Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Productive Day

This morning LB2 decided to continue with his description of our time at Center Parcs.  He had started it at Grandma’s at the same time as LB1 started his story – but he was disheartened as his draft was not as long.  So I was pleased to see him coming back to it today.  He was originally only copying it out neatly but has added quite a bit of new writing and is very keen to do more:

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We helped him with the spellings and he is really trying with full stops and capital letters.  He’s remembered a lot of detail!

Here they all are working away (sorry for the blur!):

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LB1 worked through his maths workbook.  It is getting really hard!  There are some of the questions I have to think twice about – and I’m doing a degree in it!

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LG did some Reading Eggs and then worked on some number books I printed off for her.  They are pretty easy but she objects to anything too hard and she’s too little to get worked up about it.

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We didn’t finish everything I wanted to do so will be sending some work to Grandma’s.  Enjoy-a-ball wasn’t on this week so we went to the softplay instead but LG was not feeling too well (she was sick in the night) and so spent an hour and a half being cuddled instead.  She didn’t feel well enough for ballet either so we came home and had some medicine.

The Center Parcs Adventure

 We went to Center Parcs for a special treat. Mummy and Daddy were very nice for giving us such a special treat. It cost a lot of money...
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When we got to Center Parcs the first thing we did is go straight to the sub tropical swimming paradise. We were all very excited... We went into the upstairs pool but I call it the practise pool because lots of people practise there. It’s always very busy there. At Center Parcs you are not allowed to dive.
There is a secret pool that is a pool that very few know it’s there. The only part you see of it are the stairs. But I know it very well. Me and my brother S__ like to play a game called “Swim away from Dad”. The game is where Dad is the shark and Me and S__ are the little fish. There are little seats around the pool and they are what me and S__ call den. The aim of the game is that Me and S__ swim from den to den trying not to get caught by Dad. If you are quick enough you can get away.
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There are four slides at Center Parcs and they are all fast!! The first one is called the Slide it’s a very fast slide were you go straight down and at the end you make a big splash!!! When you go on the slide it makes you feel like you are going on a roller coaster ride!!! On the slide there is water coming down so you go extra fast!! The slide is no ordinary slide it’s two slides stuck together so two people can go at the same time.
The next slide is called The Flume. When I go on The Flume I lie on my back. At the end of the ride I scream!!!! The Flume is the fastest slide. The flume is two tube slides side by like a long ride when you go on the flume it feels fast and it also feels like a long ride when it’s not. Like the Slide it’s got two slides so two people can go at once. The green flume slide is very bright and is never too dark. It’s the fastest flume slide . The purple flume slide is the dark and you think you are going faster than the green slide when you are not. At the end you make a big splash!!!
The third slide is called Canyon Ride because it’s a big slide. At the end of the slide its 1.2 meters deep that at the end of the slide you feel as if you are going to drown when you do not. When you go into the Canyon Ride it starts of as a tube and then it goes out into the open and at the end you end up in an outside pool!
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The last slide is called the mini slide. It might not look like a fast slide when it is. Like all of the other slides at the end you make a big splash at the end of the ride. The mini slide is a short version of the slide but it’s not a double slide. When I go on the mini slide I go on my back!!
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When you go into the sub tropical swimming paradise the first pool you will see is the big main pool. The main pool is the biggest pool of them all the most people go in the main pool because it’s the biggest and there is a lot of room for everyone!!!! Usually you see a lot of people there.
In the main pool there are sometimes waves. When the waves are on everyone goes bobbing up and down. When I went to Center Parcs I couldn’t swim very well so when the waves were on I had to stay in the shallow end. “You could drown!” my mum and dad said to me every time the waves are on. When the waves are on I am not allowed to go too deep.
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A rapid is fast moving water in a circle shape. There are 2 rapids at Center Parcs one is fast and one is slow the fast one has boosters and makes you go very fast so fast that you go under the water. After the third booster you go under water. At the end there are currents that you get sucked in and you are forced to go on the rapid again. The slow rapid dose not have boosters but that rapid is in a cave. It goes in an arch shape and when you go inside it’s a bit dark. I really like the rapids. They’re just so fast and exciting and excellent.
The Spa is a hot pool that you sit and you get all cosy and warm. You are not allowed to play in the spa pool because you might disturb the children and grownups who are relaxing in the spa pool.
The baby pool has slides like the flume and the slide just smaller. The baby pool is another small pool and I’m not allowed to go in the pool. The baby pool is for aged 4 or under that age. It has another small baby pool at the top where the start of the slides are so you can go down.
When you have finished having a good swim you go back out into the Village Center (that is where the sub tropical swimming paradise is). There is a mini rainforest that has Tropical trees and it has a cave that has water going down like a waterfall. The cave has a toilet in. There are rain forest plants and there is a stream with loads of mini waterfalls .The stream has no fish in it. There’s loads to look at in Center Parcs
At Center Parcs there is a house called a lodge. A lodge is a type of house were you stay in when you are at Center Parcs and it has beds, a kitchen, a table, washing machine all the types of things you would find in a house. Lodges are made out of wood. Center Parcs is a big place.



















Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Counting down to Easter

I must apologise because I haven’t taken many pictures the past couple of days.  I forgot to charge up my phone yesterday (duh) so this is just a brief outline.

Monday ended up being a disparate day.  We were nicely settled doing some work when the postman arrived with a parcel addressed to all three children.  Being slightly dopey I couldn’t think what it could be… and it turned out to be an Easter gift from one of their Aunties.  Doh!  It’s Easter this week.  It had not occurred to me!  So there was the distraction of a small new toy.  And then I had a phone call from our elderly next-door-neighbour’s nephew.  And then it was time to head off… so not quite as much done as I’d hoped.

First stop was the supermarket for a few bits and pieces and then to the hospital to visit great, great uncle who broke his hip and shoulder in a fall recently.  The children were great and very well behaved.  Hospital visiting is not easy even for grown ups.  We always spend some time thinking of three things that each child can talk about when there to avoid long silences.  We also talk about appropriate behaviour in a hospital and try to remember how we feel when we are poorly to avoid leaping and shouting!

Today LG was at playgroup and as usual the boys and I went swimming.  LB1 managed 6 lengths this week though he needed a *lot* of encouragement – it really is very tiring when you’re so new to it.  LB2 did well too though is struggling to put his face in the water and that is holding up the improvement of his stroke.

The main thing we discussed today (in between swimming and visits and such like) was what plants “eat”.  We discussed quite a few options which led to talking about photosynthesis and some basic chemistry.

We unexpectedly had a friend round for a while this afternoon and a visit from Grandad so again not quite what we had planned.  But BIG news!  LB1 suddenly decided that he would like to walk to our local shop.  It is not too far away but a number of roads to cross.  He seemed very determined and answered all my questions calmly and carefully.  He had obviously considered it carefully and we had discussed it many times before (how to cross roads, stranger danger – the works).  So off he went with his money in his pocket… and 15 minutes later returned with a small bag of sweeties.  He must have run part of the way because it seemed to go very quickly to me!  And he was so very proud of himself.  And frankly I was proud of him too.

I was out studying again tonight so Daddy read LG’s story sack with her so that we could return it to playgroup so I will leave you with a couple of the pictures he took for her book :)

 

 

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Oh and we have some fun things planned – will tell you more tomorrow.

Friday, 22 March 2013

A Day with Friends

This morning LG decided that she would like to go to playgroup.  It isn’t her usual day but they have space so off we went – and so the boys and I met up with a friend to do work in a cafe on the high street for a change.  Brrrr it was cold!  We found a little corner of the cafe and settled down to lemonade and treats which spurred the boys on surprisingly well.  LB2 didn’t do any writing – I think he is becoming slightly disheartened by LB1’s ability to write prodigiously so we’ll have to work on that.

