Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Will they keep him in?

After trying to get Sam to understand we would like him NOT to attempt a second escape into the main play area today I reminded him this morning when dropping him off at Breakfast Club, 'Now, you do know that you're not allowed to climb the fence.  So, promise me you won't do it again.'

Cue big eyes, cheeky grin, big giggle and 'Well, I might have another little try'.

Alcatraz would have nothing on this kid.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tom, Dick or Harry

Before I had kids I always said I never minded what I had, but I would be especially happy if I had a real, proper naughty mischevious little boy. Sometimes it's really not good to wish for these things.  Today, on only his second day at Foundation Stage, Andy and I were greeted with a chuckling teacher explaining to us that Sam had attempted to escape.

It transpires he was outside in the play area, which is right next to the main school field and playground.  It is fenced off with an approximatey 6 feet high chain link fence, with gaps in the wires just big enough for four year old little feet.  Seeing his older sister Eleanor on the other side on the field, and no doubt, knowing Eleanor, she probaby added a bit of encouragement, he proceeded to stack the milk crates to make a handy set of steps so he could bunk one over the top and head off into the main school playground to join her playtime.  It seems the grass was greener.....until he was noticed by the teacher.  When asked what he was doing he tried to justify his actions by explaining 'I was only popping my head over the top'.

He thinks it's hilarious.  I hope they check for tunnels tomorrow.

Fun Days

Most people with kids know these days that trips out as a family are expensive.  Nowhere seems to offer a fun day out at a decent price and even then, if you do get through the gates relatively unharmed in the wallet area, surprises are usually lurking inside on stalls that are outrageously overpriced for naff returns.

This past weekend Berkshire Agricultural College opened for their lambing weekend.  They've been doing it for years, and for years I have planned to take the kids, then forgotten and scolded myself for having to wait another year for a countryside style day out.  This year I remembered and Saturday morning I packed four kids and a big picnic in the car and headed off towards Burchetts Green.  It was a gloriously sunny day and I was so thankful to God for giving us such beautiful weather.  The open day was 100% outdoors and would have been a disaster had it rained.  Such was the beauty of the early summer day the children enjoyed running around in T-shirts, eating ice-creams and picnicing by the side of the small fenced off show area where falconry and sheepdog shows were put on for small crowd entertainment.

It was also a thrill to enjoy a day where as a parent I didn't feel ripped off or pressured to spend lots of money.  The majority of stalls that offered raffles, tombolas and lucky dips were virtually free, merely asking for a donation in the discreetly placed bucket by the side of the table.  Some stalls offered five goes for £1.00 which is a stark contrast to most places where you pay £1.00 per go per person and come away disappointed.  The marquee behind the sheepdog area offered free face painting and the children queued up happy to wait their turn at having their faces transformed.  A simple table nearby with five paint trays and a white tablecloth where the children could paint their hands and make prints, then write their names by the side.  Small tractors for little people to ride alongside the path for a few pence in the bucket.

Animals were on show all around the college grounds, sheep were sheared, lambs bounced alongside their mothers, pot bellied pigs snuffled around snorting contentedly whilst wallowing in the cool mud.  Shire horses pulling wagons along the grass and even a ferret racing area where Sam won 20p for backing the winner!  Free tractor rides around the perimeter of neighbouring fields overlooking acres of farmland, free of modern day invasion, releasing your mind to the imagery of the pages from Tess and other Hardy novels.

Leaving the grounds we visited the Farmers Market.  Delicious smells wafted through the air of homebaked pies, hog roasts, bacon butties and rows upon rows of home made fudge and turkish delight, to tempt us as we headed back towards the car.

Six hours of fun and fresh air, four happy, but very tired kids and one happy Mum.  All for the bargain price of a tenner per car to get in.  It's definitely in the diary for next year.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

When Jesus Speaks

The children were discussing in the car today how they knew Jesus was speaking to them.  Have you noticed how I have a lot of these sorts of discussions in the car?  I suppose it's the only time I can keep them all confined to one place long enough to talk - other than the dinner table.

They talked about having feelings, ideas popping in their heads and conscience.  But I liked Eleanor's explanation.  It has a valid train of thought, considering it's from a six year old.

