Saturday, 28 July 2012

Made with love

This is quite possibly the best cake in the world, ever. Not because it's an incredibly more-ish and moist carrot cake with cream-cheese icing - which it is. And not because it has pretty, sparkle-dusted petals like a dew-covered flower - which it does. No, this cake is as special as special can be because we baked it together -  Daisy and me -  from scratch, in our sun-filled kitchen, just this afternoon.

How different then today has been to six years ago, when I was waiting - rather impatiently, as I recall - in hospital for her to arrive. And how calm it's been compared to all the 28ths of July since, when we frantically prepared for all her on-the-actual-birthday parties. This year, we held her party in term time - some two weeks ago now. 

Today, it was simply fabulous to spend some hassle-free and relaxed time in Daisy's company on the eve of her sixth birthday - just baking and chatting, and absolutely loving the sophisticated and charming wonder of a girl she's become, more than I could ever put into words.

She told me these are her best and favourite things at the moment:-

Yummiest food : pancakes, sweetcorn and nectarines
Favourite word : invisible
Pudding choice: ice cream
Best toy: Snuffy, her bedtime bear
Pattern preference: loops and dots
Favourite music: Dancing Queen by Abba
Coolest clothes: her 'Parisian scenes' play-suit
Best film: Matilda
Favourite book: Angelina Ballerina on Stage

So Happy Birthday to our gorgeous Daisy Plum - who shares AA Milne's view on the matter of being Six:

'Now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever. So I think I'll be six now. For ever and ever.'
                                                                                                                                      A A Milne

Friday, 27 July 2012

A pirate's life for me

It's hard for me to believe, but my baby girl is going to be six on Sunday. To celebrate her birthday this year she became Dangerous Daisy for the day, and had an Adventure at Sea party. There was a fair bit of preparation required, as you can see in the pictures below.

With Daisy in charge of proceedings we:
  • made and filled a treasure chest full of shells, toy sea creatures, necklaces, jewel-wrapped chocolates and sparkly gems.
  • made a sea monster costume for Daddy (who had a starring role at the party).
  • decorated the windows with sea creature cut-outs and a made a blue cellophane sea.
  • tested our telescope 'make and take' activity.
  • created our pirate ship 'The Sailing Beauty' on the garden decking.
  • tea-stained and made paper treasure bags.
  • prayed for a fair wind and no rain on the day of the voyage.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather - the party took place on the only bright day of the week - allowing us to make full use of our outside space, and to have the most glorious swashbuckling, treasure-seeking, sea monster-encountering, deep-sea-diving, mystery-solving and hearty pirate party. Ever.

  • Three mermaids, six pirates, five princesses and a deep-sea diver arrived in the most fabulous costumes, and each signed their treasure bag with a quill and black squid-ink (actually ordinary poster paint).
  • We had a training session for the new recruits where we tested their seafaring skills - such as climbing the rigging and scrubbing the deck - with games, and warmed up their voices with some lively sea shanties.
  • They each made a telescope and then the ship set sail, the adventurers in search of sunken treasure.
  • On deck there were games aplenty to pass the time as they sailed the seven seas - from beanbag tin can alley and Twister, to drawing sea creatures with chalks in the 'sea', or marking the ship's hull with piratical graffiti. 
  • The scary sea monster soon surfaced, refusing to lead them to the sunken treasure until they proved themselves worthy. There followed games of Sea Monster Says and Sea Monster's Footsteps - and some parachute-style swimming games under a large piece of turquoise sea-like fabric.
  • The monster eventually let them have the treasure, and they took the seaweed covered chest back to England, where they had to a find the key.
  • Pizza and juice were served on deck on the return journey.
  • Dangerous Daisy led a hunt around the house for clues to the location of the key.
  • And at last the treasure chest was opened and everyone's treasure bags were filled with its bounty.

  • Then the happy and loot-laden crew danced and ate birthday cake until it was home time.

What an adventure!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The play equation

Those of you who follow Adventures at Home on Facebook will know that despite my lack of posts here recently, we really have been living up to our name this July. Here's a quick peek into the creative side of my family's life this month; a few snapshots of my children doing what they do best - playing. The captions are written just as they appear on our Facebook page - simple mathematical equations, showing that whatever my children get their hands on, plus their lively imaginations always equals some pretty amazing play. Simple as that.

Neoprene + scissors + wet window + imagination = dastardly disguises

Tennis racquet + ball + wall + imagination = Wimbledon final

 Helium balloon + string + Lego Star Wars figure + imagination = slow-motion flying adventure for Padame

  Lego + imagination = A lie-in for mummy and daddy + being woken by a T Rex

 Wind-up toys + a plank of wood + imagination = The Backyard Olympics 

Cars + loop + cardboard + tape + water + imagination = best EVER high speed Jump and Splash 

Stretchy man + hair clip + imagination = cool surfer dude action

 Soft toys + doctor kit + kitchen towel bandages + imagination = a busy day at the Animal Hospital

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Raindrop-to-drop picture

Apparently the month of June was the wettest on record. Nearly a week into July, and we're still dodging - or ignoring - the showers, trying to play outside as much as we can.

Yesterday, as the rain began yet again, we took our things in from the garden. My daughter nipped back outside to retrieve a piece of paper we'd forgotten, and as she brought it in she noticed how the raindrops had made a very nice kind of pattern of dots all over its surface. We found we could see these dots especially well if we held the paper up to the light.

I secured the paper to our window to look at it some more, and Daisy decided to join up all the raindrops - with a pink felt tip pen. It was like a huge dot-to-dot picture - but without the numbers or the rules. She joined them up just as she liked, wondering what pattern the raindrops would make. 

This was such a lovely little creative activity; I love it when my children remind me just how spontaneous and exploratory making art can be.