30 August 2012

Nearly three

'I not taking too long'.  Lily pronounced as I tried to hurry her down the street. 'I taking three long'.

28 August 2012

Paper, Chalk, Coathangers

I got three cardboard sticks a cardboard circle, a plastic fairy doll bead, a coat hanger from socks and a pipecleaner and put them all together.  Faces everywhere.

Time Machine

If you don't have any paint on hand, by Nina.To get started, get your equipment and bring your coloured pencils. You could also try making it out of water and crushed rock.  The thing is it doesn't always work if the rock is not crushed.

Tip. I think that faber castell pencils work better than other brands. But if you prefer you can use other brands. Crayolas work well too.

Nina is not so much a one for drawing pictures.  She does that a bit, but often her drawings are abstract, her creations are sorts of machines, or inventions.  And she likes writing instructions.  I often find half written instructions, or explanations, which might start with lists of required items, or explain her production process.  She also quite often writes letters  - to her friends or toy mice, but also to people whose work she admires.  Sometimes she gets round to sending them.   It's quite a different way of working than, for example, Ruby's approach.  I am  fascinated by what fascinates them.

26 August 2012

Pen, Pencil, Paper

Sometimes, in a departure from her usual story-telling based oeuvre, Ruby draws maps and diagrams.

Birds eye view of Cyclops wood. The cyclops wood is called that because of looking like the cyclops' only eye.

Birds eye view of the town and country, plus information

Ruffish kind of goodish copy of Mouse School, front on

Because things are way back like the playground doesn't mean there in the sky (these are NOT good drawings)

things smaller are things further away!

which one would you choose? Smug teddy, chatter box teddy, ruff tuff teddy, big new boastful teddy, worn old wise teddy, bashful teddy artistic teddy, greedy teddy, old worn patch teddy

I found these during the playroom clean out. They are all from months ago - some even last year I think. I'm not good at putting dates on pictures.

24 August 2012

Texta, Crayon, Paint, Bark

Girl with a bow

'My echidna and eagle live on an old fashioned land. It looks like old stuff, not stuff these days.  Dark and red, this is where they set up the meeting place.  They talk about stuff that they know in those days.  They eat food from plants from that time'.

Grace's elephant

Cutie the Deer

Kim - not happy.
This is where Grace is at right now.  Her drawings are very typical, I think, of five year olds everywhere.  Entirely unselfconcious, but conforming more and more to the conventions of art. 

19 August 2012

Week Ending

I've been reading and Ruby is hovering over her footy-watching Daddy, wanting the game to be over. Well, it's already over, Dogs 79, Swans 137, just not yet finished. 'Our team is such a let down' says Ruby. 'But you wont let us change teams' adds Nina. 'You're not changing teams, no' says Craig, mildly. Ruby says 'Because we are not let downs, even though they are'Footy loyalty at nine, it's as important as anything else a Melbournian has to learn.  Nina and Grace are at my feet playing lego. Where is Lily we all wonder. I call out 'Lily, Lily'. The house is getting dark. She's down the other end, behind a chair by the window. 'Don't come in' she tells me, 'I'm playing a game'.  She fell asleep on the couch earlier.  It's the only way she naps now and it's a mixed blessing.  It puts her in a grand mood for the afternoon, but makes bed time later and harder.  The three older girls each had a friend over for a play.  Ruby and Nina sewed zippered purses with their friends, with a lot of help from me.  I don't want to set the expectation that a play at our place involves leaving with a cool hand made item, so I'll lower the bar next time.  Besides which, I like having kids over so I don't have to entertain everyone. Grace and her friend Csilla decided to get married and have a baby together. 'Ahh' said Ruby noncholantly, 'they're playing lesbians'.  Lily has just joined us. 'Can I play with you guys?' she asks Nina and Grace, 'say yes, say yes, say yes'.  They say yes.  The footy has finished.  The lego is being packed up.  Craig is making chicken and corn soup.  Ruby finally has control of the remote.  Winnie thinks it's about dinner time and is wagging her tail to let me know.  I've got a tidy sewing room and a messy house.  Another week ending, another week starting.


