Friday, 29 May 2015

I am still alive...and creating

Just thought I'd check in and say I am still alive. Not only that, but I've been painting and drawing and making.

Blogging has been on hold for a while because getting to a computer is not something that happens much these days - these days are filled with rainbow rice, Playmobil tractors and trying to discourage my children to climb up the furniture. So previously, the photos I would post were taken on my Nikon and edited in Lightroom. They are now taken on my phone and probably uploaded from my phone too. So, while the quality of the photos will be a little different, there will at least be some content, where before there was none!

This week, I'll be getting things ready for a craft fair next week. My stall will probably look much the same as it did last time...

Saturday, 25 October 2014

inky feather doodle

Finding the time (and space!) to make stuff these days doesn't happen much, which is one of the reasons I've been spending more time in my sketchbooks - much easier to tidy away a book than a whole table of papers, paints, paintbrushes, glue, scissors, sewing machine, pins, fabrics, etc.

Here's a feather doodle.

Previously, I would photograph things for my blog in good light, with a camera instead of a phone. Well, as there are two tiny people occupying my days, that doesn't happen either! So instead, this was taken in poor light, with my phone, once the children were in bed.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

It's been quiet around here...

And when I say here, I certainly don't mean my house. I have a two and a half year old so it's rarely quiet.

This blog, however, has been quiet. There's a reason for that.

This happened...

Then, about a month ago, this...

This is baby R. He's now a bit over 1 month and we're slowly finding our groove.

Nowt else to say. I could try, but my rain has turned to porridge... my rain?! I meant my brain. And, to prove a point, it just took me about a minute to find the exclamation mark on the keyboard. So apparently, writing a blog post during a feed at 1.45 in the morning doesn't make for a very riveting or coherent post (the word 'coherent' ended up with a 5 in it before I corrected it*), hey ho!

*It's not even like I'm using a touchscreen. I am using an actual keyboard.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Favourite Reads of 2013 {parenting books}

I get a lot out of reading parenting books. Here are some I read (or started) in 2013...

[I have linked each book to Amazon, but these are NOT affiliate links and I don't get points/prizes if you click on the link or buy the book.]

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids
I was sad when I got to the end of this one. The bibliography and references at the back are so long that the end of the final chapter took me by surprise, what with all of those pages afterwards. I couldn't get very far into this book without needing to highlight/underline or read excerpts out to others (mainly people I know/live with/am married to, as opposed to complete strangers). While Living Simply With Children introduced me (well, it more than just introduced me but anyway...) to the concept of having fewer (but better) toys, etc., this book took it a step further. I learned (and saw for myself) how a child's physical environment can impact their mood/behaviour/attention span and was presented with yet another reason to simplify and declutter. Unlike Living Simply With Children, this book does not devote a chapter to green issues or money management or spending time figuring out what your values as a family really are (all great chapters). Rather, it keeps the focus on simplifying - stripping back the clutter of life (physical clutter but also the clutter of things to do/places to go, resulting in constant busyness) so that childhood can be enjoyed more and that the child may actually benefit more from doing less (fewer appointments and clubs and more free play). This is definitely a book I will revisit when our lifestyle becomes cramped again (as I imagine it will) - even if I just read the bits I underlined (which is probably around a third of the book). If I were to be giving out awards, Simplicity Parenting would come a very close 2nd place, after The Read Aloud Handbook.

Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads, and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting
Loved it. It was after reading the chapter on television and its affects on young minds and attention spans which caused me to attempt a couple of weeks screen-free (no TV, no iPad or similar) for my then 15 month old (you can read about that in another post, which I'll link to when I've written it. We ended up going 37 weeks with no television). I didn't cut it out because I felt guilt-tripped into it but rather, I felt inspired and spurred on. This book also taught me about which toys most help the development of children (this was a bit before I discovered Montessori or The Imagination Tree). This book is brilliant and I'll probably revisit the sections I've highlighted.

Working the System: How to Get the Very Best State Education for Your Child
I've only read the first chapter of this, but I like it so far. Although, from other reading I've done, I'm coming to the conclusion that what we as parents put into our children's education at home can have a greater impact than the school they attend. (More on this in The Read Aloud Handbook.)

Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart-to-Heart Connection
I think I actually read this at the end of 2012, but I'll include it in the list anyway. This book presented me with a new way of approaching the topic of discipline, challenging previously held ideas. There were no practical tips for parents of toddlers and I wish toddler issues had been given a bit of attention, but it has still affected the way I treat my child. It's a good one and I recommend it, but it's not so much about tips and tricks but more about a general parenting philosophy.

The Read Aloud Handbook
If you only read one book on this list, make it this one. This book needs an entire blog post of its own.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with your Baby
Actually, I read this in October of 2012, after 10 months of broken sleep and feeling like bits of my brain were falling away like wet cake. I then read the follow-up book, The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, which was also really helpful. I wish someone had introduced me to these books before little O was born, as sleep was the one area where we felt completely unprepared and lost.

Becoming The Parent You Want To Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years
This is great as a reference textbook. I had a friend over (fellow mother-of-toddler) whose child was going through a biting phase; we found 'biting' in the index and quickly found some good advice and information on the topic. It could just rest on my shelves until I encounter a problem, at which point I'd look it up. However, I like to absorb the information before encountering the problem. So, I'm just reading it from front to back.

Currently reading:

Becoming The Parent You Want To Be
See above. I've read a couple of chapters, but I think this is one I'll graze on between books.

Raising Boys: Why Boys are Different - And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men
Before having a boy, I had only ever cared for girls (cared for as in looked after not 'I only ever liked girls') and had no idea how different girls and boys can be from such a young age. My son has really taken me by surprise and I could do with a bit of educating on how to parent a boy. I'll let you know how it goes (the book, not the parenting - I could tell you about the parenting aspect in one word right now: exhausting).

The Diaper Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative for a Happier, Healthier Baby or Toddler
Like many in my generation, I had thought that we'd do the whole potty training thing around age 3 and we'd have to use star charts and bribes and it would turn into a power struggle, because that's just the way it is. It was when O was around 14 months that I discovered a Montessori blog (How We Montessori) and read about an infant learning to use the toilet at 12 months. Mind blown. Inspired, we started the toilet learning journey right then when O was 14 months. (Perhaps I'll devote a separate blog post to that.) The more I read up on the topic, the more I found that, really, starting earlier would have been even better. So, in preparation of the baby arriving around March/April, I thought I'd give myself a head start by reading it now. If you want more info on that topic, there's a post over on this blog you could read.

Can you recommend any parenting books which have particularly helped you or which you think I'd find helpful/interesting? Let me know in the comments!

Make your own nappy cake {tutorial}

Way back in February 2011, I posted photos of a baby shower. The November before that, I also photographed a tutorial for a nappy cake, but never got around to actually blogging it. So...

I think the step-by-step photos speak for themselves, but if you think there's anything which needs clarifying, put it in the comments and I'll add some text to the post.

With my first nappy cake, I was told that Huggies were the best, so I used those. I now know that, if you're going to use disposables, Pampers are rubbish and Huggies aren't much better. If you're looking for the best disposable nappies, go to Aldi. Anyway, back to the tutorial...

And here's one I made earlier: