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.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Big Boy School

And that is another one of my babies in big school. Reception. 

It feels such a massive milestone doesn't it. Giving them to school full-time. Even though Zac has been in the school building for 18 months already, this transition into Reception and staying all day still feels like a big deal. 

No more Monday and Tuesday afternoons; lazying around the house, going for a drive to get him to sleep, going to the park, pestering Nana and Bampi and meeting up with our Baby Club friends for an afternoon playdate.   

It is the start of a new chapter. The chapter where Small gets big. But will still be my Small of course. 

No more my baby but actually a school boy. 

I'm not really ready, and he isn't really either. Academically he is ready, more than ready really, for more educational challenge. He is a bright little button and often surprises me with what he already knows, and how quickly he learns.  

But emotionally, in maturity? I'm not so sure.  Our little sensitive one, I really think the expectations and long days of Reception may well overwhelm him. I know he will rise to the challenge eventually, but as with most things I think it will take gentle nurturing and plenty of patience to get him there. 

So after two half days of settling back in, tomorrow he stays all day and tomorrow I go back to work too. Today it really hit me that he has gone into Reception, that is was my last extra middle of the day school run (for a year, until Lucas starts - the forms for that also already arriving today), and our last afternoon. We marked it by going to the park for his last afternoon of freedom, before school claims him for all his best parts of the day. 

I can't deny I'm not looking forward to being able to plan a whole day, instead of days split into rushed two hour chunks because I always need to run back to the school for the next child. I can't deny I'm not looking forward to a year of 1:1 adventures with Luc on my days off. 

But at the same time I'm sad that Zac maybe didn't get as much 1:1 as he should, what with being the middle child. There was much less time with me on his own. And sad that school will get the very best of Zac during the week now, just as I was with Xander. Sad knowing how much he will change over this next year. That his baby days chapter is well and truly at its end. That its time to grow up now. 

This time I'm less naive and know full well how trying the next half term plus is going to be at home, with an overtired small boy (and slightly bigger boy!); even these last two days of after school behaviour is already proving testing! 

Dearest Zachy, 

Yesterday you started Reception. Even though you have only been mornings yesterday and today you have insisted on taking your lunch bag to school with you, with only your break time snack in. You love that you have a lunch bag for school just like Xander now, and there was no deterring you from trying to save taking it until Wednesday (tomorrow). You were insistent, that bag was going in with you on your first day! 

You have been a super star so far. Yesterday you were dressed and had all your bags ready to go at 8.00am and were cross that I kept telling you it was still too early to go. You were ready, even though Mummy was not. I was so nervous. But you? You walked so confidently through the classroom door, not looking back. Today, on morning two, I watched you find your peg straight away to hang your bag up on and delve straight into your classroom again. 

You have been awful grumpy in the afternoons these last two days though, and I kind of dread to imagine how the tiredness is going to catch up with you as the full days start rolling in! Yesterday, even though you had gone in to school happy, and came out happy, by the time we got through the house door you were telling me how stupid Reception was repeatedly and that the next day you were going back to Nursery! Haha! 

But the next day came and we heard none of it again this morning. I think you're happy so far in Reception. Today Mrs Perry must've been bigging up eating your lunch in the hall and staying all day the next day, because this afternoon, as well as being a bit grumpy and tired again, you've also told me lots that you are going to the hall for dinner tomorrow and that you want sandwiches with butter for your dinner. 

So it is time for an end of an era and a brand new adventure. Today the end of the era hit me. Oh its been an emotional kind of day with lasts and next steps. I'm so excited for you, for all you will learn this year, for all the growing you will do, and just know you are going to amaze us.  I can't wait to hear all about your days, if you'll remember to tell me! 

We're going to be right behind you all the way, championing you on!  

We're so proud of you Zachy, and we love you so much, and don't you ever forget it! 

Our beautiful boy.  One more step along the big wide world you go.  



"You're off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!" 

Go and Smash Reception baby, because you're going to be great! 

Mummy and Daddy xXx 
Sunday, 2 September 2018

SWOS 2018 Weekly Roundup - Six - Spooky

Here we are. The last week. The conclusion of our six weeks of summer two thousand and eighteen. What a time we've had!  Week six has included dinosaurs, new spooky stories, witches, potions, sleepovers and date night and Big hitting a very big boy milestone!

It is safe to say we are all pretty exhausted (I know, I know, summers are supposed to be restful but we prefer action packed!) and probably ready for the return of routine. It will be back to reality with a bump tomorrow, but one thing is for sure, I am absolutely not ready to give Zac to big boy school. Reception. Full time. He still seems far too little indeed. Wish us luck! 

