Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Good News Bad News (not really)

I have two pieces of good news and one piece of bad news. Except that the bad news isn't bad news at all - but why waste a mediocre title?

The first piece of good news is that I made the shortlist in one of the two categories I was nominated in for the Blog Awards. I was on the longlist in the Parenting and Craft categories but apparently I'm not 'parenty' enough. I am, however, deemed 'crafty' enough to be shortlisted. Which is amusing, as I would probably have thought the opposite.

Anyway, I'm THRILLED to bits to have made it to this stage and so grateful to those who nominated me in the first place. I'm also a tiny bit terrified that I'm not crafty enough to go any further. I mean, just LOOK at the others on the list - there's some seriously amazing competition...

Suffice to say, I'm putting on my game face and things are gonna be getting seriously CRAFTY around here for the next while. Well... that's the plan at least...

I do have a new tutorial, which I'm dying to share with you. It'll be ready over the next few days will also come with a giveaway - so keep an eye out for it! After that... I have no idea... we shall see...

The other piece of good news is this:

The ACTUAL Ice-T 'favourited' my tweet about him. I'm totally positive he also clicked through to my blog and read my piece about him and left an AMAZING comment but that Blogger ate it. That's possible, right?!

So, considering I'm down with the O.G. - those other crafters had better watch their backs *wink*!! 

(that's not an evil wink, by the way, it's an 'I'm joking' wink, okay... I SWEAR)

As for the bad news that isn't really bad news? It's just that the back to school season is horrendous for people like me. People who suffer from stationery addiction. 

It started long ago with collecting fancy paper as a child and escalated into me starting an entire greeting card company - which I've since sold in an effort to 'get clean' ;) ... but I honestly can't help myself at this time of year.

The shops are chock full of fabulous papery stuff and even though I know I don't need it and I know trees died to make it... I just waaant iiiiit aaaaallllll!!!!

I obviously can't have it all. And I already have most of it. So instead I attempted some restraint and gave myself a budget of just €10 to feed my habit.

This is what I got. (And I only went over by €0.49cent - which is a minor miracle.)

I love the pencil case. It has cute pictures on it, is a really nice shade of blue and came with a bonus gluestick, sellotape and white-out pen. I don't NEED a pencil case, because I'm not a schoolgirl... but I wanted it... because I have a problem....

Those labels shall henceforth be known as the Ice-T labels. (See HERE.) I have no idea what I'll use them for... but they're pretty... and I bought them...

My favourite, however, is the Weekly Organiser (spelled with a Z, I've just noticed) I do enjoy a good planning session and making lists is a longtime hobby of mine. I think I will actually use this to death.

Look inside if you don't believe me:

How brilliant is that?! Attractive, useful and made of paper. I'm in love.

Now, if I could just bring myself to actually write in it instead of just looking, misty-eyed, at it's pristine fabulousness I'd be doing well...

Or, better yet,  if I could think of a way to CRAFT with it... then I might just have a chance at the finals afterall.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Smarty Cat Games Review

It's Back to School time again. The air is cooler. The grass and leaves and evenings are turning gold. Parents are complaining about the expense of books and uniforms and worrying about how their little ones will settle into the new school year. 

I've decided to give my daughters another year at Naíonra (Irish language preschool) and put off the inevitable until they are 5. They LOVE their Naíonra and so do I, so I'm in no hurry to pack them off to big-school just yet.... BUT this is the year we have all of the stress of trying to get a place in the 'right' school and a good portion of time will be spent filling out forms and keeping an eye on registration dates and crossing our fingers, hoping we get two places in our preferred school.

I want our girls to attend a Gaelscoil (Irish language immersion school) and I hope that by sending them to a Naíonra and speaking as much Irish as possible at home they will be well prepared for next years leap to Primary School. Some Gaelscoileanna have an interview process for families wishing to attend the school, so I want them to be ready for that too.

