29/52

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#1 Boy2
#2 Boy1

Short on time, short on photos and short on calm.

Littlest man finally recovered during 29/52 after two full weeks of being unwell. Boy1 was knee-deep in the final rehearsals for ‘Oliver!’. There have been tears, tantrums and over excitement. From all of us.

With show rehearsals and illness taking over all our lives, I decided that it would be best to keep things low-key. During the day we abandoned all home ed meet ups and any of the things we usually do, in an effort to get well again and to save energy for evening rehearsals which sometimes ran until 9pm. In hindsight I’m not sure I did the right thing; the boys were so divorced from their usual routine that the bickering and tiring behaviour began. What it did show me, though, was that despite being unschoolers, we do have more of a routine than I’d previously realised. There is a rhythm to our weeks that I’m now desperate to get back to.

Yesterday was the first performance. I was crying as the orchestra struck up, before the curtain even rose! What an amazingly talented group of young people. I was so proud of my little man; he may not have been the most focused one on the stage but he was amongst the youngest and given that he has always struggled to concentrate he did amazingly. I was so frightened that the experience would have resulted in sensory overload for him but he did it. I’m still feeling wobbly today. Tonight he’ll be watched by his grandparents at an evening performance and then tomorrow I’ll return with The Man and Boy2 to watch his final performance.

As exciting as it is, I’m looking forward to real life making a come back.

Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

28/52

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#1 Carefully picking your way through the wheat to get to the tractor trail because we’d talked about respecting the farmer’s crops. You liked the way the ears of corn felt on the palms of your hands.

#2 Playing in a field of grass gone to seed must surely be a childhood rite of passage? You were in your element, barely able to see above it in places.

These pictures, taken on different days but right at the start of a new week, now feel like they come from another time entirely. Already that long grass has been mown, and the wheat fields all around us have turned from green to golden. With almost two full weeks of Boy2 being unwell now under our belts, time seems to have flown by, and yet each day (and many nights) has dragged, one merging into the next. I’m no nurse and he’s a pretty demanding patient and so it’s been a bit exhausting, if I’m honest. The opportunity to take photos has been slim and my motivation low. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll have anything at all to share for week 29!

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We’re now just five days away from Boy1’s first performance of ‘Oliver!’. The rehearsal schedule has become like a full time job in itself and so as well as nurse, I’ve also been fulfilling my duties as taxi driver and motivational coach! Keeping him well has been high on my list of priorities. That and getting myself over having an emergency wisdom tooth extraction.

Yes, it’s been tiring.

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As I sit writing this an impressive thunder storm is going on above me, the rain is pouring down, clearing the air of an incredibly oppressive day. A fresh start is on the cards.

Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

27/52

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#1 Being cheeky on the steam train. You did a pretty good job of avoiding the camera in such close confines but I caught the real you here.

#2 My little artist at work. You love leaving your mark and sand is your favourite.

We squeezed in a couple of precious days back ‘home’ in Norfolk to spend time with Nana and Grandad and the Danish cousins. The visit didn’t quite work out as planned but we did at least spend one afternoon and evening together. We took a ride on a steam train from Sheringham, spent a few hours at the beach, and finished the day off with a fish and chip supper. We’d have liked to stay on longer but too many commitments back here in Kent were calling us home.

This was the week I had a photo of the boys removed from my Instagram account, followed by a warning about violating their community rules. I was angry and upset and a bit baffled, too. As a consequence, this post contains fewer pictures of Boy1 as he chose to strip down to his undies to go into the sea. There has been a weird and worrisome spate of Instagram accounts being closed down with little or no warning in the past couple of weeks. A strange form of censorship directed unfairly at mothers who are choosing to share beautiful and entirely innocent pictures of their children. It’s made me think about which direction to take things here on the blog, too.

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So I’ve come to blogging week 27 so unbelievably late that I’m not able to submit my link to Practising Simplicity or I Heart Snapping. I’m so late I already have my shots from week 28 lined up and ready to go. Let’s just say the last week has been a bit of a write-off. A poorly littlest little and an hectic last rehearsal schedule for the bigger one has meant pretty much everything else has fallen by the wayside. The photos were there, they just sat on the camera a bit too long. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s OK.

26/52

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#1 Bubble face
#2 Bubble love

The Man was sorting out in the garage and came across a bottle of big bubble mix we’d made up for Boy1’s 5th birthday party. At the time it didn’t work and in the end we gave up. Turns out that sitting in the bottle for two and a half years did the trick! And so followed half an hour of intense bubble making and breaking fun. They were both drenched and very sticky afterwards but their joy was infectious. Everyone loves a bubble :)

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Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

25/52

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#1 You’ve always been physical, actually finding it almost impossible to stay still, but this week you discovered that you can balance. And I mean really balance.

#2 You were so tempted to get straight into the water. The deal was that we’d head to a cafe for lunch before getting soaked. You just about kept to that promise. Just about.

We took a train into London for a day of exploring the HMS Belfast, and playing in the water fountains on the More London Estate. The boys had the best time, climbing up and down steep stairs on the ship, engaging in navy related imaginary play, and waving to passing tourist boats. Just a short walk from the Belfast we found the water fountains and made the most of a warm day. London really is the most bizarre place, you know. I lived there for seven years prior to having the boys and I never really noticed. Where else would you find young children, wearing just their swimming trunks, running around playing water games (and acting out bizarre contemporary dance moves) amongst city workers on their lunch break and no one bats an eyelid, engages in conversation or even remotely acknowledges your kids are, quite literally batsh*t crazy?! If this sort of thing happened on Canterbury high street it would make the local news :)

It was a great, albeit slightly mad, day (and despite the very serious faces I seem to have captured, they did an awful lot of laughing!)

