Friday, 13 March 2015

Oh what fun we had

Friday already? Another busy week has whizzed past in a bit of a blur.

There have been the usual Ebaying and charity shop duties, but also parents' evenings for Owen and Nina, and a musical performance at Claudia's school.

Owen is in Year 6, a year of school which has been dominated by increasingly intense preparations for SATs in May. Despite the fact that he's doing fine, either hitting or ahead of his "targets", we were told that he should be working to increase those levels still further, and that nightly revision was expected in order to achieve this.

When I was tidying up our noticeboard at home, I spotted this postcard from our trip to Oxford last summer, which reflects both Owen's and my feelings about that idea...

SATs' results matter far more to the school that they do to the kids. I know everyone at school is under pressure, but seriously, these children are only 11, give them a bloody break. Hey, teacher - leave them kids alone!

1960-70s Designed for California by Tom Jones maxi dress - vintage fair
Levi's jacket (I get it on weekdays, Claudia has weekend custody), bangles, ankle boots and scarf - charity shopped

On Wednesday evening, the whole family went to watch Claudia perform as part of the cast of Olivia! 

Claudia's costumes courtesy of my wardrobe, of course. 

 (I knew that black silk skirt from the flea market last week would come in handy.)

She sang a solo and beamed throughout, as usual.

I'm not the biggest fan of musical theatre, but I can understand why schools choose that genre for their productions. The Year 7, 8 and 9 students who made up the cast and crew did a very confident and professional job, I was impressed by the talent on display, and the level of maturity and commitment. Well done, kids!

Nina and I took photos in the interval.

I've been in school again today, doing two of the things I like most - hearing children read, and making a display of their artwork. I wish I had taken a photo, some of the drawings were really fantastic. 

But since I didn't, and since Nina hasn't had much of a look in during this post, I'll show you some of her art instead. 

Oh dear, this has all gone a bit Proud Mama, hasn't it? Please bear with me, I promise it won't happen very often.

Today's outfit for Red Nose Day at school. Not that I wouldn't wear it any other day too.

What family resemblance?

Now here's a completely random question which has nothing to do with anything else in this post; can you think any great names for a cafe?

Friends of mine are buying one and need to change its name; we've been trying to come up with ideas but nothing has been quite right so far. It will be a family-friendly venue with a breakfast and lunchtime menu, but they might open for themed evening sittings in the future. The emphasis will be on great home cooking, a classic/traditional core menu with seasonal and imaginative specials, using locally sourced produce wherever possible, and a friendly comfortable vibe. They don't particularly want to use their name, or anything which tries to be funny or uses a pun.

So come on, throw some names in the pot; if your suggestion is chosen, you'll get a free lunch! (Sadly winners must pay their own travel costs...)

Have a great weekend!


Lesley Extance said...

Hi Curtise , wonderful pictures of you and your children ! I can see why you are a proud mum ,so much pressure on kiddies now at school I total agree with you on that , great outfits full of colour !!! have a good weekend and best wishes xxx

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

I can't decide which I'd like come back as one of your cats, or one of your kids! You really are my kind of Mum!

Claudia radiates such joy...GAH...seriously, I can feel that positive energy right through my computer screen!

I LOVE your red nose day dress ensemble! Bright and sunshiny...just what a red nose needs!

And on the name of the cafe subject....I always go completely blank as to suggestions, but I can assure you that my little brain will be thinking of this ALL day long. Thank you! hahaha

Laurie Duncan said...

I think there is just too much testing for kids these days, so I feel your pain. That musical looks fun though, but I love musicals! Your dresses are both so cute by the way. :)

Mother of Reinvention said...

I agree. There are far too many pressures put on children these days. Too much focus on target hitting and the idea of getting children to mark each other! Don't get me started. Your children are so like you and their enthusiasm really shines through. Lovely! As for cafe suggestions: Let Them Eat Cake? Get Yer Yum Yums Out? Soul Kitchen? Oh dear, I'll stop now....... :) xxxx

Vix said...

