Galaxy Jars, Chocolate Buttons & Cress Heads

This week, my daughter had to make a 2D shapes picture for school, so my younger daughter joined in. They had to find objects to draw around on coloured paper, cut them out and glue them together to make a picture. They both really enjoyed it which surprised me, but it was so successful I’d do it again with them for fun instead of by obligation πŸ™‚ The days were colder and gloomier, so we made some hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows and played lots of board games πŸ™‚

I also decided to make cress egg heads with the girls. We had never done them before and I ordered some cress seeds online so we could πŸ™‚ I just cracked two eggs, emptied and washed them. The girls drew faces on them with permanent marker, but you could paint them too if you have time to let them dry πŸ™‚ We put a damp cotton ball inside and sprinkled some cress on top of it. They are now sitting in our sunniest window in their egg cups and the girls are checking them every couple of hours to see if they’ve grown yet πŸ™‚

The girls made a shop for their LOL dolls’ shoes and bags by turning a chair on its side and using it as shelfing πŸ™‚ I thought that was quite inventive. Sadly they spend little time playing with the things they work so hard to assemble!

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Today, we made a galaxy jar. I found the process really therapeutic and the girls were fascinated by it. You just need an empty jar, paints (we used acrylics, but poster paints should work too,) glitter and cotton balls. We filled the jar 1/3 full with water and added a squeeze of paint (you don’t need much.) Then you put the lid on and shake it until the water turns the colour you’ve chosen. Then you add some glitter, put the lid on and shake again (the glitter is supposed to be the stars.) Next, you tease out the cotton balls a little, keeping them in one piece. You add as many as you can fit into the water, pressing them down with a knife. Next, you add another 1/3 jar of water, a different colour of paint and the glitter using the same steps as before. You add cotton balls again, pressing down as many as you can fit into the water. Then you repeat the same steps a third time. It gives it a layered colours effect and looks a bit like a lava lamp πŸ™‚ The girls asked to keep it in their room and they want to make more, so it was a popular activity πŸ™‚

Afterwards, on our space theme, we drew pictures of aliens and cut them out. I wrote little messages on the back of alternative ways to communicate with them. I then hid them around the house and the girls had an alien hunt. When they found them, they had to complete the action on the back, for example, pat the aliens ears, dance around with it, say silly space words.

I had some plain white chocolate, which is strange, considering chocolate never lasts long in our house (mainly because of me.) So, we made some white chocolate buttons. You just melt the chocolate. I melted ours in the microwave on a defrost setting – this takes a few minutes but stops it accidentally burning. Then you use a teaspoon to put circles of white chocolate onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Then, you can add whatever sprinkles you like and let them set in the fridge πŸ™‚ The girls kept peering into the fridge, assessing whether they were ready or not πŸ™‚
(Turns our they make a good after dinner treat with strawberries :))


I’m so glad to have some sunshine back this afternoon. I’m sitting in the garden, watching the clean sheets swaying back and forth on the line and listening to my chimes clinking above my head πŸ™‚ The girls are happily occupied and for once, I almost feel relaxed πŸ™‚

Cardboard Towns, Peanut Cookies & Mini Greenhouses

The hot weather is exactly what I need this week to revive me. I find sitting in the garden such a healing thing. Apart from spending time in our small bit of greenery, we have been doing lots of craft projects this week, as our enthusiasm for home learning wanes.

The girls have become really interested in den building, and I’m happy to encourage it. I always hear about kids getting obsessed with a particular game or toy and it absorbing all their time. My kids’ favourite game until now has been following me around, asking for things πŸ™‚ They have worked out ways of constructing their own tents around the washing line, and it’s nice to hear them playing happily in the imaginary world they rarely inhabit πŸ™‚ When it’s sunny, they like to have lunch inside their den too.

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I decided to make use of our collection of cardboard and attempt to make a village with the girls. We had two large pieces of cardboard we painted as the ground, adding a pond, streets and grass. The girls painted some empty small boxes in grey, brown, red etc to make buildings. I found some pictures in magazines to use on the shop fronts, like a crate of vegetables, a bookshop window and some kitchen equipment for another shop. I painted some flowers in the flower beds on the base and then my daughter painted some flowers of her own too πŸ™‚

The next day when it had dried, we stuck it all together. I added some nature scenes from magazines to the grass and the girls made some play doh ducks for the pond. We added some green confetti to give the grass texture too. You could add so many things to it, depending on your child’s attention span πŸ™‚ That was all mine would allow us to do πŸ™‚

