22 August 2014

A Minecraft Party

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Having a birthday at the end of the Summer often means Jenna only has a couple of friends available for her party. She loves celebrating birthdays and wants her party close to her birthday, but this week is filled with last minute back to school preparations for so many of her friends and last minute efforts to go away as a family for others. So  I thought we might end up with twelve kids coming. Instead, our little house had almost thirty people in it. What an AMAZING birthday party!!

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(I had to bring out extra jelly and extra cake!)

We played "hunt the mobs" with little hand drawn pictures of a spider, Creeper, and Herobrine head. The kids did a *lot* of squealing and screeching and running around pretending to be zombies. We fired a paper fireball into a cardboard Ghast target. And ate every scrap of party food.

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As people started arriving I realised I hadn't really put any decorations up, so I grabbed a giant paper bag and turned it into a slightly wonky Ghast. It's still in the corner of the living room; the children have told me that it's their pet and it has to stay up because it likes living here.
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I also made two Minecraft birthday cakes (square sponge cakes with jam in the middle, white icing cut into squared icing "drips", and glace cherries on top). I didn't take pictures of them before they were demolished, I rather hope someone else managed to get at least one picture (I was rather proud of them)!

20 August 2014

Hogwarts

Around teatime on Monday, Jenna and Morgan asked me whether we could do an entire role play day - "tomorrow". More precisely, they asked for Hogwarts - letters, snack trolley, timetables, lessons, wands, dressing up, homework, text books, the lot. No small order, then! I ignored the niggly little part of me that wanted to talk them into waiting until we could "do it properly" and started planning how to deliver magic lessons that would feel real enough in our little rainbow coloured city terrace.
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In fact, I stayed up until 1am setting up a potions lab, testing my potions lesson plan, and writing text book pages to insert into any suitably sized old-looking book. Yup, I don't even have a working printer, so I really did have to reinvent the wheel so to speak (advice to anyone thinking this looks like a good idea, pop over to DeviantArt and find text book covers... I will at some point make up printable versions of my text book pages and lesson plans - 'cause I love you). ;) Oh, and Martin (bless him) spent an hour toasting paper in the grill so that they would have "proper parchment" to write on.

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The Hogwarts Express was our stair case, where they sat chatting until I came along with a tray of cauldron cakes and pumpkin juice, liqourice wands and every flavour beans (OK, that would be chocolate cupcakes, orange juice, and cheap supermarket sweets decanted into paper packets). First lesson was Ancient Runes.

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Then Arithmancy (magical meanings of the number seven) and Herbology (a trip to the park to gather plantain).
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(In the outer fringes of the Forbidden Forest.)
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Healing Plantain salve:
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And Potions class, where they had to work out what a potion was (well, it was indicator solution) by adding a series of ingredients to it and noting the results (an assortment of household ingredients labelled as potion ingredients, including vinegar, bicarb, and soda ash).
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Divination and History of Magic followed, and then I declared it time for an extra Muggle Studies lesson (ie a film) to take us up to Martin getting home from work! After all that, the evening's Feast came from the local chip shop - I couldn't even think about what to cook and hadn't planned that far!

(Next time, I'll need a working printer, and more than a few hours notice! Yes, I'm sure there will be a next time...)

17 August 2014

My Life In: the contents of my handbag

Here's my current bag - smaller and lighter than the giant mustard yellow one (which, much as I love it, is a little larger than necessary now that I'm rarely carrying cloth nappies around day to day).
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I didn't pre-tidy the contents or sift out the junk, this is actually what was in my bag this morning when I came to grab my project bag out of the top.
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Contents:
- One emergency nappy and a complete change of clothes for the newly-out-of-nappies Talia.
- Another pair of toddler socks, slightly too small for her.
- Three pairs of toddler pants.
- Two sets of babylegs (rainbow branded babylegs and a pair of cheap long socks with the foot cut out after Jenna wore them into holes).
- Half a packet of non-eco supermarket wipes, bought on holiday.
- A cloth shopping bag, my keys, wallet, and camera.
- Knitting project bag.
- Pacifica vanilla perfume.
- Rescue remedy.
- A large chunk of rose agate.
- Turquoise felted brooch for pinning up shawls.
- Cinnalou's glass bead bracelet.
- A few bits of general paper rubbish, gathered nature, some loose change.
- Plasters.
- Hair bobbles (three).
- Jenna's copy of "Wreck This Journal".
- Two of my large selection of notebooks; one journal I have not written in for at least three weeks and one scruffy general notebook with most of the pages missing and toddler scribbles on the front.
- A small yellow plastic Octonaut (Tunip) which Talia grabbed as soon as she saw it (hence, not pictured).

