We just forgot one thing…

We are one of those families who always forget something. Even before children, we’d remember to pack all kinds of random items (some of which we never actually had a use for), yet we would neglect that one useful item. Toothpaste and pyjamas were common offenders. Since having the boys, we’ve come to expect that ‘forgotten’ item. I recall one Christmas we were going to my parents for the day and managed to forget all of eldest son’s milk (who at the time was 6 months old and a formula fed baby). Then there’s the annual trip to my Uncle’s house, where we are exceptionally prepared for the outbound journey but have a tendency to leave a toy or rogue item of clothing when we come home again. A more recent occurrence was when youngest son was only a few days old. I’d picked up a few select items for him. Carelessly, a spare pair of pampers was not one of them! My newborn ended up wearing a stylish size 5 nappy. There’s always a way round these things.

This morning our arrangements changed twice at the last minute. With the plan changing, the required items also changed accordingly. The revised arrangements were to go from school to the library (in order to both run an errand and enjoy some music and songs whilst there), before visiting a local fort for our main outing. I was feeling pretty industrious, gathering everything together during the usual morning chaos. I’d loaded the car because (as with most things in my life) it was now a pretty tight schedule so transport would be required, breaking the regular school run routine. I’d managed to remember a whole host of items: eldest son’s school bag and water bottle; middle son’s packed lunch, hat and spare clothing; youngest son’s usual changing bag, pushchair, baby sling and my kangaroo jumper. I’d even got the library books ready to return. Middle son’s behaviour at the library was exemplary. He loved scanning in the old items, made a careful selection of new books and audio tapes and then sat sensibly doing the actions during rhyme time. Watching middle son and youngest son performing ‘Row, row, row the boat’ together was a beautiful reminder that all the exhausting ‘parenting stuff’ is worth it. By lunchtime middle boy wasn’t quite maintaining his earlier high standard, culminating in a heated debate between a biscuit and a banana. I’m pleased to report that team banana were triumphant.

When we returned home later that afternoon, I made the unfortunate mistake of assuming that, despite our earlier tightly packed schedule, we’d conquered the day without overlooking anything. But we hadn’t collected eldest son from school yet!

When the time came, middle son wanted to take his bike – no surprises there. Predicting that my eldest would want to at least contest his brother’s speed, I’d also need a set of wheels for him – drop off by car meant his preferred transport was still at home. I found a new and flashy way of loading a scooter onto the pushchair, however in my excitement I failed to notice the lack of rain cover. I hadn’t even thought to look for it, after all the sun had been shining. I was to discover this to my cost when the rain descended upon us on the school playground. We sheltered by the chickens for a little while but the weather didn’t look like easing up so I was forced to surrender my coat to the baby. Next time I need to check the weather forecast multiple times in one day – lesson learnt!

NB: To clarify, I have never forgotten one of my children. I am proud of this.

Photo credit to eldest son.

See you later, slow coaches.

Lately, it feels like I’m forever running after bicycles. I’m sure this has some advantages, like being able to eat more calories in preparation for burning them off again. However on the whole, I probably look a bit silly. Even youngest son is likely laughing at me as I jog up the road with his pushchair, wearing completely inappropriate clothing for such dynamic enterprises.

Things I have observed while chasing them:

1) They are so competitive. My boys aren’t especially ‘sporty’ types. This is clear from the way in which eldest son wobbles impressively whilst riding. Yet, they always want to win. They’ll race each other, school friends they’ve spotted, random cars, even a passing dog on the other side of the road. Their attempts to hide the fact that they are racing can be quite humorous. You have the announcement method – where one will loudly proclaim to the other one “It’s not a race!” before whizzing off down the road while this information is still being processed. Then there’s the creeping forward (ever so subtly), while Mummy gets everything sorted – to ensure a pole position. Finally, you have the ‘tortoise and the hare method’. Eldest son will elect to use this one when he can’t keep up with his younger brother – particularly on hills. He tells me that he needs a rest and sits down for a bit. Middle son then turns round and cycles back down the hill to us. It’s at that point when eldest son instantly recovers and off he goes, while his brother is still trying to turn his bike around.

