Is it Spring yet?

I feel as though it’s been a really big week, though I don’t have much to show for it, and my to do list is longer today than it was at the beginning of the week.

We had a family birthday to attend last Saturday night, 2 hours drive from our home, so we decided to book a BnB for the night and make a weekend of it. We took the two hour trip over 5 hours, saying Hi to horses, stopping at bakeries and playing in a forest along the way.

It’s a trip I’ve made many many times, but never taken the time to slow it down and explore along the way before. Sometimes the restless kids who cant sit still for 2 hours are a blessing!

We had a lovely weekend in our little BnB, seeing family and eating delicious birthday cake. It was just the right amount of time to freshen up the batteries a little, without creating the inconvenience of having everything looked after at home while we were away.

After the long slow drive up on Saturday, the kids feel asleep in the car during the trip home on Sunday, and we got through the whole two hour drive home before they woke up again.

Once home again it was back into the usual. Gardening, cooking, washing and dealing with a hot water service dying a slow horrible death. A fun issue we’ve been trying to sort out all week, and finally having sorted out today, with plumbers installing the new hot water service as I write this.

The week days have gone by in a blur of school holiday activities, impatiently searching my veggie patch for things to pick, uni work, tradesmen, crocheting and preparing my wardrobe and relief teaching bag for next term.

In preparing for relief teaching again next term I have wasted countless hours scrolling through resource websites, Pinterest and Instagram for lesson ideas, resources, clothing and bag ideas. I’m finding the majority of information coming out of America, and the Instagram accounts of American teachers on summer holidays is leaving me extremely jealous! Not helped by my parents stream of photos on Facebook as they enjoy the sunshine in Northern Australia right now! Haha.

So, I’m just going to go snuggle up a little closer to the fire with my crochet, ignore the to do list for a moment, maybe put on an extra pair of socks, and start counting down the days until Spring arrives.

I hope this post finds you somewhere warm and snuggly!

Abby x

Advertisements

10 School Holiday Ideas – Choose your own adventure

In the style of ‘Choose your own adventure’, feel free to choose the opening line that appeals most to you:

1. Yay, it’s school holidays! (Go to section A)

2. Boo! It’s school holidays! (Go to section B)

3. School holidays don’t mean much to me at the moment! (Go to section C)

Section A

Nice choice. This is what I would choose too. School holidays have always been a part of my life from my own school years, to university, teaching years and now as the mother of a Kindy kid!

I’m well practiced at school holidays. Maybe you are too? Anyhow. If you’re excited because it means more time for fun activities with your school aged kids, please jump ahead to Section D for even more fun ideas for your holidays!

Section B

Urgh. Kids can be pretty exhausting with all that free time on their hands. I feel like you’re probably someone who’s sympathetic towards the teachers who spend 40 weeks a year with 25+ kids each day. It’s certainly hard work!

Thanks for battling out the school holidays with your kids whilst their teachers are hopefully getting a little well earned rest amongst all the other work they’re doing during their ‘break’.

Maybe pop over to Section D to arm yourself with a few ideas to make the time pass more smoothly.

Section C

Sorry, not much of interest here for you this week. Please check back next week when I’ll be sure to be talking crochet projects and gardening again!

Section D

What do you remember from school holidays as a kid? I have a real mixture of experiences that come to mind – vacation care, holidays, going to work with Dad for the day, spending time with friends and cousins, trips to the cinema/park/pool, reading piles of books, watching videos from the video store, doing puzzles and baking biscuits. The long days of relative freedom were so luxurious, and as a kid the school holidays seemed to stretch on forever.

As a teacher? Not quite so stretchy, haha!

I don’t remember school holidays being a big marketing event when I was kid however. Sure there were always kids movies that came out at the cinema during school holidays, but I don’t believe the big box stores were having school holiday marketing campaigns like they do today. Perhaps I was just oblivious to it.

