We are still here, I promise! I know we have been (very) quiet, but I have a good excuse. I have been feeling awful recently – constant nausea, sickness, exhaustion – but as the dark clouds are beginning to lift and leave me feeling capable of a few basic tasks again we can at last announce…
Annabelle will be a big sister in September
So I’m sorry for the lack of blogging, but hopefully now that I am beginning to feel better, we might just have a little more to share. For now though, here are a few little snippets of what we have been up to this winter and early spring:
Now that the sun is shining more often and I am feeling better, we will be out and about having some adventures to share soon!
We are very lucky up here in the Greater Manchester area – we are treated to a huge variety of free events and family activities hosted by various museums, galleries and organisations. In the last few months we have been to events as part of Manchester Science Festival, Manchester Literature Festival, Manchester Family Arts Festival, Library events (even bedtime stories with hot chocolate!), fireworks displays, and Christmas events. In the new year there is even a History Festival coming up!
One free event we found over summer was ‘Toddlertastic’ at Whitworth Art Gallery. However, we turned up to enjoy this weekly event in it’s very last week, the Gallery was closing for a huge redevelopment project! The Toddlertastic dance and music session has moved to a new venue, but sadly it happens on a work day for me – boo!
To say goodbye (for now), the Whitworth Art Gallery hosted a free festival called ‘Whitworth Weekending’ which we went along to and had a fantastic time at. The Park next to the gallery was filled with all sorts of exciting activities, crafts and stalls, and Annabelle came away with arm-fulls of artworks to show off!
Annabelle takes these events in her stride now, and is getting really confident at picking out activities that she would like to join in with, talking to adults, and working with other children. Thanks Manchester for investing in children and their creativity!
After the slight disaster of the squirrel stealing our loo-roll bird feeders, I saw this idea at a local country park and had high hopes that they might stay put a little longer!
The bird feeders are simply made from hoop shaped cereal threaded onto pipe cleaners. I wouldn’t have thought of using cereal myself, but if it is good enough for Etherow Country Park, it is good enough for us!
I loved the idea of incorporating a threading and fine-motor activity into learning about wildlife! We have tried threading beads onto wooden skewers, and threading beads onto pipe cleaners so Annabelle enjoyed using a new medium.
We looped each pipe cleaner into a circle and then joined them together paper-chain style.
We used an extra pipe cleaner to tie the bird feeder to a tree trunk and…it worked, the whole chain was still there once the cereals were all gone so we have been back and refilled it several times! The birds got stuck in once we were inside, and Annabelle enjoyed recording them all in her spotter’s book!
For any locals, Etherow is a great country park to visit and the newly re-vamped visitor’s centre has loads of activities for children. The cafe and visitor centre are run by Pure Innovations who are a group supporting people with disabilities and disadvantages – their teacakes and hot chocolates are perfect after a chilly walk!
We have visited a few Zoos over the last few years, and although we enjoy seeing the animals, we always feel slightly uncomfortable about how confined some of the animals seem. South Lakes Wild Animal Park had a very different feel about it. There is a big emphasis on environmental issues, protection of endangered species, and the animals are all in spacious ‘natural feeling’ enclosures. Although the animals might be far away from viewing areas due to the large enclosures, there are long expanses of elevated walkways which mean you can get a great view wherever they may be hiding!
It was a bit of a long way for us to travel up to Dalton-in-Furness but the price made up for it – during the winter (usually November – April), entry is FREE! We visited on a pretty chilly day, but we still had a great time wrapped up warm!
We had a lovely day and were there right up until closing time! Annabelle got a great view of all the animals and loved the variety that we saw. From sun bathing, yoga-posing ring tailed Lemurs to tigers, lions, otters, and of course, lots of monkeys!
Now that the free season has just started again I have a feeling we might be heading up north again soon!
Today we went to the supermarket and as usual we had to get a trolley with “One baby seat and one big girl seat” so that Annabelle and Big Baby could sit together (Don’t shout at me, we only use them when there are plenty of spares for the real babies!) and as usual Big Baby was dressed appropriately for the weather, had a bottle of water and a snack. The lady at the checkout said to Annabelle “Ooh it’s nice to see a doll with some clothes on, usually children carry around naked babies!” Annabelle looked horrified at the idea, she patiently sits and gets her babies dressed and undressed herself every day.
My point is Annabelle takes looking after her babies VERY seriously. Suzy and Big Baby get their own library books every time we visit, they have their own seats in restaurants, they have their nappies changed when Annabelle goes to the toilet, and Annabelle probably spends as much time pushing them on the swings or roundabout at the park as she does playing on them herself!
Here are just a few little insights into life as Annabelle’s baby…
One of my funniest memories is of Annabelle dressed in her nurse’s outfit ‘caring’ for Suzy . She gently picked her up from the sofa, stroked her and said softly “Ah, hello Suzy are you ok? Come on then, let’s get you bumped.” She then carried Suzy carefully to the hallway, swung her by the feet and smashed her head against the door. All so she could take care of her again!! As I said, Annabelle takes this very seriously! We made her babies some bandages from ribbon and Velcro after a particularly nasty spate of stair falls. We also made some re-usable felt and Velcro nappies (diapers) that she pretends to wash in her washing machine *eco-mum gold star for me 😉 *
A note on Big Baby. Big Baby has been known as Big Baby since she arrived at Christmas time. We met Suzy first and she was named, then we met Big Baby. She was a big baby compared to little Suzy! Annabelle has tried to give her various names but they just never stick, and we return to Big Baby! She has even been into school with me to be Baptised by the local Reverend when we learnt about Christianity. The children agreed that we couldn’t possibly baptise her Big Baby so they voted to name her Ellie. I told Annabelle about all this, and she replied “That sounds nice, did you have fun Big Baby?”