Hooked on Lilliput – Classical concerts for small children

Children are naturally fascinated with musical instruments. Certainly, most who visit our house want to have a go with my guitars hanging on the wall. From early on, we’ve talked with Talitha about what instruments we can hear in any bit of music we’re listening to. She’s particularly fascinated if she can pick out a steelpan as she knows that comes from Trinidad and Tobago, where I’m from. Often, we’ll look for pictures of instruments or YouTube videos of musicians playing them so we can get a closer look.

We’ve been to a fair few gigs with the kids (one of the benefits of living in Bristol) but it’s been on the cards for a while to check out Lilliput Concerts, which offers classical music directed at the youngest of audiences and their grown ups. This Saturday we went along to their “Music for Cello with Jonathan Rees” at Redland Park United Reformed Church in Bristol.

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The audience consisted of babies in slings to four-year-olds and they were all welcome on stage to get up close and personal with the musician and his instrument. Brightly coloured mats were placed on and just off the stage, with stuffed notes lying about for little hands. Parents were in chairs or on the floor with their little ones and if the mood struck, children danced on their own or with friends and parents.

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Rees played selections from Bach, Britten, Barber and Cassado. A lovely mix of Hispanic melodies and dreamy tunes. He chatted with the children between pieces, engaging them with the music and the instrument and even letting them choose what he’d play next.

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Ophelia was very obviously taken with it from the start, moving with the music, clapping to the beat and drinking it all in. Talitha took a while to warm into things, not keen on dancing or even getting up close. By the end, though, she grabbed her little sister’s hand and planted them directly in front of the cellist and she cued up at the end to feel the back of the cello while he played a note.

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At the end, there was tea and cake and Talitha wanted to know what the instrument would be at the next Lilliput concert and whether we could buy tickets now! So I guess that’s June 12th sorted for us, then! It was well-timed too as she was off to her music class right after so I imagine she had a few things to tell her teacher.

Lilliput concerts-6 Shirt, skirt, top and coat courtesy Happyology

We’re delighted to have been guests of Lilliput Concerts and are officially hooked! Do check out their Facebook page. We’re especially taking our youngest listener to see them at Hoo Haa! Festival at Colston Hall this year.


Dinosaurs, Jelly shoes and a Chimenea #LittleLoves

I’ve overdone it a bit this week so it’s nice clearing the day’s plans and just having some chill time at home with not a whole lot on our list. The upside of feeling a bit wrecked (and stiff) now is that we’ve had a productive, fun week bar one day when none of us had slept well the night before and we were all feeding off each other’s grumpiness.

While the kids are with their childminder, I’m sneaking in a quick #littleloves post and gearing up to enjoy the weekend. Laurence is back from London late tonight, off again on Monday then back for good (hopefully!) on Wednesday night.

Read

OK, no novels for me this week. I know – boring! I’m really digging into re-reading Lori Pickert’s Project-based homeschooling – mentoring self-directed learners. It offers a refreshing look at how kids meaningfully learn and how we can come alongside them and partner with them in taking their interests further. There’s lots in there that could be interesting for parents whether their kids are home educated, in school or are preschool age.

Funnily enough, I originally bought this book on Kindle and have since bought it again as a paperback. Did you read this week that we’re all shifting away from e-readers and back to good old print? This has been true for me for a while. I can read novels on Kindle but not much else. Even then, I’d rather a “real” book.

Watched

I’m all up to date on Vikings now and waiting for the series break to be over, which I’m actually slightly deflated about. It’s at the point where I can’t be bothered to look for anything else to watch in the meantime. If we were having a baby boy, I’d be so tempted to name him Ragnar Jarrett-Kerr (our last name is pronounced “car”).

I’ve managed not to watch the latest series of Game of Thrones because the last one annoyed me so much by subsituting story with sensationalism that I don’t know if I want to get sucked in again. This may just mean a binge viewing at some stage, though. Or I might ignore it altogether and start reading the George R.R. Martin books as I hear he’s taking the story in a different direction.

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Made

OK, a bit of cheat because I’ve been really lazy and haven’t been taking up my crochet for the past couple of weeks but Talitha and I made these dinosaur invitations for her birthday party. I bought her a set of dinosaur activity books from Usborne (my friend is a seller and happy to post) and she wanted to do the card craft since she’s having a dinosaur party.

I kind of imagined we’d make one or two here and there but she insisted on finishing them all in a day. She has a real thing at the moment about finishing tasks rather than doing a bit at a time.