2) They know a cul-de-sac when they see one and use it to their advantage. As I’ve said before, my boys do love a good rule to follow. The ‘getting off your bike before you cross’ rule is no exception. They obviously feel that dismounting too often is a bit too much effort, so they’ve discovered a way to avoid it. Eldest son likes looking out for road signs with the blue, white and red sign. He knows this means dead end and will disappear down such roads at speed. The first time he did it, I thought he must know of an alleyway or shortcut that I was unaware of. No. He just wanted to avoid having to cross the road. Now both boys regularly ride right to the end of these streets, round the bottom and back up again – just to maintain contact with the pavement. It’s left me wondering if this will remain a habit right up until they take their ‘Bikeability’ course and begin riding on the roads. I recommend this method to families who enjoy walking long distances unnecessarily.

An action packed, rainy day. Standard.

There’s very little a warm bath can’t fix. When he’s got a brother to play with, marshmallow bubble bath, Noah’s Ark, the Octonauts and some new squirter toys, middle son is in his happy place. Five minutes earlier the story was rather different.

Taking every opportunity to use his new bike, middle son had cycled up the hill (without stopping) on the school run. He’d then attended his playball class and run around like a crazy thing, then I’d taken him swimming. He’d practically completed a triathlon and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet! After allowing only a short period of time to enjoy calm and tranquil activities like stories, mazes and spot the difference, he was keen to be on the move again so it was get the bicycle back out again for a pit stop at Auntie’s house before the afternoon school run. As expected, the rain was getting heavier – especially to mark the occasion.

Despite everyone getting absolutely drenched (with the exception of youngest son – who was sensible enough to remain under his raincover for the duration), we all seemed in good spirits. Then middle son suddenly stopped. He’d worked out that he was cold and the amount of energy he’d used throughout the day was beginning to catch up with him. He wasn’t moving – no matter what. It was kind of like playing musical statues with a child when they’ve already won the game, but they still refuse to move in case you are trying to trick them.

After retrieving an item from his Auntie’s place, it should have been a short, simple return journey. Not to be. Middle son still hadn’t moved. I was starting to wonder if he has shares in a superglue company or something. He wanted me to push him home. Not an easy feat when A) You’re over six foot tall and the bicycle in question is significantly nearer the ground B) You’re also pushing a pushchair leaving only one hand free to support the bike C) The bicycle does not have stabilisers so is wobbling all over the place at the slow speed I was attempting to tug it along. Luckily for me, eldest son was in ‘giving citizen’ mode and obligingly surrounded his scooter to his younger brother and cycled the bike home for him. Now the dripping statue – that was my child – was safely on three wheels (with a high handle) and could easily be transported home with a single hand.

By the time we arrived home, we resembled a family who’d decided to go swimming fully clothed – with coats on. After the earlier swim and the more recent precipitation, the day seemed to be following an ‘aqua’ theme, so more water activities seemed the best course of action. Bath time it was – if only Mummy had time to relax in one of those!

It’s his birthday and he’ll cry if he wants to.

Middle son turned four on Friday. The school run was always going to be an interesting one. The thing about birthdays is that daybreak still arrives at the same time but you have added excitement and present opening to add into the usual morning routine. Plus the odd special request such as a fourth cereal in their bowl. It’s usually worth it. Seeing your child’s smile on their special day is always magical.

We took the bikes to school (middle son’s choice). It began to drizzle from the miserable looking grey clouds littering the sky. All was still good. It remained that way until we were less than 50 yards from the school gate. We’d just crossed the main road, the boys had pushed their bikes across sensibly, we’d even navigated our way past other families carefully. Now on the corner I let the boys know they can get back onto their bikes and cycle the final stretch. Except they didn’t – well one didn’t. Instead, middle son burst into tears. I asked him what was wrong and he wails. We had ‘the talk’ where Mummy told him that she can only make something better if she knows what the problem is. Still nothing but wailing.

He wouldn’t get on his bike. He wouldn’t push his bike. He wouldn’t walk. He wouldn’t even use his words to explain the problem. There was no way I could carry a bicycle and a larger than average four year old while pushing youngest son in his pram. We appeared to have reached a common scenario where I am forced to try and fathom out the problem. Putting the brakes on the pushchair, I crouched beside my sobbing child and began the guesswork. I can reveal that he wasn’t cold, he didn’t hurt his shin on the pedal while pushing the bike, he hadn’t forgotten something important and his tummy didn’t hurt. At this point, someone took it upon themselves to move my pushchair for me – presumably it was in their preferred walking line. I felt a bit inadequate, wondering why they didn’t just ask me to reposition it. Maybe they knew I had an important mystery to solve. He was still crying but as I asked him again what the problem was, I spotted a clue: a subtle glance at his saddle.

