Back to school...

Zebra-Girl started back at school this morning...not in the lovely little Reception area this year, but round at the other side of the building with all the older children. She looked very tiny again, but thankfully seemed full of smiles as she stood in line waiting to go in - not a wobbly bottom lip in sight (apart from mine!).

The summer has just sped by and I can't believe it's September already. Back in July, Zebra-Girl and I had made a dress and bag for her bear on the sewing machine, which she'd really loved doing, but I'd had this nagging feeling that I'd done things in the wrong order - I love using my sewing machine, but I think that's partly because I have an appreciation of how quickly and neatly it can do what I would otherwise be doing by hand, but I don't think that it's a substitute for being able to sew by hand (and also sewing by hand is sometimes so very relaxing.... doing some blanket stitch after a long run of machining can be quite wonderful!). So yesterday, I finally made the time to sit down and teach her to hand sew. I taught her back-stitch as this is what I remember finding easiest when I first learnt to sew.

We made a pillow for bear (yes, he is the sole recipient of all the results of her ventures into the world of sewing!)....learning started off slowly and I would have sat on my hands to stop them jiggling about with the act of concealed impatience, if I'd hadn't needed them to help her hold the material taut. However, by the second line of stitching, she'd got it - wonky and irregular, but definitely understanding what needed to be done! Horay - I hadn't expected it to be quite that simple. We had sat on my bed together doing her sewing, with our heads close together both looking at her work and she suddenly laughed and said 'It's like sharing a secret sitting like this'. Sometimes she says the most perfectly lovely things.

By lunchtime she was feeling flumpy about what to eat and looked tired, so as a last-day-of-the-holidays treat I let her have her sandwiches in the shape of butterflies, cut with these wonderful pink plastic cutters. (I hate doing this as it wastes so much bread, but they do look much prettier!)

Ian had the day off work, so in the afternoon we took both children swimming....Zebra-Girl wore her armbands and gradually let me deflate them and then finally took them off altogether. By the time our skin was as wrinkly as a packet of prunes (and Dinosaur-Boy had become bored of playing Sharks), she was able to swim about two metres of backstroke (well a sort of upturned doggy paddle) with no armbands on with an absolutely huge grin on her face - a really big achievement for her as physical things have never come easily to her.

Like my own mother did with my me and my sister, it always feels important that the last day of the holidays is a busy one, spent doing special things; as much to distract me from my own feelings of sadness about her going back to school, as Zebra-Girl's.

Oh, and also I have two thank you's to say: the first to Jody from Because I'm me who offered me the most beautiful pirate quilt as the winner of a hugely generous giveaway on her site (as I'm in the UK the postage would have been astronomical, so it seemed fairer for it to go to someone in the US - hope the recipient finds it deliciously snugly - it is gorgeous!).

My second thank you is to Creative Little Daisy's Autum, who after hearing about the nightmare I had attaching binding to my pencil roll holder, was incredibly kind and emailed me with very detailed instructions as to an easier way to attach bias binding (you heat bond the underside and it stops it from escaping!), as well as alerting me to something called a 'walking foot' pictured here which looks like it may make everything much simpler...and straighter...for this fantastic attachment keeps your stitching from becoming wonky! Thank you!!!