Boys and girls…

We’ve been splitting up by gender a bit today. A couple of years ago the boys and I were a bit stuck as to what we could give Bob for father’s day and eventually settled on a voucher for 3* treatment at a Turkish barber’s in town. He enjoyed it so much (despite a slightly alarming experience – but I’ll leave it to him to describe it 😆 ) that it has now become a tradition. Last year J went with him for a bit of male bonding and this was so successful that this year K went too 🙂

Meanwhile L and I were to go belly dancing, as she has been begging to come with me for weeks and one way or another we’ve not managed it; sessions have always ended up being cancelled when we could make them or we’ve been otherwise engaged when they were on. Before we left, though, the teacher phoned to say that the session was cancelled, and in fact that there would be no more sessions, as it was just not viable to keep going with the small number of attendees 🙁 She borrowed a sling from me a while back and wanted to know how and when to return it – or would I like to pop round for a coffee at the time the class would have been on? (Underlying current/unspoken message: pleeeease pop round for a coffee!) This we did, giving L the unaccustomed experience of being the older child when the other was an only child – and a boisterous 13 month old bent on pushing boundaries at that! She rose to the occasion, although a little bewildered as to why he wouldn’t share his toys and why everything she picked up should suddenly be of immense interest to him when he had discarded it just seconds before 😆 Lovely as he was, I could see why his mum was starting to feel a little stressed and overwhelmed; I remember that phase well!

After their Turkish treat the lads made their way to a summer fair in aid of the toddler group and playgroup they both used to go to, where we eventually joined them, and had fun decorating windmills and little fabric bags (with England flags *sigh*), playing on the bouncy castle, eating sweet treats from the cake stall and browsing the jumble tables for tat – sorry, treasure 😉

This afternoon, I have mostly been…….. sleeping! This is almost unheard of for me, but L’s sleeping pattern (such as it was 🙄 ) has changed since MP camp, with the effect that Bob and I now get something of an evening (good), she sleeps more soundly (good), still wakes a couple of times (not so good) and wakes proportionately earlier too (really not good!) – so I’m now getting even less sleep 🙁 When I went running on Thursday I came close to collapse after 30 minutes at moderate speed (ie slow :lol:) so I don’t see good things coming out of the Race for Life tomorrow unless I can get a bit more sleep tonight 😕 Hopefully dozing this afternoon will have helped, although it means the bathroom is still not tiled!

Still, Bob managed to get the shed finished, so we can now start putting things into it, which should help with the downstairs decluttering efforts… You never know, one day we may even lift ourselves out of CHAOS and be able to have friends round again 😯

Catching up

Getting a bit behind already 😆 so time for a bit of a catching-up post, I think.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks, although we hardly seem to have *done* anything 😕

The week before last, after parents and tots (and the infamous milk incident!), we had lunch with a friend and then walked home, L on my back in the Ergo, with all our bits and pieces in the rucksack (useful but definitely less comfortable as it changes the centre of gravity) and a boy holding each hand. On the way we met a woman with a boy somewhere between my two in age and a baby in a pushchair, who stopped us to ask if my sling was comfortable. By the time we had finished talking about it, what it was, how it worked, where to get one etc, the boys were arm in arm and chatting as though they had been friends for years 🙂 so we decided on a slight detour to the park rather than walking straight home.

It turned out that the woman was Canadian and they were in Cambridge for just a few months, which were almost over 🙁 and had not bothered to get the boy (Z) into school for such a short time so were effectively HE, but only temporarily – anyway, the children got on like a house on fire (we’ve had to meet up a few times since due to popular demand) and we got to talk slings and carriers as they are about to go off for 10 days walking/hiking in the mountains in Italy… She fell in love with the NG Ergo (I think seeing me carry a 2 year old comfortably helped!) and we were lucky enough to then spot one up for sale second-hand on ukparents so she should have one in time for the holiday 😉

I guess this counts as socialisation for both the boys and me 😀 – shame they’re leaving so soon though 🙁
Oh, and I’m now on the look-out for yet another highly-recommended book, but with very little hope of finding it as it is both Canadian (I think) and out of print: Five Minute Miracles. Loads of simple ideas for five-minute educational and/or fun activities which require little or no preparation. If I can’t get hold of a copy, I guess I’ll just have to start compiling my own…

We met Z and family again on Tuesday (church coffee morning) and again on Thurs (p&t) and now have just one week before they go; I’m torn between cramming lots of meetings in because the children get on so well and not doing that because I don’t want the boys to feel they have found a new friend only to lose him again.

This is made more acute by the fact that another HE family, with very similar aged children, doing almost exactly the same things (even to having middle children at same preschool) has just moved away, leaving K unwilling to go to preschool at all (M was his best friend both in and out of preschool), L missing her first real friend and J a bit lost as we spent so much time with them as a family that even though he and O had their moments he will miss them all a lot. I’m feeling rather bereft too 🙁

Just a perfect day?

