Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Cambridge

Hubby had to travel down to Cambridge for work so we tagged along to have a much needed break from packing and cleaning the house (I say "us" I mean me, the kids seem to disappear at the mere mention/suggestion of sorting or packing or cleaning of any kind!). Unfortunately the weather was very very grim-never the mind we still had a nice day. As I hate taking our family car into town centres to park I decided too try the park and ride, it was much cheaper than car paring in the town centre and the kids really enjoyed sitting at the top of a double decker, simple pleasures :-) It all went far too smoothly, I parked easy, the bus came straight away and we were in the centre of Cambridge in 12 minutes! I had looked on the map and managed to work out where two of the museums the kids wanted to visit were. First up was the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences. There were students outside offering free hot drinks so Cordelia and Ruben had a lovely hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream :-D. Inside and I think this was my favourite museum! It had a real oldy worldy feel to it and reminded me of museums when I was little. Not sure that is great for my own children who seem to much prefer the open planned, light airy, hands on museums in comparison to rows and rows of stuff behind cabinets. I really enjoyed looking around the Darwin section and since we saw "An Adventure with Scientists.." earlier in the year (not the best way to learn about Darwin I know but hey ho we are all about the strewing anywhere and everywhere here!). His collection is truly EPIC, and its quite impossible not to be impressed by it. I really loved the plesiosaur skeleton but it seems the dinosaur fascination is once again leaving my youngest, hope he comes back to it again.


Free Hot Chocolates-yummy!


 Bailey doing the Darwin quiz-he scored 10/12, not bad

We then moved on to the next museum which was the Museum of Zoology, bit of a bizarre museum I thought but the kids were fascinated by all the jars and jars of sealife, frogs, jellyfish, lobsters, crabs etc. I can't say that this was for me, I thought it was a bit gross to be honest but all four of the children LOVED it.  As we walked in there was a skeleton of a racehorse so that might have well been a clincher for Cordelia :-D 


Ruben found a Giant Land Sloth, look how tiny he looks next to it:


Piper was in a super silly mood for some reason? Fresh air, maybe? For whatever reason she seemed to spend a lot of the day getting on her younger sister's nerves. Cordelia was in an entirely different mood and was quite serious all day which is quite unlike her so she really wasn't happy about Piper's silliness as this photo kind of shows:


SISTERS!!

Ruben was very happy to spot the Tapir skeleton as its his BFF's favourite animal, he insisted on a photo and a goofy smile.......


After this museum we went and had some lunch and walked around the town, its a very beautiful place with lots of fascinating architecture  So long as you don't manage to get run over by cyclists that is, and the pavements are very narrow here for such a busy place and I was very, very thankful I wasn't there in the days of my huge three wheeler double pushchair because it would have been a nightmare! Funny, how in lots of ways practically anyway, its easier now they are getting bigger but gosh its hard dealing with all the attitudes, high emotions, pleasing everyone etc. I'm not sure yet which stage was harder, having 4 children 5 years and under or having 1 teenager, 2 nearly teens and an 8 year old. I realise though, that it is difficult with all the hormones and mood swings and I try really hard not to take offence. I suppose that's the fun of being a parent-there is always something new and challenging around the corner, just when you think you can put your feet up with a tea your back down the rollercoster and in a completely new zone! I suppose it'd be really boring otherwise wouldn't it?

After lunch we walked to the Fitzwilliam Museum, a really breathtakingly, beautiful building. That was until my youngest son decided to spin in the glass door like Will Ferrell in "ELF". The guy behind the counter was so not amused and so we already had the distinct feeling that it wasn't going to be the most child-friendly museum. It wasn't. After around 10 minutes the kids decided it was not a museum for them and we made a quick exit. A quick look around the museum of Anthropology, again not very child friendly, so we were out in precisely 5 minutes. Tired and weary we headed to the coffee shop via John Lewis to look at LOTR Lego. Much more perked up we headed for what I thought was the park and ride bus stop, it wasn't. Que heavy rain, boots with holes in and a good 30 minute walk around town trying to find the "right" stop. In the end a bus driver took pity on us, drove us back into town (we'd managed to walk out again!) and walked us to the bus stop as he'd finished his shift. Faith in humankind restored. A 12 minute wait for the bus back in cold, wet clothes before a 12 minute bus ride back to the car. Public transport is not for me. Neither are directions. I may have to have a tattoo of a map placed on me, my navigational skills are truly appalling.

