Another Trip…

Again I shall be leaving my blog, for a place where internet connection ceases to exist! We shall be heading off to Kiruna today, the most northernly town in Sweden, up in Lapland, where we are hoping to discover the wonders of the midnight sun – armed with mosquito repellent….

See you in a week!

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On Making A Raft

Well, okay, a mini one. But it did float!

Needed : Some straight sticks, string or twine, and some material if you want to make a mast (we didn’t in the end)…

Step 1 : Measure and break sticks to an equal size, then tie together by weaving round each stick, and knotting at every third one.

Step 2 : Repeat on other side (we realised a thinner string was easier to handle)

Step 3 : Tie two sticks going opposite ways across the raft for support - preferably secured in three areas.

With a couple of passengers it floats!

Maya then went on to make another boat from recycled junk – she even made a little gate from sticks and glued it on to stop the water from flowing in – then later placed the boat onto a platform to make it even more secure. The boat also included pretend food and treasure!

Eventually even Alfie obtained a boat, and the three boats went off happily sailing away – a whole adventure began, including orphaned children having to fend for themselves by picking anything edible they could find in the garden, and using various tools to mash up, sieve and liquidize the food. The boats got stuck in a tree, and the animals had to be rescued and sent out to sea, but eventually became great friends, discovered the joys of a trampoline, and settled for the night in a teepee.

The joys of imagination!

Long Live Princess Victoria And Prince Daniel!

Last weekend the King of Sweden’s first daughter, Victoria, got married. What has really opened the hearts of many people, is that she got married to Daniel, a local boy with no royal background or connections whatsoever – a true fairytale!

Unfortunately, what with school finishing, the royal wedding, midsummer celebrations, and tickets booked for Kiruna next week, our trip to England had to squeeze out something, and it was indeed the wedding that went! However, we returned to the following picture upon our laundry room wall….

… and my husband dutifully saved the newspapers, and recorded the one hours highlight from the television, so the kids have been bombarded with pictures of the royal couple, the coach, the golden boat, the church, the wedding cake, the banquet table, the guests and the crowds. Yes, I think an educational lesson on the royal couple has thoroughly been covered!

And yet, I just couldn’t let it lie. So today we went to visit the crown jewels – actually a store room for the royal treasures, rather than a museum. The collection is stunning. Crowns, swords, thrones, packed with gold, silver, and many precious jewels. Well worth a look! Understandably photos were not allowed, and unfortunately the actual palace was closed to visitors (due to wedding guests still staying there), but this is ‘Storkyrkan’ (The Great Church), where the couple were married, just yards from the palace…

The love of the couple was evident to see around Gamla Stan (The Old Town), in windows…

and in shops ….

However, visiting the crown jewels obviously gave Leon and Maya enthusiasm to buy their own ‘jewels’ as they entered a shop selling precious stones, they were bowled over, and decided to spend their 20 Kr pocket money!

So many lovely stones to choose from, but finally they both settled for a piece of ‘sliced agate‘ – truly beautiful!

Swedish Midsummer Celebrations

Starts with the making of the ‘blomsterkrans’ (flower circle), to be worn by the female species!

Use a soft, bendy branch, such as a young birch branch, with or without leaves. Bend it into a circle shape to fit the head of the female, and tie with string…

Collect some small bunches of flowers, and start to tie these on together at the stalk, with string, on to the birch branch…

Continue to tie on flowers until whole circle is covered…

Alternatively you can lay birch branches in a line, tie together, and then tie on flowers, and tie into a circle afterwards.

Here are a few of our flower bearers…

Maya wearing one, bearing another..

Side view

Back view

Alfie (enthusiastic waving gets in the way!)

Anna

Me

My husband

The next step, is to hope for a hot sunny day, find a big green field (we chose Tyresta National Park) , to either have a picnic (pickled herring, boiled potatoes and strawberries are a must) on a big blanket, or to help get the ‘midsommarstång’ (midsummer pole) ready, by tying branches of birch all over it, and then picking flowers to insert in to it…

Then comes the raising of the midsummer pole – of which the tall pole, with a circle at each side, is said to be a symbol of fertility!

If you look closely, you can see Richard at the front helping to raise the pole…

And then the music, the singing, and the dancing begins – preferably starting with a song about small frogs, with lots of grown-ups taking part in the actions (ears and tails anyone?)…

Ending with a long line of dancing people circling the field….