Week 6. Spooky Week. 



Monday 

Monday we visited the Jurassic Kingdom in Bute Park with the extended family. The boys always love a day out with their cousins and were all really excited to see the dinosaurs. I was pleasantly surprised by the event after reading a number of pretty poor reviews about it. Although I think it was a rip-off and hugely expensive for what was really an hours walk around, and I agree the dinosaurs could have been in better condition and more made of them. The boys had a great time, running from one dinosaur to the next, loving when they moved and enjoying pretending to feed some of them. Ok, so the only one who found the dinosaurs remotely 'spooky' (scary) was Luc who now often needs persuading to sit in his buggy for any length of time was requesting to be safely secured in his buggy away from the dinosaurs!   Dinosaurs, the park, bike riding outside Nana and Bampi's and a take-away made a great bank holiday Monday. 




Tuesday 

Today we met up with some of our nearest and dearest friends aka Baby Club for a day at the park. Zac proving ever the dare devil. Yesterday he had been flying around the crows nest climbing frame at the Boating Lake and today at Roath Park he had climbed right to the top of the expectionally higher climbing frame there. Enough to turn spook me and turn me grey that's for sure!  A nice day followed a rather stressy evening of paying a hall for a birthday party; it took 3 visits by the time the job was done, between not being open when got there, having to return after solo swim lessons, then to be told it was cash only, to go away and come back again and then finally feed the children tea at 7.30pm and get them to bed even later after that! 




Wednesday 

Big Boy Wednesday took us to Wookey Hole this week. Although Zac was tired from the moment we got there and out of sorts, surprising me with not really wanting to say hello to the Wookey Witch despite being incredibly excited that morning to be wearing his witch costume!  But anyhoo the boys had a lovely day, exploring the caves, especially watching the circus show and playing in the soft play area. And then, after buying him a broom from the shop, and an ice lolly, Zac perked right up and decided he wanted to show the Wookey Witch his broom - so me being the soft touch I am went on a hunt for her before we left for home. Look at his little happy face with her! 



Thursday 

Day of the Dead colouring, patterns and masks, followed by a magic potion tuff spot meant a morning of colourful and messy fun. 



The tuff spot was a big hit; bowls and cups of water, food colouring, washing up liquid, glitter and gellibaff mix and letting them have free reign to explore and create a potions meant lots of mess. I was glad I had left them in their pyjamas to play! They managed to get splashes of food colouring all over the conservatory and all over themselves. All three boys were so engrossed and played so nicely together, sharing and interacting, sporadically shouting 'Iggity Ziggity Zaggety Zoom' as per Room on the Broom.  They mixed and splashed for over half an hour and would've gone on much longer had we not planned to go to Nana and Bampi's for dinner and then their sleepover night and afternoon of baking. See the before and after pictures! 






Yes Thursday was a real treat. The boys had a sleepover and Jon and I had date night. We went to the cinema to watch Christopher Robin and enjoyed a meal at Zizzi's. And the best bit? Getting a lie in until 11.15am the next morning! Haha! 




Friday 

Well apart from the lie in of course, Friday's highlight was Xander. Our little superstar, after only having 3 sessions on his 'balance bike' since Saturday, and only two of these being 'proper' sessions, tonight he asked for the pedals back on. Then he told me to let him go. And away he went! Cycling, balancing, pedalling, all by himself and without stabilisers. What a difference a week makes with his Self-Believing Sam Can-Do Attitude. As you can tell I'm so super proud of him! 



Spooky lego with a skeleton mini-fig surprise gifts, Pizza night and family film night. And after colouring our own Day of the Dead skulls we decided the film of the week had to be Coco! 




Saturday 

Today we went to Barry to celebrate our friends twins 5th birthdays, and then after that took the boys to the park for some more bike riding. Zac asked for his bike to be a balance bike like Xander's and had a really good first go although very soon decided he would like the stabilisers and pedals back on please and decided he would do it when he was 5! Haha! We'll take his lead for now.  I must be honest the afternoon was super hard work by the end and the boys were so obviously tired so it was back home and all three boys were in bed at 6.30 tonight after a Room on the Broom bedtime story. 


Sunday 

And today. The very last day of our summer holidays. The boys had a lazy morning at home whilst I went to church, and played the piano again. Then we've had dinner and I went with Mum and Dad to 'Praise In The Park' with their church while Jon took the big two to the cinema for the afternoon to watch Hotel Transylvania 3. A nice fitting spooky end to our spooky week.  Another bike ride and play in the park followed until it was time to go home for tea, bath and bed and to get everything ready for Back To School tomorrow!


