Proud moments and party fun.

The highlight of this week for me has been the Doctor Who 5oth Anniversary Special! We went to see it at the cinema and I think I was even more excited than the kids. Jessy is a fan but A says she doesn’t really get it. Jessy dressed up in his dalek costume and brought about squeals of delight from many a Doctor Who fan. The cinema was packed and playing Doctor Who music throughout the building. I think they were showing it on several screens at once. There were good dollops of humour and a very clever plot twist which will allow lots of new possibilities for future episodes. I won’t add any spoilers!

The kids have been quite crafty this week. They both made little Worry Dolls at Wood School and later in the week Jessy brought home the beginnings of some Christmas crafts he’s carving and decorating. He’s finished Santa. One of the others is going to be an Elf and I think the other will be a Christmas tree. He also made a hedgehog out of a flour and water dough. It’s all about hedgehogs at the moment!

Worry Dolls

Worry Dolls

Santa Claus and two unfinished bits.

Santa Claus and two unfinished bits.

Jessy's hedgehog.

Jessy’s hedgehog.

We’ve also started our Christmas craft at home as I realised we’d better get a move on with the Advent Calendars. Last year Jessy and I made one for each other. This year I made one for A, she made one for Jessy and he made one for me. A enjoyed making them and is now making an extra one for her Mum. We all felt really happy and excited about them afterwards. It takes me back to my childhood when the excitement of advent calendars was the little picture rather than chocolate or toys. Having home made ones makes it even nicer. A has enjoyed finding inventive ways for the doors to open by cutting different shapes or altering the directions.

The calendar A made (top) and a Barbados themed one by Jessy (bottom)

The calendar A made (top) and a Barbados themed one by Jessy (bottom)

I’m really enjoying my new Thursday routine. After dropping the kids off at Wood School, I get a bus into town and grab some breakfast. Then I do a little Christmas shopping while the shops are still quiet. After that I wander down to Pregnancy Yoga at the Buddhist Centre. Last week I met a friend for lunch and this week I went downstairs to the vegan Earth Cafe for a delicious and healthy lunch. On the way home I spotted a little grocers selling pomelo, Jessy’s favourite fruit which can be hard to find, and sugar cane which I knew he’d love. He was very excited by both when he arrived home from Wood School. My friend S helpfully cut up the sugar cane – it’s as tough as tree bark! We all enjoyed some.

Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane

I enjoyed an evening with my friend M on Friday. She’d asked me to go through the basics of what I learned on the NVC (Non Violent Communication) course with her. It was good to get out the notes and refresh my memory. We then both tried an exercise using the ‘feelings’ and ‘needs’ cards. I thought about an incident which had upset me recently when I’d got very cross with the kids for not tidying the playroom when I told them to. I knew I’d handled it badly. Using the cards and some of the other techniques I’d learned, I managed to look at the situation from the perspective of my feelings and needs and then think about the children’s feelings and needs. I came out feeling more compassionate towards both myself and them, and it released a lot of the anger and tension I’d been feeling. I’d certainly like to learn and explore more about NVC.

We had a busy weekend with early morning starts both days. A had her end of term Stagecoach performance. Jessy and I popped to a local library and then a cafe while she had her final rehearsal. She’d missed 3 weeks of Stagecoach due to our holiday and other circumstances so she’d had very little time to learn or rehearse. Her group did a shortened version of The Wizard of Oz. A played background characters due to having missed so much time, but I was impressed at how well she’d picked up the routines. Jessy particularly enjoyed the performance of ‘Oliver’ done by children his own age.

A in the Emerald City.

A in the Emerald City.

On Sunday it was their friend’s birthday party – a Treasure Hunt in Dunham Massey Park. At first I thought my friend was brave to do an outdoor party in November, but as she pointed out, all the kids going attend Wood School so they’re used to being in the great outdoors in all weathers! I sat in the lovely cafe with a book while they all hurtled around the park. They all had a brilliant time and I joined them as the hot baked spuds and sweet potato chips arrived at the picnic area to warm everyone up! It was a great idea for outdoor party food.

Hot baked spuds in the park.

Hot baked spuds in the park.

Time for cake!

Time for cake!

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Fuelled by hot potatoes the kids all ran around catching the falling leaves in the park, and for the third time recently I smiled and thought how much I enjoy simple, non commercialised children’s parties and how much the kids enjoy them too.

Monday was the usual flurry of Wood School, Martial Arts and Scouts. Jessy and A were really excited as they got the second yellow band on their white belts which they weren’t expecting. They’ve been told that if they keep improving at the same rate they should earn their yellow belts after Christmas which they clearly felt proud about. Jessy decided to put on a weird and wacky outfit to collect A from Scouts and went out looking like this!:

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Today at Circus Skills they practiced plate spinning and after a lot of perseverance they both managed to get the plate spinning in the more difficult impressive way they were being taught – another proud moment! Jessy was rushing to finish his ‘Home Safety’ badge booklet before we left for Cubs and just managed it. I hope he’ll get away with it being a week late although as he said to me “I’m not really bothered about the badges.” He does seem to like it when he gets them though!