Anyway today’s challenge was to write a creative story about Centre Parcs.  I’d already given them lots of ideas as that had been my plan for last week’s writing so…

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This is LB1’s plan.  I confess I was slightly perturbed by the apparent racist overtones of the burglars being “black,tall and fat” and was mighty relieved to discover that the policemen were blue!  It turns out LB1 is just fattist – what a relief!

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This is his first chapter. I think the second section (after my spellings) was an attempt to round things up quickly so I would buy some food at the cafe so I’m ignoring that.  The first part was quite a decent 1st draft and again I have typed it up so that he can edit it.

And then I decided to write Chapter 2 to help him along and give him some ideas (well we’ll see).  It’s really hard this writing lark!

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In the afternoon LG had a friend over to play which was very exciting for them both – she still doesn’t do this very often and it is nice for her to have her own friends and special time.

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Dressed to impress!

And as a brief aside, I made some bread.  Mostly because we had completely run out so it seemed like the only option (I'm not usually this domesticated).

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As you can see it did the lid lifting thing but it was edible – and more importantly got eaten! Everyone was very impressed :)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

A Centre Parcs Story

This morning I had a poorly boy:

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His was tired, his legs weren’t working properly and he wanted me to carry him (yeh right!)  And then the girl came out in sympathy with sore feet, and tears and also wanting a carry.

So after consuming an awful lot of food given that they were supposed to be poorly they retired upstairs to watch Octonauts DVDs and recuperate.

So LB1 and I worked on the story he wrote at Grandma’s last week:

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As you can see it wasn’t actually a story – more a description of Center Parcs!  I talked it over with him for a bit and he decided that was what he was trying to achieve – a description of all of his favourite parts.  Not exactly what I had asked him to do but he wrote with such enthusiasm I didn’t want to discourage him.

Then I picked out the three things I liked about it, and then three things that I thought needed a little bit of work.  He does seem to find any criticism really difficult (Shall I just rip it all up then?!) but I persevered quietly and gently and even he agreed that perhaps his capital letters and punctuation were a little awry, and that perhaps some of the sentences didn’t read clearly and could do with a little tweaking.

So this morning I helped him type some of it up and then left him to tweak away.  After a while I came and read through it again and helped him with some things such as tense and asked questions that weren’t answered in his writing to show him that perhaps he needed to write a little more to make things clear.

He got up to the end of Chapter 3 (although I suggested that the Chapters weren’t necessary) and I’m hoping he’ll do some more work on it tomorrow.  Unfortunately this afternoon LB2 and LG were bouncing with health and I felt really rough so I was not in a position to insist on more work.  This is his effort so far:

The Center Parcs Adventure

We went to Center Parcs for a special treat. Mummy and Daddy were very nice for giving us such a special treat. It cost a lot of money...

When we got to Center Parcs the first thing we did is go straight to the sub tropical swimming paradise. We were all very excited... We went into the upstairs pool but I call it the practise pool because lots of people practise there. It’s always very busy there. At Center Parcs you are not allowed to dive.

There is a secret pool that is a pool that very few know it’s there. The only thing you see of it are the stairs. But I know it very well. Me and my brother S like to play a game called “Swim away from Dad”. The game is where Dad is the shark and me and S are the little fish. There are little seats around the pool and they are what me and S call den. The aim of the game is that me and S swim from den to den trying not to get caught by Dad. If you are quick enough you can get away.

There are four slides at Center Parcs and they are all fast!! The first one is called the Slide it’s a very fast slide were you go straight down and at the end you make a big splash!!!. On the slide there is water coming down so you go extra fast!! The slide is no ordinary slide it’s two slides stuck together so two people can go at the same time.

The next slide is called The Flume. When I go on The Flume I lie on my back. At the end of the ride I scream !!!! The Flume is the fastest slide. The flume is two tube slides side by side. Like the Slide it’s got two slides so two people can go at once. The green flume slide is very bright and is never too dark. It’s the fastest flume slide . The purple flume slide is the dark and you think you are going faster than the green slide when you are not. At the end you make a big splash!!!

