Saturday, October 31, 2009

Visit to Eureka! Children's Museum

Yesterday we drove for 2 hours to go to Eureka! Children's Museum in Halifax, England. This was our longest road trip so far and it was fun to see more of the countryside.

I took several pictures from the road to try and catch a feel for what it looks like driving around:

This is a picture of a church tower in Halifax. I was standing near the sandbox at the museum so I don't know any details about the church.

I like this picture because to me, it captures what the roads look like. You see the british stone walls on the left. A car parked halfway on the road that you must drive around to pass. You see the stone houses and get a feel for the "older look" that England has.
Entering a roundabout. This one has 5 exits and it is a 3 laner which means it is a little more complicated to navigate than a 1 or 2 laner. We had to make sure we were in the correct lane so we could make our exit off the roundabout without bumping into another car. We'd be lost without our GPS!
On the left you see a covered barn with tons of baled hay. These are very common to see--I imagine because the growing season for hay is short so it must be stocked for the winter.
You see lots of sheep grazing as you drive along.

On the left is a group of row houses. Most of the homes here look very similar to this. A group of rowhouses won't have much distinction other than how someone has landscaped their front yard.

The children's museum was worth the long drive. There were so many hands on interactive things for the kids to do. It was very crowded since it was half term break and many children are on holiday. The museum had a section that was a "city" for kids. A grocery store, bank, post office, mechanic, and house were all set up so that kids could pretend to shop for groceries, operate a cash register, deliver mail, rob a bank, print out their own money, give a loan, work on a car, and "drive" a truck. We spent a long time in this section trying out all the different things.

Isaac navigating with the map.

This is how I practice my driving.

Ewan worked in the auto shop and got to dress up as a mechanic. He had to deliver the package he's holding to the right place.

Changing a tire.
Stamping money at the bank.
Graham had a blast shopping for groceries at the store.

The museum had a great exhibit about the human body that the kids liked. There was even a video showing a birth (not super graphic but it birth nonetheless) and how babies breastfeed after they are born. There were close up shots of babies nursing. I thought to myself--"How wonderful that children can see something so normal promoted about the human body!" and then I wondered if the US would ever let something like that be shown in a children's museum--or any museum for that matter. It amazes me how liberal (and skanky) the US can be on some things and how conservative the US can be on other things. Sometimes we get it backwards, I think.

Outside the museum were rides, a HUGE sandbox--like as big as a public pool sandbox, a giant connect four game, some tunnels and other climbing gear.

That red on Graham's cheeks is more hives. He is still welting up in hives all over his body. He's on some antihistimine and hopefully we'll figure out the cause soon.
Ewan and Isaac learning about teeth.
Learning about sound.
The museum had a bike kids could ride and when they pedaled hard enough the lights dimmed and a skelaton appeared on the other side of the mirror to show what bones move when you pedal a bike. Ewan thought it was cool to see how bones work.

Isaac crawling through the tunnel.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Graham Woke Up Early From His Nap

Because of this:

We have an appointment today in about an hour and a half to get his rash checked out. For the past 3 weeks we have been hit with stomach bugs, terrible coughs, runny noses, high fevers, tiredness, and now a hot to the touch, welty rash.

Graham hadn't been asleep more than an hour when he woke up moaning and half crying from his nap. I went in to check on him and he was still obviously very tired but was rubbing his ear a lot and saying his hand hurt. I laid down with him on my chest for a few minutes and laid him back down after he fell back asleep. A few minutes later he was calling for me. Defeated, I got him up convinced that the poor kid had some kind of ear infection since he's had runny nose and cough with fever in between for the past 2 weeks. It wasn't until I had him in our room in the sunlight that I noticed that his cheeks were bright red and there was a rash to go with it. Then I noticed stripes on his neck and it wasn't until Jon got home that I checked the rest of his body and noticed the rash under his arms and diaper area.

So, what is this? Is it an allergy to something? Is it ANOTHER illness we have to get over this month? The only new thing I've done was try some fabric softener in a wash load the other day. Only the pants he is wearing were washed in that load. Nothing else new. Is he suddenly developing a rash to peanut butter? He had some on a sandwich for lunch. Or is there some other allergen lurking somewhere that I need to discover?

The Parkers are really tired of dealing with sniffles, hacking coughs, stomach bugs, fevers, rashes and any other illness floating around. We are ready to feel like healthy, normal people so we can do normal things. Ewan has this week off from school and I was still planning on doing school with Isaac in the mornings and incorporating some other fun things into the week. We can't get out in the afternoons if someone is running fever! We've had to take 2 days off of school because Isaac's been running a high fever for 2 days. Tomorrow we were planning on going up to Scotland for a family fun day. But with fevers and random rashes it looks like another fun activity has to be thrown out the window.

I'm hoping that maybe we are getting all the winter illnesses right now and then we will be nice and healthy the rest of the season.

So, enough of the doom and gloom. How's your week?

