Category Archives: Our family

An afternoon with the cousins

After our morning at Junior Scholars on Saturday, we spent the rest of the day with our cousins in Watford.

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After lunch, the children played together in the garden for a while, and then we went out to the park.

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The children played really well together with their three cousins, and it was lovely to watch.

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On the way back, we indulged in a bit more impromptu foraging!

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After a quick dash back into town to visit the Lego shop (and Junior Scholars again) we went back to their house for supper (and baths!) and the children played together while the adults chatted until it was time to come home.

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We came home with just enough brambles to add to some apples from our garden to make a crumble for Sunday evening…

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…and elderberries, rosehips and haws which I have finally made into syrup this evening.  Tiddler was very proud of his acorn collection so I have to mention that too!


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

More messy play in the sunshine

Sometimes the best things in life are unplanned.  This is certainly true of the best opportunities to play.  This afternoon it started with the arrival of our second tuff spot – one just wasn’t enough for four children (and all their visiting friends!)   As soon as it arrived, the children were very keen to unwrap it and take it into the garden.  We put it next to the other one and started to discuss what we might play with, but it was time for the big three to go to Dramabuds so I told them they would have to wait until after supper.  While they were out, Tiddler wanted to sit in it, but the plastic had got too hot so I put some water in.  He really enjoyed sitting in it and just splashing with his legs, and for a while he didn’t really need anything else.  When he seemed to have had enough of that, I suggested he added some rocks from our collection, and he split them between the two tuff spots to make two beaches.  We collected some boats from the bath and I gave him some pots and bowls for tipping and pouring.  He played with them for a while, then went inside to look for something else to add.  He returned with a bowl of lettuce which he had found in the fridge, which was rather cheeky, but funny, so I let him have it and we decided it was seaweed!

When he had finished playing with his beaches, we combined the two into one tuff spot, and he and Supergirl played with playdough in the other one while I got the supper ready.  When the others came back from Dramabuds we had supper, then I gave them a big bowl of strawberry angel delight in one of the tuff spots, with lots of spoons and other kitchen utensils.  They had fun playing with it, making patterns, writing letters, drawing pictures and eating it!  I think the big boys may have eaten most of it, so I gave them all a yoghurt afterwards to make sure they had enough pudding.  Anyway, angel delight is a big hit and I’m sure we’ll be playing with it – and eating it again.  I just won’t look too closely at the list of ingredients.  After years of serving up organic fruit and yoghurt for pudding, with the occasional home-made apple crumble, it is a bit of a U-turn to be giving them angel delight.  But they love it, and it certainly makes a good satisfying mess!

Half term

We have had a good half term break, and done lots of things that I would like to blog separately, but I don’t think it’s going to happen, so I will just put them all here in one place.  On Friday 15th, we had a second go at the ice and water play.  We froze sparkles in the coloured ice cubes and watched them melt, freed a plastic seal which we had frozen in a cup of water a while back and forgotten about, and added a fishing net and fish from the bath toys collection.  It was a lot of fun, and we will be doing it again, I’m sure.

Saturday 16th was a busy day with Dramabuds, haircuts, choir practice and housework.  On Sunday 17th, after church we went to the Thomas Day at the Kent and East Sussex Railway.  It was a day of ups and downs, though overall a great success.  We arrived and the children were very happy to see Thomas.  Then they were very disappointed that the train we were booked on was being pulled by a different engine.  Once we got over that, they really enjoyed the train ride and were all keen to come again another day.  It was all going so well until Tiddler got his little finger trapped in the train door as we were about to get out, and it took daddy a very long 5 seconds to undo the door.  He was checked out in the first aid tent and thankfully it was not broken, but looked very nasty which distressed him as much as the pain, I think.  So while the big three watched a magic show, in which Rabbit was picked to go up to the front and sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, daddy and I took turns to try to cheer Tiddler up.  Having another look at Thomas helped a bit, a go on a roundabout nearly worked but then he cried and they had to stop the ride to let him off, but in the end a packet of Smarties just about saved the day.  The big three had a couple of goes on the roundabout, then watched a Thomas video while waiting for a platform ride on Thomas.  All four children really enjoyed that, so the day ended well, and I’m sure we’ll be going again before too long, but we’ll be keeping Tiddler well away from the door.

