Not Back to School week 2017!

Because it’s a bit of a tradition, and I like being able to look back, here we go. Usual caveat that every week is different, etc.

Monday

This week is when many classes and groups kick off again – and thinking about how this upcoming term is going to be the most scheduled term we’ve ever had (half hoping it’s great, half expecting it to break us so we all agree to go back to a more relaxed pace!), we thought we’d stay in.

Then we discovered Spider-Man: Homecoming was on in our local cinema, and it’s cheap ticket Monday, so that was much of our morning.

M is obsessed with Spider-Man lately (again); S was less keen and brought a book along to read in the cinema, but alas, she forgot a torch.

(S has become obsessed with graphic novels – the longer non-comic book ones aimed at 9-12 year olds. She heavily recommends El Deafo as well as anything by Raina T. If you have cash to burn, send an Amazon gift voucher. Our libraries and finances cannot keep up with her pace!)

Afterwards we came home and much Lego/Playmobil fun was had. Mondays from now on will involve S going to drop off educational provision in the woods, so it feels special to have time for the both of them to just play!

Late afternoon M had gymnastics class with a friend, while S played with hers. She then had her first non-recreational gymnastics class; she was on her own with girls much older than her, and it was much more intense than the recreational classes she is used to. She survived.

Earlier in the day M ran round the block with hand weights, pumping them up and down while running (lots of this sort of tiny thing happened this week – I didn’t document it as it would be too crazily long!)

M suddenly asked for ‘muscles training’ in the evening so I found Tae-Bo videos on YouTube (#billyblanksforever!) and he did two full length videos aimed at adults. He did these two weight lifting videos every day this week.

Tuesday

First day back to a very busy pottery class after the summer break. Clay, glaze, inspiration.

Afterwards we all had a picnic/play in the park. Was nice to be back! We were there till around 1:30, when I had to take S to Spanish class. A friend offered to have M round her house – he and his friend had some quality Lego time.

S and I arrived ridiculously early at Spanish, so we went for a walk. Happened to stumble across an awesome music store – she played some broken chords on the various pianos until we discovered there was an entire room devoted to percussion instruments. She’s thinking of giving up piano to have drum lessons, so it was great to get to try out some digital kits.

Spanish was Spanish – learning how to describe circus related stuff, this week. She really enjoyed it.

Then back off to pick up M – it was my birthday, and my gorgeous friend made me a cake (which she unfortunately dropped on the floor.) She left me and the kids alone while she ran to the store to get milk, and the four of us promptly fell on the cake pieces like wolves. Bare hands and all.

Wednesday

Normally we’d be at forest school on a Wednesday, but this week our lovely friends from London were down and staying in the local area.

We met them at Slimbridge Wildlife and Wetlands Centre – or whatever it’s called. We spent a full day in the soft play, welly boot land, and somehow missed out on seeing the birds – except for the geese and swans near the entrance, who swarmed the children once they realised the kids had grain to feed them. One of my friend’s kids may now have a permanent bird phobia. Whoops.

Driving to and from our meet up, we listened to Short and Curly. It’s a podcast about ethics aimed at children – and it’s totally awesome. Ethics is a fascinating area of study, full of critical thinking, morals, debate, challenging our own ideas. We all LOVE it.

Thursday

Thanks to Groupon and the friend who spotted a deal on there, we headed off to the Mendips winter sports centre with five other families. The kids got an hour of tobaggoning on the dry slopes – which were much faster than I thought they’d be.

Everyone loved it; no one broke their skulls open.

Afterward, we went to the top of the ‘alpine lodge’ for lunch. Very unfortunately, M had an airborne allergic reaction to … something?

He responsibly asked for meds and took himself outside for fresh air. It was minor at that time, nothing out of the ordinary.

About ten minutes later, my friend looked out the window and saw him gasping for air/coughing.

Queue a very tense twenty minutes. No epipen was given – and luckily a nurse was on the trip with us.

M proceeded to give all his friends a lesson on how to administer an epipen.