I'm a fluent Irish speaker (my parents sent me to a Gaelscoil too!) and I've worked in the area of Irish language revival for many years - helping families who want to use more Irish at home make language plans and advising them on resources to help them along the way. I always get excited when I see new Irish language resources come onto the market - especially ones that encourage spoken language - so I was thrilled when I was contacted by Smarty Cat Games and asked if I wanted to review a couple of their products. I was given two games Caith an Cat Cainteach (The Chatty Cat Ball) and a Snap game with the theme 'Éadaí' (clothes) to try out with Lile and Sábha.

Over the years, I have come to recognise that one of the most daunting things about learning a new language is actually hearing yourself speaking it. I don't remember learning Irish because I acquired it in early childhood but I DO remember learning French and German in my teenage years and cringing at the sound of myself pronouncing new words in accents that sounded completely unnatural to my own ears.

That's why I really like the idea of the Chatty Cat Ball especially. It encourages children to ask questions and give answers in a really fun, informal way. There are prompts and 21 questions/actions printed on the ball, so there is plenty of scope for 'chat'. The earlier children get used to hearing themselves speaking Irish, the more natural it will become for them so fun and informal is the way to go!  My girls really enjoyed this game and even enjoyed naming the colours and pictures on the ball itself. Already 'knowing' things is a good way to build confidence in language skills too.

The Snap game is one part of a set of 10 games which are perfect for a classroom setting. I have already used this game with the girls as flashcards, as a traditional snap game and as a memory game. My sister, (who is a primary school teacher in a Gaelscoil) suggested putting paperclips on the cards and using the magnetic 'fishing rods' we have from another game to add another element to it - so really there is a LOT of potential for fun with this simple game!

If you are keen to help your child with Irish, these games are a fantastic way for the whole family to learn/practice together. Don't forget to check out their other products HERE.

You might also like to mention Smarty Cat Games to your child's teacher too, these games would be a wonderful investment for any school.

For more ideas to help you start using more Irish at home visit to see the guest post I wrote earlier this year: 5 Easy Ways To Use Irish With Your Children.

Disclosure: I was given the Chatty Cat Ball and the Snap game free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to give them.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Ice-T Makes Me Laugh

"Six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults only laugh 15 to 100 times a day."

I heard this quote, or an approximation of this quote, on Ice-T's Final Level podcast yesterday evening.

Devo and I sat for a quiet moment in the music room (it sounds fancy but it's just a second reception room in our house that's too small to function as anything much other than a place to put Devo's guitars and our record collection) listening to an interview with James Altucher. He was speaking about 'The Mindset of Success' how you can lose everything and fail miserably yet still continue on to succeed in life by focusing on the things that really matter. 

Altucher believes that by focusing on your Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual health you cannot fail. Look after your physical health by eating well and exercising, your emotional health by being around people you love, your mental health by being creative and your spiritual health by being grateful for what you've got. 'Checking' these boxes every single day is what makes him feel successful. Regardless of financial gain.

He also recognises that there is no way to eliminate stress from anyone's life and that everybody's lives hold different challenges, but by filling our days with as much positivity as possible, those stresses will be much easier to deal with.

The whole conversation was fascinating and there is way too much in it for me to regurgitate here - you should just go listen to it. Lots of the things Ice, Mick and James discussed, especially the above quote, stayed with me and I'm resolving to try and laugh more everyday.

To not take things so seriously. To not be freaking out about what my future holds. To not care what people think about my being made redundant. To do what I love and what makes me happy and to count my 'wins'. Every. Single. Day of this one precious life I have been given.

Today, my Mother-in-Law offered to take the girls for a couple of hours (that's a win) and Devo and I got to hang out for a while (that's another win), browse in some shops (that's also a win) and have a relaxing lunch together (bonus win). Rare daytime-dates are my favourite. (win, win win) 

As we sat waiting for the food to arrive I took out the packet of pretty labels I had bought to feed my stationery addiction (win). I turned the pack over and there, above the barcode was the quote, which I later I photographed, above. 

For no discernible reason. They were just blank paper labels. I have no idea why this particular quote was randomly printed on the package.

Devo and I burst out laughing at the unlikeliness of the coincidence.

It was just the universe's way of reminding us to keep smiling, I guess.


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