Can you believe it? Where did those 6 weeks go!?  

Tomorrow will well and truly be back to reality. It is always a strange feeling a new school year. Anticipation and excitement mixed with wanting to hold tightly onto these little boys and sadness that each passing year gives them a little bit more to the world.  Their new year group always sharply highlights how much older they are always getting. Year 2 for Xander, Reception for Zac (and this time next year Luc will unbelievably join them too!) The last and first year of infants. 

Xander is already planning next summer and has asked for a Lego week next year...  But there is always lots to look forward to in the Autumn Term too. The start of my adventures with Luc while his brothers are both at school all day, plus we have a visit to Plymouth next weekend for my niece's Dedication, more time with friends after that, a weekend away planned at the end of September, Xander's birthday plans, half term, Zac's birthday plans, the boys next sleepover, Christmas weekends away and Christmas. 

Here is to the start of another school year. 

Next on my job list tonight is starting to put together some Dear Zoo sound effects for my own class! 

Happy new year. Happy summer. 

Sunday, 26 August 2018

SWOS 2018 Weekly Roundup - Five - Fairytales and Forests

Another week gone and only one week left to go. Didn't the weather take a turn this week? This weekend has felt practically autumnal with long trousers and jumpers back out! I even wore boots today!  Nearly all of the back to school shopping is complete (all bar a pair of PE trainers for Xander and some forest school wellies for Zac). Shoe shopping was surprisingly painless yesterday considering how awful the shoe shop experience had been at the start of the month, and even better Zac's feet hadn't grown so his current school shoes will do until half term now I hope! Now all Mum has to do is shorten trousers a little, take in PE shorts and joggers for my skinny boys and make PE bags! 

Fairytales and Forests Week 



Monday 

We kicked off Fairytales and Forests Week by taking a trip up to Bedwellty House in Tredegar for a fairytale story trail around the grounds with Louby Lou Storytelling. I had found this event completely by chance on Friday (while investigating Louby Lou for Zac's birthday entertainment) and was really lucky there were spaces left as they had just opened up a second group because of the level of interest.  We really enjoyed ourselves, Zac and Luc especially. 

Zac was straight in there enjoying all the storytelling, role playing and games and especially enjoyed meeting Granny in the cottage.  Luc couldn't believe his luck that I was allowing him to run free with the rest of the big children crowd! Haha!  Xander, well, he got stuck in for parts and he did enjoy himself but I'm becoming more and more aware that he is feeling too old for these sorts of make-believe games. I think he felt much bigger than most of the other children there and I got the sense he felt a bit self-conscious. Sigh, my boy. I'm not ready to give him over to 'older boy' yet at all!  After the trail ended we explored the park a bit and they all had a go at climbing trees. 

We visited Grandma (the boys Great) for her 89th birthday on the way home which I think she really enjoyed, playing games with the boys and laughing at all their hustle and bustle chasing eachother around her armchair. 



Tuesday

We had a house day and the morning was exceptionally hard work. A month long battle of their resistance to help with the toy tidying up came to a head and I thought my head was going to explode. Anyway, we turned it around in the afternoon with some baking of fairy cakes and icing them in some vivid bright colours.   Luc had a nap for the baking so he was our chief taster when he woke up! 




Wednesday 

Big boy Wednesday led us to the forest. We dropped Luc to nursery and then went up to the Secret Forest in Forest of Dean. It is a quirky little place not far from the much larger Puzzlewood and opposite Clearwell Caves. The boys enjoyed fairy spotting through the walk and we counted 55 little fairies around the forest. Then they played in the small park and made friends with another little boy who we spent the rest of our time with while I enjoyed a cup of tea with his grandmother!   

It was a lovely visit, reasonably priced at £8 entry for the three of us, and with the play in the park we were there around 2.5 hours.  Probably not somewhere we will go again as it is quite far for only half a day visit from us, and mostly because there wasn't proper toilets there - going on a compost toilet was quite a unsettling experience I tell you! (Which wasn't obvious on the website prior to visiting!) If you've never seen a compost toilet as I hadn't - it is a box with a toilet seat on, filled with sawdust, you wee and then pour a scoop of sawdust on top! (The boys refused to go into them at all let alone sit on them because they were stinky, and they were stinky, and Zac was especially disturbed by the whole idea because he wouldn't wee the entire day anywhere even when we found proper toilets!) 




