Thursday, 27 September 2012

The things they say #2

S : "We played Tag at school today"
Me : "Lovely. How do you play Tag?"
S : "I can't explain it to you mummy as it's very complicated and you just wouldn't understand it"

Hubby : "Shall we all sit and watch Puss in Boots?"
S : "No, I don't like Puss in Boots daddy"
Hubby : "What would you like to watch then?"
S : "The one about the two cats that has Humpty Dumpty in it"
[So, Puss in Boots then!]

Monday, 24 September 2012

The things they say

S : "When I grow up, I want to be a mermaid. When you are big, will you be a mermaid too N?"
N : "Yes"
S : "That's good, because we can't be lions. That would be silly as people cannot turn into lions when they grow up"

Friday, 14 September 2012

Toddler Telephone Tourettes

Trying saying that quickly 10 times ;-)

What is it about me picking up a telephone - landline or mobile - that seems to trigger N to have what I am now considering to be toddler tourettes?

The moment the phone in my hand moves to my ear, she's off. She will scream, shout, kick, cry and even roll about on the floor making general grunting and growling noises until the point said phone is put down.

I've tried running away to the kitchen and shutting the door behind me but until I get a bolt for it (which is bloody tempting!), she just opens it or bangs on it (whilst screaming) so I'm pressed against it trying to keep it shut to have any chance of hearing what the other person is saying.  It's that or go for a hurdle of the stairgate and a sprint upstairs before saying hello.  Usain Bolt I am not!

Maroon 5 are better off having a conversation in the explosion than at a payphone anywhere near this house.

Is it just me?

Monday, 10 September 2012

What choice?

You may well know that S goes to a private school.  We’re not snobby and we’re certainly not rolling in it, but her education is very important to us.

Now, why did we make this decision?  Well, if you have a read of a previous post, you’ll understand.  The schools in our area are simply, well, not good.  We refuse to send our children to a ‘failing’ school.

However, on 1st September, like many parents, I went on to the Council’s website and decided to choose a few schools that I wouldn’t mind S going to locally.  Of course I’d be delighted if she got into a good State school but what are the chances?

Firstly, the website says very clearly it is a ‘preference’ not a ‘choice’.  So, I would ‘prefer’ her to go to a non shit good State school clearly. Wouldn’t any parent?  Herein lies the problem.  Every ‘good’ school in our area is oversubscribed. To give you an indication, the two top schools take in 60 and 90 pupils per new year and are oversubscribed by 295 and 378 respectively.  So, 60 places and 295 wanting them.  I think that tells you something.

Our local school (about 150m away) isn’t oversubscribed at all.  Well, it has an impressive reputation – it is almost bottom of the primary schools list for the whole of Surrey.  Wow, how awful must the teaching/teachers be there to achieve this?  Please don’t tell me it’s all due to ‘thick children’ because that clearly cannot be the case.   I admit seeing all the pit bulls and chain smoking parents outside in the mornings fills me with horror but I am sure some of the kids must be nice and bright.  Yes, I have a very, very bad impression of the school.  So what! So does everyone I know with more than a single brain cell around here so, again, that must tell you something.

The State school I would like S to go to is the one I went to when I was a child. Yes, it is still there and no it’s not a museum piece!  It is, as the crow flies, 7 schools from our house.  It is also a very popular one and oversubscribed (by...well, a lot).  I would like to shoot that crow.

So, the fate of whether our daughter goes to a good State school or whether we have to work even harder for her to go to a private school is in the hands of some jumped up Council official no doubt with a piece of string and a drawing pin producing circles on a map.

I find it sad that not every State school has the same quality of teaching.  I find it sad that people actually move house to get into the right school.  What does this say about our school system?  How poor, and selective, has it become?  Every child has the right to have a quality education, no matter which side of the road they live on.

So, for us, it’s still the private or home education (which hubby isn’t keen on) route whilst we keep our fingers crossed.  Somehow I can see our ‘preferences’ being ignored completely and that officious piece of string offering us a school I wouldn’t send a dog to.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Humble Hike - Pt 2 (well, 3 really)

The weather is glorious again, hubby has a weekend off, teen is over, so it’s clearly geocaching time! J

We decided to do a bit more of the Humble Hike today.  Parking up at Bocketts Farm Park, we found the public footpath near the tea rooms and set off. 

