Monday, July 31, 2006

Birthday and Camping

B has reached 7 and what a busy weekend he, and all of us, have had to celebrate. His actual birthday was Friday and we went to visit Grandma and Grandad and an Uncle and Aunt from Holland who are staying with them at the mo.

Saturday we embarked on our first camping trip. Had great fun, but I can't believe how much stuff we needed for one night. We decided to have a trial run with the tents in the garden on the Friday, just so we had an idea of how to put them up (so we didn't look like amateurs on the day!) and to check we had all the various bits and bobs. We've got two three man tents which only took about 15 mins each to put up, not bad for beginners. Packed all our stuff, bought a camping stove and little kettle (£4.95 from Tesco!) and away we went late Saturday morning.

We camped here, which is not very far from us. This was lucky as we'd forgotten the mugs (extremely important) and the batteries for the torch (probably important), so P did a trip back home for these missing essentials. We thought camping here was a bargain as the £20 family overnight price included all day (and night) entry to the farm attached to it. Kids loved this, especially K as they had a number of horses and a mini farm of guinea-pigs and rabbits etc. which was right up her street. There were some building works going on which meant the toilets for campers was in the farm itself so we could visit the animals after dark too! Very trusting of them I must say. Toilets, showers and washing up facilities were there, so a lovely first camping experience really. Had a nice picnic lunch well away from everyone, in the shade and by a pond. We had to put up with continuous hissing from mum and dad swans guarding their very young cignets, but they seemed to enjoy the scraps of birthday cake we kept feeding them! K loved this shire named Lucy (in the photo) who was ever so friendly. She enjoyed an very early morning stroke (the shire that is, not K!). Weather was great, very hot on the Saturday with clouds looming towards the end of the evening. It rained most of the night but thankfully there wasn't a storm. Kids were great, they slept (or at least remained quiet) from 10 p.m. to 5.30 a.m. and then, after a wee session, on to 7.30 a.m. before a BBQ fry up breakie. K and B really got into the spirit of things by doing the washing and drying of all the messy stuff and looking after their own belongings, which they kept in their pillowcases! Would certainly do this again, we had great fun.

Things we need to remember for next time! Buy a wind shield for the camping stove. Sunday was windy and the kettle never boiled (even after 40 mins) - in fact the gas ran out in the end! Ground mats or blow up mattresses. We obviously had sleeping bags and although the kids didn't complain, we certainly felt we needed something softer underneath us! Fold up chairs and a table of some description. We took our fold up garden chairs but they're very cumbersome and we didn't have a table so our knees got pretty grubby scrabbling around when cooking, making cups of tea etc.

Monday we celebrated B's birthday with a picnic with friends at the park. It was a lunch time event and the weather looked dodgy from about the time we left home at 11 a.m., but it stayed dry and warm with a nice breeze until after we finished, so we were mighty chuffed. All the boys seemed to enjoy running around in the bushes and trees close to us and the others played in the playground, footie or our version of the game "Twister". After the picnic I read them a story about wishes and they all made "magic wish trees" to hang above their beds. Picked this idea up from the local library last year. It's basically a twig with pretty things hanging from it. We used shiny bits, wool, beads, feathers, cones, leaves etc., and the results were beautiful and individual.

A big thank you to all who came along to help B enjoy his 7th birthday, hope you all had a good time and a big thank you too to those who have already left birthday wishes in their comments.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Phew - it's cooled off - we're all happier!

We've had a downpour or two last night from about midnight, together with lightning and a few rumbles of thunder. Kids piled into our bed and snuggled. Was hot and humid in the morning, but it rained this afternoon too with more rumbles and now, thankfully, the air is so much cooler and we're all back to being happier people.

