Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sleepover, revisited

Just under a year ago, we had three young friends to stay for 27 hours. Their older siblings were away at camp, and their parents enjoyed some time to themselves, for once. It was tiring, but - overall - quite fun, and although we hadn't really talked about repeating the experience, we decided to do so again this year.

The youth group camp started Tuesday, so we agreed that the three younger children could come Wednesday morning, and stay until after lunch on Thursday. So, first thing Wednesday I did my usual Wednesday housework (changing our sheets, putting sheets/towels to wash, cleaning upstairs...) and also cleaned out the air conditioner in our second bedroom, which we hadn't, so far, done this year. It was very dirty indeed!

Then I put some yogurt on to make, and boiled some eggs, and thawed some cheese, and cut up some vegetables, and put bread ingredients in the breadmaker.

By ten o'clock I was showered and prepared for the onslaught arrival of our friends, only to receive a text saying they would be a bit late. So I decided to pre-empt the likely requests of the children, and found a few websites with printable paper dolls to colour and cut. They have made lots of them before, only to end up losing them. They're no longer allowed to make them at their house, so I decided to print three of each of several kinds, and allocate each girl an envelope so they could keep them here, in a cupboard, and play with them when they're at our house.

By 11.00 they had taken their pillows and luggage upstairs, and were thrilled by the paper dolls to colour.

They kept on thanking me, which was nice.  Elisabeth (5) needed a bit of help cutting the first ones out, as she told me she would probably cut the tabs off the clothes by mistake.  But Helen (nearly 7) was fine, although she said she didn't like cutting as much as she likes colouring:

I thought the activity might last half an hour or so before they got bored. However, I hoped they would keep coming back to them every so often. I underestimated them... Helen and Katie kept going almost all day.

Katie, who is ten, asked if she could update her blog in the afternoon. She is ten now, and started it recently under her mother's supervision.  I was impressed at how fast she types; she doesn't touch-type yet, but is far more competent than she was even a few months ago.

Even more impressively, she figured out how to use my webcam to take a photo to put in her blog post. I had no idea my webcam could be used for taking photos...

Elisabeth was the first to get bored of colouring; she also didn't take as much care as her sisters, so finished several of the dolls and their clothes much more quickly. Then she told me she could now read and was going to read the book 'Titch' to me.

We didn't get very far, because she was annoyed at the spelling of the name 'Pete', Titch's brother. She didn't think there should be an 'e' at the end. She explained patiently that the last sound is 'ttttttt' so the final letter ought to be a 't'. I pointed out that if it was just spelled 'p-e-t' then it would make the word 'pet'. She nodded, but felt that the second e should be before the t, not after it.  She has a point...

When she then found that the word 'bike' also ends with 'e' she gave up in disgust.

Helen, meanwhile, who had been colouring a doll version of Lucy (from the Narnia series) said she thought it very funny that Lucy's name was spelled 'Lucky'. I said that the word 'lucky' had a 'k' in it too, and then we had a discussion about when the letter 'c' makes the 's' sound.

So that was their phonics for the day...

Elisabeth got out a bag of paper coasters and cookies and other items of food that she has made over many weeks, when she's here with her mother on Tuesday mornings. None of us really wanted to play one of her long-winded cookie games, so she coerced the large white doll to play.

She had to put some thought into what to feed the doll; I think she allowed him (or perhaps her... the doll is of unspecified gender) some bread in the end. She told me, with a little shake of her head, that she couldn't allow him to have any chocolate because he always gets himself in such a mess when he eats chocolate.

Only those who have seen Elisabeth eating chocolate (or, worse, chocolate cake) can appreciate the wonderful irony of this statement.

Helen was still patiently colouring in her paper dolls' clothes...

Finally they all decided to put the colouring aside for a while and play a game. Ligretto is their current favourite, though I gather Elisabeth only learned how to play it a couple of days ago. It's a game I enjoy, although I'm not very good at it; when playing with experts I usually manage to get two or three cards down by the time someone else has finished. However, these three were at around my level and I even went out first a couple of times.

At lunch we had eaten bread with cheese, and eggs, and chopped up carrots/cucumbers/peppers, and coleslaw, and hummus, and one or two other random things from the fridge. That was straightforward.