Free range gerbil & fractions.

It’s been back to Earth this week after our wonderful holiday. It all seems a bit like a dream. The icy weather has really been biting today and it really does feel a world away from the sunny beaches of Barbados, even though both are actually on Earth and very much in the same world really!

The kids were actually really happy to get back to Wood School, especially A who is still enjoying the newness of all the freedom and time to explore and play outdoors. I seem to have spent the week trying to catch up on the extra housework from being away. This sounds like a paradox but I’m sure I can’t be the only person who experiences this. Why is it that the less time you spend in the house, the more housework there seem to be? I think small pixies come into my home and create laundry, washing up and general chaos. One day I’ll catch them and put a stop to this nonsense!! I had some help with the housework from A today which I really appreciated. I often feel that it can be harder work getting the kids to pull their weight in the home than it is to get on and do it. The problem is that I really do need their help. We’re lucky enough to have a large house and I enjoy home educating and I’m even happy to be single at the moment. The combination of all these things, however, means that I really can’t manage it all on my own. Add in my ongoing pain issues and being pregnant and it leaves me feeling pretty grumpy a lot of the time recently. I noticed what an enormous difference it made to my mood when A did a wonderful job of tidying and dusting the living room. I felt relaxed and happy and genuinely appreciative. I’m looking forward to relaxing this evening in my living room rather than sighing and huffing and puffing in frustration at all the mess! I think it’s time to put a bit more effort into getting ‘Happy House Hour’ up and running again in order to reap the long term rewards.

Jessy isn’t having much luck with his pets this week. After the untimely demise of his poor cat Penny-Patch, his little gerbil Alicia then got loose in the kitchen. She’s been happily wandering free for a couple of days now. At first we were worried as there are large holes leading into the wall cavities. Jessy made a huge barricade out of boxes, chairs and washing powder boxes to try and stop her getting to the holes. It became rather difficult to come and go in the kitchen. We did fear that she was lost for good after not seeing her for a while but we’re now becoming familiar with her favourite hide outs, we just can’t catch her! I did manage to get her in a box but she leapt out again. I’m almost becoming resigned to having a free range kitchen gerbil although I’m not happy about the hygiene implications. I think we might have to resort to a humane mouse trap.

Jessy and Penny earlier this year.

Jessy and Penny earlier this year.

Alicia the escapee gerbil

Alicia the escapee gerbil

A is keen to start working towards some badges for Scouts which prompted us to have a look at the available badges for both Cubs and Scouts. I do wish they gave you a handbook like they did when I was young, nowadays you’re expected to look it all up online which doesn’t feel the same somehow. Jessy has decided to go for the Pet Care badge as he is already caring for his pets so he’s part way there. A found a Circus Skills badge which will tie in perfectly with the Circus Skills group they do on Tuesdays. She also decided to go for the Writers badge and sat down immediately to write a poem about going to Scouts. She’s really enjoying Scouts and had the benefit of their first trip away this Friday when she went caving. I was a little worried she’d get scared and not enjoy it as she can suddenly become anxious about all sorts of things. She arrived home though at nearly midnight full of excitement about her underground explorations. The next day she drew some pictures of the different things she’d seen and said she’d like to do some writing about the caves as part of her Writers badge work.

We had friends round to play on Saturday and again today. I feel like we haven’t had as many friends round recently so I’ve enjoyed seeing them play, although it did take quite a lot of effort to keep them all off the computers. I feel as if the screen time has stretched out a little and that Jessy and A haven’t been playing as much as they did previously. I think this often happens as the days get shorter and colder and every year I worry about it!

Jessy’s mind is still active though as he showed me today when he came to do a little mental division of fractions while I was doing the washing up. He’s always been good at spotting number patterns and he told me that if you want to work out half of a fraction you just have to leave the top number the same and double the bottom number. He asked me what half of 3/4 is and I went through a complicated process to work it out only for him to tell me he already knew because of the pattern. At first I told him it wouldn’t work for all fractions but then realised he’s quite right and it does always work! We tried some different ones and then tried simplifying the answers when necessary.

I finally made it back to circus skills after 3 weeks of hospital appointments on Tuesdays. It was lovely to see how much the children have improved, particularly on the trapeze. A has decided to steer clear of the trapeze now though as she fell off last week and was really struggling. Jessy surprised me today by agreeing to perform in the Christmas show! He’s never wanted to do anything like that before, but when he heard the performance is only 5 minutes long he felt he could manage that. I feel quite excited! A is going to be the Ring Master and Jessy is going to be on the trapeze with a friend.