Still the kids had a great day and it was a nice break ;-)


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Lego, Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit

Lego is always a  firm favourite in this house, it has been since Bailey was a baby and got his first tub of Lego Duplo, we have gone through quite a lot of the different collections over the years, mainly Star Wars, we he collected in a way only a child with Asperger's can ;-) His love of the plastic brick has been passed down to both sisters and his younger brother. Really they are rather lucky that Bailey has moved on to Warhammer and Xbox and passed over his extensive Lego collection on to them. It now sits loaded into two huge green ikea canvas boxes and several so-called smaller (but seem just as big) tubs in our living room. Great for the kids but a little awkward for hubby and I when we are trying to get from one end of the living room to another without the piercing agony of standing on one of the plastic bricks! Plus there's the sieving of the hoover contents, the knowing kick of an "important" brick being kicked under the sofa, tv cabinet etc! Somedays its a wonder we don't end up ingesting the bricks with our food as they seem to seep into every room in our house....I'm really not complaining though, (even though it may sound like it) because I love the way Lego brings all four of my completely-different-character-children together. It really doesn't matter whether you are a boy or girl, 8, 10, 11, 14, or even 32 you are welcome to pick up and build away where Lego is concerned. I really don't think there is a much better toy for children. I love the imagination it brings with it, even if it is a bought set and its built into that set I love how it can be broken completely down and built into something totally new, its so incredibly versatile!! With the run up to Ruben's birthday in a mere 10 days, Lego has been on our minds, in particular the Lord of the Rings sets. Thanks to The Sun and their free Lego offer recently we are lucky enough to already have a Frodo mini figure but not content with that Ruben and Cordelia have today built a Gandalf and Samwise figure. This morning started with the first Lord of The Rings film, one that has been watched many, many times in this house as hubby and I are big fans, today though was the first time Ruben had really paid an interest in the film. And he loved it. So after watching Fellowship of the Ring we chatted quite a lot about our favourite characters and parts of the film. Ruben and Bailey drew pictures of their very own "demons" before we all had a little go at drawing our own fantasy maps.
 Above, Ruben's "DEVAINO" monster/demon and Below Bailey's demon/monsters "Harleyquins" think they are actually Warhammer related but I think that its an ace drawing!

Piper's fantasy map of "The Schrowingding Lands", I like the "Ving-Wing-Ding Village"
 Cordelia's map of "The Land Calona", especaillly like the idea of the "River of Magic"
 And finally, Bailey's map of an unnamed land-loving the "Floating mountains of magic 'n' stuff"
There not finished yet because they wanted to paint tea bag over the top, but I have packed the paint brushes in my super efficient-ness! (well it is only 11 days till we move).


 Lord of the Rings Gandalf and Legolass, Frodo and Samwise off on adventure....


 I then started reading The Hobbit to the younger three, Bailey has already read it as have I and hubby too. I read aloud daily to Ruben but not to the girls now as they are usually off reading to themselves. It was really good to read to the three of them and they are now totally embracing the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. We have plans to see the new Hobbit film over the Christmas period when it comes out here and thankfully Ruben has put Lego Lord of the Rings on his birthday list so hopefully soon "Gandalf" won't have to put up with a white-tack beard for too much longer.....






Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Catch ups

Slowly but surely the cold, dark autumnal weather is kicking in and we are finding ourselves more tempted to have in days rather than out days. We've had quite a good year for visits this year and I really must have a look at how much we have seen and done so far in 2012. It would be very easy to shut the door, stick the fire on and spend a good amount of the day watching Christmas DVD's but I'm really, really trying to keep that as late as possible. Ruben has so much energy and really needs to be outdoors or doing something to occupy him and burn his energy, Cordelia is like me and can only cope with a day or two in the house before she starts climbing the walls. Piper and Bailey are real homebodies and could easily go days without stepping outside, both love curling up on a sofa/bed/chair and reading books, browsing on the internet etc-in fact they can very easily wile a way an entire day reading and only coming downstairs for food. Is this because Bailey is a teenager and Piper a tween (only 13 months away from being a real teenager!)? Or is it just more their personality-pretty sure its the latter actually. Bailey has never been one for cold or being outdoor-sy and neither has Piper, both very laid back children and completely different to the younger two who love being outside in any weather.

 This last week we have spent a few afternoons like this:

 Curled up on the sofa with our youngest cat Coco, or Bibby as he is affectionately known, because of his white "bib" like marking around his neck.
 Cordelia entered a competition for the RSPB magazine, Owls are her absolute favourite and I think her tawny owl painting is beautiful, she takes after her Daddy for painting.
We've also fitted in a Friday group walk to our favourite reservoir, Linacre. The children found this sturdy looking branch that they could clamber on and sat chatting away over the water and sharing sweets with their BFF's. Even Tallulah (our rescued Jack Russell) had a good walk and made friends with BFF's Labrador Marv. The scenery, as always was spectacular and even though it was quite cold and I was in a lot of back pain it was well worth pushing myself out for! Here we are already in November and nearly at two birthdays, our 13th wedding anniversary, Christmas oh and A HOUSE MOVE!! That is A LOT to fit in with only 54 days remaining of 2012-still I love a bit of chaos...who doesn't?!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Happy Halloween!!