“Are you upset that your seat is wet?” He nods. We have a winner. Even better, it’s an easy fix. I use my coat sleeve to wipe it and he’s all smiles and on his way again. I’m not as lucky. As I stand up, I experience some unplanned discomfort. I’d been crouching below a community noticeboard. As I stood, the bottom corner of this sturdy board ripped a small ravine in my back. No matter. All three children we currently happy so the searing pain paled into insignificance.

I went home and started baking yummy goodness for middle son’s party. Youngest son helped by sitting in his sling and looking cute. By the time it was time to collect the boys from school I was feeling pretty positive. His party wasn’t particularly extravagant or well planned. It was only a small affair, he had one friend and some close family over for cake, presents, play and party food. But he loved every second. Sometimes it’s the simple arrangements that they enjoy the most.

How can this much go wrong already – it’s only half past eight?

When something crazy happens in my household, I never quite get enough time to fix it before the next thing happens. In fact, the problem has a tendency to grow exponentially until Mummy reaches a state of embarrassment and/or emotional exhaustion. This morning was the perfect illustration of this.

After the usual difficulties exiting the house, we arrived at our friend’s house, where middle child goes for play days on Thursdays. On the doorstep, eldest child tells me “I need a poo!”. I calmly tell him that someone will answer shortly and he can use the toilet inside. His response, “Poo is coming!” There is no time to consider an alternative. Inside, we can hear the door being opened. “Poo is out!” he shamefully tells me. Knowing there is only a few minutes before he has to go to school, I leave youngest child, still in his car seat, in the hallway and usher my eldest through to the bathroom. This was not the case of a small skid mark, this wasn’t even a regular poo incident, this was the case of the largest turd known to man! Given he apparently ‘didn’t need to go’ when we’d left home 5 minutes earlier, I have no idea how a log of this size and stature was even possible.

To make things a little trickier, eldest son does not have any spare pants. I recruit the assistance of middle son, asking him to bring in his rucksack and find a pair of spare boxers he can lend his brother. He dutifully helps by pulling every last item out of his bag onto the bathroom floor. Meanwhile eldest is being difficult with everything due to his discomfort. Realising a clean up job of this scale would probably take him at least half an hour if left to his own devices, I am forced to intervene. Besides I can hear youngest son crying outside. If you’ve read previous blog posts, you might remember that he’s not a fan of his car seat. As if the trauma of having to sort out eldest son and the guilt of having to listen to how upset youngest son was whilst doing this, you can imagine exactly how I felt when I hear middle son announce he’s been sick. I look up to assess the damage. There doesn’t appear to be much, but his aim is accurate enough to have hit at least three of the assorted items of the spare clothing now on the floor in front of him.

In the background, I can hear eldest son’s friends and their Mummy are about to leave for school. The pressure is on! Eldest appears to have worn a pair of ridiculously tight trousers which he’s struggling to pull up. Then he starts taking his coat off to wash his hands (He does this because he hates water splashing on the cuffs of his coat). Time ticking, I encourage him to wash his hands without coat removal. He screams. Middle son wants to join in with the hand washing action. Youngest son is still crying.

Finally eldest son has his hands washed and shoes back on and is ready to go, leaving me to sort middle son. Initial inspection tells me he’s his usual self, he has no temperature and feels fine. What’s not quite so fine is that he preferred the pair of trousers he’s now had to remove, he doesn’t want to go home and miss out on playing with his friends and the nappy bags I am now frantically thrusting clothing into are really not fit for this purpose.

Now was the time to thank friend’s mum for attempting to comfort youngest son, reassure middle son that we could come and play another day and make our hasty retreat. Once back in the car, middle son cried again. He’d been looking forward to retrieving a pair of gloves he’d left from last week and had forgotten to get them again. We weren’t in a position to go back, Mummy needed to set about replanning the entire day! Still it could have been worse. Had this been any other day, I would have been dealing the the poo, vomit and tears on the school playground in the cold and rain and in front of a much larger audience!

These rules are made for keeping.

A common parenting strategy when you’d like your child to do something is to count down from 5 or 3 (or I suppose 80 odd if you have a particularly defiant toddler). But what actually happens when you reach zero?

