Saturday, 2 June 2012

Baby Legwarmers

I asked for a sewing machine for my birthday. In March. Today completed my first sewing project (sounds impressive, doesn't it). This is proper sewing for dummies, right up my street: baby legs, made from a pair of old socks.

Baby legs are basically Legwarmers - no feet, no bum, just legs. Very cute for under a dress or skirt. The full tutorial is here:
But the jist is as follows: chop the feet off a pair of long socks (I used an old pair of my own with a hole in the toe). Then use a small tight zigzag stitch right along the very edge of the cut end, stretching it as you sew. That's it!

The sewn ends bounce back all ruffled and pretty while the top ends fit snugly round Girl's little baby thunder thighs.

I actually made a second pair which weren't quite as successful although they are mighty cute too. The ends didn't end up quite so ruffled. I think it was because the material was thicker, more like towelling socks. My old worn socks worked much better so here is a picture of them. Next stop home made debs gown (I'd better start soon!).

Peek a Boo Pegs

I found a photo of a simple clothes peg mechanical toy on Pinterest a while ago. I copied the chick and egg from the original photo, using craft foam, then made my own version using foam hands and a tiny printed photo of girl.

I was quite pleased with the results but although Boy and Girl both liked the Peek a Boo pegs they also wanted to get their hands on them. Since they are too young to work the pegs without giving into touching the (flimsy) foam part, these peek a boo pegs are unlikely to last very long. But this is one activity that I will definitely be coming back to when they are a bit older and can be more involved with the making part. I thought I'd blog about it anyway because I was quite proud of the end result, even if my babies weren't :)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Peggy the Steggy and Kilcornan Walled Garden

The sun is shining hard on the Irish Riviera (but not in our back garden until after lunch) so when Boy asked for "painting" this morning I removed the three of us onto the front driveway with paper, paint, pegs and brushes to make a couple of Peggy the Steggy stegosaur pictures, idea stolen from

I sketched out a very rough, very non- authentic stegosaur onto yellow card then let Boy and Girl loose with the green paint. Boy immediately began lashing paint onto the ground, stones and he even made sure the whole paint pallet was an even green. Girl focused her efforts on her tights and mouth. I returned the neighbour's Avon lady's sympathetic smile with a smug grin. Check me being arty with my kids and not even having to scrub the floors afterwards. Stick that in your Avon catalogue and sell it.

Anyway Peggy the Steggy managed to catch a few splodges of paint and Boy quite enjoyed painting the clothes pegs though he got a bit frustrated trying to clip them on the dinosaur's back. Then we stuck on googly eyes and a scrap of green paper for a mouth, cut out the dino shape and boom, the dinosaurs are roaming the earth once more.

One of Boy's favourite parts of painting is washing his hands. Honestly. So that kept him busy for a while as I persuaded a rather more reluctant, very green Girl that just a light wash of hands and face wouldn't hurt.

An hour or so later we met some friends at Kilcornan walled garden in Clarinbridge with just a few green spots remaining on our clothes. Fine. And on our arms legs faces and feet. Though I've been to Kilcornan Woods, the swimming pool and surrounding green areas, for some reason I didn't even know of the existence of this really pretty and peaceful spot.

The walled garden reminded me a bit of Brigits Garden, but it is quite a bit smaller. There are paths, plenty of grass, several swinging benches dotted around as well as a lovely quiet spot by a fenced off pond and tinkling fountain complete with carved wood decorations. The highlight for Boy was a little hut which contained, of all things, a drumkit! Complete with two simple twigs for drumsticks. In fact we spent so much time between the drums, the pond and making daisy chains that we did not get to see every corner of the garden, which I feel sure holds several more secret treasures. We will definitely be coming back. Hopefully, next time I will be able to persuade Boy to wear a more manly hat.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Homemade Birthday Cards

We have an abundance of art materials taking up every nook and cranny in the house: pompoms, plasticine, paper, crepe paper, tissue paper, sugar paper, stickers, feathers, name it, it's lying around unused in the hope that one day I'll come up with a fantastic idea for it, other than just endlessly and often extravagantly adding to this futile collection.

