Saturday, 15 September 2012

He Did It!

Angus ran his 1.5km today accompanied by Ken, in about 10 minutes! He is so proud of himself and was wearing his medal for the rest of the day. I know he is not a natural runner and it was hard work for him, but he did run the whole way, without stopping, albeit at a steady pace. He has currently raised £137 with more pledged. The day was wonderful with the race running by the quayside in NewcastleGasteshead. The sun shone; Mo Farah was there along with Joseph Craig, 15 year old world record holding paralympic Gold Medal freestyle swimmer, who had his medal and started the races. I am not sure how many thousand youngsters were there, but they ranged from three year olds to sixteen year olds, able-bodied, wheelchair races, running with sighted guides and everything inbetween. The organisers were commenting on the renewed enthusiasm following the Olympic games and the buzz was tangible.

Sadly I didn't get any decent pictures of Angus and Ken in the race due to tall people and a stuck zoom button, but here is the day in pictures with a smiley Angus. Go on, give him more money!  Oh, and he got in the papers:  Not a very original title, but maybe more money raised.

Waiting before he had to line up at the start.  

Warm ups: stretch left and do a Bolt - now do a Mobot and move those shoulders - you get the idea. Charismatic and well muscled gym leader in front and you know what, they loved it and even the crowds joined in!

With his medal at the end. It helped that there was a sand pit nearby!
Crowds at the pasta party. Great atmosphere.
Okay, there should be more pictures, of Mo Farah for example and the friends who challenged Angus to run last year and who are staying again this year, but the internet is on a severe go-slow and this has already taken me an hour. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

September Roundup Part 3.

I love this time of year: it always reminds me of new beginnings. I think it must be the endlessly repetitive years of school, post-school education and teaching that have drilled into my mind that there is a new order in place come September. The end of the summer holidays is a time to set new goals and targets, the summer is fun but disruptive and September brings the chance to bring life back into order. That is probably why I am sitting here writing the third blog of the month already! Ken is out playing squash which has become a Wednesday pattern for him. It turns out that Angus's friend Jake's Dad was a lapsed squash player in need of a playing partner. Ken is happy and the boys love that their Dads go out on Wednesday evenings. I have lovely music playing on the radio, a mug of hot chocolate, low lights and am sitting in front of the first fire of the new season. I feel content.

London - School - Birthday - Party. That's the way it happened this year for Angus. Ken and I had talked through how to mark Angus's birthday. He loves celebrations and rituals. He loves parties. He's not that bothered by receiving presents but does enjoy the celebration, whether his own or somebody else's. Because of that, we decided that we would like to instigate a family tradition started by my parents that a child aged six is old enough to take to a formal restaurant for an evening meal. Just the child and the parents. No siblings. Out, to a proper grown up restaurant.

So, on Thursday, Angus's actual birthday, he patiently waited until Ken came home (early) from work and opened his presents followed by his choice of meal: fishcakes with trifle for desert. He loved it. Then on Friday Jake's Mum came and Isla-sat. She offered to make her dinner so we could get out earlier and then regretted her offer: "Help! What do I feed her? What can she eat? What will happen if I get it all wrong and give her the wrong thing? Do you have a Doctor's number?" "Don't worry, her allergies are not that bad! Anyway, ask Isla, she knows exactly what to do." Later. "Isla was great. She checked everything I gave her and watched me make her dinner. She knows exactly what is in your fridge but she kept asking if things had cows in them. Then I realised she meant the milk." "You should hear the story about Isla and the tomatoes Jo put on her plate in Scotland..." Actually, that's a story best told by Jo for another blog day.
The decorations make the day for Angus. He loves the balloons, the celebratory feel of it. He has insisted that the balloons need to be lower for Isla's birthday as she can't reach to hit them. Fine for them but really annoying for us tall people!
The German birthday train. 
The dinner out was a great success. Angus wanted pasta in tomato sauce which may sound mundane but he doesn't have it at home as Isla can't eat the tomatoes and I won't cook two meals. He loved the concept so much that he and Ken already have next year's planned. They want to do a pasta tour of Hexham to see which restaurant is best.