We ate our dinner in the car and then went from there to Tredegar House and grounds to fill the afternoon. We all really enjoyed ourselves. We walked around the lake and wooded area and made the Gruffalo story as we went. The boys immersed themselves and really enjoyed finding the nuts for the mouse, discovering an underground house for the fox, treetop houses for the owl, logpile houses for the snake as well as feathers, streams, rocks and even a pile of woodchip that Xander decided was the Gruffalo's fur. (Also can I point out the fab photo of Xander and I taken by Zac?!) 

Then the loved more tree climbing, running through big fields and finding a tree that had a hollow trunk that they could walk right into and look up to see the sky. It was a lovely afternoon and the start of 'The Gruffalo' becoming a theme for the rest of the week, fully led by the boys who before we had even left the park asked me to make them a Gruffalo tuff spot at home! 




Thursday 

A morning at the park for Zac to have a play with one of his favourite nursery buddies and then little more shopping and then an afternoon of me creating a Gruffalo tuff spot as requested. Our Gruffalo teddies joined in the fun and I threw in some playdough for the boys to make the other characters. 


The boys really loved this again and both boys were loudly reciting the story along side me and without me and made some fabulous representations of the characters with the playdough. I really enjoyed watching them play until the rain arrived and sent us retreating back indoors. 




Friday 

We went up to Mountain View Ranch with school friends today. We've really enjoyed spending lots of time with this Mummy and boys this holiday and today was no different. Each of the boys were given a turn to choose something on the ranch to explore off the map and we did the Gruffalo trail, explored Hobbit Hill, jumped in muddy puddles, found a unicorn in the woods, enjoyed the treehouses, robe swings and wishing well in fairy forest, explored the Lost Boys hideout, ran around for ages in the willow maze, roasted marshmallows on the campfire, had a go at some archery and eventually managed a turn on the new jumping pillow after some pretty heavy showers. The boys got absolutely soaked, muddy and covered in sand but all had a wonderful time!  


Friday family film night was Shrek this week, although I fell asleep on the sofa and Jon sent me up to bed before 8 so I didn't watch all of the film. In bed before Xander and Zac! Haha! 


Saturday 

I had originally planned another trip to the Forest of Dean today but I decided that actually I was still feeling pretty tired and we utilised the time instead to get school shoe ready and then go for a walk more locally after dinner. 

We walked through the wooded path running alongside the river from the boating lake up to Croesy park. The boys took their bikes and Xander had his first go at no stabilisers. Which I must admit didn't go terribly well and in the end he wasn't at all in the mood for trying. We tried him having a go on grass and throwing him in at the deep end and then took it as far back as taking the pedals off to make it a balance bike but apparently with the seat lowered and pedals off his bottom hurt. So we gave it up and had a long chat about being a self-believing Sam and persevering Poppy (as per their growth mindset super hero characters from school!) 

He and Zac did however very much enjoy bumping into their friends (the same friends as our Mountain Ranch visit) and having a play in the park with them. 


Sunday

Today hasn't had much of a fairytale or forest focus apart from watching Robin Hood with the boys this afternoon.  Instead we've been to church this morning and the boys enjoyed a family fun day there and then an afternoon with family and cousin visits. 

Then this evening I took Xander out again to practice learning to balance on his bike without stabilisers. We had tried after dinner to more complaints of the seat now being too high, so when we got home we again lowered the seat and I asked if he wanted to try one more time before we put the stabilisers back on and forgot about it for a while. He said he did, so we went out for a special Mummy and Xander trip and he was excellent; a new found can-do attitude and did extraodinarily better than he had yesterday. He was picking up speed, trying giant steps, holding his feet in the air and balancing, even beginning to turn the bike a little while balancing. Then he came home and showed Daddy what he had learnt to do outside of our house - which even included balancing down our downward gradient! I'm super impressed with him and we fully intend to practice every day with him until he has mastered this very grown up milestone of riding with no stabilisers! 



So it is the last week. Sob. I better get myself back into some sort of teacher mode this week and really make the sure the boys are ready for going back to school. 

But we still have one week, and we're going to make it a good one. Starting tomorrow with a whole family day out complete with grandparents, auntie and uncles and cousins.  

Spooky Week. 


Sunday, 19 August 2018

SWOS 2018 Weekly Roundup - Four - In The Garden

The summer weather we're more accustomed to has returned. Warm muggy days and shower dodging! We have had a much quieter week this week with plenty of home days, although all written down it doesn't look quieter at all! Another week has flown by! 



