Magic Enough

The happiest Christmas ever! We have had so much delight getting ready for the magic of the festive season this year.  When we put up the tree, the little guy danced around the room in between hanging decorations singing ‘this is going to be the happiest Christmas ever!’  He loves every little tiny detail and has been as full of wonder at the lights in the trees on the drive home as at the treats discovered in the advent calendar bags each evening.  The moment we turned on the tree lights, he darted across to the main light switch, turned them off and sat in the middle of the rug with a beatific smile on his face, letting out a rapturous sigh.

My heart lifts with the magic of a story that has been told so often that it permeates the fabric of our culture and gives us a wealth references to share with one another.  We love a good story at our house and as an erstwhile teacher of literature and drama, it thrills my heart that the wee one needs little encouragement to read a story, begs often for us to tell him the stories of our lives and has recently been making up a raft of his own rather marvellous narratives.

I also love the magic of our reality – the mysteries of the world around us are revealing themselves to scientists daily, in ways that are sometimes more surprising and revealing yet more mysteries than we could have imagined. The world is an amazing place and it is our firm conviction that there is plenty of mystery and magic in the real world without needing to adhere to myths or tales as anything other than good narrative to illustrate rather than explain the world.

This is why Santa, that very jolly fellow who zooms about the skies with his magic reindeer, and spies on the children at preschool through the CCTV cameras, and sends emmisaries to the Christmas Fair to hand out pre-emptive gifts on his behalf, and is apparently able to get into our house even without a chimney as they have the technology these days, will not be coming to our house this year…or any other year.  We are those parents.

So, we were prepared to apologise if our little one broke the spell at preschool with his assertions that ‘Santa is not real’, but our feeling is there is enough magic in the world for our boy to retain his sense of wonder AND not lose faith in our explanations of how-the-world-is, based on a sense of disenchantment (fleeting perhaps) when it transpired that we had sold him a story as truth.

However, it seems this year that the apologies are not required – yet anyway.  He has been far more willing to accept the stories about Santa from outwith the home than our assertions that Santa is not real.  We have put Santa in the same camp as monsters, fairies, ghosts, baby Jesus, angels, ogres et al – all part of the mythical story repertoire that we cherish.  But I think for now this has just served to further confuse him and remind me that his little world is still expanding daily and he is so willing to believe anything – another compelling reason to maintain an honest line with him.

My only moment of pause was when he assured me that he would be very sad if Santa did not come to our house on Christmas.  Lots of things make our children sad.  We cannot shield them from all disappointment, we need to help them learn adult tools for absorping the disappointment and finding a happy equilibrium in spite of the reality check.  We will hug him if he is sad, remind him of how wonderfully fortunate he is in our lovely – real – magical world and help him to gain perspective while hopefully continuing to foster his delightful sense of wonder.

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Lake Sojourn

At last our longed for Autumn holiday in the Lake District was upon us.  I took a couple of days off work beforehand to let the little one have some at-home time as well as he seems to be more of a home body every day – and it seems hard on him to have five long days away from home each week.  We set off onthe Friday for three nights in a delightful cottage in Newlands Valley.  Our lovely friends Tomandclaireandgrace (their name has extended a little since last summer) met us there and we all had a lovely relaxing weekend in each other’s company.

Moody mountain moments

We had a magical walk in the woods at Whinlatter Forest.

Osprey land

Complete with a wise man of the woods…

Wise old man of the forest

…some forestcraft shelters…

Wilderness skills

…woodland luminosity…

Magical moments in the forest

…magical doors in the trees…

Hidden treasures in the trees

…places for balancing…

Playground

…and jumping.

Exploring the little houses

At Trotters World of Animals we got up close with some wonderful birds of prey…

Birds of prey demo

… and made friends with a macaw who was very chatty.

Hello Mr Macaw

On Derwentwater we met some geese…

Greylag geese on the shores of Derwent Water

…climbed some very big rocks…

Rock scrambling

…and thought a little of the romantics.

Wordsworthian moment on Derwent Water

‘Be thankful, thou; for, if unholy deeds
Ravage the world, tranquillity is here!’

William Wordsworth.

