Saturday, April 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes: 17th April

1. Ash in Sky: UK Cut Off! ... Thanks to a volcanic eruption in Iceland virtually all flights in UK airspace have been grounded since Thursday lunchtime. The ban is now in place until at least tonight, but it looks as though it will go on for longer. Much of northern Europe is in the same position, and over 60% of flights within Europe were grounded yesterday. There is no sign of the ash cloud on the ground, but it is floating around at 20,000 feet, just where the planes want to fly. As ash is known to pose a severe risk to jet engines, nobody is going anywhere. Ironically a friend's son had his flight to Crete cancelled ... where he was supposed to be studying seismic activity! Perhaps he should have gone to Iceland instead.

2. Hopefully the volcano will have sorted itself out by the autumn, as we have booked flights for Tevye and I to spend a weekend in Budapest. Bizarrely, it is possible to fly to Budapest and back for the same cost as a full tank of petrol in our Vauxhall Zafira (not a large car!). Flights on budget European airlines are cheap; petrol is not. 

3. It's been a busy week, as somehow all our Easter break activities got crammed into the second half of the school holiday. We finally made it to Alice in Wonderland and liked the 3D, though found it took a good 10 to 15 minutes to adjust to the 3D glasses. I'm trying to get my head round the idea of 3D television - somehow I think I would find it very disorientating to watch TV in 3D.

4. Monday's trip out was to Hampton Court Palace, as Star has been longing to do the famous maze there for some time. Angel opted not to come, so it was just myself, Star and Cherub. Cherub was intrigued by the royal apartments, but confused as to why King William III did not have a TV or computer!

5. On Thursday I took Star and her friend to London to visit the Tate Modern art gallery, and to take part in a Draw Like a Designer workshop. Both have ambitions to be fashion designers, so this was right up their street. Isn't it amazing how one simple but obvious idea can completely transform how you approach something. The key to fashion illustration is templates! Once you have a template of a figure (looks a lot like an undressed paper doll), drawing clothes onto it becomes easy. I would never have thought of that. Duh!

6. I have realised that complaints of "there's nothing to eat!" from my daughters actually translate as "I can't find anything junky to snack on". When offered real food, they suddenly become not-so-hungry. Unless the food is grapes, strawberries or blueberries, but my budget can't keep up with the unlimited demand for those.

7. Lesson learned last week. If sending girls somewhere by bus, to save on that ludicrously expensive petrol, make sure they know where to get the bus back. I had to rescue Star and a friend from from a shopping centre after they lost - and therefore missed - the bus home. So much for economising.

Read more quick takes at Conversion Diary

Monday, April 12, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook: 12th April 2010

Outside My Window ... a clear, dry morning. Pink blossom on the hedge round our back garden and daffodils at the front. Finally it looks like spring.

I am thinking ... this is going to be a fun week.

From the learning rooms ... Easter holiday field trips. History and art this week.

I am thankful ... for time spent with my girls. They are growing up so fast.

From the kitchen ... chaos. During school holidays everyone is out and about randomly, making meal planning very difficult.

I am wearing ... black and white pyjamas, snuggly blue dressing gown.

I am creating ... socks for my brother, promised since Christmas. Cherub's little dress is finished and she is wearing it today. In reality it is more of a tunic top than a dress, but it looks cute with leggings.

I am going ... to take Star and Cherub to Hampton Court Palace today.

I am reading ... another non-reading week. I am in such a reading slump this year.

I am hoping ... nothing at Hampton Court causes Cherub to freak out. We tried taking her to the cinema last week and she freaked before we made it to the front of the queue for tickets.

I am hearing ... Peppa Pig

Around the house ... tidy bedrooms. It won't last, but both older girls currently have reasonably tidy rooms. It doesn't happen often.

One of my favorite things ... my iPod Touch, which will keep Cherub entertained on the train (I hope!)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... Today (Monday) - Hampton Court; Thursday - taking Star and her friend on an art trip to London, visiting the Tate Modern followed by an art workshop on fashion illustration for the girls; Saturday - clothes shopping trip with Angel and Star

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ...

Find instructions and links to other daybooks at The Simple Woman

Friday, April 09, 2010

7 Quick Takes: 9th April

1. For the first time this year I took all three girls to the Easter Vigil. Cherub was very pleased to be allowed her own candle, though it was a rather high risk strategy. Nothing got burned, though quite a bit of candle wax got spilled on clothes. She was very worried about the Easter fire, and had to be taken to a safe distance by Star. I think she may have got mixed up with Bonfire Night!