Monday 

Recovering from a tiring few days away with rubbish sleep we all needed this home day. It would've been even better if we (and by that I mean me) hadn't had to go and do the food shopping with three little boys in tow and of course Aldi was absolutely manic. I softened the blow with the boys by popping in Asda to get their lunch boxes ready for Back to School too. Avengers chosen by Xander and PJ Masks chosen by Zac. 

Later in the afternoon after much mooching about watching TV and picking out some garden films for the week we had a play in the garden! 



After playing in the sand pit and with bubbles and generally running riot Xander asked for a tuff spot. I hadn't planned one for today so had to think on my feet! Luckily, we haven't cut the grass out the back in weeks (months) as it hasn't really needed a cut with the hot weather again until recently - so we used this opportunity to do a grass investigation. I got the boys to look at the grass and find lots of different greenery and growth - it was amazing what they pulled up - plenty of flowery weeds, leaves, grass tufts etc.  Zac then decided he wanted to turn the grass tuff into a jungle for his animals. 




Tuesday 

A morning at the dentist followed by more Back to School shopping - trying to find material for new PE bags (although ended up getting it online in the end - more Avengers for Xander and PJ Masks for Zac), getting Zac his book bag and taking advantage of some uniform for Xander in the 25% off at Sainsbury's. 

Then for the afternoon we went to Raglan Garden Centre with Mum and Dad aka Nana and Bampi. My Dad visits here regularly but I had never been before. It is a really lovely garden centre with a small outdoor play area and it felt spacious and lovely. Dad said it was the busiest he had ever seen it!    We had lunch in the cafe and then explored. 

We played a 'Can you find me a (colour) flower' game and all three were just loving running around and exploring. Luc's favourite was a water fountain that he kept going back to to splash in and all three enjoyed looking at some fish. It was just a really lovely afternoon and we bought some pots and flowers for planting later in the week. 


Wednesday

Big Boy Wednesday started off in soft play with some of Zac's Reception starter friends. We were supposed to spend the morning in the park but rain called play and we went to soft play instead. It was nice to see how pleased he was to see some of his buddies from nursery and nice for them to all see each other half way through the holidays before Reception starts in a few weeks. 

Then for the afternoon we went over to Dewstow Gardens and Grottos with some friends from school. The boys were excited by the ponds and all the stepping stones and have a great time exploring the gardens and cave areas and were mostly unfazed by an dark tunnels we came across! We bought the childrens trail but to be honest the boys lots interest in it very quickly preferring just to whizz around exploring - or more aptly, whizzing around jumping on stepping stones and in puddles and splashing in their wellies. What is it about water?  Funnily, Zac remembered the cave he was in when he fell into a pool of water last summer - as soon as walked into it, he said this is where I fell in before! 

The bit of  the day that kept all four boys most entertained the longest was playing under a huge conker tree - they must have spent nearly an hour collecting treasures, exploring immature conkers, making pretend camp-fires, running up and down the grass and rolling down hills. 

On the way home Xander asked to go and see Belle to give her some of what he had collected today but we wouldn't have got there before the cemetery closed so I told him we would go another day before the end of the week. 


Thursday 

Thursday was well and truly a messy home day. In the morning they all needed a bath after painting pots and in the afternoon they all needed another bath after a mud tuff spot! 





Friday 

This morning we went up to see Belle in her garden, as I had promised Xander we would, then we spent the rest of the day at Nana and Bampi's house before Family Film Night. Friday film night has become one of my favourite parts of the week this summer holiday and something I hope we can keep up even when the holidays end. Although it might have to be Saturday nights as I can't believe the boys won't be too exhausted from a week of school to have a later night on a Friday in term time! 

Anyway, as I've said elsewhere today when sharing another aptly time post from Still Standing Magazine, I love how the boys often think of Belle in their own way. The treasures that Xander had collected Wednesday at Dewstow had been precious to him because he had wanted to take them home to put in his collection. But before we had even got home he had thought of his sister and had wanted to take them to her instead. Thoughts of significance. 

So often they'll mention her spontaneously and independently of me. Zac will see a graveyard and get excited because he thinks we're near his sister. They so often say they love or miss her or that they are sad that she died.   I love how much effort both of the big boys were putting into talking to Luc about Belle on the way up to the cemetery too. Getting him to repeat her name again and again and telling them that she was his sister too. 

It fascinates me the relationship they have all carved with the sister they never met.


Saturday 

The plan of action today was to go bike riding around some flower gardens and park but after loading the car and driving down the road the car started flashing up yet more warnings of engine management problems so we thought it best to turn around. The car is about to cost us a ton of money. Sob. 