But getting to the point…

TV advertisements, catalogues, newspapers, social media marketing and probably your kids(!) are all telling you that you need to spend big dollars to keep your kids busy and happy these school holidays. They’re wrong. They’re trying to sell you stuff by convincing your kids they need XYZ. It’s frustrating as a parent, with the ability to think critically about advertising but dealing with kids who are in the firing line of these campaigns.

You’re going to need some good ideas and activities up your sleeve!

So here’s my list of free or cheap activities to keep kids entertained and busy these holidays!

1. Visit your nearest Little Free Library. Take some old books that your kids have outgrown to donate, and pick up some new (to you) books to read. Grab some for yourself as well! Find your nearest Little Free Library here.

2. Bake something for a friend or family member and then deliver it. Bonus points for getting the kids to decipher the recipe and measure out the ingredients as well! I’ve discovered packet mix cakes usually have pictures of the ingredients on the box to make it easy for even the littlest helpers. If you’re delivering to Grandparents or elderly neighbours, a quick picture or letter from the kids will go down a treat as well.

3. Make a Jobs chart for kids to work through during the holidays, with the promise of something special (maybe going to the cinema) once all jobs are complete. Some ideas for your jobs charts – wash the car, sort through toys and donate a bag to charity, vacuum the house, cook (or help cook) dinner one night, weed the garden, helping younger siblings, etc.

4. Dance party! This is a great activity for after the sun goes down, but if you’ve got blackout blinds, who’s to say you can’t have a rave at 10am! Find a good playlist on Spotify or YouTube, let the kids dress up, hand out some glow sticks/torches and turn the music up.

5. Go Op Shopping. Grab some coins from the piggy bank and head to your nearest op shop. Or do an op shop crawl! Great stuff to search for – puzzles, board games, books, DVD’s, CD’s, ‘dress up’ clothes & jewellery, blankets & sheets for building cubby houses,craft materials, etc.

6. Have a Craft Day. Make Pom Poms, Tomboys or Gods Eyes, press flowers, make potato stampers, collect sticks and paint them to make ‘wands’, roll paper beads and make necklaces, raid your recycling bin for cardboard boxes/bottles/toilet rolls that could become cities/cars/rockets/puppets. Need more inspiration? Try pinterest.

7. Do a Random act of Kindness. This would be a great tradition for every school holidays and the options are endless. Donate food to an animal shelter, leave enough coin in a vending machine for the next person to buy something, do a ‘knock and run’ leaving flowers or chocolates on someone’s doorstep, pay for the person behind you in the drive thru line, knit and donate a scarf, or even find somewhere to volunteer for a day.

8. Host a Tea Party. Invite guests, or keep it to just yourselves. Dress up in your finery, lay out the tablecloth (or even just a sheet!), pull out the tea cups and saucers, make cucumber sandwiches, bake scones or go shopping for special treat food, pick some flowers for the table, and serve tea, milk or juice in tea cups.

9. Sleepover movie night. This might be a friend sleeping over, or just siblings bunking in the same room. Pull the mattresses on the floor, gather all the cushions, move a tv/laptop into the kids room for the evening, pop on a movie, and let them eat popcorn and watch movies in bed. Our kids have done this once and loved it!

10. And some interesting places to visit for free or cheap:

  • Museum. In our city we have migration/aviation/maritime/railway museums too.
  • Beach – even in winter! Go for a walk and collect shells.
  • Art gallery
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Watch planes by the airport. Maybe take a picnic lunch with you.
  • IKEA – let the kids play while you eat Swedish Meatballs!
  • Library – most will offer school holiday programs.

ALSO (and this is important) please have some days where you plan nothing and offer no activities. Kids need to be bored occasionally. That’s where creativity and imagination lie – in boredom. If you’re hearing too many “I’m bored”s, offer boring housework jobs to do. They’ll probably find something better to do. If all else fails, send the kids outside to play. Tell them they only have to stay out there for 20 minutes. Chances are they’ll find something to do and won’t be back inside at the 20 minute mark.

