Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

SWOS 2018 Weekly Roundup - One - Animals.

It is no secret how much I love the Six Weeks of Summer (SWOS)! 

I feel in a truly privileged position to be able to be home with the boys each school holiday, but especially this school holiday.  For all of the things I miss with them during the year due to work and the long working days I pull so they barely see me any Wednesday, Thursday or Friday;  this holiday always feels like the time to make up for it!  

Also this holiday is long. Long and sometimes hard going. Six weeks of lots of doing it solo needs some momentum to keep it going and everyone entertained. It isn't about being showy of trying to be the perfect Mum (Goodness knows that in amongst this week of packed out activities and fun things to do we have also already navigated epic tantrums and tears, strops from me, strops from them, the cross and shouty moments with all those feeling fed up of them already moments thrown in too. Don't be too fooled by the rose-tinted instagram!) But our SWOS? It is just the way we have found summer has worked for us. 

So for the third year we've planned out our SWOS (and I've every intention to keep this up until they're moody teenagers who don't want to join in anymore!), with a weekly theme and lots of arts, crafts, music, stories, films, activities and day trips planned around it. (Got to love a bit of pinterest!) So we have something on the cards for every day, whether it be just at home or out for the day, but that isn't to say we won't go off plan too. Already twice this week Xander has come up with a better idea than I had! Haha! 

Apart from the last two days the start of the summer holidays has been a world away from last year when I had renamed July to Julvember! Properly scorching! We're going through a bottle of sun-cream a week at the moment and until yesterday I couldn't remember the last time the boys had worn trousers or a jumper. It has made for a lovely start to the summer holidays and if the rain could just stick to the odd day here or there or overnight that would be great! 

So "Animals" Week. Here is the nutshell. 

And here are the photos! 


Well Monday was a bit of a tenuous link because we were still at Paulton's Park for Lucas's birthday celebrations. We saw some extinct animals models in the form of the Lost Kingdom and we popped into the newly opened Little Africa in the park too. 


We built a Duplo Zoo. Created by the boys themselves. Zachy decided that the zoo needed a park - so he included a see-saw, slide and a roundabout! They took turns to make areas for different animals to live; Xander concentrated on the giraffe house and then Zac built one for the elephants. Sharing out different responsibilities and displaying excellent team work and collaboration too. They were a little less patient with Luc's attempts though - pesky baby mostly trying to take the zoo apart before they had finished it! We listened to Carnival of the Animals too and what I found really interesting was that when I asked the boys what animal they thought the opening of the music was about, Zac instantly said Lion! Which it is indeed! 

Tuesday afternoon the boys made animal masks. Zac was adamant he was making a Pterodactyl after 'Dinosaur Land' the day before and coming home with a new pterodactyl teddy. Xander made a Lion and Luc joined in with making a Pig. 


Wednesday is a big boy only day out again this year as we've decided Luc will keep going to Nursery through the holiday, a) we have to pay for it whether he is there or not and b) Lucas is quite the Mummy's boy and doesn't like sharing my attention with his brothers so it is nice to be able to focus on Xander and Zac a bit more one day a week! 

So this Wednesday we went along with Nana, to The Wild Place Project, a spin off from Bristol Zoo. I wasn't sure what to expect. We had been once before for Zac's first birthday, but being November it was too cold, and very rainy which made that day out quite naff. It was interesting to see that the zoo felt much better and bigger than it had when we had visited those three years ago. With splendid weather and older and more able children tagging along it was a really nice day out (and I plan to go back with Luc on  Monday or Tuesday while the boys are at school!) 

The boys were both very interested in the Lemur's on the walkthrough and my favourite was the giraffe. There was a good variety of animals for a small zoo, different wooded areas to explore, a big open field to play games on, activity trails to follow,  lots of play areas around the site encouraging adventurous play and I really liked the 'Barefoot Walk' too! 


A super day spent at the park just chilling with friends - the kids running, collecting sticks and leaves and creating in masses of open space with the grown ups enjoying a sit down on picnic blankets! Bliss! Then a quick animal challenge before bed. Set by Xander who had a much better idea than me. I was all set for them using the Lego to build the houses for the three little pigs, but Xander decided he would quite like to have a go at building lots of different animals with Lego. I particularly liked his giraffe! Great creativity. Then they wanted another challenge, so we read Dear Zoo and I got them to draw a story map of the book. Zachary was particularly engaged with this and I loved his drawings of every animal from the story. 