And inside the knitting project bag:
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- The shawl I'm working on.
- Plastic pouch with interchangeable knitting needles, a crochet hook, needle gauge, and a couple of stitch holders.
- Small metal tin containing tape measure, scissors, sewing needles, thread, a couple of buttons, and a selection of stitch markers.

What do you always carry? :) (And, am I the only one who is totally incapable of clearing out the random paper bags, receipts, and occasional clothing tags? My wallet contained several money off coupons which were over three months out of date!)

16 August 2014

Week in Pictures

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1. "Fuf-fy!" (Butterfly)
2. Blacklock shawl
3. Magic potions
4. Cheesecake
5. Playdough
6. Gradient
7. Flaming Ruby and Beads for Mamas pretties
8. Things I find in my bag
9. Cherry-coloured hair

15 August 2014

Whatever the Weather

Well, it's been a changeable week!
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12 August 2014

Depression (for people who aren't actually depressed)

Just a couple of resources, links, articles, and ideas. I'm having a difficult time explaining that I'm not actually sad (or not always) and that platitudes aren't the same as support (or help) and that it's the simple little things that are so often eluding me in the grey fog. My words aren't sufficient, right now, I just end up sounding ungrateful or rude. Ack. Anyhow, I shall bring some more useful words to your attention:

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html
"...trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back.  A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn't going to work."

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/depression-part-two.html
"
And that's the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn't always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn't even something — it's nothing. And you can't combat nothing. You can't fill it up. You can't cover it. It's just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.

It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared. "

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexisnedd/things-nobody-tells-you-about-being-depressed

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/01/30/6-things-to-say-to-someone-with-depression-or-whos-depressed/

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/blog/how-to-help-friend-with-depression-mental-illness

See, I even lack the energy to look around and see if there are any better links than the above, or seamlessly integrate them with my post. Just, yeah, all of that. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

10 August 2014

Seven Days (including rainbows)

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1. Jumping Clay workshop
2. Sisterly sweetness
3. Pony play
4. Tree blocks
5. Making books
6. Hair chalk
7. Rainbow Dash yarn

8 August 2014

(snippets of our normal)

Outside my window the grey sky is a blank slate, fresh from pouring heavy warm rain down upon us only moments ago. The hedge glistens with water droplets. Discarded clothes from the children's games lie damply on the muddy grass - more laundry for me! The contorted willow is finally (and blessedly) coming back into leaf after being heavily eaten by tiny green caterpillars this Summer.

I am thankful for the lightness creeping back, for surviving periods of depression, for that returning feeling that I *will* be OK at some point in the future.

In the kitchen there are stacks of soup bowls from lunch, and baking trays dusty from the scones we made and devoured this afternoon. We haven't had tea yet; rice and mushroom curry from the takeaway is the ultimate comfort-food plan when Martin gets home from helping a friend to shift a new armchair across town.

I am wearing a hippy top that doesn't really fit me all that well any more, dark red with a tiny yellow and magenta floral print. And the orange patchwork skirt. Amber beads. Hair pulled back, as it so often is. I'm thinking about cutting it again, or dyeing it bright red, or *something*.

I am creating gradient dyes, mainly, right now. Some for the shop, and some for the shawl I'll be working on this week. I have averaged almost one small project a day this week.

I am going to an Attachment Parenting family picnic tomorrow. And a birthday party on Sunday. I so want to return to the commune in Liverpool one weekend soon, and keep discovering that somehow I have forgotten other things which I agreed to months ago. (More apologies to the play dates we apparently forgot about this month. My mind is so scattered lately.)

I am reading The Cuckoo's Calling. (Or I will be, when I get chance to do more than pick it up and move it from room to room with me.)

I am hoping... well I would say I am hoping for an early night, but as we still haven't had anything to eat this evening and the children are making elaborate paper collages all over the floor...

One of my favourite things is the smell of rain in Summer. Rich and fresh at the same time.


Around the house:
I actually put away some clean laundry today. It has only been sitting lying around on chairs and dressers for about two weeks. I have strange nightmares about the laundry pile chasing me; I can't pretend that I'm not fully aware what these mean.

There is a doll crib in the living room, tied with large looping bands of thin elastic from my sewing box. A doll appears to have her leg suspended in this cat's cradle of white bows. Earlier this was part of a game of hospitals.

Two playstation controllers trail across the floor - between the game of hospitals and the cutting-of-paper, Jenna and a friend were playing Sonic. Jenna gives characters in video games voices, and keeps up a constant stream of their imagined conversations.

A peek into my day:
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   Another Simple Woman's Daybook.
(New Tshirt from Teefury. New Gallifreyan artwork from Chronix Gallery.)