This is the last term I have with Sam at home and so we are really doing whatever he wants on the three days a week he isn’t at nursery. A lot of the time what he wants to be doing is playing knights and pirates with his Playmobil or up to his elbows in Playdoh, which is easier as both he and Kit will play it together for hours (unlike the Playmobil where Kit normally takes the hair off all the pirates, loses it and then takes great delight in unfurling the castle drawbridge at vital moments in the battle leading to general bad feeling(!!) between the brothers).
Ages ago I saw something on Pinterest that involved colourful little glass beads (£4.79 for a pot of 100 on Amazon) and pasta - obviously the actual pin suggested complicated architectural Playdoh structures (fairy gardens?) which we have never bothered with but a year on the pot of beads and pasta are still brilliant tools in our Playdoh sessions, especially for Kit, whose little fingers love the tactile nature of pushing them in to the squidgy Playdoh. Something different to do, if you haven’t already, easy and cheap. Also, Hama beads. Only just come across them. LOVE THEM. No use fannying around with the little packs - have invested in a pot of 10,000 with lots of different boards and both big kids will sit for ages doing it and they actually look really cool once ironed in to formation.
Something that is lovely about having multiple children is the making of new friends through the second (and maybe, hopefully, the third?!) one as well as the first. Sam has developed a complete bro-mance at his nursery and as luck would have it his best mate's mum turns out to be a legend. So we are having new adventures together and it is lovely (although I still try to avoid Nancy's favourite places out of guilt and I still feel the need to explain to everyone I meet that I have a little girl as well - I wonder if/when this will pass?!). A few weeks ago we went to Adventure Avenue in Burgess Hill. It was great. It's not big - fundamentally just a room with 8 different sections (supermarket, vet, doctor, camping site, hairdressers, band, cafe and building site) but each one is really well equipped, there is lots of extra dressing up, it is bright and colourful and I think the smallness of it makes it all very approachable and easy. We were there with four boys (4, 3, 2 and 1) and they were all completely stuck in for an hour and a half. Sam and his mate spent as much time playing hairdressers (more?!) as they did dressed up as policemen and builders and Kit spent longer in the supermarket than I do for my weekly shop. PLUS we had deeelicious cupcakes and coffee in the café (in which there is a fire engine of course). I took Nancy (and the boys) back there a week later for a party (of reception age children) and she loved it, too. My kids called it Biggleton, and any homage by them to that CBeebies classic is recommendation indeed.
I have got a CD recommendation as well as a book this time; we love an audio book in the car and, having accepted there is a limit to the number of times I can get everyone to listen to The Greatest Showman soundtrack, I saw The 13 Storey Treehouse box set on The Book People. It comes with the whole set (26, 29 52 and 65 Storey Treehouses) and it is SO RANDOM. It is based on books by Andy Griffiths and it involves every single random thing you can think of from cheese eating sharks to talking hands to wooden headed pirates… it is difficult to describe but the kids are completely riveted and listen spellbound for any lengthy journey. Sometimes it can be VERY irritating but let's face it most of us are prepared to suck up a bit of background irritation for a quiet car journey!
We absolutely loved (love) The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb, it is SO gorgeous and moving. So I was very pleased to see a new one by this duo out in Waterstones last week, The Everywhere Bear, about a class bear that falls out of the bag of the little boy who was looking after him (THE HORROR) and all the adventures he quite literally gets swept in to before (plot spoiler) he ends up back with his class. It is lovely. We have read it every day. Another lesser known Donaldson (the Dickens of our generation?!) I found in a coffee shop and very much enjoyed reading to the boys is The Magic Paintbrush, which tells what I think is probably an ancient tale of a little girl withstanding the corruption of a greedy, powerful Emperor. It's very good, and I have gone five years without being aware of it so thought I ought to recommend in case I am not the only one.