First things first, I love Sir Tom's maxi and the timeshare jacket and your Red Nose Day number is fab - I'd forgotten it was today.
Poor Owen, nightly revision? At 11? That's horrendous, the despairing man sums it up perfectly.
Claudia rules that stage, she's got some confidence, I'd be terrified even now.
I'm in awe of Nina's sketches, they remind me of those stupendous tattoos that girl had in the vintage shop in Sheffield we were all cooing over.
I can think of puns aplenty but nothing in the least bit sensible.
How about a simple one word name like Dine or Home?
Have a fab weekend yourself!
Love you! xxxxx

thorne garnet said...

you have a budding actor! I too wonder why schools do musicals. From years of doing them I can tell you how hard they are to do, in terms of time and money. But, hey, it's fun! And builds conference in the children. Let's hear it for Proud Mamas everywhere!

Kezzie said...

I was thinking something along the lines of 'Home from Home' , 'Cosy Bite'
'Classic Cuisine', Or what number is the cafe at? We really liked one called 'Cafe at 104' near my old school.

Love those photos from the play. Well done to her!
That dress is amazing! I forgot to dress up today!x

Suzanne Carillo said...

I like a classic name...Good Eats. LOL

Gran's Cafe


That's all I've got. Not much. I know.

You guys look like you had lots of fun this week.

I adore the colours in that maxi!


Patti said...

What a fun week - save for the suggestion that Owen work harder *still*. I so agree standardized tests benefit the school and administrators more than the kids. We have FCAT's here for elementary through high school kids and it makes the parents nuts with stress.

You look fab, of course, and the red nose family is fetching! xox

SAM said...

Love how you and Claudia have to share a good piece. I raided my grown daughters closet when she left home and didn't completely clean it out-sadly, some of the cuter pieces were a little on the snug side. This might be a bit to American slang, but what about "Taste of Home" or as the neighbor teen boy calls my teen girl "Home Slice". I would gladly cover my travel fare for a trip back to England.

Miss Magpie said...

Vix is right! Nina's sketches are just like those amazing tattoos. What a very talented bunch you have, no wonder you are a proud Mama, so you should be! x x

Northern mum down South said...

No wonder you are the proud Mum with your lovely kids. Can't think of a cafe name right now but just off to bed and often wake up with my best ideas and problem solvers after a good nights sleep - can't promise though. xx

Beth Waltz said...

Thanks for the pix of the kids, especially the "red nose day". Had I been a few thousand miles closer, I would have attended "Olivia." I very much miss having dance/music recital kids in my life at this time!

Might I suggest "The Chef's Home Kitchen"? This title hopefully implies food prepared to the highest standards -- but served in a comfortable family environment. Naturally, The Chef might be plural. Were I still doing ads, I'd doodle face-blank figures of papa, mama & two kids wearing the chef toques, then organzie the menu accordingly. Perhaps meat and potatoes for papa, diet friendly salats pour maman, and kiddie menus: each column topped with the appropriate icon. This sounds like an ideal venue for family birthday celebrations -- do hope there's a master baker behind the scenes!

Goody said...

Oh yes, brag on those wonderful children of yours-they deserve it! The testing stuff is over-the-top here as well. Heaven forbid they should spend the hours outside school doing something like playing.

Great maxi, and I love those tights.

No serious ideas for a cafe name. I always liked the idea of calling a place, "Not Your Mother's" as a response to, "Never eat at a place called Mom's." Good luck to them though-sounds like an adventure.

Kylie said...

How about Grub?
(for your friends caff)

Beth Waltz said...

Me again, having slept on it...

Low end of price range? Chef's Home Kitchen. Upper end? Chef Chez Lui!

Still like the idea of a chef doodle, he/she wearing the toque but not the rest of the working gear, surrounded by spouse and kids at the table.

Anonymous said...

First of all, that maxi dress is fantastic. I'd love to have a blouse made from that fabric.
I agree with the testing on kids in school. It's just too much pressure. Sounds like the testing starts earlier in your country too. My son actually opted out of the SAT's this year because he knows he's not going to a 4 year college. He's heading in the union trades direction so I let him opt out.
I'm not really good naming things that I haven't seen but I'm wondering if the restaurant is going to be in a particular neighborhood or on a particular street that can play into the name somehow. Or some name taken from a few decades, or centuries, back.

beate grigutsch said...

my fav café name was always "café prag" - after the czech kapital - i think in english "prague"??
it´s so old worldly and if someone knows how to run a nice café then my bohemien neighbors.
you can be as much proud of your kids as you want - because you really can! they doing so well, are talented and lovely and gorgeous :-)
btw gorgeous! you look fab in that tom jones dress - what a pattern! - and i love the all over red ensemble! brights this gray day a lot!
and i want to say thats really awesome of you to wrangle with the translator to read my posts! i don´t know why that button works for some and sometimes or not???? technic.

