Monday, August 31, 2009

Thorpe Park

Thanks to my lovely in-laws we had a trip out for the day to Thorpe Park on Saturday. They sent us some money specifically to take them out for the day, and seeing as it was something we'd promised but were struggling to fund it was perfect!

We had such a good day. I used to love theme parks and rides, but I seem to have lost my nerve in the last few years. It's age creeping up on me I suppose. Pete, Taylor and Ryan went on Saw as soon as we got there, which was probably a good thing as it was pretty horrific. I don't think we would've got Taylor or Pete on it if they'd had time to think about it too much. Ryan wouldn't have cared, he'll go on anything. While they were in the 90 minute queue for Saw, I took Isobel on the log flume, which she hated with a passion even though she'd been on similar at Legoland last year and was fine. Seems I'm not the only one who has lost their nerve.

I normally get bored and want to go home by tea time, but the queues got smaller and we got to go on stuff twice as the day wore on, so we stayed until 7.30pm. The best roller coaster there for me was Colossus, it was amazing!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Exam results

Ryan sat some early GCSE's in June, in Maths and English. He still has a year left of school, but taking some of the exams early takes the pressure off. If they fail they then have a year to resit them. We collected his results yesterday and he got C's for both. We are so pleased for him!

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Photos

I took these this week. It's nice to have another little person to photograph!

Hmmm...I wonder what these taste like?


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Holidays nearly over

We took the kids for a picnic to Hadleigh Farm last week, where it proceeded to rain on and off all day and was bloody freezing.

August. Greyer and more miserable than January.

Isobel had a donkey ride. Her donkey was called Joseph, and was a grumpy little bugger. He had a fight with another donkey while Isobel and another child clung on for dear life.

The farm sells the obligatory bags of animal feed for you to wander round with. The only problem was the farm was so rammed with visitors that by the afternoon all the animals looked at you in disgust when you presented them with yet another handful of stinking sheep pellets. You could just tell from the desperation in their eyes that they'd much rather have some of your picnic. Maybe a jam doughnut, or scotch egg.

We also had a lovely day out to Grays Beach on Wednesday, which isn't really a beach(it is on the Thames-don't swim in it, it's grim!), but has an amazing sandy playground and water fountain park, bouncy castle and go-karts. I can't believe that we haven't been before. We were there literally all day. It also has this really bizarre setting, like being on holiday, but with huge industrial buildings looming over you.

Even better, it was about thirty degrees yesterday, so we didn't get rained on for a change.

Ryan is now not going to his Mums. After weeks of messing him about, she calls and says she would rather send him the money she would've spent on travelling to get him/get him to her, which was £70. Fine, she's still saving herself hundreds of pounds by not having to feed him or entertain him for a week, so everyone is a winner. Except, she has let him down again and instead of the promised £70, only given him £20. He was planning on saving that to put towards his moped insurance at Christmas.

I've had a good day today. We decided about two weeks ago that I was probably going to have to get a second job to up my hours, and also go back to my main job early. I really didn't want to have to put Kit into childcare, or get Isobel picked up from school by someone else, so I'm really happy that Pete will be at home with the kids. That is worth its weight in gold as far as I'm concerned. He was home with Isobel a few days week for two years and they are so close because of it. I had an interview for a little second job today, cleaning a doctors surgery, and they called me this afternoon to offer me it!

We have some big decisions to make this year about Taylor's senior school, as we have to choose in a few months. The school I wanted him to go to has been under subscribed for years, but it looks like this year everyone else has had the same idea as us and they were fully subscribed. He'll never get in as baptised Catholics get first refusal. Our local schools only have a 20-30% pass rate at GCSE, which won't do Taylor any favours really. He's a good learner IF he is taught, leaving him to get on with it means he will learn nothing. He will do well if he's pushed, he learns easily. Ryan's senior school isn't great for setting e extra work, or even homework, or getting them to do the coursework, hence the 30% pass rate. This has been not so bad for Ryan, who is naturally clever(but lazy with it!), he'll probably do OK in his exams regardless, but Taylor wouldn't. Not sure what to do really. I think we are going to have to either try our hardest to move, or accept that he isn't going to do very well. How on earth will we be able to move in time? It's not an option really. Bugger.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Useless parents

I know very well that I should be used to this mess after all these years, and shouldn't get annoyed by it, but sometimes Ryan's mum does something so bloody ridiculous I can't help but get into a rage. Most of the time we just laugh at her, including Ryan.

