Friday, March 20, 2015

Is It Friday Already?

I'm experiencing some very noticeable dry spell lately. My to-do list is ever so long and especially now just days before our trip. And that last one hour I've got in the day I surrender to laundry instead of blogging. Does that make sense?

I know. Excuse....

So today I went to the C's school for a brief teacher/parent meeting. I was told by the end of the year, their goal is to teach the kids up to number 20 --- counting and recognition. Number 20 (only!!) to these 5/6-year-olds? The teacher is from the UK and she herself is quite puzzled with how slow the foundational phase education is here in South Africa.

I must've expressed this numerous times before, that I don't aim to become a forceful parent --- I've become a new person after our Kumon saga, and believe the kids' own interest plays a big role here. Having been forcefed most of my school years, I can tell you learning without a passion, backfires. BUT, is it normal to have such a slow start, compared to the rest of the world? At this point, I refuse to bring China into the picture yet.

When I was a kid, I had this framed caligraphy banner in my room. It means "Jing's study". My late grandfather who was a university graduate, a.k.a. a big deal if you had high education during those years, along with my father made very sure that I started my study journey early. My father used to boast that I knew 200 Chinese charactors already by the age of 2, which sounds almost impossible now that I look at it with C's year two development.
Today, do I know more charactors than most people? Definitely not. But I would say my perspective towards learning in general was formed during those early years.

There's this old Chinese saying "Failing to educate the child is the fault of the father." I get the feeling that in most families here we lucky mothers often get to play the bad cop role and see to the kids' homework. Before that "SA has the worst maths, science education in world" article comes to haunt me again, I should carry on with my supplementary home teaching? I mean I'd love for C to explore and have fun, but building up a strong (or semi strong) logic foundation is equally important, isn't it? Ah the school worries me sometimes....

Friday, March 13, 2015

Snow Dawn Dress with Buttons at the Back


Carrying on using fabric from stash this month, I sewed up this dress with front tucks and back buttons closure. Let's talk about the fabric first. It's 100% quilting cotton that M got for me long ago from a "faraway" shop. I seem to have difficulty locating nice quilting fabric in my frequent fabric shops. I've turned the other two pieces of fabric into dresses like this and this, plus here. This particular blue print that constantly reminds of snow flakes from the pale blue sky is from Da Gama Textiles'  designed in South Africa Coral Tree range. I get excited whenever I see local quality fabric.

The dress is from the same book FU-KO Basics (Heart Warming Series). It's got details like front and pocket tucks. The back buttons are my favorite. It gives me that unexpected excitement. It's fairly easy to construct. I've lengthened the sleeves to full length, like I always do.
Miss C's convinced that this is a winter dress, hence the boots....
This and the top picture show what it looks like paired with a skirt underneath. I snapped this shot just before she was about to make a silly face.
How come that skirt always ends up being a poncho?! She insisted the skirt looks better this way, instead of hidden under the dress. Oh well, she's got a point...

Monday, March 9, 2015

An Orchard Blue Top


If I had to nickname everything I make nowadays, this one would be called out-of-knitting-frustration top. I've seen some beautiful knitted sweaters on Pinterest lately, so last week I got myself some wool (!). Learning to knit is forever on my new-year revolution list. More on that another day. Long story short, after spending hours doing the same mechanical finger movements, I was very happy to jump to my sewing table and trace some patterns. So from cutting to sewing, this top was born in no time and I couldn't be more pleased!

The fabric is some not-so-stretchy knit I have in my stash. This top features a lower front hem and a no-binding neck finish, which made the whole construction super duper fast. It's exactly something I needed to get out of my snail motion knitting mood.

Because it's such a simple top, I was worried the photoshoot or the top itself might not spark any interest to C. "Mommy, I've got a fantastic idea for the photoshoot." There she was accessorizing herself while I moved the furniture away for a clear background.

She's growing out of the pants that I made merely 3 months ago, already.

C is behind all this young adult looking styling. I've got nothing to do with it.

Everything can be turned into a game with this child. It was a super fun shoot and of course there's a restaurant scene coming up.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bouncing Stars Skirt


I had the urge to call this taking-your-five-year-old-to-fabric-shop-side-effect skirt. I bought this piece of chiffon fabric together with a piece of silver polyestery knit months ago. I don't like this kind of poly chiffon, or any fabric that's made from plastic, but C strongly insisted.... Anyway, one of my goals for this month is to use only the fabric from my stash boxes. Here I present you this chiffon skirt with a cotton lining.

