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  • A New Home

    Psst! I'm outta here - follow my trail though, I don't want to leave you behind!

    http://fullhands.blogspot.com/

    :D

  • Rocky Part II

    Scrub that. We have a new winner. It's the massive box of lego in the playroom. As in, actually standing in the box to do his thing. Do you know how difficult it is to wash, drain and dry about fifty thousand (give or take) pieces of lego without losing one down the drain? I'll leave you to use your imagination.

    Must go. Have just seen him wrestling himself into a Spiderman suit that is labelled 'sponge clean only'.

  • Rocky Challenge

    Remember the dreaded activity I said I was going to (but knew really that I wouldn’t) do over the summer?

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    I’ve started trying it today. Not through choice, mind you, but rather because a small boy (who turned three this week) has suddenly decided to keep stripping off all, including nappy, to dress himself in anything he can manage from his older brother’s clothes collection. His dexterity has limited him to swimming shorts and underpants, but I thought I’d go with the flow and allow him to keep the pants if, in return, he would wee in the right places. He is thrilled with this idea and cannot wait to work his way through each pair of pants so that he can toddle straight upstairs and replace them with another set. In fact, he likes them so much he has sometimes worn three or four pairs at once.

    It goes without saying that I am having much less fun, especially as he seems to choose the most obscure places to deliver the goods. Standing on the dining room where his brothers were building with Meccano has probably been the winner so far. Thank the Lord for Dettol.

  • Dramatic Logic

    One morning, Turtle came down with a goofy smile on his face.

    'You okay?' I asked him.

    'Yeah,' he sighed, 'I was just talking to Baby. She's so cute.'

    'What were you talking to her about?' I grinned.

    'I was just explaining to her about her injections today.'

    'Really? What did you tell her?'

    'I was telling her it would hurt a little bit but then she'd be fine. Then I did a show for her to show how it worked. I was a germ and the cushion was the injection and we had a big fight and then I fell down dead and the cushion won.'

    I went up to find a rather baffled but happy baby in bed, looking like she no idea what she just witnessed but she'd enjoyed it all the same.

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    (And yes, she did cry at her injection but I'm sure at least she knew it was for a good reason.)

  • End of the Summer Challenge and the Start of a New One :S

    I hope I’m not in trouble for lying – I didn’t end up taking you all on the journey of our summer extravaganza at all, I left you all behind. If you’d like to know the end result, we got 70 out of 100 things done. Part of me is sad we didn’t get to do it all, but the other bit – the non-mopey, kick-me-up-the-backside bit – says ‘Whoop whoop! You got seventy things done, with five small children, and you made some good memories along the way.’ I think the summer before this one, my main aim everyday was to try and get everyone dressed before lunch which was trickier than it sounded, because most of the morning hours were spent with my head in a toilet.

    If you’re still interested, if you even remember what summer looks like, here are a few more of the highlights:

    Climbing on Sandylands climbing wall
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    Playing in the sand
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    Going to Happy Mount Park
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    Riding bikes on the prom
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    Making a den (This was not the original one but they decided one day that Baby had missed out on the fun and decided to build her her own den. I only let them put cushions on a small baby’s head for a few seconds while I took the photo, honest. Am I wrong to also love her bewildered expression?)
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    Making ice lollies
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    Visiting lots and lots of different parks
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    Here’s one of my favourite sequences: them playing with water on the deck (before they got dressed for the day, please note – I am clever that way). Crash is taking great delight in squirting everyone else with a syringe full of water until......
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    And here is what they would have chosen to do the whole summer instead if I’d have let them.

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    I’ll make them thank me when they’re older.

    Now for the not so good bit – the main reason we didn’t achieve everything we set out to this summer was because Scooby was tired for most of it. He went from being dangerously ill at the beginning of the year, to flourishing in the spring and first half of the summer because of being on a high dose of steroids. This was brilliant, and gave us some amazing times of peace (in the God-given, noisy, chaotic houseful sort of way) and fun without having to worry all the time. But when the medication came down to a lower level, with the intention of weaning him off it, the tiredness returned and after a few weeks, so did the seizures. Right at the end of August there was a dramatic shift in him which meant his eyesight suddenly got worse and so did his ataxia (which means his movement became really unsteady and hard to control) so we knew something was up. After extensive tests and scans in September, we heard what we really didn’t want to – that whatever it is that has been lurking at the base of his brain has spread, and is now showing patches all over his brain and on the spine too. As he has already been tested for so many conditions and he still has no diagnosis, the only thing the doctors can do in the meantime is increase his steroid dose again in the hope that now that his lungs are clear, the same thing may eventually happen in the brain if his body is strong enough to fight it.

