Saturday, 25 February 2012

May the Force be with you

Take one Star Wars fan - the birthday boy. Make him a natty Jedi Knight cloak and find him a lightsaber - an empty wrapping paper tube does the job, and often lasts longer than one of the shop-bought variety. We had both.

Add a brave and clever sister - Princess Leia - to be his trusted friend...

... and welcome twelve other energetic young Padawans; ready to be trained in the ways of the Jedi.

  • Take on the dark lord and sneak up on him in a game of Darth Vader's Footsteps
  • Go on a search-and-save mission around the training HQ - collecting pictures of Star Wars characters
  • Perfect an old Jedi mind trick - in a game of May the Force be with you
  • Visit the frozen planet of Hoth and, wearing gloves, unwrap white chocolate snowballs from ice (actually foil) and eat as many as possible before the next Padawan rolls a six and takes over the task

Provide each Padawan with the components to build their very own droid...

... and be amazed at their fantastic ideas and technical skill.

Have a well-earned break with a hearty Jedi lunch...

...with an extra energy boost from home-made banana and chocolate chip muffins

 ... and some very special biscuits.

Refreshed and refuelled, congregate for the ultimate Jedi Knight challenge: lightsaber training.

One Padawan at a time, with their trusty lightsaber, for one minute against...

 ... the devilishly fast remote bubble droids. Award points for style - as well as bubble droid damage.

Finally, receive a shiny medal from Princess Leia in a special Jedi award ceremony.

 And that's how our Star Wars party went today. It was out of this world!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Sniff and Stitch

In the summer I put together an embroidery kit for my children; with binca, several skeins of colourful thread, blunt plastic needles and a couple of wooden embroidery hoops. Such lovely things - I wanted to hand them over straight away, but I promised myself that I would save them for the right moment. So they've been hidden away under the stairs since August. Today - with snow on the ground and both myself and my five-year-old at home with dreadful colds - it seemed like the perfect time to dig out the kit and try some needlework. 

Daisy has already tried large-scale stitching (weaving really) which I wrote about here. And we used the sewing machine to make short-cut cushions, which you can find here. I was interested to see whether she was ready for this smaller scale and wonderfully old-fashioned activity; her understanding of the whole how-to-make-a-stitch thing would really be put to the test. 

So, on the sofa but under a blanket, and with Classic FM tinkling optimistically in the background - our little Sniff and Stitch session began.

She watched intrigued as I stretched the cream binca into its little hoop, then she chattily chose the thread with which she wanted to start. I cut it to a length the same as that of her arm - this became a sweet little ritual every time she needed more - and I showed her how to thread her needle. She didn't ever quite master this today; despite several very sweet 'tongue-out-in-concentration' attempts.

Then we set to work on our own samplers. Mine consisted of lines of cross-stitch and zigzags - the stitches I remember learning at school. Somehow, I felt compelled to stick to convention; it was lovely to realise I hadn't forgotten the basics.

But as you can see  - there was no such desire for, or indeed knowledge of, stitch conformity for Daisy. She decided she was going to make long and colourful stripes.

She used lots of thread - and I gladly paused my stitching to help her cut it to the right length, and to thread her needle. We stitched and chatted, sniffed and blew our noses; often showing each other our ever-growing work - happy in our cosy occupation.

[Poorly girl still wanted to pose]

Daisy knew when her sampler was finished. She asked to keep it in the hoop and she proudly put it up on the wall in her room near Tommy the Owl. I think it's rather beautiful.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Voyage of discovery

Testing and building,
Inventing and more;
Two scientists working
Like never before.

They called to each other,
'Nearly there!' and 'Here's mine!'
At last each revealed
Their new rocket design.

Spacesuits folded neatly,
Stored carefully within;
It was nearing the time
For the voyage to begin.

'Goodbye planet Earth!'
The countdown then started;
All engines were fired -
Astronauts so excited!

Take-off was smooth,
To Mars they now sped;
But encountering Martians -
Headed moon-ward instead.

With technical tweaks
And much zooming round space;
Safe lunar landings
Ended their race.

Moon-walking and leaping
And 'looking for Life';
And chiselling moon rock
With a wood-chip-like knife.

Soon it was time
To head back to the rockets.
Strapped in and ready
With rocks in their pockets.

Tummies were rumbling,
Space-food would not do;
T'was time to get home
for a sandwich or two.

I eavesdropped on my two little astronauts as they played out this fabulous adventure of their own devising. They were totally immersed for a whole hour - the only children in the frozen playground. Dedication to science and space travel? - possibly. Fantastic imaginations and a love of playing together? - definitely.