First up was #49.  We decided to go backwards today.  Nice quick find for S and she did the retrieve and replace behind the flint. This turned out to be J’s 100th cache too.  A little further on we came across two very curious pigs.  Unfortunately for them, none of the girls were going to spare them a sandwich today.

#48 was down a rather bumpy path.  We managed to walk straight past it and while my compass said 15m behind us, hubby’s said 22m back where we came from.  As there was nothing like the clue object near us, hubby headed back and made a quick find.  

We got to a field and turned left down towards the railway when hubby spotted this solitary poppy among all the harvested wheat.

#47 was just before we walked under the railway line.  Nice quick find for J.  The two littlest ones waved at a passing train. This seems to be quite a busy line for a weekend.  A man walking his dog and a jogger went past before we replaced the cache and then we were off.

#46 was a quick find for me. Hubby had found a ‘geo-stick’ (yes, a stick – long and pointy) and was bashing his way around the nettles saying he couldn’t spot anything.  I had another look at the clue and spotted the suspect very quickly. While hubby and J were wandering around about 10m away from me, I went to the object and did the retrieve. I had to kind of balance it out on my fingertips as it was in a good hidey place.  Here’s me signing the log then J and S putting it back.

So that's where mum spotted it then!

We walked on to #45 which sounded like it would be another quick find.  J went and had a look at the suspect area and then I also had a poke around. I even went through the gate to try and look from the other side but the very high stinging nettles kept me away.  Hubby decided to go in with the geo-stick and found it instantly.  Both J and I were positive we’d touched that exact same spot! Never mind.

Away we went down a rather nice track towards a farm.  #44 was a quick find for J.  I wouldn’t want to be a horse drinking from this trough though – eugh.

We carried on down the path watching the farmer move his tractor around to get a digger out into a field then reverse his tractor away again.  Walking on past we saw signs for a sawmill. Never knew one was around here and it was having an open day. We decided not to walk up and see though as the girls were getting tired. 

#43 was a quick find again in a nice little location and we had a quick think about whether to walk back the road way or the way we had come.  The countryside won so we headed on back to Bocketts Farm to get ourselves a well deserved ice cream before going home.

We still have a lot more of this to do!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A new dress and pricked fingers

Having had a chat one evening with my totally brilliant sister, K, about all the 'crafty' stuff she makes, she inspired me - the person without a crafty bone in my body! - to have a go at something. I had a think and decided I would try and make a dress for S.  I thought I was bound to get a little pattern that was pretty much two pieces I could stitch together.  Maybe they are out there but did I find one. No. I managed to get something out of Project flipping Runway and whilst it looked simple, it did have some weird and wonderful bits to it.

Now, bear in mind that when I started this exercise, I knew nothing about sewing.  I had once sewn a black blouse. I was a secondary school at the time and very into Gary Numan. By the time said blouse was actually finished, it didn't fit me as I'd grown out of it (and probably Numan as well). Not the most successful needlework then. Other than that, cross-stitch at infant school was it.  So, now you know the depth of my experience :)

So, off I go to Google to find a pattern.  Easy enough.  How much though?  I only want a pattern, not the finished dress. That was the first shock.

Pattern arrived so now I needed material.  It is coming into Autumn so I thought I’d opt for a nice summer fabric.  The basis of this was that it would still fit next year.  Ok, no it wasn’t. It was that my sister suggested working with polycotton was best for my first attempt. All polycotton fabric seems to have a very summery print. Oh well.  I phoned the local needlework shop and found that cotton was £11.99 per metre!  What?  I could buy a dress from Monsoon for the amount I would want.  Another dip into Google and I found an online material shop which sold polycotton at £2.50 a metre.  That was more like it.  Hey, it may not turn out at all so I’m not going to spend much am I.

Buttons, matching thread, something called interfacing and something else called bias later and I definitely could have bought a dress from Harrods Monsoon!  I nearly bought a sewing machine to which would have made this the most expensive dress S has yet!  I resisted.  This is going to be hand-sewn.

Right, here we go.  Spoke to K first to get a bit of a clue about how to do things here. She gave me some of the basics, including how to lay out the material (like I even expected that it would work better one way than the other!?). 

