Tuesday, 5 May 2015

First Birthday

Today is Isaac's first birthday. I find it impossible to believe that it has been a whole year since his birth and even more incredible to witness this healthy, unbelievably happy baby. He has had a wonderful day, waking up to presents.....

Enjoying a bath with his big sisters....

Meeting friends.......

And finishing up with lots of gifts from all the extended family and a steak dinner (and a washout for good measure, and old time's sake!).

I am sure that when the 1 year anniversary of our hospital visit arrives on Thursday, I will struggle more; I know that I found it very hard to bond with this baby whom I feared would not stay with us long, but for today, those first snuggly days that we missed out on with his hospital stay have been surpassed by the cuddles, giggles and joy of this wonderfully happy, sunny boy. Thank you for a beautiful first year, beautiful boy. May life always be as sunny as you are now. Love you.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Princess Grace and The Dragon

Grace has submitted this story to the BBC Radio 2 "500 Words" competition.

Once upon a time there was a dragon called Lily and she lived in a land that had loads of parks and children. Princess Grace was out in her garden, lying on the grass and she saw in the sky a very funny shaped cloud. She was wondering what it could be, when down came Lily The Dragon.  Lily flattened the grass where she landed and her wings flapping broke some of the flowers. "I'm so sorry" said Lily, "I'm so clumsy, I'm always breaking things." Princess Grace said: "It doesn't matter, but just in case, I will go and tell the King and Queen."
Princess Grace went into the castle and told the King and Queen all about Lily, but they didn't believe her! The King said "There's no such thing as dragons, Grace!" and the Queen said "but I do like your stories". 
Princess Grace went back to Lily and said "The King and Queen think you don't exist, so we had better clear up the garden, or they will think I made the mess!" Lily replied: "Yes, that would be a good idea. Let's go to my cave and get some dragon flower seeds to plant in your garden. My cave is very dark so if you have got any, maybe get a torch". Princess Grace ran inside and found a torch. 
"I have got one in my pocket" she shouted and climbed on Lily's back. Lily took off carefully. "Oh wow, look down there!" said Princess Grace. She could see the very top of her beautiful castle and all the parks and children below. "We are nearly there" said Lily, as they arrived at a dark cave. "I need to blow some smoke and fire to open the cave". Princess Grace lit her torch and they found the dragon flower seeds. 
Princess Grace held on tightly to the huge bag of seeds as they flew off back to the castle. Together, they planted some of the seeds in Princess Grace's garden. "Oh dear" said Princess Grace, "there's too many for me to plant. Maybe we should plant some in the parks."
Princess Grace scattered the seeds into the parks from Lily's back as they flew over them. 
In just five minutes, the seeds had grown into beautiful dragon flowers, and inside each one of them, there was a tiny baby dragon. The children in the parks loved them and took them into their houses and showed their mums and dads. Now everyone believes in dragons because everyone has a pet dragon! 
The End.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Chocolate Rocks

On Friday we had a science session with Al at Rossmore, learning about rocks. First of all the kids made keys to identify different rocks, and tested them out on people who had not bee part of their group.

Then they each had a plum and identified the different parts, and Al explained that the earth was similar to the plum with its three distinct parts.

They took stones and turned them into sand by the process of erosion (also known as "shaking"!) and then wondered if it was possible to turn sand into stone.

It turns out, it is possible - especially if your sand is, in fact, chocolate! The children pressed layers of grated chocolate together and created..... chocolate sedimentary rock!

They then melted the "rock" further and applied more pressure to create metamorphic rock, and completed the process by fully melting the chocolate to represent magma, which was then cooled to represent igneous rock.

On Saturday we went to the Green Community Fair in Poole, where Grace made a mask and a butterfly,both children took part in a parade and Jude slid down a very steep slide! It was a very chilled out, festival vibe - a very pleasent way to spend a Saturday (even if the enormous bouncy castle was a bit incongruous!).

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Corfe Castle Field Trip

We had a big trip out today, to Corfe Castle. Grace has been working through a "Knights and Castles" sticker book, using each page as a "jumping off point" for other work; creative writing, maths and technology so far, but with other possibilities. This morning she did some sums based on the page she completed today, and then we went to Corfe as they have a month long Medieval Village camping in the grounds at the moment, so it was a fantastic opportunity to understand how knights actually lived.

We started off by having lunch at a cafe which was overlooked by the castle, and spent some time talking about the geographical landscape; thinking about the purpose of the dry moat (we still need to find out whether the moat once had water in it!) and the reasons why castles were often built on hills. We noticed the arrow slits in the remains of one of the towers, and discussed the bridge over the moat and whether or not it was a drawbridge (it wasn't).

Arrow Slit window in the tower
We then looked around the medieval village, and saw the blacksmith making some armour. This was very exciting for Grace, as an earlier page of her sticker book was based at the blacksmiths. She was able to name most of the tools and was very interested in the techniques. We also looked at the many foods available; I was quite shocked at the range of eastern spices which were apparently traded through Venice. I had no idea that medieval food was so diverse.

Grace asked whether there was a "Tilting Yard" at Corfe; a large open space used for holding tournaments. There isn't - apparently tilting yards were usually only found in Royal palaces, and Corfe, as a defensive castle , had no flat land large enough for a tilting yard. When we had exhausted the camp with our questions, we went to look around the castle ruin itself. We looked through an arrow slit window, and Grace was amazed at how much you could see through it from the inside, compared with how narrow it was from the outside. We climbed as high as we could in the castle, and got a clear understanding of how much of an advantage being inside a castle on the top of a hill was in terms of defense. We could see all around us for miles from the highest point!

