Saturday, 31 March 2012

A beautiful Spring Week




Here's hoping Spring is finally here!  It's been so gorgeous this week that I can't help but take notice (and photos) of the beautiful things around me.  The ladybugs are out, the spring weeds are flowering, and the birds are happily eating all of the feed in our home made bird feeders!  

Friday, 30 March 2012

Spring brings..New Life

Little Man has an Easter Bonnet parade today!  Each child is supposed to make their own hat and bring it in.  However, having seen these hats before, you can tell that the majority of them are Mom made..   Little man wanted to do something on the theme of New Life.  He sat down and told me all about spring and how all the animals have babies and the plants bloom during this time.  We talked about him being a spring baby (late spring..) and we brainstormed the idea to put his pictures on the bonnet.  Here is what was born of our planning!  
I didn't want to spend any money, so I used only materials that I had around the house.  The nest is made from pipe cleaners; the head piece is Little Man's micky mouse crown (complete with ears!) that I wrapped black tissue paper around and taped down.  Then I printed out the words and cut it into a thin band that I taped together and wrapped around the bottom of the  black tissue paper.  I printed out the flower outlines on colored paper; printed his photos and taped them to the opening I cut in the center of them.  Then I taped a popsicle stick onto the back of the flowers and slid them down inside the word band on the bottom (a little tape on the back of the popsicle stick is holding them in just fine.)  I did purchase the little chicks and the chocolate speckled eggs that are in the nests, but I got them pretty cheap. (no pun intended!)
Spring brings....  New Life

The photos in the flowers are Little Man from newborn till his 5th birthday (we stopped, cause he's not yet six).

The top part has a nest, with eggs and two newly hatched chicks with 2 parents looking on.

The completed bonnet.

"I like it" he declares!  And it fits!  

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Captain Noah and his floating Zoo

So Little man was in his school production of Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo.
Well, to be honest, every child in the lower three grades was!



He plays a wicked man in wicked city.  He was hilarious in that he kept running around saying "glug, glug, glug" and when I asked him what he was doing, he said "I'm practicing drowning, Mummy" " God drowns all the people in wicked city!"



Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Discovering Hipstamatic

So, my friend over at Town Monkeys...has been doing Hipstamatic stuff for a while...  Every Friday she's supposed to take photos for some contest or something she's in..  Her photos are awesome, but I didn't get around to seeing what it was all about.  Finally, I downloaded it onto my phone and decided to take a peek.  

Here are a few of my first shots with it.  What do you think?



They remind me of the photo that were taken of me as a child in the 70's and early 80's...especially the first one of Little man!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Trayvon Martin

I am finding it sick about everything that is going on with the shooting of Trayvon Martin.  

What do we know?  A 17 year old black teenager is walking alone in a gated community in Sanford Florida.  (Sanford is outside of Miami.)  An altercation took place between the boy and a volunteer neighborhood watch man.  Trayvon was shot and killed on scene.

This teenager had been suspended from school because of an empty baggie (that authorities believed once contained marijuana) and was only in Sanford because he was not in school.  The boy's father lived in Sanford, in the community where they boy was shot.

What we don't know:

1.  How did the gun go off?  If the boy was on top of Zimmerman, and (as per his account) had broken his nose and slammed his head into the concrete; where was the gun, how did Zimmerman get to it, and then shoot Trayvon?

2.  Why are there no photos of the broken nose and bloody head?  What altercation took place?  If Trayvon did indeed get into a fight with this man, what caused him to do so?  What was said, or took place?

3.  Why did it take the authorities 3 days to notify the boy's family of the death of their son?  Why didn't the police look at his cell phone, or call the last numbers dialed?  Why didn't they go door to door and see if anyone knew him or was missing a boy of his description?

4.  Why do neighbors all tell a different story than Zimmerman?  Why do they say that they heard a boy crying, and when the gun went off, the crying stopped?

I am not a fan of making everything into a racial account.  I don't want to do the young black man, hoodie on, scaring a white man and got shot angle.  I also don't want to think we live in a country that will allow the other angle... the white racist that shoots a young black unarmed boy because he can.