After all that, Monday was a much needed quiet day at home, and the children enjoyed plenty of play time and computer time, while I caught up on washing and housework.  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, the big three went to a Dramabuds holiday camp, finishing with a brilliant show, as always.  Tiddler had a Dramabuds session on Tuesday afternoon as well.  We also enjoyed lots of visits from family on those three days.  My aunt came on Tuesday morning, with my cousin and her very new baby, which was lovely.  Then in the afternoon, daddy’s cousin came with his son for a sleepover.  All the children had a good time, and played really well together, so we are hoping they will come again soon, as it was such a success!  On Thursday, it was Grandpa’s birthday so he came for the show and stayed for lunch.  Granny F came for the show as well, but had to leave shortly afterwards.  Just as she was leaving, Granny B arrived, and the children were pleased it was a two granny day, even though they weren’t there at the same time!

On Friday, the big boys had their violin lessons, and then Granny F took Monkey and Rabbit shopping for birthday presents, and Supergirl looked after Owl and Tiddler while I did the birthday party food shopping.  In the afternooon, all four children had a wonderful time with our very good friend and occasional childminder, while Supergirl and I made cakes.  Suburban dad came home from work early to cook an amazing Middle Eastern meal for a family who had bid for it in the auction of promises at our church fair.  He made enough for us too and some more friends (Tiddler’s godparents) came and ate with us.

Saturday, was party preparation day, with several last minute shopping trips for all the things we had forgotten, and lots of cakes to ice, as well as Dramabuds and choir as usual.  And on Sunday, after church, it was time for the party.  It was a joint party for Monkey, Rabbit and another friend from church, and there were over 30 children, but also plenty of helpful adults so it went very smoothly and the children had a lot of fun.  And a lot of cake.

Today was Monkey’s birthday, and he spent most of the day playing with his new Lego, taking a short break in the afternoon to play with his Hornby set.  We also had piano lessons, followed by lunch at Pizza Express, and a very enjoyable family evening with Granny F, and daddy’s aunt and uncle who called in to deliver presents, and ended up staying for supper, cake and bedtime stories.  It was a good day.

About time

It’s about time I did some blogging again, and as long as I can type one-handed while cuddling Tiddler and singing “Horsey horsey” on endless loop it should be perfectly possible.  That sentence took me about 5 minutes to write so this may take some time.

I’d like to be one of those bloggers who writes about their Advent traditions and Christmas crafting, but I don’t know how to fit it in.  I think I’ve been more organised this year than ever before, but still my usual late-night blogging spot has been taken over by internet shopping, wrapping presents and writing cards, and I just can’t start blogging after midnight!

… And it is now 1am, so it will have to wait, again.  I have been to the cinema this evening with a very good friend, and it was lovely.  We went to see Great Expectations which I enjoyed, and it has made me want to read the book again, just to compare it to the film.  It’s been about twenty years since I’ve read it so I can’t remember it all that clearly.

It was nice to go out, although not so much fun to come back to the to-do list which has taken me another hour or so.  Now I really have to stop and go to bed.

Half term and Halloween, Fireworks and Toffee

I’m still rather behind on blogging but before I forget everything, here is at least some of what we did in half term week…  I spent most of the week trying to catch up on washing and housework after our weekend away in France, and I wasn’t feeling full of energy to do lots of creative things with the kids.  Luckily Dramabuds came to the rescue.  The big three went on a drama camp for three mornings (Tuesday to Thursday) finishing with a brilliant Halloween performance.  Owl was a wizard, Monkey a ghost and Rabbit a bat, and they all had a fantastic time.  On the Tuesday afternoon there were also two Dramabuds parties, one for the little ones which Tiddler and I went to, and one for the older children afterwards.