I made some easy pizza this week, using some homemade bread. I just put tomato paste, cherry tomates, cheese and hotdogs on it, and it was an immediate hit with my kids. They ate theirs inside their dens and I sat in the sun at our little garden table with pizza and a glass of wine. It reminded me of when we go for pizza in Glasgow and I get a small tumbler of white wine with pizza in the afternoon. It’s the only time I drink during the day because I don’t drive when we’re over there, and pizza in the garden had the same sort of tranquil feel to it πŸ™‚ I love the creepers my neighbour planted between our gardens. Sitting next to them helps me imagine I’m elsewhere when I’m feeling hemmed in in the house πŸ™‚

I made some more homemade lemonade sweetened with honey. I like making it as a vitamin-filled drink that the girls actually like to drink πŸ™‚ We also baked some peanut butter and jelly cookies and some more chocolate chip ones. The chocolate chip ones have vanished already πŸ™‚ The girls left me to finish making them so they could eat cookie dough and fight over the spoon!

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There was a lot of excitement when the girls’ Toucan boxes arrived in the post. They love having their own parcels to open once a month and it’s interesting to see what activities they have included each time. We did the first activity together, which was building mini greenhouses. The set came with plywood to slot together to build into little containers, a liner to hold the soil and the soil came in little solid packets you had to soak in water to make it expand. The girls loved making the labels and planting their seeds. There were sunflowers, nasturtiums and basil. A sticker sheet came too so they could add stickers to decorate it at the end (that might have been the part they were most enthusiastic about :))

Afterwards, we spent some more time in the garden and I had a Starbucks instant caramel latte I got from the shops πŸ™‚ It was surprisingly good for instant coffee. I’ve realised that the only thing close to reading that is achievable during my children’s waking hours is looking at pictures in magazines. There are a lot of interrupted sentences, so I might have to resort to picture books if I want to take up reading in daylight again πŸ™‚ The girls changed the shape of their den and connected it to their playhouse so they could crawl from one to the other πŸ™‚

We finished the day with a film. I surrendered and let them choose a cartoon, which ironically, they weren’t very keen on. We finished the day with ice cream sundaes. I just put vanilla ice-cream in a bowl with whipped cream, some chocolate spread and sprinkles. I put banana in my younger daughter’s bowl because she wanted to try a banana split, but after tasting it she said “I think I’ll keep the banana as a decoration in my bowl – it’s just, I don’t like banana with ice-cream.” πŸ™‚

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Mixed Media, Garden Play and Garlands

It’s taken me a while to get round to blogging this week. I just finished editing a book and that – that an an insurmountable pile of ironing – has been taking up all my free time (if such a thing still exists :)) This week, we’ve been spending a lot of time in our garden in the sunshine. I ordered a tuff tray for the girls and I wish I’d come across them long before now. It’s an easy way to set up contained messy play and keeps them busy for hours πŸ™‚

This week, we made some mixed media pictures. I found some dark blue card (but you could use any colour or paint a cereal box if you don’t have any.) The girls created little scenes on them. One opted for a sunny day and the other for a rainy one, probably because she is obsessed with umbrellas and jumping in puddles πŸ™‚ We stuck on cotton wool clouds, cut out some fabric scraps for clothes, used colour card for petals and coloured in/drew on plain paper to add details like shoes and stems on the plants etc. I think they turned out really well and were easy to make, plus it’s a good way to use up crafting scraps in your house πŸ™‚

We transformed our living room into a mini library. We set up a desk at the coffee table with stampers and pieces of paper. The girls liked stamping the paper and then inserting them into books they were “borrowing.” They had a toy till they used too, but I always thought the thing that looked the most exciting about being a librarian was the stamping when I was a kid πŸ™‚ One worked at the desk while the other browsed for books πŸ™‚ We laid them out on the hearth and I gave them a little bag to gather them in. They ordered in books that weren’t available and then had them delivered from the bookcase upstairs. After a while, they got out their tea set and pretend food and made coffee, juice and biscuits like the librarian does in the real library we’re missing πŸ™‚ I like games that encourage kids to come up with their own ideas and that they can take in all different directions that you couldn’t have planned.

My neighbour kindly gave us some dried melon seeds so we could dye and thread them to make things. We dyed half of them blue and the other half yellow with food colouring and then threaded them to make garlands and necklaces πŸ™‚ I was surprised how vibrant they turned out and the process of threading them with a needle was so therapeutic. I like the way we are forced to not waste and use what we already have in our houses for entertainment at the moment πŸ™‚

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We played a game where the girls had to choose a teddy to cook for. The teddies whispered into their ears what their favourite foods were. The girls then designed a meal on paper for them and then made it out of play doh to serve to them.

The girls have been dressing up for their morning walk and it feels more precious because we can only go out once. They both wore capes when we walked on the Greenway this week because they wanted people we passed “to know that they are superheroes.” They have also adopted a strange practice of carrying a book when they’re walking. I asked my daughter why she was and she said it was to keep her company on our walk (apparently she is tired of my conversation.)

