) due to being made with lots of golden syrup – must get a recipe! F being 4 and girly, the cake was a triumph of pink, sparkly icing 😉

In the evening we did the second great Coke Fountain experiment, with some success 🙂

Today was B’s party, which unfortunately clashed in timing with church. J was very excited, though, as B had told him about a wonderful science man who would be coming to entertain the children, so we arranged to drop him off early, en route to church, so that he wouldn’t have to miss anything.

Sadly, after this masterstroke of organisation, the science man had cancelled, so the children were left to entertain themselves 🙁 which they did with great aplomb and a bit of good luck on the weather front 🙂

Sunday school was small (just two children, aged 4 and 9, so interesting from a differentiation pov!) and brief as we went back in for communion. K was listening very hard to the words which accompanied the bread and wine and repeating them after the minister. He opted to take wine (the children normally have only bread and a blessing – their choice) and seemed to get a lot out of the experience generally.

After church Bob dropped me off at B’s so I could bring J back at the end of the party and brought K and L back home for lunch and a quiet afternoon. This meant I got to chat and eat nice food again 😉
In fact, I did so much chatting and eating (and washing-up, of course) that J and I ended up outstaying all the other guests, by which time B’s mum and I were into deep philosophical and personal discussion and soul-baring (there’s nothing like washing-up to get you into counselling mode!) so we persuaded the children that they would like to watch a video and sat down with a pot of tea and a slice of birthday cake (chocolate biscuit refrigerator cake – mostly sugar, held together with fat!) to set the world to rights. Oh, and also arranged to go to the film festival at the Arts Theatre on Tuesday to see the John Shuttleworth film “It’s Nice Up North”. I’m really excited, not least because I can’t remember the last time I went to the cinema!

Got back home to find L fast asleep in Bob’s arms 🙂 which of course means she is now still up and playing with toys even though Bob and I are flagging fast and would love to be either in bed or at least doing worthwhile jobs 😆 The boys, on the other hand, were in bed and asleep (after a few chapters of MNLS) by half past six and seven o’clock!

Wine, women and song

Well, two out of three anyway 😆

After a brief pitstop at home we headed back into town, picking Bob up on the way, and just made it to King’s in time for Choral Evensong. We sat behind the screen, so had a moderately good view of the choristers as they sang but were pretty much out of sight ourselves 😉 L made just enough noise for Bob to feel they’d be better off elsewhere so he took her and K outside to admire the gardens etc while J and I sat and listened to the singing and put our new-found stained glass appreciation skills into practice 🙂
Then we met up with our Canadian friends again and went to the Rainbow Cafe for a delicious meal. It was the first time we had met Z’s dad, R, and the first time N had met Bob, but we all got on really well. In fact, as a person who normally finds it takes about a year to summon up the courage to talk to somebody, leave alone become friends *sigh*, I can hardly believe how quickly we all felt at ease and how well everyone got on. We have exchanged contact details of every possible sort – now we just need to save up enough to get over to Canada for a visit…
It was a happy and sad evening for the children. They loved spending time together and very much enjoyed their meal, especially the dessert (vanilla chocolate chip cheesecake, plus the odd taste of parents’ rainbow brownies, and carrot cake), but were also very aware that this was the last they would see of each other for a long time. Even as we were saying goodbye the boys were plotting ways to get a few more minutes: “Mummy, I think the daddies would like to chat more, so how about if they walk together and everyone else goes in our car?” and so on 😆

