Monday, 30 May 2011

Aims for the week:

  1. mow the lawns (did it this lunchtime while the wee ones were sleeping - so that's one ticked off already!)
  2. cement posts into fruit bed in garden so that I can put up netting (I've been meaning to do this since last Summer)
  3. start making my niece's first birthday present (another doll like these)
  4. go out jogging or on the exercise bike at least once

That's it.  I'm trying to be good and not set myself too many things to do so I don't get stressed when I don't achieve any of them.  Of course, I also intend to:
  • be kind to myself, and carve out some time when I'm not constantly in demand and can think about me.
  • be kind to my family - I was immensely stroppy with Big C this weekend, for no apparent reason that I can think of.  Perhaps Little Sister's awesome sleeping-through-the-night pattern might be bringing on an early return of PMT...
  • clear my desk of paperwork
  • Support my community (Scout AGM tonight, local village Gala next Saturday, promoting Baby and Toddler group etc.)

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Egg Crafts

I know Easter has been and gone, but here are a couple of crafty ideas to do with eggs.

Egg Tree
this pic doesn't show it to best effect
flowers have gone and it's squeezed in next to sink!
Celebrate spring or Easter with your own family tradition.  Each year get each member of the family to decorate a blown egg (as the children get older the decorations can get more intricate) using anything from paints, to felt pens, stickers, ribbons, feathers and so on.  Somewhere near the top or bottom of the egg write (small) who made it and the year.  Bring in a small twiggy branch and arrange in a vase with some spring flowers.  Now hang your eggs, and the ones from previous years, which you've carefully preserved in an egg box, from your branch.  I used treasury tags, as you can easily insert one end in to the hole where you've blown the egg, and it then holds in place, the other end can be twisted/tied around the branch.

To blow an egg make a small hole at one end and a larger hole at the other end using a pin.  The larger the holes the easier to blow, but the more difficult to achieve without cracking the egg!  Now put your lips to the smaller hole and blow.  The inside of the egg will come out of the larger hole, where it can be collected in a bowl.  Now suck up some water into the egg, shake and blow again to clean out the insides.  Your egg can be scrambled or used for omelettes or baking as long as nobody minds (or knows!) that you've blown all over them.

Cressy egg heads
First eat some boiled eggs with toasty soldiers.  Now take your egg shells (any that haven't been too mangled by your toddler).  Fill them with cotton wool balls.  Draw faces on with permanent marker or felt pens.  Sprinkle cress seeds on to the cotton wool and water.  Place them in egg cups where your toddler can see them but can't mangle them.  Over the next few days occasionally water them and marvel as the seeds quickly germinate and grow into hair for the eggs.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Permaculture Living

I read an article about "Permaculture Parenting" in "The Green Parent" magazine and started thinking about the permaculture principles and how they apply to my life.

HomeI've had a look at The Permaculture Association website.

The main principles (from "Permaculture - principles and pathways, beyond sustainability" by David Holmgren) are:

Observe and Interact - observe natural and social patterns, allowing us to work with nature rather than against.  So for example, in the garden it's best to observe for a while, then make a small action and see what the result is, then observe again before deciding to do something else.  With children, observe them, watch them learning all on their own, then interact only as required.  I've seen so many posts on the parenting forum that I am part of about "What we need to do to entertain our children" or to "make sure they develop".  Children are naturally programmed to learn and to develop at optimal level (same as plants are naturally programmed to grow), all we need to do is set up the right conditions, observe, and interact only where necessary.

catch and store energy - this is about making hay while the sun shines.  For a bank account, it would be about how to increase the capital, rather than how to spend the interest.  For my life, it's about things like collecting seeds for the following year, using abundant crops (including free wild cherries and raspberries from the woods) to make preserves and jams for the season when they aren't so readily available.

obtain a yield - This is about planning to produce something.  Don't waste time and effort doing something with no reward.  Fine, plant pretty plants, but include things that give you a real outcome, like fruits and veg as well.  Preferably functional and fun/pretty.  So for me, we're talking about planting more useful plants (and then of course actually using them!), and also not wasting too much time on things which aren't useful (like watching TV).  And of course we want to make crafty and arty things just for the sake of making something beautiful or doing something relaxing, but ultimately it's even better if it's also functional.

apply self-regulation and accept feedback - We reap what we sow.  I think this one is about limiting consumption to what we can reasonably expect the earth to provide, and by designing self sustaining systems that don't require too much input.  I'm not entirely sure... I suppose for me it's about planting hardy perennials and self-seeding annuals in the garden as much as possible to save constantly buying and planting.  And planting ground cover plants to prevent too much weeding.  For the household it's about getting the house as energy efficient as possible.  And encouraging the children when they are little to treat household tasks/chores as part of everyday life, so that in the future they'll just get on with them rather than making a fuss.

use and value renewable resources and services - making the best use of natural resources without depleting them.  So for example, harvest wild plants - but leave plenty there for the future.  Make use of junk mail for arts and crafts (I know it's not renewable where it comes from, but it's a resource which comes free to our home whether we like it or not, and our stock of it keeps renewing itself).

