Sunday, 27 June 2010

So hot.

The weather forcasters were right. It is scorching today.
Yesterday afternoon I made Hope a little sun dress to match her big sister's skirt.
Henry would like me to make something for him next!

I followed another you-tube tutorial (isn't the internet fantastic?). This time it was for making a dress from a pillowcase. Except I didn't use a pillowcase, but the principal is the same. Here is Hope taking a few steps all by herself. The dress is already very dirty from crawling about in the garden!

And here is a better picture of Honor's outfit.

Here is my new, blue potting shed on the veg patch. I've got a great crop of... erm, nasturtiums! The flowers are actually quite tasty in a salad.

The pool is up now. The in-laws came round this morning having just returned from a holiday in Spain. They had lots of gifts for the children including these snorkelling sets. Great fun!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Sew easy!

I've been promising myself that I will start sewing for some time. Well, I haven't yet blown the dust off the sewing machine, but yesterday I did get round to making little skirt and matching headscarf for Honor. The skirt is a simple circle skirt I made by following a short tutorial on youtube (complete with annoyingly loud music!). I bought this green cotton in Dunelm Mill. It was a roll end so I got 2 metres for about £1.98, or something like. I drew around one of the kids hula hoops to get the circle and then cut a smaller hole in the middle for the waist.
Then I, very crudely, hand sewed the hem and waistband, with elastic, and cut out some heart shapes with this scrap of strawberry fabric and sewed them on, too.

The headscarf was made using the basic pattern from the book I bought recently, 'Carefree Clothes for Girls'. It is simply a triangle cut from the same green fabric and I've used the strawberry fabric to make the border and ties. Then the sides are frayed to give that homespun effect!

She was delighted with her new outfit. It's just a practise, really. I had to re-sew some bits this morning that started to come apart. Honor wants more skirts like this so as this one is a bit on the short side, I had better make the circle a bit bigger next time.

And just look at these gorgeous peonies, roses and fatsia japonica from my garden! I've had trouble with my peonies over the last couple of years. The plants come up with lots of lovely lush green growth and plenty of buds, but then the buds have failed to open. I looked up the problem on the internet and some of the advice suggested that it may because they are not getting enough full sunshine. Apparently they need at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Well they've opened up this year and there certainly been plenty of sun. We are set for much, much more this weekend. A real scorcher. Hubby put the pool up last night so tomorrow will be spent playing in that. I hope we won't literally be drowning our sorrows, though, after England play Germany.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Today is the feast day of St John the Baptist. This saint's day sticks in my mind more than most because it is shared with my 'Nanny Edna's' birthday, plus I always remember the scene in Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth when the dance of Herod's daughter Salome led to his beheading. St John, incidentally, was played by Michael York and he has family that live in our town. I think he even opened a fete here once! He has a separate feast for his beheading... on August 29th (John the Baptist, not Michael York. I last saw him in Austen Powers. Oh, behave!)
No doubt in my mind though, a great man and a great saint.. 'nuff said.
I see a few of my friends have birthdays today and another laid her little baby boy to rest this morning.

St John the Baptist, pray for us.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Parish Mag.

It is so nice to be back writing my blog.
We have a Parish Magazine come through our door every month and I enjoy reading it. Only there was this little article in it this month inviting readers to contribute. Well, in a mad moment I e-mailed the editor with a link to my blog, offering to write a kind of spin-off... and, well, so far he has agreed!
So then I got busy trying to write something in less than 600 words that was going to be interesting enough for the locals to read. It was really difficult. Not at all like writing a blog. With a blog, you can write whatever you like and take as long as you like to write it. Really, it is something I write for myself and if anyone else is interested enough to read it they can, but, this article had to intentionally speak to an unwitting audience! So. I don't know if they are going to like it or even print it, but, well, I had a go!

Friday, 18 June 2010


Today I am joining in with Faith and Family's Small Successes. (See sidebar for link).

This week I went to the doctors. I tend to neglect this responsibility for various reasons, except when it comes to the children, of course. So while I was there I achieved 3 things:

1.) I saw the doctor about a long standing back problem that I have been trying to ignore and hoped would get better by itself.