Went shopping to stock up on some goodies for B's 7th birthday party on Monday (yes I know it's alittle early but we've got lots happening the next few days). His birthday is tomorrow and he's ultra excited! We're having a picnic and activities in the park for his bash with some HE friends and his cousins. I keep writing lists and lists and lists of what I've got, what I need to get, what I need to cook, when I need to do this, that and the other by, what I need to take, what I've packed already! It may seem organised but it's not - there's too many lists and I'm going crazy, I know I'll forget something. We've also more-or-less decided to go camping Saturday night (see previous blog), weather permitting, so I need to start another list of what to take for that especially as we've never camped before! We have been looking up camping stuff in Argos and comparing costs. In the end we found a great sleeping bag in Tesco which we got (we needed one more) and I see they sell camping kettles for under £4.00 which I'll probably get tomorrow (once we've finally made our decision to camp or not).

Kids have been great today and are beginning to keep themselves more occupied. I got the old Scaletrics down from the loft this afternoon mainly for B and I to have a bash with. It always ends up back in the loft because B was always too young to get to grips with handling the controls to keep the cars on the track. Now he can do it! Yippee! Had some fun with this and K did too. They also played more Twister and had a good old cushion fight as well.

K's done some more wonderful drawings. I've noticed her style is beginning to change, she using more pencil strokes for shading now. I'm madly scanning her artwork to add to my website as they are too good to not share with the world! B did some doodles which were interesting and decided to turn a cardboard box into a car.

Have been picking over the tomatoes as some, I have been informed, have got "blossom end rot" caused by a calcium deficiency and lack of water. How much watering do they need - they get three good drinks a day! Anyway, here's a web page about it: seems I need to get a feed into their roots p-d-q.

It was my turn to choose a film to watch after the kids' dinner tonight so I chose Fantasia which I knew would get lots of groans etc. B's never watched it, K watched it when she was about 3 and I've never watched the whole thing. B is quite musical and enjoys listening to Classic FM when he gets the chance, so I thought we'd give this a shot and see if he enjoys watching the animations to popular classical tunes. Had a few "this is boring" to start with (and it continued with K for longer), but then B settled into it he wanted to watch more and more. He was interested in the dinosaur section, obviously set to music, about how they became extint. He's got one of the free Telegraph dinosaur posters up in his room and has learnt some of the names from it and was therefore able to name them on the film. At bed time we dug our a pamphlet style book about interesting dinosaur facts. Lo and behold, my little chap who dislikes reading, began reading this to me with enthusiasm. Lots of questions too about the "big bang", volcanoes, shooting lava etc., etc.

Right, off to put up some fairy lights for B's birthday. The weather was hot like this when he was born too. I love laying in bed at night thinking back to his, and K's birth days and wondering where the years have gone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cooking - can't rely on this!

Could kick myself for forgetting to take photos of this - we made a simple outdoor solar cooker using our inspirational 100 Science Experiments from Usborne (I love this book, you can get it here and it's also on my wish list if any generous person would like to treat me!).

Line a large bowl with silver foil. Place some blue tac or similar inside bowl. Push a marshmallow onto a cocktail stick and stick it in to the blue tac. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place outside propped up to face the sun for 15 mins (the book said). Check to see if the marshmallow has cooked, if not return for another 15 mins. Not too sure what went wrong for us as it was a scorching day and the bowl was certainly pointing directly at the sun, but it took us an hour to get the mallow slightly sticky on the inside. Nevermind, we enjoyed eating the goodies anyway. Was rather hoping this makeshift cooker would be fun for camping - don't think so! Perhaps we'd be better trying this style of cooker (I think I picked it up from another blog) - looks a little complicated to me, but it probably works 10 times better than ours!

We've all been quite grumpy since the schools have broken up. I'm putting it down to the heat, and the fact that everywhere we go there's huge amounts of kids (just not used to it!). The heat is stopping K from sleeping (her room is like an oven, even in winter) and making her quite tearful. B is better but we've all lost our energy to do anything for more than a few mins. It's B's 7th birthday on Friday and we thought, to cheer ourselves up (hopefully), we'll try our first overnight camp close to home at a local farm attraction. This perked the kids up and got them rushing to look it up on the map.

Have finished Henry VIII and his lovely wives mobile. I've enjoyed finding out about them as I'd never really had an interest before. I've also enjoyed reading Philippa Gregory's "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Constant Princess" (about Katherine of Aragon) - can thoroughly recommend them both. Anyway, thought we'd add the three children born to Henry to their relevant mothers to extend this as the kids seem interested.

