Craft with kids, otherwise known as ‘I need a great big drink’……

Hey all, how are we? 

On a day where we are celebrating St George’s day, all the amazing runners in the London Marathon, the anniversary of the death of one of the most famous Britons ever William Shakespeare what am I doing? Clay modelling with Nate!

My mum helps each week with a homework club for some older children in Whitstable and each week she is in charge of the craft project. This always involves an element of planning and often the boys get a glimpse of what fun the children have in store. Mum being who she is can’t say no to the boys so each week at some point we recreate the craft activity of the week with them.

Last week mum had been loaned a book full of craft projects from a friend to decide some upcoming activities. On Friday afternoon when we popped over for a cuppa Nate of course looked at the book and decided that there and then he wanted to make creations with papier-mâché, modelling clay and wood. Now who actually has these things to hand? Massive overtired tantrum ensued (I so needed my wine on Friday night!)

Today Karl has a work football match and had planned to take one of the boys with him. He chose to take Nate because he is the easiest, the most compliant and the one more likely to listen, not set fire to anything or break a bone. However Leo (the fire starter) desperately wanted to go. I tried some bribes but it was no good, Leo wanted to go with Daddy. At one point I think Karl nearly had a tantrum himself but off he went nevertheless.

Nate then declared (I think this was his plan all along) that we could do some of the craft projects from the book. I thought an afternoon walking around a wildlife park or playing on the beach would be on the cards but oh no, we were going to do crafting! Any of you who read my blog or know me will be aware that I’m all for crafting, I love to draw and take on little projects. I however have the patience of a hungry baby and I really struggle with craft and the children.

Still we came round to Nana’s (where the sacred book is) equipped with the heaviest bag of modelling clay in the world and we began. At first Nate wanted Nana to help so I made the tea (something I am quite skilled at) but after making two pencil holders in the shape of funny faces it was time for me to get involved.

Nate chose to make a desert island. Simple, all you need was a large piece of card, some cling film, modelling clay, acrylic paints, some sculpting tools, some sprigs of plants and paint brushes. That’s all! So we began by painting the sea on the card, applying the large clay island, cling film all over for the full sea and wave effect and then modelled a volcano, a beach, a small rowing boat, a whales tail to stick out of the sea and some shark fins. 

Then it was time to paint the clay, Nate wasn’t happy with the traditional colour of blue, red, green or yellow so we set up a mixing station until we were able to create a shade he was totally happy with. He painted not only the island and various accoutrements but also himself, the table cloth and me. 

Mum then appeared with small bits of tree to be placed on and the island was complete! I had managed to survive the carnage and hadn’t had one impatient outburst or felt the need to take it all away. I did however repaint one of the pencil holders after he had left the table as it appeared he had painted it blindfolded. It was actually because he had one eye on the painting and the other on the Horrible Histories William Shakespeare special on the tele. That’s how I know the fact mentioned above not because I am a history expert! 

One day and probably not that long into the future the thought of sitting with his mum and Nana will bring Nate nothing but dread so I am pleased to have had some time to sit and watch the magic little man we made and enjoy his company (even if he was flicking paint at me!) I just hope magic creation number two is behaving for daddy at the football.

Have a great week you lovely people xx

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Drone flying, bike riding and giant crumpets….

Hi all, how are you? 

This week like all the others seems to have flown by in the blink of an eye. After what seems like a miserable few weeks I’m happy to say that this week with the start of spring and hints of sunshine to come has been much brighter.

Karl has just bought a new drone which he has wanted for ages. This white thing that looks a bit like a giant fan has been ever present in our lives since he received it at the beginning of the week. So much so the constant ‘droning’ noise it makes is starting to seem quite normal now. As is the gale force wind it blows around as it hovers over my head. 

So far this week we have taken selfies of ourselves in the garden from a great height, filmed the internal layout of the house while blowing around every loose bit of paper laying around (loads as always!) and filmed the boys riding their bikes up and down my parents driveway which is very long using the drones special ‘follow’ feature. 

