Summer Living

January 8, 2015

We are fortunate these days. Neither of the girls are early risers. Fainjin is, but a few weeks off school have seen even him fall into the habit of waking after seven. Or maybe he’s awake for ages but knows not to come and wake us. I don’t mind which! If he isn’t bursting into our room to admonish us for our layabout ways (“Mum! It’s 7:04!”), we find him reading in bed or up, dressed and playing with his Lego when we get up.

Also, The Dad is still on leave this week, so we are having a relaxed lazy family summer. It’s lovely. We don’t really have any plans most days.

So when I got a text at 8am from a friend inviting us for a pool playdate today, I had to get out of bed to let the kids know. The little ones were reading – a pool outing was sufficient incentive to get them up & breakfasted fairly quickly. Pearl moved with less alacrity, but we all got to the pool in a reasonable interval.

Pearl took a book and sat on the side, but the rest of us had a good splash around. The mums chatted and looked after the two littler ones while the older boys played with swim noodles under supervision of The Dad.

Then it was home for showers & lunch before more friends came over for the afternoon – and our friends from the pool came too, and before we really knew it we had four adults and seven children for an early pizza picnic dinner.

There was ice-cream and running and chasing and a tent and crawl-tunnel in the backyard and “crocodiles” in the grass and eventually some tv to encourage a bit of quiet sitting-down time and minimise melt-downs.

And then, it was home-time and tired children were dragged off home by their tired mothers. We settled down for some family quiet time in the long summer evening and everyone went to bed after their proper bedtime. Again.

We don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow, either.

© UpsideBackwards 2015.


The end… or is it?

October 12, 2014

Babess wrote quite a lot more today, but I sense the story has got away from her a little bit. Her handwriting is getting sloppier and there’s no clear way forward.

Yeah but who will give the Princess A pet Maybe Gabbie Yeah maybe though not sure though yeah I think Gabbie would do it but she better give her a pet today yeah why because the Princess wants her new pet today Oh right why today because she hasn’t had her new pet in days ooh. kay I just love geting back my frends. Now lets go to our stable oh and your mother is gonna want you elsa come get your nice owner now the princess must have been mean to you yeah she was so mean. I wanted you to rescue me she was very horible. How did you get to the hiddin tower so fast we flew and we had a spare map of it the robbers stole the bronze one but we still had the silver and gold. you now what happened to the robbers we called the police and they put the robbers in jial so there we go that’s all well all for today yes that’s all no um I – all for story no it’s not all for the story but if that’s all when the end eeeeeer, I don’t now anyone now where the end is no, no, yes, no, never, ever. Okay who said yes i’m gesing it was mia yeah, it was me

So. Gabbie is going to make a pet for the horrible princess, and Mia knows when the end is coming (it’s on page 8, and we’re only on page 6, so there must be more action to come).

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

The story continues… Elsa’s escape

October 11, 2014

You will recall that last night, Babess had left off with the unicorns debating how to get flying powers – from birds, or from their friend Kate – so they could rescue Elsa from the Princess’ clutches, now that they have apparently despatched the robbers.

We had lots to do today, so not much was written, but here it is:

… but what kind of flying powers um yeah Good Quistion I think its Pixi dust really well she’s about to touch Elsa so lets stop argueing and just fly c’mon and lets use the pixi dust and fly the veiw from up here is Amazing isn’t it

Yeah and theres the Palace I see the Princess Elsa here fly first you need some pixi dust that my frends Gave me.

Wow I’m actully flying but who are your frends

Kate and Mea [note: not Mia, who is a unicorn sister, this is a different person] I now those two we all played together

Oh I can’t forget that the other ten plays with us too.

I don’t know about you, but I have many questions. Who are Kate & Mea? Where did they get pixie dust? Who are the “other ten”? What would be so terrible about being a princess’ pet? Are the robbers truly vanquished?

Luckily, we are only half-way through page five, and Babess has told me the story will be eight pages long. That’s how much paper she has (although of course I would always give her more).