On Tuesday evening, Suburban dad carved a pumpkin lantern, and on Wednesday Rabbit and I made pumpkin soup.  We lit the lantern when it got dark and we decided that it would look even better with Monkey’s Diwali candle beside it.

On Wednesday afternoon, the little two went to Home ed group without me, at their friends’ house.  They had fun doing Halloween activities, and enjoyed having their own outing without the older ones.  While they were out, I did the flour cake game with the big two, and they played with the flour for a long time afterwards (the handprint is Owl’s.)

In the evening, we all played the apple game (standing on a chair and dropping a fork into a bowl of apples – like ducking for apples but easier!) and then the big two went to the rainbow party at church, and little two had a “party” at home.  This was Rabbit’s idea, and I didn’t mind, as all she wanted was to choose her own supper (fishfingers followed by maltesers and pineapple pieces!) and then play musical statues with Tiddler.  Best party I’ve been to for a while.

I can’t remember what else we did that week, but I know it involved a lot of Lego.  Among other things, Rabbit made a Duplo model and Monkey and Owl made Lego vowels.


We had a quiet weekend at home, as Owl and Tiddler had a tummy bug.  We had planned to have a bonfire on the Sunday evening, but we had to postpone it as the boys weren’t well, and also it was a rather wet day for building a fire.  We did have fireworks and sparklers though, and Suburban Dad and Supergirl made bonfire toffee and toffee apples.

Days like this

We all get them from time to time.  Days when nothing seems to go right.  It’s been like that today, though it did get a bit better towards the end.  I’ll spare you the details.  Just the usual kind of things that go wrong when you have very little sleep and a lot of children, and it all seems too much.  I don’t know what it is about today, but I have lost count of the number of facebook posts I have read from people who have had a bad day.  I could have posted something similar, and in a certain mood I would have done.  But two things have put my day in perspective today.

This afternoon I was on the way to the park to meet a friend and her children, and all my children were on their scooters.  Maybe it was a bit ambitious, though I did have the buggy with me as well.  They were all being sensible and Tiddler was listening, doing what he was told and stopping when I asked him.  Then suddenly he lost control of his scooter.  He sped up at just the wrong moment as we were heading towards a road we had to cross, and the pavement sloped down sharply towards the corner.  As the other three were slowing down to stop, Tiddler sailed past and was clearly going to land in the road.  Although I had been right next to him, he was suddenly out of reach and there was nothing I could do to stop him.  I couldn’t see round the corner so I had no idea if there were any cars coming.  Thankfully there weren’t, but he fell off his scooter right in the middle of the road and it was maybe two or three seconds before I got to him.  It felt like a long time.  I was quite shaken up when I got to the park.  Almost as soon as we arrived, it started to rain, and we all came back to our house.  The day got better from that point because the children played together really well and I enjoyed my friend’s company.  But also because I knew it could have been a day that changed my life forever.  And because it wasn’t, the little things that had gone wrong didn’t seem so bad after all.

The second thing that has put my day in perspective is that today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day today.  All over the world, in every time zone, candles were lit at 7pm, in remembrance of babies who have died, and families who have been affected.  This is our candle.  It is not our story, but it is the story of many friends of mine.  Too many.  I am remembering.  I know how lucky I am.  I am thankful for what I have.

Friday round up – 10th August 2012

Saturday and Sunday

We spent the weekend at my parents’ house, which is always good but was even better as my brother was there for the middle weekend of his fortnight in the UK (he lives in Australia.)  We had seen him on Monday evening last week, but it was good to spend some more time together, and the children had lots of fun with him.  We enjoyed the peace and quiet of a weekend in the countryside and away from our to-do lists after such a busy and disrupted few weeks.  There was a Latin lesson, a lot of playing with Lego and reading stories, an afternoon playing out on the green with a friend who lives in the village and plenty of watching the Olympics.


