Friday, 19 July 2013

We're all going on a Summer Holiday!

Hooray! Today is the last day of work and nursery for us before we go off on holiday for a week. We're off to Cornwall and I can't wait....but there are so many things to prepare first. Eek! I've been thinking a lot about ways to keep us all happy on the long drive down and while we are there - and I've even started a Pinterest board for ideas and inspiration. I'll be adding to this throughout the summer.

But I have to admit it's the journey that is concerning me most. Obviously we will be taking lots of snacks, sandwiches and gallons of water, pillows and sunshades too. But this is what I've come up with for entertainment...

Games in the Car: Wiss unfortunately suffers from travel sickness if he watches a screen or looks at a magazine for too long so we are getting inventive with ways to occupy him in the car. There are some great Car Bingo downloads on Pinterest which I have printed out, and these will be used in the car on a clipboard with stickers to mark off the things as they are spotted. (I thought that stickers would be less messy than a pen!)

But as Wiss is only 3 (and a half!) I'm not sure if he will completely grasp the idea of Bingo, so I have also made a simpler 'Spot the Logo' game. These can be marked off with Papa rather than them having a board each. Wiss and his Papa LOVE spotting car logos and he amazes me with his memory for each car company.
If I was more technically minded I would be able to offer this a free download - but I'm not! But I am more than happy for you to print it or pin it as you wish. Or I could even email it to you when we get back if you leave me your email address.

On the stereo: We have got a few story CDs - including Peter and the Wolf (my favourite as a child), Paddington Bear and Cars, as well as a nursery rhyme one. But after spending the entire journey to Ireland last year singing 'The Wheels on the Bus' I am very keen to have some other music!

I've created a Playlist on Spotify and have been adding songs that remind me of summer, songs that I know Wiss likes, songs that I think Wiss will like and then songs that I think are important for Wiss's musical heritage! That sounds very grand but I just mean songs that will expose him to different genres and hopefully will trigger memories when he's older. My mum used to listen to lots of Motown and John Denver when I was growing up and those songs will always have a special place in my heart.

Songs I've included: 'Summer Holiday' by Cliff Richard, 'Holiday' by Madonna, 'Summertime' DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, 'Mr Blue Sky' ELO... Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Elton John, Simon & Garfunkle, The Stone Roses. But also Cee Lo Green, Rizzle Kicks, Olly Murs, MC Hammer, the Lumineers and 'You've Got a Friend in Me' from Toy Story!

I'd love to hear any other recommendations you have for songs that please both children AND adults. Do your kids have an original taste in music or have you learnt to love the nursery rhymes on repeat?!

We have no Wi-Fi were we're going so I am going to be on a holiday from my blog and twitter too. I hope you all enjoy the first week of the school summer holidays whatever you're up to and I'll be back soon. Bye for now!

Kids Clothes Week - Summer 2013

So, it's Day 4 of Kids Clothes Week (over halfway through) and I am impressed, as always, by the photos of all the beautiful clothes being made out there. Check out the galleries on the blog and on Pinterest, and if you're making clothes this week then don't forget to upload your pictures to show us all what you've been up to.

As I said earlier, I've not got any time this week to sew - boo :( but by happy coincidence I was busy sewing clothes for Wiss last week - yay! :)

In the past I have made shorts and trousers for Wiss using Dana's Basic Kid Pants tutorial, but as he got bigger and older I wanted a pattern that was a bit more detailed and perhaps tailored. Boys clothing is often less interesting than girls to sew so I was looking for some cool little twists.

(NB since then Dana has actually updated her patterns and has run a whole series of blog posts all about shorts.)

After lots of searching I discovered Blank Slate Patterns - very modern clothes for kids. I bought the Clean Slate Pants as a digital download so was able to get sewing straight away. There are loads of variations within this pattern - shorts, capris or trousers; elasticated waist or zip fly; no pockets, side pockets, patch pockets or even welt back pockets.

I am often disappointed that I am not able to use some of the gorgeous printed cottons that I have in my fabric stash for boys clothes; they are usually too thin, or too patterned. But I have been able to be a little creative on the pockets of these shorts, as you can see!
The denim shorts are actually made from an old pair of my husband's jeans. I love upcycling and repurposing clothes that would otherwise go in the bin and using 'preloved' jeans means that the denim is wonderfully soft.

The Clean Slate shorts do take a little longer to sew than the Basic Pants but I think the extra details are worth it. I've been able to make a pair of shorts in about 2 and a half hours which fits nicely into an evening - and they are very addictive to make! I've already got some more shorts and trousers cut out from striped seersucker cotton, ready to sew when I have some time.

And to go with all the new shorts, I needed to make some t-shirts. I've had Sewing for Boys for some time but hadn't got round to making anything from it - until now. The Raw-Edged Raglan T-shirt is a wonderful, simple pattern and it lends itself perfectly to upcycling old t-shirts. I've made a few of these shirts, both long and short sleeved, and although the design is to have the raw seam on the outside (perfect for very little people as there are no rough inside seams) I have made a couple with the seam inside with no complaints from Wiss.

We're off on holiday at the weekend so all of these garments will get a lot of wear I'm sure! Someone is ready for the sun... 
And when I get home I've earmarked this cute shirt, also from Sewing for Boys, to be made using this fab Michael Miller 'On The Go' fabric.
My 'To Do' list is forever growing, but it will all have to wait at least a week while we take a well-needed break.
Good luck for the last few days of Kids Clothes Week!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Help! It's Summer Kids Clothes Week!