I hope there’s some new ideas in there for you. Do you have any other good ideas to add to the list? Are you doing anything exciting these school holidays?

I hope the school holidays are kind to you.

I can’t wait to get stuck into ours!

Abby x

Winter days

If it has to be this cold all winter, I feel like we should at least get some snow for our troubles. We’ve had several frosty mornings in the last week. Scraping ice off the car first thing in the morning takes me back to Canada holidays, just not quite as much fun!

By the time the sun is out on these frosty days, it’s usually warmed up enough that we can get outside and try to soak some of that sunshine up. It’s never quite enough to warm our house up though. Built in the late 70’s, it seems no one was thinking a whole lot about solar passive design when they built this house. The entire Northern side of our house is shaded by a wide verandah and carport, which is perfect for summer, but miserable in winter. Our firewood stock has been dwindling pretty quickly in the last month!

I dream of ripping the whole carport down, putting in extra windows on the Northern side and growing vines, or putting in a greenhouse where the carport now stands. Maybe one day!

And so, with a couple of head colds in the house this past week, it’s been all about staying warm.

We’ve walked to the playground in the sunshine

Collected kindling / marshmallow sticks down in our creek

Sought out all the little pockets of sunshine that peek through our front windows at the end of the day.

And I’ve been keeping my hands warm with lots and lots of wool.

A new wool order and a beanie with a Pom Pom for Mr 3.

He’d been begging me for a beanie with a Pom Pom for a couple of weeks. I finally got around to making it last weekend and he’s completely in love with it.

I listed some new cardigans in my Etsy store, and posted one to a new home.

I love making these cardigans. I have another two in the works at the moment. The pattern is The Kotori Jacket by Shara Lambeth Designs if anyone is interested in making their own.

And the yarn dyeing obsession continues!

Right now I’m tucked up under an old wool blanket I crocheted a few years back, nursing my head cold, staring out the rain spattered window and listening to the sound of my kids playing in the backyard with umbrellas, raincoats and gumboots. I’m hoping they’ll stay out there just that little bit longer so I can get a few more rows of this cardigan done before they burst through the back door and we fall into the pre-dinner routine.

After a very busy weekend last weekend, I’m hoping for a well deserved quiet (and warm!) one this weekend.

Happy weekend all.

Abby x

The simple things

Yesterday was an absolute cracker of a day. We woke up to fog, and it was freezing, but once the day warmed up it was glorious.

The kids and I headed out for babycinos and a wander along our Main Street, walking past one of the big box stores which lured me in with its bare rooted trees in the front window. Two kids in tow I went in to look at the trees and realised that it was day 1 of their giant toy sale. I had a 3 and 4 year old with me. Big mistake.

So we wandered around aimlessly while the kids ‘I want’-ed at everything, past people with multiple trolleys full of toys, cranky kids, and long long lines at the lay-by counter, and then much to my children’s disgust, we walked out without buying a thing.

Without all the shiny coloured plastic in front of their faces, the moment we were home all the new toys they desperately wanted were forgotten, and they amused themselves in the backyard with some PVC pipe and an old tennis ball for over an hour.

The lesson was mostly lost on them, but I’m glad I paid attention.

The shiny, glitzy, magic stuff is all well and good, but it comes at a cost, and quickly becomes old. Happiness is made in the simple everyday things. Those shiny expensive dopamine hits sure are fun for a while there, but they don’t last.

And so, after a week of making myself miserable, looking at Facebook memories of our trip to New Zealand at this time last year, and Disneyworld the year before, I had to adjust my lens a little. Yes, those shiny exciting holidays were amazing, but it’s not realistic to lead that kind of life every day of the year. It may not be the ‘making your dreams come true’ kind of magic, but there’s little patches of magic in even the most ordinary of weeks.

