Monday, August 17, 2015

A Very Busy Summer

We are having a VERY busy summer! This is really just an update post, in the neverending hope that one day I will manage to blog regularly.

Back in June we discovered Dartmeet and Daniel overcame his temporary dislike of water with a bit of paddling. Adam, meanwhile, fell in love with a small piece of oak tree and munched it contentedly for a good half hour.

Not long afterwards, we had our first (and so far only) trip to the beach. I'm not a great fan of sand, personally, but living only half an hour away it had to be done at least once. 

We have become pros at picnics this year, just as I had hoped, and even when the sun has failed us we have managed to keep in practice. These were flourless chocolate muffins (the page seems to be down but hopefully only temporarily - this is why I need to start printing my favourite online recipes!) and were seriously yummy.

Then came our amazing adventures in Switzerland and Germany. I was working for a week at the very first Cued Speech Training Week for Professionals, teaching French and Swiss transliterators and other professionals how to cue in English. It's hard to sum up the experience other than to say it was fantastic - inspiring people, lots of fun, stunning weather, great food... The boys had a whale of a time with their dad in the creche and Daniel picked up a few useful words in French to go with his new-found (if still fairly small) German vocabulary. 

Afterwards we pootled off to the Black Forest and had just under a week on a farm near Triberg. Breakfast on the terrace every day, looking out at this view and hearing nothing but the odd cow bell, was the perfect way to unwind after the adrenaline of the previous week. 
Daniel was absolutely in his element. He stomped around the farm, fed the animals, chased the chickens, played endlessly, and even got to make honey, right from beehive through to spoon! 

We even crammed in a visit to the stunning Falls of Rhine at Schaffhausen on the way home.

It was wonderful to see Daniel's independence growing while we were away. He became more confident with strangers (even in foreign languages) and in Germany he even slept in his own room for the first time. That has carried on now that we are back home, which gives us an incentive to hurry up with sorting out his bedroom. Adam has given us another incentive by doing this (clue: 2 minutes earlier I had put him by the blue ball)...

To begin with there was no technique and pretty slow (but determined) progress. As of this week, though, he is sitting up on his own (exactly the same age as his brother did, 5½ months) and commando crawling with remarkable speed, usually in the direction of Daniel's toys, which go straight into his mouth. So far, Daniel has been very patiently removing the toys and offering something he feels is more appropriate in return (Adam is not fooled for a second) but I suspect the novelty will soon wear off. Adam has also produced his first two signs this week - "milk" and "hot", so we are having a week of learning all da skillz!

And yes, he has suddenly gone blond. Didn't see that coming!

In other news, the garden has not done particularly well this year. I dropped the ball quite spectacularly in the run-up to Switzerland because fitting in the preparation for that just didn't leave time or brain space for anything else. The peas, courgettes, squash and onions were utterly decimated by slugs, Daniel's potatoes produced a grand total of about 6, the beetroot is looking none too healthy and I never got round to staking up the tomato plants so they have all gone flop. There are, however, some flowers and green tomatoes, so all is not lost. The leeks aren't dead yet, the apple tree is covered in fruit, and the gooseberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes all cropped for the first time this year. Ah well. 

I have managed to make two types of jam (raspberry and gooseberry & elderflower) using berries from my uncle's garden, and I have grand plans for blackberries and apples when they are ripe. I have settled back into meal planning and got our food budget firmly under control, and produced some very nice bread recently. 

Forest School is having a break for the summer but we have discovered the home ed group at Embercombe and fallen utterly in love. Within five minutes of arriving Daniel had disappeared with a complete stranger and a gaggle of children to find sheep, which was a good sign! I find the whole atmosphere of the place, as well as the opportunity to hang out with like-minded families, is helping me to be a lot gentler in the way I interact with Daniel. Obviously there are still times (many of them) when I get overwhelmed, tired, cross and naggy, but it is nice to have a few hours each week in a place that is so special. It feels simultaneously purposeful and tranquil, which is a rare combination in our busy, bustling, noisy world.  

The only other major thing I can think of is that we have been to an art exhibition by a friend of mine, "Symphony in Paint" by Hannah Willson. It was Daniel's first experience of non-representational art and we spent some time talking about which colours we liked, what sounds it reminded us of and which music we thought Hannah might have been thinking about when she was painting (she has synesthesia and was using that in these paintings). The exhibition was in an art cafe in Exeter so we finished off our trip with a large slice of cake before we went home and painted our own pictures. Recently I had been aware that Daniel was becoming a bit tied up in knots over his paintings needing to be 'of' something, so it was lovely to see him joyfully playing with colour again. I had a good time doing the same thing too!

[photo from]

So, lots going on! I will leave you with some beautiful photos by my dad of the boys today (or yesterday, looking at the time) in the Robin Hood costumes I made them for a fancy dress birthday party. I'm very proud of them!