Friday, 29 August 2014

Summer in Poppy Cottage

This summer was one of discovery, milestones and coming of age. One of the biggest achievements was for Leon and Mya, aged 6 and three quarters, to learn to cycle without stabilisers. They both got bikes for Christmas last year. Both were reluctant to cycle on the road with the stabilisers as any uneven surface made the bikes wobble and they lost their confidence.  So, unfortunately, the bikes didn't get used as much as I had hoped in the Spring time.

As a result, I thought that the decommissioning of stabilisers over the summer holidays would be a long process. But it’s amazing how a little bit of sibling rivalry can help moves things along. Mya’s little Shetland pony legs couldn’t quite master her big bike, so she abandoned it and reverted to the pint sized bike that she has had for three years. After three days practice, off she went, stabiliserless, knees hitting off the handlebars, legs going like the clappers. Proud as punch. Leon was totally not impressed with this. He didn’t like that his sister, younger than him by one whole minute, could master it before him. Within hours, there he was, my boy, cycling all by himself. Len boasted that he could cycle the BIG bike first. If someone wanted to do some academic research observing sibling rivalry, I would suggest the No Stabiliser Challenge.
This cycling milestone is great though. Recently, walks with the children were starting to get tedious, amid complaints of sore legs and walking too far, requests for piggy backs, etc. Now, I have trouble keeping up with them, cycling alongside me.
Loom band mania hit the country this year and reached Poppy Cottage with a bang. One day recently, I bought loom band bracelets from some children who live on the cul de sac near the children’s Nana May. I felt sorry for the vendors, as there was little chance of sales with so few passers-by. My two seen the possibility for earning cash for themselves and so, set up a loom-band bracelet making operation that evening. It resembled a sweat shop, such was the level of work. 8.30am the following morning, the Poppy Cottage shop was opened. There was great attention to detail with comfy blankets for themselves and the dog to rest, underneath the sales table.

The kids sat there for three long days, selling their wares. Initially they were selling the loom-bands at e2 a pop. Having inspected their workmanship when I got home from work, I suggested that they should drop their prices to 50 cents. They extended their range of products, by also selling plums, pulled from our garden.  There roles in the enterprise were quickly established. When a car pulled up, Mya adopted her sales pitch, while Leon abandoned his sister, to run into the house to announce 'WE HAVE A CUSTOMER !' On the fourth day, it rained and we suggested that we should give the shop a rest for a while.
They made the princely sum of e24. They were made up. Money burns a hole in my kids pockets, Leon, particularly. You can practically smell the cash burning. I was keen that their introduction to entrepreneurship could be further applied. With a gentle nudge, we agreed that the e24 should be reinvested to buy more hens and to then sell eggs. The long term plan is to save up enough money to go to Disneyland. In the meantime, the children continue to scheme about further sales opportunities. We made cookies the other evening. Leon’s eyes lit up. ‘Mam, we could sell these when we open our egg shop. And chocolate brownies !’ I suggest that we might need to look at our general baking hygiene if we did this and that perhaps the raw mixture might need to be handled less and the spoon licked less often. The two of them adopted a serious business like face and say ‘Yeah, Mam, we can do that’.

The other big happening of the summer was loosing first teeth. Most of their class mates lost teeth in the last two years,but Leon and Mya's hung in there til mid summer. Their teeth first got wiggly at the same time. I had a romantic notion that being twins, their first tooth might fall out on the same day. As it happened, they both lost teeth within days of each other. At Christmas time, Leon got a bit creeped out at the idea of Santa Claus sneaking around the house when he was asleep. The idea of the Tooth Fairy under his pillow has a similar effect. We played it cool. Tooth Fairy Daisy kindly left a note too, with some words of wisdom for the children.

The children were delighted that they could buy whatever they wanted with their Tooth Fairy money. Mya, sensible as ever bought a children's magazine, with a free pair of princess slippers. Leon bought a foot pump in Lidl, that he could use to blow up bicycle tyres. Then deflate them. And blow them up again. And repeat. I had to stop him trying it out on the car.

Over my summer holidays, I wanted to cut back our rather lovely, but now overgrown pond. When the children were smaller, it suited that they were largely unaware that it was there. For two days, I inflicted many injuries on myself to restore the pond to its former glory. Actually, it had never looked this good, as the plants had not matured. The children helped with the work, with gusto. Clipping and sawing, dragging cut branches. There was much laughing when I fell into the pond, even though I hurt myself quite badly. Note to self : Do not wear flip flops when lugging rocks in a pond.

In the midst of the pond restoration, we found a frog. There was so much excitement, we may as well have struck gold. Despite the children's screams of excitement, the frog remained still and let them stroke him. Without a doubt, this was one of the highlights of the summer.

The summer holidays went too fast. Many of the planned day trips and catch up with friends didn't happen. My two and a half weeks at home with the children seems pitifully brief. But as I chatted with the children about their summer, we talked about so many little moments. Getting hens [as documented in my previous blogs]. Building a tree house. Having Maelys, our French student to stay, jumping on bales of straw in Nurney Lakes, camping in the garden, Visiting the Fairy Garden in Corkagh Park, soaking their Mam for the Ice Bucket Challenge. During this conversation, Leon adopted a very serious face and said, 'One not so good thing about this summer Mam. Only two hens are laying so far. They had better start laying soon. We need to start making money'. A lot learned this summer, methinks.


  1. Thingking about getting a boy-cycle for Brendan from santy. Stabeliserless - that should be in the Oxford dictionary! Did not know about the sweat shop sale. Sorry! Sorry! Loom band sale. Love this! Love it! 'Cept the froggy bit. Yukl! Screech!

  2. I want to come and live in Poppy Cottage, or in the tent in the distance.....

  3. Oh, such fun this summer ! Gwen, the frog was 'so cute' according to the kids and a lot more fun than a prince. Annah, the tent could do with a lodger. You are welcome to move in, or just escape for a while.