Pirate Playdough

May 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Took a fair bit of food colouring gels but it was SO worth it!! I made pirate playdough today. My eyes needed matchsticks and I forgot to put any caffeine in my coffee but Bean wanted to make pirate cakes and pirate playdough and how could I refuse?!

pirate playdough

I split a batch of regular cooked playdough gloop into three: the first bit I cooked plain, the second I added a tube and a half of black gel and a big squirt of blue gel; and the third I added almost two tubes of red gel and a vial of edible gold lustre (which I had left over from making my birthday cake last year!). Yeah, a LOT of gel colouring went into it but oh my goodness it was gorgeous to play with. The boys LOVED it. We added a lot of blue glitter to the black dough, and the boys both had a lot of fun mixing the red and black together, and hiding and finding pirate treasure (red glass beads). I cut some little flags out of shiny black card and taped them to cocktail sticks, and Bean found a Lego Bob to be his pirate. Bear had a wooden cow! They played for ages. LOTS of fun!

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough


Doesn’t it look gorgeous all marbled together like this?!



Pirate playdough

Pirate playdough



May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Why is it that God always seems to wait until we’re literally on our knees before He steps in? Again and again I will be on my last breath of patience, calling all the words of strength and encouragement and promise that I can remember to mind, speaking to myself that God is there and brings strength and is all that I am not able to be, and there He is. Without fanfare or fireworks. He just Is. And I am truly grateful, again and again.

But WHY?!! Why does He seem to make us wait? It’s like He wants to be sure that we’re aware this provision is from Him, stop us from becoming complacent, remind us that it is not us that provide for ourselves, but God who is our Provider. Why does he wait until we’ve bitten our nails down to the quick before rescuing us? Why does He wait until we ask for financial provision, surely He knows our financial situation?! Of course I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question. It’s a humbling thing, isn’t it. Asking for provision. Admitting that you’re broke, that you’re struggling, that you’re not coping by yourself. It’s breaking down our self-sufficient pride, learning to lean on each other for support, being quick to offer. It’s far easier to be selfless in giving than it is to ask for help.

And then He is not just our Provider of finance but a Provider of Grace, of Patience, of Self Control – all the fruits of the Spirit that are growing in us as we walk with God.

Which makes me think that the patience I have in me is actually God. I can’t figure out the “right” way to phrase this. Are the fruits of the Spirit actually us? Are they the Holy Spirit working through us? Is it more like the way the Trinity is three separate persons in one: when we are born again and baptised in the Spirit does it become a kind of fusion (wrong word, can’t think of the right one)?

I guess I know the answer to the first question. God’s power is displayed in us at its most wonderful when we are at our weakest. He wants us to know that He is our be all and end all. He wants us, in our times of desperation, to recognise that He isn’t just a gift horse; but that He is our Saviour.

I have been feeling pretty ragged recently. I know and recognise Jesus as my Saviour, but my relationships with my husband and children have been suffering. I have been short-tempered and irritable. Life is hard at the moment. There are good things, but it is hard work. I’m not making excuses, I’m just setting the scene a little. I’m feeling ragged and stretched beyond my capacity.

So when I reached the absolute end of my limits this evening putting the boys to bed, I remembered something I keep on one of my profiles:

God Is my strength when I am weak,
God Is my patience when mine has run out.
God Is my love when I feel I can’t cope,
God Is my grace when I just want to scream.
Anything that I have none left of, God Is.
That’s how He can best show His power through our weakness.

You know there are some quotes that when people say them to you, you actually want to punch them because right then as right as they are, and as right as the sayings are, it was the last thing you wanted to hear even if it was the thing you most needed to listen to? (And what you really wanted was a hug?)


Can’t really punch my conscience in the face though……

And yet, without me even really realising what was happening, without fanfare or fireworks, I had patience in abundance this evening after crying out to God, recognising I had gone beyond my own limits of patience and self control and was in Horrid Shouty Mummy territory. Bedtime happened. There was no more shouting or crying or wanting to run away.

I prayed with Bean once he was in bed. I prayed. Thank you God that you love us even when we are angry and shouty and grumpy and horrible. Thank you that you love us anyway. I’m sorry I was so impatient and grumpy today. Please God, let tomorrow be a better day.

Baking Tray Printing

May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

I saw some prints being made with paint in a baking tray earlier today and thought I’d test it myself before letting the boys loose with baking trays full of paint and me not knowing how much or how little we’d need. So while Bean was colouring in (his choice, he wasn’t interested in paint!) and Bear was asleep, I had some fun!

What you’ll need:

baking-tray-printing 1

1 baking tray per child (or adult!) – one with a lip all around, not a flat sheet
Squeezy ready mixed paint
Thick card. Ours was quite smooth. I wouldn’t suggest using regular copy paper because it really does get loaded up with paint and as soon as you pull it off the paint, the paper/card starts curling. The card was tricky enough getting it to lay flat to dry enough to peg onto our drying line.
Stampers. I used a piece of bubblewrap, and a lego block!

Start by quirting some paint into your tray. Then place your card on top, give it a squidge and a wiggle, press down and smooth out to get the paint underneath to cover as much of the paper as you can.

baking-tray-printing 7

baking-tray-printing 4

I’m re-using some of Bear’s latest paintings for this (I have my reasons, you’ll see further on down this post!) which is why that paper isn’t plain white.