I had an enormous sweet potato to use up (it was the size of a butternut squash,) so I decided to make some sweet potato and coconut soup πŸ™‚ I just used sweet potato, coconut milk, stock and some coriander we grew from seed on our windowsill πŸ™‚ (That will probably be the only time I ever use that sentence :)) Although, my tomato plant seems to be doing well. I don’t know if it will yield tomatoes yet, but I’m still amazed I kept a plant alive. On the other hand, my chives are looking straggly. I suppose it’s good to experiment even if it doesn’t result in anything impressive πŸ™‚

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I found some blank stickers and the girls enjoyed designing their own stickers on them πŸ™‚ If you have any blank labels lying around the house you could use them for a quick activity with kids. Afterwards, we made a word soup. I asked the girls to call out any words they wanted me to write down and I cut them up and put them into a bowl. They took it in turn mixing them with a big spoon and then picked out one word at a time. They laid them out on the table and we made up a silly story with them. You could do the same with pictures for smaller children or you could make a poem with them using the words and write it down and then decorate it πŸ™‚ It seems to work best with nouns and verbs – I found any of the connecting words didn’t work as well when they come out in a random order.

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We filled the girls’ tuff tray with washing up liquid and water to use as bubble mixture πŸ™‚ They used their bubble guns and we cut the bottoms out of some leftover party cups we had to make giant bubbles. You could use straws too, or anything you can find lying around the house πŸ™‚ It turned into slippery paddling, so I intervened and changed it into a painting tray πŸ™‚ The novelty of painting outside kept them amused and they used different shaped empty boxes and toilet roll tubes to make prints. If you get an old plate and put the different colours on opposite sides of it, when you dip an object into the paint, it creates multicoloured prints πŸ™‚

The girls had been nagging me to have a barbecue, so we had an impromptu one with the things we had already in the house. I made some sausages and mushrooms and some dinner rolls. It was an American recipe and they didn’t turn out like hot dog buns but they were still nice πŸ™‚ I made some potatoes and salad and we ate in the garden, which is the girls favourite thing to do πŸ™‚ It actually made dinner time feel much less stressful and it felt like we were on holiday.

We turned the tuff tray into a rock pool next. The girls have a tin they put shells they’ve collected into after we’ve been to the beach, so we got that out, their nets and their buckets and spades, water cans, etc. They fished for shells and collected them in their buckets. They also found a game hidden amidst the beach supplies – that game with the ball that attaches to a velcro paddle. It’s funny how when you’re spending all your time in the house, you uncover things you forget you had. It has taught me that most things we need are already in the house, in some form, and shopping isn’t always necessary, or conducive to fun.

A Week of Quiet Creativity

I’m a little bit behind on my blogging. I’ve been working on a book and that’s been taking up the small amount of free time I have πŸ™‚ But I thought I’d share a few things that we did this week to keep busy. I’ve been feeling grateful for the amount of sunshine and the warmer temperatures that allow us to spend most of our time in the garden πŸ™‚

We have a baby paddling pool from years ago that I have been filling with warm, bubbly water for the girls to paddle in. It’s small, but they like to pull up their garden chairs and sit with their feet in it. I made some more homemade lemonade and served it to them at their “beach” with straws. We also have a water table in the garden, and the girls requested that I put bubbly water in it too, so they could give their babies a bath πŸ™‚ My daughter was using socks as sleeping bags for them when they’d had their bath πŸ™‚

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We collected twigs, stones, flowers etc so the girls could make some wild art on the ground in the garden. My daughter made a picture of a house with an outdoor den, trees and a shed and was engrossed in it for ages πŸ™‚ She was instructing me on what materials I had to find next πŸ˜€

I wanted to try a craft for kids I’d seen online using felt tips and kitchen roll. I couldn’t find any blank kitchen roll, so we had to improvise with a patterned one, but it was still the same idea πŸ™‚ You tear off two pieces of kitchen roll and fold it like a book – drawing on the top layer and the one underneath. You can draw the outline of a picture on top and the filled in parts underneath, so when you drop it in a bowl of water, the picture becomes one. The girls liked drawing simpler patterns on it and seeing them coming together. Just the novelty of drawing on kitchen roll was enough to keep them sitting for half an hour. They loved dropping the kitchen roll in water to reveal the hidden pictures too πŸ™‚

We made some banana and walnut bread and I tasked the girls with breaking the nuts into the mixture. It kept them quiet for a long time. I find when they are getting really hyper and running wild that giving them a focussed task helps to calm things down a little πŸ™‚