Bobbi said...

Fabulous maxi! I hope we see it lots on you. I love that you share your jacket.
Claudia is such a star! She really shines on stage. Nina's drawings are beautiful - that bunny would be a cool tattoo or fabric print. Poor Owen. School here is doing testing, too, and it really stresses the kids out.
I'll have to learn about Red Nose Day - it looks like fun.

Ulla-Marie Nilsson said...

Such star quality! Both mother and daughter!

Asparagus Pea said...

Agree on the testing front - think there should be much more time allocated for learning the trumpet, picking your nose and going shopping for old ladies (not necessarily in that order). How you gonna write your first novel if you're never bored huh? Beautiful happy choldren- proud mama. What's not to love? xxx

Asparagus Pea said...


kobieta niewidzialna said...

Your dark blue, printed dress is amazing.Best :)

Connie said...

Well you SHOULD be a proud Mom. Look at those gorgeous perfect children!!!! and they should be proud of you. Especially in that adorable red dotty dress. Soo...what the heck is red nose day? It looks like fun.

Fiona said...

What! Nightly revision at age 11? Ridiculous and unnecessary if you ask me. We didn't do it, did we and it seems to me that educational standards were higher back then. Nina has a real talent there, will she be headed for art school one day and Claudia for RADA? Quite right indeed that you should be proud of your brood. Just Good Grub springs to mind for your friends' café, although it may sound a tad too 'greasy spoon' for them. Hope your weekend is going well. xx

Sue said...

And so you should be proud of your gorgeous children and their talents! I loved going to school production and happily got involved in making props and outfits. Love your frock with the spots. You sure you wouldn't like to include an airfare in the name the cafe for me?? We have one called 'The Sugar Bowl' that is nice, and I had lunch at one called 'Cinnamon' last Friday. Go on shout me a flight!!!

Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

Happy mothers day Curtise. I hope your gorgeous brood are spoiling you rotten! I must say I'm super impressed by Ninas artwork!
Sir Tom is a talented guy isn't he? I love that print on your dress.
I have no clever cafe names but I'd avoid anything with VINTAGE TEA ROOM in the title as they are way too plentiful down here. xxxx

señora Allnut said...

First at all, love your maxi dress and love your red outfit, appropriate and cool! (I'm always for red dresses!!)
And love that you share with us all that proud and fun you've with your children!, they're fab!

Angels have Red Hair said...

Look at those talented kids ... you've every right to be a proud Mum.

Sheila said...

Aw, I'd be a proud mum too! What awesome kids you have (and yes, leave them kids alone! Too much pressure!). What is Red Nose Day? Aside from wearing a red plastic creature on your nose, that is.

Louise McDonagh said...

I remember having a 'time share denim jacket' with my mum when I was a teenager. Formative years. Sounds like you've been having a great time. What about 'Polly put the kettle on' ... What do I win? X

Forest City Fashionista said...

You keep on doing the "Proud Mum" thing. You've got great kids and every right to celebrate them. Good for Claudia, singing a solo in the play. Must have been a good confidence builder for her.

I'm very impressed with Nina's drawings. I loved to draw at her age, mostly people, but animals too.

You obviously start testing sooner than we do at school. SATs aren't done til the kids are ready to go to University (or College in the US). That's a load of pressure for an 11 year old.

I always like how your maxis look with the (now shared) denim jacket. I can't find a jacket like that to fit me properly or else I would try wearing it over a dress like you.

Mrs Bertimus said...

Your talented clan!
Wow! Is all I can say!
How's about 'Family' for the cafe?
Happy Mothers Day chuck x

peaches mcginty said...

The SATS are just a reflection of the school, so true, and they will drive the kids into the ground to achieve the best results (I'm not a fan of SATS either) the kids are re-tested in high school and put into sets anyway (I'll stop there, I'll end up ranty!!) I hope you have had a great Mothers Day Proud Mama, quite rightly so, your kids are brilliant! like their Mum - love your outfits btw, ideas for a cafe name....(5 mins later) this is hard!! ok, I've got 'Glass Blower Cafe', 'The BLD' (breakfast, lunch, dinner), 'Mama's'.......I'll get my coat ;-) x x x

Jazzy Jack said...

