London Baby

So in this time we have had a few trips.

The first one was to London to surprise grandma Maz on her birthday.
We all got wrapped up and took the train down. Then we went across London on the tube to meet Adam who led us to their flat where Grandma and Grandad were already installed- having been on an earlier train.
As we were approaching the flat, James rang Maz (who thought Rachel was going to another birthday party) to wish her happy birthday. And as we walked into the flat he was telling her that we were just arriving at the party 🙂
A great surprise this year, and I don’t think we were rumbled!
We spent the day there. Took the kids to the park but it poured with rain so we had to come back. Then as soon as we got back the rain cleared again! So we took a nice stroll along the river in the cool afternoon sun, before heading home again.

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I know, I know, I know

Sooooo erm yes its now 2014 which means I haven’t posted in approx 6 months…
As seems to be regularly the case, life has got in the way of my blogging.
I am now going to attempt to catch up on the last 6 months…….
In September, Rachel started back at school in year one. She was very happy and settled from the start, mainly as one of her best friends Mae was in her class. They had warned us that year one was a lot harder and that they would be much tireder after school, but we didn’t really take much notice. So it was a bit of a shock when all of a sudden, after about 4 years of sleeping with us, Rach finally started to sleep in her own bed!! At first we thought it was a one-off and wouldn’t be repeated. But as time went on and she did it again and again we realised that we finally had our bed back… well for now as we have yet to move Jack into his own bed – one he can escape from and get to us from!

Another notable happening from September was getting a new kitchen! We decided our old kitchen needed replacing so after looking around, we finally settled on an ikea kitchen, designed by me and installed by the builder who did out loft. Living without a kitchen for 2 weeks was a strain and the conservatory was inaceessible as it was filled with all the kitchen stuff! But the end results made it all worthwhile.

Countdown

The end is in sight! We are well into the last week of the school holidays and everyone has survived!
We have done so much and been so many places. I doubt the kids will remember any of it.. After all the only thing Rachel ever wrote about me at school last year was “I love my mummy because she buys me sweets”.
So what have we done since Selsey?
We have:
Been to the farm where we had pony rides, milked a goat, fed the ducks, played in the playground, held a bunny, a chick and a guinea pig, and Jack cried through pretty much all of it- every time an animal squeaked, grunted, moved….
Been to Ryton Pools where we built a den, had a picnic, fed the ducks, played in the playground, picked blackberries, screamed at the wasps!
Spent a weekend in manchester where we went to the museum of science and industry and inadvertently stepped into the beginnings of the pride parade where we gathered loads of free goodies, went to spend a day with my cousin and family, went to the park with them where we rode a mini steam train and played in the playground, went to the Trafford Centre.
Made our own tshirts
Done lots of giant paintings
Been to Jam Jam boomerangs with Mandy, jess, Millie, mikey, Mae and her mum.
Baked cakes
Been to Grandma’s multiple times
Been to Auntie bec becs and soft play
Generally not stopped….. and occasionally in amongst all of this I have shown my face at work!(but only occasionally!!)

Come follow the band

On the last night of our holiday J and I went to see Barnum at the theatre in Chichester.
I had seen it many moons ago as a child, when Michael Crawford played the leading role and when I had seen a news article months ago on the BBC website, saying it was being revived in Chichester this summer I had jumped at the chance to get tickets.
In the end I left it quite late to get the tickets and spent a long time agonising over whether to get the expensive seats or just go for some cheap tickets to the side of the stage. In the end, I opted for the cheapest seats, thinking that maybe the view would be compromised but to our disbelief they were not. We were 2 rows back, slightly to the side of the stage and the view was fantastic. The show was brilliantly done and the end of the show was a dazzling display of circus skills, acrobats and people dangling from ropes in the stage and also out in the audience. It really was brilliantly done and although on a smaller scale than the Palace theatre in Manchester, it was no less of a spectacle. We really enjoyed it and I hope that they continue to do the show and take it around the country as it is well worth seeing for any musical theatre fans.
And so ended our holiday.
On Saturday we packed up the cars and headed home. Rachel and Jack came back with grandma and grandad after a detour to say goodbye to baby Zach. Of course Rachel was very sad to say goodbye and told me later that evening, whilst sobbing a little, that she was really going to miss seeing Zach every day and that she wished she could live with Auntie Sarah! This was only to be expected though given how much she loves babies in general, and how earlier in the week she had said to me, in total earnest, that she really loved me, but that she loved Zach more!! I wonder whether she will always feel that way, even when he grows up to be a big boy like Jack.
I haven’t really said much about Jack and his holiday memories. We walked on the beachfront, we built a sandcastle, we got our feet wet in the sea. He too loved seeing baby Zach and helping Rachel to feed him and he loved being surrounded by everyone. But the lasting memory for Jack will probably be on the day of the barbecue when, before lunch, a slightly hungover Uncle Addy stripped down to his pants and took a dip in the sea.
“What did Uncle Addy do at the seaside Jack?”
“Uncle Addy taked his pants off!”
And so this will be forever remembered as the sun sets on our British beach summer holiday.