We have a game of charades for kids, which the girls love playing. I found it in a charity shop for just over a pound and it’s their favourite game πŸ™‚ You could make up your own version at home by drawing pictures that younger kids have to act out on card or paper, for example, a horse, a pen, a piano, etc. For older kids who can read, you can write more developed ones, like washing the dishes, wrapping a present, building a house, etc. You could make it fit with any theme you like. If you have an egg timer you could use it too πŸ™‚

I used to make up little mysteries for the girls to solve when they were younger, using pictures. They had to look for the item on the page and find the next picture in that location. Now that they are a bit older, I decided to make up a simple mystery for them to solve, with words and pictures. I just grabbed a baby doll and made up a story about it exploring the house, leaving pink sandy footprints, having a bath in the sink, making friends with other dolls, turning household items into a playground, etc. The girls had to find all the evidence, tick boxes and find where the baby was hidden at the end. It didn’t take long to put it together and it kept them entertained without me having to get up while I finished my coffee πŸ™‚

My older daughter loves art and she’s enjoying watching guided drawing videos online. There have been quite a few free art classes on Facebook since lockdown started. We did a β€œdrawing the Easter bunny” one together and she enjoyed learning about shading and layering colours.

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We went for a walk to the chemist and spotted an Easter window display along the way. I thought it was nice that the owner had left the display there when the shop is currently closed. It brightened the girls’ day seeing it and they wanted to take the bunnies home with us πŸ™‚

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Since I didn’t have many eggs to hide for an Easter egg hunt, I got the kids to cut eggs out of cardboard and draw patterns on them, and hid them along with our remaining chocolate in the garden πŸ™‚ They liked colouring at the table outside too. It’s strange how an activity they do all the time becomes more exciting when it’s in a new location πŸ™‚

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I looked up some recipes for Easter biscuits and adapted a Mary Berry one. We made some egg, chick and bunny shaped cookies with Easter colours icing and sprinkles πŸ™‚ When they were ready, we enjoyed them in the garden and looked at some of the emerging flowers. My tulips came out overnight and I like the fact the girls noticed that they had. They have more time to notice things they might have overlooked before, and I think it’s an important lesson for them.

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I made my first hashbrowns, which was incredibly easy and left me wondering why I’d never done it before. I just fried grated potato in oil until it was softened on the inside and crisped on the inside and topped breakfast burritos with them. I just filled tortillas with scrambled egg and cheese, but you could use any toppings you like, and make more adventurous ones for the non-fussy eaters in your house.

The girls had some washi tape left, so we used it to make some bracelets. I didn’t have any string or elastic, so we used pipecleaners I cut to fit the girls’ wrists and twisted them together at the end. They cut off small amounts of the decorative tape and wrapped it around the pipecleaner to form “beads.” They were happy with the end result and it was quite a therapeutic activity to do. You could also use it to make decorative chains/bunting instead of jewellery.

The girls made some Easter cards out of paper and they were very excited to receive a package from a lady we know with some Easter chick bows inside πŸ™‚ I think that sending letters and parcels brings a lot of joy in these times when we can’t see family and friends.

I find that doing these quiet activities makes the days go quicker and keeps us sane, but also makes us stop to treasure the time we have to do things that usually get pushed aside for routine.

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Treasuring the Tranquility

The last couple of days have been slow and quiet. I’m actually enjoying aspects of them, like the birdsong, the fact I can hear a clock ticking, the fact I don’t feel pulled in as many directions (apart from when my kids are queuing up for constant snacks, obviously.)

Yesterday, we started the day with yoga/dancing/garden time. My aim is to burn off as much of my kids’ energy as possible before we sit down to do schoolwork πŸ™‚ While my older daughter did some work, I gave my younger one glue and craft materials to make a collage. She glued her bookmark onto her picture but I just let her get on with it. I don’t think many of her books need a bookmark since we finish them in one sitting πŸ™‚

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Afterwards, we watched a Maddie Moate video and had some sultana cake/breadsticks/coffee number two for me. One of my daughter’s activities was to make a chick out of card. My younger daughter likes to join in with any craft project, so they made one each. I was impressed by how little I had to help with the concertina folds and cutting the sellotape πŸ™‚ I could almost imagine a time when I’ll be able to sit with idle hands while they do artwork πŸ™‚

I had chocolates left from my Mother’s Day basket and we all had one each. The girls liked choosing their own and the fact they were limited to one seemed to make them view it as more of a treat πŸ™‚

For dinner, I decided to make a mini fry with ingredients we already had in the house. I had made some mashed potatoes the previous night. I mixed them with flour to make potato bread and fried them. I thought I’d made enough to last days, but the girls are all of it πŸ™‚ Here is a picture of our food. I know, I’m weird because I eat ketchup and baked beans on one plate. Clearly my first priority is eating, my second priority is photography πŸ™‚

I hung up the bunting we had made in my daughter’s toucan box to cheer up the kitchen πŸ™‚ It’s going to make opening cupboards difficult for a while, but at least it looks seasonal πŸ™‚

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This morning, I gave the girls one of my daughter’s preschool’s suggested activities.They drew on the fence and the ground with chalk and then used spray bottles of water to clean it off. It kept them occupied for a long time and they were reluctant to come inside.

