Rejections and Party Preparations

Can you tell what it is yet?

Can you tell what it is yet?

I think my brain might just explode. Everyone take cover!

I always overthink things – it’s a major flaw and one I’ve battled with all my life. Mostly these days I deal with it by being so tired I can’t think. Besides, ignoring the cleaning and laundry and reading or writing a book instead doesn’t take much thought!

But once I enter into party-prep mode, my brain goes on overdrive. It’s as if it says, “Ooh, planning, I recognise this! This is what you did to earn a living. Hurrah, I’m needed. Think. Think. Think!”

So I wake at two in the morning, planning how I’ll make and decorate the piñata, and how I’ll keep it a secret from the kids. I plan how to make superhero cuffs to the nth degree. I stress over how to make a Ninjago cake, and what to do when the icing turns out germoline pink rather than lego red.

Not exactly things worth stressing over. Definitely Middle Class problems: especially in a world of refugees and politics and homelessness.

7 pairs of cuffs ready to go

7 pairs of cuffs ready to go

Which means then I feel guilt for my triviality. For rushing home to mow the lawn after dropping the children at school, rather than rushing to work to do something important and serious.

Except I worked in marketing. In car insurance. Not exactly earth shattering: hardly making the world a better place.

Perhaps planning just the right Jungle Scramble obstacle course, or Superhero Musical Statues, or Spiderman piñata is actually making the world a brighter place.

Who knows?

At least I’m being brought to earth by my ‘day job’ such as it is. My first rejection arrived this week. A lovely ‘thanks but no thanks’ which arrived at a speed to suggest the query wasn’t even read.

Never mind.

I suspect a pink ninja might not be appreciated!

I suspect a pink ninja might not be appreciated!

Rejections mean I’m trying: it’s like bad book reviews. It means I’ve written a book that someone read and had a reaction about.

Rejections mean I’m trying to find an agent, to get my books published and into children’s hands where they belong. I’m engaging with the world I want to belong to.

So bring on the piñata and the pink icing, bring on the rejections.

But most of all, bring on October, so I can let my brain drift back into its happy fog!

Art in August #13 – Cookies

Iced Biscuits

Iced Biscuits

Today’s plan for school holiday survival has involved craft and cookies. The children were booked in to do craft at our local library, as part of their summer reading challenge.

We were going to head to the park first but it took two hours to hustle the children into the car. I’m not looking forward to being back on a strict timetable in three and a bit weeks, even if I am longing for five minutes by myself.

The library craft involved decorating scales for a giant dragon. These days I let the kids get on with it and listen to the more controlling parents getting frustrated with trying to steer the production of something beautiful.

Son's cookies

Son’s cookies

It’s one of the many things I’ve learned to let go in five and a half long years of parenting wilful children. I still offer guidance and encouragement and occasionally, when they’re not looking, I’ll cheat. But what do I care whether their creations look like scales or not? It’s the doing, not the end product. (I almost didn’t even mind when I saw some of the neat, colourful and inventive designs the other children did! Hehe)

Ditto goes for the cookies. My plan for today involved buying gingerbread men (and picking up a Waitrose coffee) before going to the park. As that didn’t happen, I decided we would make some. I’m pre-menstrual: cookies are essential. Besides, it meant another couple of hours filled and a tick in the Mummy box, to off set the hours of TV they’re watching these days.

Daughter's designs

Daughter’s designs

I no longer supervise, except to put the finished products in the oven. We’ve made them often enough to know what to do. I love that lazy parenting is sometimes the best sort!

I decided icing biscuits might as well be today’s artistic effort. Except I don’t do baking. I look at pictures of fancy birthday cakes made by Mummies I know (they seem to be never ending on Facebook) with envy, as I buy mine from Tesco. So I don’t have any of the kit either. Icing is done with bowls and plastic cutlery.

As a result I’m especially proud of my dribble-design iced biscuits. Artistic (after a fashion) AND tasty (sort of – I ran out of syrup), what more can you want?

Art in August #9 – Watercolour Dragon

Watercolour Dragon

Watercolour Dragon

I decided to introduce my daughter to the joys of watercolour painting today, using the proper kit rather than the cheap paints and brushes that come in kids’ kits.

We picked up a pad of heavy-weight grained paper after dropping little man at nursery, and I got out the hallowed box of expensive watercolour paints for the first time in five years.

I decided to have a go at drawing and painting a dragon, as that’s become a bit of a summer theme. I’m okay at copying things but I have no ability to draw things from my head, so I opted for a YouTube tutorial, seeing as that’s worked so well for the loom-bands.

I used this tutorial for the sketch – How to Draw a Dragon – Ten Minute Fast Doodle – and then made up the colours. I’m a bit rusty, and spent half the time watching my daughter like a hawk to make sure she didn’t leave my sable brush standing in the water pot (she did, frequently), but it was great fun.

Today reminded me of two things: 1) I love watercolours but need to practise more, and 2) detailed artwork and small children don’t really mix. I’m so precious about my paintings and my equipment and I’m like a two-year-old when it comes to sharing! One more thing to add to my ‘when the kids have left home’ list 😉

This post is part of the Art in August challenge from the Laptop on the Ironing Board blog.

