Friday, 31 October 2008

if only it were so simple.....

Doodlebug is 9 years old now, and is starting to pay serious attention to the world around him and the issues at hand. Like the upcoming US election.

D: "It's the US presidential election on Tuesday"
Me: "Yes.. do you know who the candidates are?"
D: "Obama... Barack Obama and John McCain", "but who's the woman?"
Me: "That's Sarah Palin - she is McCain's running mate and will be the VP if he wins"
D: "So who's Obama's mate?"
(more discussion on the VP role)

Doodlebug then wanted to know who was the republican and the democrat, and
D: "What's the difference?"
cue a very simplified explanation of tax, welfare, health and education issues (we'll save foreign policy for another time) and how the 2 parties have different ideas of how to run the country, how to get money in and how to spend it.

When we got to tax and welfare, and the Democrat idea of increasing taxes to help those who need it, spreading the wealth. Doodlebug thought this was a great idea.

"After all, Mummy, those who are doing allright and have lots of money can help those who need it. They'll still be doing allright".

How do I explain the nature of greed, the attitude that "I earned it, I keep it..... let others sort themselves out" to a 9 yr old who thinks sharing makes perfect sense? If only it were that simple.

Thoughtful Friday

" The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes (...)"
- William Shakespeare
("Merchant of Venice")

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

it's getting a bit spooky around here....

Another great giveaway!!

Indie Fixx has put together the most amazing bundles for this giveaway. Click on the image, enter the competition....... and let Jen know you read about it here..... Good luck!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

FHE - a crafty one

last night's FHE was a messy one - it was wonderful!! We had made monsterheads to collect treats in on Hallowe'en and the evening was spent painting while we chatted about school, global warming and whatever else the children wanted to talk about. I love to hear what they are thinking about and wondering about.
getting ready to make papier mache

3 eggs drying off overnight


painting, mixing colours... (how many shades of browny purple can we achieve?)

Monday, 27 October 2008

Hallowe'en - we are almost ready!!

For the Hallowe'en costumes I was hoping that the children would have wanted to recycle their costumes from earlier this year, and be convicts, dragons or fairies.... or any combination of those. But they all decided on being spooky for this year's Trunk or Treat activity. I didn't do any sewing this time, though...

The bat was made dissecting a cheap black umbrella (perfect use for that old umbrella with the broken spoke sitting in the hallway closet!), cutting out the metal bits and dividing up the fabric to make 2 wings that I glued onto a black long sleeved T-shirt (glued to the seams of the sleeves and the side seams of the shirt).

Add the black leggings and some black socks as well as a hood with some ears glued on, and we have a bat!

The skeleton was even easier....... except the struggle for anatomical correctness. Poor Turtle looks slightly doublejointed, and he has the pelvis of a childbearing woman...

A pot of white fabric paint was all it took to turn a long sleeved T-shirt and a pair of black trackies into a skeleton costume. For a bit of added excitement, I painted on a layer of phosphorescent fabric paint so that we will glow in the dark. Woo hoo!

But, where is the third costume, I hear you say? Well, the ghost is a little shy..... but will be captured and put on display tomorrow!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

our higgledy piggledy garden

Spring has sprung and summer is on its way. It seems that we are all gardening at the moment. Green Thumb seems to be highly contagious. I think Suzi might have been the source of the outbreak, but Lisha seems to be affected as well. This week the bug hit us and we have been gardening..

Ours is a bit of a higgledy piggledy garden with plants in random places and me hoping they'll be friends with their neighbour. I hear there is a system to which plants that thrive next to each other, but I am hoping that my garden of individuals will come together in a common cause - to bear fruit!

Sam inspired me with his strawberry jam, so in a moment of spontaneity I planted a couple of strawberry plants. Add that to the zucchini, cucumber, capsicum,tomatoes, rhubarb, beans, watermelon, lettuce, onion and various herbs growing in a couple of beds. The carrots are a little particular, so I planted them in a box by themselves. And just for fun we planted lots of sunflower seeds around the garden as well.

