Gentler Days

I name this post gentler days because of the slower pace of life we have all been forced to take. I’m finding sticking to a schedule, albeit a looser one, is helping us to pass the days, and even enjoy the unique gifts they bring with them

Yesterday, we started the day with some exercise and outdoor time to increase the chances of my children sitting still for schoolwork 🙂 We did some of the girls’ yoga for kids and had a dance party to my  records in the living room 🙂 They played outside on their bikes for a while so I could sit at the garden table with a cup of coffee and gather my thoughts 🙂 With the onslaught of questions, it doesn’t really work, but I still try 🙂 The girls practised skipping and played with their bubble guns and I noticed that our tulips are close to coming out to cheer up our garden 🙂

My older daughter practised her spellings for the week by making the letters with play dough. It turned into a play dough session with my other daughter making me “pancakes” with various toppings 🙂 My older daughter had a reading activity about a kangaroo, so we ended up making play dough kangaroo families 🙂 I find that interspersing schoolwork with play related to it in some way increases their concentration. I like the fact my daughter made hats for the kangaroos too 🙂 We visited the national geographic website for kids and read some facts about kangaroos. I didn’t know that the baby ones are the size of a grape and that they can jump 9 metres. The girls tried to recreate that in our hallway 🙂

My friend had sent us a scavenger hunt you can complete with kids around the house. They enjoyed racing off to find the essential objects and proudly showing me what creative choices they’d come up with 🙂

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We made some more flatbreads for lunch and the girls helped me with the mixing. I think I’ve discovered my new addiction and probably won’t buy flatbreads from the shop again 🙂 I made what the girls called “snacky lunch“, where I set finger food out and they help themselves. I dug out some miniature cups I have that I’d forgotten for the girls to use. They liked having their own little tea cups and it felt like a tea party 🙂

Today, we started the day with outside time in the garden again, as well as dancing and kids’ yoga. We filled up a bird feeder to try and attract more birds to our garden. I’ve noticed a robin and some blackbirds making frequent visits the last few days, and the girls show an interest in them too.

One of my daughter’s school activities was to write a book review of her favourite book, so I adapted it to include both of them. They each chose their favourite book and we read them together. While my older daughter made a summary and answered questions about it, my younger one drew a picture of hers from the cover. They had to rate the book out of five stars so I got my younger one to draw her stars and colour them in 🙂

Afterwards, we watched a Maddie Moate recorded live show about birds. There was a quiz and a craft project for making your own bird feeder. The girls seemed genuinely interested in guessing birds by their song and spotting birds in our garden.

For lunch, I decided to try a new recipe to use up wilting lettuce we had, so I made a soup with potato, onion, garlic and lettuce in it. I blended it before the girls got a chance to look at it and was surprised they actually ate it and said they liked it. (They still don’t know there was lettuce in it.) It tasted like leek and potato soup, but a little thinner. I’m trying to grow more lettuce from the lettuce ends that were left. I’ve put them in a bowl of water to see if they grow back. I’d seen people doing that with root veg too and was interested to see if it’d work for us. I’m grateful for the fact this last week has made me more aware of food and waste and unnecessary trips to the shop. I always liked cooking from scratch and baking, but it’s made me more inventive in using everything up.

My younger daughter’s preschool had suggested some activities for home, so we decided to try one today. We made a sensory garden/farm. I used an old tub and the girls enjoyed scrunching Weetabix into it to make pretend soil. The instructions said you could use any crushed cereal or soil. We made a tin foil “pond” and then I gave the girls empty plant pots and we went on a “school trip” into the garden to collect leaves, stones, twigs and anything else the girls found for the garden.

The girls came up with their own way of decorating the garden. They put stones as rocks around the pond, leaves, twigs planted as trees, a couple of flowers, and some weeds hanging over the side as “ivy.” When they’d finished, they added toy animals to it. I think it’ll provide hours of entertainment if I can manage to dissuade my daughter from eating the Weetabix soil 🙂 There are aspects of life that are difficult at the moment, but I’m glad of the extra time it has given me with the girls and the projects we wouldn’t have had time to do otherwise.

 

Wooded Walks & Stopping For Flowers

I didn’t get a chance to document what we did yesterday, so I thought I’d share it with you today 🙂

I’ve been making the effort to still get ready by about nine o’clock (ok, a bit later at the weekend.) But I find that getting dressed up, putting on make-up and going out for a walk first thing lifts my mood. We are mostly self-isolating, only going out for walks in remote places or if we need something from the shop.We drove to a forest near a village in County Down and the fact we’d arrived so early meant we were the only ones there, apart from one dog walker in the distance 🙂 I didn’t know my way around, but that was part of the adventure. I followed the girls and just tried to remember where we’d left the car so we could get home again 🙂 We found logs laid out around a fire pit. The girls wanted me to light a campfire, but I had nothing to light it with, and I don’t trust myself with anything bigger than a candle anyway 🙂 So, we just sat down around it and pretended to light one instead. I had brought some coffee and gingerbread men and water for the girls, so we had a free snack while we were there 🙂 There were a couple of dens someone else had built there. But the thing that kept the girls entertained the longest was a puddle with two planks balanced across it, like a little bridge 🙂 They spent ages climbing across it, practising balancing and creating more obstacles on it with bits of wood and leaves 🙂 They also used sticks to measure how deep the puddle was, so it was vaguely educational as well 🙂 We followed the paths which were visible, but muddy. Next time, I’ll remember to bring wellies 🙂 But squelching in it was part of the fun. I have felt less worried this week about the girls getting messy and wrecking their clothes, probably because I know no one else will see 🙂 I had brought a leaf sample book from the Woodland Trust so the girls could try to identify leaves. We built a den of our own and climbed the hill, taking a shortcut back to the car, as by then the girls were both worn out. The weather was perfect while we were there and it was nice being out in the natural light and feeling the sun on our faces.

On the way home, I stopped at one of the little honesty box farm shops to see what they had. They had some anemones they had cut and were selling them in bunches. We brought some home and put them in a vase at the window to cheer things up for ourselves and our neighbours 🙂 The girls are becoming gentler with things and my older daughter looked after the flowers on the drive home without pulling the heads off them 🙂

At home, I made the girls some noodles and one of my girls completed her magazine while the other one wrote “creative writing” sentences about our morning and the things we’d done. She drew an accompanying picture. It’s a bit like journalling for kids and will be nice to look back on in the future.

Afterwards, the girls asked to paint and did pictures with spring colours, like candy egg pink, blue and yellow. The girls used the colours to make seasonal pictures with daffodils, blue skies, etc.

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Then, they played in the garden for a while. Their favourite game is to “cook” soil and leaves in our old barbecue and serve it at the outdoor table for someone’s pretend birthday 🙂

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We followed it with a film afternoon, watching a kids’ movie with popcorn, sweets and coffee (for me.) I need something to sustain me through this period 🙂 I made some homemade pizzas and chips and the girls continued their film throughout dinner. The benefit to making your own dough is you can make the pizzas into any size you like. The girls requested “baby pizzas,” so I made small ones for them, You can also freeze the dough after it rises and defrost it for use another day, or to make homemade dough sticks or doughballs. (You can make your own garlic butter or dip for them too.)

I spent the evening baking and cooking/freezing food before it expired.  I made some flatbreads, a huge loaf of bread and some pizza dough. I lit a candle in my window for everything that’s been happening and took some time to just sit and think.

Apart from a small bunch of flowers, we spent no money yesterday and didn’t see a soul all day, but in many ways, it felt like a richer day than if those things had been possibilities.