Lovely bright ensembles today!
I love the timeshare jacket, as Vix calls it. Mr Artist and I can share shoes and jackets for about a millisecond, and then he'll grow and I'll get them all back! Strategy!
I remember performing solos at school. Somehow I was so much more confident then!
Lovely kid pics and such a family resemblance!!
What about Verdant, or Abundance or Oodles to reflect the wholesome food side and lots of food for the cafe name.
Love, Jazzy Jack

Natalia Lialina said...

I can't believe I missed your post! Your children are fantastic! I feel for Owen. I'm with you on lessening the pressure on kids. Claudia looks gorgeous, I would love to see her on stage! I am so glad that your wardrobe had such a nice "outing" and serve a great purpose too. Nina is an amazing artist! Her creatures have characters, each its own. Just beautiful! And please, no apologies for being a proud Mum - you so deserve it, Curtise! So I am happy to applaud to all of you for doing an amazing job, bravissimo!

You look gorgeous as always! Such beautiful bright maxi, and the denim jacket suits your figure so well! Well done on sharing it with Claudia. Much love xxxx

Natalia Lialina said...

How about Harvest - for a cafe name. Warm, abundant, homey and catchy - easy to remember. I'll write you if I think of something else.

Mim said...

I do worry that nowadays kids are channelled into passing tests rather than actually learning. I hope yours don't get too stressed out by it all.

Cafe names. Hmm. I don't think the names of any of the ones I go in drew me in so much as the overall look. But if I did choose based on names, it'd probably be more for something retro like 'The Copper Kettle' than anything else.

Melanie said...

You look psychedelic in front of those bricks in the wall. Yeah, what's with numbers and school? For eleven-year-olds? Sheesh. Clearly, I'm out of the loop.
Claudia is a schtar! Look at her centrestage... And Nina's brilliant art. And Owen's stony face. It's a wonderful big-nosed family you have, Curtise. I'd be proud too.
Aunt Maddy's. Gobbly Goods. Frinella's, Gobsfull Diner, Yum Yum's, Harvest...Good luck. Tough question.

Melanie said...

Oooh, that's so spooky, I just saw that Natalia also suggested Harvest...

Porcelina said...

Your daughter is a talented sketcher, those are great! I don't mind seeing a bit of art!

I love the colours in that maxi, there's a bit of an oriental feel too.

I am hopeless with names. Something with local relevance perhaps? x

Diane said...

The frock is stunning! I agree with you about schools and targets etc. Where is the cafe going to be? When its opened shall we meet for a cuppa? x

The Style Crone said...

How wonderful that you're sharing your wardrobe with Claudia. I remember when I started doing the very same thing with my daughter, and still do at times. At least you have custody of that great jean jacket during the week?

Fabulous photos of your children, and of you in the maxi and the red dress "to live for." I adore the concept of Red Nose Day. A much better activity than preparing for SATs.

freckleface said...

Nightly revision? What a torment! Not surprised you're both grimacing! I think it is a fabulous thing that you are a proud mum. It's exactly what children need, to know that they are supported and valued and that someone thinks the world of them. You're doing a good job there Mum! Didn't know Tom designed frocks too. Clever fellow, eh? I always love you in that red frock, you look blimmin' gorgeous. Xxxx

Catherine said...

Oh we have the same thing at our schools here. except is called NAPLAN and the results are posted on the school website so they can advertise how good/ bad they are and that then in turn attracts more funding/ better students - which also means the disadvantaged schools miss out. I this i will have to send my kids to a Montessori school! we've become so like America, only learning to pass tests. Olivia! sounds fantastic! i assume is a girls version of Oliver? And Nina is such a good drawer! Kepp her on that!

We have lots of cafe's in Sydney, some punny, some a bit random in name or named after their street or town. I particularly like Brewtown Newtown - which is in Newtown and the name rhymes which makes me like it even more :) Just "Brewtown" could be good on its own

Melanie said...

Well done Claudia! The very idea of doing such a thing makes my blood run cold, so good for her.
Oh I love Nina's hare pictures, they're lovely! Her feathered friends are fab too.
Loving the red dress too xxx

Trees said...

Poor Owen!! I went to a snooty private school where they wouldn't let some of the girls sit the end of year exams if they didn't think they would do well - reflects badly on the school you know...ugh! You look super in that bright skirt and holy moly, doing a solo? How brave and I love the pictures! As for a good cafe name? I've been to a lot of great cafes with great names, but obviously I can't think of them now- because reasons....