    The worst part of this has been a change in his character over the last few weeks. The seizures returned, which made him very fearful and nervous of being alone, and particularly of going to bed at any time. He is now on anti-seizure medication which, coupled with the increase in steroids, has produced some fairly spectacular mood swings. He can’t go back to school until he is stronger so my days now look like this:

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    I love spending the extra time with him. In the mornings, before he gets tired, he works really well at his maths and phonics because he loves to learn. Once his perfectionist streak starts to take over and he begins to howl at any mistake, I transfer him and Rocky to the couch and put on a DVD in the hope that they might fall asleep while I get things done. And in between I get to cuddle and interact with these little bundles of fun:

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    Before going to get these two to hear about their day:

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    So much to do, so little time.....

  • Summer Challenge Continued

    I’m here, I’m here! I am forfeiting the rules of Movie Night to be on the laptop at the same time, but the baby has gone to sleep before 9pm so I’m trying to make the most of it.

    With only one week left of the holidays to go we’re definitely not going to finish the list, but that’s okay – I was aiming for 80-90% which I think we might manage.

    So here’s a few of the activities that we have managed so far....

    (Please hum something uplifting and summery-cool as you travel through the following montage)

    Going to West End festival
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    Playing hide and seek
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    Going on a bouncy castle
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    Having a photo taken with Eric
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    Going to Cornwall (that took a loooong time)
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    Sleeping in a caravan
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    Going to a wedding
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    Teaching Baby to eat food
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    Buying sticks of rock
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    Having a picnic under the table
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    There’s more to follow, but I have to show you the results one of my favourite activities. Before school finished, I set the boys the task of making thankyou cards for their teachers. As usual we didn’t have much time left to do it, so the night before the last day, I got all the craft stuff out but then Baby woke up and needed a feed so I had to give them instructions and then leave them to it at the table.

    Here are the results of the unsupervised card making:

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    This was Turtle’s second card. In his first card, he wrote the names of both his teachers. I told him that was lovely, but how would they decide who would take the card home? He gave it some thought then said, ‘Well maybe Mrs Read could take it home one day, then Mrs Whyte could have it the next day, then Mrs Read, and they could keep swapping it’. I wiped away my tears of mirth, then suggested that maybe instead of them having to drive to each other’s houses across town every morning in the summer holidays to share custody of the card, maybe it would be easier if he just made another one. :D

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    This was one of Scooby’s cards. I have no idea what the targets were, but I like that he’s grateful for them. And I also have no idea on the giant man-eating, manically-smiling dinosaur theme which he used for both cards. Except in the other card, the dinosaur had the thought bubble with the stickers inside them instead, so it can’t have been so vicious if he was thinking about fairies while eating people. Maybe there’s hope for him.

    Then there was Crash.
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    On both his cards, he had originally written no words, not even his or the teachers name, except for this long one:
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    For those unable to decipher six-year old scrawl, that’s ‘Iwilgifyouacat’.

    ‘Buddy, why have you told your teaching assistants that you will give them a cat?’ I asked.

    He looked at me like I was crazy.

    ‘Because I love them!’

    I did get him to add a few extras words, such as names and thankyou (or fanceeyp as he would rather have it), and quietly explained to the teachers the next day upon receiving their cards, that they should not be too upset if he didn’t manage to follow through on his promise. They took it well.

  • Our Summer Challenge

    You may think I am insane. But I have decided to embark on this:

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    Now, I am aware I have five children, including a baby, an extremely lively two year old and a six year old who is still not completely well and needs a lot of sleep. But for the last three summers, I've been pregnant (= very ill) for two of them, and it's been atrocious weather for all of them, so this year I am determined to make something of the six week holiday. It looks like I’m aiming high, but I’m not. Well, actually, maybe I should wait until the summer to decide on that one.

