Not my photo, but it’s the best one of the 2 boys from this week. Now that we live in Birmingham, Grandad has every excuse to buy the boys Birmingham City FC goodies, including these kids kits. A little big, but they’ll soon grow into them.
I’m sure there must have been more funees this week, but with everything going on with the new house and my business seems to be booming, I’m surprised I’ve had enough time to jot down any of them at all!
For some reason, Andrew has been going on about playing with “fighting arrows” at Grandma and Pop’s house. I have no idea where this has come from. From what I’ve managed to get out of him, the “fighting arrows” are basically Robin Hood style arrows, as in bow and arrow arrows, probably because Granny bought the Disney’s Robin Hood DVD and he’s watched it a couple of times. I don’t think we played with them at Grandma and Pop’s house last time we went (which would have been Christmas, it’s a long way away), but maybe he remembers something that my adult brain doesn’t?
Every 2 weeks, there are a pair of gardeners that come and do the garden at Granny and Grandad’s house – they mow the lawn and generally tidy it up. Normally they come around lunchtime, but last week they came a bit later and the 2 of us were sitting resting in front of a DVD whilst Joel was napping. Andrew saw their van out on the drive as he went to fetch a toy from the dining room at the front. He came back in and said excitedly: “The gardeners are in the car park of the house!” I guess that’s what it is really – there are 3 cars there at the moment, which is quite a lot for one house.
Another day, we were playing out in the garden after Joel’s nap, as we do most days at the moment. There is a small wooden hut beneath the branches of the magnolia tree which used to be used by our dog as a kennel when she was alive, but now it’s used as a toy storage hut. Andrew was standing inside it, at the door, peering out across the lawn at Joel and me. He was grinning, and suddenly shouted out: “It’s alright Joel, you can come in, there’s no fire alarm!” I thought we hadn’t had many fire alarm references recently – about a year ago all the wot so funee? posts I wrote contained a fire alarm reference!
Then there was a conversation that Andrew and I had one day about the new house, which is finally looking promising for us to move in at the end of this month. It went like this…
A: When we live in our new house, I want a book bed!
Me: What’s a book bed?
A: It’s a sort of double bed with ladders, I go on top and Joel goes on the bottom.
Me: Ah brilliant, a BUNK bed I think you mean!
A: Yes that’s right, a bunk bed please [cheeky grin].
I don’t think it’d be wise to have a bunk bed just yet, but if they still want one once Joel is in a bed and not his cot, then we can think about it. Daddy says there are pros and cons to sharing a bunk bed with your brother.
We have a bit of a bench theme going on this week. Andrew was fascinated by the bar-stool-height bench that we found at the park the other day, and Joel poses with his broom in front of the garden bench – he loves to have a good sweep, even if there’s nothing in particular to sweep up, and in fact when there is something to sweep up (like his food thrown all over the floor), he scarpers!
After quite a few weeks of blogging about our out and about adventures for Country Kids, I thought it would be good to do another garden fun post, especially because this week I have really appreciated the fact that we now have a garden (admittedly this particular one is temporary, but we do have one at our new house too). The first two days of this week were very showery, so the garden was the perfect place to be in the afternoons after nap because we could just nip back in again or shelter under the gazebo if the rain got too heavy for a little while, then go back out again when it stopped. Wednesday afternoon I realised just how much we appreciate going in the garden – a case of you don’t know just what you’ve got til it’s gone – because it was absolutely pouring with rain the whole afternoon and even the boys didn’t want to go out in that, so got very wound up inside, and trying to entertain a 3 year old and 19 month old with the same indoor activity for a few hours is tricky. So now I am so grateful when we can just open the door and get out in the garden.
One of Andrew’s favourite role play games at the moment is to pre tent to be an ice cream seller. He stands behind his kitchen and shouts out “Anybody want an ice cream?” loudly and repeatedly until someone takes him up on the offer. He then takes a shuttlecock for the cone, and various coloured balls act as ice cream scoops of different flavours. Recently his ice cream business has branched out into toasties – white discs that go in the giant connect-4 game which come apart and he can sandwich some knid of filling inside for you. In these pictures, Joel was also joining in with this game, even if he didn’t realise it: Andrew said he was doing the washing up, which is fair enough because he was standing by the sink.