Parents and Tots again today, but this time with milk 😆
J and K’s new friend Z came along (with mum and baby sister – and she’s managed to buy the NG Ergo I pointed out to her so looking forward to playing with that when it gets here :D) and S was there, so there was quite a posse of older boys and I let J just get on with it rather than trying to do any set work. Z had brought along some little water squirters so they rushed around outside while the little ones stayed safely inside. L did lots of playdough and playing with babies 🙂
When it came to story and song time I decided to put my foot down and made J and K come and sit quietly rather than running around as they have been the last few weeks; it’s not fair on the littlies and they actually enjoy it once they get into it 😉 We sat and they chose a book each. J wanted to read his to me rather than the other way around, so I got to listen to Two-Can Toucan, then we started on K’s choice of The Three Little Pigs, but it was too long and we ran out of time… which actually proved to be a bonus as J took over, took K, Z and S to a corner and read the rest of the book quietly to them while the rest of us sang. K was lured over to the singing (by Humpty Dumpty) when the book was finished, but the rest of them just got another book and carried right on reading 😀 I was so chuffed, especially by how confidently – and flawlessly – J reads now.
Once everyone had gone we had lunch in the church hall with Rebecca and Jonah, then went to a new soft play place in Fenstanton to meet Emma and her boys.
The place proved to be well laid-out and ideal for mums to chat and children to wear themselves out, so it was a great way to spend an afternoon catching up with old friends.
Came home just before the rush hour, picked Bob up from work early, cooked tea while he did some maths (working out football tables) with J and then the children rushed round the garden with water squirters again before we ate. K and L both conked out pretty much straight after tea; Bob and J curled up to read next chapter of The Horse and His Boy and I’m about to go out running with a friend.
😀 Contented sigh 😀

Guilt guilt guilt!

Just recently we seem to have been doing next to nothing on the HE front 🙁
Life has been so busy, mostly with my things, that I’ve not had the time or the headspace to get J motivated to work at all.
I seem to be spending a lot of time visiting/helping out friends, one way or another, and J has to tag along. He doesn’t seem to mind, but does occasionally (and rather plaintively 🙁 ) ask when we can start snuggling up in bed and reading again. We will soon, I promise him, then the next thing comes up and another day goes for a burton. Today we’re cooking (but that’s educational, right? 😉 ) and then heading off to visit a friend (taking the food with us) so again any reading that happens will be J reading to K and L or to himself.
I think I need to rethink a few priorities.
On the plus side, have just arranged to buy practically an entire Core K package (secondhand) so from September will be able to follow someone else’s routine (differentiating up for J and down for K where necessary) and see if that works better than trying and failing to set our own 😆
Right – off to supervise flapjacks!

Full weekend

Katy’s already posted about our weekend, so I will just fill in some extra stuff rather than repeat everything.

The first thing to say is actually one of the last to happen: Katy’s recognition service. I was very glad that L stayed asleep (on me) until Katy’s well-deserved applause, even though we were making each other hot. Also, I’m very proud of Katy, for all the hard slog she’s put into her preaching. The training itself is like an Open University course – theology, church history, Bible study, how to lead worship etc. – and then there’s preparing the services themselves which can take up most of a week’s spare time. (Long before your formal recognition you’re doing services by yourself.) I have learned a lot sitting in Katy’s services, and know she has a gift for preaching.

Katy mentioned in the service today that motherhood and preaching have largely occupied the same stretch of her life. This made me remember when she was just starting out and we would put J down to sleep in a tiny travel cot bag in the vestry of whichever church we were at, and he’d stay asleep until the end of the service. Things are a bit trickier these days on the child care during Katy’s services front!

On a completely different tack, I was struck by the contrast between two Ikea workers yesterday. We stopped off at Ikea on the way back from the baby shower in order to break the journey and it also has some strange irresistible pull on the car. (Hmm… Something wrong with the space-time continuum, captain?) We got there late, but there were still people in the cafe so we tried to get something to eat. The chap behind the counter said he’d run out of pasta which was a blow as there wasn’t much else we wanted. It turned out he did have some but it had sat in the serving thing for ages and so was a bit chewy. After only a little to-ing and fro-ing we managed to get it anyway and it was duly appreciated by the children. Thumbs up to common sense Ikea workers.

We’d got a couple of drinks that gave free refills. There was an announcement on the P.A. that the restaurant was now closed (although they were letting us finish our food), and Katy noticed a member of staff doing tidying up type things near the drinks machines and said I ought to drink up and get a refill quick. I did the drinking part, hurried to the machines and was told by the tidying worker that the she’d just turned the machines off. It was obvious that she wasn’t going to turn them on again, which was a shame as I now had no drink with which to finish my meal. I know it hardly registers on the grand-scheme-of-things-ometer, but it just seemed a bit unnecessarily unhelpful – couldn’t other things have been tidied up first?