The worms in the wormfarm have been busy making lots of compost which I spread over the garden, and if I listen very carefully I think I can hear the plants saying "yum yum!". As I dug out the compost I decided to let a handful of worms come along for a sea-change. I hope they like their new patch!

My greatest joy in the garden at the moment is our passionfruit vine. Apparently I should have been pruning it some weeks ago before it started flowering.... oops... But it is now full of beautiful flowers, bearing the promise of a big harvest of fruit later in the summer. Better keep that a secret from the local cockatoos and possums!

Marie Terese gown giveaway at Grosgrain!

For those of us who have little girls who like dress-up, here is the ultimate of princess gowns.... and it's a giveaway!! (but you've got to hurry.... it ends very soon). I just stumbled across this website during my blogland surf, and couldn't believe the gorgeous creations this clever woman has made....... makes me think my costumes could do with a little tarting up :)

Friday, 24 October 2008

Thoughtful Friday

"We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull while others are bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box"
- Robert Fulghum

another sleeping child photo

yes, I know I posted my sleeping treasures a couple of evenings ago.... but when MOTH came home this evening and did his rounds, he came out looking for the camera. He pointed out that if we painted Doodlebug blue, he'd look remarkably like a smurf. So, I had to have a little play around with my software.... I couldn't work out how to tint his skin, so I went second best.......

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Hallowe'en is almost here

and we're getting ready.... Already a bat has moved into our house and I'm sure other spooky creatures will be following soon. And, if that wasn't scary enough.... we seem to have a new spider in the house... I always thought the huntsman was a little intimidating, but this new one is a particularly hairy, googly-eyed, long-legged specimen and it has taken up residence outside Turtle's room! I might need Mason's expert help to identify this one
Turtle made a black pom-pom, for legs I twisted 3 pipecleaners together and tied them to the pompom, add a pair of googly eyes, and a new species is born!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

doing my rounds after coming home from work....

I found this motley crew.... a Doodlebug with a beanie on his head (were you feeling cold tonight, my darling?), a Turtle whose hair is having a party tonight (some serious combing required in the morning, my treasure), and a sweet little Possum fast asleep in her Paradise of Pink (did the fairies whisk you off to a land of dreams?)
"sleep, my sweethearts, have no fear
sleep my darlings, I am here" (Mem Fox, "Sleepy Bears")

"The most powerful combination of human emotions in the world is not called out by any grand cosmic event, nor accounts found in history books or in a novel, but merely by a parent gazing down upon a sleeping child"

Thomas S. Monson

magazine campaign update...

I am continuing my campaign. Since the petrol stations/forecourt operators have been dismissive of my concerns regarding their prominent display of "adult content" magazines, I decided to take the matter up with our local MP. One of the offending petrol stations is literally around the corner from his office, so I am hoping for a little MP clout.

Meanwhile I see from this news item that the petrol stations are in hot water over their magazine sales. Keep the pressure up!

Monday, 20 October 2008

........a self-portrait

a school of fish.......

Turtle and Doodlebug both had a week off from homework last week. The teachers decided to let them off for the first week of term. It was a relief..... for me..... my boys do not enjoy it and I do not enjoy making them do it. All in all I think homework causes some stress around here.

However.... some things can be made more fun... like maths, spelling and reading. Meet our school of fish:

This is just a variation on the ever popular fishing game. Fishing rods made out of dowels, string for a line, magnet for "bait". I laminated the fish because they spend a lot of time on the floor, and I thought they might last a little longer that way. With the paperclips on them, the fish are easily caught.

We have maths fish and word fish. The maths fish have basic addition and subtraction for LP and multiplication for the boys. I will be adding some division fish soon, too.

The word fish I laminated plain, and I have stuck the words on with BluTack. This way we can accommodate spelling and sight word lists as they change. the Times Table doesn't really change... :)

The rules are simple. In order to keep the fish(count it as your catch...), you have to give the correct answer to the equation. The boys - ever competitive - want to see who can get the most fish. LP just likes to play and count....