2.) I made an appointment to have a cervical smear test. It's been 5 years since my last one and we are advised to have this done every 3 years.

3.) I made an appointment for Hope to have her MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination.

I suspect I'm not the only Mummy who neglects herself in this way. I hope I am. It can be very difficult finding the time to do these check-ups for oneself and I seem to always prioritise them last, after everyone else has been looked after. But it won't help anyone if I become too unfit to look after them... so it is done now. Hooray!

Friday night is poetry night.

Oh dear. There is quite a lot of mess to clear up but I really need to sit down for a bit. I've been having back trouble since the baby was born and it has recently got worse, forcing me to see the doctor this week. He has referred me for physiotherapy and told me to take ibuprofen 3 times a day for a week. The ibuprofen has been very effective, but I didn't take it on time this afternoon and now I'm suffering again. So. The kids are in bed now and I'll leave the clearing up for about an hour. Hopefully I'll feel better then. (I hate leaving the clearing up - it's harder to relax when it is still there... lurking!)
Anyway. I was going to talk about the bedtime routine. I have previously chosen themes to make Friday's bedtime a bit more special. For the time being, it will now be poetry night.
I made Honor and Henry these yummy chocolate milkshakes. They have a big scoop of ice-cream, some squirty cream and a few jelly beans and white chocolate buttons on top.

As they drank/ate their milkshakes, I read them a few poems from this entertaining book by Shel Silverstein... loudly, over the sound of slurping!

England are playing in the World Cup tonight. Thought I should mention it! Good luck, England!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Day trip to London.

Today I went to the Science Museum in London with class 4.
I saw Big Ben.
I saw the London Eye.
I saw the River Thames.
I saw the Houses of Parliament.
I am so tired!
.... I know a bit about bridges too!!

Monday, 14 June 2010

My first harvest.

I was outside, just now, but have had to come running in to keep out of the way of a big swarm of either wasps or bees. I was in the shed when I became aware of a very loud sound, like if you were near a busy motorway. When I came out I could see this huge swarm up in the air about 50 feet away, so I just ran indoors and closed all the windows. I'm now wondering if I did something to disturb them or if it is something else. Will they be after me if I go back outside?

Anyway, yesterday, I picked the first yields from the veg patch, this lettuce and Henry's swiss chard. We had the chard and some of my Mum's home-grown green with our Sunday roast.

This is HM in her Laura Ashley dress that I got at the flea market last week.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Arrived from Amazon.

I love it when little brown parcels arrive through my letterbox.
I keep promising myself that I will start sewing. Hubby has got my sewing machine down from the loft... and that is as far as we have got. My mother-in-law has now given me 3 sewing boxes! What is she trying to tell me? So really I have no excuse not to get started. (Apart from running around after 3 children and not being able to keep my eyes open when they are finally in bed and the housework is done!)
Honor-May is very fond of the clothes worn in films like The Railway Children. She has been asking for a pinafore dress or smock like Bobby (Jenny Agutter) wears. I've tried to find them ready made but not much joy there. Then I came across this book - 'Carefree clothes for girls'. It arrived this morning and looks like the kind of thing Honor will like. Not all the reviews on Amazon for this book are complimentary. One customer thought the clothes were tatty looking. But, I think, this is the look we are after.

I might even make something like this for myself.

The 'Carrie's War' dvd also arrived.
And, after seeing how much Honor-May has been enjoying filling in her 'I-Spy' book, I had a look to see what else was available. There is a vast collection of titles, now and suitable for different age groups. Our children were recently invited to my friend LTG's twin boys birthday party. I couldn't think what to get them. Now I have bought them each a large, hardback 'I-Spy' picture book - one is called 'Extreme Challenger' and the other 'A Spooky Night'. The idea is to find the objects mentioned in the rhyming text in the picture... and it is not as easy as it sounds, as Hubby found out.

