Mega minecraft maze…ostensibly built for the children…

20140913-222151.jpg

Just made the kids something fun to find tomorrow! Not sure I will keep the rules section as is, but for now I’m pleased. Lots of little nooks and crannies to discover – a house, several gardens, mini art gallery, swimming pool, cheddar cheese area, snowman corridor, lookout platform, survival station, chicken farm, etc.

The plan is to add new stuff to our Adventure World map until we have a whole world of awesome – can’t wait to see what the kids build!

Have I mentioned I LOVE minecraft?

Second official Not Back to School week!

Last week the kids would have been starting their second year of school. Instead:

Monday

Their grandparents took them to swimming lessons. M apparently did his first swimming with face in the water, trying to time breathing and strokes. They have a private two-to-one lessons with the most amazing teacher. She’s fast becoming the official swim teacher of Bristol’s home ed community!

Both kids had Tang Soo Do in the afternoon. This is a mix of schooled and home ed kids (well, us and our friends make up the home ed component, but we’ve got our eyes on converting a lovely mum who isn’t too keen on school. Ha!)

Tuesday

Every other week we have a home ed pottery class. It is THE only activity we’ve done where neither kid has ever wanted to take a break from it. It’s us and three other lovely families we see quite often anyway, so it can get quite loud and crazy – which is not to everyone’s liking! It’s proper pottery, going from sculpting clay to firing to glazing to firing. S currently making fish ponds and tea sets, M still slaving away at his ever growing collection of spaceships.

After pottery we all stay to play and drink tea in the garden. There’s a trampoline and swing set, so we often stay about an hour before heading to the park along with people from the home ed class after ours. This week featured the (surprisingly large) Not Back To School Picnic, which was handily in our usual pottery park. There was swimming, ice cream eating, monster chasing, and whatever they got up to when they were out of ear shot!

Wednesday

Gymnastics! I could write several blog posts on gym and the various conundrums we have, but I will say both coaches are fantastic. My kids are now among the oldest in the sessions, as it is not geared for home ed kids so has younger ones in. We often meet home ed friends in the class, and S is coming around to the idea of moving up to the big kid classes with a friend. friend, are you reading?! No pressure but you’d better do this!

After gym this week we drove round to a large park and playground by some other friends’ house. Spent a nice few hours trying to stick to the shade, whilst marvelling at the very odd misty fog shrouding the land…whenever the sun wasn’t blazing down and making us all melty. Stayed pretty much all afternoon.

Thursday

Met friends at the Scrap Shop……another place completely deserving of its own post, and I will do one soon. But home ed people can go on the list to get into the warehouse bit. Imagine a huge warehouse full of every sort of junk/treasure you can imagine. You get loads for less at four pounds! Except this week. We bought a tyre. Wtf.

After the scrap shop we went to a city farm/playground. Spent a huge chunk of time there, much of it was me debating about a scheduled tour of a shiny new police station. Due to my mix up with tickets, we weren’t going to the same session as friends. M didn’t want to go, S did. We went out to dinner, when suddenly everyone decided that no, we did want to go. We had plenty of time so I plugged the postcode into the sat nav and away we went. Then my sat nav betrayed me, we accidentally got a driving tour through an ugly industrial area, followed by two villages in the country, followed by my wife’s instructions betraying me, followed by me wanting to cry.

We gave up. Then out of nowhere (not sure where I had the energy from) we went to the shops to get a few things we needed, which morphed into S buying her first pair of slippers she’s actually worn once we got them home. Bunny slippers, of course. Suzy met us there and it was like a bizarre twilight family trip.

Friday

My brithday! Stayed in today, as it was quite a full on week. Can’t remember what all we did, but I remember us talking about the wheel of the year and making a cool seasons wheel picture. Lots of lego, lots of garden time, lots of reading.

This day, like all other days when we are at home, was full of snuggles and random projects, S writing in her diary, minecraft (all three of us are working hard on building a family world which IS pretty awesome. Cake mountain, a cabin house, villager island, a shark rollercoaster, pirate ships, cave houses), YouTube, angry birds figures, the superheroes and their houses revival, etc.

Kids and Suzy then took me out for a lovely surprise dinner out!

Phew!

A fulfilling and very busy week!

You know you’re an adult when…oh, wait.

20140904-192149.jpg

This woman had a wee cry by the side of a road somewhere because she couldn’t find a police station, thereby causing her family to miss the highly anticipated tour of it.

Adulthood. I’m (probably not) doing it right.

I have since regrouped. Going to spend some time tomorrow organising awesome trips to spectacular places we’ve been meaning to go to for ages. Until tomorrow, though, I will snuggle in my retail therapy fleece bunny sweatshirt (that I thought was a very evening appropriate Eeyore, until I saw the blatantly bunnyesque face and ears on the hood), have a small glass of wine, and watch dubious shows on Netflix. Adulthood!

Adventure’s burning.

Earlier this week, we had our grand return to gymnastics after a big summer break. It’s all a bit hairy, as S loves gym and would go every week – M has fun while he’s there, but realistically he probably wouldn’t care if he never went again. Luckily, we met some friends there and afterwards dutifully trooped across the street to the little playground and park. We had the plumber coming that afternoon, so when we finally went to leave, we walked back to gym, turned the corner, and were presented with the sight of thick grey smoke flooding out the upstairs window of a house.