Have been playing some board games etc., which doesn't happen that often. Kids played their own version of twister. Unfortunately the photo of B looks like he's had an unfortunate accident. He actually had just sat on a glass of water (which I carelessly placed on the sofa). Must say B is very good at this game and can get into the strangest positions!

Veg I thought were doing well. We're having to water the tomatoes at least three times each day as they are in grow bags and the beans have finally got some flowers. K's potatoes look ready for harvesting - a little nervous incase there's nothing under all that soil and bush! Unfortunately, K noticed that a lot of the tomatoes had black bottoms which is a bit of a blow after all the hard work. Have chucked the damaged ones away and a friend suggested giving the plants some tomato feed which I'll do tomorrow. Wondering whether to pick the good ones, although they are green, to ripen in the airing cupboard. Anyone know if this is a good idea or not?

Finally, check out this little fella (or lady). I found little hedgie in the middle of the road couple of nights ago - so cute.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I think I mentioned before that B is interested in shadows at the moment. He's been querying why his shadow changes position and length at different times of the day, and he played a BBC website shadow game to learn all about it (and complete a little quiz). We used the 100 Science Experiments book from Usborne to make a shadow puppet theatre which was great fun.

We painted black trees at the edge of a large piece of white paper - this was our background. Then we cut out shapes of things, animals, people using white paper and stuck long sticks on them to use as the puppets (using objects/ornaments are good too). We sticky-taped the background between two chairs and added a table lamp behind to shine through. The shadows appeared when we placed the puppets infront of lamp, but behind the background. Kids had great fun with this!

Alien ship and jumping horse!

Horse pulling alien ship!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

week ending 21st July

Work has wound right down to more or less a halt this week due to the hot weather. It's drained us all of energy. Anyway, here's some of the things we've been doing this week.

As it was National Ice Cream day last Sunday, we made some delicious strawberry ice cream ourselves using juicy strawberries and double cream - so rich but very moreish. We also found about about St. Swithin (his day was last Saturday - read about it here) and have been waiting to see if the traditional rhyme will be true or not. Not it seems as it rained this morning! Never mind, K and B copied out the rhyme to practise their handwriting. This is something new that we're trying, they seem to find it OK.

For maths and geography we had a look at the road map to find where we live and places that we'd recently visited. Using wool, a ruler and the scale of the map, the children worked out the distances of these places. K and I also touched on how to work out the time it may take us to reach these places if travelling at a steady speed.

We got a underwater book out from the library and had a thumb through it, looking at the different fish, reading about the legends of the sea, lost cities and lost planes over the Bermuda Triangle (and I gave them an interesting burst of the Barry Manilow song sporting this title!). We've also been looking at shadows - B struck up this interest last week, asking about the length of his shadow and why it changes. Found a good bit about all this on the BBC site here and B did the quick test afterwards and demonstrated that he understood it all! 100 Science Experiments from, once again, Usborne, have a fun shadow show project which we shall do. Another book from Usborne that K's been reading is called Castles. Do love these Usborne books, may just have to buy some for ourselves. B's also asked, and we've found out about, who invested televisions and how telephones work.

B has been playing with mini spinning discs, exerpimenting with forces, seeing what happens when the discs collide. He found these in a box of junk in the loft which has been packed up for ages ready for a car boot sale. We decided to do a yard sale this week to sell some of the old kiddies toys etc. Thought we'd do really well as our home is between a nursery and infant school. We chose Wednesday, the supposedly hottest day of the year, and made some refreshing home-made lemonade to sell too. So are we now rich - nope - we sold one thing (to our neighbour) for £1.50. The kids had made bunting and posters to give people plenty of notice and still parents said they'd forgotten their purses! Even the children, who I thought would sidle up to the table full of enticing goodies, didn't even look in our direction! The kindly lollypop lady had a free cup of lemonade and suggested we did a boot fair instead, "they're good for junk" she said! Great, I didn't think this was junk, but it guess it is to others!

