A change of scene

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On Friday mornings we generally stick to a pattern. It is my only full week day off with the kids and since JJ was about 11 months old we have been regulars at one of the local toddler groups. I have made some good friends there and got to know our childminder and her husband, who I also consider to be friends (the group is run by the town’s Childminders Association, and they are a lovely bunch of people to hang out with).

Its very much a ‘free play’ kind of group – the toys and activities are rotated weekly, although I think we tend to miss out on the crafting as that seems to happen on Wednesdays (when my mum takes EJ along).

The only problem we have at present is that JJ has grown out of this group now at four and a half, just as EJ is getting into the swing of it. This is an unforeseen side effect of having a September born child – its lovely to have that extra year of playing and opportunities for out of school activities, and if he was an only child I’m sure we would be exploring a lot more fun places and activities, but win a toddler in tow that’s just not possible, and balancing their needs and abilities can be such hard work!

Last Friday, even though the weather was mixed at best, I decided to skip the group and instead take the munchkins down to our local park and playground. I knew that this would mean that I would miss out on my tea and biscuit, chat and adult company, but I thought it would benefit JJ to do something different and the fresh air would be good for all of us. So they donned their wellies I grabbed a bunch of kitchen towels (for drying off the play equipment!) and off we went.

JJ has been asking to visit the playground frequently in recent weeks as he has become a much more proficient climber since last summer and is really loving the big pyramid rope climbing structure complete with rope bridge to the top of a big slide.

It can be really difficult to keep tabs on both children at busy times when I’m on my own and my priority is always to shadow EJ as I know he could so easily wander off and as no trouble whatsoever opening the little gates into the toddler area. There is a big fishing pond right next to the play area (bad planning?) so I am doubly vigilant. This did lead to a panicked moment recently when I lost sight of JJ on a busy day and he had clearly lost sight of us too as eventually he came running twards me in tears saying “I thought I’d lost you Mummy!”. We then made a plan whereby he would go and stand near the ice cream van if this ever happened again and it would be our rendezvous point. I think I might have to reassess this though as the ice cream van isn’t always there!

Last Friday morning though, we didn’t have to worry about this as we were one of only 3 or 4 people at the park, a couple of grandparents with preschoolers and another mum. The boys confound me sometimes as they can be surrounded by toys or play equipment and just completely ignore it all and do their own thing. In this case, it was a giggly chase round and round the park’s occasional ‘cafe’ – a little portacabin in effect, run by the local group supporting people with learning difficulties and mental health issues. They encourage their members to dabble in a little volunteer work at the counter (always with a staff member to help out) and its a great way of helping those who may otherwise never integrate with wider society to get involved, whilst also offering the locals a heavily subsidised selection of drinks and snacks (a can of drink is £1 from the ice cream van, 50p from the cafe!). The only drawback being that the opening hours are sporadic at best.

However I digress, the morning’s most fun activity allowed me to appreciate one of my very favourite sounds – the sound of my children laughing. EJ in particular has a laught which is so full of joy and excitement and giddiness that it cn’t help but prove infectious!

It was lovely to have a change of scene and I think we will probably opt for a few more ‘different’ Friday mornings now that the summer is approaching. Come September EJ will have me all to himself on Fridays and regular toddler group will be back on the cards for those cold and rainy days.

 

 

 

Irrepressible

There’s been a bit of a virus going around – first JJ suffered and had the onset of a chesty cough, then it swept EJ up and he has been experiencing his first proper cold and cough which has been a bit of rude awakening (quite literally).

Poor EJ has not been his cheery, independent little self at all for the past week; lots of night time coughing and crying as well as clinginess during the day. Having said that his little explorer’s spirit remains irrepressible. This weekend he has:

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done a bit of freewheeling

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Slipped and slided

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Tunnelled his way to freedom

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Ascended the dizzy heights and:

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created a new art installation for my Mum and Dad using just their perspex side table and his own body (dummy and muzzy optional, or not as the case may be!)

Exhausting? Completely. Entertaining? Undoubtedly! Silver linings and magic moments eh?

Linking up to What’s the Story at PODcast the Doves and Magic Moments at The Olivers’ Madhouse

A morning of water sliding!

