Sunday, June 29, 2014

arrgghh me hearties...Benny's pirate party

We had a wonderful day on Saturday celebrating Benny's 6th Birthday with a Pirate Party.
I had made invitations for his class mates last week by printing off these free templates and adding our details. I then rolled them into little scrolls and wrapped a little red yarn around them and Benny brought them into school to give out.
We spent the week making lots of preparations and finally the party day arrived. 
Rebe set up a 'tattoo parlour' and our guests were invited to be 'tattoo'd' with some temporary pirate tattoo's that I got online.
 Everyone had dressed up, as a pirate or something else and we had so much fun looking at everyone's costumes and the swords were immediately put to use in dangerous and blood thirsty duels.

 Those who lost, or just fancied it, had to walk the plank...

 Then with the help of our very wonderful assistant we played 'pin the patch on the pirate'

 and then pass the parcel.
 In each layer of paper I had hidden a little packet of sweets and also a part of a treasure map.
 Once all of the layers of the parcel had been opened the kids worked together to put the pieces in place. The map was of our garden with a large red X marking the spot where I had hidden the treasure
 They all ran off to find it; a canon ball pinata.
 I had made this myself through the week with paper mache and I was really nervous that it would easily fall to pieces. But my fears were totally unfounded as the kids took ages to break it and believe me they really did try!
 When everyone was worn out with trying to break it to pieces we gathered the kids on a blanket in the garden and Garry dropped it into the middle of them and they descended like vultures and tore it apart (in a good pirate-y way)
 and grabbed as much booty (or lolly-pops and chocolate coins) as they could.
 Then we ate our feast and drank grog...
After another couple of games and some general pirating we lit 6 candles on Benny's treasure chest cake and sang Happy Birthday to him.
Just as our guests were leaving we invited them to dig for a piece of treasure to add to their little party bag. We had gathered some old costume jewelry and the kids and I had found lots of little pebbles on the beach and painted them gold. We then hid the lot in the laundry basket filled with shredded newspaper.
 Benny had a really great party, in fact we all did. As I was tucking them up in bed they all whispered to me that it was the best party ever. I am so glad that they thought this and that we could give them that.
...and now... the holiday has really begun. No more school, no more commitments and nothing on the horizon until the middle of the month when we are all off to the Dream Gathering festival. Oh happy days!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Goodbye Buddies

In September 2011, when Benny was 3 and Joa was 1, we joined with 5 other families and set up Buddies Home School. We wanted a place for our children to grow and learn and thrive together. We wanted to give them a stepping stone between mother's knee and pre-school. Little did we know just what a success it would be. Last Wednesday was our last Buddies session for the summer and for Joa and I, our last session ever as he will be starting pre-school in September. 

We had a lovely session, very loose and informal playing in the glorious sunshine in Flo's garden. The children played boats with a cardboard box and blankets, running to and fro, narrating the story of their game, negotiating taking turns of the front of the box or the slide. 

We also celebrated Joa's and Jacob's 4th Birthdays, what better than a Buddies session with 2 cakes and fruit pizzas!!

  It has been such a special place, our weekly home kindergarten, giving the children so much. They got to try lots of fun crafts and baking, they got to go on adventures and sing songs and listen to stories. They got to play and work with other children and grown ups. We watched them grow in confidence and we watched their little friendships form and blossom.
It was great for Benny when his hearing was at it's worst and he found communication difficult. He would really have struggled in a formal pre-school, but Buddies was perfect for him, giving him all the advantages of pre-school activities, but also 6 lovely mama's who really knew and understood him to patiently listen to what he was trying to say.
Joa has also been celebrated as he grew, and the wild monkey that he is was never quashed. He had the freedom and space to be the child he is never having to fit in to a pre-school setting. But he is ready for pre-school now and so it is time for us to move on.

I have been so grateful to be a part of Buddies too, not just for the huge benefits for the children, but also because I knew no matter what, even when times were at their hardest, I would have a time and a space to ask for and receive support from my friends. I have formed special and lovely friendships by working together with these women and I am so grateful for each and everyone of them. I am so grateful for every cup of coffee, for every smile, for every hug and ear to listen. 

So what better tribute to Buddies Home School than writing an article explaining how to set up a home kindergarten group, which was published in the summer edition of Juno magazine. I am so proud of our group and I hope that through this blog and through the article that other families may be inspired to start something themselves.
If you have any questions about setting up your own home kindergarten group you can email me

Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy 6th Birthday Benny!!

 Now We Are Six - A.A. Milne

When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever;

So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

 Dear Benny is 6 today. I can't believe it, he is growing up so fast and yet I still remember so vividly lying in bed feeding him as a tiny baby, in a little blue babygro. His body curled into mine, breathing together. And now he is nearly a big boy, he has learnt so much this year, learnt to swim and ride him bike, learnt to read and write. He has nearly finished his first year of school and although it's not his favourite thing in the whole world and although he has been struggling so much with his hearing, he has got through it, he has had fun and made friends and tried so many new things.

