My Sunday Photo: Horsing Around!

 

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It may not be immediately obvious from this photo, but this is from Jake & Ellie’s first horse-riding session!

We have been taking them to dance (ballet & tap), gym & music classes. They went over the age limit for Monkey Music, they seemed a bit bored with the gym classes as they didn’t seem challenging enough, & although Ellie enjoyed the dancing Jake seemed less keen.

So when they turned 5 we decided that they were old enough to decide what they wanted to do, rather than what we thought they should do.

Jake chose Tae-Kwon-Do! I’m not sure how we found out about it, but there’s a great session at our local YMCA, & they’re both loving it. (There’s a funny story about that: ask me later…)

Ellie was mad to do horse-riding. So we did.

It was great! Sadly my ‘phone’s battery ran out just before they got on their horses, so I couldn’t get any more photos.

It took a long time to get going, which is OK as you’re dealing with animals & you have to get the health & safety right. Then they all lined up in the field on their magnificent ponies, our 2 first-timers especially looking very pleased with themselves.

We thought they’d just plod around the field, but they took to the streets! They all rode around country lanes for nearly an hour, & even broke into a trot!

Jake & Ellie both loved it; they were so happy when they came back!

We’re definitely planning to it again; the main problem of course is that it’s not cheap. Great fun though 🙂

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From the Mouths of Babes and Infants, again

So we have what’s become a Thursday tradition now. After school Jake & Ellie go to their gym class, while the Mummy & I sit around chatting with each other & with other parents there.

Then we troop off to MacDonald’s for Happy Meals, toys & a nice family outing.

We were talking about my good friend the Pope. I think it led on from a large family we’d seen & wondering if maybe they were committed Catholics & didn’t use birth control.

I had thought that he was turning out to be a good guy, or at least one of the better Pontiffs. He’d said sorry for a lot of the very nasty things many members of his organisation had done & that his predecessors had glossed over. He was saying lots of nice things about how we should all be nice to each other. He seemed sincere, & he probably is. Continue reading “From the Mouths of Babes and Infants, again”

A Worthy Ambition

My boy Jake is a thoughtful little fella, this much I have learned.

We were in the reception area of the children’s gym, where the 3 of  us were resting between the running, climbing & jumping that we so enjoy there.

He was enjoying eating a ‘treat’: a little chocolate bar.

Thoughtfully, he said to me, between mouthfuls:

“Daddy, you know how I’ve said to you that I want to be a Scientist?”

(It’s true: he has, on many occasions.)

“Yes”

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“Well, I think I know what sort of Scientist I want to be. Do you know what sort of Scientist I want to be?”

(An unusually talkative one, probably!)

“No, I don’t: what sort of Scientist do you want to be?”

“I want to be a Chocolate Scientist!”

He likes investigating things, & he likes eating chocolate: it’s just logical!

He was delighted to learn that it is actually a real job, that he can indeed be a Chocolate Scientist! Although I suspect the job spec may not involve as much chocolate eating as he probably expects…

Still, I wish him luck: watch this space!

 

Flying Without Wings

They believe they can fly. They (probably) believe they can touch the sky…

They told me they could.

I didn’t believe them.

They then started jumping, quite expertly, from 1 sofa to the other.

It’s actually quite a long way, especially for 3-year-olds.

“See, Daddy: I told you!”

They had their first day back at pre-school today, & it went surprisingly well. When we picked them up they presented us with great pictures they’d made for us.

Just for this week it’s 1 – 3.30, then 9-1 from next week for the rest of the term. The school want them to do a full day to 3.30 but we think that’s too long.

We picked them early so they could have a rest before their first gym class.

They loved it! They really enjoyed running around, stretching & jumping in the warm-up. Then, in a little group of the 4 youngest, they walked forwards, backwards & sideways on the beam, rolled forwards, backwards & sideways down a padded slope, & swung on a rope.

Then: the vault! We were hoping they’d get to do something on that apparatus!

The idea, we saw later, was for them to run up, jump on the spring-board & reach for the vault with their hands. The teachers, 1 on each side, were then to help lift them to a standing position on the vault.

“This should be interesting” we thought as we watched from on high, as Jake prepared to take his run-up.

And away he went! Running faster than any little boy ever should, he hurtled towards the vault. He jumped on to the spring-board: Boing!

So far so good!

Except instead of a neat landing on the vault with his hands, he went hurtling through the air, completely clearing the vault & zooming right over to the other side! A flying Jake!

The last thing we saw were his legs as they rapidly disappeared behind the vault.

The teachers seemed a little concerned, no doubt mentally checking their indemnity insurance & trying to remember who the parents were & whether or not they had many tattoos. Or worse: sharp suits.

