Camp Levenshulme

One morning the kids didn’t wake me up for a really long time. It was great as I just want to sleep and eat and eat and sleep at the moment. The reason for my new cat like routine can be seen below:

7 weeks 3 days old complete with little beating heart and growing spine!

7 weeks 3 days old complete with little beating heart and growing spine!

I woke up into a different world. The house had been transformed into an indoor campsite! Little lizards and creatures could be seen lurking in nooks and crannies and in case I wondered where I was there was a helpful sign:

And a helpful schedule of events:

The campsite schedule

The campsite schedule

First I was taken to the campfire, (ingeniously created out of logs, sticks and torn up paper) where I was shown how to light the fire and then treated to some roasted bugs!

Jessy demonstrates his fire lighting technique

Jessy demonstrates his fire lighting technique

Little bugs roasting on an open fire.

Little bugs roasting on an open fire.

I still felt hungry for some reason so we moved on to a different cooking challenge – frying bacon and eggs. We all feasted on crispy bacon and egg sandwiches which I never would have thought to make of my own accord. Then I was treated to a little magic show. Jessy did some card tricks and they both made a bottle of liquid magically light up. They also re-created the colour changing drinks trick which I used at Jessy’s Harry Potter party.

Magic drinks trick

Magic drinks trick

The campfire activities have happened over the course of a few days around other things. Jessy’s lovely friend Daisy has been staying with us on and off and my niece came back too so I’ve had 3 kids filling up the house with shouts and squeals and creative mess this week! Thank goodness they entertain each other so well as sometimes I’ve felt pretty useless and grumpy feeling so sick and tired all the time. Today though I’ve had a little more energy and I’ve really enjoyed joining in with more campsite activities.

I went on a Beast Hunt where I had to gather and count all sorts of soft toy animals dotted around the house. My prize was a trip to the Petting Zoo run by Anais where I got to hold and feed a baby polar bear a baby lion and a snake. Anais bravely had all the snakes around her neck at once!

Anais staffing the petting zoo

Anais staffing the petting zoo

Next up we all enjoyed some painting with a bugs theme. I haven’t painted for a long time and I enjoyed creating a little garden scene. The kids were even kind enough to be impressed when it really wasn’t up to much! Daisy spent her time very carefully painting a Leaf Bug. Anais followed the theme loosely and did Adventure Time drawings. She’s been drawing them quite a lot recently and got very good at depicting the characters. Jessy was prolific and created 3 pages of bugs very quickly!

Jessy's bugs

Jessy’s bugs

The next challenge was tent building and we created a great one behind the sofa with a long covered tunnel entrance which I’ve agreed to let them keep up for a while.

Tent building challenge

Tent building challenge

After that we did some singing around the campfire. I taught them Kookaburra which I remembered from Brownies! Daisy taught us one about flowers, daffodils and the campfire. We tried a couple of rounds but Anais came over incredibly shy and hid under a blanket refusing to join in. I found it a bit frustrating as she is the one who goes to Stagecoach and wants a career in acting! I have found Anais and I clashing a little more lately – I think the combination of a hormonal adolescent girl and a hormonal pregnant woman is a difficult one at times!

The campsite inevitably left a lot of mess, so I made a deal that I would create them a Treasure Hunt while they tidied up from all the activities. They did a very good job with minimal supervision and the Treasure Hunt kept them busy while I cooked dinner.

Aside from Camp Levenshulme, Jessy, Daisy and I enjoyed a good day out for National Play Day at Torkington Park. They had traditional fair type games such as ‘Hook-a-Duck’ and ‘Knock the Cans Down’. I think the favourite by far though was the large pile of straw bales where literally hundreds of children played on and off. It was lovely and hot with a little stream to paddle in to cool down. My favourite part was just as we were leaving and everyone was hungry the burger van announced it was giving everything away free, and we all got a hot meal for nothing!

Straw bale shelter

Straw bale shelter

Action shot!

Action shot!

We’ve enjoyed quite a few days in. The kids are so creative together. They’ve barely shown interest in screens aside from occasionally watching a film together or Jessy wanting a little chill out time on Minecraft. One day Jessy and Daisy created a lovely outdoor Drawing Den where I found them colouring in pictures together and chatting away.

The drawing den

The drawing den

They literally play from dawn until dusk. Sometimes they are animals (Daisy in particular spends a lot of time being a little dog and sometimes comes for snuggles) Sometimes they create elaborate games with figures and toys, more often than not they create dens and shelters with the sofas and most of my clean bedding! On the days when I’ve felt pretty ill I have sat and listened to them laughing and running and tried to soak up that childhood happiness of freedom and play. Sometimes their exuberance overwhelms me (and I’m pretty sure it must be overwhelming the neighbours too!) and I become the boring adult telling them to stop shouting and keep the noise down. They’re never suppressed for long though – all that joy just comes bursting back out!! I know it’s a cliche but we really could learn a lot from children about how to keep happy and live life to the full.

The happy trio!

The happy trio!

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By pinkylucy

Cubs Camp, Summer Club and Home

Summer holidays have played havoc with my blog writing as one day seems to blur into the next. In some ways I feel as if the holidays are only just beginning as Jessy has been away far more than usual. A couple of weeks ago he headed off to his first Cubs Camp. He was nervous but looking forward to it by the time the day rolled around. I was highly unprepared and Amazon’s express delivery service did well out of me! Jessy prepared by playing camping games, making a tent using the ever versatile sofas and climbing inside his sleeping bag.

Practicing for camp

Practicing for camp

He made a fantastic effort to pack his own bag one morning and I felt sad that I had to unpack it and help him, as fitting it all in was such a tight squeeze! (I realised afterwards that other people just kept the sleeping gear separate!) On Friday afternoon he was packed and ready to go!