I have to say I am genuinely concerned that we will end up causing no end of issues for the poor cows when they return to the field shortly and their peace is disturbed by Karl’s drone on follow mode but I’m hoping some of the overexcitement will have worn off before then! 

The boys have been particularly keen on bike rides this week and Leo is practicing to be ready to have his stabilisers off. This is for two reasons, one that he is five and really should be riding his bike on his own by now and two he is so huge that we are worried the poor stabilisers will buckle under the weight. He ate a bigger roast dinner than me today and that is quite a feat (I love a roast!)

I tried this week to be clever when it came to breakfast, I feel like daily the boys conspire to make it as difficult as possible. They change their minds repeatedly, decide they don’t like what they ate the day before, refuse to eat certain things over others (usually once I’ve already made the first) and generally drive me potty. 

So I went to the new Aldi and stocked up on every kind of breakfast option available. Cereals by the dozen, fruits, yoghurts, breakfast biscuits, bread for toast, eggs, bacon, sausages, cold meats and giant crumpets. If I’m being totally honest they were more for Karl and I. We are both partial to a nice crumpet and they looked so yummy. Typically both Nate and Leo decided they wanted said crumpets and not only ate nothing else of the huge amount of stuff I had bought but I ended up having to go and buy more giant crumpets and at my last count this morning that’s 24 this week! Nate will only eat his half butter half chocolate spread which is extremely odd! 

I am so happy that spring is here and I’m looking forward to the next part of the year. This week has been full of light and it feels like the new season has bought a new sense of purpose. 

Alf the cat is doing well, thank you for all your lovely thoughts and comments. He is eating like a king and doing lots of resting. We believe thanks to our neighbours we have identified the offending cat who apparently has been making a menace of himself with cats in the road. I’m not really sure what to do about that yet but I am very thankful our Alf is okay and on the mend. 

So this week if anyone feels they are being followed I apologise for Karl and his drone and if anyone fancies breakfast I have enough food to feed the whole of Kent (not any giant crumpets though, they are Nate and Leo’s apparently!)

Have a fab week you lovely people and never forget that you are amazing and you can achieve great things. No one can define exactly what those things are so this week if you climb a mountain or simply manage to get your little darlings to brush their teeth without a twenty minute debate about the workings of gum disease you will have achieved something! 

I need Baileys, paracetamol and the world’s biggest bar of chocolate……

I woke up this morning after a crappy day yesterday in so much pain, I hadn’t washed my hair in three days and was thoroughly convinced I smelled. 

I really wasn’t with it yesterday and didn’t really leave the bedroom much apart from a couple of small disasters such as running out of biscuits and Leo having lost every pair of scissors we own so trying to assist in locating some so Nate could make 3D stars (takes after his mother!)

When I actually left the bedroom this morning I couldn’t believe my eyes, it appeared that some sort of bizarre micro climate had swept through every other room in the house and a tornado had picked up everything we own and either smashed it to bits or thrown it into another room. Was it a tornado you ask? No it was Nate and Leo, just two small boys with a day off school fuelled with Christmas excitement and a mother recovering from major surgery who slept most of the day. Karl of course was around but in that strange biological mystery that is the difference in genetics between men and women he hadn’t noticed said tornado but apparently enjoyed that new car series Jeremy Clarkson is doing instead of Top Gear! 

I found a five pence piece in the plug hole in the bath, red icing on the kitchen floor, empty sweet packets secreted in various corners of the house and some pants on the living room floor. I had a small sense of humour failure, my OCD kicked in and I couldn’t quite process what to do to rectify it all. I decided to try and pick up all the decorations from the Christmas tree but it hurt, I tried to clean the icing off the floor but it hurt so instead I had a cup of tea.

We then had lunch, Nate wouldn’t finish his and when asked to eat the ham in his sandwich he said, ‘you know I’m no meat eater, I would rather be a triceratops’ we then watched a programme about great white sharks at Alcatraz (don’t ask) which Leo said he couldn’t watch as it was far too ‘old school’ for him (he is five) and now I think I will have a little snooze.

Happy weekend you lovely people xx

wellbeing, creativity and violence?

