Nakedness Dens and Food

My life with four little boys

Being “one of those mums” Attempt #5 – The Suncatcher

Aaaand… we’ve arrived: the last leg of my current journey to the shores of “one of those mums”. I’ve been so touched by all the encouraging remarks I’ve received as well as by people taking the time to send me their suggestions of things to try. Particularly memorable was someone I last saw many years ago when she was about 13 during my time as a youth worker, who took the time when she was out shopping ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD to take a photo of something she spotted and send it to me via the wonders of social media! And there were many more people who for one reason or another thought enough of me to make contact with possible craft suggestions so thank you all. Really guys. You are all too cute 🙂 I haven’t had time (and sanity… I am only a tourist to this land after all…) to try them all but the 5th craft I did give a go comes from a blog written by a wonderful fellow mum and friend of mine who (now she’ll probably argue with me but she is. Trust me) is simply brilliant at this sort of stuff. Her blog is well worth checking out here From it, I took the idea of making a suncatcher and this week fellow villager Julie and her son were back to join in the fun… oh and it involves everybody’s favourite craft material too: sticky black plastic *cue Blue Peter theme tune*. Enjoy…


The Travel Log –

The first thing we did was go out in the garden to collect various flowers and leaves to use. I gave each boy a tub and said they could pick anything they liked. Whilst this did prove to be a risky strategy when son #3 came back with a whole heap of lettuce leaves from the vegetable patch (My fault I guess as I forgot to specify no veggies!), they quite enjoyed this bit – especially as I don’t normally allow them to vandalise the flowers in this way! We were considering going on a nature walk to do the collecting but in the end the garden sufficed (read “in the end we decided we didn’t have the energy!”). We also collected together a few craft bits (feathers, sparkly jewels, stickers, beads…. etc.) to use alongside the flowers and leaves inside the suncatcher as well as to decorate it externally to extend the activity further.


Knowing the fidgety nature of little boys and the limited pairs of hands that Julie and I had between us to help, we thought it best to prepare the suncatchers a little bit in advance by cutting the centre out of a paper bowl (should have been a plate but I ran out so I used the bowls I happened to have instead, which did the job just as well but you end up with a thinner border than if using plates). In order to make the stuff stick you need to cut to size and attach sticky back plastic (contact paper) to the underneath of the newly formed circle and fasten it around the edge. This we also did in advance but if you only have one or two children there is no reason they couldn’t help do these things or even do them independently if capabilities allow.


The good things about having done this is that it meant that the boys could go straight in to the exciting bit: the sticking! They had so much fun and it was lovely to see how each one was unique as they created their own little designs.


Once they were happy with their work we stuck more sticky back plastic on top, just to make sure everything stayed in place nicely, and then punched a hole in it to thread string through so they could be hung up. After that the boys were able to decorate both the string with beads/craft shells and the border with stickers.


I have to say I was really impressed with the results. They all looked very pretty. The boys were more interested in running around in the garden than posing with their creations for a photo afterwards, and it was also a bit windy for the suncatchers to stay still (see photo 1) but I did my best to display them in their best light for you to see how they turned out.


I’ve waited a while before posting this as I wanted to see how long everything would last before going brown inside the sticky back plastic. It’s a week on now and actually everything still looks really nice. So as I write this I’m not sure how long they will last but so far they’re still going strong. And they look lovely hanging in my kitchen widow (they didn’t stay on the clothes horse!).

🙂 🙂

The Review –

Success Rating: 5/5 – really successful I thought.

Fun Factor: 5/5 – I wasn’t sure how they would take to it as making “pretty things” with flowers could have been seen as being a bit “girly” especially by my Mr 9 year old, but they all really enjoyed it.

Difficulty Level: 2/5 – The hardest part was sticking the sticky back plastic to the circle shape. But apart from that, really easy.

Cost: 3/5 – The sticky back plastic was £3.99 from Rymans. My friend bought the craft bits so they didn’t cost me anything but you may have to buy them. Same goes for the paper plates or bowls. So quite cheap for me but I guess it depends what you already have knocking about and whether you are “one of those mums” who has a permanent stash of things (or have a crafting partner who is!).

Should you try it?: Yes. Just for fun or I reckon they would make a lovely Mother’s Day gift. 🙂


And with that, I am signing off on the final postcard from my journey. I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s proved a wonderful weekly focus over the summer holidays. But now it’s time to tidy my newly acquired “one of those mums” stash of craft bits away and get ready for the new school term. Who knows, with this new found “making stuff” string to my bow, I might even volunteer to make a cake for the weekly raffle! Now, where’s my mixing bowl….?