One of my kids did magic painting to practise writing words for school. She wrote the words with white crayon and painted over them with watercolours. If you don’t have a white crayon, you can use a white candle instead. Meanwhile, my other daughter did her own magic Paw Patrol picture. We had some stories and a snack and watched a video about growing vegetables.

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We went back outside after lunch to identify outdoor sounds in the garden. It’s harder than it appears at first glance with kids involved πŸ™‚ It was a struggle to hear anything over their bikes and their voices πŸ™‚ But we completed the list and then went indoors to do the indoor sounds section.

I’ve made 3pm my designated writing time. At that time, the girls are allowed to watch TV and have a snack while I catch up on some writing. They make many visits throughout with requests for more snacks, so I’ve had to relax my ideal word count for this period πŸ™‚ My act of self-care today was to write, drink a homemade latte and sneak chocolate truffles when no one was looking πŸ™‚

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For dinner, I improvised and made something like chicken korma. I used up some of the flatbreads we had left and they were a good substitute for naan bread πŸ™‚ I like the fact that this phase of life is making everyone more resourceful, and it shows us we can survive on much less than we typically buy πŸ™‚

 

Craft Packs, Pretend Play and Fig Scones

The last couple of days have been slightly calmer, as we’re getting used to this new way of life. I’ve been trying to schedule in more time for myself, and allowing myself to leave the girls to their own devices sometimes, guilt-free. After catching up with my daughter’s school class on Zoom yesterday, we watched a nature show about water nymphs. It’s on Tuesday and Thursdays and is run by a nature centre. The classes are interactive, with a quiz for kids and a creative task for them to complete before the next one. Last time, they enjoyed designing their own plants and naming them.

We did some of my daughter’s schoolwork and made a multicoloured number grid to help her with it πŸ™‚

After some academic time, we made egg carton daffodils, which was an activity suggested by my other daughter’ s preschool. The girls enjoyed painting the bell part of the flower yellow, and then I cut out what felt like millions of petals from a cereal box for them to paint. If you have white paint, it’s better to paint the cardboard with that first and let it dry, as the yellow will look less patchy when added, but we didn’t have any so we just slathered a lot of yellow on πŸ™‚ We are still waiting for it to completely dry πŸ™‚

I tried a recipe from a magazine for fig and walnut scones. They turned out really well, but the girls refused to eat them because of the fruit and nuts inside. (More for me :)) It was a beautiful day and the girls spent a lot of time in the garden playing. I made some chai tea and attempted to sit outside and read a magazine, but I think I just read the same paragraph multiple times and then stopped to watch their “bike races.”

Since my daughter is learning about pets in school, I set up their vets when they were asleep. I just improvised with items we had in the house, using cushions and blankets for pet beds, plasters and calpol syringes for them to use on teddies. My kids are obsessed with plasters, so I knew they’d be happy to be granted permission to put them on their toy animals πŸ™‚ I set up a little desk with two seats, a pen holder, a phone, paper to write the animal’s ailments down, and a grooming corner, as well as all the toy animals I could find without raiding their bedroom and waking them up πŸ™‚ It was so simple to throw together, but the girls were excited to see it when they came downstairs πŸ™‚

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We had some overnight oats for breakfast. I love the fact that they’re ready when you get up and no pre-coffee preparation is required. I used oats, grated apple, plain yogurt and milk, mixed it and put some frozen berries on top and put it in the fridge overnight. Sometimes I just use milk without yogurt and sometimes I do an apple and peanut butter one. I like porridge weirdly thick so this picture might look unappealing to some πŸ™‚

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After breakfast, we spent some time in the garden, did some more dancing and kids’ yoga and then worked on my daughter’s pets theme for school. We did some creative writing and my younger daughter drew pictures of her imaginary pet, its food and a house for it to live in. Then, two activity packs I’d ordered for the girls arrived in the post and they were very excited πŸ™‚ They got a world book day book each, a sticker book, a mask to make, bookmarks and a paper lady to decorate that came with pretend hair and fabric. I like the fact it has crazily curly hair. The gluing kept the girls occupied for a long time too πŸ™‚