This is a GPS. All pirates have them.
First cache found. Party bags starting to get filled bit booty. 
Isla - GPS expert.
Compulsory group shot. Spot the sulking pirate in the background!
The big dig. 
The cake. Yes Becky, I stole (pirated?) the idea from yours. Thank you.
The party on Saturday was a lot of fun. The sun was shining, it was warm and Angus and Ken had planned a pirate-themed treasure hunt around Heddon (they had studied pirates in school last term so all the boys had outfits.) The boys arrived, the gps (high tech pirates!) was programmed and the boys set off at a run with Isla going as fast as she could dressed as pirate princess in a Kimono. There were comments of "We've been swashbuckled!" from various amused residents as the boys ran around the village with appropriate screams. They had lots of fun and returned home to dig up the last treasure chest from our front garden, carrying it through to the back to enjoy a picnic tea. Only, they weren't hungry: they drank loads, played on the swings and ate almost nothing. Oh well.

Monday, 10 September 2012

September Roundup Part 2

And then on the Tuesday after we got back from London, Angus started Year 1. He was so excited he didn't get to sleep until late the night before but at least it wasn't actually on his birthday this year.

Just in case you are wondering, the builders are coming at the end of the week to give a quote to rebuild the porch. As you can see, it really needs it! Those are the rotten window sills on the ground next to Angus's feet.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

September Roundup: Part 1

Yes, I know that with only nine days gone, I shouldn't be writing a summary of what has happened so far in September. Add to that the presence of "Part 1" in the title and you will have some idea that already a lot has happened.

August ended and September started with trip to London. My youngest brother lives in south London and loves having Angus and Isla to stay. We visited them last year at the same time as a treat for Angus. Last year we had a whole day in the Natural History Museum with Angus indulging his passion for all things dinosaur, animal and amber related. This year... we did the same thing.

Okay, that is not the complete truth! Angus, Isla and I went down on Thursday with Ken joining us on Friday after work.  On Thursday afternoon we took the underground to Paddington and I took the compulsory photos of Angus and Isla with Paddington Bear. He doesn't remember the first time he went with Denali and Kera when he was only 18 months old.

Exploring the bear: what is he made of? Who made him? Why is he here? Some things can be analysed too much; just enjoy!
On Friday we did spend most of the day in the NH museum. Angus wanted to visit the Victoria and Albert museum in the morning (right next door) to "see if he liked it" and made appropriately appreciative noises about the art and design. After an hour (well done Angus!) he conceded that this wasn't nearly as interesting as the NH museum. At least this time he was easily persuaded to see another part of the museum so I didn't get bored. Angus would move in there I suspect, especially now that one of the helpers has told him that David Attenborough visits on a regular basis. Oh, the joys of hero worship.

"That's a Pleiosaur. I have heard of Mary Anning (lady in the picture) - she found lots of the early dinosaurs...." etc.
On Saturday the highlight of the trip was a visit to the Paralympics. I could write a whole blog just about how wonderful that was: the atmosphere, the friendliness of all the staff and volunteers, the general feeling of camaraderie in London between all the visitors joining in each others' conversations and asking what they saw and who won; the lack of comment or weird looks when Angus had to walk back through London with his Union Flag wrapped around his legs as a sarong due  to an overly-enthusiastic encounter with water and a sand pit near the venue. He looked like a strangely patriotic Buddhist monk! I was also delighted that my children's first real experience of people with a disability has been so wonderful and positive. No hushed political-correctness but a brazen declaration of achievement despite their physical or intellectual limitations. Angus was staring at a poster of Ellie Simmons swimming. "What's wrong with her body?" I explained. "Wow, my body is maybe bigger than hers and I can't even swim. That's amazing!"   
The Olympic games has been heavily supported by a huge number of "Games Makers". They are all over the place: endlessly cheerful, helpful, fun and clearly loving every minute of it. They are all volunteers, have given up holidays, taken unpaid leave, come out of retirement or found people to look after the children. There are amazing. Well done for making our day possible. 
I have no idea how you ride a horse when you have no legs but clearly you do - well enough to take bronze. Incredible.

No don't laugh - we all did! The comments and looks of incredulity when this pair came on were predictable but we all had to retract our jokes when they came fourth. They were superb and only missed bronze by a few points. 
We won! Natasha Baker got gold but it was close with Germany coming silver and bronze. But a fantastic day and Angus finally got a big flag. He has wanted one since the Jubilee and waved it with enthusiasm. He is now trying to work out how to hang it in his room!
  Saturday afternoon was spent playing in a park near the venue with a bit of sight seeing on the way home. There was a super, large sand pit in the park and Angus got predictably wet and sandy. Never mind, clean pants and a make do sarong got him home with pictures to embarrass as well!

Sunday was spent playing: water, swings, climbing frames, tennis and just enjoying being.