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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A smurfing betrayal.

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“Where the smurf are we?” Grouchy asked.

“We are up Smurf Creek without a paddle,” Gutsy said, pointing to the portal. It was beginning to close!

The book A Smurfin’ Big Adventure is simultaneously the worst thing I’ve ever read, yet the most intriguing. The dubious plot is spiced up by random nonsensical things being thrown in – portals, human beings (!), and endless TTDMS (things that don’t make sense). It’s well known amongst close friends that I like bad things. Things that are so bad they circle around to being good again. The movie Sleepaway Camp springs to mind.

The Smurfs, though, never fell into that category. They were smurftastic. My little smurfy friends. Until this book morphed the traditional exchange of variations of the word ‘smurf’ with any and all adjectives to a straight up expletive replacement. I half expected there to be a bank robbery, with the villains shouting, ‘Gimmie the smurfing money before I blow your head right the smurf off!’

To be honest, it makes me want to inject a little blue flavoured obscenity into my own life, though my wife has made it clear she doesn’t approve of my new ambition.

Perhaps it is for the best. Because those blue guys fight smurfin’ dirty. Look:

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Gargamel suddenly saw that the walls of the castle were covered with Smurfs- and more were coming up behind them! Gargamel raised his wand, but the Smurfs started pelting him with with walnuts, eggs, and even a frying pan! Gargamel dropped his wand.

I’ll bet he did. It’s obvious that the poor guy suffers from food allergies and the Smurfs will stop at nothing to defeat him, even anaphylaxis. I hope he has an epipen hidden in his smurfing wand.

An open letter to the patrons of fast food restaurants.

Dear people who may have been vomited on at Burger King,

I am so, so sorry. SO SORRY. You see, we were trapped in epic traffic trying to get out of London. One of my kids needed the loo, and when we finally saw the Burger King we thought we were free and clear. We all got out of the car to stretch our legs, and it was then that my other child started saying, ‘I think I might be poorly. I feel like I might throw up.’

You see, that child has lots of food allergies. And about an hour before we’d had a nice lunch out so my sister could celebrate my wife’s birthday. We only let the kid with food allergies have chips, as they are usually a safe bet (and I doubt he’d eat anything new at a restaurant, anyway). He started getting the beginnings of a hive on his face while we were still there and looking a bit peaky, so we gave him a dose of allergy meds and thought nothing more of it.

And he was fine. Right until he wasn’t. (Is this the part where I explain he’d never vomited from allergies before? If we’d experienced this in the past, I assure you we would have stayed outside far from other members of humanity.)

As we were speed walking to Burger King in an attempt to hit the bathrooms ASAP – both for the pee and possible vom alerts – he started coughing. And if you picture an entire walkway through a fast food place, well, he vomited everywhere. EVERYWHERE. We are talking the full twenty foot long, three foot wide walkway. And I’m pretty sure some spattered on your party/food. And I would have checked, but he was still getting sick everywhere and we were carrying him outside as quickly as possible while encouraging his sister to not slip in the puke (and I was very apologetically/hurriedly telling the staff. While I’d normally clean up our own vomit, this way so much that there was no way I could.)

And then he threw up again outside. So much.

So we managed to eventually pull ourselves to the toilets after the vomiting had stopped, and stripped off clothes, and rinsed HAIR (I told you it was bad). And then a certain child may have, ahem, gotten food allergy sick in another way.

My wife had to run back to the car for more wipes and non-vomity clothes. In the meantime, more sickness happened.

In short, we totally desecrated not only the bathroom, but the entire main bit of the restaurant. And the path by the main entrance. By the time we were finished attempting to look like humans again (and, happily, allergy kid was bouncy and cheerful again once all the, er, allergy grossness had erupted) and I was ready to come grovel to you, you had left. In fact, the whole place had emptied out.

So I guess I should also apologize to that franchise owner.

Anyway. I hope none of the vomit hit you guys. I hope everyone’s shoes were left clean and squeaky. I hope none of you had a gag reflex upon seeing someone get sick.

Yours cringingly,

Alison

World’s best (egg free!) cookies.

Having a kid with food allergies doesn’t mean they have to forego the great childhood staple of licking the spoon. One of my kids has multiple allergies, one of which is egg. So I found this recipe – I wish I could credit the original source, but the recipe has been copied by hand into our tried and trusted family cookbook (which currently only has two recipes in, the other for an AMAZING vegan chocolate cake!).

These cookies are superb because you can modify them without breaking them. They don’t require any special techniques and your children can probably make them entirely on their own – or with minimal help from an adult or older child. The original recipe is to make basic egg free/vegan sugar cookies.

You can add stuff to them – chocolate chips, nuts (f they won’t kill your kid), whatever. Here’s a picture of the batch we made yesterday to take to a friend’s house:

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We added cocoa powder and decorated the top with chocolate chips. We’ve found Malteser and/or chocolate button tops on the white cookies work well, too. We have only done the whole dip the top in sugar for traditional sugar cookies a couple of times, and they were also nice. But we prefer no sugar on top, chocolate chips mixed in. See? YOU CANNOT MAKE A WRONG DECISION. These cookies are magic whatever you do.

So, here. A gift from me to you, a recipe you can’t screw up:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 tablespoons milk (or vegan equivalent)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (we use only 1)

1 cup flour (we use self raising, you’ll need to add 1.5 teaspoons baking powder if you don’t)

1 pinch salt

3 tablespoons flour (to add to dough if needed. I’ve never used it.)

1/8 cup sugar (to dip cookie tops in, if desired)

Cocoa powder if you love chocolate (we just dump it in until it looks brown enough!). And chocolate chips. You get the picture.

Make them:

1. Heat oven to gas mark 4 (350 F)

2. Put dry ingredients in a bowl – salt, flour, and the baking powder if needed. This is also the point you’d add the cocoa powder.

3. We scoop butter into measuring cup, scrape into new wet ingredients bowl, and zap it in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Then add sugar to the melted butter, mix till lighter and fluffier. Or, you know, till it is mixed. Remember, you can’t screw it up.

4. Add vanilla and milk to wet ingredients bowl.

5. Combine bowls into one super bowl of tastiness.

6. Add extra flour if needed. You probably won’t need to, but whatevs. They taste fine after my two four year olds make them, so you’re safe.

7.Break off smaller bits of dough and roll into balls, or snakes, or whatever you want. This usually makes about 12 dough balls/cookies. It making traditional sugar cookies, dip the tops in sugar.

8. Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly golden (if you’ve not added cocoa powder.) I find 8 minutes is enough.

Now, apologies to those of you who are not down with the sugar. I’m sure there are equally awesome cookie recipes out there.

For those of you in the UK, these truly are more cookies than biscuits – they shouldn’t be hard or crunchy, but firm and soft. That being said, I’ve accidentally both burned and undercooked them. And guess what?

STILL AMAZING.

If you try these and modify the recipe in a way you think others need to know about, please do leave a comment! My cooking is laughable, but I feel pretty safe trying variations of these delicious little nuggets of awesome.

Now, go forth and delight your tastebuds!