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Last Friday I endured an entire day of soft play (I think a medal might be in order here…) I took the kids on two separate play dates to two separate venues morning and afternoon and whilst it was lovely to catch up with friends, enough was enough come Saturday and I put my thinking cap on for some alternative family entertainment…

…Which is how we came to finally dig out the old swimwear and head off to the fabulous leisure pool at Guildford Spectrum which has no less than five big slides (three flumes) plus two little toddler versions too. It had been so long since we had last been swimming that I was shocked to see that JJ’s costume was a size 18-24 months (he’s 4 and a half!). Not that we haven’t been in water since that time but I guess those cossies are pretty stretchy and there’s not much of him! On the other hand EJ was on the big side for his 12-18 month costume (at 19 months) being much more of a little chubby-thighed baby than his brother ever was, so we detoured to Sainsburys on our way to the pool and bought a new costume and goggles for JJ and a cute baby swim nappy for EJ to wear under JJ’s old suit.

I had been prepared to take the two of them on my own if the hubster had not been available for whatever reason, but thank goodness he was there as the changing, both before and after, was quite tricky. Trying to carry all shoes, clothes, coats and towels for myself and the children plus attempting to stop EJ from dashing off and launching himself back into dangerously deep water would have been even more hair-raising on my own!

I admit this has been a long time coming as EJ has only been in a swimming pool once before and after his wonderful water birth I was so longing for him to be a water baby but there was just never the time or money for baby swimming sessions and I have to admit I’m not much of a swimmer myself and not particularly keen on stripping off in public places!

For this reason EJ was somewhat overwhelmed and intimidated by the situation to begin with – bearing in mind that it was pretty busy and noisy too on a Saturday morning. JJ was thrilled to be able to finally experience all the big slides though and frankly I barely saw him and his dad for most of the time we were there!

Fortunately soon EJ warmed up to the experience and after a few shocking head submersions he was launching himself down the mini-slides with gusto whilst trying to bat away anyone else who came up behind him!

In the end I even got to experience a couple of the flumes and big slides with JJ which was really good fun!

Afterwards we were all starving and the hubster treated us to a McDonalds.

All in all we had a brilliant family day together – plenty of magic moments – just a shame we have no photos as there was no way my new camera was going anywhere near a swimming pool!!

Linking up to Magic Moments over at the Oliver’s Mad House.

Muddiest child ever?

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This Sunday was one of those that the hubster spends working a late shift, meaning that he is not around during the morning (went to bed super late after the previous night’s shift) and isn’t around in the afternoon (back at work). I normally pack myself and the kids up and migrate over to my mum and dad’s for the weekend when this happens – its good to have the company and support – but this weekend they had plans both days so I arranged to meet up with one of my best friends who I met through the experience of motherhood. Her hubster works Sundays too so it was the perfect excuse for us to hook up with the kidlets. We planned a lunch at a local family-friendly pub/restaurant where our table was perfectly positioned… right next to the soft play zone. The kids were both pretty well behaved and ate well too. Then, as it was dry and even vaguely sunny, we headed five minutes up the road to Alice Holt Forest in Hampshire where there is a lovely big wooden play zone complete with full on pirate ship, plus little log cabins and wooden train as well as all the more mundane swings and slides.

Just as we pulled up in the car park there was a hale shower but nevertheless we ploughed on regardless and soon the sun was shining again. Most of the playzone was dry as there are plenty of woodchips and pinecones all over the ground but it was pretty muddy just at the entrance to the pirate ship. JJ and his friend were off in their wellies up and down and round, beyond my capabilities to keep track whilst carefully shadowing EJ who, at 18 months, is a pretty intrepid explorer and not afraid to scale a precarious looking structure at the best of times! Sooner or later he took notice of the pirate ship and it was more than my life was worth to keep him away from it. It was only a matter of time before the scene above became inevitable and I think I took that photo before he fell sideways into the mud (but after he had jumped up and down in the puddle repeatedly!) He was wearing wellies but that is a bit like saying a woman in a bikini was suitably attired for a tsunami!

I had to bury my head in my hands and just wail “EJ, Nooooooooooooo!” whilst looking on completely paralysed by the scene of the muddy monster from Room on The Broom emerging before my very eyes…  Another mum walked by and chuckled “he looks like he’s enjoying himself” and I had to admit that he was indeed having a whale of a time, and, despite my slightly OCD attitude to such things, I couldn’t deny that this was something of a magic moment for my little boy – muddy puddles – what’s not to love?!

Linking up to Magic Moments over at The Olivers Madhouse