D had a day off work and we took our turn on the rota at HE group. Dani took dough and most of the kids made themselves a roll for lunch. We are very lucky to have a great kitchen in this venue, which is getting plenty of use. I offered air-drying clay to the kids, which was equally well-received. Another family offered delicious fruit salad and we looked at maps to see where different foods come from.
Leo proudly told everyone that he was now six. Pearlie chatted with various adults and made a list of all the fruits she likes – over twenty that she could remember.
In the evening Pearlie went to Woodcraft – where Dani was on the rota again! The activity was clay – so I think the day started to repeat itself a bit… Meanwhile Leo and I spent THREE HOURS assembling one of his birthday pressies – a thing called a Zoid. He loves it, and it is an impressive toy, but it felt like making very fiddly flat pack furniture to me!
No-one was working again – and we set off to the Natural History Museum for Leo's birthday treat. He chose to have a small family party this year and a trip to the NHM – as he loves it so much. We saw a mixture of things – some familiar and some new to us. These included:
- Lots of exploring in the Earth Galleries – visiting the 'earthquake room', talking with some people about volcanic rocks of different types, enjoying the fossils and so on.
- Another visit to the T-Rex – a four o'clock visit during the week is recommended for this! We actually got to saunter along and enjoy the displays, rather than just shuffling along in a queue.
- A visit to the mammals and birds – lots of dead creatures in cases.
- A good look around the displays on the ancestors of homo sapiens. The kids were tired by this point, but very interested in the information.
- Our first ever look around the Darwin Centre – fascinating area where we saw lots of pickled things in jars, being stored on long benches. This prompted lots of interesting conversation with Pearlie about the ethics of such things, how scientific knowledge advances, and how the use of research can be for good or ill.
- A quick visit to the insects area.
- Shopping! We had an extravagant time in the shop, where we gave the kids some cash to blow and chose a book each.
This fluent reading was illustrated to me in the shop when Leo chose to buy some rather fine toy gems and excitedly read aloud the following from the back of the packet:
"Gemstones are actually minerals formed deep beneath the Earth's crust. Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds you see today are actually millions of years old. The combination of heat, pressure and time create the raw mineral crystals which are then cut and polished into prized gemstones."
He read the whole thing (in tiny print!) without any hesitation and with satisfied understanding. He is reading now in a way that shows he has it totally cracked. I remember seeing Pearlie do that too – great!
We rounded off the day with a meal at Pizza Express in Kensington. Eating out with Pearlie is something of a challenge as she has very particular tastes - but we hit on a winning combination of food at Pizza Express. She demolished twelve little dough balls with garlic butter, a big mixed leaves and cucumber salad (no dressing!!) and a tall glass of milk. Leo ate dough balls and then most of a big pizza. We pigged out too and then we all waddled on to a bus that took us to Victoria.
We got home at 9.45pm and the kids went straight to bed – very tired but happy.
We were all predictably tired today - D went to work in the morning and I went to work in the afternoon. The kids just pottered around in the morning – Leo watching a new Scooby Doo DVD and Pearlie doing secret things in her room. I don't know what she was doing, but it involved an envelope!
This afternoon the kids went to capoeira. They are missing one of the regular teachers and Leo found it hard to concentrate – I think he was just too tired after all the excitement of the last week. Pearlie had a fine class as usual – practising handstands.