We elected to head home rather than carry on to Chew Lake with friends – closer to hospitals if needed.

Thankfully he was fine. We cancelled our emergency GP appointment, and Suzy took both kids off to Woodcraft Folk for the first session of term. Luckily it was an outdoors session with plenty of fresh air!

That evening S and I spent a good chunk of time reading our own books in her room. Was very cozy.

Meanwhile M took proud ownership over a new Spider-Man costume, courtesy of Grandma! Lots of running around outside with it on.

Friday

Crack of dawn piano lessons were cancelled as their tutor was ill – God help me, I was so relieved and happy for a chilled morning!

Back to Capoeira late morning. I cannot recommend this more – miles better than our previous martial arts experience. Kids remembered their moves from before summer, which was great. Lots of fun and excellent music on a very rainy morning!

S wanted to have friends back to ours after class, but honestly I was too tired! We went home – kids played, we watched Night at the Museum, etc.

Just a chilled out way to end the week.

I found during this week that car rides, as ever, are where kids continue to request maths challenges. M’s mental maths are off the chart – you know, if we used them!- and he particularly has been requesting more and more difficult problems. I’m still loving how we can cover a variety of topics within one thing – maths, ethics, language – and not even realise we are doing so until it’s reflected on later.

All in all, a great week -next week even more things start back up. I have a feeling I may revert back to drinking caffeine!

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Tick!!

  
Every year I make a list of 100 things I’d like to do that year. Big, small, silly, dead serious. 

Every year for the last three years I’ve had ‘go on a mini break adventure alone with the kids’ and never managed to get around to doing it. 

While this may not quite count as ‘alone’, it does to me as Suzy wasn’t there and she’s definitely the more adult/responsible one. 

So that’s a big tick off 2016’s list.  We had such a good time I think I can probably backdate my tick to 2014. 

Score! 

Never say no to an adventure! 

About a week ago, a friend said, ‘Hey, do you want to go to Spain with us?’ A couple of days after that we were on a plane with her and her adorable kids. 

Today’s our last day here. After a few days of sun and heat, it’s cooler and windy. Obviously we feel at home on cold beaches. Ha. 

  
  
I was worried if I’d cope on my own with the kids. All the bedtimes, all the nighttimes, all the picky eating that new countries and food allergies bring. But you know what?

It’s been a joy. A time out from normal life which has reminded me a bit more of what I’d like normal life to be like, what it once was before all the classes and clubs and meet ups. 

A little bit slower, a little bit more joy and instinct led, a little more flexible. 

Of course, excellent company helps. So does Spanish sunshine and water with lemons picked fresh off a tree. 

  

Perhaps the biggest lesson (and reward) in these past few days comes from the reminder of how good it feels to say a resounding YES whenever you can. 

  

  

Cool stuff, check.

I’ve been mindful of wanting to both do more cool stuff, as well as appreciating the things I experience that are cool.

The night glow at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta:

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Everything about the fiesta is fun, but this was our first night glow. It was also our first time attending with a camp friend – and her daughter accidentally knocking my daughter’s tooth out!

Tape exhibition, Cardiff:

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This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It’s an interactive art exhibit – a treehouse/tunnel/otherworldly place suspended between trees….and made of nothing but sticky tape. The time inside this thing felt like a little bit of magic.

Arnos Vale Cemetery:

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Despite living so close to this place, we’d never been before last week. It’s a Victorian cemetery and woodland. I’ve been to old cemeteries thst have been reclaimed by nature, but this took it to the next level.

Graves are interspersed into old woodlands, with dark paths twisting around. I swear we saw a Leopard Cat, but I accept it may have actually been a Bengal.

Barleymow’s Maize Maze, Chard:

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I LOVE MAZES. And this one went on long enough to freak out both my father in law and son. All us women were laughing rather cruelly and helplessly at their worry we’d never escape.

The kids then climbed and conquered a mountain made of hay bales, before whizzing down the attached steep slide.

One day (phew!)

Sometimes I forget how awesome it is to have mini adventures, just the three of us.