A house we were sort of parked directly across the street from.

A group of young people were on the corner, and I thought I overheard a girl say she was calling the firefighters out. I double checked she’d called, and then had about a million thoughts zoom through my head in two seconds. One was phoning the plumber – and that’s when I realised my phone was missing. That is a long, dull story in itself; suffice to say, an older man was just approaching me with concern when I plucked my phone out of some long grass, thrust it into the air, and yelled, ‘YEESSSSSS!’

My next thought was trying to very quickly run up the street and get in the car before the fire engines appeared, because I knew we’d be trapped in. We started up the street, and my paranoid thoughts kicked in – what if the bloody house exploded? Was it really worth the risk?

Luckily M took charge. When the smoke hit us, he turned away and went back towards gym. S and I followed. Well, I thought, that’s okay.  This will be a little adventure.  We can watch the firemen, maybe see if there’s some way we can help the people who’ve been evacuated. That’s when my dumb, adventure loving ass noticed that S was physically shaking.

‘Are you scared?’

‘No,’ she said. ‘I’m not scared. I’m terrified.’

We went back round to the front of the gym and had a seat and a cuddle. Then I thought maybe we could get into gym and buy something with sugar in – good for a shock, no? The lovely older man who saw my phone triumph happened to work at the gym. He let us in, we got some chocolate and juice. Then we went back outside, where he brought me some tea. He urged us to come back in if the rain started.

At this point, the smoke was spreading. Fire trucks had arrived, police, ambulances. Roads were being shut off. And both kids started just sobbing. Like losing your mind crying. We kept moving further from the smoke, which by now was so thick it blocked visibility and police had red eyes, tears streaming down their faces. At one point I left the kids in front of the gym and peeped round the corner – flames were shooting from the upper windows, visible even through the solid wall of smoke that made the people fighting the fire look ghostly and unreal.

I’d been texting with Suzy, who arranged for her mum to come collect us ASAP, since it was apparent this little ‘adventure’ would not result in us having our car free any time soon. M lost his shit. He was so scared the car would burn, the car would be lonely, etc etc. He kept scream asking, ‘Is this a nightmare dream or is it real? Is it a nightmare or real?’ S was asking if this would happen to us. She was quietly weeping the whole time.

We actually had people come up to us to ask if it was our house burning, if we were okay. The older guy came back and looked concerned (we looked like tear stained, slightly dusty refugees from the fire), and again told us to come back inside the gym. Eventually my mother in law arrived and order was restored.

Except for the questions. Did the fire have our address? Would it happen to us? How did fires start? If we had a fire, would we rescue all our toys first? Was I careful to make sure our house didn’t burn?

They had a very unsettled night. Me…well, I was fine while we were there, aside from the worry of the fire spreading and burning our car. But once home I felt a little shaky (which still strikes me as somewhat ridiculous). The stress and fear of the children – well, I contained it fine while I had to, but once they were asleep and I didn’t have to stay super calm and reassuring, I just felt tired.

We got the car back about nine pm that night. The kids have seemed pretty fine since then. But it was a harsh reminder that my view of things can sometimes violently clash with how the children view it – and in this case, I think they had the more humane view. It wasn’t an adventure for the man who’s house burned down. For the firefighters that had to stay there ten hours to make sure the fire didn’t restart. For my children, who cried and cried and cried.

I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad no one was injured in the fire. I’m glad life has returned to normal.

Still, I sit, watching my children and wondering. What will it be like to return to gym next week, to drive past that poor house? Should we do more about fire safety in our house? Should I just drop the topic for awhile, having already reassured them that if they wanted to talk about it more, I was ready to listen?

Mostly, though, I marvel at the deep empathy of children, and their stunning ability to house more resilience than you’d think.

Alone with the rain.

It’s been so long since I’ve been alone in the woods. Sunshine filtering through thickening clouds, pooling on the path in green puddles. The river along one side of me, wide and peaceful. The trees on the other, verdant and ripe and smelling like the richest part of summer.

Me in the middle, long strides, stopping occasionally to take a picture or two. Smiling at the very rare people I cross paths with, sitting on benches, touching the thick, rough bark of trees tall enough to hold a lot of history.

Then the rain came. Light mist. I stayed on my bench, I smiled. I sniffed. The rain does odd and incredible things to every landscape, making smells deeper and older.

It’s been so long since I embraced the rain instead of putting my face down toward the ground, scrambling for a raincoat, dreading getting soaked. So today I stepped out from the trees, tilted my face ever so slightly upwards, and opened my palms to the quick, fast drops. It ran down my bare arms, made the earth beneath my feet damp and dark brown, hit the leaves of the trees and amplified the sound until it reached a crescendo when the wind joined in, sounding for a half second like I was by the ocean.

I smiled.

The smile stayed on my face when I got back to my car, walking slowly all the way, and the rain pounded the roof and blurred the windows. I put on a slow, pulsing song and I’d be lying if I said my smile didn’t get bigger. The rain was so heavy that even with the wipers at their fastest, manic pace, the windows were blurred and water collected in small streams and giant puddles along the road.

Thank you, I whispered. To the rain, to the leaves, to the earth. And to myself, for remembering it was okay to honour myself with this time and space, just me, alone with the rain.