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Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

24/52

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#1 A new dressing up costume because you’ve grown out of all the old ones, but you’ve not yet grown out of pretending. It’s something of a passion.

#2 You handled the disappointment of not getting a new costume with such maturity it took me by complete surprise. My little bear, with a mouthful of muesli.

This week, for the boys, it was all about dressing up. For me it was all about the iPhone and suddenly working out that Instagram is so much more than a set of photo filters. Since I all but forgot to even share a week 24 these will have to do. And you know what, I love them both, mostly because they say it how it is perfectly <3

If you use Instagram and want to follow I can be found lurking at @loopygibbens :)

Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

23/52

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#1 You returned to ‘base’ momentarily to say something, and then you were off again; my only opportunity to take your photo all afternoon. I love your muddy knees.

#2 And while your brother played at the shore with his friends, you hung out with me again, collecting stones, picking flowers, and admiring beach huts. I love your determination.

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We had another day at the beach, this time with our home ed group. We’ve not joined them as much recently, but with the weather so lovely and the boys being seduced by the craft activity on offer (making catapults), we ventured out. It was so good to see the increase in Boy1’s confidence amongst the other children there.

As you can see, I clearly need some lessons (or self restraint, perhaps) in selecting photos to include here. Trust me, I’ve been tossing coins in an attempt to slim the amount down. Back in the day, I would definitely have been one of those annoying people with a projector who invited people over to sit through endless holiday slides ZZZZzzzzzz.

And right now, we’re literally heading out the door on our way to North Norfolk for a wedding. The boys are safely deposited with the grandparents. It’s been a very, very long time since it was just me and The Man. Such a strange feeling!

Just as my week 23 is submitted, others will be about to submit their week 24. Says it all really! Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

22/52

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#1 Sitting on the sand, with the wind whipping at your hair, watching your brother dancing in the sea.

#2 When it comes to water you really are a little crazy. It was so cold but you swam, right up to your neck, until you were blue. Absolutely bonkers.

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We had a blast meeting new friends and the best of old ones, too, at the seaside. It was one of those weird weather days. Warm, muggy, threatening rain, bright sky, black sky, huge downpour. Our closest beach is Whitstable, stony like most of this part of the Kent coast but Boy2 was thrilled to find the tiniest patch of sand amongst the pebbles. A happy boy and his bucket. The older boys in the group wasted no time getting wet. Boy1 was really reluctant to get out despite chattering teeth and blue skin. I felt cold just watching!

Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

21/52

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#1 You were simply far too busy to sit for me to take your picture. I’m not sure what you were about to say but no doubt it was full of sass.

#2 And for once, you were happy to pause just long enough. I think you look beautiful but sad.

On the last really lovely day before the rain set in (well over a week ago now), we visited Sissinghurst. The boys, very ungratefully, did a fair amount of whinging on the way there about how boring it was going to be. That was until they got to borrow binoculars and magnifying glasses from the reception. They particularly loved spotting birds in the barn rafters, walking through the buttercups to reach a picnic spot by the lake, feeding the masses of fish, jumping over and in a mini waterfall, smelling the flowers in the garden, climbing the twisty stairs to the top of the castle tower, and the ice cream treat at the end. Oh, yes, that’ll be everything then; not so ‘boring’ after all, hey boys?

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Joining in – late again – with those lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

We Love :: The Fableists

Every once in a while, though not nearly often enough, something comes along that makes you stop dead in your tracks and think. And this video from kids clothing brand, The Fableists, did just that to me. Apart from the fact that it’s a beautiful piece of film-making, it’s message is hard hitting. Watch it right now and I’m sure you’ll be moved…

I love kids fashion; I’m borderline obsessive (to the detriment of my own wardrobe). But is it OK for something to look good, if it’s not actually ‘good’? The Fableists is a brand with a huge heart and decent morals. I’m talking organic, fair trade, fair wear, sweatshop free, sustainable, and low or no carbon footprint (this is just a snippet of their ethical mission statement). These are seriously cool clothes made for, not by, kids.

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Their film was enough for me. Then I discovered that I love everything in the current collection. I particularly like the utilitarian styling and, with a couple of exceptions, the range is brilliantly unisex. And when I found out that they had a whopping 50% flash sale on I ordered Boy1 the baseball top and dark denims. They arrived today and I’ve fallen even further in love (photos to follow!).

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I pretty much only buy anything in sales these days. We’re a single income family so every pound counts. But as Canterbury residents gear up for the grand opening of a new Primark store, you won’t find me joining the stampede with my elbows out. I’ve proven to myself, having two boys, that the organic clothes I spent decent money on with a clear(er) conscience are still going strong…and many are being passed along to friends. Our new Fableists threads arrived with a hand-me-down passport, encouraging us to do just that. In an all too often throw away age, these clothes are made to last.

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In their own words:

““Like so many people, we were concerned with the growing throw-away fashion trend that led to such tragedies as the Rana Plaza collapse. Making a change in the way consumers shop and perceive clothes in terms of buying, using and disposing of them, will make a huge difference to family health, the lives of others, the planet and will help to create a positive movement. But we are also adamant that our clothes look the business. The Fableists is a label with a vision.”

Like what you see? You will LOVE it when you actually get your hands on some (whether you buy The Fableists new, or get some pre-loved). And the great news is they’ve decided to extend their HALF PRICE flash sale for half term! Simply enter the code ‘Fableistsfifty’ during the checkout process. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll feel good about it, too <3

all images copyright of The Fableists