M’s 8th Birthday and a Trip to St. Paul’s

The big news of this week is that M turned 8!  She seems so different from when she was 7, and she looks much older too – the difference seems greater than from 5 to 6 to 7 somehow.  She was utterly indifferent about any birthday preparations so I decided to treat it as a Love Bombing day (Grandma’s idea!) and she chose to stay in all day, playing for hours on her new Nintendo DS2; she had a New York cheesecake for her cake and we played lots of party games in the afternoon: blind man’s bluff; twister; musical chairs, bumps & statues; and pass the parcel.  Considering how indifferent she was to begin with, she really enjoyed herself in the end.

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M and I took the rabbits to the vets last week, which is always educational!  We went to a new vet this time since our old vet wouldn’t castrate Morris until he is 6 months old, by which time we would most certainly have rabbit babies!  This vet did a really thorough examination (much to the bunnies’ dislike) and found a suspected heart murmur in one rabbit and a rhythmic problem in another.  We’ve now been referred to an ‘exotic’ vet in West Sussex – they will have a team of FOUR vets on hand to help if needed during the operation – crikey.

All sorts of topics were covered during the vet visit – anaesthesia, hearts, teeth, diets and the vet even let her listen the Dusty’s tummy through his stethoscope!

This is one expensive rabbit.

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M’s also moved onto learning about variables in coding on Khan Academy.  It took a bit of a push since she immediately stated she didn’t understand and it didn’t seem like she was going to budge.  I went on with the project anyway and once the task had actually been completed she seemed to have more of a grasp of what I was talking about.  I don’t know if this is perhaps the way forward with everything she doesn’t understand…?

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D has been playing on Lego Creator Islands on the iPad, which is excellent for visual skills and working out how many blocks you need to make the requested building.  While playing this she started telling me which numbers were more or less than others.  She’s also reading numbers in their hundreds on games, buses, everywhere!

D is also nearing the end of Teach Your Monster to Read, which she really enjoys playing.  It is a little easy for her but it has cemented what she already knows and it gives her confidence that she can actually read – she’s always saying she can’t!

The other game we’ve all been playing is Inventioneers on the iPad.  This is excellent for physics and problem solving.  As we all like playing it together, it’s been really good for a bit of team work and learning to respect other people’s ideas.

This week we also finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and have immediately started on the Order of the Phoenix.   The content gets more and more adult as we go further along the series and I’m not sure how much of the vocabulary M understands but I like the fact that she’s letting the words wash over her, which is also a valid way of picking up new words: I know because this is the way I learnt. 🙂

D is reading all sorts – she particularly likes Ant and Bee books at the moment and we’ve been reading this one, which she got in her Christmas stocking.  She is now picking out words she recognises in both her books and the Harry Potter books, which is lovely to see.  One of her favourite books is from the Wonderwise series called What’s Up?  This is about two children who are exploring how high they can go: by going upstairs, up a tree, a sky scraper etc etc until they’re in space.  D recently asked to go to a cathedral because she saw one in this book!

So this week I booked tickets to go to St Paul’s Cathedral (I’m ashamed to say I never went inside in all the time I worked down the road from it!) and it was an out and out success with both sausages.  D’s latest ‘thing’ is that her life isn’t as good as Dora the Explorer’s so to add to the day, she became ‘Dora’:  I made her a map and she had a backpack with two toy rabbits who were Boots and Benny the Bull.

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To start with, they had fun finding the things on a worksheet I had printed from the website earlier.  They learnt a little about Lord Admiral Nelson who features highly in this cathedral.  They also kept getting confused between him and Nelson Mandela.  Luckily I had thought to bring along our sketchbooks (I’m trying to get into sketching too) and the girls were so pleased to sit and sketch what they could see – M in particular.  D got a little bored and began drawing from her own imagination instead but M could have sat for hours.

There were no photographs allowed inside the cathedral so here’s an ‘artist’s’ impression of how cute they looked:

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We then had a break from sketching to go down to the crypt and then up to the Whisperer’s Gallery.  It’s basically at the bottom of the dome and you can whisper into the wall and the sound is carried around the dome – it’s amazing!  The girls were very taken with it.  After a sneaky biscuit, we gathered up our strength to walk up to the Stone Gallery.  This is outside and gives you a good view of London.  However, we now all wanted to complete the journey to the top of the dome so we climbed the final steps up to the Golden Gallery – it was fantastic!  First of all we got to look through a tiny window right down to the centre of the nave below (D had a good stamp on the glass, which alarmed the staff, haha) and then we climbed up a spiral staircase to get out onto the roof – wowsers!  The girls were very pleased to spot a few landmarks they knew such as The Shard.  There were 527 steps to get to the top but it was well worth the effort.

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M wanted to sit and sketch at every level but I was envisioning pencils rolling over the edge so persuaded her to wait until we got to the bottom.

We got down to the nave and we all oohed and ahhed at the dome from inside.  M sat right in the middle of it and proceeded to draw each gallery from memory (see how she remembered the style of each railing, below!), and then tried to draw parts of the dome too.  By this time we’d been there for 4 hours and we were really hungry so I had to persuade her to leave, which she was quite sad about.  They both said they wanted to live there!

Here are a few of M’s unfinished sketches:

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And her sketches of the galleries:

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And I’ll finish by showing off a fabulous collage that D got to take home from art class this week:

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3 thoughts on “M’s 8th Birthday and a Trip to St. Paul’s

  1. I love seeing your girls’ artistic productions! Has M tried the lessons on code.org? My son is using them (he also just turned 8) and they are primarily drag and drop which I like, but maybe they are not advanced enough for M. And I sympathize with how expensive pets can be (we have a standard poodle) but that is one cute bunny!!

    Liked by 1 person

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