Ship of the fens

Spent last night trying to work out whether and how to fit in some time with Z and family before they leave tomorrow and decided to ask them to dinner tonight. They were planning to go to Stansted Mountfitchet today, which we knew we would not have time to do, but when we phoned this morning to ask about dinner N had been overtaken by an attack of laziness 😆 – know that one well! – and decided to wait and see if we had any better ideas, so we suggested an afternoon in Ely instead.
K had a dressing up day at preschool (take a bottle for the tombola next week and in return you can wear fancy dress!) so went in as Batman – his current (and long-term) favourite character, even though he knows nothing at all about him except what he looks like 😆
Meanwhile J and I chanted some times tables. I told him he could earn an ice cream for each table he did, starting with one for Z, then K, then L and finally himself. Then he did a set of random questions to earn icecreams for the mummies 😉 He did well, although faded fast at the end – I think treating mums was less exciting than working towards his own treat 😆
Then he did some BBC literacy games on the PC while I hung out washing and sorted the car to take 7 again; L “helped” us each in turn.
We picked up N, Z and L (and enjoyed a great Canadian delicacy for lunch: peanut butter and banana sandwiches) and made our way out to Ely to visit the cathedral, known as the Ship of the Fens. The boys loved the big cannon in front of the cathedral and it was amazing to think that it had been brought all the way from Russia (captured during the Crimean) nearly 150 years ago! I had forgotten how beautiful the cathedral is; it was really special to have the chance to share it with a new friend and with the children. The highlight of the visit was seeing a hoist in action, lifting boxes from the ground floor to the first floor of the cathedral. This kept them all happy for ages while N and I admired the architecture and the lovely windows.
We decided to visit the stained glass museum rather than doing the cathedral tour, as we were a little short of time and the children were keen to see the glass and the pictures, so we climbed up a steep spiral staircase, holding onto a rather rickety handrail and then spent a happy half hour wandering round looking at beautiful pictures lit from behind to give a soft glow 😀 Many depicted stories and J and K got quite good at spotting them and working out what was going on. There were also little scenes showing how the windows were made and a glass kiln which proved to be just the right height for L to bump her head… Oh, and the museum afforded us a great view, over a sort of balcony, of the aforementioned hoist 😉
As well as the museum itself there was a stained glass shop, where we spent about as much time again. The children each chose a marble: K and Z a globe, L a fish in a ball and J wavered for so long between a red and black die (yes, a stained glass die!) and a football that in the end (after due warning) I chose for him and bought the die. This was, of course, the wrong choice 🙄 N bought a piece of stained glass to take back for her mother – to Canada via Italy. I hope it survives!

After the cathedral we met up with a friend who showed us a lovely little playground where the children were able to let off steam before the drive back – and incidentally N was able to take some great photos so the boys will be able to remember one another.
A busy day – and a busy evening, which I think will have to go in as a separate entry. I need some sleep!

Tots, tantrums and tears

Hard work at P&T today 🙁
On paper it should have been easy, as there was not only a church member down to help but also a new volunteer sent my way by a friend who works in careers and rehab type stuff. In fact, I had plans to pull everything out of the cupboard, sort it all out and put it back in properly. Talk about the best laid plans…

Things started well, with J and the new volunteer playing a word pool game (throw the die to see how many lily pads the frog can jump on to collect letters, then use the letters to spell words) which J loved. In fact, it kept him happy for nearly an hour, with various others joining in from time to time then dropping out when they got bored. K was happy just pottering with his friends, so all looked well….. except for L who was permanently teetering on tantrum-edge 🙁 She cried when a baby touched a toy she had earmarked as hers, when another child looked at the bike she had abandoned at the other end of the hall in a way that suggested he might be thinking about wanting to ride it 🙄 , when I told her it wasn’t time for biscuits yet, when her doll fell out of the sling (kids’ coorie) she was carrying it in… It didn’t help that it was an unusually busy session.

In the end I decided enough was enough and used the fact that I had helpers this week to give a bit of leeway; I took L out for a walk. A bit of fresh air and time out, cuddled up to mummy in a wrap, seemed to help calm her down and when we got back she was able to just get on calmly with the other children.