However I wasn't entirely sure what to give the girls for their evening meal. I haven't done any cooking, other than on Sundays, for over a month now. We've been eating salads in the evenings, with some form of protein, and no extra starches. But I didn't think that would go down well. Richard spent the afternoon sailing with some friends and had taken some halloumi and pittas to cook on the boat so he wasn't in the equation.

I didn't want to turn the oven on, and haven't used the slow cooker since early July. But we had some sausages in the freezer, so I asked if the girls would like those. They said that would be a great idea. I thought we could have them in pittas, with salad, but then discovered Richard had taken all the pittas from our freezer. One of the girls said she liked sausages with 'noodles' so I cooked some spaghetti, and also refried some roast potatoes that were in the freezer. I knew they wouldn't want cooked vegetables, so out came the chopped ones from lunch, and the coleslaw.

I asked if any of them liked fried onions; they all said they didn't, but were very gracious and said they didn't mind at all if I cooked some for myself. I didn't take advantage of their offer; with potatoes, spaghetti, sausages and a little tomato sauce (also from the freezer) on the hob, I didn't have room for anything else anyway.

The girls were very pleased with the sausages, and even more so with the tomato ketchup I produced. With the heat, I haven't even made ketchup since June; we bought some Heinz ketchup on offer in the supermarket a few weeks ago. One of them asked me if it was very expensive, apparently considering ketchup to be a luxury. I assured her it was very reasonable, and cheaper than mayonnaise.

They were also quite excited by the fried potatoes, which they said they've only ever eaten at the house church. There weren't very many, but that was fine; they went on to eat a bit of spaghetti too, mixed with ketchup, but were more eager to eat the sausages.

I'd made some banana bread on Sunday, which I had kept in the freezer until the morning. So we each had a slice of that. I thought it was rather tasteless; I'd missed out both raisins and walnuts, knowing the girls aren't keen on either, but they declared it 'delicious'.

By the time we finished eating it was after seven o'clock, and the two younger girls said they needed to go to bed soon. Elisabeth asked if she could have a shower, so I found her a towel, and showed her how to work the shower, which is in our bath.

After about ten minutes the shower was still on so I popped my head around the bathroom door to see how she was doing, only to find her sitting down in the bath, with a scrubbing brush and the Cif cream cleanser. I thought perhaps she was cleaning the bath, and was about to thank her, when she showed me that she was scrubbing her feet! They looked extremely clean, but I was a bit worried that she might be scrubbing away a layer of skin; it's quite powerful stuff. I rinsed it very thoroughly and she seemed to be fine.

She said she had thought it was shampoo, which slightly puzzled me as shampoo is not normally used for cleaning feet although it's probably better for them than Cif. It was only when mentioning this to her parents a day later that I learned that she refers to shower gel as shampoo.

Then it was time to sort out the bedroom. We opened up the sofa bed, the one that used to be in my study until we moved furniture around last December. The girls had brought their own pillows, and also some teddies:

Elisabeth's mattress had come separately, and was set up next to the sofa bed.

Despite their eagerness to go to bed, neither Helen nor Elisabeth seemed particularly tired. I read to them until nearly eight o'clock, having turned on the newly cleaned air conditioner (it was VERY humid last night) and then they said they would go to sleep listening to a repeated 'rock a bye baby' tune - if that's the word - on a baby's cot toy which they had brought.

Katie was reading - as she had been, off and on, all day - until nine o'clock, at which point Richard said she should go to bed, and she complied cheerfully. Just as well, since I was absolutely shattered by that point and had already gone to lie down. It wasn't that any of the girls had been any trouble at all; they were mostly peaceable, right through the day, with only a handful of squabbles. I refused to get involved; the best parenting technique I ever learned, when my sons were small, is to listen giving good eye contact and an expression of sympathy to any amount of tattling or argument addressed to me, then to acknowledge that the situation was frustrating, or annoying, or upsetting, or whatever is most appropriate. And then let them work out what to do themselves.

We heard some talking but they stayed in their room and there was no major noise... so, presumably, they fell asleep eventually.