I confess to being rather scared of spiders, but not these little cuties which will bounce from sticks, for the school fete.

16 August 2012

Artefacts from the Cleanout

Apart from the joy of ridding myself of unwanted STUFF, the great joy of cleaning out the playroom was discovering and rediscovering some of these creations from the past six months or so:

Grace's ship

Ruby's creature

Fox in the Night by Ruby

Kim, Grace and Lily (Ruby and Nina at school) by Grace

Nina's calendars

Twitch's House by Nina

Grace's rendition of Mousie Brown

Nina's letters from some of her mice to some of her other mice

It's an ongoing correspondence

Grace's family.  Hmm, where is Ruby?

14 August 2012

Books and Memories

On any given day, our 'playroom' looks like this. This is particularly bad, because I'm in the process of packing it all up, but it doesn't take much for it to descend into madness. And since we moved here nearly six years ago, it has been the bane of my life, the albatross around my neck, and other cliches I can't think of right now. I thought that a playroom would be fantastic and keep the rest of the house from looking like a child care centre. I thought I would just close the door and ignore the mess. I thought we would have a place for everything and everything in it's place even though I am really not that sort of person. But the reality has been that, even for a good sized room, we just have FAR TOO MUCH STUFF. Part of the problem is that Christmas and birthday presents for four children each year from our large extended families and generous friends inevitably results in lots of things. And partly it's because the girls make and draw so many things and saving even only the smallest representative sample still amounts to a box a year, with no end in sight.

For as long as we have been here, I have snuck into the playroom at nights and secretly disposed of things, sometimes into the bin, sometimes to the local op shop, or the school fete, sometimes to friends.  And still, after every cull, the STUFF regroups, stronger than ever.

Eventually this playroom will become a bedroom and we won't want these big built in book shelves and the wall to wall desk that the previous occupants installed when they converted it into a study. We have decided to replace the stained and worn carpet in the two bedrooms and decided to do this room too. So we have ripped out the fixtures, to carpet and paint it properly, and will finally have room for the lovely Wilkens and Kent bookshelf that has been living in our shed. Craig had it custom made back in the days before me, and well before kids, to house his vinyl collection, so the shelves are well spaced and should suit the art supplies.  But it is much smaller, and hence, a massive cull is required.

The best thing, by far, about going through everything, was being able to get rid of the books I've always hated.  Goodbye all Mr Men books. We've still got stacks of books, and amongst them are some that I'll never be able to toss out.

Maisie Likes Driving - far from a classic, but even now I could recite it by heart.  How hard I worked to get Ruby to identify the noise for each vehicle, how proud I was when she could do the 'rattle squeak' for the tricycle.  Poor first child, you never worry about subsequent children learning to make vehicle sounds, do you?

Where is the Green Sheep  - a modern classic, I still like the anticipation of that final page 'turn the page quietly, lets take a peek....'.  Grace used to say 'beep' for 'sheep' which was unbearably cute.

Daisy says Coo - the very first book I was given, at my very first mother's group session, by our local library, in a calico library bag.  We visited that library every Monday for at least five years I reckon.

I Went Walking - My sister gave Lily this for her first birthday.  I love Julie Vivas' illustrations in every book she does, but this is especially delightful and Lily loved figuring out which item of clothing the child had discarded on each page.

'Harry the Dirty Dog' - a favourite of mine as a child and Lil's number one for at least a year - she had 'Arry' on her birthday cake when she turned two.

My Donkey Benjamin - We had this as kids and loved it and one of my sisters found it in an op shop for me. The little girl, Suzi's resemblance to Grace has not gone unnoticed by Grace.....

Poo Bum - do you know this? If you have a four or five year old, this will be the greatest piece of literature you could possibly read them.

I Like it When - friends gave us this and all my children have loved it. The fact that the author shares a name with my sister is also kind of cool.