A day at home and making use of the Tuff Spot; making a farm using all our Happyland farm animals, Duplo animals and a variety of dry foods, woodchip and grass to create fields. The boys enjoyed deciding where they were going to put everything, and then deciding what animals were going to live where (complete with a unicorn, because why wouldn't a unicorn live on a farm?!). Then the two big boys mostly played with the chickens, "pecking" at every food in site to make it break up into as many pieces as possible and eating just as much of it too! Haha! Lucas enjoyed moving the animals around the farm, putting the sheep into the pen and taking them out again, particularly enjoyed driving the tractor around and practicing all of his animal noises. I left them to it after a while and noticed when I came back quite a few of the zoo animals had moved into the farm as well. They had a great hour of play and I think it would have lasted them all the day had the rain not arrived. 

Fridays are going to Family Film Night through the holidays and this week we watched Madagascar and Zac went to bed singing "I like to move it move it". 


We'll gloss over the most horrendous visit to the shoe shop of my parenting experience so far (if I thought feral over-excited boys every time we go near a shoe shop was bad enough then two out of three throwing epic meltdown tantrums and both sat on my lap wailing while trying to get shoes fitted was something else!) and then we all recovered and spent the afternoon at the farm. 

We went to Cefn Mably Farm. It wasn't a visit where we utilised our time to the max and because of that it was an expensive afternoon out. But all the boys enjoyed the ride on tractors they could pedal around the entire farm so that made it a hit from the word go! Luc is quite suspicious of animals and doesn't like to get too close but he liked watching the goats, sheep and pigs from afar, was really brave with a guinea pig on his lap and followed a duck around until it decided he was getting too close and flew away from him! 


Sundays are mostly going to be our quieter days and today was especially quiet with the torrential rain showers! We went to church this morning and then after dinner we had a go at writing some acrostic poems - it turned out to be trickier than I thought! I asked them to think of their favourite animal. Both boys drew lovely pictures of a Lion (look at Zac's!) and Xander had a good go thinking of words for each letter of the word Lion. With some help from Daddy they came up with Large, Intimidating, Old and Wise and Nasty.  Maybe something to try again with them when they are older. Even I found thinking of words for Giraffe pretty hard! 

So that was Week 1 for SWOS 2018!  
Week 2 we are going to explore all things Boats! 

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Lucas Little is TWO!

Somehow my baby is two. And really I should probably stop calling him the baby, what now with him being two and not really a baby at all anymore. But my baby. Two. 

Nevermind the last six months since his last update, I don't know where the last two years have gone. It feels a bizzare combination of it feeling only such a short time ago since he was born and then it feeling so long ago all at the same time. 

Last Tuesday it was Zachary's nursery graduation. The last time we had sat for a nursery graduation was Alexander's, almost two years ago exactly albeit shy of a day to Zac's. I remember it so vividly because it was my last full day of pregnancy with Lucas. We went straight from Xander's very emotional graduation to the hospital for my final baby monitoring and pre-op appointment in readiness for the very next day when Lucas would be born. And then there we were, two years later at Zac's nursery graduation just two days shy of our baby's second birthday. Bouncing from one child's milestone to the next child seemingly in a blink of an eye. Before we know it, another two years from now, it will be Lucas's nursery graduation just shy of his 4th birthday. Poignant and precious moments. 

Lucas Little you are TWO! You are 85cm tall and weigh in at 29lbs. You are just marvellous, full of mischief, cheekiness and character. So self-assured and able to hold your own with your two big brothers (and other children at public places too). You take no messing and will not be fobbed off. You will not allow a toy to be taken from your grasp. You will stand your ground quite firmly. You will not let them just treat you like the baby. You want to be in there, joining in, right there in the thick of it. 

You have such beautiful bonds with your big brothers. I can already tell how much you look up to them; studying everything they do, mimicking their noises, their movements, copying all their games. So often I watch you and see an absolute miniature Xander or tiny Zac. You have perfected all their mannerisms and of course have come up with your own too.  And they love you so much. Both of them still refer to you as their baby. Zac introduces you to everyone as 'and this is my baby Luc' and Xander just tries so hard to entertain you. You may be a spoilt baby brother but their brother-ing has given you so much beautiful self-confidence. 

Well mostly beautiful. There was that moment a few months ago, on the day you turned 22 months old, when a 'copying your big brothers' moment led to a falling off the computer chair and hitting the desk on the way down accident resulting in a rather large gash on your eyebrow. And my first experience of taking one of my babies to theatre (and the weeks long aftermath of taking that long to calm down from it - especially with all the other bumps you had in such a short space of time, including Daddy falling over while carrying you - you looked in the wars)! Yes you my baby, my youngest, were my first boy to need a general anaesthetic to stitch you back up...

