Friday, 30 November 2012

Optical illusion, masking tape profusion, and how atheism doesn't preclude religion inclusion

It's been another fairly Pinteresting week! 

We started with this masking tape road that I've been meaning to do for ages, it was *lots* of fun (to make and to play with!)

Next up were teabag rockets, which the boys were sooo thrilled by we used all our teabags and have ordered more to do it again this week:)

Later in the week we drew this awesome optical illusion (this is Squidge's hand.) This is one of those things that you see online, try out, and actually does end up looking as cool in real life! 

We also baked some marbles. Now, our oven is as temperamental as can be, and never as hot as you set it, so even with some adjustment these didn't come out great so we're going to try again with a much hotter oven and colder water.

Squidge loves anything to do with hearts, so we cut round his hand and made this...

...and while we were at it we made an impromptu gingerbread man chain.

Away from Pinterest we got out our EZ-Fort kit for the first time, which we'd invested in as our tally of moveable furniture dwindled to almost zero. Both boys made forts with Gruff... he helped Squidge make a fort umbrella too!

We tried out our tornado tube for the first time too. It was *hard hard hard* to get it to work, and it leaked an annoying amount, but once the whirlpool actually formed it was pretty cool and Squidge loved it. (After reading reviews apparently this one is better and less leaky, for anyone thinking of getting one!)

In other news Fly is getting pretty big now, she's almost six months old, and very gradually we're managing to integrate her more into the household as Squidge gets used to her. He's so much less scared now when he sees dogs out and about, and will generally be able to walk past them as long as he can see they're on a lead. Progress!

Sprout in particular was extremely excited to go and see the Coca-Cola Christmas truck when it came here this week...

...and on our way home that night we got an amazing view of the moon and Jupiter (sorry for the useless photo, I only had my phone on me.)

A question was answered this week too: As atheists, how will our kids come across religion? I knew the answer in general terms already, obviously: there's religion in the world and my kids live in the world. But I liked the specifics of how it came about again this week. Last week we'd talked about Christian stories surrounding the birth of Jesus when we were looking at Christmas decorations. This week, Sprout saw a video on his favourite YouTube channel for a game called The Binding of Isaac, which we then bought and played, which led to us chatting about the bible story of the same name. A couple of days later he was playing with a Noah's ark set at his grandparents' house, and we chatted about the story of the flood, and he was telling me that there had to be two of each animal so they could breed, and that that was true for Noah and his wife too. I wondered out loud whether in the Bible Noah was related to Isaac, and he was interested so we googled and found this, so apparently Noah was Isaac's great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather. Or thereabouts! This elicited an awestruck, "Whoooooah..." from Sprout :)

Squidge has been getting interested in letters and words, wanting me to read more books, playing on Reading Eggs, typing his name in scoreboards on Kizi, and asking me to point to letters on the keyboard so he can type out website names and search for the videos he wants. 

Sprout asked for the first time last night a couple of things about the reality of Santa. They'd watched Arthur Christmas five or six times over the past couple of days. In bed last night he asked me whether Santa really had a spaceship. I asked him what he thought, and he laughed and said no. He paused for a bit, then asked me if Santa really had a flying sleigh. I asked again what he thought, and he asked me back again. I asked if he wanted the real actual truth or the story, and he said the real actual truth. So I smiled and said no, but it's a lovely magical story to think about at Christmas isn't it? He smiled, said yes, and fell asleep. So I think that went ok!

They're both very excited that Advent starts tomorrow (Sprout's been counting down to it for at least a month!), and I can't wait for the Christmas fairy to come back, I've thought of some fun things for her to get up to already :)

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Tennis balls and leaf falls!

This is the time of year where I start thinking, Oh my actual god, where has this year gone? I think it every year, and the more children we have, the busier we are, and the quicker it speeds past, so this has been our fastest year yet! 

