The schools broke up yesterday and two months of Summer vacation starts today for all three of the boys. And big changes are ahead for us because the twins have now graduated from primary school and will be embarking on their secondary school careers in September.
While attending their graduation ceremony on Tuesday, it struck me that I will never again need to return to the local school, and nor will any of them be able to walk to school. From here on in, all of three boys will be traveling to the next town for their education.
We have much to prepare, but today we shall enjoy the first day of the Summer holiday.
Alexandre and William both hit ten years old today and, since they are at school, we have the best part of the day to make sure everything is ready for this evening.
There’s no party this year because of the coronavirus, and the outdoor play area we would normally unleash the kids onto is still closed. But we will be having a barbecue tomorrow (which is promising to be the hottest day of the year so far) and plans are afoot for a proper (if small) celebration either this weekend or next.
Hitting double figures is not something that can go unacknowledged and, today, there will be cake.
Wednesday was a fun day. I turned up at the station at the usual time, only discover that all trains were cancelled due to a defective train further up the line.
Since I can work from home, and the station was giving no information about when the problem would be resolved, I went home.
Coincidentally, Alexandre was feeling a bit ill on Wednesday and we had already decided he could miss karate this week. As I was already home, it made sense for him to stay at home with me rather than go to the sports centre to watch his brothers for an hour.
This, of course, meant that it was Alexandre and I that went to collect the pizzas.
The TV in the pizza takeaway happened to be tuned to a music channel this week. One of the songs that happened to come up was The Nights by Avicii. This is now Alexandre’s favourite song.
I think he was mainly inspired by the footage of people jumping off things. Whatever the appeal, though, I can’t fault his taste.
A couple of months ago, Alex acquired a water filter. A small one, obviously, but a working one designed to demonstrate how water filtration works. The system has three layers — containing stones, sand and filter paper respectively — and when you pour the dirty water into the top, cleanish water drips out of the bottom.
A couple of weekends ago, we finally found the time to set it up. So set it up we did and I gave the twins a beaker of water and told them to dissolve a little bit of soil in it.
They excelled themselves.
Then the time came to start filtering:
Of course, there is only one way to test the results.
And before anyone asks, I did cheat a little bit for the final photo. The filter certainly did a good job of clearing the water, but was nowhere near effective enough to clean the findings of a pair of determined eight-year-olds.
I removed that last bit of cloudiness by replacing the filtered water with tap water.
Some friends recently dug up an old tree stump and, for reasons probably best not explored, asked if we wanted it. Of course, we said yes and said stump was duly acquired and unloaded. The plan was to leave it until the weekend and then start trying to figure out if there is anything we can do with it.
For those that don’t know, Big Trak is a programmable tank. It was popular (with me, at least) in the 1980s and reissued in all its retro glory a few years ago.
Big Trak, if you don’t remember, was an amazingly cool-looking 6-wheeled tank that you could program yourself to move around whilst firing its photon beam. Happily, not much has changed with this new version, which means you can not only relive the fun you had as a kid but, if you’ve got children of your own, pass it on through the family.
A few simple instructions can make your Big Trak go forward a certain number of lengths, fire, and then come back to you. The onboard memory will store up to 16 commands in one go, which means you can easily have your faithful tank-servant completing some complex manoeuvres in no time.
I have one and Alexandre is fascinated by it. So much so that he can now code up the basic manoeuvres himself…
Turning is still a challenge, but we’ll get there.
On Friday, I was home alone with the kids and, while the weather could have been better, it was certainly too nice to stay indoors all day. The kids, however, wanted to stay inside and play Angry Birds.