I must have been asleep before 10.00pm, and woke about 5.45am, feeling the humidity already. We only run air conditioners for an hour or so when going to sleep, and usually that's not a problem. I knew I wouldn't get back to sleep, so I got up, only to discover that Katie and Helen were already awake, and had been trying to get into my study to find some of their paper dolls. They had, very thoughtfully, kept quiet and hadn't tried to wake us up, so I let them in, and they took the colouring things back to their room.

I made my coffee, and turned on the ceiling fan, and opened the study door in the hope of at least a few minutes of cooler air, and settled in my beanbag to read.

I had perhaps five minutes of peace before Katie came down to read too. Shortly followed by her sisters. So much for time to myself.

When I went to get showered and dressed, they played some fairly peaceable Ligretto again:

I don't usually have breakfast until I've been up for a couple of hours, but the girls were starting to get a bit irritable and said they were hungry. I asked what they'd like for breakfast; they muttered that they like 'leftovers' like noodles and cheese, but I said we tended to eat leftovers at lunchtime, so in the end they said they'd like toast and butter. They didn't want any yogurt. Katie did say she would be happy to cook pancakes but I vetoed that one, not really wanting to heat the kitchen up at that hour.

I thawed some bread slices, and made orange juice, and produced a banana each and they had their toast. By which time it was about eight o'clock. And I was feeling tired already.

Someone proposed a game of Uno, so we had a couple of rounds:

But Elisabeth was clearly tired; she can't have had more than eight hours of sleep at most, which isn't many for a five-year-old. She always gets black bags under her eyes when she's tired; I've often seen them on her in the evenings, but they were there even at that time in the morning.

So the game deteriorated, and was then put away. It was getting too hot and sticky, anyway, so we decided to return to my study, and put the air conditioning on so that we could put the computer on and Katie could write another blog post.

Elisabeth then decided she would play with her various paper dolls - six of them in all:

Helen wanted to play Misfits but nobody else was keen, so she played with them on her own, for at least thirty seconds, before Elisabeth joined her:

But tempers were getting frayed. Elisabeth started being a bit silly; when she's over-tired she becomes hyper, and seems to lose her usually excellent grasp of reason. Helen seems unable to do anything without humming; she does so quietly and tunefully, and in itself it's not a problem, but Elisabeth kept joining in, and the volume increased as the tunefulness decreased... and since I was feeling tired and a little headachey, my tolerance was low.

At one point they were all looking bored, and pushing each other around, and I said they probably needed to run around outside - something that's not possible here - and maybe they should go home. I even had a text message conversation with their mother, who would have come to collect them, but Katie wanted to read a book, and then look through all our DVDs, and Helen wanted to do some colouring.. and Elisabeth even went to take a nap.

My study was starting to look more like a bombsite, although on the whole they had been good about clearing up one activity before embarking on another...

Elisabeth's nap lasted about ten minutes. Then Katie offered to make some more paper doll's clothes for her, and she watched, no longer being silly and hyper, but chewing her fingers and even yawning. Helen was tired too, but expressed that by sprawling on the sofa, and being more sensitive than usual, and refusing to pick anything up, and also yawning a lot.

But they kept insisting that they did not want to go home until after lunch. I didn't know what was best; I didn't want to turn it into a battle, or have them feel it was 'punishment' to send them home, but I wasn't sure how much longer I could cope - and the two younger ones were SO tired.

I also hadn't realised that they no longer play with Lego - so they informed me. Lego used to occupy them for hours when they came here. But not this time.

Helen decided to do some paper shredding for me, something they all seem to enjoy:

Then Elisabeth asked me to read to her, and Helen soon joined her. I think I read three books in all.

Katie read several books to herself, although I don't seem to have taken any photos of her doing so.

By this stage it was 12.20 and Elisabeth was looking so tired that she could barely stand up. She said she was hungry, so I suggested we have lunch a bit earlier than usual, and then they could go home at 1.00 rather than an hour or two later, as we'd originally planned. They all agreed to this and were pleased to find that Richard had brought back some leftover halloumi and chicken drumsticks from the meal on the boat last night.

So it was only 26 hours this time, an hour less than last year. I expect we'll repeat this next year, but that's a long way off... I have plenty of time to recover!

1 comment:

Arrow said...

I watch 2 girls aged seven and ten for ten hours a day (it will only be two and a half once school starts) and am amused by your idea of a messy room!
Sheila's friend Amy