The word fish are the most versatile. LP and I vary the games that we play with our wordfish:

  • Reading the word on the fish that you catch.
  • Spelling the word,
  • Using the word in a sentence,
  • Finding words that rhyme with your word or
  • Finding an opposite to your word.
The fish can also be used for learning basic grammar. When all the fish have been caught, they are sorted into 3 piles: Verbs, adjectives and nouns.

(we have to put the rod down in order to have full use of all counting fingers.....)

Sunday, 19 October 2008

I saw, I liked, I made.... a memory board

My local bookshop is a magical place to be. Very small but with a wonderful selection of books and always some good recommendations from staff who are as passionate about reading as I. Every time I go into the village, I am drawn to it and my idea of a bliss is to first go to Kokoh for a scrumdiddliumptious hot chocolate (or iced chocolate now that summer is coming), and then on to the bookshop for a chat and a browse among the books and the handmade items that are for sale there.

The other day I went in and I spotted some beautiful memoryboards... and I thought I might get one until I saw the pricetag. Two thoughts went through my mind in quick succession.... firstly "Man, that's expensive!" and secondly "I bet I could make that..... it doesn't look that hard..."

So I made one.....

The one in the shop was made using what felt like MDF, solid and quite heavy. I decided to just use a stretch canvas. Here's how it went:

Materials: a stretch canvas, some fabric, a couple of rectangles of quiltbatting for padding, about 2 metres of ribbon for the lattice and my beloved staplegun (the most exciting thing in my craft cupboard according to the boys, and they are itching to get their hands on it!)

Optional extras are some fabric for backing (I used a plain homespun) and some ribbon to trim the edge with.

I cut the batting and fabric to size, adding enough to stretch around to the back of the canvas.
The batting can be smaller than the fabric. I decided to have the batting going around to the back - it makes for a nicer finish I think.

Then I stapled the top edge using 3 staples but staying away from the corners. The bottom edge was secured in the same way, making sure I was stretching everything nice and tight.... leaving the corners again. Then I did the sides, stretching the fabric evenly so as to not distort the weave.
After all four sides were pulled stapled down, I mitred the fabric over the corners.

That done, it was time to cut my ribbons to make the lattice shape, making sure it was symmetrical. After I had measured and cut, I stapled the ribbons around the back, making sure they were nicely stretched.

I used a strip of the border print from my fabric to make a trim (instead of more ribbon), but if the"lattice" ribbons are pulled around neatly this isn't necessary..... all a matter of preference!

That done, it was time to tidy up the back, hiding a multitude of sins by adding some backing. I used some plain homespun, and stapled it all down.

Add a picture hook to hang it up - and hey presto...... one happy little customer!

Both boys came to investigate what I was doing, but Turtle decided he didn't like the fabric... he has ordered one with snakes on it... The monster fabric was something I had put up for sale in my Grand De-Clutter Sale a couple of months ago..... good thing it didn't sell!!

Just goes to show..... de-cluttering is risky business :) I should hang on to my fabrics !!

a girls' morning out - cricket and nature

Yesterday it was finally Little Possum's turn to start the cricket season. The family schedule looked impossible to juggle with Turtle's match starting at 8am, LP at 8.30 and Doodlebug at 9am - in 3 different locations, miles apart. But somehow it all came together, as it always does.

Kanga cricket takes place at an oval a mere 10 min walk away along beautiful, tree-lined streets and through a bush reserve. There are no photos of LP's cricket debut as she was a little overwhelmed to start with, and mummy involvement was required. We practised batting and bowling and LP concentrated really hard once the initial apprehension had given way. Another possible reason for this apprehension could be that LP is the only girl in this group of 50 or so children. I have no fear that she will cope with that, battle-hardened as she is having 2 older brothers.

An hour into the 90 min long session LP declared herself tired, and decided that cricket was over for this morning, thank you very much. We stayed and watched the other children for awhile before walking home.... slowly... there was so much to do along the way.

blowing dandelion seeds

taking a little time out to just sit and enjoy a handful of "fairy blossoms"

tree climbing, always tree climbing

he loves me, he loves me not...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

hundred languages of children

No way. The hundred is there.

