Monday, 30 July 2012

In July we have mostly been... (best pics from the month)

I've abandoned my blog.  Partly because I keep swanning off on holiday.  Partly because that means that when I'm home again there's loads to do to catch up with the weeds in the garden and the laundry mountain, not to mention getting two small people back into their routine.  Partly because my computer has been playing around and not getting on properly with the wireless network.  Hey ho.  That's how we roll sometimes.  So here we are with the best pictures from my month.  The two little ones just keep on growing!

...butter wouldn't melt...

...soooooo coool....

...pond dipping...

...intense concentration...

...and unadulterated pleasure...

...can somebody please tell me which ones are the monkeys?... my teddy...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Computer nonsense

I'm still here.  Just about.  The computer upstairs that has all my photos on is playing silly nonsense and refusing to connect to the internet.  It does this every now and then, and I just leave it a few days and it repents and decides to reconnect.  This time it seems to be taking longer than a few days.  So I have access to the internet on my little mini-puter, which doesn't have photos on it.  I have lots of things that I want to post about, but I've also been really good and got lots of photos!

I'm away tomorrow morning for a week leaving poor hubby behind all on his lonesome while I steal away with the children (C was 3 yesterday - where has the time gone?  Eeek!) down to Devon to visit my lovely family, and when I return I will have my 5 year old nephew D with me.  He's a star, but is already a big-school-boy and so doesn't need to nap, so I won't have my two-hour "get stuff done" window in the middle of the day.  Who knows when I'll get a chance to sit back at the computer and see if it's prepared to reconnect.

Didn't want anybody to think I'd fallen off the planet.  I am still here.  And I will be back soon!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

How to be free – FORGET GOVERNMENT

I’ve mentioned Tom Hodgkinson on here before.  He’s the editor of The Idler, and has written books “How to Be Idle”, “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent”.  I love the principles expressed in “How to be Free” (though not all the ideas in the book), and while I don’t agree with the term Idle I think The Idle Parent is a must-read and describes well how I was brought up and how I wish to bring up my own children.

I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring these two books, and the ideas contained in them further, in the hope that this will help me to explore further the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.
Chapter 12 – Forget Government – STOP VOTING
Tom suggests that we could actually do better without any government at all.  That no matter the anarchy that might ensue, it can’t be much worse than what the government (career politicians) lead us to (war, terrorism etc).  He says that “politics isn’t the art of running a country, it is the art of persuading the people that they need a set of paid politicians to run the country.”

He suggests that we should ignore the state and organise things locally in our own way.  Not voting isn’t about apathy, it’s about opting out of “the system” so you can no longer blame the government for your problems.  Then start being anarchic in your own back yard.  Do as much as you can for yourself so that you are no longer reliant on government.  It’s not about a revolution, it’s just about doing things for ourselves – ignoring the bigger world out there.

How does this match up to the "ink spots and grass stains life"?

I don’t think that this is entirely right.  It’s all very well criticising those in power, but they are at least trying to help us to have a better country.  I always think that if you don’t like something, then you should stop moaning about it and do something about it.  We might wish to live in a society where we all look after one another, but that just doesn’t work – look at the time after the industrial revolution – most people were living in squalid housing, being paid a pittance and if you couldn’t work, then you couldn’t eat.  It was a few philanthropists such as Rowntree who brought the plight of the poor to attention and started us thinking about doing something about it.  The welfare state was brought in by … yes, by government.  Universal education… yes, by government.  These things might not be perfect, but for many, many people, they are considerably better than what went before.
Yes, voting is often meaningless and pointless, and until we have wholesale electoral reform it will continue to be so, with two parties dominating politics, with an unelected House of Lords and an unelected head of state.  But rather than wringing our hands and saying that since our vote is worthless we shouldn’t bother, shouldn’t more of us be getting on and making that point, and forcing change so that we do live in a truly democratic state where our vote does matter and where we can really start to see things happening that we believe in to make a better country?  If we don’t like the people running the country, shouldn’t a few more of us be putting ourselves and our ideas forward for election?
I like the idea of doing more for ourselves, of bartering, trading and swapping – but I don’t think that we can ignore the larger world that we are part of.  There are still millions of children in the world dying of starvation, malnutrition and malaria – our government spends millions in aid to try to alleviate some of these problems.  If we are all in our own back yards looking after our own interests  - then who is looking out for these children?

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Quick and easy activities with toddlers... sticking

This is such a simple idea, requiring virtually no equipment, and which will engage your toddlers for at least half an hour.  

Depending on your toddler, you can adapt it to focus on cutting and sticking different shapes (triangles, circles, squares etc), different colours, faces and facial features, people, animals, furniture, transport, letters and numbers - whatever you like!

Equipment - PVA glue and brushes (pritt stick type glue sticks also work fine), scissors (optional), paper/card from your recycle box (to stick the pictures to) and magazines (again from your recycle box).

I grabbed a couple of magazines from the top of the recycle box, and also some pizza boxes.

I cut the pizza boxes to create good firm cardboard squares for sticking.

I started off by tearing up some of the paper from the magazines to give them something to get started with, and to show that it was ok to tear rather than cut.