After P&T we went to Z’s for lunch and play, which was great – until N (his mum) tried to get a photo of all the children together and J got seriously stroppy. As I was starting to get frustrated with him I had a sudden flash that this was more stress than strop. In the past we have had special treat last days spoiled by awful behaviour because he cannot cope with the sadness to come 🙁 Instead of trying to coax or push him into cooperating I gave him a big cuddle and asked “Are you really sad that we have to say goodbye to Z?” and he burst into tears 😥
Eventually we worked out that part of the problem was that he thought we had no contact details for Z so would never see them again (I asked him how he had coped with saying goodbye to friends at MP camp and he said it was okay because they had all given him their phone numbers – first I knew of it 😆 ) so we showed him the card N had given us with lots of contact info and promised to save up and try to get to Canada sometime to visit…

Then spent the rest of the afternoon playing outside, finding pottery pieces (note to self: ask Polly), exploring a secret path where we found rope which the boys then used to mountaineer up the slide in the playground… oh, and introducing N to the slippery slope of babywearing :mrgreen:

Boxes and books

Dropped K off at preschool this morning and then went across town to a reading morning at S’s house. We arrived about 20 minutes early, so did some tables while we waited; the promise of Diet Coke and Mentos got J motivated to finish so we’d have time later to do experiments.
At the reading morning, S, J and a few others sat themselves in large cardboard boxes in the library and listened to S’s mum reading The Wind in the Willows, while younger siblings played in the playroom (oh, to have room for a playroom and/or a library!), then there was time for a brief play before dashing back to pick up K and take them all to Bouncearound – huge toddler group in centre, which has become part of our lives over the last 6 years 🙂
Had to leave BAR early (not popular as the boys’ favourite bit is tidying up!) to get back to car and collect Diet Coke, then popped to Sainsbury’s, where we failed to find Mentos but settled for Softmints to see if they work too. Then got caught in huge downpour so unable to go into garden to do experiment anyway 🙁
Ho hum.
Off to MSLC AGM shortly, so Coke fountains will have to wait until tomorrow…

Sport, tables and funky fun!

We’ve been doing a lot of work on times tables recently, as multiplication seems to keep coming up.
We started with chanting the tables as we walked along, but J gets cross after a couple of sets and starts muttering or just generally being silly so we’ve had to be a bit more obvious about it. The biggest problem is that he claims to know them, so won’t bother saying them, then when pressed has to admit that he doesn’t know them (but how could he? He’s never learned them! I don’t quite understand why this is such a problem for him 😕 ) and then goes all sulky or even downright depressed and sobs about how useless he is 🙁 which leaves me feeling totally rubbish and as though I might be better just letting him take his chances at school because at least he liked the teachers there…
Anyway, in an attempt to get out of this cycle I’ve had him colouring in number squares to see the patterns, which was quite fun, and then chanting the tables using the number square as a help. So far we’ve done 2s (fairly confident), 10s (totally confident), 5s (fun – like 10s with an extra twist) and 3s (less popular) and are taking pains to point out that the more he learns the more he already knows of the rest 😉 The Woodlands school pages (will try to add link later) are really useful for reinforcement on the PC, so we’ve been using them a bit too.

Yesterday J had a CHEF sport session, which was good, and he and L collected their certificates for doing the Great School Run (2km) a few weeks ago – very chuffed they both were too. After that we took L to Mustard Seeds, where J and I sat in a corner and coloured in number squares, then read My Naughty Little Sister, interspersed with tables questions (the more he answered the more I read – seemed to work!). I remember my grandfather reading MNLS to me when I was J’s age, so it was quite a trip down memory lane 🙂 Mustard Seeds finishes with a story, which is always done in a fairly hands-on way so all the children can feel part of it. This week was the story of St. Laurence (MS is held in St Laurence’s church) and J really got into it. When we saw Bob later he retold the story to him. Actually 💡 that might be a good start point for some imaginative writing – or indeed any writing.