The skirt requires no pattern. As I aimed to use up the whole piece of chiffon with very little wastage. I cut up two rectangles pieces as wide as 1 meter each. When two pieces were sewn together, that's about 4 times C's waist which gives it a nice twirl.

I made this skirt two days after the hottest day we've ever experienced. C was almost certain this should be a winter skirt. It is indeed. While I was taking her out of the shower today, I realized I totally forgot about the photoshoot. Inside the house was getting too dark already, so I roughly creamed her and pulled her outside for a quickie. I got maybe 5 blog friendly photos from all that bouncing. Ag I need to up my skill a little.

C came up with another playful way to wear this skirt. Ha! I remember doing the same thing when I was the kid, like styling your skirt to a two-way functional garment is the timeless fashion.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday Hourly

The hottest day, in 100 years!

7:00 a.m.

Good morning, Heat! We barely slept the night before, with C waking up twice asking for icy water and the persistant mosquitoes. I woke up in the morning with big bites everywhere, like I just came back from The Amazon. It's going to be great day....

8:00 a.m.

I passed Beachfront, but didn't have the encourage to join the morning joggers. I had a flashback of me walking among tons of people in Shanghai, on my way to work on a very humid and sticky summer day.

9:00 a.m.

I'm very determined to pick up Japanese for our upcoming trip.

10:00 a.m.

This little guy's not so happy with the heat. Well the idea is to get into the fridge, not on top of it, I'm afraid.

11.00 a.m.

Some sewing happening, commissioned by C.

12:00 noon

This fella has collapsed. We saw two ambulances on the road today. Plus one car pulled towed away --- overheated radiator?

1:00 p.m.

This was my fifth icy water of the day. The heat was getting unbearable.

2:00 p.m.

I stole this picture from a friend's page. 42C!! Outside is an oven. Wrap me up with tinfoil and I shall be roasted.
3:00 p.m.
C's idea to draw different patterns using the texture of this table surface. I admire her creativity.

4:00 p.m.

Time for a dip. Just by looking at this blue had cooled me down a little.

5:00 p.m.

We are not looking for properties, plus these models are way out of our budget. But C enjoys cutting them out. I think beautiful modern houses are her eye candy ;-) Thank you Seeff.

6:00 p.m.

As I'm typing this, the weather's cooled down, but the Cape Town fires rage on. Salute to our firefighters and hope they manage to control the fire soon.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts

Our Family at the Beach   --- by C
Lately, C comes home with lots of drawings she does at school. Sometimes, she's even willing to give up evening TV time to go draw instead. It's not just the drawing itself, but how she putting her mind to it surprises me.

She possesses something that I don't have --- imagination. Compared to her, I feel I am this monster creature born to China's force-feeding education system. I was always a good student at school and I followed the rules. But because of that, I was too scared to think out of the box, too afraid that I wouldn't get the approval from the teachers. Going down memory lane, I don't recall drawing anything out of my imagination, at all. I am able to duplicate someone else's drawing, to the tee. But I'm doomed when asked to be original.

C and I near the Cats' Water Fountain --- clearly I'm trying to tell her something
That brings my thoughts to C's education. After reading some shocking statistics I got into a frenzy worrying if she would get decent education in South Africa. She was in preschool already and they did tons of arts, but zero maths or English. Then some friends proudly informed me that in Shanghai, their kids were doing multiplication in preschool. REALLY??!! I enrolled C at Kumon as soon as she turned 4. It was pure pressure!

C has a wide range of activities now--- tennis, swimming, French, hip hop, drama, music, arts, piano, creative movements, some of which I only got involved much later in life, some not at all. She has a passion for all the things she does. Maybe this is what South Africa early education or Western education in general is about --- building up interest and passion. My father used to force me to play the piano and practise calligraphy everyday, but his method was so cruel and it became very unpleasant. Today, I thank him for teaching me, but at the time all I wanted was for someone to come and take the piano away.

Arts from School
This is my opinion only. The reason why Chinese education is so intense and desperate is probably because of the competition in overly crowded major cities. It seems kids spend all their youth studying and grow-ups only know how to work. It's like a factory. I know I was just like that, like some kind of mass production who knew nothing about life. I'm only starting to channel my creative side now, in my 30s.

All of a sudden, that learning through lots of play approach doesn't sound so bad now. I am at my happiest when I see C explore so many things and possibilities at this age already. That little girl teaches me something new everyday. And to my dear M, I would most probably still have been that one out of 1.36 billion mass production without you, so thank you.