Jessy has just got back from Cubs and after all my talk of badges we realised he completely forgot to complete his Home Safety Badge booklet which he was supposed to take back today! Ooops!

I’ve really noticed a change in the baby’s movements this week. I can actually feel kicks now rather than just squirms and my belly looks huge! I’ve been getting together a few bits and pieces including treating myself to some clothes from a brand called Molo which I adore! Here are my favourites!

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My version of buying ‘gender neutral’ just involves buying whatever I like, so I’ll either end up with a boy wearing ponies and pink or a girl wearing blue lizards! (and vice versa of course) Well, that’s it for this week.

Monster Babies & Contented Calf

We’ve had some exciting arrivals this week (not quite as exciting as the real live people arrivals we had last week though!) Jessy and A have been eagerly awaiting the special commission of monster babies they put in with Ames Likes Toast (https://www.facebook.com/ameslikestoast?fref=ts) As they were made to order it’s taken a few weeks but judging by the squeals of excitement followed by hours of play they were worth the wait!

The new babies

The new babies

Dexter, Mertle, Frank, James, Jess, Rufus, Alfie and Seb.

Dexter, Mertle, Frank, James, Jess, Rufus, Alfie and Seb.

Continuing the letter writing theme, both Jessy and A sat down to write thank you letters for the new babies. A included a comic in hers. She was very excited when, in a few days time, a picture of her letter appeared on the Ames Likes Toast Facebook page! Unfortunately Jessy’s letter hasn’t arrived yet. It’s a real shame, but we’re hoping it might turn up late. They’ve been writing so many letters that I’ve stopped checking the envelopes. I also allow them to go on their own to the nearest post box as it only takes a couple of minutes and they only have to cross side streets, so they quite frequently rush off to post things I haven’t seen. Jessy used to check the address with me, as although he can be careful with his writing, it can sometimes to be difficult to read and we’ve talked about how that can cause problems with letters reaching their destination.

Writing more letters mean that the children have also started to receive letters. They want to keep them safe so they’ve made letter boxes to store them in. Jessy made his on one of their visits to Dennis’s house. It’s very shiny and I love the hearts and ribbon. 🙂

Jessy's letter box.

Jessy’s letter box.

I had my own exciting arrival. An old friend from Uni has written a book of wonderful recipes designed to increase breastmilk production. She has a website and a blog at http://www.contentedcalf.com I’ve had my eye on the book ever since it was first published and always intended to get a copy once I was pregnant. I was excited when it arrived along with a cute babygro.

The Contented Calf Cookbook.

The Contented Calf Cookbook.

My mouth was literally watering while I read the recipes and it’s so comforting to think that by eating delicious food I could help my milk supply. I had a lot of problems with breastfeeding last time around. It’s so important to me that I persevered through some very very trying times but it has left me anxious, and anything I can do to help myself out this time around is very welcome. I have a good friend who has agreed to cook me up the recipes to put in my freezer before the baby is born. Luckily all the recipes are designed to freeze well!

At the weekend we went to a friend’s Pirate party. Even I took the chance to dress up. It was one of those lovely simple parties, with simple games and time to play and a bouncy castle. In my experience these parties tend to work the best and they all had a good time. Jessy won Musical Bumps! We’d had to get a couple of buses to get there and when we arrived back in Manchester City Centre, A remembered the large music shop we’d noticed and asked if we could go in. She enjoyed browsing the pianos and keyboards and looking at the music books. She tried out a few little tunes.

A trying out a tune from the Disney songs book.

A trying out a tune from the Disney songs book.

Jessy has never shown much interest in learning to play music so he entertained himself by trying to pull faces before I could take a picture. He succeeded!

Oooh-arrrgh, look at me tongue!

Oooh-arrrgh, look at me tongue!

Mondays have suddenly got very busy for A. She has Wood School, then her and Jessy do Martial Arts, then straight afterwards she has Scouts. This was her first week at Scouts. She really enjoyed it and came back excited about a Caving Trip they have planned for next month which will also earn her her first badge. The busy day is made much easier now that their friend does Martial Arts too which means they get a lift back from Wood School. We enjoyed sitting down to dinner with friends again. They introduced us to something fun, where each person shares the best part of their day, the worst part of their day and the funniest part of their day. We had some good laughs! We had more good news today that A can also start Thursday Wood School as from this week. A is really happy about this and it will make things easier for me too as I now have my two free days again.

I got out for afternoon tea with friends at the gorgeous Richmond Tea Rooms. (http://www.richmondtearooms.com/) Cake with friends is always a good way to recharge the batteries! The kids weren’t with me today as I had an antenatal appointment and Dennis took them out, and then to Circus Skills so I ended up with a day to myself. Today was taken up with washing up and lying in bed with a headache though! The kids came home enthusiastic about walking the tightrope! That’s all for this week.