|Difficult to take a photo of it in the whole but here it is folded up into a quarter, just before I cut out the waist 'circle'.|
|And a close up of the design.|
I'm afraid, typically, I have no good photos of me wearing it though! My assistant photographer (Maria) did try for me, but the results were not great (though, in her defence, the light was pretty poor at the time). Mostly very fuzzy, one reasonably focused but minus any head...
And extremely fuzzy when she instructed me to twirl!
2) We enjoyed creating our own scratch art over the weekend.
We've tried this before but without any particular success. This time though, we followed advice in this post from The Artful Parent (great blog to follow if you have children who love to create artwork).
|Scratching off with wooden skewers while the paint was still wet.|
I think using good quality but small bits of paper and, most importantly, doing the 'scratching' off part whilst the paint was still fresh and wet were the key elements of our success this time around.
|We tried various designs and styles for the crayonning part - and keeping it small made this a reasonably speedy task.|
We mostly used black paint...
|I think this one was my favourite - great for outer space pictures, or firework pictures too.|
But we did try some blue paint as well, unfortunately we used the same brush for the 2 colours and some of the black came through with the blue but didn't mix in wonderfully....
Now we know the technique works, I'm sure this is something we'll come back to again.
3) Taking my camera out and about with me seems to happen very naturally in the Summer, but not so much come the Autumn. I'm out of the habit already, and not posting a regular photo means I don't have the same weekly prompts which have helped me in the past. I'm definitely going to make more of an effort with this again, but in the meantime, here are some more Summer photos to reminisce over...
|A beautiful flooded quarry on Dartmoor.|
|Feeding ponies, also Dartmoor. Can you see the carrot sticking out of the little one's mouth? He'd pushed in, snatched it and then scarpered!|
|A lovely afternoon/evening by the river on Exmoor...|
|Lots to enjoy on this outing.|
|But the sound of Theo and Maria giggling and laughing out loud as they repeatedly came through the arches and down the rapids was the most special part.|
|Definitely one of my strongest memories of the Summer.|
4) This one is a wordy, philosophical one; writing things down often helps me clarify my thought process and follow through with things so this one's maybe for me more than you - sorry!
I've been thinking quite a bit recently about how we live in such a digital world. Generally I feel fairly comfortable with the amount and type of 'screen' time that goes on in our house. There are times when I feel the balance has tipped too far in the screen direction, but it's always easy enough to consciously tip it back the other way. But I've been thinking more about how radically different our children's lives are and will be, compared to our own earlier lives. This musing has been partly brought on by a message I received the other day from Sam's school about e-safety. It's obviously a big issue for all schools, and for all parents. This year the school has decided to use a different term rather than the 'traditional' 'e-safety' label. Here's how they explain it:
I'm always all for looking at the positive rather than the negative, so I quite liked this. Then they wanted parents to fill in a short survey, with questions which, I felt, were all focused very much on the traditional 'e-safety' issues, rather than on any more positive 'Digital Citizenship' areas. This immediately made me wonder whether I (or more importantly Sam) will actually see any difference in emphasis throughout the year. Changing a name or term is so much easier than actually changing, but that's a whole other tangent here. Anyway, on the survey there was a section for 'comments' and while staring at my screen wondering whether I wanted to write anything in there, I found myself thinking about a conversation I'd had recently with another Mum.
Sorry, already very wordy, but I'll have to give you some background here too. I'm not big on mobile phones, I know they're incredibly handy in certain situations and I really ought to use one, but I don't have one. We got Sam and Theo a very basic pay as you go mobile each when they went up to big, big school, but they've never really used them. In fact when Sam was away on a school trip last year, with his mobile, and we actually wanted to use it, we discovered that the phone company had disconnected it and recycled his number because he hadn't used it at all for a certain length of time. And we realised Theo's had probably gone the same way. But this year Theo changed schools. He wanted to stay in touch with some of his friends from his old school and the easiest way, he felt, was through a mobile phone and swapping numbers. So, just before the Summer, he had saved up some money and we let him buy a slightly more exciting phone, with internet access, and with a very basic 'contract' giving him, among other things, the magic, unlimited texts. And to be fair, he has kept in touch with old friends through this, although whether he'll actually 'see' the old friends again as opposed to just texting backwards and forwards remains to be seen. Anyway, I was chatting to the Mum of one of his old friends last week. Probably the only one of his old friends who doesn't have a mobile, who isn't on Facebook, who doesn't have his own e-mail address - and who also happens to be probably the friend that Theo will actually miss the most, with whom he'd actually most like to stay properly in touch. And we were bemoaning the fact, as Mums, that they'll miss each other and that they really should stay in touch. I happened to say that Theo had mentioned it was harder for him to stay in touch because of the lack of mobile etc. And the other Mum replied, 'Well, you know our telephone number don't you? He only has to pick up a phone!' And as well as feeling slightly stupid myself, it really struck me how alien it would probably feel to Theo, and quite possibly to most teenage boys, to actually pick up a landline phone and dial another landline phone. Probably alien to even properly talk to another person just on a mobile phone. And lets not even begin to talk about writing a good, old fashioned letter. Perhaps this would always have been the case, perhaps teenage boys have never 'talked' on phones (until maybe girlfriends come into the equation?), perhaps it isn't a product of 'unlimited free texts'? What do you think?
But going back to my survey for Sam's school, as I stared at my comments box, I realised what I wanted to write in there - the fact that I'd like e-safety, or Digital Citizenship, whether at school or home, to be more about keeping a balance in life rather than the other, obvious e-safety pitfalls. A balance, not so much simply of screen time or non screen time, but a balance of having a real, live, physical social life as opposed to just a virtual social life. Real, life physical friends, who talk face to face and hug and do things together, as opposed to friends who aren't really much more than names or numbers on a screen. It just feels too easy to stick to the latter these days.
5) Which kind of leads into my last point in a strange, in some ways conflicting, kind of way! Blogging could definitely fall into that latter category. And yet the blogging community is such an amazing one - full of creative, positive and supportive people. Definitely a community I'm happy to be part of, and one which frequently inspires me, so I guess the key element of my previous point is that it's all about 'balance'. And, within that balance, blogging friendships often grow and develop into much more than comments from a 'name' on a screen. I'm lucky enough to have come to know quite a few fellow bloggers over the past year or so, who now feel very much real friends. And the children and I were incredibly excited to receive a surprise parcel in the post last week from one of my blogging friends - Kim over at Mothering with Mindfulness. As much as on screen blogging friendships can be very real and meaningful, receiving an actual parcel, with a handwritten letter and goodies gathered and made by Kim and her family, was extra special and very much felt like a deepening of that friendship.
|Just some of the goodies in our parcel. Kim makes her own salves, soap, body butter etc - and I can tell you they smell and feel amazing.|
|How cute are these gnomes?! I love their hats and they were a big hit with the girls. And Kim's super talented husband made the gorgeous owl.|
It reinforced the point that taking friendships beyond the screen and today's technology, whether with a parcel or handwritten letter or perhaps taking the time to meet up rather than just text, is so worthwhile. To put it into screen context, albeit very clumsily, it opens up a whole, new level in your game, maybe a new level you didn't even realise was there!