Peel off and lay out to dry!

baking-tray-printing 6

baking-tray-printing 5

Once you’ve done as many as you want, it’s time to get out the stampers. Bubble wrap is great fun. I pressed the bubblewrap on the wet paint to pick up colour to transfer elsewhere. I added a bit more paint to my tray and dipped the bubblewrap in there to add extra colours as well. The lego block made some good extra patterns too!

baking-tray-printing 3

baking-tray-printing 2

I’ve been letting the boys paint on pieces of thick card rather than paper recently, and I love that they are just painted pieces of card. I know it won’t last, and I doubt it will be very long before Bean wants to paint “paintings” rather than just get the paper covered in colour, and I suspect Bear will be getting to the Big Messy Art age before very long. But while this lasts, I am giving myself the luxury of painting the reverse of their paintings and will eventually make my collection into a collaborative art journal celebrating this year of life with my messy boys.

Birthday card making

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

Two birthday parties today, and two birthday cards to make – so after breakfast Bean sat down to do some drawing. He wanted to draw Superman! Of course Bear got very excited about the prospect of drawing and making a mess generally so he joined in too. Bean asked me for some pictures of Superman so I found a few on my phone for us to copy. He wanted to draw the “S” symbol  so we did a bit of dot-to-dot work for the outline of the symbol and then of the “S”. He drew Superman by himself though, and chose the colours he felt appropriate! Next up was Batman and again we found a couple of images on the internet for us to copy. More dot-to-dot work to draw the outline of the Bat symbol and then again for the bat, and Bean talked me through his drawing of Batman.

batman work in progress

Batman by Bean 4yrs 6mths

Batman by Bean
4yrs 6mths

Superman by Bean 4yrs 6mths

Superman by Bean
4yrs 6mths

Bear meanwhile was getting covered in red, orange, yellow and black paint after getting bored quickly of crayons. Using black is something I’ve not really done with Bear yet, and haven’t done with Bean for quite a while – I blame Creation Station for that, reminding me why I don’t need to be scared to use black! We used stampers and sponges but mainly hands and arms. His ear is still orange and yellow although I don’t think he actually used his ear to paint with, more like used it as an extra canvas.
Bear painting

Bear painting

I think he was actually rather happy when Bean went out to the first party by himself because he got to have some quality Mama-Bear time playing in the garden instead! AND I managed to finish the second birthday card in time for the second party. I photographed the pictures Bean had drawn because he wanted to keep them, printed out some copies and used one of the painted sheets that the boys have done at Creation Station for the background of the first card. Wish I’d had chance to photograph that card too! The second card (pictured) used one of the dancing circle puppets the boys made at Creation Station a couple of weeks ago, on the same background as the first card. I’m pretty happy with it! Bean liked them anyway so that’s a result! I love re-using the things they’ve made and painted, I love them to have uses, and not just gather dust. I’m still thinking about what to do with the clay splodge that Bean decorated last week…!

How to fit a splash of painting into life…!

May 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

We go to Creation Station on a Thursday morning, which normally means that the boys aren’t interested in any more painting for the rest of the day. However today they were both looking at the paper mache balloons which have been drying on top of the piano (we have started making some big planets) and I remembered the polystyrene balls that were in the box waiting to be painted – and Bean decided that yes he would LOVE to paint them!

Thankfully we’d had a miraculously early dinner, and had some time to spare before bedtime so we got the paints out. It’s not often Bean is interested in painting actual things, so it was an opportunity not to miss. Bear was properly happy. He could hardly wait! He has grown in confidence at Creation Station and knows where everything is now, and really looks forward to painting and getting creative and messy! (Here’s hoping that he does just as well tomorrow when I’m starting work there – he’ll have all morning to wander around and get involved as little or as much as he wants, let’s hope he copes!)


So: Bean painted his planets. At our Wednesday home-ed group they showed us how to stick the poly balls onto wooden skewers and poke the skewers into the bottom of a vegetable tray so that the balls could be painted and dry without touching anything. Genius!


While he painted his planets, Bear had a large caterpillar to paint and LOVED it.


I used masking tape to see if we could create some stripes in the painting, while helping keep the caterpillar steady on the table. Very handy that the colours we were using for the planets were good colours to start the caterpillar off with!

A happy manic half hour, and my craving to do painting with boys at home has been satisfied for now. Hopefully we’ll either get more into the swing of going to a different group every day or we’ll figure out where to pare things down soon before we all get far too tired!

Anything but silent…

May 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

It may have been a but quiet on the blog front but it’s been anything BUT silent in the Messy house!

Steve has been here, there and everywhere, from mission trips to South Africa and Lesotho, to job interviews in Glasgow and Yorkshire. I think he needs some time off – at work!

We have been so busy, my happy little bumbling-along life has been taken over with groups and gatherings – all of which are good and lovely, but it does mean that in order to sustain our need for frugal living alongside all this socialising and gadding about there are things that get put on the back burner. On top of this my Bear has had a fun few weeks of taking a very long time to settle to sleep and all I want to do in the evenings is curl up! So, a lot of my “me” activities are on the back burner. Like blogging! Most of my journals are suffering at the moment. As is my breadmaking (which I’ve not blogged about) and the crochet blanket (also not blogged about yet!) that I’m working on for Bear.

It’s been pretty eventful though too. We’re embarking on a new adventure in Unschooling for the Bean (and the Bear too, by default) and if you’re interested you can follow that adventure over on my sister blog jeni and the beans. I’m still figuring out what I’ll write there and what I’ll write here, but I’ll probably keep this blog with an emphasis on kids’ art and craft, whereas the other blog will be a much wider journal on life and learning with hopefully some guest bloggers too.

Posts in the pipeline from the messy mama:
Mini Maypole crafts (from our fab home ed group)
Gardening and mud

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