Today we went to a nautical/pagan storytelling, had a picnic by the water, and rode the boat taxi across the water and back again.

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They bought baby hedgehog toys with their pocket money, and used them in a circus they performed around giant land bound anchors. (Anchors taller than me. And I’m tall.)

We wandered onto the platform of an abandoned railroad line. Some of us hopped along the track itself, feet jumping over bright wildflowers and sun warmed track.

We went up to Aardman Animations (the Wallace and Gromit people!) to have a nosy in their windows. They always have cool miniature figures and things in the windows, and huge statues and bits of movie set in the main reception. Today we spotted all the mini Gromits (and you probably don’t know what this means. I must write a post on this!) and it was awesome.

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We’ve looked in those windows a lot, but never noticed there was a boatyard right across from them. So of course we ran over to watch men working on two huge wooden ships.

Eventually we got in the car to head home, but decided to stop in a fab place (that probably also needs its own post!) we drive by every day. We had our second picnic of the day deep in the trees, then found a ‘stage’ along the river. I was the audience for various shows and songs, and then the nursemaid when stinging nettles struck (dock leaves grow right next to them and those ‘helper medicine leaves’ are well known and worshipped by both children!).

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Now we are home. It’s not even three pm. I wonder what the next few hours will bring….

Just say yes – and then watch what happens.

‘Yes’ is the most powerful message you can give to your children. Some things are direct requests.

Can we sleep outside?

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Can we go see that horse?

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Can we play Twister before bed?

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Sometimes your child makes a decision to try something that is new, or seems interesting or worthwhile. You don’t need to say anything, then. You just stand back and watch….and sometimes, you fetch whatever they need to help complete their scheme.

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‘Yes’ really means:

You are capable of making good decisions.

You can choose things based on what you find exciting or are curious about.

I trust you.

Sometimes it is a small yes. Sure, we can make cookies. We can pick up endless sticks and rocks while we walk. We can opt to skip going to gymnastics to stay home and all watch a movie together in my bed.

Often it’s bigger – and means having to stand back while they assess risk, solve problems, or get incredibly messy.

We are lucky in that we have lots of time. Nothing is so pressing that we cannot explore things along the way. We have lots of space to just be, to choose what to do as we go along. So that makes things easier for us, but not impossible for people with busier schedules, or school, or …well, whatever, really.

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So try it. When your child asks to do something, or just goes ahead and does it – and your natural inclination is to say no or hurry them along – just pause. Do you have five minutes to let them do this thing? Are they safe? Then say yes.

Have that wild dance party in the kitchen. Watch them collect fifty conkers and spend ages ‘washing’ them in a stream. Laugh to yourself as they wear costumes out of the house.

And this is the most important part: look at their face. Really pay attention to those moments when a child is learning about joy, about passion, about curiosity.

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The first day of no school!

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We like to explore, to see new places….or to delight in old places. This fountain is one we have seen dozens of times, one we have dipped our feet in at the lowest level. On this particular day, the kids began to wade out to the middle of the steps and climb.

My parents were visiting from America, and we were waiting for a boat to pull in and take us on a tour of the harbour. We’d already eaten outside at a pub, wandered around looking at Gromits (the subject of a future post, no doubt!), and danced along to street musicians.

And did I ‘let’ them explore this wet, wonderful fountain with slippery steps and the potential for cracked heads? I didn’t let them do anything. They decided it was worth conquering, I thought it seemed like an awesome idea, and off they went.

At just turned four, my children are delighting in exploring the world, at making everything we do an adventure. The younger version of them might have asked me to come into that fountain, but this version? Off they ran, climbing to the very top and back down again.

Their contemporaries were putting on school uniforms for the first time and heading off to school, but these two were splashing and laughing, sunshine pouring down over them. I suppose all children this age are trying something new, stepping out into a wider world – the difference being, we aren’t limited by four walls.

We can climb, we can trust in ourselves to create a day (and life) we like, we can explore anywhere we happen to be.