"Jesus talks to my heart, my heart talks to my brain, then my brain talks to me.  That's how I know".

Monday, 12 April 2010

13 Years Ago Today


Today, the children abandoned modern games consules and resorted to good old fashioned 'play', by building bunkers and dens in the lounge.  Safely hidden in their trenches they then bombed each other with the plastic balls from the old ball pit Andy dug out from the garage during a weekend tidy out.

Pillows became sand bags, teddy bears were guards on duty and boxes formed walls.

My only role in all this was to randomly shout out 'gas attack', whereby the children dived under blankets to escape the effect of the fumes.

The standard of PPE wasn't enough for Bombardier Eleanor who then deserted her post, went AWOL and came back with five flannels, a box of pegs and a request for a gas-mask to be made.  Clearly she understands the troops dire need for better equipment in the line of duty.

We Didn't Get Much Sleep - Over

Joshua's birthday sleepover went off really well.  After assuring many bemused parents in the reception area of the local pool, that yes, we really could manage 13 kids swimming at the local pool and 12 overnight at our place, we thanked them for their concern, urged them to enjoy their evening of freedom and allowed the madness to commence.  Sleeping bags, pillows and overnight kits were dumped in our car, presents tucked under the bags and lots of noise and commotion sorting out regular members, non-members, free swim members .......

Two hours of swimming and a walk home later the children all settled into their various zones in the house and hours of gaming, giggling, eating and having fun followed.

Papa Johns, who deliver the best pizzas in the area did good by delivering a leaflet offering buy one get one free on any size pizza the day before the party - yay!!!  We'll have TWO XXL large ones then please! 

Followed by a large slice of Dad's expertly baked chocolate fudge cake.  Previous years traditions have seen this covered in Smarties, Flakes and Maltesers.  This year was the turn of the Rolo.

Lilos were inflated and beds made up around 10.30pm ready for late night DVDs and midnight feast.

At 1.00am the final request to go to sleep was issued (although we found out the following morning they finally settled at 2.30am!)

Weary souls fuelled on just under five hours sleep, copious amounts of pizza, nuggets, chips, chocolate fudge cake and midnght goodies still managed to dive into the mammoth breakfast fry-up.

At 10.30am parents arrived, friends left and we flopped!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Birthday Gaming

Joshua's 11th birthday arrived quite early yesterday morning.  After teasing him mercilessly that his much wanted and long awaited PS3 was out of stock in town (only partly true as Game truly had run out, but we 'forgot' to mention HMV had them in), we managed to convince him we'd arranged a special courier delivery service to have it at the house by 9.00am.  This was our feeble and very wishful attempt at not being woken at some unearthly hour by a boy who for the last two weeks has established a 5.30am waking habit because he's so excited about the big day.  He didn't need to know the 'courier' was Dad, delivering it from the wardrobe in our bedroom.

At 7.30am it was plugged in and ready to go.  He was plugged in and ready to go two weeks ago when he found out that Grandparents hadn't bought him presents as they had contributed to it too.

But in addition to being the Birthday Boy and really rather special for the day he was also tagged with the label of Most Awesome Big Brother by Eleanor and Sam who have now inherited 'free of charge' his now redundant PS2.  Sam's already picked up some pretty nifty moves with the Ratchet and Clank games and is now teaching Eleanor how to work through the levels. 

So, a quiet, but happy gaming day for him, followed by a chocolate birthday cake and Chinese delivery.  We still can't get us all in one car so a trip to a local restaurant was out of the question. But not being ones to let a thing like that get us down, we decided a bit of the restaurant would come to us instead.

So yesterday, Andy and I were the best parents ever. I'm going to remind him later today that we still are - it doesn't hurt a kid to be reminded of basic facts like that :-)

The real party is tomorrow night.  Six of his friends meeting him at the swimming pool for a couple of hours swimming, back to ours for gaming, pizza, DVD, midnight feast and sleepover.

The girls have friends over too. Lilos have been brought down from the loft, extra pillows have been plumped up, stocks of goodies stashed in the kitchen, another birthday cake baked by Dad and the Sega Game Gear dug out for the retro gaming corner.

It's gonna be a fun one!