Any feelings of boredom that were lurking from July are now well-and-truly gone! I'm exhausted & ready for a nice mundane routine - but it's been totally fab and worth all the chaos!
Our lovely Dutch friend went home today - we're missing her already. I was glad the boys loved her as much as I do :) I'm hoping their interest in the Netherlands will continue: we're planning to go out to visit at some point, to Eldest's surprise, who had assumed that we wouldn't be able to go there as everyone speaks a different language - great learning opportunity right there!
We also had another friend stay over who is originally from Jamaica - cue an impromptu geography lesson with globe at the kitchen table, finding UK, Netherlands and Jamaica (and then other countries) - I just love the way experiences can spark interest and prompt learning opportunities, right in the middle of life going on!
Anyway, we took a trip to West Wales with our two friends, dropping them off at a B&B & then finding our campsite: cue MUCH RAIN! Fortunately it was dry for long enough to get our outer tent over the inner tent - and then the heavens opened! That first night we had a massive downpour of rain followed by a thunderstorm directly overhead and then heavy hail. Apparently there was a river of rainwater running through the camp during the night, and when we woke in the morning we discovered more than one tent had been flooded... I' m so grateful our tent held strong! I'm also really grateful that the boys slept through it all! (I certainly didn't).
The following two days saw us meeting up with a group of friends (including those we travelled over with) to visit some nature reserves: Ynyslas nature reserve, RSPB Ynys Hir and Cors Dyfi. Thw weather held off and we all had a fabulous time. The boys were the only children there, but far from that being a handicap, actually they were a bit of a star attraction. They were totally confident and comfortable relating to the other adults, and behaved really well (apart from the odd over-tired melt-down when we tried to get them into their sleeping bags at night). Very proud Mummy here :)
beautiful Ynys Hir
So over the last few days and evenings Eldest has accompanied my friends and me on some evening nature experiences (a badger-watch where we saw eleven badgers, a fox, muntjac deer and rabbits, and a guided walk where we were hoping to see barn-owls but sadly didn't see any). He loved it all :) A couple of times he was 'shushed' by the others, but he handled it really well. (That was the main reason for not taking Middle and Youngest: they wouldn't have been able to be still or quiet enough - and would have found the puddles irresistible too).
The younger two joined in the rest of the weekend's walks though - and especially enjoyed trying to catch lizards, as well as spotting slugs, newts, pond-skaters etc, not to forget their impressive acquired collection of sticks, stones and shells (including Youngest's king-of-all-sticks that was alternately a gun, a camera, and a musical instrument) And then today we all had a fabulous shared experience when we visited the Shuttleworth Birds of Prey collection, where we listened to a talk on Eagles and saw various birds being flown - and then had the opportunity to hold a couple of owls. The most keen (after Mummy) was Youngest! He absolutely loved it, holding a tawny owl and then 'flying' a barn owl. Middle also flew the barn owl (as did I - hooray). Eldest wasn't in the mood, but I gave him a quick lesson in using my DSLR camera, and he thoroughly enjoyed getting some really nice shots of the rest of us holding the birds. After a quick stop at the shop where the boys all bought a little owl each, it was home-time (via the airport to drop our friend off).
So today was pretty full-on, with not much chance to "teach", but the boys absorbed so much! Eg after putting them to bed I went to check on them and found two of them in bed wearing a single knitted glove each on their 'flying hand'. It was so cute when I realised they had been trying to replicate the bird flying experience, hawkers glove and all - using knitted gloves and cuddly toys. Eldest even whispered to me that he's found some feathers to stick together to make a 'lure' that he could spin around to train his (toy) bird.
So that's my quick catch-up from the last few days - I wanted to write down how grateful I am for the boys' increased confidence around adults they'd not previously met, and for the opportunities that are expanding their minds and their imaginations. Given the choice between having them stuck in a classroom being force-fed facts or being out in the fresh-air (in all forms of weather) meeting new people and having new experiences - well, I know which form of education appeals the most! We may be tired but we're all very happy: it's been a great and memorable week :)