Cannon Hall Farm as a Family


For a day out during this week’s mid-term break we used vouchers, Titus and I earned from taking his class to Cannon Hall Farm, to take Cora and Ryan to a nearby farm.  It turned out to be a pleasantly mild and partly sunny day, which was a blessing since we spent most of our time outside.  The farm was heaving with visitors on mid-term break, but it is large enough we were all able to enjoy.

When Titus and I went with his class, it turns out we didn’t get to see half of the farm!  Therefore, we were pleasantly surprised to take a complementary tractor ride tour!

cannon-hall-farm-29Upon arrival, Cora and Titus ran straight to the outside play area which has tall slides.  Ryan and I watched the ferret races and we all ventured over to the sheep races soon after placing our complementary bets!

Cora and Titus even saw several school friends at the farm on this day!  There were so many play areas that the kids spent half their time using the zip wire, climbing the ropes challenge course,

cannon-hall-farm-28sliding down many outdoor slides, and climbing through a tunnel maze!cannon-hall-farm-25

cannon-hall-farm-27We ate a later lunch, so as to avoid the cafe crowds, where the kids were chuffed to bits to play in the huge indoor play area whilst Ryan and I remained at our table for grown-up talk.  😉

Titus and I showed Cora and Ryan around the various barns laden with pregnant sheep (some were even born whilst we were there!), cows, goats, and piglets just born the day before!  The kids enjoyed petting and feeding the animals.  Ryan thought the Hungarian pigs cannon-hall-farm-hungarian-sheeplooked a bit like sheep and we all enjoyed petting the 18 hand Shire horse (soon to foal in June)!

cannon-hall-farm-23There was a large farm shop to explore and we just felt compelled to try their fanciful ice cream!  All this ended up taking us the entire day!  Unfortunately we were driving back in 5:00 traffic, but Titus enjoyed a brief nap whilst Cora read here school book and Ryan and I chatted.  Sufficiently exhausted, we treated the kids to tea at Morrison’s since we had to stop for a few groceries anyway.  This allowed Ryan and I our own date night celebration at home, after the kids were in bed, complete with a curry take-away and Bollywood!  We are very grateful for this day!

Abbey House Valentine’s


This quite cold and sunny morning Cora, Titus, and I ventured out thanks to a friend whom needed looking after whilst her Mum was at work.  Otherwise we might have not enjoyed the infrequent English sun at all!  😉  We walked to Abbey House and the kids played together on the play equipment and even I joined in on the swings!  After about 20 minutes the museum opened and we went inside.  Cora and Titus were admitted free thanks to Blue Peter!  

Some early spring 🌺!
There were so many crafts to do for the theme fairyland that I did not have time to read my book but instead asssited all three children! First we made ogre and elf faces on paper plates and then we made princess and prince caps. There was a game where each had to search the museum for all the toadstools and count them up to submit their count for a competition…I think we counted 41!  

As usual, the kids loved playing dress-up and school in the Victorian Schoolhouse!  We even bought some Victorian coins to put in the penny machines to view the various scenes.  

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch…Cora wanted to eat outside sitting on the Kirkstall Abbey ruins.  Despite the cold, I obliged since there was plenty of sun.  I think we could have even stayed longer before walking home but wanted to get our friend to her movie on time!  

Thank you, dear friends, for the Valentine’s flowers!  

Y3 at Cannon Hall Farm


Today I was blessed to go with Titus’s Y3 class to visit Cannon Hall Farm.  We rode the coach along curvy roads through the fog to Cannon Hall Farm…and only one child was sick on the bus!  Upon arrival, we were given a room in which we could place our bags and lunches.  There we split into two groups and our group met farmer Darryl.  Despite the drizzly rain, we wandered in and out of various barns learning so many facts about the animals.  For example, a mummy pig is called a sow and a daddy pig is called a boar.  Each mummy has 14 teats and usually has 14-18 piglets who each claim their own spot from which to nurse.  Although one sow had 24 piglets and the piglets had to eat in shifts.  😉 These particular pigs were SO posh they had under floor heating!  The pigs were also given recreation time where they could play football!  And each pig learned how to drink directly from a water tap so that there was no need to clean troughs!  Sows can farrow or birth piglets three litters in a year since sows are only pregnant exactly three months, three weeks, and three days.  Why, you may ask, were we learning so much about pigs?  Because the students are reading Charlotte’s Web of course!  

