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It’s not a giant squid, but we’ll cope just fine.

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Beetle and I made some cards together for the 2009 Kids’ Craft Weekly Holiday card swap. We posted ours in late November, and we were very happy this afternoon to find our first two cards in the letterbox.

These ones were from Oscar and Anouk, and Rex, from Australia. They got a bit damp but fortunately they were mostly unscathed – we have had massive rain the past couple of days. Aren’t they lovely!

This is the first time we’ve been living in a house we actually owned while having a Pending Baby, so I was very much looking forward to having a chance to decorate a nursery.   As it turned out, our other renovations in the house (creating a space for Billie to move into) meant that Bear (and Grandad) squeaked in with a quick paint-job of the walls a meagre three weeks before my due date.  But that was enough to get some assorted wall decals from Trademe and the $2 Shop up, along with the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star curtains that had recently come down from Beetle’s room.  (Normally those wall stickers shouldn’t actually go up on the walls on so fresh a paint-job, but the nursery is earmarked for Renovations Part Two: The Rest of the House in the not-nearly-distant-enough future)

Spacey nursery

I searched online for space-themed mobiles with little joy, so Beetle and I set to making some planets out of some $2-shop paper lanterns we’d bought earlier for Billie’s room, but only got so far as stringing them up in the kitchen for a birthday party.

Here are our three planets:

Paper-lantern planets

This was a really easy project – all we needed was the lanterns, tissue paper in assorted colours, and some glue.  We used slightly diluted PVA but anything that dries transparent would do.

Ripped up tissue paper

We ripped up some coloured tissue paper into strips and continent-ish blobs.

For our Earthish planet, we used a blue lantern, with tissue paper in white, blue, and two shades of green.

Gluing on the tissue paper

I sat the lantern in a noodle bowl to stop it rolling around, then Beetle brushed on some glue and started sticking the tissue paper on. I think it looks best if the strips have all rough edges and none of their original corners or edges left, but I wasn’t about to be so fussy while Beetle was working on them.  I’m just mentioning it in case you are making a planet by yourself as a grownup 🙂

Woolly planet earth

Keep sticking on bits of tissue paper, overlapping as you go, but leaving some of the original colour of the lantern to show through (if it suits your planet). You will need to rotate the lantern as you go, and may need to turn it upside down partway through the process to ensure both hemispheres get decorated.

This picture shows our Earthish planet when Beetle had finished with it.  I did a quick brush over the top with the diluted glue to smooth down the particularly woolly parts.

Since the first one was a success, I sat down and made a Saturn-ish planet while Beetle decorated one that is kind of like Venus.  I like the stripy planets the best.  Then we hung them up to dry.

Drying planet lanterns

Later on, I added a comically small ring to the Saturn lantern for added flair.  After considering various complicated ways to attach a ring, I settled on making one that was too small to go around the equator, so it wouldn’t fall off.  I just traced around a flattened lantern on the biggest bit of scrap cardboard I had (which wasn’t quite big enough!), cut out a circle somewhat bigger than that tracing, then cut out the hole in the middle to be smaller than the tracing of the lantern.  Anyway, it works.

Paper-lantern planets

They are jaunty wee planets, and they make me happy to see them hanging above the Pending Boychild’s changing table.

We were aiming this project at school holiday fun and decorations in the nursery, but I’m certain a more educational tack could be taken by those with a good reference on planets and a source of different-sized paper lanterns!

I love it when Beetle goes all experimental

I love it when Beetle goes all experimental, as she did in this painting session.

It’s Beetle’s third week of school now. At first she settled in wonderfully, but then we had some upsets late last week when she realised that we meant it; that she was a School Girl and these long school days were going to keep on happening, even if she missed me during the day and that doing fitness made her so tired she had to come home and have a nap. (Note: this has never happened)

“Mum?”

“Yes Beetle?”

“I hate school”

*sympathetic look*

“Mum?” *eyebrows and sad voice* “I love you Mum.”

Yesterday she mentioned over a (thankfully early) breakfast that if she made a teddy bear and took it for news, she would get a sticker (“nearly like being Star Of The Day”), so with a quick reference back to the latest Kids Craft Weekly (conveniently themed Bears) we managed to throw together a cardboard bear face from some packaging cardboard lying around the place.

Bear face

Beetle took her Bear and proudly wore her sticker until she got too hot and had to take off her sweatshirt. That perked up her yesterday.  She likes school much better on her walk home than at breakfast time… or bed time.

"Dot-to dot window"

"Dot-to dot window"

All in all, I think she is settling in okay. She’s willingly using the toilet at school (a big thing because using the loo is Too Boring and therefore to be avoided as much as possible), eating lunch, rocking her uniform, and very very excited about the junior school production which is on next week. Two evenings!  And of course, starting school means starting to count down to the school holidays: 3 weeks to go 🙂

Today is Beetle’s 5th birthday. We had a very successful school visit, and she will be starting school for real on Monday. But I’m changing the subject for now… everything is going so nicely I don’t want to talk about it yet.