    I’m doing this hopefully to keep me sane, so that if (when) we have a day when nothing has gone right, nobody got dressed till lunchtime and we didn’t get out all day, I can still play ‘I Spy’ with them at tea time and get a tick on the list and falsely feel like I’ve achieved something. See? Lots of them we were going to do anyway (eg 'Go to Cornwall' and 'Pack for holiday'). And some are mega cheats because we already did them before the holidays started (eg 'Go to the zoo' and 'Fly kites on the beach'). But I figured it was supposed to be a book of memories, so it was fair to include them, as well as the ones that the boys won’t actually do at all and will only take five minutes (eg ‘Put Baby in door bouncer’) because it means every child will be able to see what they did that summer. So it’s not cheating really, just using the old noggin.

    So here goes, the hallowed list for your perusal (drum roll please):

    1. Buy sticks of rock
    2. Take a picture with Eric
    3. Visit Lydia and Hannah
    4. Go to the library
    5. Play hide and seek
    6. Visit Aaron and Lana
    7. Play Disney Monopoly
    8. Write stories on the computer
    9. Make a den
    10. Go to the cinema
    11. Read for a book challenge
    12. Make ice lollies
    13. Go to Happy Mount Park
    14. Make paper airplanes
    15. Have a school friend over
    16. Read ‘How to Train Your Dragon’
    17. Build a Happyland city
    18. Make cakes
    19. Fly kites on the beach
    20. Reorganise all the CDs and DVDs
    21. Build lego models
    22. Make jigsaws
    23. Write to David in Kenya
    24. Grow and eat our own vegetables
    25. Dance to music
    26. Write letters to friends
    27. Visit eight different parks
    28. Read a verse everyday
    29. Invite Terry and Graham over
    30. Get a bigger cot for Baby
    31. Make a Playmobile kingdom
    32. Have a picnic under the table
    33. Pack for holiday
    34. Play football by the river
    35. Clean and repaint the front door
    36. Make puppets
    37. Do a puppet show
    38. Read a Roald Dahl book together
    39. Play with water on the deck
    40. Have a family game night
    41. Sort out the crayon tin
    42. Visit Grannie and Grandad
    43. Ride bikes on the prom
    44. Make a summer scrapbook
    45. Go to the zoo
    46. Teach Rocky to use the toilet
    47. Climb Sandylands climbing wall
    48. Make swords
    49. Invite Jared and Stuart over
    50. Play ‘I Spy’
    51. Make a fruit salad
    52. Hoover out the car
    53. Read an Enid Blyton book together
    54. Sleep in a caravan
    55. Make a movie of a bible story
    56. Go to a playbarn
    57. Finish a Top Trumps game
    58. Help Mum with a job everyday
    59. Invite Hayes for a barbecue
    60. Make birthday cards for Grannie
    61. Keep our bedrooms tidy
    62. Have fish and chips
    63. Visit Grandad and NanaDebs
    64. Make things with plasticine
    65. Build with Meccano
    66. Watch the original Star Wars trilogy
    67. Go to Cornwall
    68. Practice times tables
    69. Teach Rocky to put his trousers on
    70. Play with skittles
    71. Buy summer shoes for everyone
    72. Teach Baby to eat food
    73. Go to West End Festival
    74. Play ‘Simon Says’
    75. Buy ice cream from a van
    76. Use a points chart for Rocky
    77. Get cakes from a bakery
    78. Go on Mathletics
    79. Play football at Regents Park
    80. Tidy under the playroom couch
    81. Chase bubbles
    82. Go to summer holiday club
    83. Have tea by the beach
    84. Go to something new
    85. Make a pretend cafe
    86. Get enough points for a Wii game
    87. Watch a movie with Knomi & Harrison
    88. Go to a wedding
    89. Make thankyou cards for teachers
    90. Play with new friends
    91. Have a McDonalds breakfast
    92. Build a sandcastle
    93. Learn how to hoover
    94. Play charades
    95. Teach Rocky more nursery rhymes
    96. Put Baby in a door bouncer
    97. Go on a bouncy castle
    98. Invite Steve, Mel & Rihanna
    99. Get hair cuts
    100. Make a museum

    Whadya think? Sound like fun? I think so :D

    Did you spot the ones that are actually jobs that I need to do but I’ve added them between the genuinely fun activities to trick encourage the children into doing them?