2. The General Election is on. At last! In Britain a general election of all Members of Parliament must be held at least once every five years, but the timing is chosen by the outgoing government. This lot have left it to almost the last possible minute. Voting is on May 6th, so we have a month of intense electioneering to look forward to.

3. A welcome side effect of the election is that our current relatively relaxed homeschooling laws will continue, at least for the time being. The government had intended to introduce pretty draconian regulation of homeschooling in the near future, but their plans were thrown out by the other parties in the "wash up" (where the outgoing government tries to shove through as much last minute legislation as possible, which can only be done if the measures are not contentious and the other parties agree).   

4. We tried taking Cherub to the cinema for the first time last week. Tried, but didn't succeed. She seemed quite enthusiastic about seeing "Alice in the Rabbit Hole" (as she called it), but freaked out when we got there. I think the meltdown was due to a combination of the size of the building (it is part of a complex that includes an indoor ski slope), the number of people, and suddenly recalling a previous freak out in another part of the complex last summer (an encounter with a Disney-style character meant to entertain children, which she finds utterly petrifying). By the time we had waited in the (long) queue for tickets for two minutes, it was obvious that she was not going to cope. We went to Toys R Us instead.

5. Star took part in her second dance festival on Monday evening. Last time her group were performing their dance for the first time, really needed more rehearsal, and the best that could be said was that they got through it with no disasters. This time they were much more polished and came second in their group, with a mark that qualifies them to take part in the All England Championships next year. Their dance was originally choreographed for an older group, who performed it in this video:

I think most of the dancers in the video would have been 13 or 14 at the time, whereas Star's group are a bit younger, mostly 11 or 12. The dance is essentially the same, with a few minor tweaks and the addition of an extra mermaid. The style is lyrical modern.

6. Any one else a Doctor Who fan? A new series started here last week with Matt Smith as the Doctor. So far, so good.

7. Quote from a daughter who shall remain anonymous: "Can I borrow Dad's jacket? I don't want to get tomato ketchup down my white top ..."

Read more quick takes at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

40 Trash Bag Challenge: Weeks 6 and 7 Update

Heading into the final straight of the  40 Trash Bag Challenge ... nine more bags over weeks 6 and 7, making a total of 30 altogether. In theory last week should have been week 8 and the final push, but it didn't happen. Ten more bags to go to reach the target, which I'm hoping I can achieve over this week and next.

11 bags of books

2 bags of old magazines, catalogues and papers

9 bags of clothes

1 bag of old shoes

3 bags of toys, games and puzzles

4 bags of bedding

Monday, April 05, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook: 5th April 2010

Outside My Window ... no rain! The whole weekend has been more or less dry, but Star and my brother headed off bright and early to a car boot sale* only to find it was called off because the field was waterlogged.
* Car "boot" = "trunk". Sellers pay a small amount for a pitch to sell items from the back of their cars. Probably the closest British equivalent to the US garage sale.

I am thinking ... I need to get back onto my housework to-do list. I have been letting things slip.

From the learning rooms ... Easter holidays started on Good Friday, so the girls have two weeks at home.

I am thankful ... for wonderful neighbours who are helping me get my iMac up and running. Our next door but one neighbour dug a spare hard disk out of his loft for me, and A-next-door has offered to install it for me. Meanwhile we are waiting for some very small torq screwdrivers to arrive so that we can actually get into the machine!

From the kitchen ... leftovers from the leg of lamb we cooked for Easter Sunday.

I am wearing ... blue pyjama bottoms, white pyjama top, soft and snuggly blue dressing gown.

I am creating ... still knitting Cherub's dress. Should be finished this week.

I am going ... to Northampton to take Star to a dance festival. An hour's drive (each way), two or three hours of hanging around, two minutes dancing. We are going with a friend and her daughter who is in the same dance group and stopping off at IKEA on the way.
I am reading ... Making Use of the Census (a guide for historians)

I am hoping ... there is no such thing as too much chocolate.

I am hearing ... Cherub watching Balamory.

Around the house ... a chocolate mountain. Or possibly several chocolate mountains.

One of my favorite things ... the new Wii. I think we are all going to have a lot of fun with it. (Cherub: "I'm going to have a turn next ... because I's desperate!")

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... IKEA and dance festival today; evening with neighbours on Friday; otherwise a free week to do whatever takes our fancy.
A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ... by Star

Find instructions and links to other daybooks at The Simple Woman