‘Probably very little’ was the conclusion that I swiftly came to when eldest son asked me exactly that while I was attempting to incite middle son to come over to us. He likes to subtly walk backwards until the last possible second, then run over at top speed, while I adjust the speed of my counting accordingly so as to ensure his success. My answer: I’ll tell Daddy. For him, this response took the counting down rule to a new level! Eldest son is a fan of rules. He just loves them. This is probably why he’s so keen on playing board games – plenty of rules to follow. So he likes to keep track of the rules we make and remind us of them should we forget. Usually this is helpful.

The disadvantage of having house rules is that I’m frequently being told off for breaking them. Just last week, I was in trouble with my children for answering the door without checking who it was first. I was fairly confident of their identity, given that person had just messaged me with ‘I’m outside. What is your house number?”. I’ve also been warned that I shouldn’t have been up before the sun – if you have a child with a gro clock this will make more sense to you.

At the moment my bigger boys are very into toilet humour. That probably includes my husband. They find the mention of the words ‘poo’ or ‘bottom’ especially amusing. It’s the last thing you want to hear when you’re tucking into a home cooked meal, or worse: a chocolatey dessert. Hence the introduction of the rule where these words can’t be used during family dinner times. At one such meal, youngest son decides its an ideal time to fill his nappy. You’d think going to change him would be appreciated by the rest of the family, who could now eat without any lingering offensive aroma. Sadly not. I was given a stern telling off for using the poo and bottom words. Note to self: next time say, “Please may I be excused so I can sanitise the baby’s derrière from excrement!”

The truth is out there

Driving home yesterday, my boys had a discussion about their next game. I wasn’t particularly impressed when they decided on the ‘liar’ game. I was even less impressed when I discover that this game pretty much involved reciting the ‘Liar, liar, pants of fire’ rhyme repeatedly, but using an assortment of different voices. Oh, and also replacing the word ‘pants’ with a selection of other items. Daddy nearly had a minor coronary when the game first started and we hear a little voice shout ‘Car’s on fire!’ By the end of the game, we were less concerned about the car’s imaginary combustion and more about how to get this catchphrase out of our heads.

It’s possible they were just voicing their opinion to us about lies. Eldest boy regularly tells me, “You must always tell the truth because otherwise you are lying.” – he’s not wrong! With the exception of the Father Christmas scenario, I like to think we are reasonable when it comes to being truthful. However, all my children seem to make me out to be the biggest liar imaginable. I tell people that youngest son has reached a new milestone but of course he won’t show them. I tell people that middle son doesn’t like chicken then he munches on a chicken nugget happily. And I tell people that eldest son has a habit of wriggling too much, which prompts him to sit beautifully in their company.

Leaving the house

Most people know that once you have a baby it takes approximately 42 times longer to get out of the front door. Luckily (in the olden days) it used to take me less than 5 minutes, which is probably why, now I have three young children, I’m able to achieve this feat in under 2 and a half hours.

I exaggerate slightly. Unless you count today. Today, my children tag teamed their preferred type of havoc. Youngest son does not appreciate being put in his car seat. He likes to be held. Except Mummy needed her hands free to assist middle son. Middle son could not decide which pair of shoes he wanted to wear. We wrestled with a particularly tight fitting orange shoe, successfully installing it onto his foot just in time for him to change his mind. He now wanted his ‘new’ shoes. Except these were on the radiator drying, having required the washing machine treatment. Except I was unaware of this so went to fetch them. Youngest son begins screaming blue murder as Mummy is now more than a foot away. When I returned, middle son and eldest son appeared to be rugby tackling each other. My understaning of the situation was that eldest son’s hat had fallen off and he blamed middle son.

Once he had selected a more sensible pair, I asked middle son to put his own shoes on (he can). He refused. As youngest son was still upset and I knew he would remain so until we were in a moving car, I tried to speed things up by putting middle son’s shoes on for him. On completion of this task, I detected a fragrance in the air. He had skid marks in his pants. Changing them and cleaning him up first meant removing the shoes and trousers etc. again. I now felt heightened amounts of Mummy guilt about youngest son, who was still crying, so I took him back out of his car seat to comfort him. Eldest son chose this moment to open the front door and attempt to get in the locked car. I asked him to come back in and wait because his brothers weren’t ready. Eldest son started crying because “That will take a very long time!” He had a point – it would. Middle boy sauntered back downstairs with pants – not his pants though – so I sent him back upstairs.

