Friday, 23 May 2014

Under canvas

Well, sort of.

Hubby grew up camping on the Isle of Wight as a boy and has a strong and fervent love for all things tenty.  We camped a couple of times before we had children, but I was not convinced of its merits.  The idea of taking a baby or small children camping did not fill me with joy; in fact, I expected to need a holiday after my holiday should we go camping as a family.  Until the Anna was on the way, we didn't even take a regular holiday each year.  We both agree that there are some lovely holiday destinations in this country and I'm not a fan of flying anyway.  So we have taken a few holidays in England, staying in holiday cottages but the boy starts school in September and taking a family of five away in school holidays would break our bank.

Enter the idea of a tent.  Apparently you can camp in relative comfort without crossing over into "glamping".  So we went and bought a tent.  An enormous, 8 man, inflatable tent (I know, I know, but go check them out, they're pretty cool).  We bought the essentials (sleeping bags, campbeds, an airbed, camping chairs) and planned out a strategy.  I have some pre-requisites for the campsite; hot showers, flushing toilets, running water.  And there's no way on earth I'm heading out for a week under canvas with no run-up.

We tested the sleeping bags at my parents' house a couple of weeks ago.  Well, the children in their sleeping bags really.  And they did a great job.

This past weekend, we headed out for an overnight stay not too far from home.  We packed the car and tootled up to Derbyshire on a sunny Saturday morning.  We arrived just before midday and started to make camp.  The tent took about an hour to inflate and peg out (it might have been quicker if the children hadn't "helped").  We put out all our equipment and headed off to Matlock in search of a playground (Isaac's request).  We wandered through a park, took a ride on a mini-train and spent a lovely hour playing in the sunshine.

We headed to a pub for dinner and ate our amazing steaks out in the sunny garden.  We arrived back at our campsite around 7pm with three very tired children.  Both the bigs needed a shower, an interesting experience even on a modern, well-equipped campsite.  They went to bed reasonably easily that night and hubby & I enjoyed the peaceful summer evening with a bottle of something cold.  Isaac slept really well that night, Anna was up a half a dozen times with a cough and Samuel just wouldn't settle in his cot so slept in my arms.

The next morning we got up and ate porridge at a picnic table before packing up all our stuff for the journey home.  The tent itself is really easy to deflate, if a little tricky to pack up into its carrying bag.  We were ready to go by our midday deadline, which is surprising for us, we're never on time anywhere.

We visited Matlock Farm Park and ate lunch in their cafe.  They had the best 'snack plate' for the children; Isaac ate everything on his!  The playground and the bouncy castle were the biggest hits but when we dragged the children away, they loved the animals too.  I had the best time holding a baby bunny with first Anna and then Isaac.  Anna's so funny with animals; she's fascinated and enchanted, until they get within a foot of her, at which point she becomes terrified!!

Unsurprisingly, all three children fell asleep in the car on the way home.  Hubby and I needed a good rest but all in all, we had a brilliant time.  We're planning our next trip already, two nights this time, I'm getting braver!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Around our dining room table

One of the memories I want to leave my children is that of sitting around the table as a family, enjoying food and conversation together.  As with seemingly every other aspect of parenting, it turns out that modelling the behaviour you want your children to adopt is the best route to take.  So the best way to teach table manners, healthy food attitudes and good conversational skills is to display them on a regular basis.
Part of our weaning strategy (if you can call it that) is having the children sit at the table as part of the family.  It feels awkward at first, to try and make conversation with a toddler while still maintaining some semblence of order.  Every day we ask the same question and let that lead us into a conversation.  "How was your day?"
It feels daft to ask a toddler what they did that day and what their favourite part was.  Especially when you then use closed questions to get them to tell you something you already know.  "Tell Daddy what you saw in the carpark."
But it's paying off, because now, the three year old is asking us how our day was.  And the two year old copies her brother.  And we're actually having a conversation.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

On the 11th of May

You're in some brand-spanking new 3-6 month babygros (your cloth bum is too big for the slightly shrunken hand-me-downs you started the month in). You wear cloth nappies all day but disposable nappies overnight and when we go away.
You've learned to hold toys in your fists and pass from one hand to another. You bring everything to your mouth to be chewed! You've found your feet! You like to fiddle with your toes. You happily play on the floor or in your chair.
You've started arching your back and twisting so you'll be rolling soon. You pull yourself forward to sit up and you love to stand up. You're not so sure about tummy time but you'll tolerate it for longer than your siblings ever did! You've started to pull yourself forward to sit up.
You smile and laugh at funny noises, singing and being thrown around. You have found your voice; cooing, burbling and shrieking! You sleep in the car, but not every time any more. You still don't have a daily routine but you sleep well overnight with only one night feed. You settle down happily for your naps and nighttime sleep.  We know you're tired when you start rubbing your eyes or yawning.
You've found your thumb! You feed well but have started getting distracted and looking up at me to smile. You still have horrid wind and spit up after most feeds. You weighed 15lb 7oz at your four month check. You've had your first two sets of immunisations. You have another snotty cold.
You are a happy, smiley sociable baby.  You'll go to strangers without even blinking.  You find your brother fascinating and hilarious.  You find your sister slightly scary.