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Once Upon A Time… Babess Writes

October 10, 2014

Babess, like her big sister before her, has discovered a need to write. This week she has been composing stories about unicorns. She started with the title page to her book: “The Unicorn Story – and 3 other storeis”, followed by a warning page, “Watch out this first story is frekie”. Then a frontispiece, “Please keep good cear of this book. This book belongs to ______________”.

The story she started on the other side of that page is very short (so far) but full of suspense.

I should note that Babess writes until she stops. Sometimes that’s at the end of the sentence, but sometimes it’s just at the end of a word, because she doesn’t know what happens next.

Here’s the first unfinished story:

Once upon a time there lived some butiful unicorns each one went to the lake evry second day but they didn’t notice there were unicorn Hunters spying on them. One tryed to catch All of them because they were so butiful another reched out his

I’m encouraging her to finish this one because I want to know what happens next! Her Dad asked how it ends. She looked at him and said thoughtfully, “I don’t know! I hope it’s nice…”

After that one, she wrote a whole page of another story, and today she has added several more pages. Again, it’s unfinished. I’ll post updates as they come. I’ve edited (formatted) it ever so slightly to indicate how the dialogue is intended to go.

Once upon a time there lived 12 butiful unicorns they were very speacal because evry second day they would go to the nearest villege to be pets the only one who noone wanted she was Elsa she never got chosen its because she was lazy but once when she went to the Princess she wanted the unicorn she asked the gards to put Elsa in the Palace Garden she tryed to escape but the gards leash was to strong. Elsas 11 sisters were Magie, Sophie, Mia, Gabbie, Ella, Lily, Edie, Hannah, Ruby, Bella, Mazy. They were butiful and very nice. Thier mother was the qeen they were all princesses. Villegers were very nice to the unicorns they had brothers 2 brothers Jack and Tom. The all were frends. The villegers fed them and at night they would leave the stable gates open and evry night the unicorns would sneak out of the cosey stables and met in the midle of the villige the meeting place always got robbed so they dicided to set A trap by using their Horns magic by saying Magic Magic Make A big trap.

Once it was morning the robers got ready to go on their jerny to rob the meeting place of the unicorns they pack robing bags to put the stuff in them and some lunch some drinks and robots to make it faster. The unicorns hid they hid out by the wdlnows [windows] to spy on the robers this was their plan. They would make A trap and make it invisable so the robers couldn’t see the trap and that was good because then they [the robbers] would run away and come back tomorrow.

The unicorns didn’t want the robers to come back they wanted to find the things the robers stole they thogt the thing that had been stolen would be in the robers hideout. The things that were stolen were bronze silver and gold the unicorns were ready to fight but the robers wernt when the robers were in a very smart rober siad “Maybe we should go now” but the rober that was in charge siad “No we want bronze silver and gold thing and more than one way more” the smart one siad “I have a fealling the unicorns have A trap set for us.”

Chief: Noncence they would never do that

Smart: Really

Chiaf: Yes really now I have the same felling

The robers names were Tom, Jack, Sam, Thor, Blakness and Carol.

Carol: I thingk the traps coming down now

Blakness: I thing your rite

Jack: Then run

Carol: Hurry run it’s too strong

All together: Waaaaaaaah

Whew that worked it really worked our first plan that worked wow I want more plans to work siad Sophie.

Someone to rescue now and we now who that is its elsa c’mon we have to get to the Castle once the Princess touches her new pet it’s hers for ever so we beter fly but mia we don’t now how to fly that’s a problem isnt it well yes but if we see 11 birds lets ask them for their power if you do we’ll give you our power that would be our deal do we all agree

Well maybe I don’t think they want to walk but we’ve got no power but we could trick them Good idea Yeah I have a feeling we are being watched by the Princess. Well we’re getting worse arn’t we Yes. Well instead of walking my frend Kate gave me some flying powers and wings that control them selves wherever you have to go all you have to do is think of that place thats all.

but what kind of flying powers […]

I’ll be encouraging her to write more tomorrow.  And maybe I’ll suggest a few more full stops… I get breathless just reading the stories!

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Music in the air

August 27, 2014

This morning Babess was ready to go a little earlier than I was, so I sent her out to get her scooter ready to go to school.
After a short time she came running back in, breathless with excitement.
“Mum! Guess what’s outside?!”
“Um, I saw the neighbours are taking down their old fence,” I said, “I think they’re going to put up a new one.”
“Well, but there’s Something Else!”