We were a little worried, to be honest – but only a little. We’d seen the sofa-jumps!

He was fine. He emerged smiling, & I could imagine him saying – as he often does after a death-defying leap – “I’m awight”.

Now, if someone could just help me get those blasted Westlife (or is it Boyzone? I can never remember) songs out of my head…

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Wot So Funee?

Growing Up Fast: Let’s Get Physical!

Jake & Ellie used to go to a free-play session at a local children’s gym regularly, usually every week. They loved it.

Then they started this thing called “pre-school“; the gym session clashed with their school hours so we had to stop, planning to enrol them in a weekend class.

As you may have noticed it’s term break! They’ve been again a couple of times, the first time since June.

As with their going to the circus I’ve been surprised at their progress in the meantime: how much more than seem capable of, & how much less they seem afraid of!

Previously they enjoyed swinging on a trapeze: now they launch themselves onto it, grab the bar – & then swing! If it wasn’t for the sea of foam beneath it I’d be petrified!

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If I didn’t see it myself I don’t think I’d believe they could do it!

I think I may be having a hard time getting used to the idea that my little doe-eyed baby twins are no longer…well, doe-eyed babies.

Ellie can do it too but not as easily as Jake: he is the master here!

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Ellie’s probably more of a fan of the rings; she’s always been good on those.

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And I was really impressed with how much more confident & able she was on the rope (and Jake); it had scared her to swing from any sort of height before. Not now!

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“Me Tarzan, you Jake”?…

And, believe it or not. I get some exercise as well! There’s a big padded hollow roller that they love being pushed around in – and they’re getting heavy!

The good news is that with their new school hours when they start pre-school properly in September they’ll be able to go to the free-play session again, as well as the weekend class!

So… Brazil 2016?

Don’t worry: I’m not getting carried away here. I can wait until 2020…

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Let’s catch up!

The last month has been a bit of a strange one here, for me.

A month ago today we moved house, finally escaping from the little place that was only meant to be temporary but in which we ended up staying for over a year.

There’s the usual unpacking & organising, & we’ve only had the internet & ‘phone since Monday.

My routine has changed dramatically too in the last month. I’ve found myself not able to do much in the way of blogging, or tweeting, until late at night – by which time I really just want to watch a bit of telly & go to bed.

That’s a shame as, especially since term break, we’ve been having a very active &, overall, very happy time. In the last week we & the twins have enjoyed a great freeplay session at the children’s gym, a new softplay centre, the circus, the fun farm, a day at Folly Farm, the local holiday park & the beach, as well as their new playground.

Jake & Ellie seem to have changed a lot in the last month too: for the good, I hasten to add!

Every now & then 1 or both of them seems to take a big leap. Being twins they spur each other on too: when 1 sees the other doing something new they want to do it too!

Jake seems to have completely lost his fear of heights: nothing seems to faze him now! I’ve been amazed at what he takes on, & what he can do. The frightened one now is more likely to be me: “Jake, are you sure about that?!”

It’s a telling truth that he – and Ellie – can now do physical things that dear old Dad cannot…

I hope to get back into a habit of regular posting again, including about some of our recent exploits.

In the meantime here’s a lovely scene from ‘our’ new garden. It’s great to finally have the room to eat outside again – not to mention the weather for it!

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And yes: Jake shouldn’t be on the table, even for raspberries. In his defence I think he was pretending to be a baby – along with the obligatory “goo-goo” & “gah-gah” noises. That’s been a popular game around here recently for some reason!

An Active Family

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My Tiny Dancer. Dressed as Snow White, for some reason.

When Jaime from ‘The Oliver’s Madhouse’ asked me if I could maybe join in with her new ‘Active Family’ blog-linky I have to admit: I sniggered, a little. I may have even actually ‘lol’d!

Trying to get our funsome twosome to be a bit active isn’t really a problem at the moment. Even when they watch TV it’s more likely than not to be ‘Lazytown’: a show whose main character is a health fanatic called Sportacus. Living on ‘sports candy’ (mostly carrots) & always going to bed at 8.08, this is a man who has never knowingly walked anywhere in his entire life. Why do that when you can double-flip, cart-wheel, run or jump instead? Lately Ellie seems to spend more of her time being his preposterously pink side-kick Stephanie than herself, & she loves trying to copy Stephanie’s dance moves. Jake is Sportacus of course; I get to be the chubby, middle-aged, bald Mayor. Yay me.

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Sportacus Jake!