Of course, you could always just stick to a little football…!

Happy Midsummer Everyone!

We Are Back!

Having enjoyed a very busy, exciting and even slightly exhausting (!) trip back to England, we are home, ready for Midsummer!

Here are a few photos of some of our adventures in England!

Enjoying botanical gardens both inside and out….

With dinosaurs to boot….

and playgrounds galore…

at the fantastically packed, and very exciting ‘Paradise Park’.

Bouncing and enjoying the view of the Downs at ‘Spring Barn Farm’….

Riding Thomas, finding the Teletubbies, and enjoying the maze at ‘Drusillas’.

Meeting friends, chatting in play parks, throwing pebbles, and riding in bubbles on Brighton Beach…

Enjoying local carnivals with floats and springs…

Spending time with family…

And enjoying new projects – homemade skittles, perfume pots, and taking apart old cameras….

A busy week indeed!

Tomorrow…

…we leave for a 10 day trip to England, to stay with my mother. During that time I will be without a computer (my mum has yet to reach the technological age, and though possesses a computer, it’s a little like waiting for a kettle to boil – a LARGE one!), so I shall be not be blogging during this time.

I will write about our adventures when we come home, but while we are gone, have a lovely beginning of summer!

Last Day Of Year 2

Finally, the summer holidays have arrived, and Leon has completed his final day of year 2.

The morning was filled with singing from the children, many of the songs made up by the outstandingly talented music teacher Kjelle, the eating of strawberry cake in the classrooms, and the saying goodbye to the wonderful teachers. We said goodbye to leon’s lovely teacher Nina, who has proven to be a very kind, understanding and inspirational teacher – as well as amazingly calm! No doubt Leon will meet Nina in the future (she is moving up with the year 3 kids), but next year we welcome Petra as his new teacher.

Half the school ready to sing (Leon in the red jacket) - the rest of the school came in singing a fantastic song - and the rain didn't stop them!

A bottle of champagne for Nina.

Delicious strawberry cake.

Who's name is that on the board?!

This is Leon’s fourth ‘institution’ he has attended in his little life – a brief attendance at a half-dead play group in London, a year’s attendance at a money making uninspiring preschool in California, and a couple of years at a state school with what turned out to be  the most dismal teacher I have ever met, here in Sweden. Not being a huge fan of school, we have finally found the best school in the world. We can’t really fault it. The teachers are extremely professional and kind, the activities are fun and interesting, and the children are very well disciplined. Thank goodness for ******* Skolan!

Mathematical Children

Despite not having an ounce of number skills in my own head, always having been the subject that filled me with fear when at school, it appears I have very mathematically minded children.

Maya appears to be excellent at problem solving and really enjoys the addition worksheets that Leon eagerly writes for her, and has always enjoyed building and other activities regarding spacial awareness.

Leon however, is obsessed!

The chess, lego  and collecting obsessions have mostly surpassed, and now we have (among other things), mazes. It started off with this outstandingly difficult, but brilliant, maze book ‘Mummy Maze – The Tomb Treasures Maze book’. Having completed this book, he then went on to attempt to find and print out impossibly difficult mazes from the internet…

(these are fairly easy ones I may add…)

… which then led him on to attempting to draw his own mazes….

Have you ever tried to do this? It’s really really hard! These ones above were some of his earlier, easier ones, but they progressively got more difficult – my mum took one home to England with her and she completed it after two weeks!

Next came a short obsession with sudoko…

Now he has discovered a board game called ‘traffic jam’ which he hopes he will get for his birthday. Meanwhile he has to suffice with an online version , on this fantastic maths website which will no wonder lead him on to other things!

Alfie, it seems, follows in his mathematical footsteps….

He will be found in this position on a daily basis, playing happily with magnetic numbers (and letters too). Here he appears to be sorting them into a colour group, but mostly he likes to add characters to the numbers and role play with them. Odd I know. And often I get the pleasure of joining in. Though I admit my number role play ideas are limited.

This is what our fridge looks like now days…

I think I’ll blame this ‘number character role play’ on ‘The Numberjacks’ – a fun, and a tiny bit spooky, but excellent, television program by the BBC for young children about numbers, shapes and problem solving. My kids haven’t discovered the above website yet, but all of them love to watch the television program. And Alfie it seems has picked up on the numbers’ names and characters, and turned it into role play!

I just love it how children can learn so much from their interests and enthusiasms – don’t you?