Art in August #7 – Loomband Unicorns

Rockin' Unicorns

Rockin’ Unicorns

Oh look, more loomband creations! This one was my daughter’s choice, as it was just the two of us today (and after we made a cardboard robot and a clay unicorn).

The brightly coloured one is hers (at least, she selected the bands! At 5 years old, her attention span and dexterity aren’t quite up to this yet.)

Unfortunately the sparkly bands are very soft so I hoped the unicorn pegasus would stand up better if made with solid bands. As you can see it didn’t make much difference: they’re still either newborn or drunk.

Never mind, I think they look quite rock and roll! If only my clay unicorn had looked as cool. It was so awful I squished it and my daughter made a snowman instead.

A day with my gorgious girl

A day with my gorgeous girl

On a non-artistic note, I’ve made it to the end of the second week of the school holidays; only four more to go (thank goodness we only have six).

While I’m certainly not missing the school run, we are all starting to unravel and to get on each other’s nerves. My son’s report from nursery today was that he’d been ‘challenging’, I spent two hours trying to sleep through Doc McStuffin episodes, and then had to carry my 5-year-old round the field on my shoulders, while walking the dog, because she got a blister.

When we got home from nursery pick-up, little man managed three tantrums in about ten minutes and little lady had two. The house looks like the aftermath of a three-day sugar-fuelled festival for preschoolers and the dog’s taken to following me around like a shadow. I haven’t figured out if she wants a walk or some respite from the constant arguing.

Life-sized robot

Life-sized robot

This evening, despite the less than desirable behaviour, I ordered the kids a GlowPet pillow pet each, as bribery/compensation because I’ve cancelled our planned trip to Sea Life tomorrow (I can’t face it!)

But as the pillows won’t arrive for a week I still have to come up with a plan for entertainment or they are going to murder each other.

Please tell me how any of us are going to survive another month? Thank heavens for Art in August, Facebook and Escape to the Country… Oh and chocolate.

Art in August #4 – More Loomband Pets

Loomband Alligator

Loomband Alligator

I had intended to have something other than clay and loomband creations to show off today, but as I’ve been in bed poorly all weekend this is all I have.

I probably shouldn’t have done these, even, as the eye strain is possibly contributing to my general feeling of dizzy malaise, but I need something to stay sane. There is only so much Commonwealth Boxing and episodes of Flog it! you can watch!

So, I introduce loomband Alligator and loomband Giraffe. Both come courtesy of DIYMommy instruction videos on YouTube.

Loomband Giraffe

Loomband Giraffe

My daughter requested the giraffe and helped me with some of the prep but really the 3D pets are a little hard for her concentration levels (or should I say for my patience levels – trying to teach a five-year-old to listen and follow a 45 minute tutorial is beyond my skill!)

The Alligator is the hardest thing I’ve made so far, involving much cursing, especially as it turns out the green bands I have are weak and prone to snapping (no pun intended).

Still, I am growing rather fond of my loomband pets (I have a purple bunny which is probably my favourite to date.) Hubbie thinks I might need counselling for my addiction…

This post is part of the Art in August challenge on the Laptop on the Ironing Board blog.

Art in August #3 – Clay Dragon

My dragon

My dragon

When my daughter asked to do modelling with clay, I knew what I wanted to make. A while ago, fellow author Rinelle Grey took a break from writing to make clay dragons. They are adorable. Her designs were based on the work of Becca Golins, aka Dragons and Beasties, who makes the most incredible dragons. I want them all…

Anyway, I’ve wanted to make one ever since seeing Rinelle’s post, especially as my first complete novel is all about dragons.

Unfortunately it turns out I don’t quite have the knack (oops, scrap that, one of the rules of Art in August is to not apologise for your art!) I think my first attempt is cute, in a timid sort of way. I wonder if it could be Ilaria.

Daughter's dragon

Daughter’s dragon

I must investigate what clay to use, as I don’t think painted white clay has the same impact (plus it’s really hard to paint!)

All good fun and, as with the clay dog yesterday, my daughter’s dragon was cool too. It reminds me of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.

This post is part of the Art in August challenge on the Laptop on the Ironing Board blog.

Art in August #2 – Painted Clay Dog

Painted clay dog

Painted clay dog

My daughter saw a flyer for a workshop to make clay dogs this holiday and I failed miserably to get her booked on it. As recompense I took her to the craft shop and let her spend the £10 it would have cost on craft materials, including a pack of air drying clay.

It’s been a long time since I modelled with anything other than playdoh and it took a while to remember how. But I very much enjoyed making my pieces and leaving my daughter to do her own without interference.

Today, despite being exhausted after a four-hour trip to the local woods to do a Gruffalo trail, and being full of cold, we managed to find the energy to paint our creations. I’m cheating slightly and saving one for tomorrow, as we have a busy weekend, but this is my dog. My daughter’s is below.

My daughter's dog

My daughter’s dog

This post is part of the Art in August challenge, as described on the Laptop on the Ironing Board blog.