Monday, 29 April 2013

Been busy - but not sewing.

I have been busy making my workshop (lovingly built variously by my Husband, my Father in Law and my Dad) into a great place to work.

So - the positives are clear to see:





But the negatives are:
                                Naked children because I dipped out of Kids Clothes Week Challenge!





(Ok - so that was last summer, and I did make them both a pair of pyjama trousers and Isla a dress and a skirt, but I am not pleased with myself really).
Love Sarah

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Theatre, Puppet Theatres, and Kids Clothes Week Challenge.


Theatre


This weekend has been wet wet wet!


Iain works every other Saturday at 'The Bank', so I try to find activities which wont require an extra pair of hands. This week we went to The Lighthouse Poole to see a Mini Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra show of 'Myths and legends'. They do a lot of these, and they are really good! Very paired down group - percussionist (Lucas' fav), French Horn (my fav as I play it), Violin (Islas fav - really hope its just because she is the only female performer, not a sign that we will need to invest in violin lessons. I do not do strings!), Bassoon and Trombone. They are shows for kids generally - about an hour long - lots of quick explanations about classical music/how the instruments are played etc, combined with silly songs, actions, popular tunes and more traditional classical pieces. Its always packed, and lots of the kids are desperate to be chosen to get on stage and play the percussion (which around 12 kids per show are allowed). My two sink down as deep as humanly possible into their seats jic, even though both are great musicians (especially Lucas of course who is 'Gifted and Talented'). We took my Mum "Grammy" with us this week, and also a school friend of Islas. She was absolutely gagging to get onto the stage - so I held her as high as I could so that she was picked - and it worked! She spent most of the piece waving inanely at us, which made for lots of chuckles, but was a great experience for my kids to see that it is fun, and for me to see what its like to have a confident, gregarious child.

Then home for some dry clothes,  lunch and some crafting (hurrah!!!). Lucas very quickly decided that a wet afternoon spent with myself and two 5-year old girls was not his thing - so ate and legged it upstairs to his room, and we started making:

Puppet Theatres!

Equipment:
Large sturdy box (multiply for each child - and try harder than me to find ones the same size (doh!)

Kebab skewers/wooden sticks and bluetack

Cardboard

Fabric/yarn/googly eyes/felt tips/glue/etc etc

I found some toys of Islas in largish sturdyish boxes, and basically chucked the toys on her bedroom floor. The I gathered as many crafty fun bits and pieces as I could find (I have a lot - surprised?), and then I set the girls making the puppets. They started off asking me to draw a puppet outline. Then they saw my paltry efforts, and decided that actually perhaps they might draw their own people! Isla's friend Grace proved a STUNNING artist - and I think Isla and I were both a little jealous. (Quick question - is it possible to teach Isla to draw better I wonder? - half her gene pool is against her, but it would be a shame if she didnt achieve more than me). 






Meanwhile - I sellotaped the flaps of each of the boxes so that they were more sturdy - and then cut out a 'front' for the stage, and holes in the sides for the girls to poke their puppets. Then I helped them plait wool for hair, cut out their puppets, choose fabric for 'clothes' etc. I then cut the pointed bits off the skewers, and we bluetacked the skewers to the back of the puppets.
Then we chose 'curtains' which were just taped on, I gave the girls bits of paper for scenes, which they chose to fix on with bluetack so that they could change them as required (which impressed me a lot), and we decorated the boxes a bit and covered the 'stage' bits with paper.  






At this point Iain came home and demonstrated superior drawing skills which had both girls asking for lots of his help and none of mine anymore (see 'Daisy cow' puppet below), and we played! 

Islas Theatre - quirky?

Graces theatre. More 'Traditional'


Islas face here makes me melt - she is SO chuffed!

Best picture yet! Isla is working on using different voices for her characters - as clearly shown here. Actually nearly makes me pee my pants laughing!

Add caption


Kids Clothes Week Challenge.

I am on a commitment roll at the moment - and I wonder if reblogging is part of this process. I have been discussing a little with some online friends about why I blog - and will look to consider this properly sometime here on my blog. Anyway - since last year I have wanted to take part in Kids Clothes Week Challenge whereby you agree to spend at least one hour a day for seven days making clothes for your own kids. I have wanted to do it but 1) I am scared, 2) Life always gets in the way - but this year I am going to bloomin give it a try! 

It starts on 22nd April, so I have ordered various bits of fabric, looked through the patterns I already have, spent some time looking through the chids wardrobes with them to see what they need most, and of course started a Pinterest board ( predictable? Procrastinator? Me?).

The way it stands at the moment - the wish lists dependent on time are:

Lucas - 

*Cord trousers/shorts (he likes the noise cord makes when he walks - need to be elasticated waist as he has bowel issues that mean his stomach shrinks and grows a lot).

* T shirts - especially long sleeved. If I can embroider or applique train/underground/transport things on them then he may love me for ever!

*Pyjamas.

*Cool scarf/buff thing - not wool or fleece as he has a Static phobia.

Isla-

* Baggies trousers (she is a Mini Boden addict - wears mostly boys clothes, and hates anything fitted or 'skinny'

* A dress or two (Not sure I should call her bluff on this - she sometimes seems to feel the need to conform and try to wear skirts or dresses, but only once, then they get hidden under the baggies and shorts).