    And did you spot the single one that I really really don’t want to do, and really really wish I hadn’t put on there and is making me want to deliberately harm myself so that I have an excuse not to do it? Can you guess?

  • Up Through The Atmosphere, Up Where The Air Is Clear....

    There are many disadvantages of living near the sea front. It's always a bit colder than living further inland. When it's a bit windy everywhere else, there's a howling gale at our front door. Some days you go for a nice walk along the newly furbished beautiful promenade and you end up with sand whipping your face and your hair standing up on end. There have been times all the kids have been huddled, stooping along the side of the pushchair, holding on for dear life to stop themselves from taking off.

    But then how many people can do this within sight of their front door?

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    This is just one of our 100 Things To Do Summer Challenge 2010, many of which involve the seafront. It makes up for us not having a big back garden.

    I'll be back soon with some more!! B)

  • My Priorities

    I want to blog. I really do. I've got tonnes of stuff to blog about. I want to tell you all about my summer plans and how they're going. I want to get my pictures downloaded from my phone so I can post them up on here.

    But I also have a long list of other evening jobs to do too, like ironing, and writing up minutes, and making stuff for the boys so the holidays run smoother. All these things are sat waiting because I have a tiny person, a small female one, whose novelty has still not worn off, and who is good as gold all day but does not like to be ignored in the evening. So I sit and I feed and I burp her and play with her and change her nappies until eventually she drops off to sleep, normally just before I do.

    But I don't begrudge her any of these things, not even when my laundry piles are higher than the washer itself, or when I have to do all my church stuff at the last minute, because I know that this stage won't last forever and I'll miss it when it's gone.

    Of course, I'd love to be able to share it all - her pictures as well as the many stories of what her brothers are up to - but for now I shall remain selfish and keep her on my lap and hope I remember all the details when I come to tell the stories later.

    But that's all for now because it takes so very very long to type all this one-handed. Ow.

  • My New Habit (or, as it will be in the movie of my life: ‘Never Let It Hit The Floor’)

    A while ago I rabbitted on a little bit about my quest to Get Organised. As you can imagine, it’s not really been top of the list this year so far. It’s come fairly far down underneath Keep Your Head Above Water and Keep Everyone Alive And Preferably Dressed. But nevertheless, it is something I keep striving towards and although in general I still feel like I am only just treading water in terms of crossing the channel, every now and then I realise I have made a tiny bit more progress than I thought I had.

    Like this.

    Ahem.

    There have been NO clothes on my side of the bedroom floor now for MONTHS. Not a one. Nothing. Nada. I never ever ever have to tidy my side of the room anymore. Well, except for the odd tea mug, or when someone comes in and decides to try and make a multi-coloured wormery out of the contents of my knitting bag, or leaves a whole prehistoric era’s worth of dinosaurs on the floor – you get the picture. This my secret.

    I only ever get changed now in front of my wardrobe. I stand in front of it and everything either goes straight back inside, or I chuck it down the hallway straight into the laundry basket. The bin is nearby for emptying my pockets, and so there is no excuse to leave something to sort out later or in the morning when I’m less tired (ha!) or any other excuse. And in my head, I chant the rule to myself – ‘Never let it hit the floor’.

    I’m not a moron. Honestly I’m not. You see, beforehand I’d only been diligently doing what I was taught as a child – you put your pyjamas under your pillow. So for the last thirty years, I’ve been getting changed by the side of my bed. So, when I was tired and achy and had no energy left at the end of a long day, or in a desperate rush because I got up too late again and had to hit the ground running to go and change a stinky nappy or find enough parts of a school uniform to make a whole one, where did my clothes go? By the side of my bed.

    But not now, uh-uh, I’ve kicked that habit, I’ve gone cold turkey, I’m never looking back. I’ve read about this stuff – finding daily routines that can change your life, but until now I could only dream of one day making it work for me.

    I’d like to thank my husband, Richard, without whom the wardrobe would never have made it up three floors to its current resting place. I’d like to thank my manager, except I don’t have one, because if I did, my house probably wouldn’t be a mess in the first place. I’d like to thank Argos, the supplier and local seller of my laundry basket. And l’d like to thank all my friends and family who always believed in me. Without you, I would never have made this dream a reality.

    Flipping brilliant.

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