It felt like a minor injury that snowballed fast on arrival at the hospital; thinking you needed glue and a check over in A&E, to being told by triage that the wound was too big for glue to do the job and that she thought it would need stitches, to the Dr then telling me that you were too little for them to attempt stitches without a general anaesthetic, and then even a moment where they had to weigh you to check you were chunky enough for theatre in Newport otherwise we would need to be transferred to Cardiff Children's Hospital. Luckily, you were chunky enough to stay in Newport. But boy what a day. The next morning you were booked for theatre and to say I felt sick the whole time you were away from me is an understatement. You on the other hand came out with a scar that will tell a story for you one day. I'm under no illusion this will be our last trip to A&E before all you boys are grown up. 

At the moment you are trying to talk finally and it suddenly seems more on your agenda. Although you still don't call me Mummy. I get the occasional Mama still, and I think you've attempted 'Me-me' a few times but mostly I am now  "eeeee" as in the end of Mummy. Most of your words are still end-sounding. But you are trying to say more and more. I have a funny feeling by the end of the summer holidays you will be much more a little talking baby. Which will make you feel even less like my baby again. 

Right now your favourite expressions are "Yeh yeh yeh", "Oiiiiiuh", "Owwwwwwuh" or "Nooooouh". Which is all really quite funny. When did you get such a little attitude?! But boy are you determined and have thrown some of the best paddies in all manner of places (think B&M Bargains) already - throwing yourself so dramatically down on the floor face down, lying flat on your tummy hiding your face and screaming. Luckily for Mummy though, we've already been here twice before and what felt like a huge (especially in a shop) ordeal with your older brothers leaves me with much more water off a ducks back patience for it with you. It will pass as you find your way older. 

But mostly, you are so happy! You are so happy to go with the flow and are such a joy to have around. You are so affectionate - giving out such lovely comedy kisses and are constantly giving us cuddles and saying 'eeeze' for squeeze as you wrap your arms around our necks. 

At the age of two there are so many things you enjoy and could all be your favourites! After a Barry Transport Day you are particularly excited by buses - screeching "uss" every time you see one (so much so that Daddy took you on a special bus ride for your birthday morning!), you like to have Iggle Piggle to cuddle while you go to sleep, you love having a ride on your bike,  playing with Duplo, Happyland, Toot Toots and all manner of cars. You love the garden, you will read book after book with me finding all the things in the pictures and anticipating and mimicking all the key phrases, you love having a bath and your Sunday morning swimming lessons (but not getting out or seeing a towel so much), you love singing songs - especially Row Row Row Boat, you love making all manner of noises but especially pretending to be a Dinosaur or a Dragon or any kind of ROAR!   Your favourite things on the TV are Peppa Pig (of course), Hey Duggee (where you get all your "Yeh yeh yeh" from!) and even a bit of Ben and Holly.  

At two you now know lots and lots of animal names and sounds and lots and lots of your body parts. You can do all your puzzles and shape-sorters and now you're trying to do 2, 3 and 4 piece puzzles. You love anything that can be counted and know that after you hear 'nine' comes 'ten'! You are already so interested in numbers and counting. I'm finding it all very exciting going through this such rapid soaking everything up like a sponge phase again. 

And for the next year I'm most excited that we're going to have every Monday and Tuesday as 'Just Mummy and Luc' days. A whole year without that middle of the day school run, meaning we can go to so many places and have so many adventures before I have to start giving you to school too. 

You absolutely love life Lucas and I'm in no rush at all for you to stop being my baby. The most precious time of my day is our morning snuggle when you sleepily cuddle up next to me and want milk. With two older brothers I know how limited your baby baby days are now; so soon you will stop wanting milk with Mummy (although you have now out-fed both of your brothers), you'll stop wanting to be held like a baby and rocked in my arms, you'll stop all the 'won't be put down' for good, you'll stop falling asleep on my chest. And already I miss those days and they're not even over yet! 

We have thoroughly enjoyed all of your second birthday celebrations; why have only a birth-day when you can have at least a week we think! So you had your party at the farm, your new garden toys and party on your actual birthday and your trip to Peppa Pig World at the start of this week. You particularly liked the safari truck in your new Happyland set and your new sandpit has been a very big hit (which is just as well because it took Mummy and Daddy 2 hours with ridiculous instructions to build it!). Your favourite rides at Peppa Pig World were Grampy Rabbit's Boat and Dino Chase - your first mini-coaster and boy did you love it shouting "Wheeee" all the way around. Why do I get the impression your going to be a bit of a thrill seeker already?! 

It has been so strange to go through a second birthday you know, not already expecting your next sibling or planning for one to soon be on the way. You are my last little baby, my last baby to turn from one to two and all these moments are much more precious to me than you could possibly know. 

You are adored by us all Lucas Elias and it is going to be a terrific year of Two! 

Loved endlessly and always,

Mummy and Daddy xXx 

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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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