Monday, 12 October 2015

Take 5

1) Back awhile, I did mention, after making vintage sheet circle skirts for the girls, that I wanted one too. It felt like the swirliness and the pretty, floral, vintageness should not be reserved only for the littlies. Well, whilst thrifting recently I came across a largeish, circular tablecloth, made from fabric that was very vintage sheet-like. And it occurred to me that this was crying out to be converted into a circle skirt just for me. It even had the bottom hem all beautifully finished already.

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.
 So basically this was an incredibly quick and easy make.

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!

It has got me looking out for circular table cloths in a new light now. They're not uncommon I find, and I'm wondering whether a vintage, embroidered one might perhaps become a lovely, unique circle skirt, not necessarily for me but possibly for one of the girls.

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:

'Whilst it is sometimes easy to focus on the negative aspects of eSafety, we are equally keen to highlight the enormous potential of IT to transform the way in which our pupils learn and communicate. Our aim is to make them confident, informed users of new technology, able to take advantage of its enormous benefits, whilst being aware of the potential pitfalls. In order to encompass this positive vision, we have decided to use the term ‘Digital Citizenship’.'

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!



  1. I am so happy you made your own twirl skirt; the blurry photo just enhances the twirling for me.

    So many thoughts on "Digital Citizenship". My husband and I have basic cell phones with no texting plan or internet connectivity. When we trade phone numbers with people, we let them know of this fact, and to see the young twenty-somethings faces when they realize they have to CALL to engage with us, it it striking to realize that they don't really know how to talk on the phone.

    I am glad that blogging is a positive side of the online world for you. :)

  2. Hmm so much food for thought. Firstly the circle skirt is awesome, definitely make more! The wild swimming looks fantastic too, such beautiful spots. As for Digital Citizenship, I like the idea of going beyond e-safety and I hope they follow through on it. I think when it comes to screen time I think there can be a way to be mindful with it, if your screen time is blogging, sharing your passions and making real connections with real people that you'd dearly love to meet in real life I think that's very different to loosing several hours to Candy Crush. And as for the teenage boys and the telephone I don't think they did call or write back in the dark ages, though I went to a boarding school (sort of) so everyone you wanted to talk to was there anyway!

  3. I love your circle skirt, and you will have me looking for circular table clothes now too :) Love seeing the photos of you guys in the great outdoors, I wish we had places like that to swim here.

    So much to say about the digital citizenship, but I will keep it short...I pretty much agree with your thoughts, and I think teaching our children about balance with screens, and encouraging real life relationships instead of just texting and chatting is a must. I also think if we are going to teach our children how to properly use screens and technology, that we as adults must follow the same rules we use for our kiddos. We can't tell them to put away their screen and then immediately turn and look at our own screen :)

    I am so happy you guys enjoyed the packaged we sent. It was so fun to put it together for you.

  4. you're right about balance in social media. but it can bring real and tangible friendships too, I'm meeting up with a friend this weekend, we met through blogging and yet she is one of my most real friends! x

  5. I think you went back to the point quite's about balance. It's so easy to get lost during screen time and ensuring we also have "off-screen" time is important. I always enjoy seeing your photos and the scratch art is enchanting. By the way.......we're never to old to twirl.......

  6. I love your twirly whirly skirt - it is vintage, though I remember patterns like that from my own youth! That makes me vintage too, I think! You are so right about the friendships through blogging - one of my newest and dearest friends was made through my blog. Keep on twirling! xCathy

  7. Love the twirly pic! Also, I can almost hear the giggling as your children swoosh through the arches - what excellent pictures/wonderful memories to look back on. Digital citizenship sounds like a great name, and I hope they follow up with curriculum to match.


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