Bah! I’ve given Ikea two whole paragraphs and sound like Victor Meldrew. That wasn’t the intention so I shall end with a thought that struck me this week. I was marching across town one lunchtime to help with child logistics and crossed a common that is the venue for the fairs that visit. One was in the process of being set up, so it looked less like a fair and more like a travellers’ community (albeit with specialist vehicles). There was a girl of about 12 sat at a table enjoying a book she was reading and it occurred to me that the people who do fairs are home educators like me – it’s just the setting that’s different. Their children will have much more exposure to some things than mine will – British geography, buying and selling, marketing, logistics and planning, mechanical engineering, (advertising) art and so on. The fact that this was a major realisation then reminded me that I’m not as open-minded as I like to think I am.

Structure – musings

When J first came out of school he oscillated between wanting to be totally free and wanting to follow school structure, even to the extent of asking for healthy fruit snacks, like they have at school, which he wouldn’t eat (just as he didn’t eat them at school) because he doesn’t like fruit!
We gradually came to a compromise of doing maths (Singapore maths) and English (Beyond the Code) each day and pootling apart from that, only for him to then rebel against doing any set work at all 😕
I suppressed my concerns and my conviction that some set work is what will suit him best and waited for him to realise it for himself and I think he finally has – but it’s so hard to do! How much should I impose it on him? Some days it seems to take forever for him to do even a single page and yet another day he’ll sit and do 10 in a few minutes!
I keep telling myself that things will get better when K is no longer at preschool, as the half hour walk there and 20 minutes back for drop-off, plus 20 mins there and half hour back for pick-up, really disrupts the day and limits what we can do and how much freedom J can have in when and how he does things. I guess I’m kind of assuming that everything will be easier once I have two of them to sit down and work together, but then I suddenly start to panic and think I’m just kidding myself 🙁 and things will be even more chaotic but without the enforced exercise we currently get each day 😆
I suppose I shouldn’t really complain as the usual reason I can’t get J to do things (and that we are late everywhere) is that his nose is constantly glued to a book!

A very eventful weekend

Still not much likelihood of blogging about Kessingland, as the weekend has been desperately busy. After more than 6 years of training (including two extensions and three children) I finally completed my local preacher training a few months ago and this Sunday was my recognition/commissioning/admission (whatever you like to call it!) service. Knowing that this was planned, it foolishly did not occur to me when giving available dates for this quarter’s plan, to block the date for preaching – I thought the fact that I was to be involved in a service int eh afternoon would be enough to invoke the “at least two weeks between services” rule. How wrong can you be? Finding myself with a service to take in the morning (not at our home church) and family (beyond Bob and children) apparently uninterested anyway, the plans I had secretly nourished of arranging a big celebration quietly died 🙁
Instead we spent Saturday at a baby shower in Horsham (thrown by a good friend from Hunnybeez) which gave us the chance to meet up with lots of “imaginary friends” and eat lots of cake 🙂
Oh and before we left I failed (once again) to find my hairbrush, which L has a habit of stealing and hiding, and decided that I really was fed up with long hair which is so fine and flyaway, but also thick, that I cannot get an ordinary brush through it (only an expensive specialist one, which I cannot justify replacing when DD loses it) and which is so long that I cannot reach to brush the ends in the same stroke as the top, which will not hold any style but straight, takes half an hour to wash and half a day to dry etc etc – you get the idea 😆 Soooo instead of finding the hairbrush I found the hairdressing scissors I use on J and K and I hacked it all off to jaw length – saved me brushing it, anyway 😉 Then of course no one recognised me at the meet!
Having got back from Horsham some time after 10pm we were all a bit tired and frazzled to start with today, but hey ho! The church crawl started at 10am, when we left for Sturton Street Methodist Church (calming the storm – Bob as Jesus, water squirters and poster board to make storm effects, children’s song with actions even though we had brought the only children there and DS1 had opted out and was doing Pop-a-beads at the back of the church 😕 and origami boats as part of the sermon 😆 )
Church crawl part 2 was the Bouncearound summer party at St Andrew the Great in the city centre, where we enjoyed delicious food (especially the puddings :lick: ) and the children were able to do a variety of activities from bouncing on an inflatable castle to having faces (K = pirate and L = butterfly) and nails (J = glittery orange) painted. Then L snuggled up in Leo on Bob’s chest and we marched off to church number 3, our home church, for “Mummy’s special service”.
In moving from church 1 to 2, J and I had taken the opportunity to nip into the Oxfam shop for something to distract the littles during afternoon service – and found that they were selling off last season’s toys for £1, so spent a judicious £10 and got enough to entertain chillies and restock presents box 😀 K and J accordingly spent most of the service looking at their new goodies, J making spiders (Scary Science pack), K doing numbers and alphabet beginners packs and both using a magnetic theatre set. L, having fallen asleep en route, very considerately slept until the round of applause as I sat back down having been welcomed into my new role as fully accredited local preacher and then snuggled up for a feed until the end of the service 🙂
After the service we were plied with yet more cake (note to self: feed children on bread, water and plain vegetables for next week 😆 ) and then came home to watch the Queen’s birthday bash on tv until we could decently hustle the boys off to bed. L is still up, thanks to an unusually long sleep this afternoon – but for once we’re not complaining!

Must get back to some kind of normality next week!