I read a hilariously funny thread on The Motherload Page on Facebook this morning about a mum who had some choice words to say about Kirstie Allsopp and her home made Christmas programme. The thread turned into such  a laugh that I had to stop reading as my post surgery tummy really couldn’t handle it.

This has got me thinking this morning about just how differently we see and think about things as mums. For any of you who haven’t seen it Kirstie has made a series of shows for the last few years about her making and crafting things for Christmas. These have included things such as driftwood trees, garlands, embroidered gifts, homemade chocolates and chutneys and on this weeks show pears dipped in gold leaf and used as place settings. The whole ethos behind it is to lose mass produced expensive gifts for handmade and cheaper unique alternatives.

Now I am a bit of a Kirstie fan and love her ideas of creating things for your home from old peoples junk. I also view this with dreaming eyes as I know I neither have the time or the cash to invest and renovate in old items. However it is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine to watch such shows and come Christmas I do get a real kick out of all the amazing crafts, artisans and ideas that her programme showcases.

In real life I like to do craft, I am a fan of drawing and lettering as you all know and I love a bit of papercraft. This does not mean I am very good at it though and I can recall last Christmas getting very uppity after watching what felt like a million you tube videos on how to fold paper stars and not actually achieving any and making what resembled boomerangs. Karl however tried one and ended up folding a perfect star which I still have on my dressing table now as a reminder of how much I made him laugh pouting as I couldn’t get it right!

I have found this year a way of making cardboard barn stars which not only have I managed but I also really enjoy so now the house resembles the bit in Elf where poor Buddy goes into overdrive making snowflakes. Cooking and baking, I barely get by, crochet and embroidery, I’m more likely to stick a needle in my eye and end up in hospital and things like felt make my teeth go funny when it rubs together and makes that funny noise! Anyway my point is as much as I enjoy watching and looking at such crafts I am no good at them and leave it to the professionals. For me though there is a kind of relaxation or therapeutic element to watching such arts being undertaken.

Some of the comments on the Motherload this morning however spoke of wanting to punch Kirstie, how unrealistic her ideas are and how the money she was spending (gold leaf on a pear for example) would be much better spent on other more important things (like prosecco or chocolate Baileys I thought!) I did note that her own children didn’t take part in the show and she uses other children who do not belong to her and do crafts well and behave impeccably. I imagine this is because she like the rest of us knows that if you try and do anything with your own children they see it as a cue to misbehave, cause merry hell and eat everything in sight. Kirstie is a mum to boys too so she like me will face challenges such as arm wrestles over who gets to eat the most cherries, tears and tantrums over the metallic sharpies and constant games of hide and seek because the scissors have gone missing…… again!

It can be seen as yet another pressure on busy mums at Christmas that not only do you need to buy everything, get it all wrapped and ready and have the kids at home for two weeks you also need to make things yourself and spend countless hours doing so and then delivering them with a smile looking glam and not pissed (because of all the prosecco and Chocolate Baileys!)

Kirstie Allsopp will have at the very least, a team of researchers, a make up artist, a hair stylist, an assistant, a runner, someone who cleans up as she goes, someone who buys the stuff in for her to use and childcare on tap. She is also a famous celebrity who has plenty of cash to spend on gold leaf, artisan chocolate and things that are sold at posh Christmas Fairs. This is clearly not and never will be me, I am just happy if I get a compliment about my cardboard stars and a few likes on Instagram. I don’t think Kirstie wants to pressure us mums into a craft induced anxiety attack she is just doing her thing.

It really doesn’t matter what is under the tree this Christmas but who is sat around it. Whether that be your family, friends, moaning children, sleeping elderly relatives, drunk, sober, on their third bottle of chocolate Baileys or whatever. My point is that we are all bloody amazing and our families and friends are grateful to have us even if they haven’t got a place name marked with gold leaf or nothing but beans on toast for their dinner. Christmas is what we make it, we are who we make ourselves and no amount of gold leaf will do anything about that if we don’t believe it.

I leave you with a quote from Lady Cora from Downton Abbey, ‘You are being tested, and you know what they say my darling, being tested only makes you stronger’.