The slide that Andrew got for his birthday in the winter and which will come with us to our new house rather than staying at Granny and Grandad’s house when we move is always popular with both boys, even though it says from age 2 – things like that don’t bother kamikaze Joel. Recently Andrew has taken to going up the ladder behind Joel and making them do a “doubler”, that is slide down the slide together, Joel at the front and Andrew at the back. They both seem to like it, even if it does take Joel by surprise sometimes. They both like sliding down it in the most unconventional ways too, like Joel has on his front in the bottom right picture here.
The seesaw is also popular, even if not always as a seesaw. Joel likes turning it on its side and climbing over it like it’s a climbing frame! Andrew likes it when I get on too.
A popular game this week has been the junior putting golf set that Great Grandma bought for them last week. Here you see them using a rather large bouncy ball rather than a small plastic golf ball, which was hilarious to watch! They did do a pretty good job at sharing it though, which isn’t always the case these days, though it does help that we have (at least) 2 clubs. Andrew got more annoyed with the wind than with Joel, as it kept blowing the green strip up until we weighed it down.
Andrew is still not really into doing much drawing or painting – he’ll happily cut and stick but he’s not so fussed about colouring with crayons or paint. But I thought it would be a good idea to try and encourage him to do a bit more by getting the paints and his easel outside. He had a bit of a go this week and painted a penny farthing (the orange picture) and a rocket (the purple picture), two of his favourite vehicles. Joel was eager to get at the paints, but I only had enough pairs of hands to supervise one lot of painting at a time, and by the time Andrew was finished, Joel wasn’t bothered and was off playing in the garden. In general Joel has shown more interest in colouring and painting when we’re at groups than Andrew has. I’m interested to see if Andrew becomes more interested in these things once he goes to pre-school in September.
Linking up our garden fun with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog
A couple of snaps from the garden this week. Joel is determined to climb on any chair he can lay his hands on at the moment, so he needs extra close supervision out in the garden on the patio. As I wrote on Tuesday in this week’s wot so funee? post, Andrew loves wearing no clothes, so he’s been enjoying the warm weather as he can go outside and be free to run around as he likes. He doesn’t mind wearing a sun hat or two though!
Despite being not very well this week, we’ve had to get out and about even if in the garden or just down the road, because otherwise the boys (and I!) go insane inside the same four walls all the time. These pictures show them doing what they like best: getting wet and muddy! Oh and getting into mischief – Joel has taken too much of a liking to the daffs and has tried to pull the flowers off (they’re getting a bit past it now anyway).
So far my wot so funee? posts have mainly featured Andrew, eldest brother of two. This week, a particular interaction between him and younger brother Joel made me laugh out loud, even though Andrew didn’t find it particularly funny. Like a nice and kind big brother, Andrew offered Joel a mini cheddar biscuit from his packet. That was cute. Then things got cuter when he even offered to put it into Joel’s mouth for him. However, the cuteness faded when Joel took a chunk out of not only the biscuit, but also Andrew’s finger! Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Andrew looked at me, lip wobbling and said: “Joel bit me!” Luckily he didn’t actually cry, so it can’t have been that bad. But it was just the face that said it all – why?? If you stick your fingers in a 16 month old’s mouth, you won’t come out unscathed!
Moving on to a different kind of food – one you don’t have to bite: ice cream. We had this as a yummy treat for pudding the other day, and when asked which flavour he’d like out of vanilla or ginger (it was fancy stuff!), his reply was: “I’d like miller”. Once again Andrew demonstrating perfectly a phenomenon common to English-learning kids: picking up the stressed syllable (and the one after it) but not the preceding unstressed syllable – so he heard ‘nilla > miller.
Apart from ice cream, Andrew loves bananas. A taste he shares with Daddy but not me. He was eating one the other day, and Grandad thought he would be funny and call Andrew a monkey, joking at the fact that he was eating a banana. But this didn’t go down too well… “I’m not a monkey [sad face]….I’m a rocket!” See, it always has to come back to rockets. And there was us all thinking he was a boy.
I’m sure Andrew isn’t the only 3 year old who is easily pleased. There are several things in life that make him happy, and none of them or very expensive or complicated. For example, the other day when we were driving along, he randomly came out with: “Windy things make me happy!” After a little more probing, it turns out he was talking about windmills, probably the kind that we had on our balcony in bright colours. No idea where that came from!
