Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lest our kids forget

We decided that Mr Sociable was old enough this year to learn a bit about ANZAC Day. He is very interested in soldiers at the moment and loves hearing about the way that they protect people. Although he is a bit young for a dawn service, Franky & I did a few simple things at home to start teaching him about the importance of ANZAC Day. We think it's important for kids to know our history and to remember the sacrifices that soldiers have made (and continue to make) to serve others.

Mr Sociable asked a lot of questions in the lead up to ANZAC Day - Franky and I did a lot of explaining! We talked about soldiers, World Wars 1 & 2, other wars and duties of soldiers.

We talked about rosemary - that people wear as a sign of remembrance. Mr Sociable was keen to wear some too!

ANZAC Biscuits
Mr Sociable and I made ANZAC biscuits together. We talked about why they are called ANZAC biscuits and how they were used in WW1.

What did you do for ANZAC Day this year?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Rainy day craft: Cloud dough

Have you ever made cloud dough? It moulds and crumbles like sand, except that it sticks together (like the topping for apple crumble). It is much softer than sand & you can make imprints in it like playdough.

I saw it in this blog last week, so the boys and I had a go at making some. It was super easy and a great way to use up some of the baby oil that hangs around in my bathroom cupboard. Just mix 1 cup baby oil with 8 cups flour. I unsuccessfully tried to add food dye (yes, I know, food dye is water-based and not likely to mix with baby oil & flour - but I thought it was worth a try). So you may notice a few yellow globs in my dough - next time I will just embrace the "cloudiness" of the dough & leave it white!

Mr Sociable loved getting his hands dirty!
Mr Fun loved tipping in the cups of flour, but was not so interested in the mixing.
Cloud dough
Some ideas for playing with cloud dough

Squish it in your hand to make a hard blob, then crumble it

Roll a knobbly ball around to make imprints

Press it into a spoon to make flat, smooth shapes

Make "sandcastles" (I found this worked better with a soft plastic cup that I could squeeze a little to get the "castle" out).

Make animal or dinosaur footprints

Find interesting things to make impressions in the dough

Mr Sociable spent a long time playing with the cloud dough. Mr Fun quickly lost interest - he spent a long time "watering the garden" with the rainwater we collected last week.

Have a brush handy for cleaning up the flour that goes on the floor (Mr Sociable brushed off his arms and pants too!)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A parenting fail

Have you ever had one of those moments when you realise that you've really messed up - that you've advertently hurt someone else and can’t take it back? Have you worried that maybe you've broken a little piece of their heart?

Recently, I had one of those moments with Mr Sociable. He wanted my attention. He kept asking me to play with him, kept getting underfoot as I was trying to get things done and complaining when I didn’t “play cars” with him. Eventually he jumped in the middle of the tent that Franky and I were trying to pack away. I yelled at him and he ran away crying.

I knew I had done the wrong thing. I knew I had been impatient and selfish. He wanted my attention. He loves to be around me. He is 4.

I waited a few minutes to cool off and went to find him. He was outside, crying. I knew he would be upset and that I would need to apologise. I knew that we would need to talk about Mummy being busy etc. But, when I asked him what was wrong, I was not expecting him to say, “You don’t like me” - words I never wanted to hear from my child’s lips. How devastating to know that my precious little man honestly believed that I didn’t like him – that I didn’t want to spend time with him because I didn’t want to be around him.

We talked for a long time. I explained that I do love him, that I do like being around him, but that I can’t spend all day playing because sometimes there are other things I need to do (washing, cleaning, cooking). I tried to explain that I do those things to look after our family – not because I don’t want to spend time with him. But, if I am completely honest, there are other times that I have said “no” just because I didn’t feel like playing (because I was tired, or preferred to do something else).

It makes me sad to think about all the times he has felt that I don’t like him – when I have told him that I couldn’t play with him because I needed to do “jobs”. I have been pretty busy since we got home from camping - getting everything unpacked and washed, etc. Mr Sociable is very big on "quality time", but to him "quality" is also about quantity - he feels loved when he receives my undivided attention - and lots of it! Since that horrible conversation, I have been making a concerted effort to stop and listen to him when he is talking to me – to give him my attention – and also to make more time for us to play together.