One of the things we've spent most time on over the past fortnight is the Link Romania family shoebox appeal, loads of generous people dropped a total of 103 filled boxes with us this year and Squidge absolutely loved all the bits of organising, money-counting, box stacking and form sorting that went along with it. We also looked up the route we thought the boxes might take, via Kent where the charity's warehouse is, then maybe through Belgium, Germany, Austria and Hungary to get to Romania. The longest roadtrip we've taken the boys on was to Cardiff last month, so the idea that the boxes would be going over ten times as far as our trip down there was amazing to them.

Sprout and Squidge have been doing more things together over the past couple of weeks, notably playing games together (and helping each other and cheering each other on, which has made me so happy!), and watching videos and films. We picked up The Incredibles DVD this week, and the high tech gates at Edna the superhero couturier's house raised the question for Sprout of whether force field gates would be possible in real life, if money was no object. Some searching led us to find out about brief electromagnetic forcefields being developed for tanks, which was the closest thing we could find.
The games they've been playing the most together are a bit of a Mario-fest - Mario KartMario Party 9 and Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii. It's so brilliant to see a recent increase in how much they collaborate and help each other out with games.

Squidge was over the moon too earlier today as he came first in a Mario Kart race for the first time ever!

In terms of his own games, Sprout has discovered Dungeon Keeper and has been engrossed in designing dungeons; Gruff thought that this was pretty cool as he remembers it from when it was out originally.

Out of the house we've had a new gymnastics class, a couple of trips to the park, a day at Funsters with friends...

...and an afternoon at their grandparents' house where they decide to rake up a huge pile of leaves...

...leap into it (that blur is Sprout)...

...throw them in the air...

...and make leaf angels :D

We also had a rare family trip into town, where Squidge was really enamoured with this mural...

...and we had lunch out and Moppet demonstrated what a big salad bowl she can now put away!

Aside from the eating, Moppet had also been making strides in grinning...


...and snoozing...

Squidge has started enjoying drawing, which he's never been very interested in before. He doesn't normally like me taking photos of what he's drawn but he made an exception for this little self portrait :)

And in the absence of any fair weather for playing out much, his new favourite indoor game is tennis...

He had a whim yesterday to go and play crazy golf, so we took a trip to Fletcher's to play a wet and windy round...

...looked at the Christmas decorations (and talked about the nativity, the relevance of stars being in lots of the decorations, and which parts of Christmas came from the religious roots and which didn't seem to, like reindeer)...

...stopped for lunch and kisses...

...and the boys investigated how many things they could make out of a paper cone (hat, loudspeaker, party blower, snowman nose, ice cream... and a flat piece of paper apparently!)

Squidge loved some terracotta warrior statues they had in the garden centre shop, and we talked a bit about Qin Shi Huang and why he had the original ones built. (We watched this video when we got home but I'd hoped to find something a bit more interactive for kids online about the terracotta army, if anyone knows of anything I'd love to hear!). Sprout picked up a 3D puzzle of Cologne Cathedral at the Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre charity shop, and built it almost immediately we got in. He was really excited that I found this 360 degree tour of the real building, and we spent a while trying to match up the inside bits we were looking at on the computer to the outside of the model.

He enjoyed it so much I've ordered him a Tower Bridge one too, so I can't wait for that to come!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A week of the dreaded lurgy

Well the lurgy has been doing the rounds here for a couple of weeks, so mostly it's been time wrapped up under duvets doing bits and bobs at home.

We found a big pack of paper plates so we made some monster jaws...

...*lots* of funny mouths on sticks...

...and Squidge made some ears too.

Sprout had been asking how things balance, so among other things I picked up this balancing bird, that balances equally well on fingers... it does on noses :)

They both had a ride round on the chalk track their Grandpa drew out in their currently-empty kitchen...

Pumpkin faces were drawn out and carved for Hallowe'en...

...Morphsuits were donned...

...and Hallowe'en parties were attended by all!

Moppet and I had a little shopping trip without the boys to pick up some Christmas things, and she devoured this croissant in Starbucks...

And I completely failed to organise this pile of Lego. It's still there. I will do it. One day.