I woke up early enough to take a quiet moment before the big birthday morning, and join SteadyMom’s afternoon tea and chat (which was at 6am NZ time)  I was telling her about the volcano cake Beetle and I made, just for fun, when the kindy kids were learning all about volcanoes and crystals last term, and I realised I hadn’t posted it here.

We started with a chocolate-and-banana cake baked in a bundt tin…

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covered it in thin chocolate icing….

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…just enough to stick on some coconut-and-green-food-colouring “grass.”

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Then Beetle mixed up some lurid red icing for “lava” (I think there was cocoa in there as well)

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I jammed a plastic cup down the “crater” of the cake to stop things falling down in there and getting lost, and drizzled over the red icing, which looks alarmingly like we’ve been decorating with the tomato sauce bottle…

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Beetle stuck on some lovely, colourful dried fruit for lava. Hooray for the bulk bins! We had dried mango strips, papaya, dried strawberries,  dried cranberries, and some kind of dried apple chunks.  Plus some chocolate coated raisins for “scoria”. Yum!

More applications of the red icing were required. Beetle kept sticking and drizzling icing until she used up all of the dried fruit I’d bought.

It was quite a violent explosion, this little volcano.  Such a lot of molten lava!

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When it was finished, we took it around to  Nanny’s place. Beetle was a little concerned that her aunties and uncles might think it was a real volcano, and be somewhat alarmed by that prospect. She carefully reassured them all that it was just a cake, and we all enjoyed having a slice of not-real volcano for afternoon tea.

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The next week, Beetle took photos and her story about making a volcano cake to kindy and shared them at news time. Everybody was most impressed 🙂

PS: So many of you are enjoying the beach, recently, following the last of summer, or the very first signs of spring in our neck of the woods. I am so jealous…. the sun is shining here, the beach is so, so close, but we have some Dregs Of Poison Pufferfish or something washing up on the shore. Whatever it is, it is killing dogs and prompting stern warnings to keep children off the beach. Poo.

Slow mornings

Billie's paintingsSomething that I have learnt in the past year or so is that a slow morning can be a glorious thing.  At Beetle’s kindy drop-off time, Billie immediately gravitated towards the painting easel, rolling up her sleeves and taking tiny baby steps while peeking back over her shoulder to see if the kindy teachers or I were watching.  “It’s okay, Billie” and she was off to work.

Beetle joined her at the easels and they painted together in relative tranquility for a good 20 minutes. Billie did three paintings, and Beetle worked so hard on her one that mat-time came along, so she had to finish it afterwards.

Beetle's corner-rainbow art

Billie and I rolled up to the shops, where I was planning on doing my yucky glucose screening test but instead took a phonecall from Mum and had an almond croissant with her instead (a much better deal!).  Caught up with Billie’s much-needed haircut, picked up our prescriptions, bought a ten-cent post-haircut lollipop, had a go on the strange little car ride outside the Four Square, and then wandered back to kindy.

It’s nice to not be in a hurry.  That season is coming soon, but for now we’re taking it slow when we can.

Empty nest

The old houseToday, my Mum and Dad are moving into a new, smaller home, some 15 minutes up the track.  They’ve moved out of the family home that they have been in for 25 years; where they lived when my sister was born, and where us kids all grew up and left home from.  Since they were left with an empty nest, a large and hilly section, and a house that was “designed by somebody who hates the sun” (according to Bear) it was time for Mum and Dad to move on.

The process happened very fast.  In the last days of May, they fell in love with a little place which was for sale by tender.  They missed out on that one, but pushed through to put their house on the market anyway.  After a decade of worrying about how long the place would take to sell, and having to sell it in the middle of winter, they had a cash buyer the first day after it came on the market, and they have turned around and bought their new place to move into today.

On the day they moved out, I took the girls, a rug, a stack of paper napkins and a batch of cinnamon-swirly scones around, and we all sat on the rug with Mum and Dad and my sister in the empty lounge, for one last time.

It is a big change.  The old house is a 10 minute walk from our house, and a 3 minute detour from our walk to Beetle’s school, and was a very convenient place to pop in between morning-goings-out and end-of-kindy-pickup.  And besides, we have a lot of memories there.

But (once I have driven that motorway-run “up the track” a couple of times) we will soon be settled in to the new place.  Bear’s parents have lived in 4 different places since we got married, and once you go to the new place a couple of times you don’t really think about the old one any more.

Today, Billie and I drove past the old house.  I thought Billie might not understand, but she just said “Nanny’s old house. Nempty now.”

She gets it.  In the next few months, I’m going to miss having Mum so close by.  But I’ve lived 10 and 20 minutes away from her with a baby before; I can do it again.

Golden