No, it’s more of a challenge to get them to not be so active sometimes, please. Like when they’re jumping & doing forward rolls & headstands on the bed, or wanting to play ‘horsey’, when it’s late & they should be settling down for the night. Sometimes even after 8.08 (gasp)! Or a “Please stop climbing on the back of the sofa, especially when I’ve got a cup of hot coffee / a plate of lasagne!” sort of thing.

They’re at pre-school now for a few hours during the week, & that seems to use up a lot of their energy most days. We still take them to Monkey Music on Friday mornings, & have just started them in a dance class on Thursday evenings. They love both! We used to take them to a children’s gym on Friday afternoons & we’re looking for an alternative; that was probably their favourite activity & it would be a shame to lose it.

On the weekends we try to take them out for something active at least once a day: the country park, the fun farm, soft-play, swimming, or just scooting to the local playground. And there’s always the mini-trampoline & the flexible flyer in the garden!

So overall, yes: I think we’re a fairly active family.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just need to have little lie down please…

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Firsts

Firsts.

We’ve had a few lately!

They seem to come fast & furious & excited within a child’s first year or so. Grabbing, sitting up, the first crawl, the first word, the first step, the first sentence.

Now that Jake & Ellie are 3 firsts may be less frequent, but they’re still there.

Perhaps they’re just less noticeable, & so seem less momentous. After all who, at any age, doesn’t have firsts? None of us have done everything, not even Keith Richards.

The twins do however seem to have spurts, & I think we’re in 1 of them now. I’m sure also that they spur each other on: if one sees the other doing something cool, especially if it’s something for which we praise them, they naturally will want to do it too.

Ellie’s getting pretty good at dressing herself. Recently she insisted on trying to do up her own zip; I tried to do it for her as usual, but she wouldn’t let me. Then only went & did it herself perfectly: a first!

Last Friday at Monkey Music we found that Ellie knows left from right: a first!

This week Jake has been speaking in rhyme, & using rhythm. “Red & bed: that’s a rhyme!”, & “Ellie & belly: that’s a rhyme!”. A first!

Ellie can do forward rolls, Jake hand-stands. Firsts!

Then, after pre-school today, this:

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Jake saw an older boy climbing & wanted to join in, then Ellie did the same.

Jake was actually very pleased with himself, believe it or not, & did a little celebratory dance, shouting “I did it!”, when he came down! Although they both got stuck & had to be rescued they really enjoyed it & kept going back. We eventually had to drag them away with a bribe promise of ice-cream at home.

I was very pleased! Many of my happiest childhood memories involve climbing trees.

I assume it’s allowed…

If not, don’t tell anyone, OK?

Activities for Active Twins

Back in our old family home near Brum, in what now almost seems like a different life, we used to take Jake & Ellie to loads of really good regular activities; particularly in their 2nd year. There were playgroups at a local nursery, each slightly different, with arts & crafts, messy play, reading, puppets, musical instruments & singing + signing. They were excellent, & it was a great shame when they had to stop due to budget cuts just before we moved. There was also a great church-run playgroup, Tumble Tots, & a home & away playdate.

Since moving to Wales & their spending much of Mondays – Thursdays with Karen’s little group, as a preparation for Nursery, we haven’t done that so much. Karen takes them to a church playgroup but, apart from Tumble Tots until the local franchise went belly-up, that was about it.

Just recently though we’ve found a couple of brilliant activities for them. I think it’s partly that they’re old enough now that they’re able to take on more mentally & physically demanding activities. They’re both on a Friday, which may account for why I’m often so tired on that day!

In the morning – after grocery shopping, which is always fun* – we do Monkey Music. There they learn rhythm, playing percussion, associating actions with sounds & music and some basic dance skills. It’s great, & they really enjoy it.

We’ve also discovered a children’s gym, where we go after they’ve had a nap. It’s huge! It caters for all levels, from the casual user (us) to serious competitive & successful gymnasts. It’s a real find: there’s everything you could imagine there & more: a big central space with soft things to roll or jump on, in or over. Things to throw & kick. A bouncy castle with a climbing wall & slide. A trampoline, a little running track, vaults, parallel & non-parallel bars, beams, rings, a rope swing. Not only all that but the apparatus available seems to vary each week.

What they are brave enough & physically able to do has been a real eye-opener for us, & they seem to be able to do more each time.

And do they enjoy it?

They seem to…

*Sarcasm, yes

Fun Friday

We actually had quite a nice day today.

No Monkey Music due to term break, so just a trip to the Co-op. Made more exciting by 2 toilet treks into town, 1 successful, & my having to go back to retrieve Ellie’s Hello Kitty.

Then lunch & a long session at the nearby huge children’s gym, which we all loved.

And before dinner: Messy Play!