Squidge has been finding lots of things online that he enjoys, like making snowflakesdecorating plates (he did this one for hours and made some lovely designs!), puzzle games like Moonster SafeNinja-Pi-Ro and all the Monkey Go Happys, and Lego Marvel Superheroes, which in turn has led him to rewatch the Green Lantern film a few times. He learned to type his name this week too which was very exciting! He's also really brilliantly helped me sort out all the money and forms and boxes for the Link Romania family shoeboxes we've collected from people - we have over 100 this year so extremely grateful to everyone!
Sprout on the other hand has been playing The Dropper map for Minecraft, building Terraria maps with the Buildaria mod, and designing his own Minecraft skins It's also been interesting me a lot the different things that do and don't scare him as he's happily started playing Left 4 Dead 2! He also held the dog's lead on her walk for the first time this week.
In other firsts, Moppet pulled herself to standing for the first time ever!

We're all on the mend now so have a busier couple of weeks on the horizon :)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Holy baby poo, Batman!... or ... How an afternoon can go Horribly Wrong

So, there I was, humming an ear worm and wrapping (in an extremely timely manner thankyouverymuch) the kids' Christmas presents, while Sprout designed a Terraria map, Squidge slept, and Moppet happily worked her way through a plate of cucumber beside me.

When it happened. That sound that all parents will be familiar with. The sound of my darling daughter expelling what remained of yesterday's dinner into her nappy. Repeatedly. And at length. And then a bit more repeatedly. When they squint you can guarantee it's gonna be a stonker. She was squinting.

So, in the manner of an experienced parent, I check down the back of the nappy first. Oh dear. In our old days of disposable wipes this is what we would have termed a 'Ten Wiper'. In these new days of fabric wipes, a 'Two Wiper' I think. Maybe three.

Four wipes later, I give up on the no-longer-fresh nappy underneath her, and get out a second.

Nine wipes later, I turn round to get another wipe from the washing pile behind me. I turn back to... Oh god! The humanity! She has both dirty nappies and is smearing them across the floor. Leaping into action (well I say leaping, in my mind it was a burst-of-adrenaline-fuelled super-mummy-type leap, in reality more of a slightly-tired-tortoise lunge), I take the nappies with one hand and quickly clean up around her with the other. Phew! Disaster averted, sigh of relief breathed.

Lifting her out of reach of her stinky weapons of choice, I clean her up with another couple of wipes: bum, back... Wait what? Back? Oh crap. Check floor again, put her down to one side while I clean the ink blot test of the nappy world from where she'd been lying. *sigh*

Notice my hands are covered in her best work, run to bathroom to wash, run back, realise not only had I put her down beside the dirty nappies but I'd also committed the absolutely cardinal sin of leaving her... without a nappy on!

Clothes off, clean up new pee, smile in spite of it all at Sprout sticking his head round the corner and observing, "Holy baby poo, Batman!", unsmear re-smeared nappies, run out of wipes, whizz to kitchen to throw dirty nappies in the bin and get a wet cloth, run back, find baby delighting in chewing a pile of important forms I'd *just* organised, grab forms, realise forgot wet cloth, run back into kitchen, find puppy has pulled bin bag down and shredded dirty nappies into little pieces all over the kitchen floor, cry a little, get wet cloth, run back, put clean nappy on baby, dress baby in clean clothes, decide dog and baby have hatched secret plan to see if they can make my head actually spin round, put dog outside, shut kitchen door and vow never to set foot in there again...

Breathe... check for plagues of locusts and the like...

Decide I'd really better clean kitchen up, sit Moppet on floor outside door, clean kitchen, return to... nooo! Cat eating Moppet's cucumber, Moppet pouring Sprout's cup of water into her lap and Squidge wide awake and wrapping himself in jolly paper and Sellotape and joyfully informing me he's sellotaped off the access to the stairs until Handy Manny can fix them.

So... I need a coffee. And a new roll of sellotape.