Everyday magic moments this week:

1. I went to Bookclub on Sunday, feeling guilty because I had not made any attempt to read this months book. As everyone slowly rolled in we quickly discovered that in fact, none of us had read the book this month! So we ate cake, drank coffee and talked about what we had been reading instead. It was one of my favourite bookclub catch up’s to date.

2. After talking about dyeing yarn last week, I had another attempt over the weekend and managed to create one I love. Now I need to find a project I love just as much to work it in to!

3. I found our first little broccoli emerging in the veggie garden, and then after pretty much giving up on my cauliflowers, I spotted my first purple cauliflower popping out.

4. Penny left the Cinderella shoes on just long enough for us to get a photo.

5. The master baker of the house (read: not me) baked tiny loaves of bread, so we could have tiny pieces of toast, that made my avocado look giant and my breakfast taste delicious.

6. and miraculously, I got a mid week post in this week! If you missed it, check out my crocheted scarf pattern post here.

So whilst it wasn’t ‘Milford Sound’ or ‘taking the kids to Disneyworld for the first time’ levels of magic, there were sparks of magic in the everyday. I just needed a 3 and 4 year old to point it out for me.

Wishing you all magic everyday moments this weekend.

Abby x

Children’s Crocheted Scarf – A Free Pattern

I have been making and selling these little crocheted scarves for a few years now. I started out with making a few for my Miss 4 when she was about 2, and then soon found we had more scarves than I knew what to do with.

A quick and simple crochet project, this is a great beginner – intermediate pattern that should take you no longer than 2 hours from start to finish.

Not a crocheter, but love the scarves? You’ll find a selection of scarves I’ve made in my Etsy store here.

**Please note that I would not recommend these scarves for children under 3 years of age unless under constant close supervision. As with anything else you place around a child’s neck (necklace, bag strap, etc) a scarf does pose a strangulation risk to small children. I would also urge you not to leave a scarf on a sleeping child as this will also place them at risk of overheating.**

Heavy stuff aside, this is a great little scarf for the 3-5 year olds in your life, and with a few alterations can be made in much larger sizes too. I’ve even made one for my Dad!

So without further ado…

A Children’s Scarf Pattern

This pattern is written in US terms. If you usually work in UK terms, please find a handy conversion chart here.

Please use pattern for personal use only, or seek permission before selling products using this pattern.

Materials:

8ply yarn. I’ve used Bendigo Woollen Mills Bloom

4.5mm crochet hook

Darning needle

Scissors

Abbreviations:

Ch: chain

DC: double crochet

St: stitch

SC: single crochet

Sl St: slip stitch

Pattern:

Ch 80.

Row 1: 1 DC into 3rd ch from hook. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78sts).

Row 2-3: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

Row 4: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each of the next 11 sts. Ch 9. Skip the next 8 sts and DC in the 9th st from the last DC. DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

Row 5 – 7: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

When you reach the 9 chains of the previous row, continue your DC into each chain as you would for the rest of the row.

At the completion of Row 7 you may like to fasten off here for a simple completed scarf, or you can add a SC border with the following step.

The last step: Ch 1. 1 sc in base of Ch 1. 1 sc in each st to end of row. DO NOT TURN. Continuing in the same direction we’re now going to work around the corner. * add an extra 1 sc in the last st and work 13 sc’s across the scarf end*. Continuing around the edge of the scarf, 2 sc in the corner and 1 sc in each st to end of row. Repeat from * to *. Sl st into first st (the beginning of round). Fasten off, weave in ends.

And you have a complete scarf!

This pattern is easy to alter to suit your preference. Add more DC’s to your rows to make it longer, more rows to make it wider, add details on the ends like tassels, or leave it as is. See a few variations I’ve made in my Etsy store.

Happy crocheting!

Abby x

Sydney

It’s been a big week.

The kids and I had colds, I was solo parenting for most of the week, my uni semester winds up today and I had a final assessment to complete before we flew to Sydney on Wednesday. None of those things on their own seem like a big deal, but when you add them all up you need a lot of coffee.