Helen -x-


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Being “one of those mums” Attempt #4 – The Decorated Memory Box

At the risk of sounding like I’m making the-dog-ate-it-type-excuses for turning this one in late and for it being such poor quality, last week we kind of entered a twilight zone involving room-fulls  (Is that a word? It should be. Coz that is what they were. Not just lots of rooms that were full, but each room held like a room-FULL… as in a quantity… anyway… ) of washing due to a week away that was punctuated with, and proceeded by, many various illnesses effecting different family members at sporadic times over about a 10 day period. I genuinely didn’t think I would ever get my kitchen floor back and would be destined to climb over piles of dirty clothes, sheets and duvets in front of my washing machine for-EV-ER!


As an apprentice one-of-those-mums I was determined not to let the situation stop me from being… er… one-of-those-mums! Racking my brain for something really, really, easy to do with the boys I remembered son #1’s homework. (Yes. Homework. In the summer holidays. Don’t. Get. Me. Started. Seriously. The education system in this country probably deserves a full scale rant in a post all of its own, so I won’t start one now. But yes, for whatever reason you choose to believe, my nine year old son was given homework over the summer holidays.) One of the tasks set him was to keep a memory box which actually, even I have to admit, is quite a nice idea, and so as not to make him feel too bad for having homework when his brothers didn’t I decided to suggest they all keep one – the big ones that is. Up until now, they had been plain shoe boxes. But, cue one-of-those-mums armed with a plethora of sticky bits, paper bits, drawing bits and cutting bits and I present to you… *Decorated* memory boxes… (I did warn you this one was of poor quality…!)


The Travel Log –

I am almost too embarrassed to write any more on this one. I mean, it really is fairly obvious. Basically, each child was given a shoe box in which to collect things that were significant to them – e.g. the wrist band from the caravan park we stayed on, shells from a beach visit, a flyer from the holiday club they went to. And during this activity they used various “bits and pieces” to decorate the box as they wanted. Two used wrapping paper and one coloured copier paper. They all used stickers of different kinds but one of them also found and printed off some pictures he liked on the computer to use. The photos below (not that you need them to illustrate the explanation) show what we got up to – It might be worth pointing out that if you want to copy this activity yourself, the nakedness is optional!


So simple. The boys had a great time personalising their boxes. And you can fit it in easily between sorting out washing loads!


The Review –

Success Rating: 5/5 – not much to go wrong here really

Fun Factor: 3/5 – yes the boys enjoyed it but admittedly there are probably more exciting things to do. I think the fun factor is actually in the concept of the memory box as a whole rather than just it being something else to decorate for no apparent reason

Cost: 5/5 – dirt cheap 🙂 The shoe boxes came from a local shoe shop for free – just go in and ask. And everything else I really did just have around the house

Should you try it?: Yes, if your little ones are old enough to understand the concept of a memory box, I think its a great thing to do one over a long holiday period, and by all means stick a load of “stuff” over it to add to the excitement!


So there you go. I do feel that what I lacked in imagination (and time) last week I made up for in sheer determination given what I was up against, so I’m claiming extra one-of-those-mum points for that… (thank you very much, don’t mind if I do… ) and for having everything I needed by rummaging around in drawers at home… (oh yes I did clever old me!) But hey, look, I promise the next activity is A LOT more creative so please don’t give up on me yet! I am learning , really I am. No. Really I am. Seriously. I am. OK. Struggling to not sound sarcastic now so signing off.


Helen -x-

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Being “one of those mums” Attempt #3 – The Noodle Lightsaber

So. School holidays week 3 and it was time to do cutting and sticking! But don’t panic if you’re more like me than a Blue Peter presenter, if you want to give it a go, I really can testify to how easy it is. Courtesy of a fab idea by fellow villager Julie, I present to you, noodle (the swimming kind, not the pasta kind!) lightsabers…


The Travel Log –

The aim was for the boys to make a single and a double lightsaber each. Now I feel it only fair to point out that the inspiration for this fell firmly into Julie’s court here as what I know about Star Wars, despite having a house full of small and not so small boys, could be fitted easily onto the head of a tiny pin. So I was most definitely following somebody else’s lead with this craft. We started off making the double lightsabers (I don’t even know if that’s the technical term for them but it’s the one I shall stick with coz it makes sense!) by sticking silver masking tape in the middle all the way round. Then all the boys had to do was decorate the silver section appropriately with coloured tape and stickers. And voila!  


