Monday, 30 April 2012

More fun on the swing

What with all the grotty rain we've been having it's just as well we have a decent sized inside space for C to burn off some energy.  C is going through her gross motor development phase, hence her twisting her body in the most unusual poses and NEVER keeping still until she crashes for a nap.  Yep, I can see all you "toddler owners" nodding in recognition.  So, what to do for someone who wants to use her growing muscles? Give her physical challenges of course.

The platform swing was the first swing we put up - just using IKEA swing brackets and a homemade platform.  It was a huge hit initially but to keep the swing 'fresh' we more recently swapped the platform swing for a "normal" swing.  C can sit on it but can't swing it herself yet - unless she is on her tummy, then she becomes fearless!

Just to add to the fun I suggested painting whilst swinging (the girl LOVES painting!).  As you can see in the vid it was a huge hit (playing in the roll of paper as much as the painting) and yes, she did get green hair.

We've also got a rope ladder and a set of rings waiting on top of the cupboard for as she gets stronger.  But TODAY - this morning in fact - C has reached another milestone - she has discovered how to do forward rolls.  I was just as excited as she was, but I was also a bit wary as she then insisted on doing them on the bed but doesn't have the spacial awareness not to fall off!  I'm looking at the still on the last video and she actually looks poised to do a forward roll, so I imagine the swing will be used for 'forward-rolling-over' before too long!

Thursday, 26 April 2012


A certain 2 year old has decided that we need a few little finishing touches around the place.

Our oak floor was so passe; the dining table needed a shabby chic effect; and well a girl has to decorate her own house too - so the postman knows where to call of course.  Confused?  Let me elucidate...STICKERS.  They are bloomimg everywhere!  I did draw the line at the wall - not physically of course, we mustn't draw on walls - but as Grandad quite likes the new additions they will stay for the time being.

One end of the dining table

T'other end of the dining table...

On the floor...

"Butterfly House"

The last pic is actually C's current 'playhouse', a C-sized cardboard box with a bubblewrap flappy front door.  We have another HUGE box in the adjoining room which has been fashioned like a post box i.e. has a slit cut in the front and a flap at the back.  The 'postman' (sometimes me, sometimes C) collects the parcels (empty boxes - one of which is on the roof of the house) which have been posted in the postbox and delivers them to the 'Butterfly House' - so named because of the butterfly sticker.  The game was a great hit until we hit a sticky patch - C was happy to take her turn to be postman but I wasn't allowed to wait in her house!

And to think the Post Office/postman interest came about from something as simple, and clearly 2-year-old-unforgettable, as an ice lolly.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Pio Pio Pio

Los pollitos dicen
Pío, pío, pío
Cuando tienen hambre
Cuando tienen frío.

La gallina busca
El maíz y el trigo
Les da la comida
Y les busca abrigo.

Bajo sus dos alas
Se están quietecitos
Y hasta el otro día
Duermen los pollitos.


The chicks say
Pio, pio, pio
When they're hungry
When they're cold.

The hen looks for
Corn and wheat
She gives them food
And seeks shelter for them.

Under her two wings
They stay very still
And till the next day
The chicks sleep. 

This was C's favourite song for a long time (my mother is South American and sings it significantly better than I do - but C doesn't know how rubbish my accent is!).  So all chicks and chickens are "pio-pio" and cockerels are "cock-rels".

Every morning C and Grandad let the chickens out; feed them; water them and collect eggs (although they lay nearer to midday, are ours particularly lazy?)  Although rehoming the ex-batts has a definite feel-good factor, they are rubbish layers and quite cantankerous.

We look after the chickens

A gentle Orpington face!
Last year we decided we needed more layers as we had lost a couple of our ex-batt girls (no, we didn't eat them) and I wanted some pure bred Buff Orpingtons.  Buff Orpingtons, or Borps as I call them, look so cuddly and have a reputation for being very gentle and friendly - even the cockerels.

Friendliness is a big consideration when one has a small child - we do not tolerate any aggressive shenanigans as the roos in the freezer would tell you if they could...Brutus behaves himself and although he doesn't exactly jump up onto your lap for a cuddle, he is very respectful even if you are a short person who is digging mud pies near his ladies.   Obviously it goes without saying that we would never wholly trust Brutus - or the dogs (except Teeny Weeny, who is a very *special* dog) with C.

Two weeks left
Of the six Borp eggs we incubated last year, for some inexplicable reason 3 were 'dead in shell' and the 3 surviving chicks turned out to be cockerels.  So we are trying again this year.  We set the eggs last week and when C noticed the incubator I explained it was for the eggs to hatch out chicks.   This time I set them at midday, rather than midnight, so C should be awake when they start to pip.