When Ryan was living with her Pete payed £600 a month maintenance. He's been with us 4 years now and we've never had a single penny from her. She has been giving Ryan erratic pocket money for a year.

As Pete is out of work we've been in touch with all the usual benefits people, income support etc. to see what we can get help with, and they are pushing us to get maintenance from her. If we don't claim it from her they will. So, Pete called her up and explained to her what was going on. Her first reaction? "Can't Claire support you all. Can't she pay for Ryan?". The cheek of the woman!! Then she said "Can't Claire's family help you out?" I am still in shock four days later that she can't hear herself, and can't see how pathetic that is. She gave birth to the child, she should at least be a little bit concerned that we are struggling to put food on the table!

She has agreed to give us a hilariously small amount, and carry on giving Ryan a smaller amount too, but has refused to set up a direct debit, so we'll probably get it when she feels like it, just like she does with his pocket money. She even said "Aren't I good paying you this money?". Err, no, he is YOURS after all.

Even more annoyingly, she is really stringing Ryan along about when he can come and stay. She won't make any firm plans, said he could go next Monday and she'd call him to make arrangements last night, she didn't, it's now Saturday lunchtime and still no call. He says if he can't go on Monday he won't bother as he doesn't want to go for the last week of the holidays. When he tells her that she'll go bananas at him.

What is wrong with these absent parents? Michael hasn't even bothered to call Taylor either. He will have a stroppy phone call winging it's way to him from me very soon, which I never do. *shakes head*

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer holidays on a budget

Trying to find things to do as a family that don't cost the earth is a nightmare. With only one wage coming in it's been even harder than usual this year. It's important that the children feel like they've done things over the summer break. We are a very experience driven family, rather than possession driven, and I want them to have fun memories of their childhood. It doesn't help when the weather is so unpredictable either. We went swimming last week and met up with friends, you only got an hour time slot in the pool due to it being overcrowded, and it cost us £15. Luckily we had packed picnics and we went to one of my childhood haunts afterwards, The Splash, which is FREE!

The water is bloody freezing!

This is where it gets it's name from:

Playing pooh sticks on the bridge:

Taylor fell in about 30 seconds later. He always falls in.

Isobel went in too. She was distracted by a galloping Labrador that was passing by through the river and lost her balance. She was not amused and refused to let me take her picture from that point on.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Learning to ride a bike

My Mum is the family expert at teaching children to ride bikes, I haven't got the patience and there is definitely a knack to it. She taught Isobel this week, and within two days she was whizzing around like a pro.

She can even do corners!

Punk Rock Taylor! I cut his hair into a Mohican for the school holidays.

No hands!

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I've made this little dude to send to a friend in the post along with some goodies to cheer her up. Isobel chose his name!


I know I am biased but I seriously think I have the sweetest baby in the whole world. He is quiet, sunny, and loves to just sit up and watch the world go by. As long as he is sat up he is happy. Lay him down and you get told off! He can't wait to get moving and spends most of the day wriggling, rolling, shuffling and grunting in frustration trying to get somewhere.

He will be 20 weeks this Friday, that has gone so quickly. Pete was just saying it feels as though he's always been a part of the family, and it really does. Kit being here hasn't really changed our lives or routines, he just tags along with us with a smile on his face. We've finally cracked the bedtime routine, he goes up at 8ish for a cuddle with one of us, but because he sleeps fitfully until about 10.30pm we don't put him in bed until then, and he doesn't wake up until 7am. It's been bliss! He really is a pleasure to have around, even more so now he sleeps at night.