The smaller ones were made by simply cutting the noodles in half (which was more successful with a bread knife than scissors) and sticking the silver tape at one end for the handle before decorating as per before. As you can tell lots of artistic license was used with design but they were all very proud of their efforts!


And they had great fun putting them to good use in the garden too… 🙂


So there you have it. I told you it was easy. All you need is a big enough garden to let them run around whacking each other in for a while (which Julie has thankfully) and it’s the making of a fun afternoon! In fact, at the risk of sounding smug, we even turned it into a Star Wars Day (well, what else are you gonna do with a bunch of boys in the school holidays?) with Star Wars colouring and a Star Wars DVD with popcorn too! Really felt like I earned my mum-of-boys brownie points on this one 🙂


The Review –

Success Rating: 5/5 – yes, total success. Lots of light saber-star wars-type making and playing = lots of happy boys 🙂

Fun Factor: 4/5 – Only dropped a point because the initial taping was very adult-led and time consuming so the boys did get a bit bored but once they could be more involved they loved it

Cost: 4/5 – even if you are a signed up member to the “one-of-those-mums” club you’re unlikely to have everything you need just knocking about for this one. But pretty much everything I was assured came from the pound shop, even the noodles, so not too costly at all.

Should you try it?: If you have Star Wars fans then YES! Otherwise, stick to using the noodles for swimming!


Right. No craft next week as we’re off on our family holiday and, as much as I am enjoying this experience, I’m really not going to pack the sticky back plastic, scissors and glitter glue.. even if I had them… which I don’t… but you knew that anyway! In the mean time I’ve got my thinking cap on already for the week we come back. Any other local villagers want to join me…? Go on. You might surprise yourself!


Helen -x-



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Being “One Of Those Mums” Attempt #2 – The Water Wall

Week number 2 of our school holidays and still glorious weather (shhh…. don’t remind the shiny thing in the sky that this is England in July or it might go away!) so I decided on another sun friendly water craft activity to have a stab at. Again, fellow villager Julie and her son joined us in the mayhem and we spent a rather enjoyable afternoon together making a Water Wall. I found the idea here at Happy Hooligans, which gives a much better set of instructions for you to follow than my “travel log” in case you want to try it yourself


The Travel Log –

Now this one was really fun to do and totally within even my capabilities. A really simple way to re-use bottles, tubs and pots from the recycling bin in a creative way. After explaining to the boys what we were making (persevering through a few initial blank looks… which I know how to deal with because it happens a lot when I attempt to talk to my boys…) we had great fun planning, designing and making different sections of our water wall out of all the bits and pieces I had been collecting over the previous few weeks. As well as the recycling I also spent a few pounds on some pipe-joiner-type-plumbing-things (what IS the technical term for those pieces?!) and bought out the faithful duct tape to fasten things together where necessary. In the main everyone really enjoyed this bit. I think it helped that it was so “hands-on” from the off unlike the previous Water Pillow activity. The children got the idea really quickly and came up with some fab suggestions. Whilst we did have to navigate our way through a rather lengthily discussion with my 9 year old about why gravity means that whatever you make, the water really won’t be able to go up hill (Seriously intense child. And exhausting. And yes that is him in a police officer’s costume; well what else do you wear to do craft?!) it held their attention for quite some time.


After we had made a few main pieces we started assembling our water wall on a garden fence. The blog I was following suggested using staples however I found that these were not able to hold everything in place so we ended up using large drawing pins instead (which I just happened to have in a drawer somewhere… I KNOW… get me!). Incidentally, the blog also suggested that you might have some pieces of wood just laying about somewhere to “knock something together” for the wall bit but we all know that I’m not the sort of person who does, so my fence had to do – which it did actually, rather magnificently in my opinion!  We kind of built and tested as we went along to make sure all the holes were in the right place and water could flow easily. And the boys particularly enjoyed holding the hose pipe during the testing whilst the mummies moved things around as this invariably meant giving us a soaking at the same time! As we built it we made more pieces to compliment what we were doing and ended up with the creation you can see in the photos. It certainly captivated the boys on a hot summer’s day and my 9 year old (once he had calmed down from our “discussion” about the limitations of gravity) even extended the activity by making a “shower” using the bird table – which he was really pleased to be able to use to help cool himself down! Coupled with the inevitable water fights and break for an ice lolly doing this activity occupied everyone for a whole afternoon.