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Wore
Having loved and lived in our Sunjellies last year, I figured we’d get them again this year. I got a new pair too as my navy ones from last year feel a bit boring. They’re wonderfully comfortable so I figure they’ll work well with any last trimester summer time swelling. The girls chose their colours which made their arrival even more exciting.

Talitha tried to coax Ophelia into buying matching pink ones but I love that Ophelia was insistent that she’d get what she wanted to get.

Heard
OK, I’d love to say that I’m listening to something really current and cool but actually, the soundtrack of my week has been worship music from a few years ago. I hadn’t listened to much of that recently, partly because I’ve been feeling strange about God and my faith lately. I’ve had a lot of time to do some soul searching with Laurence being away and realised that a lot of what’s been up with me has been about things going on in my life and my head that have been easier to ignore than address.

So along with enjoying Hillsong Worship, I’ve been experiencing a welcome softening and renewal. There is so much I’m still feeling uncertain and off balance about but I don’t feel worried about allowing that to be laid bare.

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And lastly…
Now that it’s getting a bit warmer, we’re enjoying being out in our garden a lot more. Debenhams sent us this clay chimenea, which is giving us even more reason to stay outside, well into the night. We had friends over last weekend and we all enjoyed sitting around the chimenea, chatting with drinks in hand, surprised by how effective it is and how comfortable we were.

I’m hoping to get lots of use out of it over the summer, sitting out there with Laurence after we’ve put the kids to bed, away from the distractions that being in the house often throws up.

Debenhams sent me the chimenea in exchange for this review.

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31 weeks pregnant – starting the countdown

We’re down to single digits now in terms of weeks. So, on one hand, two months feels like ages but, on the other, that’s quite soon, especially when I pause to consider how much is about to change.

I actually feel pretty amazing compared with my last two pregnancies. In fact, I keep forgetting how pregnant I am until someone mentions that I’m huge. I wind up making plans that seem perfectly reasonable at the time and maybe not so great afterwards.

Because I’m tired. I feel energised and like I can do anything between 8am and 2pm but suddenly this strange, chemical exhaustion sweeps over me from there on.

Still, even with a bit of a stiff and sore pelvic girdle, I’m not in agony changing position in bed and I don’t have to plan going up and down the stairs as carefully as I did by this point last time.

I wonder if part of it is that I just have to get on with things. Or maybe it’s all those postnatal osteopathy sessions from last time. Or maybe it’s that Ophelia is walking a lot more than Talitha was even at months older than she currently is. She’s definitely encouraged by having a big sister but she also just loves to be on the move. Or it could even be that I can drive this time, which means I’m not walking (or running after trains and buses) as much. Pros and cons to that last one.

In some ways I feel healthier in this pregnancy. I’m more aware of what I need to eat to feel good, two kids means I have to keep moving, I’m a lot more disciplined about going to bed on time even if I could be more so and now that the cloud that’s been hanging over me for most of this pregnancy is lifting, I’m able to think more productively and take more action to protect and feed my inner life.

I mentioned being low on iron and deficient in vitamin D in my 28-week pregnancy update. I’ve increased my over-the-counter vitamin D and have made more of an effort work it into what we eat since. We also have had so much more sunshine recently, which has felt glorious. Don’t we all feel differently moving out of winter?

I tried taking the iron prescribed for me by the GP but even though it was a relatively low dosage and a syrup meant to be gentler I just found the side effects too unpleasant so have gone back to taking iron-enriched water and focusing on iron in my diet too. I feel like both changes have had an impact and while I’m still tired, I’m not feeling desperate most of the time.

That said, Laurence is working away in London at the moment. He’s coming back on the weekends and I know it isn’t a lot compared to what many have to cope with but it isn’t our normal and it’s made me realise just how much I rely on being able to just wander into the kitchen on an evening and catch up, having a second pair of hands picking up the house and another nighttime parent for when one of the girls wakes up.

I’m waking up a lot regardless. Baby movements, needing to wee at 3am or just feeling hot, I’ve moved into the stage of pregnancy where my body is getting ready for erratic newborn sleep. Funny how it didn’t occur to me last time that sleeping well during the last trimester indicated that Ophelia was a sleeper.

In fact, I kept waking her every two or three hours after she was born, concerned that she get enough milk (I so didn’t want to have another low milk production situation) until her prodigious weight gain and the fact that she started refusing to wake up to feed stopped and reassured me. Not so with this one. I’m pretty sure this baby is a lot more like her eldest sister in terms of waking. Certainly, she seems the most active of my babies. It’ll be interesting to see what it all means, if anything at all.