C. spotted his scissors (left handed) and spent most of the next half hour practising his cutting - he still finds it really tricky to get his fingers in the right place in the scissors and perfect the opening and closing.  He didn't stick much on his piece of card, but he was a lot more confident with his cutting at the end.

Bug spotted the brushes and glue.  She didn't stick much to her piece of card either, but in her case it was just because she wanted to brush the glue on to the cardboard (she kept asking for more) and wasn't interested in the paper at all.

I let them get on with it, occasionally lending a hand with C's scissor grip or retrieving a brush or bowl of glue for Bug, while modelling one way of sticking a collage.  I made a collage of a fish tank!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Embrace the camera

Embrace the camera is an idea whereby the blogger, that would be me, actually gets in front of the camera every now and again.  Otherwise the children grow up with loads of photographs of themselves, but none with you in them, so they don't have any images to back up all their memories of your love and how awesome you think they are.

So I thought I'd give it a go.  Now bear in mind here that I always look absolutely awful.  But I guess that doesn't matter, because the little ones still think I'm beautiful.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

When your children are unwell on holiday...

I'm beginning to think that C might be allergic to holidays.  Last June we were in Scarborough and for the first time ever, he decided to get a stomach bug and be sick all over the rented farmhouse.  This year, he gets his second ever stomach upset... and we end up taking him to hospital in Amsterdam.  In all seriousness though.  When they are poorly while you are on  holiday you have all sorts of mixed up feelings about it:
  • You're anxious about them and want them to feel better (just as you would at home)
  • You are conscious that this is your precious time off and you've spent hard earned money getting to your holiday and you don't want to go home without seeing the place.
  • You're sad for your little one, as they are also missing out on all the fun that goes with the holiday.
  • You're worried that if it turns out to require medical intervention (i.e. a hospital): Will they speak English?  Will the EHIC card work or will you have to pay?

As it turns out.  C was sick a couple of times and slept the remainder of the journey.  Mercifully, each time it was when he had just eaten, so we weren't in the car with the yuckiness that would entail for the rest of the journey.  While in Amsterdam, on the Friday I stayed in the caravan with Bug while Hubby was at his conference and C slept and sweated in his bunk.  On the Saturday Hubby stayed in the caravan while Bug and I got to explore Amsterdam.  On the Saturday night we thought we'd investigate what hospitals are like in the Netherlands.  

He was fine by the way.  Just a virus.  Typically, by the time we were seen by a Doctor at the hospital his stomach pains had subsided and he was beginning to feel better.  By Sunday he was a little better and managed to eat something for the first time in days.  By Monday he was fine enough to come into Brugges on the bikes and eat a bit more (though very weak from not eating for six days).  By Tuesday he was almost back to normal.  He spent the rest of the holiday building his strength back up, ravenously hungry and eating double his normal rations!

Our topic in June - People, and people who help us

Bearing in mind that we spent about half of June away on holiday, our loose topic was "People, and people who help us".  Here are some of the things that we did based on that theme:

  • We bought and read "Who's in a family?" by Robert Skutch.
  • I cut out some simple outline people and we used them in our painting.  We used them as a stencil to paint over, leaving a white space, and we used them to print with.  Once they were painted we also stuck them on a different colour background.

  • We wrote some thank you letters for various things.
  • C and I had discussions about various emergency scenarios - what to do if he got lost in the supermarket, what to do if he got lost out at the shops, who to go to for help, what to do if there was an emergency at home and mummy couldn't phone for an ambulance etc. etc.
  • We counted people in pictures.

  • We sent postcards to Nana and Grandad.
  • We drew around Bug on a large piece of paper, and then labelled her limbs and drew on a face.
  • We visited a hospital (see yesterday's post!)

  • We looked out for fire stations.
  • We made some pipe-cleaner people.

  • We visited Nana and Grandad and Auntie J and Uncle S, and spent time with Grandma and Auntie A, Uncle Matt, and cousins D, B and R.
  • C learned our phone number and address.
  • We sang "One man went to mow"
  • we cuddled our dolls

  • We played with small world toys such as Lego and Duplo.
  • I printed out a whole load of "people who help us" colouring in sheets, which they both had great fun with.

  • C learned to do up and undo his buttons.
  • We drew and painted one another (no comments on my artistic abilities please!).

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

In June we have mostly been... (best pics from the month)

I don't like to advertise my absence from home by putting it on the interweb that I'll be away on holiday, but now that I'm back I'll tell you that we've had a very busy few weeks away on our first trip with our caravan.  We went to Amsterdam, to Brugges and then to Cornwall for the last week and a half.  So what have we been doing? ...
...chilling with the girls...

...painting... everything...

...trying out green lipstick...

...walking on a rainy afternoon...

...tulips in Amsterdam...

...climbing the belfry in Brugges...

... I just love this photo of Brugges...

...showing Grandma the caravan...

...looking through the window of time in Tintagel castle...

... Little Miss Independent...

... aren't they cool?...

...walking across the causeway to St Michael's Mount...

...sitting on the cannons at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth...

...cycling the camel trail from Padstow to Wadebridge and back...

...catching the steam train at Bodmin...