After the pigs, the students got to pet a rabbit and we learned baby rabbits are called kittens!  Too funny!  After petting the rabbit, everyone promptly washed their hands before walking to the ferret races.  Once there each person was handed a coloured ticket at random to see who was the lucky winner after the ferrets raced.  Definitely something I hadn’t seen before!  

After eating our packed lunches, and the adults drank coffee for warmth, we walked to see a Holstein and Jersey cow each be milked.  This was a fascinating process to watch and the Holstein cow showed her tongue off after eating whilst being milked!  I think she was trying to prompt us to feed her but we let the farmer do that!

The kids were greatly complemented by the farmers for their polite manners and excellent questions!  Thus they were rewarded by playing in the indoor play area (complete with three rather tall slides) briefly before we boarded the coach and returned to school!  Now the kids have plenty of material for their presentations to present in front of the whole school at an upcoming family assembly.  Titus requested to visit again over term break!  

Cora is 9 years old!?


As a mother, it is a bit challenging to see my little girl is nine years old as of yesterday at 6:45pm (Cora asked me to look for the exact time on her birth certificate)!  And I pray her innocence continues for at least a few more years!  ☺ 

Since Cora is not a big breakfast eater, she asked me if she could eat birthday cake for breaksfast…and I said why not!?  Therefore, we started celebrations early (after curling her hair so lovely) by singing “Happy Birthday” and blowing out candles on her courgette cake with cream cheese frosting.  After all, cake for breakfast should be ok as long as it has veg in it…right?!  

Cora opened presents from Mum and Dad, Titus, and Grandpa.  

It was then time for Ryan to walk them to school whilst I tidied up.  After school, we picked her and Titus up in our car and drove (at Cora’s request) to Build-A-Bear at White Rose Shopping Centre.  We treated them each to after school slushies, browsed the Disney Store, and settled in at Build-A-Bear.   Cora was given a special birthday sticker to wear.  

Building a stuffed toy (since they have more than just bears there) is a bit more complicated than one might think.  There were many steps involved.  First, pick out the stuffed toy you desire to make.  Cora chose a pink teddy and Titus chose a blue T-Rex (apparently this was the first day they had his option).  

Second, you chose what to put inside your toy.   A bar code with the child’s name is out inside in case the toy is ever lost and is returned to any Build-A-Bear it can find its way back to your child!  Wow!  Just like pet ID!  For sound, Cora chose “I love you” whilst Titus chose “roar”!  Each was given a heart and Cora chose an extra special heart which actually beats!  Cora also chose to put a candy floss scent inside her bear since she named her Candyfloss!  Then the toy is stuffed whilst the kids control how fast with a foot pump.    

Then the toy is sewn shut and given to your child to cuddle!

Third, there are an abundance of clothes and accessories, pets (yes, stuffed pets for your stuffed toy), and shoes, etc. from which to purchase…yes, each item is extra just as each item is extra that goes inside the toy.  But, you only turn 9 once, right?!  Therefore, Cora (thanks to all her grandparents) was able to not only to get her bear but also a beautiful pink ballerina top and tutu, high healed ballet shoes, pants (and there is even a little hole for the tail), and pyjamas!  Titus chose just one shirt since he was limited to leftover Christmas money.  😉 Yet we assured each of them that Build-A-Bear is all over the US and when we are there the last six months of this year, those that want to buy them toys can perhaps purchase accessories for Candyfloss (Cora’s pink bear) and White Fang (Titus’s T-Rex). 😊

Fourth, each child can go to a computer in store and complete information (including their stuffed toy’s name) for a free birth certificate.  This was quite fun to see their imaginations at work!  

Finally, toys are taken to the till where each is out into a special carrying box and a printed birth certificate is received.  I gave my name and email and each purchase that is made is added to our account where we can earn vouchers (coupons) for future purchases.  Definitely all this is a complete experience!  In fact, for those of you from my generation, this process reminded me a bit of getting my cabbage patch kid named Lizzy Verna…but I digress….Cora and Titus were SO Very chuffed they thanked us for taking them to Build-A-Bear all evening!  

We wandered some more shops before settling upon Pizza Expess for Cora’s birthday tea.  Since we rarely go out to eat, she felt this quite a treat!  Time for brother cuddles…

Cora chose dough balls with garlic butter, margarita pizza with extra tomatoes, and a gelato sundae with babychinno for pudding…yum!  I tried something new…a fried egg upon my pizza…also yum!  

After tea it was time to venture outside again in the cold towards home.  Each felt very blessed by Cora’s 9th birthday experience!  Happy Birthday, my miracle girl!  We love you dearly and are thankful for the joy you bring to our lives!  