Someone posted this amusing site on the EO forum - B found it very funny. Lucky chap getting to dance in all those wonderful places.

Have been playing card games in the good outdoors and B has been practising and seriously improving his backhand when playing swingball. Elsie Mo's new hood arrived this week (yippee, not more huge puddles in the back of the Landie) and K thoroughly enjoyed playing in the box!

Did a quick ice cube experiment to demonstrate how colour can affect temperature. By placing and ice cube in a dark bag and a white bag and placing them in the sun to see which will melt the quickest (the one in the dark bag) confirmed that dark colours absorb the light more easily and turn it into heat while the white back reflects the light and bounces it off the surface. Had lots of fun putting ice cubes down the backs of our t-shirts after this!

Have been looking at the early Tudor clothing and found this lovely site with dressing up dolls for Henry VIII and his six wives. K and B each chose a queen and outfit to copy and label correctly all the items of clothing the ladies of the court used in those times. We used this site to help us work out the order of dressing. Poor ladies, must have boiled in hot weather!

M-i-l's birthday yesterday (she doesn't want anyone to know her age, but it's between 69 and 71!). We're having a family meal tomorrow to celebrate.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Our outdoor thermometer reads 55 deg C!

Better explain, the temperature gauge is at the side of our house which is sheltered from wind and has the sun on it all afternoon, so hence the reading!

This is the life - zonked out in the shade! Here's Allie, more or less back to normal, still a little shaky after his recent hiccup but obviously taking it very easy in his recovery!

Here's another shot - I just can't resist him.

Jasper decided to curl up under the Landrover to get as much shade as possible. As for the other two (pets I mean), Billy and Herrance are in their shady homes with bottles of half icy water to snuggle up to. An idea I pinched from Pets at Home, where all the baby rabbits and guinea pigs were fighting to get close to it!

As for us humans, staying in doors as much as possible was the only way of keeping cool today. I couldn't believe how quickly the washing dried this morning - in under 1/2 hour!

Oh I wish we had a huge outdoor swimming pool with waiters to bring ice cold drinks (with straws and umbrellas) all day long - that would be great. Dream, dream, dream. Oh well, back down to earth - need to get tea for the kids now!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Does this count towards maths and biology?

This isn't something I'd blog about a regular basis, honest, but I just had to share this with you all! I suffer big time when a mossi decides to dine on my legs, but this one has got to be the biggest mosquito bite I've ever had. At first glance the photo doesn't give much evidence, but if you look closer (not too close - don't want to put you off your lunch/dinner!) the bite is the slightly dark bit in the middle and the reaction has just spread outwards towards the white outer ring! Should I let the kids use this for their education! Nope, don't think so, 'cause taking the antihistamines is knocking me out. The kids are having a ball today playing on their computers while I just want to sleep (so why am I trying to keep awake by blogging?!). Anyway, for my own maths tution the bite is a total of 29cm long and approximately 23 cm wide. Ouch! Sleeping now!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The beauty of nature

Thought I'd share this photo I took of one of the numerous butterflies on our buddliea bush which burst into flower this week. Nature watching in our little patch has been such a pleasure this year - I never realised, rushing out the door to school and work each morning, how much I'd missed in my own back garden.

Making the most of the fab weather

Took Elsie Mo here today. Packed up a picnic (getting pretty speedy at doing picnics these days) and set off in the blazing sunshine. Actually, it sounds like we took off quickly, actually we wanted to leave home before lunch time, but seeing as how we were taking four bikes with us today, it took us quite a long time to work out the best way of transporting them in the back of the Landie together with two kiddies! So we headed off around lunch time and had a late lunch on the shady banks of our destination. Then we headed off on our bikes for a scenic 4 mile trip around some of the water and finished off with an ice lolly to cool down. We seemed to pick up most of the little storm flies during our cycling, as well as some other strange and wonderful insects (they like white and yellow t-shirts). I see one of them even managed to get in my photo! K had an unusual pale fawn spider with a green stomach crawling on her at one point! It was hot, hot, hot, but fun, fun, fun too. Home to a much needed shower and slob in the garden reading the paper!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Where's the week gone?