However, what other angles do we have?  African Americans may be right on this one....

I wish I knew a way to break the US out of this self fulling cycle that we seem to be in.  The cycle where many African Americans (and whites and latino's who live in the same economic conditions) grow up with a father in jail (or dead) a mother barely making ends meet (or worse).  The kids take to the streets, despaired of hope, barely an education, get into drugs and violence, have babies while they are still babies, and start the cycle all over again.  Where more affluent people look at them with scorn and fear; an unpredictable set of people.  Because, that's what I think this is... the fear of the unknown.  The unpredictability of it all.

You don't see New Yorkers freaking when an Italian walks around the corner; hoodie or no.  You don't see people running for the hills when they meet a Russian man.  Mafia's and Mob's are predictable.  If you don't mess with them or do business that they want/need, etc, you should be safe.  Gangs... well, gangs are another matter.  Low income families are associated with gangs, and gangs are unpredictable.  You never know when you might be hurt by association, or hurt by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  You don't know if your innocently wearing the wrong color or looked at someone the wrong way.  Fear is a powerful motivator.  It can make the gentlest of people do horrific things.  And if your scared of an entire race?

Well... I think this is what we're seeing now....

What a sad, sad world we live in.

The wisest words I can find on this subject are from a CNN article..  Read it here

Monday, 26 March 2012

Crazy week

This is going to be one of the craziest weeks we've had in a long time.

Little lady isn't well, she's got a nasty cough that keeps her from sleeping, and has caused her to be off school today.  She's lying in bed looking miserable and exhausted.  My poor baby!

Little man has a school concert tomorrow night and big Daddy is away on a business trip this week.
We leave for our family vacation on Saturday, so Little lady doggie has to go to the kennel; and I have to ready the house for having the cats indoors for a week.  Of course, I should start packing sometime soon...

I have to finish Little man's Easter bonnet (more on that later) for Friday's school parade, and prepare Little Lady for her LAMDA exams on Wednesday, assuming she's well enough to attend.  We won't find out her results for months and months, which is sad.  :(

Little lady's birthmark has changed slightly, so we're off to the dermatologist for our yearly checkups on Thursday, which means she'll miss the Easter Service the school puts on every year.  I don't think she minds at all though.

The good news is that a lot of the after school activities are cancelled for this week, and with the school break starting this weekend, we're free until the middle of April.  It'll be nice to not have to do anything; to let the kids play outside during the day, and to have sleepovers with their friends.




Friday, 23 March 2012

Trying to figure it all out...

There are so many things I don't understand about how this country works.  Or how certain systems work.  In America, if I walked into a school (pretty much ANY school) and offered my services as an unpaid volunteer, I would be in a classroom before I could blink.  Here, it's like pulling teeth.

For crying out loud! I'm a certified elementary teacher, with SEI endorsement.  True, I'm newly qualified.  True I still struggle with classroom management, but I"m a dang good teacher.  And I truly believe that given my own classroom, I could get the management part down pat.  All I want to do is gain practical knowledge of the curriculum here.  That way I can get a job as a substitute (ahem, suppy) teacher.  I'm not asking for payment, or for my own classroom.  I work well with others, and can take orders.  I"m happy to let the teacher do the teaching, and to do what I'm asked or told to do.

So WHY is this so difficult?  I keep being told that all their volunteer positions are taken up and there are no openings until September.  Am I being slighted?  Is there something wrong with me or my qualifications?  Or am I just so clueless as to the system that I'm going about it the wrong way?  What am I doing wrong?  

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Garden veggies

I took the day to begin my spring cleanup and gardening.  I began by cleaning out the green house, and throwing the old stuff in the compost bin.  Then I had fun in the garden center, getting some new grow bags and compost for the trays.  I save all my old trays so I just re-use them in the next growing season.  
Here's my radishes, still growing from the autumn.  They have no radishes yet, just an awful lot of leaves!  
My rocket lettuce grows no matter what I do to it!  Love that!  
I finally pulled the last of my leeks.  Thinking of making a Leek and potato soup with them.  They smell delicious!
  