The third slide is called Canyon Ride because it’s a big slide. At the end of the slide its 1.2 meters deep that at the end of the slide you feel as if you are going to drown when you do not. When you go into the Canyon Ride it starts of as a tube and then it goes out into the open and at the end you end up in an outside pool!

The last slide is called the mini slide. It might not look like a fast slide when it is. Like all of the other slides at the end you make a big splash at the end of the ride. The mini slide is a short version of the slide but it’s not a double slide. When I go on the mini slide I go on my back!!

As you can see in spite of my best efforts he resisted all encouragement to include any description of what it looked like, how it felt to go down the slide, the sounds – anything really… but I’m still trying!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Counting the Days

No pics again today I’m afraid.  Daddy took a half day and took over Enjoy-a-ball and ballet duties while I studied.

I am very,very sick of studying.  It seems that as time goes by life is encroaching more and more on any spare time so what little I have is always studying, or thinking about studying, or feeling guilty because I’m not studying.  I am v close to the end one way or another.  It may be that I have to give up.  I think about it almost every day at the moment as I just can’t see how I could possibly catch up in time to sit my exams.  I keep holding on – one more late night, maybe two…  Any joy I had originally in studying for it’s own sake completely gone and just replaced with endless guilt.  Guilt about giving up.  Guilt about continuing and not spending enough time with the children.  Guilt about giving up and being a Bad Example.

Gah.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

More swimming

Well I know I keep banging on about swimming but WOW!  For the record I am so, so proud of my boys.  As usual LG went to playgroup and I took the boys swimming.  If you remember it was not that long ago that the three of them did their crash course in swimming.  At that point LB1 could glide underwater, a technique which he called swimming but which I called “not drowning”.  It doesn’t count as swimming to me if he couldn’t take a breath and was nowhere near the water’s surface!

Fast forward a month and today LB1 did four lengths of the pool – two front crawl, one breast stroke and one back stroke.  He did so well!  That’s three different strokes, in the deep end, out of his depth for the first time and definitely out of his comfort zone.  Once he’d managed it he was keen to do more so I’m sure he will improve swiftly.

LB2 was a little huffed and not happy with his own half length but as I pointed out he is much smaller and younger than LB1 – 20 months and 17cm makes a big difference!  It is much harder for him right now and will take him a little longer but again he had never been without his armbands or a float until two weeks ago!  Goodness they are competitive and so easily discouraged.  It seems to be my biggest job at the moment to show them over and over that no one gets anything easily and without effort.  Still, if they learn only that before they are ten I think that’s not a bad thing.

This afternoon we did some maths and then some reading.  We have started reading a new book together: The Falcon’s Malteser by Anthony Horrowitz.  I would say it was aimed at about 9+.  We took turns in reading and both LB1 and LB2 astonished me at how good they were.  I had expected LB1 to read confidently but LB2 who is only just 6 (and whose initial reaction was “The words are too small!”) managed amazingly well with his first pictureless book.  It is very funny, which the boys enjoyed.

Out of interest I tried LB1 with this test this evening.  I have no idea how accurate it is but he came out with a reading age of exactly 11.  That seemed reasonable and about right given the kind of thing he reads.  And reassuring that I’ll have to try really hard to stuff it up!

Apologies for no pictures today – will try harder tomorrow :)

Monday, 18 March 2013

A Trip Out

This morning we had a trip to Seven Stories with friends.  We don’t normally go out and about on a Monday but the weather has been so horrible that it seemed good to get out of the house (our original plan to go pond dipping scuppered by the cold, rain and snow – ugh).

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There were lots of lovely things to see.  It was especially interesting to see Julia Donaldson’s drafts and the sketches for the artwork in her books.  I do like to reassure the kids that no one gets things right first time!