I am continually amazed at her ability to enunciate capital letters. It’s a great skill to have. “Goodness me, whatever could it be?” I played along.
“On the driveway, there’s a… Harmonica. Wing!”

I blinked. A what?

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. What did you say, sweetie?”
“A harmonica wing!”
“A… harmonica?… wing?”
“Yes, a harmonica wing. Like, harmonica butterfly?” C’mon, Mum, stop being dense!

“Oh! A monarch butterfly wing?”
“YES! Come see!”

And so I did. (It was a Red Admiral wing, actually).

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

… and breathe …

July 7, 2014

We’ve been home nearly a week, and finally I feel awake enough in an evening to write something. I could fold laundry instead, but I’m sure that won’t go anywhere (sadly).

The teacups - a beloved classic

The teacups – a beloved classic

Minnie Mouse!

Minnie Mouse!

Princess Anna from Frozen

Princess Anna from Frozen

We had a lovely time in our last two days at Disneyland. It was very hot, but we found enough shade and indoor activities and icecream to keep us reasonably comfortable.  Fainjin repaid the girls’ patience while he queued to meet the Avengers by (somewhat grudgingly) lining up to meet princesses and fairies. We all rode the teacups, and the Buzz Lightyear ride again. We discovered ToonTown, explored the Pirates’ Den, saw the Parade, met Alice and the Mad Hatter, took Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, and just generally did whatever took our collective fancy as opportunity arose.

Waiting for the parade

Waiting for the parade

Hi Snow White!

Hi Snow White!

The flight home went very smoothly. We were all worn out from a day at Disneyland, and Fainjin was asleep before we even took off. He slept at least 9 hours before waking – I wish I had that sort of skill! The girls took longer to fall asleep, and slept about 6 hours or so I think. Pearl was upset when she woke to discover her glasses had fallen to the floor and she couldn’t easily locate them. A lovely lady sitting across the aisle from her (I was on Pearl’s other side) helped us search through the tangle of blankets, pillows and headphones. Eventually I sent Fainjin down between the seats on his hands & knees and he found them quickly. Small children can be useful, even on airplanes!

We arrived home in the morning, sorted out a few things, and headed to school for pick-up time at 3pm. The kids were very excited to see their teachers & friends again, and enjoyed the brief celebrity status accorded by their prolonged absence. But we were all asleep by about 6:30pm I think!

We’ve settled more and more as the week has gone on. We managed all three days of school and work but were very grateful when the weekend and school holidays came along. Morning wakings have slid from 4am towards 7am, and lasting longer in the evenings.  The cold and dark aren’t really helping, but the weather hasn’t been all that bad, and it’s so good to be home.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.


July 1, 2014

The Big Trip is over. We arrived home this morning, after a full day at Disneyland followed by a long overnight flight to New Zealand. The flight went well – no delays, little turbulence, the children slept reasonably well, and no-one was ill.

We’ve had a fairly busy day rediscovering home toys, refilling the pantry & fridge, doing laundry and catching up with a couple of close friends who don’t mind fuzzy jetlagged conversations!

I still have stories to tell & photos to share of our time in California. I hope to get those posted here in the next couple of days.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Fainjin’s personal Heaven

June 28, 2014

Today was the day that Fainjin has been waiting for, for months. Legoland Day.

We got a bus from Anaheim down to Carlsbad, a very comfortable & convenient way to travel with pick-up and drop-off to our hotel at each end of the day. On the longer trip home (due to traffic) the driver played a DVD to keep the kids (and adults) entertained.

Pearl & Babess dozed on the trip down this morning, still exhausted from the previous two days’ adventures. Fainjin sat next to me, quietly humming with anticipation.

We met Emmett & Lucy from the Lego Movie, and saw the actual set where some of it was filmed. Then the kids got their Lego driving licences and drove around the test track. We went on various rides and saw lots of Lego sculptures, but it was at MiniLand that Fainjin found what I think he had been looking for. Entire cities (or representations of cities, anyway), made of Lego.  While Babess asked why the model boats were floating in real water (instead of Lego water, I guess), he was nodding in approval, soaking it all in.

