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, 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! 


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. 


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. 


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 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! 


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.


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!


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: 


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!) 


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! 


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! 


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! 


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! 


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! 


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?! 
Sunday, 5 August 2018

SWOS 2018 Weekly Roundup - Two - Boats

Where did Week 2 go? Already two weeks down and only four left to go! Boo. We have had so much fun this week and this might go down as one of my favourite SWOS weeks ever so far! (Probably helped by the boys being so good this week!) 

The "Boat Week" nutshell...


Monday was spent with friends at Newport Wetlands. We searched out the lighthouse (and followed the Alien Hunter trail for part of the way), not that the children were overly interested in it! They were more interested in the bugs they could find, the ducks they could see, the grasses and flowers they could find along the way! 

They had a lovely time with their friends from church and they all played and explored beautifully together. They had lots of fun in the boat and lighthouse themed park (while dodging some pretty heavy showers and sheltering in the lighthouse!)  where they got stuck in to self-initiated boat themed role play. Zac's boat ran out of petrol and he had to go and tell the Captain! 

After a day finding a lighthouse the bedtime story had to be The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch. I have fond memories of this book all the way back from when I was in Reception. I remember a pulley system across the classroom from a lighthouse to a cottage with a basket of goodies travelling back and fore across above our heads! 


Today was supposed to be a home day. But on a spontaneous whim I decided I was going to take the boys to Cardiff Bay to have a look at 'World of Boats' (near to the old Doctor Who exhibition) and for a play around at the boat themed sand park across the barrage. The Bay can be really busy and somewhat stressful when the boys are on their scooters and I'm always anxious about how far ahead they veer away from us. But after a little chat about how I was the only adult there today they were superstar listeners all day! (Which was just as well because the entire bay was a hive of activity between the Bay Beach and preparations for the Eisteddfod in the Bay next week, which we also plan to attend.)  

World of Boats was very disappointing (although free), only less than half of it was open which meant the boys saw a grand total of about 10 sailing row boats and one larger across the ocean type racing sailing one. It all kept their interest for a grand total of 10 minutes and it was quite disappointing there wasn't a single boat they could sit in or have a go at rowing with. They were all very interested in the anchors on the walkway to the entrance though. 

So we ventured around to the park where they played boats for a good hour and I was surprised about how much boat language Zac already seemed to have - he kept going underneath the play shipwreck and saying he was going into the galley! Both boys loved climbing into the crows nest to be lookout. A really lovely day completed with ice-cream in the Red Dragon Centre on the way out!   (And then a Mummy and Daddy date night for a pre-wedding anniversary dinner!) 


It was our 9th wedding anniversary and back a few months ago we had hired a canal boat for the day. It was brilliant and I would definitely do it again in a few years. We sailed from Goytre Wharf southwards, stopping at The Star Inn for a pub lunch (which was brilliantly cheap - 7 meals, a little over £40) and then sailed back again. 

It was just a brilliantly relaxed day and the boys really got into the spirit of it enjoying being Captain and First Mate. We all had badges with our ship roles on; Daddy Cabin Boy, Mummy Miss-Chief, Captain Xander, First Mate Zac, Pirate Bampi, Galley Slave Auntie Bex and Deck Scrubber Nana. 

I had felt really guilty today about leaving Luc behind in nursery but it was a good decision and the day would have been a very different atmosphere had he been there; the back of the boat was incredibly open and keeping him down from there when the other boys were up and down from cabin to deck all day would have been challenging! Zac felt liability enough on deck but they were ok, had life jackets on just in case and both had a great time steering the boat! 


We had a home day with our lovely school friends around for the day (Mummy friends and children friends included!) It was a good opportunity for Zac and his friend to get to know eachother better before they start Reception together in September, and Xander and his friend have been in the same class since Reception too.  They were here literally all day but it didn't feel like it at all - the hours just passed with us not realising the time - don't you just love company like that! 