Here's a brief run down of what we've been up to for the rest of this week.

Maths - have done maths workbooks once this week and progressing smoothly. B is ready to move on to new things! Rest of the week (apart from the measuring of liquids which I covered in previous post), we've done lots of maths through baking. The kids really enjoy this and fight to get to the scales first. We've been using the brilliant Cooking with Kids by Linda Collister (read our review here) which we picked up from the library. We've made strawberry jam buns and also used this mixture to produce rock buns with left over blueberries or cut up twix bars (so yummy). We also found a lovely recipe for real lemonade on the Waitrose website and have made a large jug full every other day this week!

Science - when making the rock buns B asked how our tongues tasted foods. Wonderful! I'd just found an excellent Usborne book titled 100 Science Experiments with a good experiment to see how different parts of the tongue react to different types of taste like sour, sweet etc. We did this but discovered that their tongues tasted things differently so perhaps everyone's tongues are different. K loved the vinegar, I think she would have drunk it if I'd let her!

Literacy - finally finished Peter Pan and the kids picture storyboards look lovely. They finished off by drawing a picture of their favourite character, writing why that character had been chosen, and whether they actually enjoyed the book or not! Also recapped on nouns, irregular and regular verbs and added adjectives to our "tree". B is actually reading this reading book by himself and K picked up 11 library books and is reading 3 a night!

Geography - Wednesday was "Wild about Wildlife" day. We found a craft to make 3D dragonflies which the kids produced and then they sketched some of the grasses we'd picked up on our greenlaning recently. We looked up the grasses and then read about dragonflies. I didn't realise that dragonfly nymphs remain this way, attached to a twig in water, for 2 years! We've also been following mummy blackbird's third/fourth lot of young in our garden. This time two have survived and the patience she has trying to feed them is truly wonderful. I watched her for at least 5 mins. trying to get a worm into their mouths, each time they'd spit it out, but she'd persevere! We have a family of sparrows which line up along the apex of the roof waiting for the cats to go indoors before swooping down to look for food. They look so sweet and are really noisy. Got a book out about underwater life which B has shown an interest in. He enjoyed looking at the different fish and reading the names of the seriously weird deep sea creatures.

Art - K has made a Fimo rider to go with her Fimo horse (see previous post). She also produced these beautiful saddles for her smaller models - lots of patience from one so young. B has been drawing Sonic the Hedgehog underwater scenes. K also did a nice painting of a horse galloping through choppy seas.

Socialising and sport - have done lots of this! K and B went to their friends' house one day (and did some jumping on the trampoline), we met up with the same family to go to the outdoor paddling pool and then the friends came back to our home for play. We also went along to the HE group BBQ and watersports today. As always, lovely company and good fun all round. The three of us went swimming at the local swimming pool yesterday. The kids were longing to go, it's something I'm not really into must admit, but we went. I think the last time we went was January so I thought we'd have to go back to square one to get them used to the water again. How wrong I was. K and B confidently swam widths of the pool, B with armbands, and K did some swimming under water. B was happy to jump into the pool and also enjoyed putting his head under water too! Proud? Most definitely.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Our fun weekend

After a quick visit to see Paul's Uncle and Aunt from Holland at the in-laws home on Saturday morning, we decided to check out the local pick-your-own not far from us. Took Elsie Mo (the Landie) there and were amazed to see so many other families picking fruit. Not only this but there's a weekend butcher there, a stall selling home grown picked vegetables and herbs, cafe and wonderful play area too. K and I set off to find some raspberries, P and B went to get some strawberries. This was a great afternoon. K really enjoyed herself (she loves anything to do with the country) and a bargain too compared to Sainsbury's!

Home to bake a sponge cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberry, raspberry and blueberry filling - yum, yum.