Back to reality and living in our house while the kitchen work was being finished… It had already taken three weeks and seemed like it would go on forever, but the end was in sight.  It was hard work being in the house with the children, so we went out as much as we could.  On Monday I took them to the pub, which Suburban Dad found rather amusing.  Every Monday in the summer holidays they have children’s craft mornings, and it was a great place to hang out.  The younger three played in the sandpit while Owl read a book from cover to cover, giving me time to have a peaceful cup of coffee, then they all had a go at some of the crafts once the crowds around the tables had diminished.  We had lunch there (having no kitchen is expensive) and then walked back via the park, stopping for a while in the playground, then getting soaked in a downpour on the way home.

Tuesday and Wednesday

On Tuesday we had lunch at the deli across the road (we love it) and then walked to the library and spent a long time there reading while Tiddler slept in the buggy.  On Wednesday we went to the local church cafe for lunch (cheaper) and filled in time at the charity shop buying books, then sat outside the Art Gallery with the owner and her son reading the books in the sunshine.  When we went home half way through the afternoon the work was finished, which was a big relief.  We did some work on our Olympic project which we haven’t really been able to do much of with all the disruption, and Owl in particular was very interested.


We all thoroughly enjoyed the first normal day in our own house for a month, and after a quiet morning doing our Olympic project (me and Owl) and playing (the others) we had a good time with our friends who came over for lunch and stayed till after supper (always a pleasure with their three well-behaved helpful children!)  I loved cooking on my new induction hob (thank you John Lewis sale) and found the new layout of the kitchen such an improvement that it was a positive pleasure to let Monkey come in and help me to make pudding (his own creation, called Yummy Delight – I believe there’s a blog post to follow…)  It was never fun cooking in there before, but now I am going to train up the young chefs till I’m out of a job.


I spent the day at the Rosemary Conley Roadshow in Essex, which was a lot of fun, and the children had a wonderful day at the beach with daddy.  When they collected me, I was impressed at how sandy and muddy, lolly-juice-sticky and happy they were.  The bag of rice cakes and fruit I had sent with them was untouched, and the lolly they were finishing and dripping all over the car was their third one – definitely a daddy day.  We arrived home in time to order a delicious Thai meal for supper and share it with my mum, dad and brother who had come down for the evening (my brother is leaving on Sunday.)  It was lovely to be able to sit out in the garden at the end of a beautiful sunny day, and good to relax after such a busy week.

Friday round up – 20th July 2012

Random things I can remember about what we have been learning this week….


All – learning about stag beetles, beeswax and honey, seeds and vegetables at the Ecology Centre garden party

Owl, Monkey and Rabbit – experiment about genetic difference in taste buds

Owl – learning about bumble bees and honey bees


Owl – writing a blog post; words with silent letters; reading comprehension

Monkey – superhero alliteration; handwriting; writing list of food in cafe role play game

Rabbit and Tiddler – Dramabuds

Rabbit – Reading Eggs

Owl and Monkey – writing Lego pick-a-brick wishlists

All – lots of stories


Owl and Monkey – number patterns (1+2+3+4+5+6)

Rabbit – addition; Mathletics

Monkey – measuring length; telling the time (analogue and digital); Conquer Maths

Owl – reading and marking scales; estimating and measuring mass and capacity; Conquer Maths


Owl – reading about the Bronze Age (Mesopotamia, the Sumerians)


Owl and Monkey (and me!) – our first Chinese lesson


Owl and Monkey – piano lessons and practice

Owl – violin lesson and practice

Tiddler – Musicbox


Rabbit – visit to the National Gallery

Fresh air and exercise

All – outdoor play and activities at Ecology Centre Garden Party; playing in our garden, on bouncy castle, with visiting children at Suburban dad’s work barbecue; our Home Education Group Sports Day; playing outside at another Home Education Group

Owl and Monkey – Beavers Sports Day

I know there is more than this but I’m too tired and I can’t remember…