Photo overload!

The problem with not blogging for ages is that I end up with loads of photos to share! July has been a busy month with lots of family gatherings and outings.

We had a great morning with the home-ed group at RHS Rosemoor, doing a workshop on photosynthesis and food chains. Aaron and Tabitha already understood these concepts pretty well thanks to the Magic School Bus!

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We had a big family gathering with two of Colin’s siblings and their families and his uncle, aunt and one of his cousins. It was a miserable rainy day (like most of this month) but after a lovely meal we went for a stroll down to the beach. Colin and Aaron seem to be genetically programmed to enter any nearby water and got completely soaked. Tabitha was more cautious but got her legs wet. Good thing I was expecting it and packed spare sets of clothes!

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We met up with one of my mum’s cousins who was on holiday from Ireland. Afterwards we were browsing through the book section and Aaron found a great activity book. He read it to us on the car journey home and wanted to do some of the activities straight away, so we looked at our fingerprints and played with a non-Newtonian fluid.

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Colin was forced to take some time off work before his redundancy so that they didn’t have to pay him extra for his holidays, but it was nice to have him around more. He spent a few days working really hard at making an amazing wooden sword and scabbard for the children.

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Last week the home-ed group met at Tapeley Park for a permaculture workshop. We tasted unusual plants, made insect hotels, picked flowers to arrange into bouquets and the children ate lots of berries!

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There have been three birthdays in the extended family recently so there have been several family gatherings. Tabitha, as the most willing and responsible cousin, often gets the job of holding her baby cousin on rides. The children also had a lovely time at another cousin’s party at Atlantis Adventure Park. Afterwards we stayed on with Nanny to explore the maze and play crazy golf.

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My parents are having their house renovated so we’ve had a few days out with my mum to help her escape the chaos! One day we took a picnic lunch out to RHS Rosemoor. The children took their walkie talkies so we split up and had fun trying to find each other. Then mum sat with her knitting and I sat with my crochet while the children played. (My mum made Tabitha’s dress, isn’t it lovely?)

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We’ve also enjoyed a walk to Velator pond, planted some flower seeds at the allotment, been on a bike ride to the park and visited the beach.

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Colin is now redundant so the next few weeks are rather uncertain. He’s had a couple of job interviews already but hasn’t heard back yet, and I have an interview for a part-time job next week. We are trusting that the Lord will provide for all our needs. On the positive side, the children have really enjoyed taking it in turns to go out and spend some one-on-one time with him, and hopefully we’ll be able to fit in a few family outings too.

A trip to London

Colin’s cousins turned 18 and 16 at the end of January, so we went up to London for the weekend for their birthday party. Aaron and Tabitha each took a small rucksack filled with things to keep them amused on the train. I downloaded a Paddington audio book onto their Leappads, along with a new game, which kept them busy for a lot of the five hour journey. We also played Dinosaur Top Trumps, spotted things from I Spy books and had a picnic lunch.

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Colin’s uncle Cliff met us at Waterloo station and took us for a tour around London in his black cab. The children were excited to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the Shard, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge amongst other famous landmarks.

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On Saturday morning we woke up to snow, the first (and so far only) flakes we’ve seen this winter! We wrapped up warm and took the underground to the Science Museum.

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It was very busy, so we didn’t look around everything. The children especially enjoyed the space and flight galleries, whilst Colin was excited to see one of the huge steam engines in action.

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We did spend a long time in the Launchpad, which has lots of hands-on interactive exhibits.

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After leaving the museum, we walked around Kensington and Chelsea for a while and found a nice little pizza place. We ended up doing a lot of walking that day as we had to walk another couple of miles back to the Travelodge thanks to line closures!

In the evening we had a lovely time at Elliot and Haydn’s birthday party. The boys are brilliant with the children and Aaron and Tabitha adore them. They also made friends with another little boy there and had a go at playing darts!

We had to set off early the next morning, as our journey was complicated by several line closures and it took us a couple of hours just to get to Waterloo Station. It did mean that we got to walk past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament though, which the children loved!

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Tabitha spent hours on the train diligently filling in her English and maths workbooks.

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Poor Aaron had a fever and slept for the entire journey. We had an hour to wait in between trains at Exeter, so we bought some Calpol from the nearest pharmacy and then went to a cafe for some food, where he fell asleep on the table! Fortunately his fever began to come down and he even managed to eat something.

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It was only a flying visit, but Aaron and Tabitha loved their first trip to London.