So the week that was…

There’s bulbs popping up all over our yard, and I can’t for the life of me remember what they are, so I’m looking forward to when they flower.

The kids were Where’s Wally obsessed for most of the week.

Miss 4 has been carrying a container of rocks around with her all week and they’ve been arranged in all kinds of interesting ways all over the place. A little container of rocks even made it to Sydney with us!

Miss 4 packed her own suitcase for Sydney

It may not look much, but she has two different types of wand in there, so as my Mum pointed out, she should be able to conjure up anything else she may require!

We flew to Sydney on Wednesday, and though I wouldn’t say the two hour flight with a 3 and 4 year old was ‘easy’, it was definitely much easier than a couple of 16 hour flights I once did with a 1 and 2 year old!

It’s been all puppy cuddles and Sydney things since then…

There’s lots of coffee, no assignments and the adult to child ratio has gone from 1:2 to 4:2. The week ends much better than it started.

How has your week been? Have you measured your days in cups of coffee?

Wishing you all relaxing weekends.

Abby x

It’s been a while

3 years or so.

My last post on Mummy Doesn’t Bake was after completing a quilt for the baby boy I was pregnant with at the time. That little baby boy of mine is now three years old, and though he’s not that much a ‘baby’ anymore, he’s every bit the ‘boy’.

And that little baby girl I used to write about? She’s now my chatty, bubbly, FOUR year old ‘kindy girl’

IMG_1839

Those who’ve walked the path of young children will understand why the posts stopped. The foggy years of babies and toddlers are incredibly rewarding and ridiculously exhausting, and only now as I tentatively step out the other side of that fog, do I feel I have anything to give to a blog again.

I’ve renamed the space ‘Abby Sewell’, simply my name, because for however accurate the ‘Mummy Doesn’t Bake’ title was, three years gained wisdom has taught me that defining myself by what I was not, was not a particularly inspiring way to live.

So here we go again. The content will be a little the same, a little bit different. The baby content is out, the funny things my kids say is probably in. I’m still crafting, reading, gardening and getting on my high horse about social justice issues.

If you’re still interested please stick around. If REALLY interested find more of my oversharing on Instagram and a few of the things I make at Etsy.

For now I’ll leave you with the treasures retrieved from my pockets after the walk home from Kindy today, my ‘big kids’ being all cute with each other and the very clever weed that popped up in my front lawn, sporting pretty pink flowers, therefore guaranteeing I wouldn’t pull it out.

Weeds are sneaky. Watch them…

Abby x

 

 

Alexander’s Outing: A book activity

 

alexanders outing play1

I’ve got a little bookworm on my hands. Which suits me just fine!

She loves Where is the Green Sheep? (see here) and brings it to me constantly during the day to read to her. With a huge selection of Children’s books in this house, I decided it was time we explored some new titles.

So we started with Alexander’s Outing by Pamela Allen

alexanders outing cover

Alexander’s Outing is the story of a duckling called Alexander who did not pay attention when walking with his mother and the other ducklings. When crossing the road, Alexander falls down a hole in the road, and the story then follows how people try to help get Alexander out. Eventually they discover that by filling the hole with water, Alexander can float to the top and out of the hole again.

alexanders outing image 2

Miss E enjoyed this story, particularly because we have quite a collection of rubber ducks and she knows what a ‘ducky’ is, and that it says ‘quack quack’.

Using our collection of rubber ducks, I came up with a little water play activity to play with after reading the book.

alexanders outing setup

I gathered my supplies:

  • Baby bath with a little water in the bottom (you could use a large container, kitchen sink, bath)
  • Rubber ducks
  • Plastic cup
  • Container to fill (I used a medium sized mixing bowl)
  • Towel for catching all the spills

and stripped Miss E down to a nappy and T-shirt, because she was always going to end up soaking wet.

IMG_8230We put a duck in the bowl and slowly filled the bowl with water, making the duck rise to the top.