Autumnal Delights

What have we been up to since August?  Let me see…

  • The doctor went to Australia for a month – we missed him dreadfully, but were very glad of modern technology to keep track of him
  • I got a new job while he was away – which meant doing two jobs (sort of) for a few months
  • He returned to his first semester of teaching a new course  – which has been rather hectic
  • A close family member passed away the week the doctor was due to jet off to New Orleans, so we all packed up to fly to Dublin, only to have the wee one fall prey to the dreaded winter stomach virus – so I drove him home in a storm, but the doctor then ended up in A & E for the night after an allergic reaction, so that weekend felt a rather crazy ordeal
  • But – uh, no – I got the bug when the doctor was abroad and the little one and I have been lurching from one bug to another since, I am not sure we have had a decent nights sleep in over a month

It all sounds a bit grim…I would have to say that we have seen better times.  However, all around us the world has been changing colour and it has been rather glorious.  While our weeks have been a matter of just trying to stay on top of things, our weekends have involved some lovely adventures still.  So here are some recent pics of our out and abouts – and since we have vowed to lay low for the silly season this year, we might have more time for reflection soon.  How often do I say that?  Anyways, happy Autumn friends – hope you have had some lovely autumnal afternoons too!

Out and About

I’m not much of a one for organised sporty activity.  These days it is really difficult to prioritise getting exercise – even though I know that is to my detriment.  But when I do, I prefer to go for a walk.  Luckily, there are some great places for taking in scenery and getting a good stroll just out the door round here.  Recently I’ve taken in part of the Fife Coastal path on an afternoon before collecting the wee one from nursery.

The views of the town were rather gorgeous and I am convinced my true whakapapa connects me always to the sea.

On another stormy Saturday morning I walked out our road, into the countryside, through the grounds of a local National Trust property at the end of the road and up to the grounds of the broody Scotstarvit Tower.

On the way home I collected some brambles for a tart little breakfast snack.

It’s always wonderful to be out in the elements, I wish I could remember that more readily when I am cosied up inside on an autumnal afternoon…

Cycling Adventures

Last summer on our trip to the Cairngorms, we hired bikes and a weehoo trailer for a day’s outing.  It was such a hit with the wee guy, that we decided to acquire our own for family cycling adventures.  It has not had too much use yet, since the weather has been a bit dodgy and the doctor was away for the best weather we have had in the past few months. However, upon his return, we hit the cycle path around Loch Leven for a picnic bike ride.

It was a glorious afternoon and we had a lovely ride.

The loch looked marvellous.

So lovely to be out and about.

While the Cat’s Away

This summer the Doctor took flight for parts very southern for a month and the wee one and I had to keep ourselves occupied on the weekends in his absence.  We had a lot of happy adventures.  The time passed rather quickly in reflection, though as we counted the days it did sometimes seem like an eternity.

We had a day at Cairnie Fruit Farm which involved a large strawberry…

…finding our way around the maize maze…

… and some very gleeful moments on the trampoline.

Another afternoon was spent at the Science Centre in Dundee, which was hosting an exhibition of robots – the wee guy is quite the Star Wars fan (without having yet seen the films…that can wait) and he was very excited to meet these two…

…and have a go at manipulating these little robots…

…and have a go at making Iron Man hands on our way out.

This led to some inventive play with the old Duplo blocks when we got home.

We had a sunny afternoon at the beach…

…a lovely lunch at the Cocoa Tree in Pittenweem…

…and picnic tea on the beach after preschool…

…and celebrated Mama’s new job with some cheery flowers at home.

We counted the days…

…and finally Dada came home!  We missed you Dada, we are SO glad you are back…please don’t go away again.

Friends and Farewells

We were lucky in August to have a visit from our dear friends Julia and Jon from the US. Their visit flew by, but we were glad to show them St Andrews at its sunny gorgeous best (a rare sight this summer!).  Here we were perched on the famous pier.

It was Edinburgh Fringe Festival time – so we took the train to Edinburgh for the day and dragged them along to an adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s The Snail and the Whale.  It was a total hit with the wee one – and brought a tear to my eye as it was laced with a charming narrative about a girl whose Dad (forces) was away more than at home.  Something that seemed to be the case in our house this year.  [Though I exaggerate wildly here.]

Sure enough though, it seemed that the very next day we were savouring our fleeting memories of our dear friends’ visit whilst trying to quickly slot in some lasting memories of our own Dada before he hopped on the plane for a month in Oz.  Farewell!!

