Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Telescope making

K's obsession with planets continues apace, and my challenge is to come up with a variety of planet-themed activities. As always I'm terribly behind in posting about what we've been doing, but here's one from last month that is very simple if you fancy having a go.

Cover a kitchen roll middle (or 2 toilet roll middles taped together) with foil and decorate...

Fasten a piece of blue cellophane over the end with a rubber band and decorate with little star stickers...

Look through your telescope and see the stars! Making a silly face and wearing a necklace made at preschool are optional...

Not strictly a planet-themed activity, but it went down well. Another option would be to use black paper instead of the cellophane and then prick little holes in it with a pin to create 'stars' of light.

And if you have any bright ideas on how to entertain someone who is only interested in planets, do please let me know!

Monday, 12 March 2012

St Patrick's Day Parade

So none of us are Irish, and St Patrick's Day isn't until next weekend.

But that didn't stop us going to Matsue yesterday for the St Patrick's Day Parade and Irish Festival. Actually I went on Saturday night too, to enjoy a few drinks and some live music at 'The Shamrock', an Irish pub set up for just 2 days a year!

Then yesterday the whole family headed out to watch the parade. It was pretty cold and there was even the odd flurry of snow, but we had a good time. We got there early in order to eat our way around the food stalls before the parade began - it's always about food for me. There was everything from Irish broth, quiche and green beer to chicken satay and Thai green curry and we did our best to sample it all. K also enjoyed playing with all these guys who were waiting to walk in the parade...

It's not really a terribly impressive parade, but a bit of fun nonetheless. Led by St Patrick himself (and some boy scouts)...

...there was a marching band (K's favourite part - instruments!), some people juggling and yo-yo-ing, a tin whistle group and more.

The balloon guy surprised me by presenting his heart-on-a-stick to me, not K. I'm very easily pleased :-)

Once the parade had finished, the various music and dance groups performed and were judged(and Vivian's dance crew won, once again!). By then though we were keen to get in out of the cold so we went up to The Shamrock again and had, variously, hot tea, Irish coffee, apple crumble, ham salad, scones and mango juice. Yum!

I drove us back home and on the way all 3 'boys' went to sleep, even when I stopped at the supermarket on the way. Mind you, I fell asleep putting T to bed, and then slept right round to this morning...

Oh, and we did all wear green for the day, but unfortunately it was all hidden away by extra layers of coats. So here we all are! Happy St Patrick's Day!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Happy Birthday K!

free printable bunting available here

We celebrated K's 4th birthday on Monday. It was a busy and fun day!

The day started with a few presents and cards and, of course, the birthday crown, which I found just in the nick of time...

While K went off to pre-school, I made his cake. I baked it the day before, but it was the decorating that took the time. It's actually made from individual cupcakes (you can see the silicon liners reflected in the foil), placed together to form a train shape. I'm afraid I can't take credit for this great idea; I found a (reduced-price) kit like this one at Jusco!

After school, it was party-time! This was the first time K had had a children's party for his birthday; until now it's just been family. Since there are 'only' 10 children in the older classes at K's pre-school we thought we'd invite them all. With a few siblings coming along too we ended up with a guest list of 15 little ones, plus some mums, although in end illness brought it back down to 13 (including T!).

From what I hear nowadays, kids' parties back in the UK can be major events. I, on the other hand, had the advantage that no-one here really does kids' parties for birthdays and so there were no expectations. I kept it very old-school, just the kind of party that I had when I was little. We had the classic party games (pass-the-parcel, musical statues, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, balloon-between-the-knees relay...), cake and juice, and goodie bags at the end. Pretty much all of this was new to everyone concerned, who I think were just expecting the kids to be
running riot
playing freely.

thanks to A's mum for this pic - I completely forgot to take photos...

The day before the party, K announced that he wanted to play the planet game. No, I didn't know what that was either. He informed me that it involved me (the Sun) standing in the middle and everyone else holding a balloon and walking around me, in the correct order according to a list of planet roles composed by K.