Another thing that makes him happy is playing for endless hours in the garden – or the “ball garden” as he calls it (Granny and Grandad’s garden where we are currently living). One afternoon we were playing out there, and Andrew was waving a plastic golf club in the air. To try and encourage him to bring it down to a height that didn’t risk a disaster involving the club whacking Joel in the face, I took it off him and started to use it like a hockey stick to move a small ball along the grass…
Me: “Come on, let’s play hockey Andrew!”
Andrew: “No Mummy, don’t be silly, that’s not cocky, it’s golf!”
And to end on a similar note to where I began this post, we have another cute exchange between the brothers, overheard on the monitor one morning. Since the mornings have got lighter, we have reinstalled our lighting system – a cheaper version of a Gro-clock type thing, made from an ordinary lamp and a timer switch. When it’s off, it’s time to sleep, and when it comes on (at 7am), he is allowed to get up and go into Granny and Grandad’s room. But the thing is, there’s one rule for him, and one rule for little brother, who hasn’t understood the idea of the magic light and crescendos once he’s woken up until I go in and fish him out of their room. At about 6.30am I heard this: “No Joel, the light hasn’t come on yet, it’s not time to get up, we must sleep!” Nice try Andrew, I wish it was that easy to reason with your little brother.
There are many reasons why we are enjoying living at Granny and Grandad’s house temporarily. One of these is the fact that they have a nice garden with lots of space to play. Having come from a flat, though we were lucky enough to have almost sole use of the communal garden there, it’s a real luxury just to be able to open the door and run out to play, knowing that the boys are fully enclosed. With the weather being so rubbish this week, and us being ill at the start of the week, it’s been good just to be able to get out between showers without going too far and getting drenched.
The boys’ main point of interest this week and last has been the slide that Andrew got for his birthday. I know they like slides at the park, but I guess with other equipment there the fun gets spread around, whereas in the garden this is THE thing to climb on! (They haven’t taken to climbing the trees…yet!) I love how kids like nothing better than repetition – somehow doing the same thing over and over again entertains them for hours. Andrew can of course do it entirely unaided, and how dare I offer to help! Going down on your bottom forwards is for wimps, so instead we see all angles attempted, though some (like head first on tummy) he’s discovered aren’t too comfortable. Joel tries to do the whole slide thing himself, and has a good go, but as it’s really meant for 2-6 year olds, the steps are quite big for him, and an arm stretched out to Mummy appears. He’s not afraid of the relatively steep drop for his size though, and laughs as he whooshes down.
Although the slide is brand new, the older garden toys still get a look in. Joel is particularly fond of the seesaw, probably because it’s just the right height for him to get on and off himself, which isn’t the case at the park. What you see behind the seesaw in the pictures just below is a Little Tikes toy kitchen – there’s a bit of a story behind how we acquired this… Granny and Grandad were walking down the road near to home one day and spotted this kitchen in a skip on the drive of a house. It looked in perfect working order, if a little grubby, so they knocked on the door and asked politely if there was any chance they could have it. The man at the door said of course they could, it used to be for their grandchildren but they have now grown up, and he even offered to drop it round to our house in his van! So with a bit of a clean up with the hose, it’s now got a new home to get loved by another set of grandchildren, who love playing with (toy) kitchens. Those are the pots and pans that came with it scattered on the grass. A good bit of recycling that would otherwise have ended up at the tip.
Talking of recycling, the boys are always fascinated by cardboard boxes and other such ‘interesting’ bits of rubbish. The slide came in a big box, which when flattened out on the grass became a ‘trampoline’ for a while. They had great fun jumping up and down on it, rolling balls over it and generally treating it like a toy rather than something to go in the recycling box. It’s amazing how far a little imagination can go when it comes to cardboard!
It’s particularly good to have an enclosed space outdoors for Joel, because he is surprisingly fast for his age and I find I need eyes in the back of my head when out with the two of them on my own at the park. Of course he can still get into mischief in the garden – like when he takes an interest in the compost bins (pictured bottom right below) – but generally it’s a pretty child proof environment. On this particular day he was getting tired towards the end of our play outside, so at one point just lay down on the grass and kicked his legs in the air – pity he never adopts this pose when I’m actually trying to change his nappy rather than running off immediately!