There were opportunities to build, and more rides, but by the end of the day all Fainjin & Babess wanted to do was run around on the adventure playground on Castle Hill. So they did, and were content, and arrived back at the hotel exhausted once again, asleep as soon as their heads touched their pillows.

(photos are refusing to upload; I’ll attempt something when I’ve had some sleep myself!)

© UpsideBackwards 2014.


June 27, 2014
Babess nonchalantly eats a strawberry while Captain Hook signs her autograph book

Babess nonchalantly eats a strawberry while Captain Hook signs her autograph book

Breakfast With Minnie was the start to our day, with Mickey Mouse-shaped waffles and made-to-order omelettes while characters dropped in to chat, sign autographs and pose for photos. Peter Pan was heaps of fun – the only character we saw today who talks. I came back from the buffet with my own breakfast to find him perched on my chair chatting to my younger children.  They were all so cute together! Babess had obviously asked him lots of questions, because she was telling me all about where Tinkerbell was and other bits and pieces after he’d gone.

Peter Pan perches with a pen

Peter Pan perches with a pen

We rode some rides – Babess & I enjoyed the famous teacups – and wandered the park. The kids found the cars in Autopia hard to steer, enjoyed the Small World, and loved the Buzz Lightyear shooting game/ride.  Fainjin glowed with delight meeting Thor and Captain America, having dressed especially for the occasion in his Avengers t-shirt (which both of them noticed and commented on).

We returned to the hotel in mid-afternoon for a break. After dinner I asked whether they wanted to go to bed or back to Disneyland. Back to Disneyland! was the cry. We went to Downtown Disney to catch the monorail, but had to stop in the Lego Store and examine the Build-a-Bear outfits first. When we eventually got back to Disneyland it was time to join the crowds in front of the castle for the fireworks. It was dark, and the kids got droopy. Before the show even started Fainjin & Pearl were begging to go home, but we were pretty much trapped by the crowds. Our view of the fireworks was obscured by some trees, but it was still spectacular. As soon as it was over, we made our way back to the hotel again, leaving rides unridden for another day (luckily we do still have a couple).

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

A California Adventure

June 26, 2014

We are nearly home! And what better place to pause and celebrate our amazing trip than Anaheim, California?

Yesterday was a very looooong day.  We flew from Baltimore to Los Angeles via Chicago.  We allowed lots of time to get to the airport and go through security, so we had an early morning.  The first flight went smoothly enough, but we were delayed in Chicago for over an hour, and had to fly around “some weather” so arrived about 90 minutes late.  Babess & Fainjin both fell asleep in the shuttle to our hotel.

This morning we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant (kids eat free! all of them! as long as I order from the menu, which isn’t expensive – breakfast cost me less than ice-creams did later in the day at the theme park) then walked to California Adventure via Downtown Disney.

Almost as soon as we walked into the park we were having our photos taken with Mickey Mouse & Goofy… and the day continued in similar vein.  We rode rides, watched shows, posed with characters, and simmered in the hot sun – 29ºC today, but at least it’s not humid like Maryland.

The kids’ favourite ride… hmmm, it’s hard to pin down.  Perhaps the “floating tire” ride in Cars Land – the giant tires are hovercraft and a bit like bumper cars so great fun.  They also loved the bumper cars in Bug Land, and Ariel’s Grotto (even Fainjin liked it!).

The least favourite is much easier to name: “It’s Tough to be a Bug” was labelled “may frighten small children” and it certainly did. Babess sobbed for a good 5-10 minutes afterwards.  Pearl didn’t like it much either, screaming her head off at the spiders (she was by no means alone in that) but able to laugh about it after the show.  Fainjin thought it was pretty cool though.

We have come back to the hotel after a long day out, eaten, washed and the kids have fallen straight asleep.  I’m planning a less-intense day tomorrow, hopefully with a rest in the middle of it so we can see the fireworks tomorrow night.

There are some photos of today – but both cameras we had with us ran out of juice during the day, so they are charging at the moment & I will upload the photos later.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

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