Surprise!  Oh my...  I thought I'd used the last of the potatoes from the fall, but guess there were still some left in the bottom of the bag.  They are tiny, but they might go well with the leeks from above!  
The start of my tomatoes.  YUM! 
I started iceburg lettuce, carrots, aubergines, cucumbers, pumpkin, broccoli, rhubarb, yellow globe onions, and red onions in seed today.  I also planted shallots and potatoes.  

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Miniatura

We decided to take the kids to Miniatura, which is a large dolls house fair in Birmingham.  It was a long drive to get there, but we really enjoyed looking at all of the teenie tiny things! Little lady has a very impressive dolls house of her own, and we were looking for some very specific items to make it more like 'home'.   
It was a very long walk back to the car.  Little lady piggy backed daddy and Little man clung to mommy.  We were rewarded with a spectacular rainbow for our efforts!  

Monday, 19 March 2012

Broken dishwasher...

After 6 to 8 weeks of not having a dishwasher or a dryer, and adapting to those appauling conditions, (! :) ) hubby fixed the dryer!! Oh how amazing nice soft clothes feel! I love having my craft room back as I no longer need to hang dry racks and racks of clothes for days!

The dishwasher, however, is another matter! After pulling it out, and apart, its been decided that something has blown and is irrepairable. Time for a new one?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Throwing a ball

Little man has been practicing throwing a ball. In that reguard, he's decided to help mommy to chuck the ball for Lady doggie. What a good helper!

Happy Mothers Day!

Here in the UK its Mothers Day! My kids made me wonderful cards! Arent they georgous?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Kids activities

One crazy day after another, and the kids want to add more extracurricular activities!  

Ok, between the two of them they do ballet, yoga, drama, violin, orchestra and tennis at school.
Currently, they do tennis, ice skating, swimming, funky dance, piano and hindi out of school.

They want to add on soccer, art classes, singing lessons and karate.  There are SO not enough hours in every day.  Something's gotta give.  Either our nearly free weekend status, or our wednesday evening free. I'm loathe to give up wednesday's because that's when they practice piano, hindi, and violin.  Little man would love to add on piccolo or flute lessons during school as well.  Hmmmm....

Right now, they are spaced out quite nicely.  Mondays is tennis, and it's right after school, lessons are at the same time, so we're home by 5:30.  This gives them plenty of time to do homework and to play.  Tuesdays is a wash because it takes us the entire evening to get to the ice rink, have lessons, and get back again.  We stay for longer than the lessons, with each kid skating about 1 to 1.5 hours each.  This is because it takes SO long to get there that we might as well get our money's worth.  Wednesday's is free; once they've practiced their instruments and their language, they play.  Now that it's nice, they are able to go out and play on their bikes and balls.  Thursday they get about an hour to play before we rush off to swimming lessons, and then it's bath, dinner and bed for them.  Fridays are like thursdays, they get to play for about an hour, then do dance class (luckily it's fairly close to the house) and then come home and play in the house for a while before dinner and bed.  Saturdays and sunday's their lessons are first thing in the morning, which leaves the whole day long to play and be free.  I like our schedule.

So...  what gives then?  What changes so that they can take these new things?  I can do Little man's new instrument in school like Little lady does hers.  Soccer club used to be at school, but now they've cancelled it, so that won't work.  And I think it runs on saturday mornings which would conflict with piano anyway.  I have no idea if I can get an art teacher or a singing teacher to come to the house; nor do I know if I can find karate anywhere.  Oh my!

Currently we have time to bake something once or twice a week, we have time for science lessons at home, we are building Billy Bones and growing plants.  My dilemma continues....  I think I'll 'forget' that they want to do these things until they demand that I do something about it......

Friday, 16 March 2012

I want pancakes!

So, in my house, as one of the ways that we incent the kiddoes to get out of bed and down the stairs is to offer them the breakfast of their choice if they beat mommy downstairs.  I do, on occasion, take a slightly longer shower or pickup my room before going downstairs to allow them some more time, but not all the time.  We started out as it being a competition between the two of them, but fits ensued as they don't usually eat the same thing for breakfast.  Little man is a chocolate chip pancake or scrambled egg person, and Little lady simply likes a bowl of cereal and a yogurt.