I think I bought a little too much material
Material laid out as per the pattern and pattern pieces cut out, pinned on and then cut out.  Boy, I was flying today J

Now, sewing starts.  Some of it makes sense but much does not.  Another Google required to find out what the heck some of the stitchings are and, more to the point, how to do them.  No-one said this would be easy...

Pieces were coming together though. It was starting to look like I could do it. 

Did I mention this is all hand sewn as I have no sewing maching?  My poor pricked fingers.

Pockets next. I liked this bit. It was easy not too demanding for me.  Improvising again, I put some more braid on.  Braid and I were to become good friends as it is a great way of hiding your mistakes looks so pretty.

My eyesight started to suffer a bit.  I definitely needed my reading glasses.  I think I’m getting old as it took a while for me to see anything once I took my glasses off after sewing.  Did I mention my pricked fingers yet?

Back piece put together and it looked good.  Wow, perhaps I have missed a skill here.  Perhaps not.  Trying to turn the tiny stupid bloody hook inside out after stitching it was no mean feat.  “Use strong thread and simply pull through” said the instructions. Nope.  Brute force and the clever use of a cocktail stick got there in the end though.  See, doesn’t it look great. Did I mention I pricked my finger with the cocktail stick?  Don’t worry if you come over for things on sticks at some point, it broke and I threw it away.  The sellotope wouldn’t hold it together anyway ;-)

I got confused about turning up/in/over whatever it was.  I needed 1cm or 6mm or something.  It was all a bit random at times.  I was sure when I put the pieces together it would look like something sewn especially for the bride of Frankenstein, you know, all short sleeve there and long bit here.  I’ll keep on going though.  Back done.  Yippee!

Front and back sewn together so S had a try on to make sure it fitted. Of course I was keeping my fingers crossed and holding my breath knew it would ;-) 

N had to have a go too.  Little big on her though. She’ll grow into it (I keep all S's clothes for her - hand-me-down-girl).

I opted for ruffles on the arms rather than the sleeve (pattern gave me choices don’t you know).  It seemed more appropriate far easier.  The pattern suggested I simply blanket stitch the outer edge. I could see that fraying away into nothing so I decided to do a little turn in/up/whatever and then put some of the braiding on.  Pretty don’t you think.

Did I mention my pricked thumbs/fingers?

Pinning the ruffle to the dress via bias was no mean feat. Sewing it was a bloody nightmare quite hard going.  My fingers are now getting painful. Perhaps it’s time to use the thimble?

It looked nice once it was done but the bottom of the sleeve was all raggy.  No turn in/up/under requested here. Perhaps I’d missed something.  Another read through the pattern and I couldn’t spot anything. Oh well, I’ll have to just do a little turn in thingy myself (I’m getting good at sewing speak as you can see).  I fiddled and turned and pricked my fingers some more.  However, the 3mm I had to play with turned into a little seam thing.  Shame I couldn’t hide this with the braid but it was letting me down this time.

Next was the neck.  Bias used again around this and I had to really think hard about what the pattern was trying to tell me. I think they need to invent versions of patterns, graded by how stupid you are sewing ability.  A bit of stomping around swearing under my breath thinking logically and I could see what was required.  One completed neckline.

Now for the hem.  I know this word see J  However, the pattern had this really strange feature again. I had cut out two 2” pieces of long material, same width as the back and front of the pattern, stuck the interfacing on it (the wrong way around the first time so it melted onto the damn iron!) and now apparently I was supposed to sew this all around the dress.  What kind of juvenile decides to print this pattern?  Surely just CUT THE DRESS 2” LONGER!

See the silly extra 'hockey stick' shaped pieces for the hem? Pointless!
Another chat to K and she also thought this was a silly thing to do so I opted for a simple hem, which K talked me through first. I didn’t know anything about turning it up 1.5” then the 0.5” tucking under need her talking me through it but I reasoned she would like to feel helpful so I let her ;-)

Hem done and braid utilised again to give the dress a pretty little finish.  What do you think?

S loves it.  She wanted to wear it all day in the garden but I don’t think my hand sewing is quite up to garden play. She is going to wear it out tomorrow though so I hope it’s not too gusty out or she doesn’t want to walk at too brisk a pace.  Actually, I am very proud of my little dress.  Not bad for a first attempt huh?

Did I mention I pricked my fingers a lot!?