Ready for Cubs Camp

Ready for Cubs Camp

I spent a lovely day with my friend Alice and we enjoyed a deliberately grown up evening of cultured entertainment going to see a comedy performance by a duo called Norris and Parker called ‘All Our Friends Are Dead’ which was part of the Manchester Fringe Festival. I even ate some sweets and didn’t have to hide them! I almost had a fit of excitement on realising that we could do something else afterwards rather than just go home early and go to bed! We decided to go to the cinema but the only late film on was ‘The World’s End’ which we both mistakenly believed would be something apocalyptic. In actual fact it turned out to be the most mind numbingly horrendously awfully boring film I have ever had the misfortune to see 20 minutes of. It is appropriately named, as ‘the world’s end’ would surely be preferable to sitting through that utter pile of shite!! It was so bad that we complained and got our money back! That was probably more exciting than just going to the cinema.

Me and my lovely friend Alice

Me and my lovely friend Alice

Whilst enjoying myself I couldn’t stop thinking of Jessy. There was a huge thunder storm that night with lightning streaking across the sky and rain falling in sheets. I kept thinking of my little bean, curled up in a tent, hoping he was dry and finding the storm exciting rather than scary. The next day, I went into town for lunch with Alice, where we discovered that ‘The Thirsty Scholar’ on Oxford Road is a vegan pub and I got to try vegan black pudding and vegan spam for the first time. I’m not vegan but we’d struggled finding somewhere to eat and we were hungry so we stayed there! Alice took me to pick up Jessy where I discovered a soaked through rather shell-shocked looking little boy sitting stiffly on a bench. He was very proud of his bronze medal which he won for his ‘Space Shark from Planet Zargon’ costume.

After one day to rest, Jessy and A were off to Wood School Summer Club! A has always loved the idea of Wood School and the only reason I booked them on was so that they could go together. I wondered what Jessy would make of it seeing as the vast majority of attendees were children who had come just for the summer club and not his usual Wood School friends. I can honestly say that going every day and not having the distraction of his ‘run around’ friends worked well for him. He actually came home with a craft activity on the first day – a book with a cloth cover which he had sewed. At first it was a code book, but later morphed into a Spell Book at which point he decided to rip off the cloth cover as the title was wrong! He made another spell book using an exercise book from Wood School and did a lot of writing in one go filling it in:

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He never tires of whittling wands and came back with a few. Anais made a beautiful wand which she carved a winding pattern into. I have to say I didn’t make the best use of my free time, but I did enjoy the day I browsed round Chorlton charity shops finding little presents to surprise the kids with. I also found a wonderful new outdoor book stall where I found some delightful old books for my collection including an Angela Brazil school story and a collection of entertainments for girls from the 1800s. Many of the games look quite fun and I intend to try them with the children. I was very pleased to find a wooden sodoku set for Anais as she’d been coveting Jessy’s. They’ve both spent a lot of quiet time enjoying those sets. Anais and I managed to complete one together which we were both proud of as it was a first for both of us! Jessy decided to see how difficult it would be to create his own from scratch rather than solving a pre-given puzzle. I thought it would be very difficult but it seemed to be less challenging than solving one.

Busy with sodoku

Busy with sodoku

Notable conversations have included a discussion of racism in older films after watching ‘One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing’. I often remember films from my childhood and we add them to Jessy’s Lovefilm list. Sometimes, however, I’m shocked by the blatant -isms in the films. This one is particularly diabolical, using English actors to play Chinese characters and relying on ridiculous and insulting stereotypes to show they are supposed to be Chinese. They even went as far as sticking very obviously fake eyelids onto one of the actors! Sometimes I struggle to explain things. Jessy loves slapstick humour and anything very ‘obvious’ which means he find things such as people talking in obviously nonsense Chinese words very funny. (There is shockingly a lot of similar humour in ‘Furry Vengeance’ from 2010!) I feel uncomfortable because I want him to recognise the racism, but I can also see that he is mostly laughing because he knows that people speaking Chinese don’t sound that way. I think he laughs because they have got it wrong and it sounds so silly, rather than because he thinks it’s a funny imitation of a Chinese person. I still feel uncomfortable with him laughing at it though.

One morning in a taxi we ended up discussing the Government’s ‘no spare room’ policy and the bad impact it was having on a lot of people. We’ve briefly looked into volcanoes, the egg experiments have been enjoyed AGAIN and we came late to the Olympics and watched the Opening Ceremony on DVD which allowed lots of historical and geographical discussion.

Anais was keen to do some ‘Adventure Time’ crafts, but everything we came across seemed to be rather ambitious and needed lots of materials we didn’t have. Then we found a great site: http://www.paperfoldables.com/ which allows you to print out foldable characters to make. Anais also showed us a great site where you type in your Minecraft username and it provides you with a paper foldable print out of your own Minecraft skin: http://pixelpapercraft.com/print/minecraft-character So Anais made Adventure Time characters and Jessy made his Minecraft skin:

Adventure Time models

Adventure Time models

Jessy's Harry Potter Minecraft model

Jessy’s Harry Potter Minecraft model

Other than that we have enjoyed ‘fun with a box’. First Jessy filled it with broken polystyrene and then enjoyed making the polystyrene fly up in the air and out of the box by bashing a stick hard inside the box. Another day it became a makeshift paddling pool on a hot day as it had already conveniently half filled with rain water.

Making polystyrene bounce

Making polystyrene bounce

Cooling down on a hot day

Cooling down on a hot day

That’s all Folks!