A puppy visitor

What could give us a quicker fix of happiness than a visit from our friend’s new puppy, Finn? He is a 9 week old black Labrador and he is completely gorgeous. He is very well behaved so far except at night I am told and he has already started a bit of dog agility training, running through a tunnel in his garden after his youngest owner.

To give you an idea of his teeny size, we took a photo of him meeting a member of my daughter’s extensive doll family.

finnlucy

The doll is a Gotz one and is wearing a summer dress we made, again from the Lorine Mason book I mentioned in Dolly pyjamas: first sew. I must admit she is totally upstaged by the lovely Finn and his huge brown eyes! Dare I say Labrador-able? Oops, I just did x

finn2

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Dolly School: making an AG doll school

My daughter’s favourite game to play with her dolls is Dolly School. We have been having a lot of fun turning our old Erzi wooden shop into a designated doll school and collecting together doll sized school items, including a little globe, mini pencils and a bell for announcing playtime. Elle has really enjoyed the items in her American Girl School set and the play ideas such as picture day.

Her favourite item, however, has been a set of little books I picked up in the sale at our local Sainsbury’s that make lovely workbooks for each dolly pupil. She has labelled the front of each with the doll’s name and painstakingly fills in each piece of work she sets in every book before awarding marks and house points.

The doll uniform is a lovely touch for playing school as it is just like my daughter’s own. We got if from a great online doll clothing shop Frilly Lily and it is modelled her by the first American Girl doll my daughter ever got, a Truly Me doll she has named Jaleila.

Jaleila

American Girl Doll uniform from Frilly Lily

With a whiteboard and markers, Elle will happily teach her school for hours, planning lessons, using flip charts as props and making educational posters for the classroom. I especially love it when the dolls learn the times tables that she is practising herself that week, or uses her own spellings list for their handwriting class.

Dolly pyjamas: first sew

My daughter just had her first go at sewing some dolly pyjama bottoms on the lovely little John Lewis sewing machine she got for her birthday, and we are pleased with the results!

Modelled here by her beautiful Gotz doll Lucy, we used a pattern from a great book we have, Love to Dress Up: 18″ doll clothes by Lorine Mason.

lorinemason

 

 

Horsing around: home-made stable for an AG horse

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American Girl Doll Horse with hand-made wooden stable

Look what Grandpa made for my very lucky daughter and her new American Girl horse! We just love this beautiful wooden stable, complete with some hand-sewn accessories from Granny, including a horse blanket, straw bale and feed sacks.

stable

Hand-sewn accessories: horse blanket, bales and feed sacks

I would highly recommend the American Girl horse; her coat and hair and so soft and just gorgeous to brush and the tail just had to be plaited immediately. The saddle and bridle are easy and fun to put on and take off too. My daughter did persuade me to make one adjustment, which was to trim the fringe of Coco and she is now known, so she could see better. I am resisting the pleas to add furniture sliders to the hooves so she can be dragged around more easily!

The doll featured is AG’s lovely Maryellen with a My London Girl riding helmet. We are feeling very lucky and very happy – definitely  one for the happiness jar!

American Girl Horse with AG Maryellen doll in My London Girl riding helmet

Apps to make homework easier

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I am a big fan of children getting out in the great outdoors as much as possible, having fun and getting creative. I like to keep screen time to a minimum. So I have surprised myself in making my first blog about apps. However, I wanted to share with you a couple of apps that have really helped my family to make more time for all the fun, and even helped homework to be a little more fun along the way…

Squeebles Spelling Test and Squeebles Times Tables from keystagefun, £2.99 each

I really am not exaggerating when I say this app has changed my life. Not since the arrival of Ghd Hair straighteners has life been made so much easier. Just as I said goodbye to bad hair days then (almost), I have now said goodbye to the tantrums and torture of practicing for the weekly spelling and times tables test.#

In return for the chance to rescue a myriad of weird and wonderful Squeebles, my children now angelically sit and practice every day without a murmer of complaint. Whereas I, the marker of their practice tests, had once been cast in the role of enemy if I should dare to place a cross beside ‘caracter’ or ‘beleive’, on Squeebles Spellings, we get no more than a little sigh before they stoically try again. Bliss.

Squeebles Times Tables is also pretty perfect. It gives children the incentive needed to just keep trying and trying again to master those tables. With so many Squeebles to rescue, there’s hardly time to do their homework 😉

You can add multiple children to both apps and share tests between devices.

Piano Maestro by JoyTunes, free for basic or monthly subscription. 

 

This is a fabulous app to get children (and their parents!) started with piano or complement lessons. You simply allow the microphone on your tablet and the app recognises whether you are playing the right notes. Again you can add multiple users so when you add competitive children and the prospect of LEVELLING UP first into the mix, you get a new-found passion for practice.

There is a lovely mix of current pop songs, classical music and traditional tunes so everyone should be happy. The accompanying music helps the beginner to quickly sound rather good and its a great way to practice sight reading and timing as the notes move across the screen.