The simple things

Yesterday was an absolute cracker of a day. We woke up to fog, and it was freezing, but once the day warmed up it was glorious.

The kids and I headed out for babycinos and a wander along our Main Street, walking past one of the big box stores which lured me in with its bare rooted trees in the front window. Two kids in tow I went in to look at the trees and realised that it was day 1 of their giant toy sale. I had a 3 and 4 year old with me. Big mistake.

So we wandered around aimlessly while the kids ‘I want’-ed at everything, past people with multiple trolleys full of toys, cranky kids, and long long lines at the lay-by counter, and then much to my children’s disgust, we walked out without buying a thing.

Without all the shiny coloured plastic in front of their faces, the moment we were home all the new toys they desperately wanted were forgotten, and they amused themselves in the backyard with some PVC pipe and an old tennis ball for over an hour.

The lesson was mostly lost on them, but I’m glad I paid attention.

The shiny, glitzy, magic stuff is all well and good, but it comes at a cost, and quickly becomes old. Happiness is made in the simple everyday things. Those shiny expensive dopamine hits sure are fun for a while there, but they don’t last.

And so, after a week of making myself miserable, looking at Facebook memories of our trip to New Zealand at this time last year, and Disneyworld the year before, I had to adjust my lens a little. Yes, those shiny exciting holidays were amazing, but it’s not realistic to lead that kind of life every day of the year. It may not be the ‘making your dreams come true’ kind of magic, but there’s little patches of magic in even the most ordinary of weeks.

Everyday magic moments this week:

1. I went to Bookclub on Sunday, feeling guilty because I had not made any attempt to read this months book. As everyone slowly rolled in we quickly discovered that in fact, none of us had read the book this month! So we ate cake, drank coffee and talked about what we had been reading instead. It was one of my favourite bookclub catch up’s to date.

2. After talking about dyeing yarn last week, I had another attempt over the weekend and managed to create one I love. Now I need to find a project I love just as much to work it in to!

3. I found our first little broccoli emerging in the veggie garden, and then after pretty much giving up on my cauliflowers, I spotted my first purple cauliflower popping out.

4. Penny left the Cinderella shoes on just long enough for us to get a photo.

5. The master baker of the house (read: not me) baked tiny loaves of bread, so we could have tiny pieces of toast, that made my avocado look giant and my breakfast taste delicious.

6. and miraculously, I got a mid week post in this week! If you missed it, check out my crocheted scarf pattern post here.

So whilst it wasn’t ‘Milford Sound’ or ‘taking the kids to Disneyworld for the first time’ levels of magic, there were sparks of magic in the everyday. I just needed a 3 and 4 year old to point it out for me.

Wishing you all magic everyday moments this weekend.

Abby x

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7 Baby Play Ideas Using Everyday Objects

baby play collage

Sometimes the best toys are the everyday items that already live in your home. With a little imagination, the simplest of items can provide hours of entertainment.

Here are some of my favourite play ideas, best suited for 6 months and up.

1. Mirror Play

Sing ‘Heads & Shoulders, Knees & Toes’ with accompanying actions, first on you, and then on your baby.

Play peek-a-boo, popping your face in and out of the mirror frame.

Allow baby to explore their own reflection.

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2. Mixing Bowl Drums

This one’s fairly self explanatory. Pull out all the pots and pans for a full drum kit, and/or give baby a mixture of drum sticks to use, i.e. wooden spoon, metal spoon, plastic spatula.

It gets pretty noisy, so I wouldn’t be trying this one out when you need a quiet moment.

We now have a mixing bowl permanently in the toy box. Miss E has discovered she can put things in it and tip them out, and that if she drags it around on the ground or kicks it, it makes cool noises too.

mixing bowl drum

3. Balloon

This one’s an absolute hit! Until it pops, then it might be scary. Unless you’re Miss E, who’s not fussed by a popping balloon at all!

Balloons are great for tapping back and forth. They move slowly, allowing baby more time to get their hands in place to catch it, and if they miss and it plonks them in the face, no tears!

Also, lots of fun for Mum and Dad making hair staticky 🙂

Just be prepared to get in there quick and grab the popped balloon before it’s shoved in the mouth. We learned that lesson with our dog…

balloon

4. Ice

Playing with ice is an interesting sensory experience for baby.

We tried this out in the middle of winter, so I covered Miss E’s lap with a burp cloth to keep her dry and then let her go for it.

Add some food colouring to your water before you freeze it for added interest.

ice

5. Gel Bag

Grab a sealable sandwich bag, tip in some cheap hair gel and a few interesting objects (I used foam shapes and beads). Then seal it up. If you’re paranoid about hair gel going everywhere like I am, double bag it.

To stop it sliding around on your highchair tray you could either tape the sides down, or as I did, put a few drops of water on the tray to make the bag stick. As soon as Miss E starts picking the bag up and trying to put it in her mouth, it’s game over for us.