But I've saved the best till last......

Humphrey at the Airport - so bad it's a masterpiece, this is one of those bizarre 'lets take a popular children's TV character and made a completely nonsensical book with terrible production values and zero story' kinds of books.

'Are we clear for take-off Humphrey?'  It's going to be hard to know, because Humphrey famously CANNOT TALK.

'This plane is not ready to fly.  There are chocks behind the wheels.'
Just what all children ought to learn about in a quasi educational book about airports.  What sort of two bit operation are they running at this airport?

Humphrey discovers that he is too fat to fit into the cockpit. 'If I can't go flying, I'll help polish the propeller with my hanky'.
That is the denoument of the book, it's final scene.  Very helpful Humphrey, possibly distributing all sorts of bear grime onto a vital element of aviation equipment.  One can't help but think that the people making this book hadn't thought much beyond, 'lets take Humphrey to the airport and get a bunch of photos and figure it out from there'.   It is genius and I am keeping it for my grandchildren.

What are the books you'll never part with?

12 August 2012

Things to do with woollens that you have accidentally felted, or 'What I made while watching the Olympics'

I am not a sports fan usually, but every four years I find myself beguiled by the Olympics. For all the nauseating 'how did you feel?' interviews and loathsome nationalistic fervour, I find myself glued to this showcase of skill, poise and tenacity. I do occasionally wonder whether dedicating quite so much of one's life to, for example, throwing something further than anyone else is the best possible use of one's time, but perhaps being a lawyer who sews things is not the best possible use of my time either.

In any event, whether or not athletes ought be lauded quite so highly compared with, for example, Nobel prize winners (at least in Australia) does not stop me from marvelling at the spectacle. Perhaps it is because I am uniquely untalented in all forms of sports, lacking speed, strength, hand-eye coordination and desire, that I am so impressed by these athletes. I really don't care about equestrian showjumping, kayaking or BMX racing, but nevertheless find myself drawn into these events, my heart in my mouth. The thought of competing, with all the internal and external pressure to bring to fruition four or more years of hard slog, is absolutely terrifying to me.

So, over the past fortnight, I've spent my evenings in front of the telly with a bag of old woollens that I'd felted through stupidity, or that had otherwise been transformed into unwearable items, and sewn these hearts and birds.

Now that the Olympics are over I'll be able to get back to my machine, and work on a few projects that have been waiting for some attention. Thanks London, you did a fabulous job of keeping me entertained for the past two weeks. Here's a little heart for you.

06 August 2012


Nina accidentally shut Ruby's hand in the car door. I suspect this was more devastating for Nina, though certainly more painful for Ruby. With her right hand out of action for a couple of days she drew this with her left hand.

I'm slightly disconcerted that Ruby draws with her left hand better than I draw with my left hand. And I am left-handed.

04 August 2012


Grace's 'patch' work

Grace has a 'lazy eye'. It's not a turned eye, or a squint, it's an eye with a significant astigmatism. Because only one eye has the astigmatism, the brain makes sense of the very different images it is receiving from each eye by effectively ignoring the images from the astigmatic eye, thus rendering it 'lazy'. It is pretty common, but also reasonably rare for kids to notice it themselves. Grace figured it out because she is so keen to learn how to wink and everything went blurry when she closed her left eye. Patching involves covering the 'good' eye for two hours each day and forcing the brain to make sense of the images it is receiving from the other. It is frustrating for her looking at a blurry world. We are meant to do things that require her to work her eye, like drawings and jigsaw puzzles. Sewing is good too.  She embroidered this flower and made the cushion with her dad and me over the weekend.

It's quite difficult to find two hours a day to focus with her on tasks and cajole her into keeping the patch on.  We've only managed an hour and a quarter so far before she can't handle it anymore and we cave.  I've enlisted the older girls to help by blatantly bribing them.  We'll see how it all goes.

01 August 2012

Recent Insults

'You are person which is a poo'

Lily, aged 2.5, to Nina age 7.