Half term and a trip to Nanny Fran’s

A little belated, and nothing to do with the fact that this year is a little longer than the usual.  Normal service has resumed with a more traditional update, in contrast with the olympiad bissextus bonus of the previous post and Ezra’s pre-school inauguration prior to that.

So let me take you back a few weeks.  The first weekend of February saw the Bagnall family in the Bride valley at Berwick Manor celebrating Uncle Bill’s 70th birthday.  That was the weekend before half-term, hence we only spent the weekend in Puncknowle returning to Staines-upon-Thames on the Sunday evening for the girls still had four days of the first half of the first term of 2016 left.  But, I hear you cry, there are 5 days in a school week.  Yes, that is indeed correct except when an inset day is tagged to the start of a half term break.

We had decided, before the knowledge of the inset day, that we would take a journey north and visit Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz for that weekend.  The baguettes were excited, as they always are when visiting Nanny Fran, and when we asked them what they would like to do in West Bromwich there was a unanimous reply:  Funky Monkeys.  Funky Monkeys is UK wide company that provide indoor soft play areas for kids under 8, and as all kids (and some adults) our three love a soft play area.  Therefore, we decided that we would take advantage of the inset day and the extended half-term and visit Funky Monkeys on the Friday hoping that the schools in Sandwell had not decided likewise.

We arrived at Nanny Fran’s around lunchtime and after sating our appetite headed into the town centre.  Funky Monkeys is aimed at under eights but in addition there is also a height restriction of 4′ 5″ (135cm).  Now Éowyn may have only just turned 7 but she is barely an inch under the maximum height restriction, so this may be last time that she can legitimately go.  However, flat shoes and a slouch may help for at least another visit.

While the Baguettes were distracted in Funky Monkeys we left them under the watchful gaze of Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz and disappeared to book a big surprise for them, something that you dear readers will have to wait until December to find out yourselves.

The Bagnall five were not the only visitors to Nanny Fran’s.  There were two others in the car on the journey North, Nanny Fran’s grand-guinea pigs.  We didn’t really have anyone to look after Toffee and Frazzle while we were in West Bromwich, so we brought them with us.  It was nice for Nanny Fran to see them as it had been a couple of months and she could see how big that they had grown (and they are still growing!).

We only stayed at Nanny Fran’s for the weekend as I had a busy work week ahead of me and so did Lucinda.  Obviously, with Lucinda’s child-minding job requiring privacy for her clients, it is not discussed on this website, however I will mention that half-term saw Lucinda settle two new clients which when coupled with our children and the fact that I was at work made it a very busy week for her.  So when Amélie and then Éowyn were separately invited for playdates at friends’ houses, there wasn’t much of a decision to be made and the invitation was welcomed with open arms by Lucinda.

As regular readers will recall the return to school after the half-term break marked the start of Ezra’s education journey.  The UK government currently pay for all pre-school children to receive 15 hours of childcare per week.  They are entitled to this from the term after their third birthday.  With Ezra’s third birthday looming large on the horizon (next weekend to be exact) he will be entitled to this for the Summer term when the schools return after the Easter break.  Since Ezra has never been to school, to a childminder (for over a year) or indeed spent any amount of regular time away from Lucinda we have decided to use this half-term to ease him into the education system.

He has settled into Our Lady of the Rosary’s pre-school extremely quickly.  He is excited to go (and walks the entire way – which is a big step in itself) and doesn’t bat an eyelid when you leave him, he just finds the toys he wants to play with and starts playing.  The teachers have said that he has settled extremely well and just gets on with it.  Whenever you ask him about his day, he doesn’t really mention any of the other children or the teachers only that they have lovely toys.  At least he is happy and seemingly enjoying it.  He is only going for two mornings a week during this ‘easing-in’ period and so as a consequence it shouldn’t be too much for him, he shouldn’t get too tired but only time will tell if it will help and he will be ready for the ramp up to 15 hours after the Easter break.

Éowyn has started with an attitude to homework that we will need to change before it becomes a habit.  Her class had been learning about giraffes. Nothing too unusual about that, they often pick a subject and learn about it in-depth.  However, despite Lucinda and I both asking what she learned at school this week, giraffes were never mentioned.  As the week zoomed by without any warning at all it is nearly bedtime on Thursday when Éowyn informs us that she has to make a giraffe to take to school.  Thanks for the warning!

The combined creative juices of mum and dad sprung into action and we had a play.  A cardboard head and neck of giraffe using some packing materials from a recent delivery, some yellow paint and a sheet of brown wrapping paper.  The kitchen table, covered with newspaper, became the work bench and Éowyn’s bedtime was delayed.

An hour or two later and cardboard giraffe neck nearly 5 feet high was ready for school the next morning.  You can see the results of our handiwork can be seen in the photos below.  As you can appreciate it wasn’t the easiest of homework to carry to school on a blustery morning.

Thursday the following week was World Book Day and parents up and down the land were faced with the problem of acquiring a fancy dress costume.  Fortunately we have a large trunk of dressing up costumes and Amélie quite happily chose the Tinkerbell dress (and wings) for her character.

Éowyn was a little bit more creative.  She wanted to go dress as Summer Hammond from the Secret Kingdom series of books, and Starlight Adventure in particular.  The Secret Kingdom series introduces three girls: Summer, Jasmine and Ellie as a group of friends who find a magic box that teleports them to a fantasy land where they have magical adventures.  It is aimed at girls from around Éowyn’s age and a good way of encouraging girls to read for fun.

Éowyn looked through her wardrobe and put together an approximation of Summer’s outfit from the book’s cover.  I was proud of her being so original and not defaulting to wearing one of the many Disney princess dresses that we have or conforming to the social norms of the older kids and coming as one of the Harry Potter characters.

Again, however she left this homework to the last minute, not in the costume itself but a prop that she wanted to take.  If you look at Summer on the book’s cover (she is the one in the middle with the blonde hair – see the photo with Éowyn carrying the book if you don’t have it on your book shelf), she is carrying a golden lamp.  Fifteen minutes before we were due to leave for school she bemoaned the fact that we didn’t have a golden lamp for her to take.  Not sure where she expecting us to conjure one up from?  A five foot high giraffe is one thing and golden lamp is quite another.  As we said to her, if she had given us more notice we could have been creative and helped her make one but in this instance she would just have to go without.  As you can see it is a habit we are going to have to break.

With an early Easter looming that also means that there is an early Mother’s Day.  In the U.K. Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, therefore with Easter Sunday falling on 27th March in 2016 it means that Mother’s Day is today.  Lucinda and I would thus like to say Happy Mother’s day to our maters and to mothers everywhere.  With three children of our own it means that I am going to have a busy day off helping the Baguettes look after their mum!

I will leave you know with a few more photos than usual to make up for the lack of photos in the previous update.  As always there are more on the flickr pages.

Peace and Love