I am still going for 'adventure walks'.
These pictures are from Herne Bay.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Sleep - according to The Daily Mail

Having just popped over to Unplug your kids (see sidebar for link), I see that readers are challenged to produce a project on the topic of sleep. Well, I have not done a project but wanted to report a little thing that has gone on in our house over the last two days.
Yesterday I bought The Daily Mail. (Yeah, I know - no taste!). There was little article about a study (yeah, another study) on the effects of an early and strict bedtime routine for young children. Apparently, children who have regular bedtimes are better at languages, reading and maths than those who do not. And the earlier a child goes to bed the quicker they are at picking things up. The researchers recommend that pre-school children get a minimum of 11 hours per night or risk falling behind.
I read this article to Honor-May and Henry at dinner time yesterday. HM wanted to go to bed straight away so that she could be good in her maths lesson. Today, her teacher came up to me after school to tell me how well she got on in the lesson, being one of the few kids who 'got it'! What a coincidence!
Henry also wanted to go straight to bed... but I could hear him running around after!
Well. I usually take these studies with a pinch of salt. But I think it is common sense to make sure the littlies get to bed early... if only to give us parents a rest!

My morning adventure walk.

Inspired by Mary-Beth at Salt and Chocolate (see sidebar for link), I've decided to leave the car and go exploring neighbourhoods on foot. I chose somewhere pretty fabulous for my first one. This is Chilham. It is a village that is quite popular with tourists, historians and and this Square has featured in television productions including Miss Marple and Jane Austen's Emma. I have lots of pictures today....
Hope and I started our 'adventure' in The Square. There are lots of old, Tudor houses here. Hope is sitting outside this gorgeous English tea room.

There is a lovely gift shop in The Square, too.

Lots of delightful things...

including Nigella Lawson kitchenware!

We then ventured down one of the lanes leading out of The Square which meandered slowly out into the countryside. There are many more lovely houses and gardens to see. I would have liked to stand in front of them and take photos but was a bit worried that their owners might set an Alsatian, or something worse, on me. I'm sure I wouldn't be too keen to see tourists outside my house taking photos. (Which reminds me: Google Earth has caused some ructions by doing just that. Photographing everyones' house and displaying them on the internet. My mother is furious that my brother, who lives in Australia, was able to google her house and tell her that her guttering needed attention!)

However, on passing a beautiful garden, I bent down to photograph these lovely flowers....

...and spotted this curious notice nestled amongst them!

Further along the lane... a mysterious door in a wall. Could Mary and Dickon be playing behind it? I did see a robin too, honestly, but it flew away before I could take a picture.
By now it was so quiet and the baby and I could distinctly hear the sound of a cuckoo.

This is where I saw the robin, perched on this gate. What a view!

I peeped through some iron railings to get this picture of the castle and grounds. Wow!

Hear, hear! Nothing spoils a nice walk like doggy doings!
Well. I really enjoyed that. I returned home rosy-cheeked and very hungry! Can't wait for the next adventure.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


This morning we went to a bootfair and picked up a hamster cage with all the bits and pieces for £3. Honor-May has been wanting said little furry pet for sometime. Hubby is not keen at all as the children already have a rabbit and show it very little consideration. However, I did promise HM that she could have a hamster of her very own if she could improve her work ethic at school and raise her game in maths. Her school send home a report every 6 weeks to show parents at exactly which level they are working at in literacy and maths and are also graded for effort and behaviour. The last 2 reports has seen HM's effort and behaviour go from satisfactory to good. The maths, understandably, will take a bit longer to move up a level. Hubby is counting (see what I did there? Hee, hee) on her being numerately challenged. But I think, based on how she has been very confidently adding decimal numbers in her head this week, she can do it. She just needs an A++ in confidence.
Anyway, it doesn't take Stephen Hawking to work out that £3 is a good deal on a hamster cage (the usual rrp is about £25), so we really had to take a leap of faith and grab that bargain. For the time being, though, it is going to be bagged up and put up in the loft.
I didn't get myself any bargains at the bootfair but did, later on, go to the flea market at the creek. I really love it there. Lots of vintage stuff - I could get carried away. I found this tea-cosy (see top pic) made out of my wobble stripe fabric and this gorgeous Laura Ashley dress for HM.