We always enjoy Halloween celebrations here! We started the week by pumpkin carving, all of the children enjoy it, even Bailey. I resisted the urge to take over, the perfectionist in me can't help herself normally, but this time I sat with a cuppa and just watched only helping if I was asked. The actual carving unnerves me, sharp knives aarrgghhh but they all did a really good job and everyone still has all their fingers :-D Great fun was had and I love all the smiley faces!


 Next up was filling loot bags for the trick or treaters! We bought some clear bags and put halloween confetti , haribo sweets and lolly pops in each bag.
 The children did it all together and worked out how many should go in each bag and how many bags they had etc-team work and maths!

As we had invited a few friends over the girls wanted to make some party food. First up they made wiggly worm jelly. They had never made jelly before and really, REALLY, enjoyed cutting up the cubes and dissolving them in hot water.

 They decided to curl each worm up at the bottom of the tub before pouring jelly in
 Ruben helped melt some chocolate for our skeleton and bones moulds. He didn't really want to help and I had to give him a slight nudge, he has a tendency to just leave it to the girls but he always enjoys it when he helps so sometimes my guiding helps (sometimes not too!)
 I made a big batch of biscuits and the girls cut gingerbread men out of them. When they were cooked and cooled, we made royal icing and Cordelia turned them all into skeletons and mummies
 I LOVE LOVE LOVE lit up pumpkins, wish we could have them for decorations all year round!
 The finished gingerbread men and the cupcakes Cordelia and I made
 We also had a go at meringue ghosts, the girls have wanted to try meringue for ages and now I have a new electric mixer it is SO much easier than doing them by hand. I think I must have eaten at least 6 when they came out of the oven, I love them. Probably why I don't make them too often then as I was on a serious sugar high!
 I got Ruben to do a few of these too as again he was happy to leave it to the girls but he had fun doing them, although getting messy is not his favourite activity-unless of course its mud!

We were so busy that I never took any photographs of the children in their costumes, that's the first year I have ever forgot. I planned on taking photo's of them with their friends when they came back in from trick or treating but thanks to the good old British weather, it rained so heavily that they all looked like drwoned rats when they got back home. I'd like to say I didn't laugh but they did all look very funny with Alice Cooper style face paints running down their faces. After towel drying them all and making a batch of hot chocolates to warm everyone back up they were all happy again though. They had a great time, which is all that really matters! Happy Halloween


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Saying Goodbye

Back in this post October begins I wrote about a difficult start to the month. Since that I've found it really difficult to blog because I didn't want to write about it but this blog is supposed to be about our life, its ups and downs and everything in between and really I'm finding it impossible to do that without writing about what has been happening with our family. So here goes...
My sister-in-law was pregnant with twin girls that were due in November, in September we found out that one of the girls, little L had died at 31 weeks. We were all very sad and it was a difficult thing to explain to the children but we are always as honest as possible with them. At the end of September my SIL went into labour and gave birth to both girls. I think however much we had thought about everything, nothing really prepares you for the reality of a dead baby. Thankfully our surviving niece, little E has thrived and is doing brilliantly despite the fact she shouldn't even be born yet. Having no experience of still births or anything like this, I have felt so out of my depth dealing with it, I read quite a bit about it because I needed to know and needed answers to my questions. It feels like I have seen twins everywhere since and if I find that hard I've no idea how hard it must be for my BIL and SIL. I decided to make a memory box for little L, as I didn't feel right doing nothing at all. The girls helped me pick things out, I ended up making my own box as I couldn't find anything that I liked. It feels so wrong when you should be shopping for a new baby, everything has to be thought about so much, even buying a card with the right words on it-Congratulations seems such a wrong word in this situation. I found two beautiful poems, I put one of the front of the box and another in a card inside the box. I made two little hearts and sewed the girls names on and put them in the box too. I'm not good with death, not that anyone is but it makes me very quiet, reflective and I really recoil into myself. Not easy when the rest of our life goes on as normal. Hubby still has to work, everything has to carry on. In a way that's a good thing because sat crying all day really doesn't help anyone. We aren't the closest of families but I really admire the way my brother-in-law and sister in law have dealt with everything, they have been incredibly brave and I can't imagine how hard it has been for them. The funeral was nearly two weeks ago now, nothing can really prepare you for seeing a coffin so tiny, or being stood in a graveyard that has a special area for babies that have died. It was the saddest day I can ever remember and I truly hope that I never have to do anything like that again. The children have been amazing throughout all of this sadness  I shouldn't be surprised but I'm so very proud of them. It makes me realise how important it is to me that no matter what happens when the children grow up its so important to me that they stay close. The thought of them not being close when they are older really upsets me, and I just hope that it never happens. Given that we are so close in this house and given our life choices to home educate and be very focused on the 6 of us I think its highly unlikely. I'm sad that I've written this but relieved that I have. My words aren't eloquently written and as I read back they look jumbled but its tumbled out of my head and on to the page and it doesn't feel right to try and perfect it.