One thing that really helps both of us is having a visible day plan/routine chart. Mr Sociable likes to know what we are going to be doing for the day and having the cards displayed means that he can see all the times I have already played with him that day – or the times when I will play later in the day. I was really disciplined about using the chart last year, but this year it keeps falling by the wayside. I think I need to make a concerted effort to start planning our days again, ensuring that there is time each day for me to play with Mr Sociable (as well as set times to get jobs done). I’m hoping that this regular “mummy time” will remind him how much I love him and do want to spend time with him.

How do you show your kids that you love them?

Monday, 16 April 2012

Upcycle: Collared shirts that become long pants

A few weeks ago, I wrote a tutorial for making some easy-peasy pants for kids. Today, I'm going to use a similar process to upcycle one of Franky's collared shirts into a cool pair of kids' pants with pockets.

Making a pattern

Create a pattern by tracing around a pair of pants onto tracing paper/greaseproof paper (for more detail on how to do this, check out my easy-peasy pants tutorial). Cut out your pattern.

Cutting out the fabric

You will find the shirt easier to work with if you cut it into separate pieces - this helps you to lay the fabric flat for easy cutting. I cut mine into two front pieces and the back piece, with the sleeves removed.

First, we will make the back of the pants, from the front of the shirt.

Lay out the pattern piece on the front of the shirt (right side up). Be aware of the position of the pocket. I traced over the outline of the pocket to make sure I was happy with the position on the pants (and actually moved the pattern higher as a result). If you have two pockets, marking the pocket position on the pattern will also help you to put the pocket at the same height on both legs.

Pin around the pattern piece and cut out the fabric. Remove the pins.

Flip the pattern piece over and lay it on the other front piece of the shirt, right side up. If there is a pocket on this shirt front, make sure you place it in the same position as on the other side.

Pin around the pattern and cut out the fabric. Remove pins.

Now you will have two pieces that will form the back of your pants. Mine both have pockets, as Franky's shirt had pockets on both sides. 

Now it's time to make the front of the pants, from the back of the shirt. 

Fold the back of the shirt in half. Lay your pattern piece on top and pin it down. Cut around the pattern piece and remove the pins. Now you have the two pieces that will make the front of the pants.

Stitching the legs

Match up the pieces, right sides together, so that you have 2 separate legs. Make sure that you match the pieces up correctly - so that both pockets are at the back and the plain pieces at the front.

Pin along the inside of the leg and the outside of the leg. Sew these seams (I have used an over-locker, but a regular sewing machine is fine too - just sew a straight seam, about 1cm in from the edge, then finish the raw edge with an over-locking stitch on your machine).You will see in the photo that I overlocked the top and bottom edges at the same time.


Now it's time to sew along the crotch, so that the two separate legs are joined together. Start at the top of the pants, matching up the edges and pinning along the crotch. Once it's all pinned, you can sew it in a straight line from back to front. 

Inserting the elastic
Fold the top of the pants over (about 3cm) and pin. Sew close to the overlocked edge. Leave a 3cm gap where you will insert the elastic.

Measure around your child's waist and cut the elastic to size. Use a safety pin to pull the elastic through the casing.

Use a zig-zag stitch to sew the two ends of the elastic together. Make sure the elastic is not twisted!

Push the elastic inside the casing and sew the opening shut with a straight stitch.

Making a hem

Pin the pants up at the bottom to the desired length. Make sure both legs are the same length! Sew around with a straight stitch.

The finished product

and modeled by Mr Fun:

I loved these pants so much that I made another pair from a "work shirt":

and another (yes, Franky does wear a lot of stripes...)

 And one more pair...

You may have guessed this last pair were not made from a shirt! I upcycled some fabric that I used to cover a wardrobe a few years ago. The wardrobe is living in the garage now (storing our camping stuff), so I rescued the cool fabric!
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