Well today I realised it is Grunny's birthday soon. Tomorrow actually. My options: last minute ecard from Funky Pigeon or somewhere similar, last minute bunch of flowers from inter flora (working out at approximately 5 euro per leaf) or adorable belated home made card, with love and uniqueness hopefully cancelling out the lateness.

As It happens I would normally go for option 1 or 2 but thought I'd be all thrifty and creative for once and get the kids to make a card. We used coloured card, green art straws and coloured felt and some dots of glue. I cut out the shapes (probably shouldn't admit to that) and Boy stuck them on. I was actually quite impressed that he has progressed from random stick-everything-to-anything-for-30-seconds-before-losing-interest to actually making a recognisable picture, staying focused for a record breaking 7 minutes (approx.). He even clapped himself afterwards and said "wow".

Girl was keen to get in on the fun, so I spent the next ten minutes removing crayons, felt and glue from her mouth while she made a slightly more abstract card for Grumpy, whose birthday happens to be this weekend. It's still pretty cool though. And the art straws I bought last year have finally been opened for an artistic purpose. I think I heard a little squeak of excitement when I opened the box, but it might have come from me.

Stuffing the cards in an envelope and taking them to the post office was, in my mind the icing on the cake of an educational enterprise activity, but for some reason Boy found this part supremely boring. Maybe older and/or wiser children would like that part better.

These cards were so simple and quick to make and I really think they are a lot more personal than online card websites. If only I could smush them into my computer and email them so they'd get to Grunny's in time...

Friday, 18 May 2012

A Little Catch Up

Since Boy has come out of crèche I find myself with less time to blog (and cook, clean, sit, breathe etc). But this is not to say we haven't had time for fun. The last few weeks have seen lots of visits to friends, soft play, Bounce and Rhyme and a lovely wee trip to Wexford with beaches, animals and fun parks galore.

More recently we turned a floor load of empty bottles into a spectacularly easy to make and curiously addictive marble run (the marbles keep disappearing, and Girl has started to make an unusual rattling sound as she crawls, but that's another story). And today I stole a great idea from and turned a biscuit box into a maze.

In other news, Girl is pulling herself up, starting to make recognisable sounds and is down to one (ish) breastfeed per day. Boy is still crazy in love with his sister, though it would be nice if he wouldn't try to kiss, cuddle and row the boat with her while she is trying to nap. They regularly have full conversations in a series of screeches and giggles that noone else can understand and I spend my days hoping with all my strength that their relationship continues like this for years to come.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Imaginosity Children's Museum

I've often thought that toy shops should charge people to come in, since kids always end up playing with any toys they can get their hands on, despite their parents not always buying anything.

Well that's pretty much just what the bright sparks at Imaginosity Children's Museum in Dublin have done. They've gathered together big versions of children's favourite playthings, then charge folks to come and play.

The museum is in Sandyford near Dundrum (ideal for post-play shopping) and advertises itself as being suitable for children up to the age of 9. Most of the children we saw there looked to be under six. However I could see older children having fun too, if there were others there the same age. Visitors are admitted in two-hour slots and booking is advised.

The Museum is laid out on three floors. As we walked into the first floor Boy spotted a life size car with its doors opened invitingly. It took some serious persuasion to convince him that there was more worth seeing as he was delighted with sitting in the driver's seat and blowing the horn. Eventually we moved onto the interactive model railway village where Boy was once again in seventh heaven. There was a small soft area for Girl with a few simple toys and a play kitchen. She was quite content to be propped up against the oven, opening and shutting the cupboard doors while a friendly little boy served us a plastic slice of cake over and over again.

Also on this floor was a pretend play cafe, post office, and supermarket complete with shopping trolleys and grocery lists. This was a little too much like real life for my liking, but luckily for me Boy felt the same and did not linger too long. We dipped briefly into the library before heading up to the second floor.