The child is
made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred
always a hundred
ways of listening
of marvelling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi
(translated by Lella Gandini)

Friday, 17 October 2008

Thoughtful Friday

"Find ecstasy in living. The mere sense of living is enough.
- Emily Dickinson
"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
2Ne 2:25

Thursday, 16 October 2008

my chore for today:

"It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a viking to raze a village"
or, in this case, a rumpus room.... my viking decendant children are taking their heritage far too seriously!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

my petrol station campaign - update

I have sent off letters and an email to various forecourt operators - without any response so far... Any of you had any luck?

Well - strike that.... I had an email from customer relations at Coles Express today. It was of the "bla-bla-bla....(now hopefully you'll go away and forget about this)" type. Said as long as there was no legislation to stop them from selling the magazines, and as long as it was in the interest of consumer to provide variety of goods, they would not make any changes. But, my concern was noted..
Gee, thanks, guys.

Thinking about which forum I could use to speak up, I decided to try getting my 42 remaining braincells to cooperate. This will find me "450 words or more" for the "Heckler" column in the SMH. In order to not just sound like a grumpy woman having a rant, I want to find some research to back up my feelings and instincts. Everything in me tells me that my children should not be exposed to sexual content at this age, so I want to find the studies to back it all up. So Googling I go and, as often happens, I stumbled on the perfect website - to this organisation "Kids Free 2 B Kids". They are campaigning against all those things that worry me. The billboards, magazines within the reach and sight of children and more.

So you will notice I have added a button in my sidebar for this organisation. If any of you feel like you want to add your voice and spread the word, I will be more than happy to share the code with you so you can have a button of your own.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Pink ribbon month

October is pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. Earlier this year we lost Tash at the age of 34. Knowing a former colleague who is also battling secondary breast cancer at an early age, I am so very aware of this disease affecting younger women as well as older women. So, check your boobies, and make a donation to Breast Cancer research this month!

these boots were meant for walking............

.........back to school and back to work. It's end of the weekend and end of the school holidays and 4 pairs of freshly shined shoes are sitting in the hallway ready for the morning. One shoe so shiny it attracted the attention of a little moth. Good job MOTH..... :)

Sunday, 12 October 2008

a fairy headpiece how-to

The fairy headpieces I made for Little Possum's birthday party guests were popular, and several have made outings to show and tell at school. Being slightly embarrassed at the compliments I got for them, I made this tutorial to show just how easy they are to make! These could also be used as a headpiece for a little flowergirl as they are easy to colour coordinate!

Materials needed:

Tulle, ribbons, flowers (ribbon flowers -the kind that have wire attached) and some wire. I used 18 gauge florists wire.

  • Shape the wire into a circle (I joined 2 lengths of wire together) in the right size for your child's head.
  • Cut the tulle into 4cm wide strips. I used the pink tulle strips to wrap around the wire, plumping it up a little, leaving a length at the beginning and the end to tie off with. I didn't cut off the ends leaving 20cm or so to hang down, marking the back of the headpiece.
  • Cut white (or the colour of your choice) tulle strips into lengths of 10-15 cm.
  • Tie white tulle strips around the wire with a simple knot. The closer together the knots are, the fluffier and foofier the the end result will be.
  • Trim the ends of the white tulle until they are as short as desired. They do not be of equal length, and may look a little more whimsical if uneven.

  • Embellish the headpiece. I used ribbon flowers with their wires wrapped around the band. Where the flowers had no green leaves, I used a little green organza ribbon tied next to the flower just to add a little extra colour. For the sake of economy I only used 3 -4 flowers per headpiece at the party (as I was making 10 of them), but if I were to make only one, I'd probably use a lot more to make it really colourful.

  • Lastly cut a couple of lengths of ribbon and tie to the band at the back, where the pink tulle ends were, just as an added embellishment. Other optional embellishments could be bells tied on with wire, or ribbon strips tied in between the tulle strips.
  • Add a fairy costume or even just a singlet with tulle wings attached to the back with hook and loop fastener (eg velcro) and you have a little fairy!