The Review –

Success Rating: 5/5 (really rather impressed with how it all turned out. Although, might have been a different story if we had tried to accomplish the same when my 10 month old wasn’t having a long nap! Actually, whilst my little one slept through the whole thing, and I deliberately planned it this way for the older ones, I see no reason why a smaller water wall wouldn’t be suitable for some fun water play with tinies, as long as it was put together in advance and built on a safe surface)

Fun Factor: 5/5 🙂

Difficulty Level: 2/5 (slightly more involved than the making of the water pillow last week but still not that difficult at all really.)

Cost: 5/5 (Negligible if you only use what you would otherwise have recycled plus staples or pins to attach everything. The extra bits I added cost £6.20 for 5 pieces from B & Q but a better parent might have such things “knocking around” somewhere!)

Should you try it?: YES 🙂

– Well I think so anyway. You of course might feel that pinning a load of old margarine tubs and plastic bottles to your fence is an odd thing to do. But trust me, it works!!


So that’s me done for another week then. It’s all going rather well so far. Hope I haven’t peeked to early…


Helen -x-

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Being “One Of Those Mums” Attempt #1 – The Water Pillow

So, this week began the long school summer holidays where we live and thus signalled my even longer journey into the land of being “one of those mums” (see previous post!). Given the glorious weather we are currently enjoying I decided to get going with this sun friendly “craft” activity which I found on a friend’s amazing blog (who is “one of those mums”) here http://

Now this is my kind of craft as it involves no paint, sticky back plastic or toilet tubes. It was basically set to involve two polythene sheets taped together with duck tape and filled with water to form a large water pillow. Even I could mange that surely?! Just to make sure, fellow villager Julie and her son joined me in the task…


The Travel Log –

Although the idea was to stick two sheets together laying one on top of the other, due to lack of space we folded a 5m x 4m sheet in half instead. My friend’s blog features her four beautiful children all excitedly taking part in the making process however, we have obviously birthed a different breed as our 5 little boys struggled to find the rolling over and sticking the sides down bit interesting enough to hold their attention. Although they showed more excitement when the hose pipe appeared (much more interesting than duck tape admittedly!), the novelty of filling up the pillow wore off after a while so the reality was that the mummies made the pillow whilst the children occupied themselves with water fights and paddling pool rather than us doing the making together. I did manage a couple of snaps though whilst they were still keen (and yes that is my friend’s little boy wearing pants and wellies; why not?!)




By the time we finished the making – which took quite a bit longer than we wanted it to – the boys couldn’t wait to start exploring it; rolling, crawling, jumping, running, sitting and plenty of squealing 🙂 I loved watching my 10 month old explore the sensation of crawling across the water and become captivated by the moving water underneath him. Whilst the older boys simply loved jumping up and down and running on it. It was great fun… for all of about 10 minutes… until we noticed a rip and spotted the leak! But then it was great fun getting wet and splashing about on top of it too. One thing we also managed to do post ripping (by a make shift repair job and rolling over the holes as we held it) was to take it in turns to stand at one end whilst everyone else lifted up the other end to create a wave effect inside the pillow for jumping over, just like at the sea side – the water even made the wave sound which both the mummies found very relaxing! So, although it didn’t last as long as we hoped it would (not sure if we could have used more heavy duty sheets to avoid the early ripping) it was still a success of sorts. And we then used the other sheet we had to make a slide with water and baby lotion which the boys had great fun slipping and sliding on too long after the pillow (and clothing) was no more (do we get extra points for using creative thought in the face of craft based adversity…?).




The Review –

Success Rating: 4/5 (Even though the pillow didn’t technically succeed for long, the activity as a whole was fairly successful as it turned out, when coupled with other water play. If it had survived longer I would have given it a 5)

Fun Factor: 5/5 🙂

Difficulty Level: 1/5 (Even I could manage rolling, sticking and filling!)

Cost: 3/5 (For the length of time it occupied them for, it was probably quite expensive, but I may have felt differently had it not ripped and come to a premature end. The polythene sheets were £4.48 each and duct tape £8.98 from B & Q so £17.94 in total)

Should you try it?: YES 🙂

Go on… you know you want to!!


So that’s me signing off then….


Helen -x-















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