Sunday we took Elsie Mo off-roading - here's a couple of pics. We thought the weather was going to change and be wet, which, as we'd planned for a barbeque, wasn't what we were hoping for! However, after the initial few drops of rain the sky cleared and was pretty warm, but quite windy. Anyway, Elsie Mo, naturally coped extremely well with the ups and downs of the old quarry. We all had a fab time, everyone there seemed friendly too. Kids enjoyed climbing large piles of bricks and stone as much as the thrills of riding through dips, mud, steep banks and hills.

K made this rather cute little pony from Fimo and is now making a rider too. Fimo's brilliant (as long as you don't forget it's cooking in the oven - which often happens in our house), much better than clay (which we find always breaks).

Today we continued with the Tudors - on to Jane Seymour now. We recapped on the kind of smelly smells that would have been around during this time, picked some of the wonderful lavender outside our house and the kids sewed lavender bags. K's sewing has come really well, with neat close stitching. B used measuring jugs in the bath to learn more about litres and millilitres and then measured out some cold water to add to our home-made lemonade (which was so refreshing). We've nearly finished Peter Pan and the picture storyboards. Went to the library to stock up on even more reading material for K (she read three books in one night recently!). Dug out the CD to the film "Spirit" and had a good old sing-a-long and then B and I started watching the film - it's so lovely, it's got to be one of my favourites. Now time to rest!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The rest of our week

B and K finished off their mini country studies, based on the countries England played against in the World Cup. They are both fascinated by flags, especially B, and enjoyed hunting down each country flag as well as the correct capital city and also the time difference. K took some time to browse through our Children's Visual World Atlas, which is full of lovely pictures and interesting facts. She chose a snippet of information for each of the countries. K also took it upon herself to find Rothersthorpe (near Northampton) on the road atlas and work out the easiest journey from our home to get there (this is for a forthcoming model horse show, she's very excited). B then showed an interest in the different coloured road lines on the map, so we discussed those and also looked for places we knew and the road numbers that would be needed to reach them.

Continuing with our Tudor theme, and after "celebrating" Henry VIII's birthday on the 28th June with the children drawing clocks showing how he may have spent his day (with lots of jousting, hunting, eating, dancing, etc., and going to mass of course), we decided to do a day of the poorer Tudor person. This proved far more boring for them with lots of hard work, church and a quick drop of ale before bed! We've also moved on from Katharine of Aragon to Anne Boleyn reading about her, comparing her to the first queen, Katharine, and drawing her picture for the Tudor mobile they are making.

Today we celebrated the Japanese festival of Tanabata (Star Festival), read all about it here. We all made up short poems with our wishes and stuck them on a bamboo stick and placed it in the front garden for passers by to read if they wished.

K and B have been learning more fraction skills by playing this fun "make a pizza" game. It's very good as sometimes the pizza order uses easy fractions and other times you have to think before finishing the order. There's an ice cream one too which uses different fraction skills.

Although we had plenty of showers this afternoon, we met up with three other families for a play and chin-wag in the local park. Then K had her riding lesson and B and I mucked around and recapped on some maths in the car while we waited.

Allie's home

Yippee, we have Allie back. Picked him up from the vets and we've been told he'll be wobbly on his legs for about a month.

Little chap is really, really wobbly and constantly asks for lots of fussing and loving. The vets thoroughly cleaned out the infected ear and strangely now Allie seems much more alert (perhaps he won't sit in the middle of the road now oblivious to the cars). In fact, whenever we used to put our hands near his ears he'd always lower them - he's done this from the day we got him (as a stray, 3 years ago), but now he doesn't, so perhaps this problem has been looming for a while. Just need to get him eating more and taking is his rather yuckie looking (and smelling) meds.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ooh, I've been tagged!

I was tagged by Emma, so here we go:-

5 things in my fridge
This is easy - just been shopping - so off the top of my head: green pesto, jug of home-made raspberry lemonade (fabulous), bag of Tesco fresh spinach, tomato puree, 4 pints of semi-skimmed milk.

5 things in my wardrobe
Cut down jeans that I bought last weekend, black top that I bought last weekend (don't often go on shopping sprees, honestly!), bag of swimming stuff, old unused black evening bag, box of toiletries.