Normally I am up-to-speed on the dates, usually I am prepared, and often I'm counting down the days for Kids Clothes Week. But not this time!

It used to just be twice a year, spring/summer and autumn/winter, but due to the popularity of this sew-along it's gone seasonal. Which means four weeks to join in the fun and get sewing - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Double the fun and double the productivity! I was all organised for Spring, but just like our Great British Summer this year it's sneaked up on me. It's day 2 of the challenge already and I have no idea where I'll be able to find even one hour to sew, however, by coincidence I have been busy making clothes for Wiss over the past two weeks anyway.

I will be posting about the patterns I've been using this time as I'm really pleased with the shorts and t-shirts...and so is Wiss. So much so that they're all in the wash today (ready for our holiday at the weekend). As soon as I get some photos I'll share them with you.

Until then, if you are joining in this season's Kids Clothes Week then let me know! You can follow the fun on Twitter @kidsclothesweek or get inspiration from the gallery on Twitter. Happy Summer Sewing!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Toddle in the City

Last weekend Wiss and I took part in a city 'treasure hunt', but it wasn't a hunt in the usual sense. Armed with a (kid-proof) digital camera Lewis and 5 other little people set off under the guidance of Yat (an urban designer) to find treasures amongst the streets of Shoreditch! They each had a favourite adult with them too, to help supervise.

I heard about Toddle in the City through Twitter and I thought it was a brilliant and original idea. Yat aims her walks at 3-6 year olds which was the first thing to catch my attention. There is so much on offer in London for 5 or 6 years plus and this younger age range is often over-looked but these treasure hunts are a really fun and empowering activity for them.

Taken from a tweet this sums up the aims behind Toddle in the City: "Urban designer Yat wanted to find a fun way to engage kids so they will grow up to love the city. And Toddle in the City was born!"
We all met up on a gloriously sunny Sunday near Boxpark and Yat handed out name stickers and the digital cameras. Lewis has seen cameras, iphones, video cameras etc all his life but he's never actually had one for him to use all by himself. He was really excited and actually very proud to be trusted with such a cool thing!
Self portrait taken by Lewis in a mirror
All the kids were able to start using them confidently straight away so off we set. Yat led the way and pointed out things of interest but the kids were encouraged to take pictures of anything and everything that caught their attention. And this was the really interesting bit for me... It was amazing to see what Lewis noticed. I look at buildings, shop windows, watch out for traffic, other people etc but he took a photo of a spider web by a bin and he even managed to spot a ladybird on a bollard! (Unfortunately, these photos were out-of-focus but he made a good attempt.) I guess the streets of London look pretty different when you're only a metre tall.

Lewis took 133 photos in total, and of course some are better than others, but there are some really great images too. Here's a selection of my favourites:

We were lucky enough to find a local street party run by the Friends of Arnold Circus so after our walk we enjoyed an afternoon of music, chasing bubbles and lounging in deckchairs. Days like that remind me just how wonderful London can be. I sometimes worry about bringing up a child in a city but we are so lucky to have all of this on our door step!

Toddle in the City is running Treasure Hunts throughout the summer in Shoreditch and along Regent Street on the car-free days in July. There's a different theme to each walk so there's always something new to discover.

As you can tell, we loved it! I'm now planning on building on Wiss's new-found photography skills by giving him a camera to document a wedding we're going to. I can't wait to see what the ceremony and reception look like to a 3 year old!

NB: This is not a sponsored post. These are purely my own thoughts and recommendations and I did not get paid for writing this post. Thank you


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Bom bom bom, ay-ee-ai *

We have some new members of the family and we are all pretty excited about them. We've got tadpoles!!!
My friend moved house recently and became the proud owner of a very large pond. A pond that seems to contain what could be the biggest population explosion of the frog world in West London. There are millions in there! So I jumped at the offer to take some home with me to South East London - I knew Wiss would love them and they are brilliantly fun and educational too. Win win!

I brought home some weed from the pond too and made sure there was a rock sticking out of the water so the froglets could climb out when they're ready. And then googled how to look after them properly! It seems that tadpoles like to eat lettuce (that has been boiled for about 10 minutes to break it down) and they like clean water. Apart from that it seems you just sit and watch. (And make sure you take them to Grandad's pond just before they start hopping all over the house!) The time it takes for them to go from tadpole to froglet is roughly about 6-8 weeks.

They're only little but they are fascinating - in fact Wiss hasn't even asked to watch cartoons since we've had them. Brilliant. They are the first thing he thinks of when he wakes up and when he gets home from nursery, and I've even caught my husband staring at them!

We've got mainly tadpoles at the moment but two have got their back legs already and one has got his front legs too. The life cycle of the frog is pretty remarkable so I printed out a diagram to explain it better to Wiss. I mounted it on card and added a spinning pointer so he can keep track of their development. I've also found some websites with great printables and downloads on this topic that look like they could be fun to do with Wiss (for example Wildlife Fun 4 Kids or Boggles World)

I remember having tadpoles as a child and being so amazed at their transformation from teeny tiny wriggly fish-thing to little frogs (so cute!) I am really happy that I am able to share this with Wiss. And what does he think of them....? Very cool!
Is anyone else looking after a 'cloud' of tadpoles? (great collective noun) I'd love to hear how your little fellas are getting on too. And although it's quite late in the year, it's still not too late to get some: entertainment for all the family!

*And if you're wondering about the title of this post.... it's from The Frog Chorus. Sorry, I bet you'll have it stuck in your head all day now!!!