Fast forward a little while. Middle son is now dressed again – with shoes, eldest son has stopped crying and youngest son is also contented. I suggest the big boys now get in the car. We exit the house. It is cold. Both forcefully request gloves. We re-enter the house. Eldest son can’t find his gloves. Middle son needs help putting his gloves on. I need to put the baby down again – a minimum of two adult hands is required for the glove fitting procedure. This prompts baby to cry again. And so it went on. We didn’t get to where we’d intended to go. In fact, the minor disaster that was ‘leaving the house later’ set in motion a series of events that sent Mummy into meltdown mode. Wine wasn’t even an option due to baby still breastfeeding. Luckily I found we had a chocolate biscuit left in the tin. It is not there now.

Self-preservation mode

No one spends as long watching and analysing a child’s behaviours as much as their Mummy. Over time, my observations have led me to the following conclusions:

1) My boys behaviour matches societies expectation closest when nobody is around to see it.

2) My boys are more inclined to ‘play up’ if they are tired or excited.

Today, after lunch, both conditions in hypothesis number two were met. I stood no chance.

It had been a great morning. We went to watch ‘Oi Frog’ at the theatre as my children are genuine fans of the books. They are collecting them. I was a little fearful at first when middle child established that his seat was not number 18 (his favourite number), but he loved the show. There were points when he was laughing like a drain. Everyone loves a bit of audience participation, especially when you are three years old. I’ll avoid saying anything else to avoid including spoilers.

The intention was to go swimming after lunch, then it occurred to me that I’d left at home one vitally important item: youngest son’s swimming nappy. I’m forgetting a lot of things lately. I’d gone through the bag twice and asked hubby to check we had everything we needed. We felt like numpties! Being in the city centre, we came up with the ingenious plan of heading towards a shop. Not only could an additional nappy be purchased (avoiding grossly inflated prices), but the boys could also select a book each using the vouchers they received for Christmas. The plan turned out not to be quite as ingenious as I’d hoped. The boys were increasingly animated at the thought of new, exciting reading material. I always panic I’ll lose one of them when they get like this in supermarkets and probably resemble an oversized meerkat, constantly looking over my shoulder. After only about 2 minutes I realised I had lost one of them! After a quick survey, I was partially consoled to discover that the missing boy was husband. I took my three small people down what felt like every aisle in the store. Around every corner there was something else which captivated their interest but still no Daddy. Finally we found him at customer services.

Should my children desire to do any type of theatricals when they are older, they’ll be well practised with the ‘performing in front of spectators’ part. I’m basing this upon the fact that whenever they do something embarrassing, it is usually in front of an audience larger than at a ‘Take That’ concert in the O2. Within the space of a few seconds, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me AND husband had found out that we couldn’t use the voucher in this shop anyway. Being the adult, I did what any sensible grown up would do in this situation: run away. Well not strictly true – it was more of a brisk walk. Poor hubby was left to return items to the correct shelves before catching up with us.

After reassessing our options, we elected to go and collect the boys coats, which I had very carelessly left behind the day before. On the way home, we stopped at a place called ‘Cheesefoot Head’. Obviously the primary reason for this was that the name of it amused me. However, it was also a beautiful, empty place where my boys could run about and be kids. (Warm kids now they had their coats back!) I watched them follow the trail and spot landmarks on the horizon. In that moment, all the horrid stuff from earlier in the day disappeared and I could relax again. The path was very muddy, too muddy for a pushchair and I didn’t have my carrier; so we took turns to carry youngest son swaddled in his blanket. Of course it started to rain, so I had to take my coat off to cover baby but it felt great to be exploring again. This just wasn’t eventful enough for middle son, who managed to get his foot stuck in the mud and lose a shoe – just to make things interesting.

The Swamp

The start of February half term, renowned for being wet and cold, is also when you expect all indoor places to be incredibly over crowded. So instead we opted to invite some friends over, with a view to going outside (regardless of the weather) after lunch. After several games of dressing up, hide and seek and an indoor picnic; eldest boy, middle boy, youngest boy, mummy, her friend and her friend’s 2.5 children were ready to go. If your offspring have a tendency to become slightly feral in the afternoons then there is nowhere better than the great outdoors. We took the 5 boys to explore the heath near our home. Somehow I’d ended up sending both sets of eldest child’s wellington boots into his school. So, in the aftermath of Storm Dennis, we were prepared to get wet. The friend I was with was forest school trained so nothing could possibly go wrong. She was equipped with welly boots and a backpack. I was possibly a little less prepared with a baby strapped to my front and a packet of wet wipes.