BBQ king

On the Thursday J’s uncle and family had arranged to come down to visit us. In order to celebrate Uncle John’s upcoming birthday we had planned to hold a BBQ. And miraculously the weather on the Thursday was perfect. The wind had dropped, the skies had cleared and the sun was shining.
It was flawless.
J, my BBQ king set about organising the food whilst Rachel and grandad headed over on an emergency mission to Sarah’s flat with her car keys that grandad had managed to bring home with him the night before…
Speaking of which I have not yet alluded to the fact that having booked this holiday last year, expressly so we would be close to Sarah, Adam and baby, just over a month ago they moved back to London!
Luckily they still had access to the flat so Sarah and baby Zach managed to join us for the whole week, with Adam joining around work.
Rachel was particularly overjoyed at seeing her baby cousin and so we all ensured that she got to spend every moment possible with him and Auntie Sarah. She gave him cuddles, fed him his baby mush and milk, helped to bath him and played with him. She was in heaven.
Anyway back to my BBQ king. Everyone arrived at midday, from all directions and J served us up a storm. Burgers, sausages, marinaded chicken, potatoes, salad, crisps. Fantastic food, weather, company and I even cracked open a bottle of Crabbies.
After lunch there was the handing over and opening of gifts for Uncle John followed by the fantastic cake that Maz and Rachel had made for the occasion.
Then J, Rachel and I braved the sea. Of course Rachel wussed out as soon as a bit of sea water got on her face and in her mouth, but she sat wrapped in her towel on the beach watching her parents amusing attempt to look cool in the surf with body boards to complete the craziness!
And no day is complete without being nagged to paint Rachel’s face – although the more I do it the better I get!
And then to finish off a beautiful day we had curry on the decking as the sun lowered itself to bed.
Beautiful.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.

We have just returned from one of those holidays that inspires a nostalgic sigh.
We spent a week in a bungalow by the sea in Selsey. The idea was that we would be on the seafront, near Sarah in Chichester and would take the in-laws as their Xmas present. Dad was meant to be looking after the dog but as his dog sitting services were no longer required we invited him with us too.
The name “bungalow” doesn’t really do the place justice as it suggests a small , flat house but it was enormous.
5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a games room in the converted garage, a massive kitchen, lounge-diner and 2 garden areas. It had panoramic views over the sea and steps down to the shingle beach. Fan-blooming-tastic.
Had we had the weather of two weeks ago it would have been totally heavenly for me anyway.
The kids seemed to enjoy it and were generally fairly well-behaved. They got plenty of fresh air, although there were a couple of ridiculously windy days, and being by the sea we had no shelter, so they couldn’t play out much on these days.
J, dad and I took them to Peppa Pig World on the Wednesday. PPW was already really packed when we got there and after queuing for the best part of an hour to get on George’s Dinosaur ride we decided to take a look at the rest of the park. A great idea as it turned out as the rest of the park was much quieter. Jack loves roller coasters, a real adrenaline junkie but hates the people dressed up as characters…Rachel is totally contradictory and loves flying high on the swing rides, no longer likes the roller coaster she loved last time and screamed in complete fear on the log flume but then got off and claimed she hadn’t!
Later on we returned to PPW and it had quieted down a lot, so we managed to get on a couple more rides in there and the kids played in Mr Potatoes playground for a while before we had to head back.

Milestones

So we tried potty training Jack this week and tbh have had mixed results.
The thing is he knows what a potty is for and has used it numerous times over the past year or so. He just doesn’t yet get the timing right. So we have about a 50% success rate….
This afternoon I caved and put him back in pull ups. I am not completely giving up, just putting it on hold for a few days and then we will try again but this time we may try the training pads that we used with Rachel at night times. These are small triangular pads (sanitary towel stylee) that stick inside their pants. They absorb the occasional accidents but they can still feel the wetness, so in theory it helps them get used to that sensation of having a wee and therefore recognising that they need to use the potty…
So we will see.

Rachel finished her first year at proper school. I actually felt a bit like welling up (and not just because it means I have both monsters to look after for the next 6 weeks!!)
Yesterday she brought home some of her schoolwork from the year and it was quite interesting to see the changes and development over the year. When she started in reception she could only write a handful of letters. And now, now she writes in sentences and even short stories. Of course the spelling isn’t quite there but mostly you can tell what she has written and why she has spelt it the way she has.