I set up a treasure island tuff spot for the boys to play in with a gellibaff sea, sequins hidden in the sand for buried treasure, a mountain of sand for the island, little plastic boats and Happyland Pirates. All the boys were all over it, and went back and fore all of the day. The older boys especially loved the sensory exploration play aspect of the tray and it wasn't that long before they had completely mixed the sequins into the sand and then the gellibaff into the sand so it was one big gooey mixture of mess. I really liked how sparkly and inviting it looked. By late afternoon the two big boys were adding extra water to the mixture and making it as messy as possible.  We also had a go at making some oragmi boats (which turned out to be a lot harder than it looked! Just as well my friend was here because she was a lot better at the final product than I was!) and then setting them off to float in the water tray. 

Just a really lovely garden play day! 


I had booked the boys into Pirate School in Swansea Waterside Museum on Friday and we left home completely looking the part. 

In the main hall of the museum there was a mock up pirate ship for the children to play on which all three boys really enjoyed, although I couldn't persuade any of them to put on the beautiful golden captain's jacket for a photo! 

Pirate School itself had so much potential to be amazing, and the session itself was good (although maybe a little too long for Zac but it was advertised as suitable for 5+ with him being a young 4) but we were unfortunate to have ended up sharing a session with a large playscheme group who were all wearing fluorescent jackets. This meant the few children who were there from the general public (all of whom were younger children) got lost in the crowd of fluorescent with the playscheme children recieving all of the attention and dominating the session.  

My boys quickly lost interest with Xander announcing it was all boring. Although I did catch him sneakily laughing at some of the tales and he did enjoy being able to handle lots of pirate / sailing artefacts at the end of the session.  I will be emailing my feedback to the museum because it really was such a shame and I think the playscheme group could have been offered their own session rather than impinging on the general public - much like a school group would be. 

When I've asked Xander what his best and worst bits have been this week he very quickly said Pirate School was the worst. So a bit of a waste of fuel on the trip to Swansea but still, there was some good points too! 

They enjoyed a little walk along the harbour wall to look at the boats and more ice-cream. We went back to Bridgend for a little shopping and a quick play in the dinosaur park which they all enjoyed. 


We had a lovely slow morning, followed by a birthday party of some lovely friends and then after the party we and the boys Godmother and her family went down to Barry. What a lush afternoon! 

We did some boat spotting on the sea as its a great spot for watching some pretty large container ships go by, but today there were container ships, a sailboat and a speed boat (and at least 4 planes flew into land at the airport nearby too!)   

Despite nagging to do the pirate crazy golf the last three time we've been to Barry and us saying no, today when we told Xander he could go on the crazy golf he decided he didn't want to! (Typical contrary child!) and we went straight down the sand.  The five boys had a blast playing on the sand, building castle, going down the sea and were so well behaved all afternoon - another one of those days where the hours just flew by and we didn't really notice.  We didn't leave the beach until gone 6pm and by the time we had sorted out chip supper and then them play on the climbing wall we didn't leave Barry until gone 8pm.

A late night but totally worth it.  


Today has been a quieter day but we still fitted in a trip to the park this morning. We wanted to show the boys the model boat club that meet at Cwmbran Boating Lake on a Sunday morning but to be honest they were not really that interested and only briefly glanced at all the model boats on the lake. Instead they were much more interested in riding their bikes!  Before we got to the playground, we hired one of the small children's paddle row boats on the small lake (pond!)  - these boats have been there for as long as I can remember and I asked today if they were still the exact same boats we would've have gone on as children, apparently they are! So at least 30 years old. It was only £2.60 for 20 minutes which was plenty long enough. Jon started off on the boat but I ended up swapping with him and Zac and Luc had had enough after 10 minutes. Xander stuck with me to the end though and felt very grown up being able to paddle the boat himself. 

The rest of today we have visited Nana and Bampi, watched Moana, visited (Great) Grandma and then onto Nanny and Grandad (where we ended up booking another weekend away with them at the end of September!). 

So we're into Week 3! Wales and Welsh week. Jon is off this week so we have a day trip planned every day, we're going to check out the national Eisteddfod in Cardiff and a little trip down to West Wales in the Motorhome planned too! 

Fun, fun, fun. 

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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