"I want pancakes." Was the announcement I received this morning.  I sighed; what to do?  I had no eggs, and no bisquick or ready British style pancake mixes either.  Hm....  Then I remembered that you can make pancakes by substituting apple sauce for the eggs in a recipe.  As we live in Britain... there is no applesauce.  Wait!  I have a beautiful kitchen gadget that makes applesauce in under 10 minutes! And I had apples on-hand!  So.. in the Thermomix goes 4 apples and 75grams of water.  10 minutes later, I have wonderful applesauce!

A cup of flour, a cup of milk, 2 tsp of baking powder, a pinch of salt, a tbsp of sugar and a 1/4 cup of applesauce later, I had a beautiful mix of wonderful American style pancakes.  What a beautiful fluffy lovely breakfast!  To Little man's we added chocolate chips, of course.  
Now I have a happy boy!  


Quick update..   Still not having any eggs, we used the applesauce technique to make chocolate chip cookies! Boy were these good!  A HUGE batch was gone within 12 hours of making them! And that includes the night.  Even the dog was racing around trying to catch crumbs!  

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Spring has finally sprung!

I love the visible signs that spring has finally sprung! The green grass, the daffodils, the song birds! The air is still a bit cold and damp in the mornings, but a nice sweater will get you through the day. The kids in the neighborhood are now starting to play outside again, and its time to remind the kids that curfew is when the street lamps come on.

I LOVE that we live in a neighborhood that we can give this to our kids! How awesome a childhood.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Teasing in school

Oh the trials our children face.  We faced them, and got through it, so how do we teach our children to do the same?  Little man likes ballet.  He's been taking it on and off for nearly 4 years now.  We knew that he would endure teasing and criticism for his like of the dance.  He is greatly outnumbered (being the only boy in a class of about 20 girls), and this leads the girls to tease him on the playground for being in the class.  If I step back from the situation, (and take my motherly instincts to protect my son out of it), then I  can see this as a chance for character building in my son.  I can make this an opportunity for him to acknowledge that they are going to tease him, and that while we can try to change their behaviour, it shouldn't affect what he loves to do.  The teasing hurts him.  However, he still chooses to play with these girls.  That says a lot to me.  He likes these girls.  He wants to be their friend.  I wonder at what point that their teasing will turn him away from them though?


He's been mentioning the teasing for quite a while now.  You can see the hesitation in the teachers eyes when I bring it up.  They are worried that I'll say the "B" (bully) word.  Are they letting something slip?  Will the parent make a huge stink?  (at least this is what I read into their words, manners and actions)  Some will come right out and tell you that it's to be expected; at this age, in this form of dance.  We had to KNOW that he would get teased.  And we did.  We knew that it would come, and we  knew that it'd be about now that it would happen.  I guess in my na├»vety, I expected it to come from the other boys, but I guess WHO does the teasing is irrelevant.  Little man spent a few days contemplating quitting, but then, yesterday, he decided not to.  He wants to try to convince these girls that ballet is important for boys too.  That ballet without boys would be less. We've decided to make a 5 minute compilation video that shows ballet, and the other manly professions where men do ballet to help them (football, soccer, etc).  Then we'll show it to the girls in the class and see if it can change their minds; and their words.  

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

how to make a 8 page mini-booklet from a single sheet of paper

To make a 8 page mini booklet out of a single sheet of paper,you'll need to print your images and words in 8 sections, 4 on the top of half of your page and 4 on the bottom of your page (same side)

Once printed, fold it in half lengthwise

Then fold it in half again the other way

Then fold both ends into the middle

then open out your book

open the book the whole way...  you are going to cut the booklet
along the seam (where the pen is) for the two middle sections.

see?

pickup the middle and fold the booklet in the middle 
(will be opposite the fold marks on one side)

It will then look like this.

grab the right hand side, and squish the middle sections down
so that they are flat (see picture)

fold the last piece inwards so that it forms a book

Your done!