So H and I spent Sunday evening blowing up balloons (he hates to blow up balloons and I cannot tie them. What a ridiculous pair), and the game was duly played at the party. It did prompt one older girl to ask 'Is this a game??' but K later declared that it had been his favourite part of the party.

Anyway, the party went well and I'm pretty sure everyone enjoyed themselves. Once all the guests left we had a quick Skype chat with Mum and Dad and then, seeing as I couldn't be bothered to cook, we went to Joyful for dinner, a treat in K's eyes. Back home again there was another cake, a gift from pre-school...

...and then yet more present-opening. Everyone who gave K a gift obviously knows him and his current interests so well. Presents included 2 space books and a set of space stickers, an inflatable globe and a couple of little books on geography and flags, workbooks for English and math, and a Chuggington annual.

K finally headed off to bed just after 9, but was still awake reading the afore-mentioned Chuggington annual at 11. I thought (hoped!) that this might mean a little lie-in the next day, but at 7:15am, K was up and in our bed - bringing the Chuggington annual with him...

So happy birthday little K! The past year has been a big one for you, becoming a big brother. This year brings many changes too, starting with Japanese kindergarten next month. The night before his birthday K said that he was looking forward to his party but was sad about not being 3 anymore. I think this means we need to dial down the 'you're a big boy now' phrases, however positively we intend them. Perhaps, especially with T around, K feels pressure to be 'big' and on his best behaviour.

Don't worry K. You can still be my sweet little, planet-obsessed, book-loving, photograph-taking, cutting-and-gluing boy for as long as you like. I love that you love to share things, that you're (generally!) so kind and gentle to your little brother and that, like me, you love to get out and about and see people. I even love it when you come into our bed in the middle of the night but shush, don't tell Daddy I said that ;-)

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Clothes swap

It's been pointed out to me that I haven't posted about anything since Valentine's Day. Sorry, I'll try and do better in March ;-)

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a clothes swap party. The bad weather, various colds and sniffles and scheduling problems meant that we only had 10 swappers (plus a few partners and children), but it was still a lot of fun. We woke to a fresh fall of snow so H and I took it in turns to go out and shovel the parking space. Normally we only do the tiny bit in front of our car if we need to get out but, as we were expecting guests, we had to do it Properly this time...

Once everyone had arrived we set out all the clothes in the Japanese-style room, had some tea and cake and then drew numbers to decide the order for choosing items to take home. Vivian (who helped me organise it all) and I got numbers 1 and 2, which was slightly embarrassing but secretly rather pleasing too...

We had 3 rounds of 'shopping', with different ways to decide who would go first each time. When everyone had had the chance to choose something 3 times, whatever was left was available to whoever wanted it, first-come-first-serve. The engawa, a little sunroom at the side, served as a changing room and the men served as child-minders.

(Yes, that's K in a big box)

So, do you want to see what I got? I think I did very well, although the clothes look much better in person (and on) than in these photos. You can't really appreciate the colour or shape here, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Firstly, a long-line checked shirt, fitted and with roll-up sleeves (my favourite). It's from H&M originally and looks brand-new. Perfect with skinny jeans and boots...

Next, a black and white polka-dot jersey dress. I don't wear dresses as much as I'd like to but I think that this one could be pretty versatile. The fabric is so soft, really lovely to the touch.

And finally, a rather cool little khaki bag with what looks like an Italian subway map printed on it. Just right for when I'm not with the boys and therefore don't have to carry nappies, toys, spare clothes, snacks... Oh, wait. I'll keep the snacks.

What do you think? Good haul, right? I miss having charity shops or jumble sales to rummage through, so this was great fun. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and are keen to do it again. The baking I did went down well too, so maybe I'll share the recipes with you later...

Off to bed now - tomorrow is K's birthday so I must conserve energy in preparation for fourteen 2-6 year olds running riot about the place after school...