I repurposed some leftover chow mein I’d made last night by combining it with chicken stock I had in the freezer. I had put ginger, onion, garlic, a small bit of chicken, soy sauce and oyster sauce in the noodles last night, so it was like chicken noodle soup with extra flavour πŸ™‚ It felt like a good thing to eat to fend off any germs πŸ™‚

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After lunch, we watched a kids’ music class so the girls could make use of their musical instruments and run around inside πŸ™‚ They spent a little more time in the garden and we are having an early close-the-curtains, put-on-pyjamas and watch-a-movie night πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

Gentler Days

I name this post gentler days because of the slower pace of life we have all been forced to take. I’m finding sticking to a schedule, albeit a looser one, is helping us to pass the days, and even enjoy the unique gifts they bring with them

Yesterday, we started the day with some exercise and outdoor time to increase the chances of my children sitting still for schoolwork πŸ™‚ We did some of the girls’ yoga for kids and had a dance party to my Β records in the living room πŸ™‚ They played outside on their bikes for a while so I could sit at the garden table with a cup of coffee and gather my thoughts πŸ™‚ With the onslaught of questions, it doesn’t really work, but I still try πŸ™‚ The girls practised skipping and played with their bubble guns and I noticed that our tulips are close to coming out to cheer up our garden πŸ™‚

My older daughter practised her spellings for the week by making the letters with play dough. It turned into a play dough session with my other daughter making me β€œpancakes” with various toppings πŸ™‚ My older daughter had a reading activity about a kangaroo, so we ended up making play dough kangaroo families πŸ™‚ I find that interspersing schoolwork with play related to it in some way increases their concentration. I like the fact my daughter made hats for the kangaroos too πŸ™‚ We visited the national geographic website for kids and read some facts about kangaroos. I didn’t know that the baby ones are the size of a grape and that they can jump 9 metres. The girls tried to recreate that in our hallway πŸ™‚

My friend had sent us a scavenger hunt you can complete with kids around the house. They enjoyed racing off to find the essential objects and proudly showing me what creative choices they’d come up with πŸ™‚

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We made some more flatbreads for lunch and the girls helped me with the mixing. I think I’ve discovered my new addiction and probably won’t buy flatbreads from the shop again πŸ™‚ I made what the girls called β€œsnacky lunchβ€œ, where I set finger food out and they help themselves. I dug out some miniature cups I have that I’d forgotten for the girls to use. They liked having their own little tea cups and it felt like a tea party πŸ™‚

Today, we started the day with outside time in the garden again, as well as dancing and kids’ yoga. We filled up a bird feeder to try and attract more birds to our garden. I’ve noticed a robin and some blackbirds making frequent visits the last few days, and the girls show an interest in them too.

One of my daughter’s school activities was to write a book review of her favourite book, so I adapted it to include both of them. They each chose their favourite book and we read them together. While my older daughter made a summary and answered questions about it, my younger one drew a picture of hers from the cover. They had to rate the book out of five stars so I got my younger one to draw her stars and colour them in πŸ™‚

Afterwards, we watched a Maddie Moate recorded live show about birds. There was a quiz and aΒ craft project for making your own bird feeder. The girls seemed genuinely interested in guessing birds by their song and spotting birds in our garden.

For lunch, I decided to try a new recipe to use up wilting lettuce we had, so I made a soup with potato, onion, garlic and lettuce in it. I blended it before the girls got a chance to look at it and was surprised they actually ate it and said they liked it. (They still don’t know there was lettuce in it.) It tasted like leek and potato soup, but a little thinner. I’m trying to grow more lettuce from the lettuce ends that were left. I’ve put them in a bowl of water to see if they grow back. I’d seen people doing that with root veg too and was interested to see if it’d work for us. I’m grateful for the fact this last week has made me more aware of food and waste and unnecessary trips to the shop. I always liked cooking from scratch and baking, but it’s made me more inventive in using everything up.

My younger daughter’s preschool had suggested some activities for home, so we decided to try one today. We made a sensory garden/farm. I used an old tub and the girls enjoyed scrunching Weetabix into it to make pretend soil. The instructions said you could use any crushed cereal or soil. We made a tin foil β€œpond” and then I gave the girls empty plant pots and we went on a β€œschool trip” into the garden to collect leaves, stones, twigs and anything else the girls found for the garden.

The girls came up with their own way of decorating the garden. They put stones as rocks around the pond, leaves, twigs planted as trees, a couple of flowers, and some weeds hanging over the side as β€œivy.” When they’d finished, they added toy animals to it. I think it’ll provide hours of entertainment if I can manage to dissuade my daughter from eating the Weetabix soil πŸ™‚ There are aspects of life that are difficult at the moment, but I’m glad of the extra time it has given me with the girls and the projects we wouldn’t have had time to do otherwise.