Inside an arrow slit window
When we got home, Grace decided to read one of a reading plan series we were given a couple of days ago. I think they are going to prove popular, as they are short enough in one sitting and repetitive enough to really cement the words in Grace's head (she doesn't really manage phonics well, so we are focusing on whole-word recognition).  Meanwhile, I helped Jude do another page of her sticker book.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

August Bank Holiday

On Saturday, we went to the wedding of one of Luke's oldest friends. It was everything a wedding should be; full of love, fun and happiness.

We had arranged to go Purbeck Folk Festival on Sunday, and were somewhat concerned about how the kids would cope with a long day out with lots of people and loud music, but actually, they were completely happy most of the day, and it was a wonderful day out. Grace bought a hat, and worked out for herself how much she needed to pay, how much she needed to borrow from us, and how much we would chip in (it was a major purchase!). We listened to some great music, a bit of slam poetry, and an amazing storyteller, and generally chilled out.

Chilling out with a band

Grace's new hat

Captivating storytelling
In the evening we sat around the fire and ate roasted Camembert and baked bananas.

Yesterday it rained heavily. We went to the Walford Mill family craft day, which is usually free and mostly outdoors, but obviously the rain had sent all the activities indoors. More disappointingly, There was a £1 charge on every single activity. The girls both chose to make a clay owl, but we couldn't afford to do more activities.

This morning we went to Hamworthy Library, which was absolutely packed by about 30 mins after opening. Jude did some puzzles, Grace read almost a whole Wibbly Pig book, and I read hundreds of books to them!

In the afternoon we collected Luke and did the last Living History Day at Scaplen's Court. We looked at the beautiful Victorian range, made date jam and afternoon tea, sampled scones and Victoria Sponge and did some rug making.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Romans and Suffragettes!

This morning we had a very panicky moment, when Becky said that Isaac was vomiting up "green stuff", but it turned out to be his usual possetting, which is a little mucussy because he has a cold. It felt very scary though, to realise just how quickly all our plans can be thrown into turmoil if he does get sick. 

Luke headed off today to the Purbeck Folk Festival, in our lovely big car with a mattress in the back! This set up is in the hope that it will be better for his arthritic knee than a tent would be!

We are borrowing Becky's car for the next few days, and this morning we had lunch with some friends in Westbourne and then went to Rockbourne Roman Villa for their activity day as part of this year's festival of storytelling, Sting in the Tale. We had our teddies ready for dressing in togas, and were really looking forward to it, but ended up in a diversion which nearly took us to Warminster, and then following a tractor for 20 miles. As a result, we were about 45 minutes late for a two hour event, so we were cramming the activities into a very short space of time. Nevertheless, Jude loved dressing her teddy up in a toga and laurel wreath, Grace enjoyed the stuffed dates (made to a very similar recipe to this one) and trying to put together the pieces of broken pottery like an archeologist, and they both liked the storyteller under the tree.
Roman foodstuffs

A bronze Roman urn
 and treasure trove

Bear in Toga

Piecing together the pottery

Roman dates

Building a villa in costume

Further to yesterday's blog post about the Suffragettes, I have been corrected! Although Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in Parliament, she was not the first to win a seat. That was Constance Markievicz, who won a Dublin seat for Sinn Fein in 1918; the same year that women got the vote, but failed to take her seat in protest of the British "occupation of Ireland". This is why I love blogging!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Textiles and Women's Rights.

Yesterday we went back to Scaplen's Court for their "Textiles Through The Ages" day. It was a very different experience to the previous two weeks; we didn't learn much of the history, but we did get to spend plenty of time actually getting hands on with the textiles. Grace did some tie-dying (although the children weren't actually allowed to touch the dye....) with beetroot and vinegar, we had tried rag rugging and even Jude had a go at some sewing.




Tie Dye!

Rag Rugging

Jude's sewing

Grace has become quite interested in watching "Horrible Histories" on TV, and spurred on by what I felt was quite a vapid portrayal of the Suffragettes, we watched this British Pathe clip of the 1913 Derby where Emily Dickinson was trampled by the King's horse. It feels quite amazing to be able to see real video of events of over 100 years ago. Grace was happy to humour me , and at the very least went away knowing that the Suffragettes were more likely to have been formidable middle-aged women, rather than girl-band beauties. We also watched this clip and she was amazed at the sheer number of women marching who had been imprisoned for the cause (as depicted by the arrows they carried). It was one of those learning moments where we learnt as much and more than Grace; I discovered that there was just one year between women (over 30) achieving the right to vote, and the first female MP being elected. She was Nancy Astor, the mother of Winston Churchill. Grace asked whether Great-Nanny was born in the First World War; it is interesting watching her trying to "place" history within a framework she understands.

Today the girls went to Nannie's house and came home full of their exciting morning playing crazy golf. When we got home we found this postcard on the mat.

Flat Grace is a self-portrait Grace drew and posted to a friend in America, with instructions to take Flat Grace on an adventure, send Grace a postcard about it and then post Flat Grace on to another person. We are hoping Flat Grace will see 20 people before coming home, and we intend to put up a world map and mark on it all the places Flat Grace has been, and the things that she has seen.