This afternoon HM and Henry got Hubby busy opening a couple of coconuts for them...

while Hope and I went to visit my Mum. Here is Hope enjoying playing with the baby doll in a little crib made out of Henry's construction kit.

Friday, 4 June 2010

"Making Your Child Mind without Losing Yours" by Kevin Leman

From the bookshelf...

I thought that this morning I would post about what we are reading at the moment, starting with me.
I have recently written about my recent discovery of Dr Kevin Leman and his very witty, entertaining and not to mention practical books about parenting. (In fact he also writes about marital relationships and step families if anyone is interested.) At the moment I am reading 'Making children mind without losing yours'. A well used quote from his writing is 'pull the rug out and let the little buzzards tumble'. Sounds harsh doesn't it? Well, no, not to me. I'm more than ready to let my little buzzards tumble! They've been tripping me up for the past nine years! But really, it is not as harsh as it sounds. He explains about the 2 bad parenting habits most of us slip into: permissive and authoritarian. He explains why they don't work - seems so obvious when you read it - and then shows us how to become an authoritative disciplinarian. (Note the different endings in those words). This is done by letting reality be the teacher in a child's behaviour. I don't want to try and sum it all up here. But it is a great read and worth a few quid, I think.
I have put Kevin Leman's book next to the good book - The Holy Bible. Now. I have a bit of a confession to make. Despite being Catholic, I haven't made much time for reading the Bible during my adult life other than reading the usual stories to children at school and home; but not for myself. I recently found myself in an uncomfortable spot when the Jehovas arrived at the front door to discuss armaggedon. I thought that informing them that I was Catholic would be enough for them to leave me in peace, but no. The very glamourous lady began talking about the different types of Bible (what? - thought there was only one!) and she said 'I expect you have a such n such bible indoors' (Can't remember the word she used). I tried to look like I knew what she was talking about but was thinking 'it's a blue one, innit?'
Anyway. Kevin Leman talks about the Bible a lot in his book. I have been kind of introduced to Ephesians 6:1-4 that begins 'children obey your parents; this is the right thing to do because God has placed them in authority over you...' If this was a Facebook status I would click the 'like' option and for the rest of the quote. Leman explains what he thinks this means and it makes good sense. I've started looking to the Bible a bit more to help us in our family life. But just let me reassure any non-religious readers... both books offer very good advice, in fact I'd go as far as to say that the latter is probably the best self-help book ever written!

Now for the kids.
I discovered these books on somebody else's blog (but I can't remember whose).
They are nice picture story books that incorporate a bit of maths reinforcement. Penrose (above) isn't really a story, though, more like little math adventures/lessons.
The other stories are great though, bringing a new element to mathematical understanding.

I read 'Sir Cumference' to Honor and Henry last night. It is an entertaining story with very nice pictures and will hopefully help the children to remember the meaning of the terms circumference, diameter and radius. I'm gonna test them later to see if it worked!
(And I got the books from Amazon.)

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Going nowhere.

We saved our money and petrol today by staying at home and making our own entertainment. To be honest, I could more than welcome a rest from organising trips and activities and anyway it does kids good to be free to use their own imaginations and organise themselves.

Here they are playing 'hospitals' using toilet paper for bandages and a nurses hat.
If I thought I was going to get a little time to myself though, I was mistaken. The kids will always find something for me to do. I'm so glad we went to the trouble of getting them a wigwam - not! It didn't take them long to abandon it and start building a hideaway in one of the hedges. As I sat reading my new Kevin Leman book 'How to make children mind without losing yours', they hijacked me into cutting away some of the branches to make room for them and then making a camouflage door with the cut up branches.

Neat, eh? They did play in the wigwam a bit, too. It is really hot in there today!

And our littlest one enjoyed some water play with some of the shells we collected from the beach.
I'm exhausted now and have to go and make dinner. Think I'll get a packet of instant mash out of the cupboard...