We’ve reached a place where we’re fully looking forward to meeting her. In that respect, two months feels a long time to wait. I’ve started imagining holding her, feeding her, wrapping her in a sling, seeing the girls with her, watching Laurence carrying her little body skin-to-skin. He’s said too that he’s excited about her which has been beautiful to hear when it’s taken both of us a while to wrap our heads around the idea of having a third child.

Funnily enough, I now feel like we were always meant to be a family of five. And that we already are.

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Read more updates from this pregnancy with baby number three:

28 weeks pregnant
25 weeks pregnant
22 weeks pregnant
20 weeks pregnant
18 weeks pregnant
16 weeks pregnant
12 weeks pregnant


The #EthicalFashionCollective – Six ways to make your baby purchases matter

When people find out we’re having a third girl, they often say, “At least you won’t have to buy anything.” Actually, we got rid of almost all our baby kit as quickly as Ophelia outgrew it as we were mostly expecting to be a family of four not five and we both hate having to store stuff and dig it out later to get rid.

Actually, that’s been fine because it’s quite fun sorting all the baby things and this time I’ve been in a privileged position to be able to think about what I like aesthetically a bit more. Yes it’s frivolous but I do like clothes and pretty things and this is the first time in my life that I feel allowed to admit that.

I’m also putting together our baby gear at a time of life where I’m thinking more about ethical purchasing and seeking simplicity. While I may not yet be where I want or need to be, I’ve been making little changes to the way I consume here and there over the past few years. My shopping haul for baby girl number three has been part of that.

1. Buy essentials
We buy too many things. This is triply true when it comes to baby purchases. Having a baby is exciting, shopping is lots of fun and the two combine to overwhelm our houses with stuff we don’t need that ends up in landfill. Do your research online (make sure it’s not just marketing material you’re reading), ask friends whose babies are now toddlers what they regret buying or better yet, wait. You can wait with a surprising number of purchases. Babies actually don’t need that much to begin with.

When I was pregnant with our first daughter, we chose a pram that our in-laws bought for us that we almost never used! I’ve daydreamed about the beautiful sling stash I could have funded instead. 😉 On a serious note, having used several pushchairs since, if we’d waited to work out what we needed and maybe gone to a store with more diverse options and personal expertise, I totally would have gone for something else.

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2. Shop second hand
OK, so I’m sorry if that first point was a little boring. When you know what you want, why not buy it second hand? Especially in the first year, many baby items don’t get worn out before they are passed on. I’ve bought lovely hand-knitted cardigans from local charity shops in the past, giving them more use at a price affordable to me.

Also, it surprises me how many people don’t know about nearly new sales. The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) run some fab ones and you’re looking at paying 20-50p on baby vests depending on where you go. We hit on in Portishead a couple of months ago and got some beautiful clothes for not very much at all. Some had been worn by two or three babies but still looked new. Some of that haul is in the picture above.

3. Go organic
This is something that’s been on my radar a lot recently. We’re not in a position to choose organic options all of the time but I feel doing what we can is still worthwhile. There needs to be major shift away from current intensive agricultural practices for the sake of wildlife, the environment and the health of the labour force and consumers. I know we don’t often think about organic purchases beyond food but it’s worth looking into.

A major obstacle to buying organic baby clothes for many of us is, undeniably, cost. While I managed picked up a few organic bits from that nearly new sale I mentioned before, I’ve mainly bought pre-loved organic clothes from Facebook selling groups. They aren’t always the more expensive option depending on what you’re looking for, though, so do have a look at brands like Frugi, Organics for Kids and Little Green Radicals if you usually buy clothes new.

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4. Make your own and upcycle
Buying something may offer an instant hit (I’ll admit to indulging in retail therapy when I’m not feeling great, even if it is just a pack of pens) but crafting has a slow burn delight all its own. Better yet if you can get your hands on reclaimed materials or upcycle an item you don’t need anymore. A man’s shirt could become a baby’s dress.

I’ve been crocheting a blanket for this baby. The wool isn’t second hand or reclaimed but it was knocking about from another project I never got around to. They could have sat there for years while I bought a blanket but instead they’re being repurposed. Even if they aren’t traditionally baby colours, I find the combination so pleasing. I’ve also crocheted a newborn hat.

The tie-dye baby grow is a creation by Recycled Rainbows. She’s a mum in Bath who sources second hand white clothes and tie dyes them. I couldn’t resist this item at a La Leche League workshop recently (she was donating profits to LLL).