Another of Andrew’s favourite ‘toys’ that isn’t a toy is the water butt and watering can combo. Ever since he learned how to get water out of the tap on the butt, he’s keen to water the plants at every opportunity, even if they clearly don’t need watering (he obviously hasn’t realised how much rain we’ve had recently!) But despite the fact that he didn’t really need to water the garden, it was alright to be emptying some water from the butt, because there was a blockage at some point between the two butts (one doesn’t have a tap on so just flows into the other, if all is well) and Grandad needed us to get rid of a bit of water so he could investigate. So we filled a few watering cans and poured them onto the garden or then down the drain once the plants were well and truly saturated. Andrew took charge, showing Joel how it’s done.
No post about garden fun could be complete without a word on the various forms of food and drink that are on offer for local wildlife, mainly birds, though squirrels get their oar in too, and Grandad has created a ‘hedgehog home’ out of scraps of tree and other foliage at the back of the garden (which you can just about make out in the bottom left picture below).Andrew is often intrigued by the nut holders and other equipment that is rigged up on the lawn, and likes to help Grandad mend it and top up the food/water when necessary. There’s even a tray on the lawn at their height for putting food out like scraps of bread and fat (pictured on the top left). I could write a whole post about bird watching with kids in this garden, or better still get Grandad to write it – he blogs at Garden Twitter.
Although it’s been cold and wet recently, we’ve still had fun togged up in the garden whenever we can, and now the evenings are getting noticeably lighter, it’s so positive to be able to get out even after afternoon naps for an hour or so. Roll on spring! We’re also looking forward to having a garden at our new house, where the new slide will live and where I’m sure we’ll have many more good outdoor times to come.
I’m linking up with the fabulous Coombe Mill blog for #CountryKids again this week.
In case you missed my recent posts, or haven’t seen me for a while, we’re in the process of moving from Cambridge to Birmingham. One of our reasons for moving to a more affordable city is that we can buy a house with a garden instead of our current flat. I would love to be able to open the back door and let the boys out to play, because they love being outdoors running off energy. Having said that, we do have a very nice communal garden that we share with the other 7 flats, and as none of them have children, we’re the only ones who are ever out there playing in it. But we do all have to go out and come in together because it’s not completely fenced off, and we can’t just pop back in easily if one of us needs to fetch something or go to the loo, for example.
One morning this week we hadn’t got any particular plans, and I asked Andrew what he wanted to do. His answer was to go in the garden, so we did! I knew that Joel would want (or rather need) to nap at some point after another of his spectacularly early starts, so I wore him on my back and wrapped us all up warm. He did eventually drop off, after watching Andrew run around a bit first.
It was lovely to spend a couple of hours playing and bike riding, and I took some pictures to remind us how great this space has been. It’s nothing fancy, but the gravel circle in the centre has provided hours of entertainment over the few years we’ve been here – digging, hiding balls and other bits in it, crunching it and swishing it with our feet, kicking balls on it (and inevitably kicking gravel too!), walking/running around the brick border, making letters/numbers/patterns with the stones on the bricks… and much more!
There are also a couple of man holes that Andrew often stands, jumps and dances on; it’s a bit like being on some kind of podium! The grass is of course great for running around on, or riding a bike on, though he prefers using the large and quiet drive in front of the flats as his bike riding territory. Talking of bikes, for a while there have been a couple of ornamental metal bikes in the garden (I think a couple of ex-residents left them when they moved out and they used to be on their balcony) – Andrew thinks these are hilarious, and loves to put his bouncy balls in the basket on one of the bikes and ‘ride’ it around, or rather drag the bike around whilst walking with it under his legs.
Whenever we go out in the garden (or to a park), there is one rule that cannot be broken: we must take balls with us! These can be bouncy balls, footballs, tennis balls, fluffy balls – whatever balls we have that are easily find-able at the time of departure. If any children do come and live in these flats at some point, they will probably end up finding some balls lodged underneath fences, balconies, bushes etc., as I’m sure we don’t have nearly as many as we should do anymore. Andrew loves hiding small balls in the gravel, kicking any balls around the grass, and trying to throw one or two before I catch him and suggest that we save that for the park as there are too many windows in sight.
At just less than 3 years old, Andrew just about understands the classic game of hide and seek. There are only a couple of good hiding places, most notably a long thin passage to the side of the block of flats where it doesn’t quite meet the fence – perfect size for a toddler hider. The other popular place to hide is behind the bins, but more because he knows I won’t come too near due to the smell, which doesn’t bother him apparently!