Then we headed off to IKEA to look at sofabeds.  Not exciting and not what I had originally planned for the afternoon.  It turned out the didn’t have the one we wanted and the weird and wonderful combinations they had in the cafe meant chips for lunch (mummy fail!)

Still it’s swimming tomorrow and I will show you the work the boys did whilst at Grandmas.  It is just their first draft so lots to do in the afternoon :)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Busy Week

For all of us – but mostly me as I am franticly trying to catch up with my studying.  So here is our week:

Tuesday the boys and I went swimming as usual.  Our local pool is fantastic with really friendly, helpful staff.  LB2 was feeling a bit disheartened since his brother morphed into a fish and two members of staff took the time to give him some help and tips with his swimming.  We booked again for the intensive swimming course at Easter with LB2 moving up with his brother into the next group (on condition I take him a couple of times on his own to help him get some practice in before then).  Then we headed off to see Nanny and Grandpa for the afternoon.

On Wednesday LB2 learned how to make porridge all by himself.  He was exceedingly pleased with himself:

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We then had a maths morning, filling in our workbooks, trying some mental maths (I bought one of these books after seeing the puzzles in a paper) and completing some longer problems.

LG worked on Reading Eggs and then “wrote” such a lovely story on her whiteboard that I suggested I type it up for her – read it at the bottom of the page.

We also had a good look at our growing beans.  We took them out of the tissue they were growing in.  Some of the roots had punctured right through and were gripping quite tightly.  We talked about why the roots grew before the shoot, why the roots seemed to have little hairs and had a look at the roots under the microscope.  I also chopped up some old water bottles ready to plant out our beans next week:

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It is surprisingly tricky to take pictures down the eyepiece of a microscope – if anyone has any suggestions on how to improve them please let me know :)

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And then it was off to Enjoy-a-ball and ballet.  We had fun as you can see!

Thursday was another maths morning (we were getting along so well I wanted to make some progress) and then off to the Hatton for our regular art session.  It was a cold but lovely spring day so there was lots of running around outside first:

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And then we made Spring Collages:

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Yes there is one missing – LB2 had not finished his and so a photograph was not allowed.  After the Hatton all three little people went off to stay with Grandma and Grandad so that I could study, so the picture is being finished while he is away.

They have taken some work away with them and I have heard they are being very productive!

 

Mr Maker Came to Town

Once Mr Maker went to town and then he got married. And then the days gone by and then he got married again. And then he went away for one hundred years. And when they tried to think what was happening next and they didn’t know what was happening next and they were going to be late for school. They were playing the children and really, really having fun until they nearly spied Mr Maker when he went past into the garden. And then nobody knows what then happened when Mr Maker went to town.

And then it was too windy for the children to play outside. And then nobody went to school again. They wanted to find Mr Maker and see what he maked. But while Mr Maker went to town he couldn’t see the children trying to spy on him. And then he always saw toys plopping out of the window and he wanted to give them back to the children. And then he saw a hungry caterpillar and he wanted the children to feed it for a pet.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Unschooling

Today was the first day where I haven’t had a gnawing feeling of anxiety.  A feeling that I was doing something wrong, or not enough.  The boys got up and read, built stuff with lego (from the instruction book which I think is quite hard), watched a documentary (David Attenborough of course) and made their breakfast and counted their money (more about that later*).  All by half ten.  I didn’t insist they sit down and do a workbook or similar.  I didn’t feel the need.  I could see they were learning and enjoying what they were doing.

Then because I didn’t want to insist they come and do something I sat quietly at the kitchen table and did some drawing.  I am not an artist AT ALL.  I struggle with stick men.  But I thought if I sat and fiddled they would be interested and join me.  I was right:

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Can you tell which one is mine?!  The unfinished one!  The straight lines and no sunshine probably gave it away.