Rhinos Boxing Day


Earlier this month, Ryan took Cora and Titus to the Leeds Rhinos Christmas Party since Titus is a member of Ronnie’s Club (where he plays rugby weekly).  At the party,  Cora won the raffle prize of Boxing Day tickets as well as walking the players out on the pitch!  Titus was able to go too since he is the official member and Cora was his guest.  😊 We arrived early, given special badges in order to having special access, and escorted onto the pitch!  

Cora and Titus were allowed to run along the pitch boundaries and were able to meet Ronnie the Rhino (Leeds Rhinos mascot)!  

After a while, Titus and Cora were led inside the player entrance tunnel to meet the team captain and walk onto the pitch with him, leading all the other Rhinos players! We are supposed to receive a professional photo of Cora and Titus next week, which should be much better than the photos we took as the sun was in our eyes.  😉

Christmas 2016


This morning we enjoyed more lesisurely than normal since we did not have a church service.  Ryan read the birth of Jesus from the Bible, just before we tucked into our deliciously rich breakfast of overnight French toast.   Then Titus persuaded us to delay stockings in lieu of opening presents.  We had a really enjoyable time unwrapping presents one at a time, youngest to oldest, celebrating each gift given by relatives, friends, and to each other!  So blessed we are!

We played with our new gifts before eating a light lunch.  Then Titus and I took cards and gifts to neighbours on our street.  Next it was off in our car to our pastor friends’ home where we exchanged some gifts and, more leisurely than last year, prepared Christmas dinner for 11 international students soon to visit.  

We watched the Queen’s speech at 3pm as per our usual tradition.  

Then we served Christmas Dinner around 5pm.  Unusual as it was to have smoked turkey, in this country, for dinner…it was greatly appreciate!  Many tried and enjoyed my pumpkin pie for the first time!

By 8pm we were shattered and an headed home to rest!  A blessing it was to serve those whom would otherwise be alone one Christmas!  

London at Christmas


London is quite peaceful and calm early in the morning, which lent itself to excellent photos of the sparkling Christmas lights on our walk from the tube stop to the US Embassy.  Cora had a 7:45am and Titus an 8:15am appointment for their passports.  Even at 7:30, when we arrived, there was already a queue in front of the US Embassy!  In the dark we awaited instructions and followed the applicable queues and security regulations.  Once inside it only took us 45 minutes (such a blessing!) to go from window to window to complete all necessary passport requirements.  Titus and Cora even made some new playmates in the children’s area!  

We paused for photos for Ryan’s Granddad by the statue of Eisenhower.  

When leaving we asked a security officer where he recommended we eat.  Without hesitation he recommended Grosvenor Cafe, which we later found a bit lacking, but at least we ate for a reasonable price in London.

We walked to Hyde Park to view the Christmas Market which wasn’t quite open so we walked through the Green Park war memorial, 

on to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen’s guard, 

St. James park where Cora and Titus fed leftover bread to the hoard of birds, 

Westminster Abbey (where we found out when Ryan can prove his ordination we can get inside free!) which we did not go inside due to the expense but enjoyed the lavish outside decor and the gift shop where I added to my earring collection 😊,

we listened to Big Ben chime loudly at 11am,

then we walked by to the Houses of Parliament and the Thames and the London Eye and White Hall,

needing a rest and in search of GOOD coffee (instead of the instant stuff that came with our full English) we walked even farther finally pausing for an excellent cuppa next to Trafalgar Square!

Asking a local’s opinion, we walked on to Covent Gardens where we shopped the myriad of market stalls and Ryan and the kids enjoyed fresh frankfurters!   

I decided to wait, however, for our next coffee stop and was pleasantly surprised by the most delicious goat cheese artichoke quiche!  We walked past the Seven Dials ornately decorated for Christmas, to the British Museum where we showed the kids the Egyptian sarcophagus and the Rosetta Stone.  

Thoroughly not sure we could walk anymore, we willed ourselves on towards the Underground where we paused at King’s Cross to surprise the kids with seeing Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter!  They were mesmerised by the gift shop and queues of tourists obtaining photos!  

Riding the tube one last time, we returned to Islington Bourough (where we were staying a second night) and stumbled upon the most delicious local Italian restaurant!  They had such lovely bolognase that I think I could have drank it!  The kids tried calamari for the first time and Titus enjoyed it!  

Absolutely shattered, we walked to Highbury Centre eating chocolate ice lollies!  We were all settled into our beds around 8pm and all (but Ryan) were asleep by 8:30!