IMG_8233

We repeated this a few times with different ducks, and different levels of success at tipping the water into the bowl and not onto ourselves (Miss E, not me!).

Then we had some free play, which was mostly just a lot of splashing and tipping water everywhere, but a lot of fun on a hot day!

alexanders outing play2

I’ll repeat this activity when Miss E’s a little older, with rubber ducks, balls, leaves, rocks, toy cars etc, so that we can explore the idea of what sinks and what floats.

and now we go back to the book collection to find some more activities we can link to books!

Abby xx

 

Motherhood

I’m going through a Jodi Picoult stage at the moment. I’m currently reading Perfect Match and have just finished Vanishing Act. They’re a nice simple read and I always get hooked quickly, then read the whole book in a few days.

When I came across this paragraph in Vanishing Act, I had to capture it. It’s exactly right.

book quote

It made me think of those first few days after I had Miss E, when I realised that I would never again, for the rest of my life, stop worrying about this little person. The thought was so exhausting on that third baby blues day, that it made me cry.

Exhausting as all that worrying is, and will be, it’s absolutely worth it 🙂

Abby xx

 

Books for Babies

book collage

I’m a bit of a book nerd, and Miss E is well on her way to becoming one too. Our Children’s book collection is a little crazy, between my love of picture books, my old picture books, the books I’d collected as a teacher and the books Miss E received at our BaByQ / Book Shower, we’ve got just a few.

There are these in her bedroom:

nursery3

and these in the lounge:

lounge books

and then the novels that are a bit beyond her at the moment, are in the spare bedroom.

We like to read together snuggled up together on the couch, or both laying on our bellies with the book spread out on the floor in front of us, and sometimes we lay on our back and I hold the book open up above us. I don’t think it matters a whole lot how you read to your baby, just so long as you do.

We aim to read one book a day with Miss E, though it’s often more than that. Matt reads as many books to her as I do, because we want her to see that it’s important for everyone to read. We’ll probably make an even bigger deal out of Matt reading to the kids if and when we have a little boy one day, so that our little man grows up knowing that reading is just as important for boys as it is girls.

Amongst the many books we own, these are the ones that we read over and over again:

IMG_4126

Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd.

This was one of my favourites when I was little. I can remember it being the first book I ever borrowed from the school library, when I was five years old. Miss E loves it too. I think it’s because it rhymes, is repetitive and Hairy Maclary and his pals are dogs, and she loves dogs!

Each time we read this book, we talk about the dogs, and how Penny is a dog too. Babies learn so much from talking about what is in the book, as well as reading the story. We’ve now come to the point where Miss E looks to Penny continuously when we’re reading books about dogs. She’s made the connection between books, and real life!

The next three books are board books. I find board books are great with Miss E, because I’m not precious about her bending or tearing the pages, and if she wants to put the corners in her mouth she can go for it!

wonkey donkey

wonky donkey open

The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith.

I think this one might be just as fun for Mum and Dad to read, as what it is for little ones to hear. Another repetitive, rhyming book, The Wonky Donkey is also great because it’s silly. Our copy also came with a CD with the story recorded in song. Bonus!

i went walking

I Went Walking by Sue Williams.

This is a nice quick book. The illustrations are simple, and the text is repetitive. It talks about common farm animals, so we talk about the noises those animals make, and show her any stuffed toys that match. Perfect for little people!

Again, this book has a dog in it that happens to look a lot like Penny, so maybe this is why Miss E likes it as well!

where is the green sheep

green sheep open

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox.

Rhyming, repetitive and silly, this book has you looking for the Green Sheep the whole way through. Miss E loves the illustrations in this book. We have a fluffy green sheep toy that we play with after reading this book, and sing ‘Baa Baa Green Sheep’ and ‘Mary had a little lamb (whose fleece was green as grass)’.

Yes, we definitely love our books in this house, and we’re so happy to see our little girl following in our footsteps!

Abby xx