 

Posting Letters and Guided Drawings

I needed a gentler sort of day today. I feel like we have been cramming a lot into our days, and although it works well as a distraction, the exhaustion has hit me a bit. This morning, after having some breakfast, coffee and managing to squeeze in a few hundred words of writing, I put on a live PE video for the girls. The idea was to tire them out in the living room, but they showed little interest in it and ended up rollerskating instead. I guess it is just trial and error – figuring out what will interest them and what won’t. To be fair to them, PE was never my forte either πŸ™‚

Afterwards, the girls decorated the envelopes for the cards they had made for their friends. We went for a quick walk to a nearby postbox so they could post them. It seemed a bit silly, since one of the friends lives within walking distance of our house, but I think the postbox added an element of novelty to it for the girls πŸ™‚ I remembered writing letters to penpals as a kid. I had one in England and another in a different school to mine. We wrote each other regular letters and finally met in person for a shared school trip. That’s a fond memory, and I think it’s good for the girls to experience some form of that in the modern world πŸ™‚

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I did some schoolwork with my daughter when we got back while my other daughter completed some of her magazine. I’ve noticed that they have been sitting for longer when I refer to what we are doing as “school.” Although, they still tired of it after an hour and asked for TV πŸ™‚

We went for a short drive to the roadside honesty box again πŸ™‚ They seem to have expanded it now – maybe they are getting a lot of custom. It’s a good way to buy what you need without having any human contact πŸ™‚ I got some huge kiwis, a loaf of homemade whiskey bread (which I’m curious to try) and a jar of homemade bolognese sauce.

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After we got home, we had some lunch and then the girls watched a recording of a live art show. The fact that a little girl was involved in it seemed to hold their interest πŸ™‚ They learned how to draw unicorns and Batman and were completely engrossed in it πŸ™‚ I hadn’t used guided drawing before with them, but I will again πŸ™‚

I photocopied a page of my daughter’s magazine so they could both make matching letter holders. They just had to paste them to cardboard, cut them out and paint the legs to hold them together. I don’t know if they have any letters to put in them, but I might dig out some birthday cards etc for them to put inside πŸ™‚ For once I was glad of the junk box we have that is filled with cardboard and empties itself every time I open the cupboard πŸ™‚

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Finally, the girls had a play in the garden and I tackled some of the housework. I’m noticing our piles of clutter are worsening since we’ve been in the house and I think we might have to build an extension to contain them all in by the time September comes πŸ™‚ I’m taking some time to myself to write, drink tea and let my children entertain themselves. I feel the need to just sit and “be” for a change and to allow myself some time for creative output too.

Slow Days and Homemade Lemonade

Today was a slow-moving day, centred around the house. I received a lovely surprise basket of chocolate from β€œthe girls” (my parents) for Mother’s Day. It cheered me up because I’d thought it was a package with a returned dress I had sold in it πŸ˜€ I went for a quick walk with the girls early this morning to buy lemons from the fruit shop. My daughter had been requesting my homemade lemonade, so I decided the extra vitamins wouldn’t do them any harm at the moment πŸ™‚ I got a moment of peace to make it, which is rare in our house. But it feels like the girls are slowing the pace they live at (sometimes) to match the world at the minute.

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I found a glass bottle I’d got from IKEA to store the lemonade in. I added the juice of 2 1/2 large lemons and the zest to about 700ml of boiled water in a measuring jug. While it was hot, I stirred in a generous amount of honey to taste (it was at least 1/4 of a squeezy tube) and stirred it well. After it had cooled, I transferred it to a bottle and put it in the fridge to chill. In the hours it spent sitting, reaching the right temperature, I was asked tens of times if it was ready yet πŸ™‚

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We tuned in on Facebook to Wee Bookworms to watch a live video of a reading of Peter Rabbit by a lady who works in the bookshop. They are on every Saturday morning at 11.30am for kids. I also ordered one of their activity packs each for the girls. They’ll be so excited when they see them arriving in the post πŸ™‚Β 

I changed the beds and aired out the house, which always uplifts me and continued to move the piles of clutter to different positions in my kitchen πŸ™‚

For lunch, I made some hummus to go with the flatbreads I had made last night. It was a simple recipe and tasted really good. My kids didn’t agree, but they devoured the flatbreads anyway πŸ™‚ I’ve been looking out for flour when we’ve been in the shops and haven’t seen any in a while. Luckily, I had some left because I tend to bake bread every week anyway. But I was thinking of options for when we run out and remembered you can blend porridge oats and use them instead of flour – Just a tip I remembered if anyone is in the same boat. You can also use polenta to make American cornbread if you have any. My hummus – it tastes better than it looks πŸ˜€