So no bike riding today, while Jon and his friend did another quick 'sticking plaster' on the car before the even bigger expensive fixes over the next few weeks.  Instead another home day and we got all crafty with the boys making some beautiful paper plate flowers.  I loved watching their different approaches - Xander decided to give his flower a face, Zachy went for a very red theme because this is his favourite colour - he was very thorough colouring the whole flower red with a crayon before sticking bits on top, and Luc did very little colouring before he said he was finished, as you would expect, but then with all the materials on offer for sticking he wanted all of the circles and didn't want to use anything else (until the glitter came out!) All of their favourite bits was definitely the glitter!



Sunday 

With the car road-ready enough again we decided to go for another carvery today (although I over-did it and spent the afternoon wishing we hadn't!) and then to reattempt bike riding.   Bike riding was achieved but the height of excitement today was a baby squirrel in need of help. Whatever next! 



While riding around the boating lake another Mum was pointing out a squirrel to her children - on closer look Jon could see it was moving very abnormally and was very small so he got closer to  investigate. It turns out it was a very young baby squirrel - not yet opened its eyes - and wasn't old enough or strong enough to move anywhere far which is why it looked so strange using all its energy and might to try and scurry anywhere at all. It looked distressed and I think had fallen from the nest. 

I've no idea if we did the right thing or not - but Jon picked it up and it instantly calmed, curled up in his hand and went back to sleep. The boys instantly loved this squirrel - even the baby who is usually wary of animals was asking to cuddle it! (We didn't let him!) and Zac named him Tag. (All this while explaining to them to not get attached because he wasn't going to become our pet!) 



We phoned the RSPCA for advice. Who told us to take it home and make him comfortable in a box and someone would come and collect him. A little later they phoned again and said they wouldn't be able to collect but had made arrangement with a vet nearby if we could take the squirrel there.   On inspection at vets it appears the baby squirrel did have some injury somewhere with signs of blood in nose and mouth but unfortunately unless the RSPCA had somewhere where the squirrel could be hand-reared right now the most likely outcome now would be putting it to sleep because of its 'pest-status' and them not being able to re-release him to the wild. 

What a shame. I feel sorry for the poor little mite and that our rescue efforts were in vain as the outcome ends up being the same! At least he was calmed and comfortable I suppose! 

Only two weeks to go now! This week we're planning a bit more Back to School shopping and lots of Fairytales and Forests! 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

SWOS 2018 Weekly Roundup - Three - Wales and Welsh

Well we've definitely all been a bit tired and tetchy at times this week. The boys have been a bit hard work at times and although we've had a nice few days away, camping is most definitely very hard work with small children! Not really a holiday in the truest sense of the word! Thank goodness we had a van and didn't have a tent and wet weather to contend with too! 

Half way through the summer holidays and a mixture of (very) late nights this week and altered routine starts to catch up. 

But I've loved our Wales and Welsh week. It has been nice to do something a bit different at times and teach the children a little of their heritage. I was especially excited to discover how many children's programmes are available in welsh language on the S4C section of BBC iPlayer - lots of familiar titles including Peppa, Paw Patrol, Octonauts to name but only a few.  The boys seemingly enjoyed watching some of their favourite programmes in a new language, especially Olibobs and kept asking the next episode to be put on. I was also pleasantly surprised that I could watch it and pick out lots of key words to get the gist of what was going on! 

We've otherwise had to be a bit creative with stories and films; Roald Dahl links for stories from a welsh author and picking out dragon themed stories such as Zog and Pete's Dragon of course linking to the dragon on our flag. Although we do have a few simple welsh language books too (we picked up two more at the eisteddfod) that we've been reading this week also. 

It is a shame that the weather wasn't completely on our side this week, especially for camping but  here is Wales and Welsh Week in a nutshell: 




Monday 

Jon had this week off and we started our week in the captial city! We always enjoy a visit to Cardiff and are there pretty frequently. This visit we went down the park and ride to get the bus into town. We then made our way to the castle. Because Jon works in Cardiff we've been able to take advantage of the 'Castle Key' for residents or employees in the city. We picked them up last summer holidays and this means paying £6 per card (we needed 3, under 5s are free) we are able to now enter the castle without paying a penny more for three years! A total bargain considering the huge expense of £38 per family ticket for one visit otherwise! Now don't get me wrong, the children really enjoy visiting the castle, but I wouldn't feel they would've have got the most out of the money at their age if we were paying full price. But the keys make it a worth the effort kind of day out! 