**Doc said it was a histimine and that it could be caused by anything or nothing even. He said that sometimes the body's histimine blockers get out of whack and you get hives. He is taking an antihistimine and it helped most of the welts/rash go down. So, I'm hoping that it a random occurence and that we won't have to go hunting for allergy sources. I had a lot of trouble with allergies and hives as a kid and I don't want him to have to deal with the same thing.**

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Homemade Sauerkraut

I've been reading a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for a while now. The cookbook is focused on eating traditional foods-real food if you will. The book teaches you how to cook with traditional fats, cook meat, grains, and vegetables. One of the specialties of the book is how to add fermented foods into your diet. Fermented foods are so good for you and add to your health. I ventured to try making some sauerkraut because it has few ingredients-- plus it tastes good.

It will have to sit at room temperature for 3 days before I move it to the fridge. I can keep it in the fridge and start eating it on the 4th day but I'll probably wait a few extra days as it improves with age.

1 Medium Cabbage shredded
4 Tbsp. **Whey
1 Tbsp. Caraway seeds
1 Tbsp. Sea salt
Wooden mallet
Large bowl

End Result

Add cabbage, caraway seeds, whey, and sea salt in a bowl. Pound the cabbage in the bowl with the wooden mallet for about 10 minutes until the juices are released. Squish all the cabbage in a wide mouth jar until there is about 1" of juices covering the top of the cabbage. Let it sit at room temperature for 3 days then move to cold storage.

So easy!

**Whey is easily homemade by letting whole milk yogurt separate all day long. If you take a quart of yogurt and put it into a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a bowl the whey will separate into the bowl during the course of the day. Whey will keep in the fridge for several months. The Yogurt will make a cream cheese which also lasts for several weeks in the fridge.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Journey

Monks Carrying St. Cuthbert's Body To Durham Cathedral

Monday, October 19, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Trip to Europe's Biggest Mall

It just so happens that we live very close to the (or one of the--depending on who you ask) largest malls in Europe. We took the train up to Newcastle this morning which the kids loved. It is a 10 minute ride to the first train stop in downtown Newcastle and then a very short--maybe 5 minute train ride to MetroCentre Mall. I was trying to find a picture of a map so you could see how enormous it actually is. The mall is color coded so you know where you are and there are map kiosks frequently so you can remember where you are or help you decide where you need to go. We were there for a little over 3 hours and we still didn't see everything. We didn't have a main shopping reason to go--we just thought it would be a fun Saturday excursion.

One thing we DID look at were strollers. Our stroller (or pushchair as they are called here) is now on its last leg--or wheel. I wish I could show you a video of the stroller wheels rolling. They are very wonky and look like they are about to fall off. The cobblestones and frequent curb checks haven't been very kind to the wheels. The stroller already had a lot of miles on it so we are now looking for a new one. We have discovered that strollers are EXPENSIVE here. It is very difficult to find a (new) stroller for less than 100 Pounds--which is $160 american dollars! We are shopping for a used one but are in of one pretty quickly since one of the wheels is about to fall off!

Here are some pictures of our journey:

Fall colors on the streets of Durham

Downtown Newcastle (looks a little like Pittsburgh, eh?)

Pictures from the train

Another picture of Newcastle from the train.

Ewan on the train

Jon and our friend Jono, with his son Liam

Graham turning around giving me a "cheesy" smile on the train

Saturday, October 03, 2009

What Do Toddlers Do During Homeschool?

They join right in, of course!

Graham wanted to run around naked the other morning instead of wear his diaper. I made sure his potty was nearby in case he started to pee. We aren't potty training but he likes to sit on the potty and I wanted something nearby to catch any runoffs. Running around naked means that he participates in school naked too. Isaac and I were working on making a painted poster of the seasons and Graham wanted to paint too. Of course his version of painting is a little messier than Isaac's. Needless to say, he got a bath afterwards.

Surprisingly, having Graham around while we do school has been pretty easy. He likes to join in any of the art projects and do his own or sit in my lap while I read. He really likes all the science books we are looking at. Sometimes he'll go off on his own and play but for the most part he is by our side or in my lap learning right along.

Homeschool hasn't been as tough as I thought it would but I've only been doing it for a week--so maybe I'll change my mind about the difficulty in another few weeks.

Ewan is enjoying his classroom at his school. I don't have a very good picture of him in his uniform but it'll do for now.

Our situation ended up working out great--thanks be to the Lord! Ewan is technically enrolled in Year 2 but is really in Year 1. Originally, the head teacher (principal) and I talked about Ewan starting off in the Year 2 class and spending some time in the Year 1 class to catch up. Then we thought that maybe he should just be in Year 1 full time and move up to Year 2 at Christmas. But, after talking to his teacher (who taught Year 2 last year) we both feel confident that he will most likely stay in Year 1 all year. I don't exactly understand how that will work with the county and how they work--but it really isn't my problem to fix or worry about. All I know is that Ewan is in Year 1 which is the right class for him. He really enjoys it! From what I can tell, Year 1 is just like Kindergarten. They spend a lot of time playing--and learning through play. There isn't any pressure for any kid to be at a certain level. They put children in groups in the classes who are on similar levels and work with them according to their levels. They get to spend a lot of time outside too--which is great for Ewan.

All in all, I'm pleased. I think everything has worked out well.

One cultural difference: Ewan's school provides shorts and shirts for kids during their gym class. But that is unusual--most kids at other schools just do gym in their underwear. The whole class changes their clothes together in the same room though. They don't separate the kids at all. Of course the kids don't think twice about it. That is one thing that would NEVER happen in the States these days!