5. Think reusable
Are there items on your list that you could think about in terms of the long game? Are they made to last? I mean, obviously, this is a little funny coming from someone who could have saved everything to kit out three girls with the same gear but I’m still trying to think about whether I’d be able to pass items on to another baby afterwards. Our cloth nappies are honestly knackered. I’ve mainly used terry squares with Motherease covers.

The covers are actually still fine after two babies but holding up the squares to the light reveals some thinning. I feel fine about that because I think they’ve been through a lot but while it would be tempting to just say we’ll just go disposable this time, I’ve started building a new cloth stash for this new baby.

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6. Donate to support other mothers
While it’s relatively easy enough for me to get things sorted for this baby, I’m conscious that there are many mothers in the UK for whom the joy of having a baby is accompanied by financial stress due to poverty. I’ve been following Baby Bank Network with interest. It’s a charity that collects pre-loved baby items and passes them on to families in need. They’re local to Bristol but you can find similar organisations around the country here.

For now I’ve made a cash donation but I will be looking for other ways to offer items (I do have bits I accidentally saved that I don’t need) or time. I reckon if you wound up with too many things because of generous friends or bought a pack of, say, babygrows but didn’t like all of them, looking for a place to donate could be a good option.

This post is meant to share ideas rather than prescribe. I do think that if all of us did what we realistically can even if that means, say, a charity shop purchase once in a while rather than a full-scale overhaul, it would make a difference.

I’m joining in with the online Ethical Fashion Collective started by Mel Wiggins and Owl and Accordion. On the first Friday of every month you can join in with a blog post, tweet, IG or Facebook status hashtagged #ethicalfashioncollective to share your ethical style and ideas.


What I wore – Ready for the rain

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I usually think of raincoats as being sad, shapeless, colourless affairs that in no way compensate for the misery of rainy weather. Not so with this Fayda waterproof parka coat sent to me by Lighthouse. This shade of green (they call it seagrass) is an instant pickmeup. The striped blue lining offers a classic feel and all the detailing makes for a structured piece I actually look forward to taking out into the rain or even just a windy day. It’s seen a few rainy outings now and done the job too. Sadly, whereas I could still zip it up three weeks ago when these pictures were taken, my bump now won’t even let me hold it together! Crazy how that’s happened so quickly. I’m looking forward to wearing it again once the baby is here.


This Homeschooling Life – What April looked like

With pregnancy exhaustion getting the better of me most days, it’s easy to look back on a month and think it shapeless. I’ve started writing little notes about what happens during the day and photograph more intentionally so that I remember that a lot is happening even when it feels like nothing at all. The deepest learning doesn’t always look like I might expect. Recording it informally allows me to pause long enough to notice it.

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We finally finished reading The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I suggested we could find a craft to go with it since Talitha was keen to make something. Looking together on Pinterest, she was hooked on the idea of replicating this cardboard model. I inwardly groaned, wishing she hadn’t spotted it. She promised she would do most of it, picking up on me finding the idea daunting. I used a scalpel to, badly, cut out the shape of the tree and fitted it together. She and Ophelia painted it and then Talitha made everything else herself, including Dame Washalot’s washing line complete with laundry and a finger knitted basket for the children to make their way up the tree. She says she wants to make the Land of Goodies for the top.

We’ve just finished reading The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durrell. I wasn’t familiar with him at all as an author but I’ve been amazed at how much he packs into an exciting story with ease. The chapters are rather long but Talitha has never not asked, “Just one more!” when we’ve got to the end. His characters meet and speak to lots of animals and travel all over the world so we’ve looked at the continents they visit on our world map as we’ve gone along and looked up videos and pictures of the animals online.

Next up, Talitha’s keen to start The Magic Garden by Lynne Armstrong-Hobbs. We’re especially excited about this book because we happened to meet the author at Waterstones over the weekend! I’m sure I’ll be sharing both our impressions come this time next month.

Do check out my Love Reading and Writing board on Pinterest. I collect ideas for literacy play and to go along with stuff we’re reading.

I’m always amazed by Talitha’s ability to absorb and hold on to facts she finds fascinating. The Dinosaur Train love is still going strong here but now she’s also moved on to Jim Henson’s Sid the Science Kid. We watch both on Netflix. She often comes away from Sid episodes with ideas of things she wants to try and regularly applies concepts or methodology discussed in the program to real life. From ancient Egyptians using incline planes to move heavy objects to different ideas for melting ice, there’s a lot going on in this show.