The baby area on floor two was much sparser but this seemed to suit Girl quite well. She admired the (somewhat grubby) fish tank then, finally, managed to crawl forwards for the first time since she started moving herself two months ago - up until now it has been backwards or nothing. So I was very excited to see her actually crawling towards what she wanted today instead of away from it as usual (and I didn't miss the mandatory screech of frustration as the intended target moved further away instead of closer in spite of her efforts). I thought she was trying to reach a coloured bubble tube on the other side of the soft area. In fact she was trying to reach herself in a mirror along the far wall. She spent a good half hour then, playing with her own reflection, little Narcissa.

Meanwhile Boy was having a whale of a time in the 'construction zone', busily posting foam bricks down a slide, while two older children collected them and sent them back up on a pulley. He would take a break every so often to switch the lights on and off in a magnificent dolls house stretched all the way across one wall. There were signs everywhere encouraging people to help their children tidy up after themselves, and people did seem to make an effort to leave toys in the section they found them. There were plenty of staff around too and they all seemed friendly.

There were a few corners that we didn't explore, including a drama area where children can dress up and film themselves giving a news report, but I did spy B having a shot at hammering some tuned plastic pipes when he thought no one was looking. We decided to give the Hip Hop dance workshop a miss.

The top floor is home to an outdoor garden of toys, but this was closed during our visit. Another fine feature of which we couldn't take advantage was the 'Beanstalk', a huge winding tower which spanned all three floors, but which was labelled for ages three and up. Boy wanted to climb in but I couldn't see me squeezing into a child-sized hole to rescue him if he got stuck two floors up so we played at climbing the stairs instead. Thank goodness that's still fun when you're only a toddler.

Overall a great afternoon's entertainment, and we will definitely be returning in 6-12 months, once Girl is on her feet and can get a bit more out of it. The cost for the four of us was 24 euro which I found reasonable for what was on offer. A year's membership for a family of four would be 255 euro. I didn't find that quite so reasonable, but I guess if you are living close by and intend to visit very often it might be worth it.

In the end we didn't stay much longer than half of our allotted two hour slot - Boy was over excited and his teeth were beginning to show, though he was in a great mood, while Girl told us in her own special way that she was ready to leave. It's like she has a special radar for knowing when we don't have any nappies to hand.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Baby Cinema

I love that we are able to take Boy to the pictures again. I used to take him to monthly mother and baby cinema mornings (Eye Scream) when he was tiny but as soon as he was on the move it became less of a treat and more of a tortuous workout. I remember the last film we took him to see, one of the Narnia films - maybe Prince Caspian? Who knows. I didn't get to see any of it. I spent the first half hour feeding him chocolate buttons in an attempt to get him to sit quietly, and the next hour chasing him relay style up and down the steps. I learned two important lessons that day: 1)chocolate, toddlers and quiet places don't mix, and 2)my cinema days were over.

Feel free to mock my priorities, but I purposely chose Wednesdays as a crèche day for Boy so that when Girl can along I could indulge in Eye Scream mornings again. Right enough, we went together a few times but missed the last few months for one reason or another.

When we decided to give the Saturday morning 'Kids' Club' cinema screenings a shot at the local Omniplex neither B nor I held out much hope. So we were totally thrilled when Boy sat mesmerised through the whole of "Puss in Boots". Hurray! We have been twice now with the same result. Although we are limited to kids' films (Eye Scream is geared towards parents with tiny babies and shows adult oriented films - though not necessarily quality features) it is a lovely restful way to spend a rainy Saturday. And at only €2.50 a ticket it's a total bargain too.

We splashed out today (on the full early bird price) to see the Muppets film at the Eye, but both kids were snoring from about halfway through. B was roaring with laughter - at fart shoes, really - and I wondered briefly how many children I actually have.

It is with more than a little regret that I must admit that Girl is almost at the stage when I won't be able to bring her any more. Don't tell the weaning police but breastfeeding is a pure godsend when you want a bit of peace to ogle, sneer, laugh or cry uninterrupted at whoever is on the big screen. (Recently Sean Penn, Daniel Radcliffe, Maggie Smith, and George Clooney, respectively). At least this time I can take a year off knowing we will be able to return in the not too distant future, hopefully without needing to flash everyone while juggling two babies and a large Pepsi Max.