We have just candled them - using a cardboard box and a Gorilla light and all six are fertile!  Only a looonnngggg two weeks waiting left.

Last year's chick

Homemade candler

Saturday, 21 April 2012

One of those days

Yesterday was an overwhelming "too much" day.

Too much washing to do.
Floors too dirty.
Too many beds to change (although there are only two!).
Too many dishes to put away.
Too much hoovering to do.
Too much dust EVERYWHERE.

So what did we do?  Went out of course! Teeny weeny aka Scarlett doesn't really do 'cycling' so we had to go really slowly for her - which drew no complaints from me.

A leisurely cycle from home through the fields and puddles to the Post Office; buy an ice lolly; and a steady cycle back home, just 'being'.

The perfect antidote to a "too much day".

Through the puddles Nanny!  ALL of them.

Taken on the move on a mobile :)
GMG Bike seat which we LOVE

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Tummy swings

A month or so ago we installed a swing in our utility/art room.  The inspiration came from this site and it was one of the best ideas I have nicked.

We have a few different attachments for it (the ceiling hooks came from IKEA); the first one we put up was the platform swing:

And more recently we have put up just a normal wraparound swing.  Although she can sit and balance in it (and move it with her feet) she prefers to lay on it tummy down and using hands and feet turn round and round until the ropes are wound up tight...then with arms and legs in the air it's 'lift off!', or to be more accurate, 'spin round'.

Yesterday C thought up a new game...trying to pick up whatever was on the floor that she could swing to within range - and as Grandad was putting shelves up that was quite a lot of stuff to choose from.  The game took a giggly, up-tempo turn when C grabbed Blossom-dog's cuddly toy.  Dog and child wrestled; tussled; and spun.   C on her tummy on the swing and Blossom trying to catch - and keep hold of 'her' teddy.

Dropped the tape measure and I have Bobo's (Blossom) teddy!

Chucklin' an' a chasin'

Come closer Bobo...

It's MINE - she's all 2 year old :)

 I would love to say that littlle game tired both dog and baby out for real...but no such luck!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Grandad's little helper

Ever since C was a tiny babe in arms we have Grandad has had jobs to do around the house.  Some are new ones which I create on a daily basis; and others have just - hmmmm how to put it - 'lingered on'.  He would say the trouble with being a resident carpenter is that your lovely wife feels she can legitimately ask you to do things/change things, because you have the necessary skills to do so; whilst I would say the trouble with having a carpenter for a lovely husband is that...let's just say 'cobbler's children go unshod'.  Naturally in the interest of marital bliss, we are both right.

Anyway, the point being that it is no surprise that ever since C was able to, she has been Grandad's little helper, not only in the garden; and baking, but in DIY stuff too. 

1 year - Our dumpling with her hammer
She has 'helped' put together more IKEA units than she has had bottles, but the concentrated look she has here was her determination to completely break open the dowel hole with the screwdriver.  Not that Grandad cared about that, he was just pleased that she was holding the screwdriver correctly...

Who am I to interfere?

She also helped to plumb in her little bathroom sink....

 ...and today helped to put some shelves up in the utility room.  Quite the dab hand at marking the walls with pencil (like Grandad does) and I love the improvised pencil holder...probably only until she learns to tuck it behind her ear.  Like Grandad.  No, LOVE Grandad. 


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Being a kinship carer

I am aware that I very rarely speak about actually being a kinship carer, partially because I feel it would be disloyal to my daughter and partially because it is dull reading for anyone not in our position.  But there was a news article concerning the rise in care applications reported today by the BBC that I feel qualified to comment on.  I quickly scanned through for the salient points:

  • Chief executive of Cafcass, Anthony Douglas, said this was the first time care demand figures had broken the 10,000 mark over a 12 month period.
  • Cathy Ashley, chief executive of the Family Rights Group said: "The care system is really struggling to cope with the rising numbers of care order applications..."
  • Ms Ashley called for more to be done early on to help members of children's wider families, for instance older siblings and grandparents, to take on the raising of children unable to live with their parents.

I don't know about anyone's else experience, because I very rarely meet other nans who are bringing up their grandchildren, but I can comment on our experience.  Let's just say that Childrens Services and CAFCASS (excluding our lovely social worker Louise who wrote the final court report for us) really don't give two hoots about where a child is placed UNLESS it looks like a placement might break down and thereby cost them money.  For example when C came to us at 12ish weeks, emergency social workers verified our identity and her safety OVER THE PHONE (our daughter was in hospital at the time); deigned to visit a few weeks later - although goodness knows what could have happened to C within those few weeks if we had been 'another' kind of person - then promptly washed their hands of their responsibility.