The castle has a huge green space for running around and would be perfect for a picturesque picnic on a dry day and there is lots for the children to explore - albeit some areas of the castle are pretty treacherous for little ones.  Going up to the Keep is extremely hazardous and only Xander made his way to the top with Jon this time. This was Jon's first visit into the castle and the third time in this year I've been there with the boys.  



The boys especially enjoys walking along the castle wall and climbing into every look our point on the turrets - lovely games of peek-a-boo and wanting Daddy to lift them up to look out over the castle wall. They also enjoyed climbing and walking along some the 'ruin' areas of wall lower down on the lawn too.  We walked though the air raid shelter wall which both Zac and Luc were nervous of with the sound effects and talked about what the castle has been used for at different points in history. We spent about an two hours here this visit although probably could have spent longer if we padded it out going inside the house and doing one of the children's trails (that unfortunately weren't available in the shop this time as they had run out!) But that is the beauty of the keys - it doesn't matter how long or short a time we are there and can always go back to do a different part of the castle on our next visit. 

Day finished with a visit to Nandos. Ok not a welsh meal, but yummy nethertheless. (First meal of many out this week - oops!) 





Tuesday

Today we went to St Fagan's (Museum of Welsh Life) for the afternoon with friends / boys Godmother. St Fagan's is a museum full of buildings of Wales past; where building have been taken down brick by brick at various locations from around Wales and then rebuilt as they were in St Fagan's depicting different time periods from Wales gone by.  Another place that is different every visit, free to enter and only £5 for all day car-parking.   I really enjoy a visit to St Fagan's and already think I'll take the children back in October half term if we have a dry enough week and we don't end up anywhere else on a short break!  

We hadn't been to St Fagan's in well over a year and the centre had completed the renovation project; there was a brand new entrance and park that opened not too far back. Of course the boys were all very keen to get in there but we managed to persuade them to leave the park until last! 



So instead they all got to take turns point to something on the map for us to go and explore. My friends little boy pointed first to the Iron Age circle houses - the furthest point on the map he could have pointed to as well as taking us on a walking route we hadn't been on around St Fagan's before. See I told you, something different every visit! The boys were really interested in the round houses and we asked them if they would like their house to be like this - to which they all said no - there was no toys!  Zac took us to the farm area next and they got to see some calves, ducks and chickens. We went up into the village area for a snack and boys played around the Maypole and then Xander and Luc wanted to look inside the old village school. Then it was Xander's turn for map picking and he wanted to visit the red house.  There was so much more we could've seen too but time didn't allow for it today, not if we were to fit in the brand new play area too. 

Day finished in a lovely pub up the road for another evening meal out! 



Wednesday

Our big boy only day out this week was to the Eisteddfod in Cardiff.  I'll be honest I wasn't quite sure what to expect with it being a welsh language festival but I can honestly say being non-welsh speakers was no barrier to our enjoyment of the event. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming and made no bother of speaking English with us. It felt like a welsh celebration for all and the atmosphere was lovely. A lovely mix of events celebrating traditions in Wales along with the innovation and future for Wales. 



The boys (including Daddy) really enjoyed the Science and Technology tent which had lots of exhibitions from Cardiff University, showcasing what scienctists are doing there developing medicines by observing deep sea sea life. The boys were able to make a bracelet copying the DNA colour code for the colour of the their eyes, making a jellyfish and using UV paints to make it glow and made a playdough jellyfish too. We were in that one tent over an hour! 

We explored all around the tents and struck up another lovely conversation with a man from the welsh language society who was really encouraging that the festival being free this year had opened it up to a broader range of people and had given it a much more inclusive feel. 



We also enjoyed watching some traditional welsh folk dancing - which took me right back to junior school - we used to learn the dances and take park in an annual schools festival in the town centre for welsh dancing. In Year 6 it even took me to Germany and our twin town of Bruchsal where we performed over there too!  Lovely memories. We let the boys buy some some simple welsh language book from the book tent and snuck over to welsh cake shop too to get some welsh food treats. 

And you've guessed it.... we had lunch out again, this time in Weatherspoons in the Bay! 


Thursday

Our going on holiday day!  We aptly had planned a few days in West Wales to carry on our Wales and Welsh week. We stayed on a campsite in Haverfordwest (which was a really small site and I really liked, but the shower block is definitely in need of a refurb!)  The journey down was hard work; lots of boy bickering and moaning, so we stopped in Carmarthen (a home-town of mine of the past!) for an early lunch in a hope it would settle them down! Haha!  We rocked up at about 1.00pm got the van set up and then headed over to a welsh beach favourite... Tenby for the rest of the afternoon! (Making the most of the weather while it lasted as we knew the rain was coming in!) 