I also had great fun drawing this:

Though I must find out what proper artists use to rub out pencil because mine went very smudgy… although perhaps they don’t make quite as many mistakes as I do!  That could be it :)
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We also did some maths, listened to some old Bookclub podcasts from the BBC (the J K Rowling one was v interesting – we watched a lot of Harry Potter films while we were away) and accidently listening to the podcast about Agent ZigZag led to quite a discussion about WWII, Colditz and the Geneva Convention.  We did maths, LG settled herself for a session on Reading Eggs and we all busied ourselves for the entire day and it was lovely.  Perhaps I have unschooled myself…

*The money they were counting has been scavenged from around the house.  I was quite impressed actually.  None of the children get pocket money (mostly because they only want to spend it on sweets and they get quite enough of those) so I was curious as to where this money could have come from.  It turns out that Daddy has quite an annoying habit of taking the change out of his pockets and leaving it lying around.  And LB1 has been sifting out the 10ps, 5ps 2ps and 1ps and collecting them in a pot.  Quite ingenious really. Daddy doesn’t like small change so doesn’t usually pick it back up again and so it just collects everywhere.  On counting he had £2.07 and was very keen to share it with the others so that they could buy… well yes, sweets!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

We’re Back!

I don’t like disclosing when we’re away just in case there is a cunning thief who’s worked out who we are, where we live and has a bit of a thing about lego and cheap books. So no we haven’t disappeared.  We’ve been away.

But first things first.  Last Sunday somebody in our house was turned six.  We had a trip to the softplay and then a little party back at our house.  Then we saw Grandma and Granda and finished off the day by packing ourselves into a frenzy.  Nice and early on Monday morning we headed off to… Centre Parcs!  Our very favourite destination mostly I think because the children are still all of an age to enjoy endless hours in the pool.

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Now I realise that this is not a blog about holidays and fun ;-)  But this week we did lots of important learning about swimming.  That is to say I now have two boys who can SWIM!  And a little girl who can very nearly swim – she was just too nervous to take off her almost deflated armbands.

Now I should explain that before this LB1 could “not drown” for a few seconds but that was the extent of our prowess.  But the course we did at half term really seems to have encouraged them – I think because it was over the space of a week and they were gaining confidence quickly.  As you can see I invested in a toggle (woggle, noodle whatsit!) and one of those flat, floaty doodahs  so that we could practice while we were away.  And my goodness they worked hard at it!  Because the pools there are 1.2m at the deepest LB1 could stand comfortably and so wasn’t nervous.  There is also a large spa pool which was 0.9m – perfect for LB2 and LG who could both touch the bottom.

I realise it’s not an academic thing but actually that is the joy of home ed.  We can drop everything for a couple of weeks to concentrate on something just as important – and I do think swimming is that important. We had intended to do “proper” work while we were away too but the children were unsurprisingly exhausted. 3-4 hours in the pool each day will do that for you – never mind adventure playgrounds, squirrel spotting and the like.

But what an achievement!

The closest thing we got to work was taking some pictures of our favourite parts of Center Parcs.  So here for your enjoyment:

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Friday, 1 March 2013

Fun with Friends

We headed off to meet up with friends this morning.  Not before we had put our seeds in a jar with some kitchen roll and baked some yummy biscuits.  Even the biscuits were a good opportunity for learning as we talked about why we needed to using a cooling rack – how it worked better than leaving the biscuits on the baking tray and discussed the different ways heat travelled.

Then off to our friend’s and you can see here what we got up to – oh it brought me back to my youth – I was such an Enid Blyton fan and was sorely disappointed that my childhood didn’t involve more adventures, spies and home made lemonade!

We had a very quiet afternoon mostly because LB1 and LG seemed horribly tired.  LG in particular burst into tears because she wanted to go back to see the play we saw with playgroup at Christmas!?  So we had a DVD afternoon rather than our usual film night.  We have a very busy few days ahead of us as it is LB2’s birthday – 6!  We have extra ballet practice tomorrow, a birthday party on Sunday, family and friends to see and lots more excitement in store for next week.  Eek!