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After lunch, we had some quiet time, playing dominos and I made myself a caramel latte πŸ™‚ I’m not missing my takeaway coffee as much as I thought I would. I tend to get it when I’m writing, but I’ve realised there are cheaper alternatives and the one I made today tasted the same πŸ™‚Β 

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We put on some yoga music and the girls did some kids’ yoga, whilst climbing on me as I attempted to do it! It’s cute actually – my daughter taught me all the poses she uses in nursery, like happy baby, ice skater, tree, happy and sad dog and kitty, etc. I made them an after-yoga snack of fruit and water. Then they headed out to the garden to burn off some excess energy. I hung out the laundry, which has, weirdly, become one of my favourite things to do. They played in the dirt and made food out of soil and water πŸ™‚

We finished the day with some bolognese, stories and playing restaurants. I’m exhausted now, but simultaneously, looking forward to tomorrow. I say that in the spirit of finding the good in a difficult situation, rather than discounting the severity of it.

Wooded Walks & Stopping For Flowers

I didn’t get a chance to document what we did yesterday, so I thought I’d share it with you today πŸ™‚

I’ve been making the effort to still get ready by about nine o’clock (ok, a bit later at the weekend.) But I find that getting dressed up, putting on make-up and going out for a walk first thing lifts my mood. We are mostly self-isolating, only going out for walks in remote places or if we need something from the shop.We drove to a forest near a village in County Down and the fact we’d arrived so early meant we were the only ones there, apart from one dog walker in the distance πŸ™‚ I didn’t know my way around, but that was part of the adventure. I followed the girls and just tried to remember where we’d left the car so we could get home again πŸ™‚ We found logs laid out around a fire pit. The girls wanted me to light a campfire, but I had nothing to light it with, and I don’t trust myself with anything bigger than a candle anyway πŸ™‚ So, we just sat down around it and pretended to light one instead. I had brought some coffee and gingerbread men and water for the girls, so we had a free snack while we were there πŸ™‚ There were a couple of dens someone else had built there. But the thing that kept the girls entertained the longest was a puddle with two planks balanced across it, like a little bridge πŸ™‚ They spent ages climbing across it, practising balancing and creating more obstacles on it with bits of wood and leaves πŸ™‚ They also used sticks to measure how deep the puddle was, so it was vaguely educational as well πŸ™‚ We followed the paths which were visible, but muddy. Next time, I’ll remember to bring wellies πŸ™‚ But squelching in it was part of the fun. I have felt less worried this week about the girls getting messy and wrecking their clothes, probably because I know no one else will see πŸ™‚ I had brought a leaf sample book from the Woodland Trust so the girls could try to identify leaves. We built a den of our own and climbed the hill, taking a shortcut back to the car, as by then the girls were both worn out. The weather was perfect while we were there and it was nice being out in the natural light and feeling the sun on our faces.

On the way home, I stopped at one of the little honesty box farm shops to see what they had. They had some anemones they had cut and were selling them in bunches. We brought some home and put them in a vase at the window to cheer things up for ourselves and our neighbours πŸ™‚ The girls are becoming gentler with things and my older daughter looked after the flowers on the drive home without pulling the heads off them πŸ™‚

At home, I made the girls some noodles and one of my girls completed her magazine while the other one wrote “creative writing” sentences about our morning and the things we’d done. She drew an accompanying picture. It’s a bit like journalling for kids and will be nice to look back on in the future.

Afterwards, the girls asked to paint and did pictures with spring colours, like candy egg pink, blue and yellow. The girls used the colours to make seasonal pictures with daffodils, blue skies, etc.

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Then, they played in the garden for a while. Their favourite game is to β€œcook” soil and leaves in our old barbecue and serve it at the outdoor table for someone’s pretend birthday πŸ™‚

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We followed it with a film afternoon, watching a kids’ movie with popcorn, sweets and coffee (for me.) I need something to sustain me through this period πŸ™‚ I made some homemade pizzas and chips and the girls continued their film throughout dinner. The benefit to making your own dough is you can make the pizzas into any size you like. The girls requested “baby pizzas,” so I made small ones for them, You can also freeze the dough after it rises and defrost it for use another day, or to make homemade dough sticks or doughballs. (You can make your own garlic butter or dip for them too.)

I spent the evening baking and cooking/freezing food before it expired. Β I made some flatbreads, a huge loaf of bread and some pizza dough. I lit a candle in my window for everything that’s been happening and took some time to just sit and think.

Apart from a small bunch of flowers, we spent no money yesterday and didn’t see a soul all day, but in many ways, it felt like a richer day than if those things had been possibilities.