The boys always love a beach day and it felt a bit of a shame we couldn't stay on the beach longer having used park and ride with a time limit of 6.00pm on it. It is just as well we did leave though, as after another pub tea (!!) and the boys in desperate need of a shower (in the shower block because we had neglected to turn on the hot water in the van - imagine the shower block screaming from the baby!!) it was 9.30 before Luc was in bed and nearer 10.00pm before the other two were.

At least going so late they actually went to bed without fuss... unlike night two and three! 


Friday

Today we visited St David's City - the smallest city in the UK. The beginning place of St David patron saint of Wales. We had pre-bought the St David's treasure trail map from Treasure Trails and set off on an adventure around the little city. We asked the boys if the city felt anything like Cardiff (the only city they know well) and they said no! It was quite strange being in a city that felt much more like a village. 

It was another quite a hard work day. I think the boys were tired from the late night before, and dare I say it PMT from me. That combined with St David's being busy with extremely narrow pathways and lots of traffic (I couldn't believe it wasn't pedestrianised!) and us possibly making the mistake of allowing the boys to take their scooters, (but we knew the trail was 2 miles and 2 hours and scooters would keep them going!) plus buggy, plus toddler wanting spurts on foot too made for a hard work combination! 





But the city is very pretty and the cathedral is magnificent. It is absolutely enormous! We really enjoyed following the trail and discovering different clues along the way. The boys have said this was their favourite day this week. Although I think Xander was somewhat disappointed to realise we had hidden the treasure this time as on previous trails he thought pirates had hidden it. Oh dear! Zachy was especially gorgeous and shared his last treasure biscuit with me! All the hearts! 

No eating out today, haha! We cooked back on site and enjoyed an evening on site with a visit from an old uni friend that lives in Haverfordwest.  Well I enjoyed her visit - Jon on the other hand ended up spending an hour and half driving between Haverfordwest and St David's again twice to make Luc and then a very angry and overtired Zac fall asleep! 




Saturday

And the rain arrived. Now, I neither love  or hate camping. I'm a bit meh about it. I totally see the appeal on dry days, all the open space for the children to just run around in (and if the boys would go to sleep properly, the idea of snuggling under a thick blanket outside the van reading a book into the evening - how foolish was I to think I would achieve that!) but in the rain camping sucks. And today rained, and rained and rained. I couldn't have been more grateful that we have a van with a toilet and wasn't stuck in a tent battling a squelchy cold floor too.   

We had a very lazy morning, all snuggled together on the back bed watching Pete's Dragon and then went to soft play for the afternoon.   Lucas spent the entire time in the area labelled as for children 5-12 years and proved once again that he has his biggest brother wrapped around his little finger; Xander looking after him, helping him get around and lifting him up onto the higher levels when he couldn't climb up for himself. Their bond really is something very special at the moment. 




Another hugely stressful bedtime - two hours of shushing and lying down next to children to get them to go to sleep. Driving didn't feel an option because a) it would've had to be me and b) it was lashing down in the rain and I didn't fancy that on unfamiliar roads! The best part of bedtime though was reading Mor Hyfryd Yw'r Byd with the boys (one of their new welsh books) which is based on Louis Armstrongs 'What a Wonderful World' - they really got into it, picking our words they understood and we all enjoyed listening and singing along to What a Wonderful World afterwards. 

And we've booked ourselves another campervanning weekend for the end of September. I hope it is dry and urgh to the inevitable disaster bedtimes again already! 


Sunday 

The day to wrap up Wales and Welsh week. Another lazy in the van morning, packing up, followed by Sunday lunch in the lovely onsite pub and then driving home. My normally wonderful boy travellers were again difficult passengers. Xander and Zac bickering until Swansea while Luc slept, and then when they fell asleep around Port Talbot, Luc woke up and decided he was going to scream, shout and cry to get out for the rest of the journey home! What joy! 

Everyone was clearly pleased to be home. It was a nice few days exploring West Wales but three nights in the campervan was enough for us all this time. 

We watched Charlie and the Chocolate factory this evening and read a few chapters of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator tonight.  


This next week we're planning a quieter week, we all need it and so does the bank balance after so many eatings out in the last week! Haha!  So lots of home days, Nana and Bampi days, some 'Back to School' and starting big boy school shopping to be done, some time at the park, finding some garden centres and gardens too for 'In The Garden Week'

Boo, the holidays are now half way finished. Is it terrible I'm already noting down lots of ideas ready for SWOS 2019?! 
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Caz
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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