We had great fun on our exploration: chopping through the brambles, splashing in puddles and investigating which items float and sink. Assorted feet had already slipped into the mud and youngest boy had a rather well placed splash mark on the centre of his forehead. We also learnt something new from our knowledgeable companion. The knopper gall wasp produces knobbly brown galls on acorns – if you’re interested. Next, we opted to follow a raised footpath, mimicking trains as we did so, until we came across a large mass of muddy water. Too wet for a bog, I’d like to call it a puddle but given the enormous size of it, ‘pond’ might have been a more accurate term, except for the absence of the ‘token duck’ swimming in it. So perhaps the word ‘swamp’ is a better descriptor. It was at this point that eldest boy made the single, fateful decision to push middle boy in. Only a gentle push, but that was all it took. Stumbling forwards, away from the safety of the raised pathway, he initially landed on his feet. There was no time to consider any form of relief, as he continued to slip in the murky slime, eventually landing up to his armpits in muddy water. I’m incredibly grateful to my friend who promptly returned him to solid ground. Now dripping a mixture of tears, bog particles and rogue bits of rotten grass; he stood there wailing. We were able to distract him by another stick search and a passing puppy dog. He made a swift recovery and continued to play ‘sticks in the mud’, that was until it came to walking back. He refused. Point blank.

Trying to persuade him to head back seemed to take decades. This would have been fine, if at the end of them he’d actually been closer to home. In reality, he’d managed a 180 degreee turn only. Diversionary attempts (including finding larger sticks, having races, looking for other puddles etc) all failed. He just kept whimpering “I don’t want to walk!” on repeat. His comments weren’t entirely accurate because he didn’t want to hop, skip, run or crawl either! I know this because I attempted to try and persuade him to try any of these methods. Of course, what he actually meant was that he wanted to be carried. Now weighing over 20kg – probably significantly more if you count the galleons of water his clothing must have absorbed – I contemplated the feasibility of trying to carry him and youngest son home from here. I thought about putting him on my shoulders but couldn’t bring myself to allow his saturated shoes to drip foul smelling, dirty water over his baby brother’s face as the little dude snoozed innocently in his sling. On spying a conveniently placed bench, I came up with a new plan: removing middle son’s rancid shoes and socks and using this seat as a means to allow my soggy child to climb onto my back. When he couldn’t even lift his own leg halfway to bench height (primarily because he was refusing to bend his knees) I also aborted this plan.

The minutes that followed involved various attempts to take his hand and coax and encourage him forwards. Although I expect to the casual observer, it might have looked more like I was just dragging a crying boy along. Mirroring the paralysis caused by a venomous bite, his movements decreased and decreased. At one point I was holding one of his hands, while my friend took his other hand and his feet stopped moving altogether. We called it ice skating – his shoes glided across the pavement. Except there was no ice, just friction. Then he lost the ability to support his own weight and crumbled himself into a little ball by the kerb. He felt cold and his protesting got louder. It was at this point it began to rain again.

Youngest son was snuggled in his baby carrier under our kangaroo jumper. Removing all three of these items meant I could pass this precious bundle to my friend – who had offered to carry the little one the remainder of the way. So now down to my short sleeved shirt, I lifted my heavy, drenched preschooler in my arms and struggled the remaining distance to home. I really wished I had some kind of upper body strength. Middle boy got a kilogram heavier with every step I took and the lactic acid was building up. I’m pleased to report we did make it back, with all 5.5 children still in tow. Once inside, I’m ever grateful to my smallest boy for being so happy and smiley when I left him (still snuggled in a cosy bundle) in the lounge doorway while I sorted a warm bath for medium sized boy. Biggest boy had now begun crying, as it dawned on him that his friends were leaving earlier than planned. Washing load on, eldest boy entertained with lego, middle boy thoroughly cleaned and youngest boy attended to, we were all feeling a bit happier and the four of us snuggled up to read a Tinga Tinga Tale. Our verdict on this adventure was a unanimous – “Let’s do it again soon!”