5 things in my handbag
Purse, plasters, anti-histamines, pen, lipsalve (I could go on and on with this one, my bag's like the one Mary Poppins had!).

5 things in my car
Bundle of dried lavender, local map, box of tissues, hanging labybird smelling thing, first-aid kit.

5 people I'm tagging
Help! I'm just tagging Nikki (apologies if you've already been tagged).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Battled through maths with B first thing. He wasn't up to concentrating today, one of his anti-maths moods but K did well with her Magic Maths - percentages. B put on a cowboy hat for the rest of the morning, apparently it helps with his concentration! It must of worked because he settled down after that!

We all enjoy our arts and crafts and have found doing projects from The Usborne Book of Art, which I picked up from the library recently, great fun. Yesterday we made some interesting paint/marble and glitter firework pictures to celebrate Independence Day, and to finish them off we were going to place houses with cut out windows in front of the fireworks for an interesting effect. However, we made our rows of houses following instructions from the book and decided to complete them with tissue behind the cut out windows. We've displayed them along our front window - they look really very good and remind me of he Paddington Bear houses in the TV programmes!

  • Statue of Liberty came up. Enchanted Learning has all the details, as usual, even down the the length of Liberty's nose! We are going to complete our Independence Day firework pics with a coloured Statue of Liberty standing in her harbour in New York.
  • K asked why some any popular songs are based on the theme of love. So we discussed how most of these songs are aimed at the teenage market when love begins to be an issue. Talked about how boys and girls of this age think of love differently. Much talk about babies, etc.!
  • Also the subject of being frozen came up (can't think why) and how fresh food frozen quickly will ensure it is kept fresh. Also how body parts to be used for transplants are kept as fresh as possible by transporting them in containers full of ice. Talked about freezing humans and then defrosting them in the future, similar to film storylines.
  • When ironing B's shorts I discovered some dried mint in his pocket which made the fabric smell lovely of spearmint. Talked about how clothing was dried over lavender bushes, or placed in cedar trunks to take on a fresher smell during Tudor times.
  • K and B did some pretty symmetrical patterns on this site and designed robots here hopefully to be displayed alongside others of their school year age on the web.
    • By the way here's a couple of piccies of the vegetable garden so far - all are doing very well except the carrots. We're down to two of those, I think Billy the rabbit ate the others! We've planted two circles of runners with nasturtiums, but only one lot of runners are growing. Not too sure when to harvest the potatoes, I believe it's when all the flowers have died off. I was about to do it at the weekend, but more flowers have started to appear on B's pot of pots!

      Tuesday, July 04, 2006

      A better day

      Thank you to all those who left their wishes for Allie's healthy recovery, it was very kind of you.

      I left ringing the surgery until this afternoon as I was a little nervous of what they'd say. On the 'phone they told me he hadn't really improved since yesterday and that he was on some medication to try and stabilise him. B and I went to visit Allie while K was at gymnastics and found he was actually quite a bit better. As soon as he saw us he tottered over the best he could and stayed in a seated position for a good old stroke! This was brilliant as he couldn't even walk yesterday. It turns out that Allie's got a serious inner ear infection, he hadn't had a stroke (which according to the internet is not really heard of in cats). This is better news although now I feel bad (and I told the vet so), as Allie had a scratch/bite/lump on one of his ears and we'd bathed it with salt water over a period of days until it had healed. This week P noticed that his ear was bothering him again (he kept shaking his head) and we decided to wait and see if the lump reappeared (in which case we would have taken him to the vet). It turns out the infection went inwards to his brain (I am such a terrible "mother"). If only we'd got his ear sorted at the start by a professional, the inner ear infection probably wouldn't have happened. Anyway, tomorrow Allie will have an operation to thoroughly clean out the ear "tubes" and hopefully, with more medication, the infection will be sorted. We're told Allie will be alittle wobbly on his legs for about a month but after that he should be back to normal. Thank you Mr. Vet and whoever is "up there" looking out for us all.

      Will keep you all posted!

