Wednesday, July 31, 2013

hi-ho, hi-ho

It's back to work I go! Actually it's been two weeks since I returned to my job. That one that I left four years ago to make a sea change. That one that I wasn't going back to because I would be embraced by my new town and would have local job offers to trip over.

The good thing is, I loved that job when I left, and I still do. I'm good at it, I like the bit where I get dressed, wear shoes the whole day and talk to grown ups. I teach small children, so there are all the obvious rewards that go along with that (there is nothing like teaching a kid right at that moment where reading kicks in, it's my absolute favourite).

After four years, though, I'm a little different. In lots of good ways, but in some ways that have me questioning things that I would have done or accepted four years ago. My first day back felt like a kick in the face. Such was the realisation that all of the relationships I had spent lots of hours, days, weeks and years building up with kids and their families had evaporated over time, and I was starting afresh. I have a lot of work to do, to build those relationships up from the ground. It will not be easy, but I know that learning won't really start to happen until I can get an 'in'. So I am drawing on the patience I have learned through yoga. I am planting that Mona Lisa smile on my face, and approaching each difficult moment with an acceptance that it will all take time. And all I really have is turning up each week.

It's fortunate timing that my school is heavily invested in building relationships with students at the moment. We were shown this video as a reminder of the importance of the relationships in a child's life. *(Trigger warning for violence, persevere if you can, there is relief at the end)

I am enjoying the bonuses of returning to work, that aren't directly work related. Yes, the commute is an hour and a half each way, but I get to spend that time with my hubby. Yes, I'm away from the kids and home for a day, but it means that the kids and grandparents get to spend time together (which is making everyone very happy). So although being so incredibly anxious about how on earth I would be able to balance and juggle, it turns out that things tend to balance themselves, if I just let them.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

crafternoon delight: microwave puffy paint

I am not the biggest fan of crafting with small children. It seems a little too much like work to me. But now that we live somewhere that actually rains from time to time, and have children who are into being creative, I have to concede it's time to put aside my own fear of playdough in the carpet and get to it. This week, we painted, in a scientific way.

Microwave Puffy Paint Recipe

1. Mix equal parts self-raising flour and table salt.
2. Add water, stirring, to a thick custard consistency.
3. Add colour.

We blobbed paint onto little mini-canvases (a cereal box cut into squares) using cotton buds. You need nice thick painting. Squeezy bottles would work a treat for this.
Then zap the masterpieces into the microwave (we did 30seconds on medium. You will know if you have the wrong setting if you set the painting on fire), and marvel in the crafty puffiness.
Uses recycled materials? Yes
Need to buy expensive things from an art store? No
Keeps children occupied? Yes, until we ran out of card. I think they would have kept going, too.
Creates something to keep? Not sure, I think the mini cakes hanging on the wall may attract vermin at some point. More of a 'process, not product' activity.

Have a lovely crafternoon!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

in stitches: heidi and finn chevron dress pattern review

I have been carefully looking at our consumption of clothing lately as a family. Not really doing anything about it, but feeling rather guilty about grabbing cheap, mass-manufactured garments as our kids grow (and grow and grow!). I walk a fine line, balancing precariously between what our budget allows, and the clear ethics in buying quality and taking more care of it. I have an automated response to kids clothing sale racks in large department stores: grab a couple for now, and a bunch for next year. Especially t-shirts, because knits are so difficult to sew, right?

Well sewing up this dress has proven to me the value and ease of sewing easy-to-wear, comfy play clothes for kids, using knits. The Chevron Dress pattern by Heidi and Finn is a fantastic design to cut your knit-sewing teeth on, and the instructions hold your hand right the way through.

The bodice is a simple shape, lined to avoid tricky bindings, and fits comfortably without gaping. I loved the clever way this pattern put the top together.

The skirt features a pieced chevron shape, utilising different coloured or patterned fabrics. I used a soft grey and white stripe, teamed with a rusty red and bright white. There was some very smug self-satisfaction as I pressed the centre-front seam open to reveal a perfectly-matched chevron.

The elastic in the waistband is probably the trickiest part, but once you master using a zig-zag stitch to sew elastic directly into the seam allowance, you will be able to use it in many applications. I like to use a three-step zig-zag stitch and clear elastic for this.

I added a couple of belt loops to the waist as I sewed the top and bottom together. I plaited together three strips of the knit fabrics I used in the dress to make a chunky tie belt. I love the nautical look the colours and the ropey belt give.

So now I am on the hunt for knit fabrics, so I can make all manner of play clothes for the kids. And a couple more cute chevron dresses for the little miss.


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