We’ve had a lot of fun in this shared garden since the boys were born, and we have some good memories of outdoor fun very close to home in this period of our lives. Water balloons and gardening are two other blog posts that spring to mind. But looking forward to next year, we’re also excited to be searching for a house with our very own garden, and thinking about all the fun that we can have when it belongs to us 🙂
I’m linking up with the amazing Country Kids linky again – I’ve not been so consistent at linking for the past month or so since we found out we’re moving, but I hope to be joining in again more often in the new year.
Before I knew I was pregnant with Andrew, we were looking to buy a flat in Cambridge. The week after we paid a reserve deposit on a newly built flat in a great location within walking distance from the city centre (about 30 minutes), a pregnancy test showed up positive. I’m not sure knowing this earlier would have affected our decision – with property prices being so high around here we wouldn’t have afforded anywhere bigger within the city – but one thing I was slightly concerned about was that we had no garden of our own for a small child to have fun in. But there is a communal garden, which we do use quite a lot to play in, and there are a few local parks only a short walk away, and we have a balcony, which isn’t a bad size. It’s on this balcony that we’ve had fun with gardening recently – and I like to think that our situation is proof that you don’t need a big garden to have gardening fun with a toddler!
Over the nearly 3 years that we’ve been here, we’ve managed to grow more and more food on our balcony. It first started off with a couple of tomato plants; this year we have four tomato plants in big (faded) red planter bags, several runner bean plants (some in a planter bag and some in a tub hanging over the balcony rail), strawberries, various herbs, radishes, onions, carrots and lettuces (all in tubs hanging over the balcony rail). We also have some sunflowers, but they’ve had to come in as a slug ate one of them. I have to say that it’s really Granny who’s taken the lead on this, bringing seeds and plants as she’s sorted out some for her own garden. I’m not naturally the most green fingered person, but Tom enjoys watering and tending to plants, and now he has a helper in the form of Andrew!
So when I heard about the BritMums Kids Grow Wild challenge, through which we could grab ourselves a Little Pals gardening set, I knew this would be perfect for Andrew who is keen to help with the gardening. Unfortunately it didn’t arrive in time for Granny’s visit when she and Andrew did the actual planting into tubs of the seeds and plants that she had prepared for us, but Andrew has still has lots of fun watering every day with his very own watering can, and putting on the gloves as he inspects how the plants are doing (rather heavy handedly at times!)
The set comprises a bag with the perfect sized carry handles for little hands, a proper metal watering can, trowel and garden fork, a small pair of gardening gloves and some seeds. Andrew is very impressed, and often plays with the bag and gloves even when not gardening! We’ve left the trowel and fork outside in the high tubs out of his reach, as he’s only allowed to use them with our supervision – they are really very sturdy, and knowing him he’s probably do some serious damage if left to his own devices.
When Granny came with all her stuff, Andrew was very interested in helping her plant seeds and transfer plants to our tubs. I’m glad that he’s learning from an early age about how plants start off from seeds and grow. He didn’t quite get it at first that you have to wait and watch as they grow slowly – he expected them to grow immediately like on the Waybuloo app on Grandad’s iPad! But now he’s slowly realising, I think, that they are gradually growing and we have to wait before we can eat things from them. He keeps saying that he wants a bean when they are ready. Every evening when Daddy comes in from work, they go out on the balcony together and water the plants, each with their own watering can. Next year we can use the seeds that came in the Little Pals set, or maybe we can squeeze another tub onto the balcony this year, we’ll see!
How big is your garden? Hopefully this post will inspire anyone who thinks that their garden (or equivalent!) is too small to do much with – it is possible to have gardening fun, especially if you’re 2 years old! I’ll leave you with a video of us (well actually me: Andrew got camera shy) singing ‘I dig my garden’ – one of Andrew’s favourite songs to sing at the moment (when he doesn’t think anyone is listening/filming); he also recounts how he dug with Granny and Grandad, and shows his enthusiasm for his little fork 🙂
This post is an entry for the BritMums #KidsGrowWild Challenge – more details at Moneysupermarket.com
The Little Pals set was sent to us free of charge. All views expressed are honest and our own based on our experience of using the set.
I’m also linking up to #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill’s blog.