* Scarf thing - see above - may do scarf/hat combo.

A plan?

Honestly I dont know - my Pinterest board has way too much on it - I need to break it down to manageable chunks and commit to the specific items I will attempt.

I am also a little thrown by it being a 'Spring' challenge - yet our weather here is truly shite at the moment, so I may need to be a wee bit flexible.

I would love to hear any ideas/patterns/thoughts about my lists, and actually whether you think its a crazy list?!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Adventure Wonderland and Lego Marble Mazes

Adventure Wonderland.

For the first time ever, we have committed to buying Annual Passes to something! For a commitment phobe like me, this really is momentous!

Adventure Wonderland used to be called The Alice in Wonderland Theme Park when I used to work there circa 1998 when I ahem...played the part of Alice. (So wish I had a photo to post here, but can't find one. Before the digital age after all -but I will keep looking.)

Anyway, I digress - its a lovely smallish theme park near here, a place where I can take the kids on my own and not need a stiff drink by nightfall (as parents to 'special needs kids will understand - this is really rare) and posted on the Adventure Wonderland Facebook page was a super dooper deal on passes, so we did it!!!! 

The kids adore it, and so do we now that we have managed to convince them that they really and truly dont need an adult to go on the sick-making Ghostly Galleon or tummy curdling teacups!

There will be many picture like these in our family photobook for the year, but to celebrate our minor investment, and so you can see what its like - here are some of our recent pics:





Lego Marble Mazes.



On the home front, I have been looking for ways to help develop Lucas' spatial awareness, and understanding of representation through tactile maps, and came across this idea via Pinterest by Kids Activities Blog. You create a 'maze' through which you have to guide a marble. (Note: I adapted the idea from Kids Activities Blog because Lucas only likes certain cars, and would get very upset if the car didnt drive 'properly' through the maze - a marble has no 'baggage'!)I made the first so that Isla could see how to construct one, and Lucas could have a try with a simple one, then Isla built one, and then Lucas had a try rollng/pushing the marble through the maze. He didnt find it that easy, as obviously the marble didnt roll as such on a bobbly Lego mat, but he did it, and he got better at it! I am wondering if building a larger maze channel would help or hinder, but I can definitely see the possibilities for using Lego which Isla adores to bring play for us all together, and to help with tactile skills, mobility and much more.

Then Lucas astounded me by asking if he could just 'play' with the Lego! From a boy who doesnt enjoy building tasks, and finds them insanely difficult due to blindness and various brain abnormalities which mean the two sides of his brain dont communicate, I was blown away by his representation of what Isla suggested was a "Traffic Signal" to which he concurred happily.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Family and Balloon Rockets

Its Easter holiday time here in the UK (although you wouldnt think it from the weather!), and its been a real mix of highs and lows so far. Maybe part of that is down to my fluctuating mood pattern (looonnngg story), but also its been a hard time with Lucas so far. (Lucas has complex medical and behavioural issues - for more info see here). Lucas is struggling with holding it together at the moment, which is leading to us staying at home more than I would like.

However, we have had family staying nearby, and so far it has been wonderful. My amazing sister, he husband, and my gorgeous niece have been around a lot - which has been great. Isla and my niece are the same age, and are doing just what we hoped for when my sister and I both found out we were pregnant at the same time - they are "growing up together" - shutting themselves in Islas room for 'secret things', playing, giggling a lot. It really is a thing of total beauty. Wish they lived nearer.

So - we brave the park as often as we can in this freezing weather - the chids (and I) get exercise, and its an activity I can do with others, and when I am on my own with the kids without too many tears or too much swearing from Lucas, and hence less of both from me ;-)












My other main aim has been to involve Lucas and Isla in activities which are home based (to keep Lucas calm), but which they both enjoy (again - hard task - Lucas is completely blind with a ton of sensory issues, and Isla is an insanely bright tactile 5 year old). Pinterest has been my friend in this task! I even started a board with Lucas-friendly ideas and links. We started off with:

Balloon Rockets! 

An Idea I got via Pinterest from discoverexplorelearn.com, Simple task - and SO much fun!





You see how much fun we had? We started off making a fairly small length of yarn (as our house isnt that big!), but all of us got excited very quickly, and wanted to try the idea further, so we then made a yarn line through the whole of the inside of the house, and then attempted down the stairs, and for our finale we went upstairs. It wasnt fool proof - it didnt always work, but the kids worked brilliantly as a team, taking turns without being prompted, I got Lucas fully engaged in a task, and he worked on equal footing with us. As a bonus, he also got over his fear of balloons as he loves the noise they make when you let them go and the air comes out, and Isla discovered inner reserves of puff and managed to blow up a balloon all by herself.

Next step: Balloon powered Lego cars!


It is now 3.20am, and I am awake with a really nasty cough trying not to rock the house - so hiding in the kitchen, but as always I will be expected to be on full power tomorrow, so will attempt some Lemsip/paracetamol drugged sleep.

UPDATE:
My lovely friend Lerryn at Jellybean Boom tried this, and made a video.