At this point, for me, there was internal conflict: whilst you WANT Childrens Services to go away and let you take care of your daughter and grand-daughter; you are also aware that down the road a foster carer is being paid on average an allowance of £350 a week (in some cases, much more).  Whilst I don't begrudge genuine foster carers a single penny that they receive, one has to ask does it REALLY cost foster carers that much more than kinship carers to bring up a child?  Also, as incentives increase with the increasing number of children needing care, aren't Children's Services (and private fostering agencies) in danger of placing children in homes where the income is more important than the needs of the child?  Ergo,the obvious place to look for foster carers would be within the family (although I accept that 'family' can often mean little more than shared DNA!).

Children's Services would argue that is what they currently do.  What they don't say it that they scare you and bombard you with horror stories and legal jargon to send you down a route, the residency order route, which gets you out of their hair and 'off their books' as soon as possible.  They are worried that for as long as you don't take this route, they are still responsible for the child and that may cost them money.  Money they pay to foster carers.  But why do foster carers within the family, "kinship carers", like us, not get a penny?  If you have the energy to fight Children's Services; and if you can afford a solicitor; and if you are lucky, then you MAY get a discretionary means-tested payment, although this varies from authority to authority.

Of course, family is family and a large part of me thinks: why should I get an allowance from the state to look after one of my own?  But then the other part of me replies: actually, children aren't cheap and when one has not planned to have them; had to make huge life changes to accommodate them (financial and otherwise); and has actually saved the local authority from a huge foster care bill; then why is an "allowance" so unreasonable?  Is what I am doing different to what a foster carer does, even though I do it with limitless love and a life-long commitment?  Who in their right mind would choose to trade being a grandparent for a weekly allowance?

Maybe the government will have a rethink and give kinship carers the recognition they deserve.  Pah, maybe they won't.  You know what?  The truth is that I really don't care.  The only recognition I need is from a little curly-haired girl.  The same little girl who sticks stickers on my eyes; offers to kiss me better when I hurt myself; and insists on endless renditions of "row row row your boat".  I completely adore her and that's all the recognition I need.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


C's current favourite word.  Pic-a-nic.  We have had them in the summer house; on the deck; in the lounge (usually out of bounds for food hence this) and now more recently on one horrible, cold and rainy day, here:

Yes, C banged her head a few times whilst going to get supplies and yes, Nanny did have to spray muscle relaxant on Grandad's twisted shoulder and neck the next day.  But apparently it was worth it.  I didn't get an invite because I was tucked up in bed riddled with cold, but I couldn't resist nabbing just one photo.

Good old Grandad.

Monday, 9 April 2012

From the mouth of babes

Me to C:  Have you seen the ants on the floor in the living room?

C trundles off to the lounge then back to me.

Me to C:  Did you see them?

C: Yes

Me: What did they look like?

C: Ants.

Ask a stupid question!

Happy Spring

More chocolate!

Lesson in how to open an Easter Egg
There's something inside
We had a lovely celebration. We aren't religious - and getting less so the older we get - so we have decided to celebrate "Happy Spring". Next year I will get organised enough to have a yellow cloth for our dinner table and some nice "Springy" decorations (floral not metal - cheap joke. Sorry.) And of course egg-things.

Talking about egg-things, we are suddenly inundated with eggs; JUST as I have found some great crafty eggy projects and Spring/Easter is now over.  I'm sure anyone with chickens will agree when I say it is astonishing how you can go from planning how to best to use your last egg - not knowing when the next will come - to being 'egg city', within a blink of an eye.

It was very rainy and horrible here today so we decided to do C a little egg hunt in the house instead of outside as planned. Whilst she was asleep we put a couple of foil covered mini eggs inside partially blown up balloons and 'hid' them around the house, of course some of the balloons were empty.

When C 'found' a balloon (and after vigourous shaking) she popped the balloon with scissors to get out the eggs.  We did about 6 balloons in total and as many little eggs.  Great fun and definitely one to repeat next year.

 All in all it's been a chocolatey; rabbity; lazy; kind of a day - as you can see from the photos.  I suppose I should have made more effort to tidy C up for the photos but the child will insist on going out without shoes on; rolling around on the floor with the dogs; and brushing her hair herself (I do the knots on special occasions).  Anyway, what harm's a bit of mud; dirt; and chocolate when you're 2.

Easter Bunny