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We’ve lots happening in the garden at the moment. The girls’ potato plants have sprouted and we’re imagining what’s happening inside their bags. They’ve also planted wildflowers from a Kew Gardens’ educational programme and hung up a couple of bee shelters which have utterly fallen apart. We’ve resolved to build sturdier ones soon. In the meantime, it’s exciting observing the seedlings coming up.

I realise I never mention sort of “extras” that Talitha does but they are a part of our set up so it’s worth bringing in here. Talitha’s been continuing to enjoy ballet. I’ve ummed and ahhed about trying to convince her to try something else but it’s local, reasonably easygoing, relatively cheap and she loves it so we’ve agreed to carry on. She also goes horse riding with other home educated children once a month, which is a real highlight to the month for her. A couple of weekends ago she also started going to Blackbird Early Years Music classes, which creatively offers children a playful introduction to music practice and theory.

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She’s recently got back into Mathseeds. It’s an online maths programme which teaches through games. She lost interest for a few months but a few weeks ago asked to try it again. We haven’t been “working” on the things that she was finding hard so I expected taking it up again to be short lived but, to my surprise, she had no trouble picking up where she left off and moving on. Her brain seems to have bridged the gap on its own.

A last thing to mention is that she’s become obsessed with making pom poms recently. I’ve been making headway on crocheting a baby blanket for the new baby recently and Talitha would finger knit while I had my kit out but she came across my pom pom maker and asked to use it. I was pretty uncertain she’d manage it on her own but not only has she cracked it but it’s become one of her favourite things to do! Now to encourage her to keep dreaming up things to do with them. She’s made toys for the cats (her idea) but we’re amassing quite a collection! We’ve had some really sweet moments around the dining table, post-breakfast all busy at our crafts, me crocheting, Talitha making pom poms and Ophelia stringing beads or cutting yarn.
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Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. If you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



28 weeks pregnant – Hello, third trimester

Somehow I’ve hit 28 weeks pregnant and am in the final trimester.

In some ways, it feels like July is creeping up on me. We still haven’t totally settled on a name. For now, she’s mostly “Butterfly”, the girls’ placeholder choice. We still haven’t made many birth decisions other than that we’re aiming for a second home birth. Twelve-ish weeks seems like such a long time and none at all.

It’s got to the point where I feel like I will never not feel this brand of tired. Thankfully, I remember with Ophelia that pregnancy exhaustion dissipated soon after she was born. It’s not the same as the fog of sleep deprivation – a beast of its own – but rather a strange, overwhelming, chemical experience, coating all of life.

A visit with a GP threw up that I’m a little low on iron and deficient in Vitamin D so I’m hoping that addressing both of those might help with energy levels. Regardless, I’m now managing to push through our days a little more, figuring I might as well if I’m going to be tired anyway.

Today as I wilted into a chair, yawning, Talitha asked: “Mummy, will you be pregnant forever?” Pregnancy must seem endless to her.

Perhaps more than with either of my previous pregnancies, I’ve psychologically needed all these months and need the ones to come. I no longer feel daunted by the idea of what’s ahead but am actively looking forward to growing into a family of five, to meeting this new baby.

I had a midwife appointment on Friday. We confirmed the baby’s position and it was a thrill to know that what I’d figured was accurate. Listening to her heartbeat, strong and clear, was a powerful reminder that she really is here, with me, while I carry her through all the distractions of the day.

She seems to move more than the other two did, often late and night and early in the morning. I’ve started enjoying lying on my side and tuning into her movements in the early mornings before the rest of the family wake up.

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My moods have improved quite a lot. It could be the sunshine. It could be that I’m out in the garden with the kids more or that I feel able to walk more now that Ophelia is willing to walk and doesn’t need to be pushed or carried as much. It could be that Laurence has been around a bit more, with work coming in more slowly. It could be that I’m planning ahead more, committing more cautiously and ticking more off my to-do list. Whatever it is, I now feel like I’m coping most of the time, which isn’t something I could have said a few weeks ago.

I’m even looking forward to the birth now. The dread that themed the idea has been replaced mostly by feeling open.

I’m keenly aware that I need to exercise more than I currently am. Not only will I need the fitness for birth but a friend recently reminded me of how important movement in pregnancy is for the baby’s positioning. I also want to get started on listening to the hypnobirthing CD this week and revisiting its concepts. I know these are things I need to do to get ready for the birth but they’re not hanging over me as overwhelming self-imposed obligations.

Mostly, I’m grateful to enter this trimester able to imagine this baby, at last.