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6. Muffin Tray

Put a collection of balls, blocks, cars, toy animals or whatever you’ve got at hand in a muffin tray, and let them at it.

Baby will have fun tipping everything out, putting it back in and in Miss E’s case, kicking it repeatedly to make rattling sounds.

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7. Laundry Basket Ball Pit

Again, pretty self explanatory.

I find that Miss E often gets frustrated with her balls because they always roll away out of her reach. By containing all the balls (and the baby) in the laundry basket, all the balls are close at hand and fun to explore.

Be mindful of the sturdiness of your basket. Mine is pretty rigid, but I was concerned that if Miss E leaned back into it, she’d tip the basket, herself and all the balls over onto the floor in a spectacular fashion. So I pushed the end she was sitting at, up against the side of my couch.

Also be wary of any small holes in your basket, that little fingers, arms or legs might get stuck in.

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Who needs real toys?!?!

What other everyday items does your baby like to play with?

Abby xx

July Roundup

If I had to describe July in one word, that word would be ‘Cold’. Frosty car cold. But aren’t the patterns in the ice so pretty?

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but somehow, not cold enough to slow down our veggie garden! How weird is that strawberry?!

IMG_3704I’ve spent a lot of time this month making baby food, and stocking up the freezer.

IMG_3682Matt’s been tidying up and organising his man cave. I’m jealous and thinking that I need my own man cave!

IMG_3910and working on the pizza oven that I wrote about here.

IMG_3869Penny’s thoroughly enjoyed having Matt working in the yard, and forgetting to close the car doors.

IMG_3868I took advantage of a bargain at the supermarket and bought myself some pretty tulips! I just wish that they looked like that forever, and not as sad as they look now 😦

IMG_3907and I had my hair chopped off, not exactly the way I’d hoped to.

IMG_4011Miss E learned how to sit up this month, and now gets cranky any time she find herself on her back or belly.

She also had her first swimming lesson and absolutely loved it. She spends so much time kicking her legs all the time, that we knew she’d have to be a little fish in the pool!

e swimming lesson

I’ve been reading:

I finally finished reading Jane Austen’s Emma. I’m not sure how I’d managed to get so far through life without having read it before!

I enjoyed getting lost in the 19th Century romance, but didn’t enjoy it as much as Pride and Prejudice but I guess that’s to be expected, given that Pride and Prejudice is the far more popular of the two!

I’ve picked up Shantaram again, as I mentioned here, and as I expected, haven’t got very far with it yet!

I’ve been making:

Lots of things it seems!

IMG_3673The Taggy Cube I wrote about here.

princess and bookThe Princess and the Pea playlet I wrote about here.

IMG_3956Some fabric blocks for Miss E to play with.

IMG_3769and work on the crochet blanket continues, a little slower than before, but I’m still going!

I’ve been watching:

Not much really.

Though this little video popped up on my Facebook newsfeed the other day and made me stop and think…

Maybe I should try baking more!

I’ve been listening to:

A couple of weeks ago we went for a bit of country drive to visit some of my family. A four hour trip, and broken radio reception, meant we listened to podcasts on the road.

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One podcast we listened to was a conversation between Richard Fidler and John Safran, an ABC radio presenter and a Triple J radio presenter, respectively. This podcast was fascinating, talking about John Safran’s new book about a murder case in Mississippi. Now I need to read the book! Well played Richard and John!

July, you were lovely!

August, some sun please!

Abby xx

Buying gifts for little people

toys

It might only be July, and a long time until Christmas, but I’m just about all done with Miss E’s Christmas shopping already. Having almost all of our families birthdays in November and December along with Christmas, makes it a very expensive time for us. We clearly planned Miss E well, with her birthday falling in between Christmas and New Year! So I decided I need to be organised well in advance, if we don’t want empty wallets at the beginning of January.

I’ve done most of my shopping at the toy sales this year, planning out what I would buy before I walked through the door. Walking into a toy sale with all those bright coloured, light up, noise making toys can be overwhelming, I needed to make sure that I knew what I wanted, before I went in.

I came up with some criteria, then checked the catalogues and made my list.

Here’s some of the criteria I was looking for:

  • Nothing that requires batteries, has lights, moves automatically or has automated voices/plays music. I don’t want Miss E sitting passively and expecting to be entertained by her toys, she should play an active role in entertaining herself.
  • Should promote imaginative play and open ended activities.
  • Some outdoor play equipment.
  • Help develop fine and gross motor skills.

Here are some articles that guided my thinking before I came up with my criteria.

http://mamas-in-the-making.com/2012/06/starting-the-toy-revolution/

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2010/10/better-toys-for-busy-babies/

That said, we already own some toys that break my own rules. Bought by me before having Miss E, and before I’d thought this through, or as gifts from friends and family. I haven’t thrown these toys out though, I just limit their use to ‘once in a blue moon’, or when I’m desperate for a few minutes peace to finish my lunch before it’s cold, or have a shower.

Do you have specific criteria for the toys you buy your children? If so, what would you add to my list?

Abby xx