 He is so lovely this child, kind and sensitive and so thoughtful and aware of other people's feelings. He still always offers me a 'calm down cuddle' if I am cranky. He lives in a quiet little world of his own much of the time, very content in the games he is playing. He loves the RNLI and is a very proud to have gotten a lifeboat crew outfit and a handknitted rnli jumper from Bubs for his Birthday.
 He also loves the Just William stories and listens intently to them on audio book every night.
 We got him a new bike as well, he needed something bigger and sometime to reflect how much he has grown in ability and physically. He's delighted and is almost as excited to have his own pump to pump up the tyres as he is about the bike!
I hope he had a great day today and felt loved and celebrated. These pictures were from this morning and soon after opening his presents he went to school. Friday is a 'daddy day' so Andy collected him from school and I won't be collecting him until 7pm. So I feel I kind of missed his day, but as long as he had a good time that's fine and we are going to celebrate him again next Saturday when we are having his pirate party.

Happy Birthday dear Benny, we love you xx

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday Joa

This morning dear Joa woke up a four year old. He woke up to the sun streaming in through the window and the Birthday table set and waiting for him.
 We lit the Birthday ring and sang Happy Birthday to him,

 Then he opened his presents.

his first real bike

 After we had breakfast and dropped Rebe and Benny to school for their school tour Joa and I spent a lovely morning together, just the two of us.
 We went to the beach and played and practiced cycling.
 I felt so proud of this wee boy. He is such a special man, so full of life and character. Nothing is scary for him, nothing too much of a challenge. He taught himself to swim unaided a few weeks ago, he can now also ride a bike.
 He is also 100% pure nuts and often says things so funny I have tears of laughter streaming down my face. Last week for example he was dancing in the garden to imaginary music. I told him to do something (I can't remember now what it was) but he just said 'I can't hear you, the music is too loud!' Most of the time he lives his life as a very sweet, carefree and cheeky little dog called Johnny Pumpkin and narrates what he is doing in the third person, saying things like, 'Oh Johnny Pumpkin, him like that, him does!'.

Anyway, after lunch Joa and I went to meet Rebe and Benny from the bus. They were hot and tired but had had the most wonderful school trip. We popped home to pick up the Birthday cake and then headed into town to the pub where Garry works. We decided to have dinner and do the cake there as a treat for Joa (and for me) and so that Garry wouldn't miss out on the celebrations.
We got there to find Garry had reserved us a table and decorated all around with balloons and streamers.

While we waited for our meal we played a great game that Rebe had gotten from Bubs as an 'unbirthday present'.

 We had a scrummy dinner and then we lit the candles on Joa's cake (thank goodness he decided he wanted a dog cake up: until last week he had his heart set on a Christmas tree cake!)

 It was such a lovely day and I think he felt special and celebrated. When I was tucking him in just now I asked him what he liked best about his Birthday and he said 'Having a good time!'

Happy Birthday sweet boy xxx

Thursday, June 12, 2014

from the heart

Every doll I make is special. I love each and every one of them. I get so much pleasure imagining them with their special little people, sharing adventures and giving comfort and joy. But sometimes I get the chance to work on an extra special project and this doll is one of them.

She is made for a very brave, very strong little girl called Zoe. Her mama and I have been in contact off and on through my Under Rainbows facebook page for a few years. In March she contacted me to make an offer for the pay-what-you-can doll that I was selling at the time, this is what she wrote: 
We have spoken a few times over the past few years. If you remember, my daughter was born with half of a heart. She faces her final planned open heart surgery this spring/early summer at the age of 3. I have wanted to get her one of your dolls for a long time, but being a stay at home mom and medical costs, we just haven't been able to afford one. We would love the chance to get this sweet doll for her Easter basket. I know she would be so, so loved.
I was so touched by her story and by her daughter's amazing journey that I offered to make a special doll for Zoe for the price that they could afford. A doll that will go into hospital with Zoe at the time of her surgeries and be her companion to cheer her up and give her hugs.
 As we were emailing back and forth about the doll I was really struck by how much Zoe's mama loves her. Her love is fierce and strong, supportive and courageous and I really wanted the doll to carry some of this mother-love in her. So I asked Jenn to send me something, perhaps a bead or a little felt heart. I thought she could whisper her love, her hopes and dreams for Zoe into it and I would sew it inside the doll, where her heart is.
This is what she found and sent to me from the States:

So perfect, a smooth angelite heart 'one of the premier healing stones'. She also sent a very sweet card thanking me from the bottom of their 'one and half hearts' and a bracelet to wear to show my support for Zoe.
 I wrapped the stone heart in some sheep's wool
 (as you can see, the whole time I was making this doll I wore the bracelet, I really wanted my focus to be on this doll and Zoe, to fill it with healing thoughts, and wishes and love and the bracelet helped to remind me of that).
 I placed the heart wrapped in wool into the neck part of the doll and sewed it up.
 The heart would then be firmly positioned in the centre of the chest.
 I really love the idea of using a healing stone in the doll. The warmth from Zoe's body heat will be conducted through the wool as she holds her, gently warming the stone and releasing it's wonderful healing powers and all of that special love that Jenn whispered into the stone.
I made the doll to look like Zoe, matching her hair and eye colour. I also embroidered a scar up the centre of her chest between her rib cage, a scar to match the one little Zoe has.

 I dressed her up, as Jenn suggested, as a little princess with a sweet frock and bloomers and a little felt crown decorated with a heart of course. I also made her a wee pair of organic cotton pyjamas to wear in hospital.
Making this doll was so special and being a tiny little part of Zoe's journey is such an honor! If you were touched by this story and would like to read more about little Zoe, her mama has a blog here and there are also a couple charities that you can donate to that have been a support to Zoe, Jenn and her partner:
But if you do nothing else then hold little Zoe and her family in your heart in July when she will having her surgeries
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