In the afternoon we had a friend from school round for tea, so J had a chance to meet up with old friends (and his favourite teacher) and play for a bit, then we came home via the library where they each chose 2 books which we then came home and started reading together on the settee before tea. After about 4 books it was so hot the children decided ice lollies were in order, so took those outside then came in and did sand art until tea was ready – am I mad? 4 children, aged 6, 5, 4 and 2, several sticky bits of paper and 6 pots of coloured sand! :yikes: Actually, the results were not bad at all, and the mess safely contained on newspaper.

Today we met with Z, L and mum at church coffee morning, then all piled into the car (yay for a 7-seater!) and went across town to the Funky Funhouse where we discovered that the children’s tickets entitled us to a free tea or coffee and them to a free icepop. Useful when it came to time to get them out of the softplay zone and back in the car…

Dashed back across town (boy does time go fast when you’re having fun!) just in time to get J to French club – and having the car proved to be a stroke of luck when the thunder, lightning and enormous raindrops started just before we were due to head back home. Next week is the last session, possibly ever 🙁 as the teacher still does not know what the school will be doing next year and whether their plans include her after school sessions (in which case J will be able to continue) or will put French into the schoolday curriculum, in which case J will no longer be able to do it. I think the time has come for me to look seriously at Jolie Ronde training and possibly franchise.

A weekend of firsts!

Bob and I bought books from amazon for the first time yesterday: Five-minute Miracles (thanks Jax!) and The Story of the World books 1 and 2 and corresponding activity books. I fear this could be the start of a slippery slope 😆

Then today I ran the Race for Life for the first time. It was really hot and I just don’t do heat; I really thought I was going to faint halfway round and the temptation to linger in the few places where there was shade was great, but somehow I managed to keep going and finished in almost exactly 30 minutes! I am seriously chuffed as I have never been able to run; even when I was rowing and relatively fit I used to be let off training runs because I wheezed so much! Bob and the children were unable to watch 🙁 because Bob was reading in church and had forgotten to swap with anyone, plus it was all age worship and we knew that neither of the other regular families was going to be there, so felt we should give the preacher somebody to talk to under the age of 20 😉 In fact, I really regretted this as I was running; it was amazing how much difference it made to see the occasional person I knew and feel that they were willing me on. (Blatant plug – I didn’t ask anyone beforehand, as I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to let people down if I didn’t manage it, but a friend insisted and now I’ve started I may as well try for the £100 target Bob set me…)

Another (and rather sad – shows my sheltered existence!) first for me was buying a round of drinks for my fellow Running for Non-runners classmates in the pub after the race. I have hitherto avoided pubs except when absolutely necessary because the slightest hint of cigarette smoke makes me wheeze 🙁 When I have been in it has usually been with Bob (who has bought the drinks) or in a “buy your own” situation. I discovered something very useful though, as we all decided soda and lime would be the most refreshing thing and the round came to 90p! I thought the bartender must mean per drink and even then was relieved it was not too much, but no, it was for the round! :mrgreen: Apparently they cannot charge for soda water 😕 so you only pay for a shot of lime 😉 Anyway, we sat outside in a shady spot in the garden and watched the runners getting ready for the second race (there were three in Cambridge, with 3000 runners in each 😯 ) and it was lovely 😀

After church the children had their first: Sportsfest at the local leisure centre. J played football with a squidgy inflatable ball very nearly as large as him, while K and L found their own amusements (I wasn’t there, so will have to leave it to Bob to blog about it in detail). The boys also got goodie bags, so they were very chuffed – made up for me having a goodie bag and a medal 😆

We all met up then for lunch, which we ate under a tree halfway round the course, so we could clap and cheer when the second race runners came past. L raised lots of smiles as she pirouetted and clapped and K informed us that when he is older he is going to dress up as a lady so he can run the Race for Life too 😆

Needed a nice quiet afternoon to recover. L slept for nearly 2 hours (unusual for her) while the boys stripped off and painted cardboard boxes outside. K now has a lovely cardboard sword and shield and J a person waiting to be cut out. Bob and I have put up a few more bathroom cabinets and doors – but still no more tiles yet. Ah well, there’s always next week!