Olympic Odyssey

Like most of the country, we eagerly anticipated the advent of the London 2012 Olympics.  We managed to secure a few tickets for the odd event, and took an unprecedented ten days off work and other responsibilities to make our own Olympic Odyssey journey south…It was a bit of a whirlwind…and the dust is only just beginning to clear in this post-Olympic haze that is settling over the nation…but here are a few highlights of our trip to London.

Our first event was football – Spain v Japan – at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The wee guy thought it a bit of a lark at first, but when we realised that the concessions didn’t take card and we only had £7 between us for 6 hours of spectator activity, it became a bit of a challenge.  He managed brilliantly, and we were all a bit starstruck being in an actual live Olympic venue for the first time:

Next up was the cycling road race in Richmond Park, which we watched with our lovely friends the Ryan-Pryors who live nearby and hosted us for lunch and a stroll in the park to take in the peleton wizzing past. 

Our final family ticketed event was the Volleyball at Earl’s Court.  The players were fiesty and the spectators even more so.  Somehow the stands were packed to capacity with Polish fans for the Poland v Lithuania match and they made for an electrifying atmosphere.

By this point the wee guy was pretty spectatored out and so we were intensely grateful for the diversions of the iPad.

And when things got just too much altogether, he and I ventured out for a spot of retail therapy, burning off steam and doing a little crazy posing with the Great Britain Hand.

But the real Olympic excitement for Kazuo came on the morning that Dada was off watching Weightlifting with the grandies at Excel.  He and met up with my friend Karen and her lovely girl Kit for a playdate at Coram’s Fields and then headed to Kiwi House for lunch in the BBQ zone.  We plonked ourselves and the tots down next to this fellow – who had just won yet another medal in the Equestrian arena.  Kaz eyed his medal up for a while and Mr Todd invited him over for a little chat – it was a delightful exchange, especially since K was quite forthcoming about his own medal that he had gained at Legoland that week.

It was an eventful week or so and with the paralympics making an appearance at the end of the month, we are glad to have such a wealth of wonderful sporting endeavour to inspire us.

Early Summer in the Garden

According to good gardening wisdom, one should wait a full year in a new garden before doing anything to it.  I am not sure that this advice extends to avoiding weeding, but so far my erratic health and the dreary weather have created a sense of inertia that has meant the poor garden has had to thrive in spite of my neglect thus far.  I am glad to report though, that it has mostly managed to do so, and is putting on a rather lovely summer showing just now.

This is a favourite vista from near the chicken yard, by the pond rockery.

The bees are ALL over this lovely little pink shrub.  I have no idea what it is (such a gardening novice…guess I will learn eventually) but it is right outside the end window in the lounge – which enhances the view no end.

I don’t think I had ever seen Honesty at this stage of it’s growth, having only ever encountered it in hideous 80’s dried flower arrangements.  I rather love the greeny-purple nature of this incarnation.

This is apparently (forgive me if I am wrong) Orange Hawkweed – which is noxious in some places, as it is an amazing alpine self-seeder.  It has rather taken over the rockery, but I think I kinda like it – though I do think that perhaps a little more thought to colour scheme could have gone into this garden, it has been a rather haphazard lurching from one shade of the spectrum to another – which does not appeal to the minialmist in me.

There is a certain wildness to the garden – which is not entirely due to my leaving it to it’s own devices.  Little yellow poppies have appeared everwhere, not always to the Doctor’s liking, but I have been cheered by their sturdy delicacy.  I suppose I should probably nip them in the bud at this stage to limit their spread for next year.

Another alpine that is doing remarkably well is the Alpine Strawberry which I discovered quite by accident this past weekend.  Kaz was very keen to munch them all up, they made a tiny little treat for his afternoon tea.

Whilst we made a bit of a slow start in planting our vege garden this year (and thus may have missed out with some things), there is some evidence of growth – especially with the Elephant Garlic we planted at the outset of our gardening endeavours.

We discovered last year that many things we might have grown well in other places we have lived, will not survive the cool damp climate of Fife.  But the ever-reliable poatato does extremely well here.  We tried no-dig potatoes this year and they did not eventuate, but we love the lusciousness of our potato grow bags by the shed and are looking forward to harvesting them next month.