      Another hot, hot, hot day and after a very small amount of work (measuring and diary keeping of the vegetables and some Independence Day stuff) we headed back to the outdoor pool that we'd visited yesterday. P joined us for a picnic lunch which was lovely. Went home via the library to stock up on my reading matter for K and then home to get ready for K's gymnastics class which has had a very lengthy 3 month break (due to exams being held in the gym hall). After our visit to see Allie (and to drop off a couple of cans of his usual food as he was refusing to eat the stuff they'd provided (very unusual for him, he's a bit of a dustbin usually)), food for us and then B, P and I watched a couple of Dr. Who's which B is getting into thanks to this cousin.

      Monday, July 03, 2006

      Good day, bad day

      The good ...
      The heat hasn't relented (which, for me is good, I like the summer) and so we decided to pay a trip to the outdoor paddling pool close to where we used to live. We actually thought it would be empty - it always was when we lived close by, and being the afternoon too, thought everyone would be at school. Got there about 2ish - busy, busy, busy (doesn't anyone go to school anymore?), how come we have groups of lads from pre-teens upwards out and about during school hours (daft question, I know)?!!? Anyway, they weren't too bad and kept themselves to themselves, so the kids had a great time splashing around and walking through the spurting water feature. This pool has always been a godsend - it's a good size and although you can't swim in it, it's great for splashing around in. Here's a couple of piccies.

      The bad ...
      Came home, hot and exhausted, the heat really does take the energy out of you. Had a ice cream in the garden and caught site of puss number two (Allie), trying very hard to crawl out of a bush. I thought perhaps he'd got caught on something (it was the area where all the veg are growing, so I wondered if he'd got his foot caught in some string). Poor fella, he just collapsed with wide eyes and head rolling (as if he was dizzy). Panic, panic, off to the vet. I was hoping he was just severelly dehydrated, but no, he's had a stroke, probably due to the heat. Apparently, cats usually spring back from strokes, so they're keeping him in until Wednesday to cool him down (the brain has swollen) and hopefully get him back to normal. Very nearly a tissue situation - let's hope it doesn't end up that way. Here's a lovely Allie piccie for you.

      Sunday, July 02, 2006

      My energy has been zapped!

      Not feeling too great. Either this weather is so humid I've got a bit of hayfever or I've come down with a summer cold. Tired out too!

      K had a sleepover on Saturday night and we dropped her and a friend off at the birthday girl's house for Saturday lunch time and then we had a lovely picnic lunch at the near by shopping centre. It was great there, deckchairs had been put out for the public to use and there's loads of green space, water features and woodland areas. B loves water so this was right up his street. We watched a mother duck with her young swimming round the little rivers and then saw two young moorhen (never seen these before). Anyway, afternoon turned into a bit of a shopping spree which got hubby abit upset as I'd already told him we shouldn't spend any money, but there were such bargains to be had, how can a girl resist!

      Suddenly realised the time and "flew" back to P's brother's house to watch the all important footie. Was passed a rather refreshing, but very alcholic pimms and gin (exactly how much gin was in the glass I'm not too sure, but it certainly did the trick), and watched the footie and my m-i-l enjoy her three glasses of Pimms and fall asleep! Commiserations all round, obviously, at the end of the footie, followed by a wonderful barbeque and a very wet water fight! Left their house with my nephew ready for his first sleepover at our house. He and B are practically the same age and get on like a house on fire. We let them stay up until about 11.00 and then put them in B's room and said they could play but to stay put and not wander around the house! By this time P and I were exhausted and needed our rather hot and stuffy beds. Kids were up and about, some chatter (and tears) about ghosts, but we finally had a quiet house about 12 - 12:30 a.m.! P and I just couldn't sleep, it was far too hot and with all the windows wide open every noise outside kept us awake. P's car alarm went off for some strange reason at 4:45 a.m. and woke the boys up who were wideawake and downstairs getting their own breakfasts. Must say they were very good and kept very quiet until I got up around 8 ish.

      K returned home about lunchtime looking like a thunder storm was brewing! So today I feel pretty groggy, as does P, B and K all from lack of sleep. The heat has really zapped us all too, so a very slobby day and early nights all round.

      Bye for now!