Hibernating

I wasn’t intending to take a break from blogging, but we’ve been living life in the slow lane for the last couple of months. It’s been nice to go back to basics and spend time together cosied up at home. I suspect that we will start doing more as spring arrives, but in the meantime here is a brief update of what we’ve been up to.

My uncle, aunt and cousins came down at the end of December to visit my Grandma. My mum hired a wheelchair taxi for Grandma and we all met up at my brother’s house as they have the largest sitting room. In the afternoon we went for a walk around the lanes. It was the first time we had ice this winter, and Aaron and Tabitha had great fun playing in the icy puddles.

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I had a uni assignment due in at the beginning of January, which had me very stressed out. I did eventually get it done in time and was even pleasantly surprised when I got my marks back. However, it did mean that I hadn’t done any planning or preparation for Aaron’s 7th birthday! We had a quiet day at home, with various family members popping in with cards and presents, and he chose what he wanted me to cook for dinner (mince, sweet potato mash, broccoli, carrots and sprouts).

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DDS and Grandpa gave him a new bike with gears for his birthday. He must have had a growth spurt recently because he was suddenly much too big for his old bike!

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Later in the week, we met up with some of Aaron’s best friends at Funderzone. Tabitha and I spent the evening before making and decorating a Minecraft grass block inspired birthday cake.

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Aaron has been saving up his birthday and Christmas money for something special, and considered getting a pet budgie. After reading books and watching videos, we went to a pet shop to price up equipment and supplies. A lady at our church used to have a pet budgie and now has a cockatiel, so he is going to write a list of questions to ask her.

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We’ve had yet another change around at home, moving the dining table back into the front room in preparation for putting the children back into separate rooms. But I need to do lots of decluttering and sort out storage before that can happen!

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Tabitha seems to spend most of the day with a pen in her hand. She loves to draw, write lists and messages or do workbooks.

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She also loves to help me in the kitchen with peeling, chopping, mixing and stirring.

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She always counts down the days until her next ballet class! She is rather uncoordinated and definitely not light on her feet, but she really enjoys it and has made friends with the other girls.

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Aaron has been doing lots of Minecraft, a little bit of structured work, and is showing an emerging interest in the Romans which I am hoping to build on.

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We haven’t been out as much as usual, I don’t think we’ve put petrol in the car since before Christmas! We visited a pond near my Grandma’s care home a few times, the children love to see all the ducks, swans, coots and moorhens. I remember seeing lots of dragonfly nymph shells there years ago, so I think it will be a good place to visit throughout the year for nature studies and pond dipping.

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We also went to London for a weekend, but I’ll add a separate post about that to prevent this one getting too long!

A winter wedding

After much excitement and preparation, the weekend of Auntie Jenny’s wedding finally arrived! We drove down to Poole on Friday, stopping at my Granny’s for lunch on the way. In the evening we had a meal with Colin’s grandparents, who haven’t seen the children since they were tiny, and the bride and groom-to-be. Then it was time to settle into our room and do Tabitha’s hair following this ringlet rag curl tutorial. We only had one practice run and she didn’t keep the rags in overnight, so we weren’t sure quite how it would turn out!

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After breakfast on Saturday, we decided to go for an early morning walk.

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By the time we reached the harbour it was turning out to be a beautiful day. The only nice day this week in fact, as the weather has been horrible the rest of the time!

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Back in our hotel room, it was time to unwrap Tabitha’s curls and start getting ready.

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Aaron looked very smart in his suit and tie.

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Tabitha was a gorgeous bridesmaid. I did secretly have doubts over whether she would actually walk down the aisle by herself, but she did amazingly well!

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Baby Edward looked so cute in his tiny suit!

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The happy couple, looking radiant.

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The only part of being a bridesmaid Tabitha didn’t enjoy was carrying those flowers, she kept trying to get other people to hold them!

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I really wanted to get a photo of all the cousins together, but by this time the little ones were running around wildly and it was nigh on impossible to catch them and keep them still for long enough! The older boys on either side of Colin are his cousins, much adored by the younger ones.

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Here is the missing cousin and guest of honour, baby Edward, with his Uncle Colin.

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There was a nice gap to relax before the reception, so we spent some time with Colin’s eldest sister and his aunt and uncle. When we arrived at the reception venue, Aaron and Tabitha ran over to the empty dancefloor and spent the entire evening dancing! It was lovely, although we had to leave early as Colin was feeling ill.

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Today we had lunch with the bride and groom, Colin’s mum, his youngest sister and her boyfriend, before beginning the long drive home. It has been a wonderful weekend of celebration and we hope that Clive and Jenny will have many years of happiness together!