Produce no waste - waste is just unused output.  One of the keys of permaculture is that output should become input somewhere else in a cycle.  So don't throw stuff out - make it into something useful instead and save yourself buying something, thus reducing input.  For me we're talking about old clothes and food packing being used for crafts and to make gifts, and about food scraps making compost which is then used to grow more food.

design from patterns to details - big picture here.  This is the beauty of permaculture principles in the first place - they are patterns and principles that can be applied to different areas of life.  I guess this means that in the house when designing our decor we are aiming for an overall pattern of eco-sound-ness, good storage, warmth, lived-in look - and so the details need to fit in with this.  In the garden we are aiming for child-friendly, low-maintenance, eco-diverse, pretty, high yield - and again the details need to fit with this.  In our children we are aiming for independent thinking, confidence, happiness, caring attitudes - and so our expectations and input at an early age needs to nurture these principles.

integrate rather than segregate - relationships between things are as important as the things themselves.  A system needs to be about the web of connections between the components.  It's important that needs are met by a range of elements or inputs rather than just one (failure would then be a minor setback rather than a disaster).  Conversely each element or  input should have a range of functions.  Items or elements should be located in a convenient place for their functions.  In my local area I had been a bit isolated.  I am now getting the hang of being part of a community and making mutually beneficial links.  It means that if I need to go to a Dr appointment I have a range of people to ask to babysit, and in return I babysit for them when needed.  It means that if I do some copywriting for an electrician (I'm more in hope than reality now), then I could ask them to check the lights in our guest bathroom in return rather than paying me.  It's all about the connections.

use small and slow solutions - Slow and steady wins the race.  Start small and see where it goes, then go on to the next step.  I've made my vegetable raised beds.  I should wait until I have them successfully producing veg before I try to grow veg anywhere else.

use and value diversity - Diversity of ecosystem.  Diversity of culture.  You name it - diversity is good.  In my life then.  Plant a range of vegetables, not just one type of lettuce but several.  Several types of raspberries.  Preserve some raspberries by freezing, some as jam and some by pickling or whatever!  If one lot fails then the others might be okay.  Read a wide range of genres of books.  In the community get to know and make those links with a diverse range of people - not just through Scouts, but through Toddlers as well, and friends of friends, and ex-colleagues and....

use edges and value the marginal - Oh!  As a marginal kind of person I love the sound of this one!  Just because the path is well-trodden it doesn't mean it's going in the right direction.  Certainly this is true if you're trying to navigate your way through thick woodland with a compass!  The place where two systems meet is always more productive than either system on their own - so arrange for a bigger edge!  This means more overlap between different groups of people, more fusion cookery, more meeting new people and trying new things.  Long live the edge, and the marginal.

creatively use and respond to change - Vision is seeing things not as they are, but as they could be.  We know that the changes in season are coming, they come every year - so plan with them in mind.  We know that this shrub or that will grow to be a lot bigger - so plan with that in mind.  The Toddler group that I belong to hadn't really planned for when the older ones went to pre-school, we hadn't done any promotion so now we are very small.  We have responded by promoting ourselves now, but also by promoting ourselves as a lovely cosy group rather than the mega-busy one in the next village along!  I know that it will only be a few months and Little Sister will have a more settled pattern of napping and sleeping in the evening, and so I'm already planning for that change (and doing what I can to promote it).

I'm loving the concept.  Big C just asked what I was blogging about and then asked me to explain what permaculture was.  I'm not sure I did a very good job - he glazed over and said it sounded "a bit hippyish".  I can't argue with that, but the permaculture principles do seem to make sound sense to me, and I think they are the kind of waymarkers that I tend to follow anyway. 

Friday, 27 May 2011

"101 things to do before you diet" and "Practical Parenting - siblings"

Two books I've read this week, both from the library:

101 Things to Do Before You Diet101 things to do before you diet by Mimi Spencer.
I usually run like the wind when I hear the word "fashion" so have never come across fashion writer Mimi Spencer before.  She writes brilliantly.  Her writing is intelligent, entertaining and very readable.  There aren't many people who could make a book about weight and body image such non-put-downable fun!

The book starts out by pointing out that we are all permanently on a diet, and yet as a nation we keep putting on weight - so dieting obviously doesn't work.  It then gives hints and tips on how to feel good about your body - which makes you look better!  Here are a few:  
6 - Laugh in the face of celebrity magazines - basically stop believing that the image they portray is either normal or aspirational.  Even the supermodels and supercelebs, who have their own personal trainer and dietician and who work full time to keep their skinny figures that way, are air-brushed in these magazines - it's all lies!
11 - Eat a decent breakfast
22 - Perfect your posture
30 - drink more soup
42 - find the right jeans
54 - practise calorie skimming by eliminating the easy things - i.e. lose sugar in tea, leave mayo out of sandwiches, eat sorbet not ice-cream etc.
68 - wear heels (this one's not for me so I'll move swiftly on...
76 get a hairstyle that works with your face, not the face of the girl in the magazine
81 - get busy - this is in a chapter about exercise an is about integrating more activity into your every day life
91 - aim for less stress

I think this book is great.  I'll be skimming through it again to get a few of these tips wedged in my psyche before I return the book to the library.  I may even borrow it again.  I might even buy it!

Siblings ("Practical Parenting")Practical Parenting - Siblings by Dr Richard Woolfson
I managed to finish this book in one evening while trying to settle Little Sister to sleep, so it isn't particularly hard going.  It talks about the pros and cons of different age gaps, introducing new baby, strategies to ease relationships, deal with rivalry, prevent too much competition or jealousy etc.  Not rocket science.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Chocolate Scribble Cake

Mmmm, my mouth is watering just recalling this incredibly easy cake, most of which is in the cake tin in the pantry waiting for an opportunity to jump out and pop into my unsuspecting mouth!

Okay, ingredients:
50g butter
50g dark chocolate
2 eggs
150g soft brown sugar
50g self raising flour
icing sugar and food colouring or writing icing

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • Melt the butter and chocolate together.  You can use the bowl over a pan of boiling water method, or use the microwave.
  • Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and get your assistant to vigorously stir the sugar in.  Then sift the flour in and stir some more.  If your assistant is anything like mine then they love to shake the sieve, but need some help with the stirring.  
  • Stir in your melted chocolate and butter mixture to make a chocolate goo.
  • Prepare a baking tray (20cm square and 2cm deep is about right) with greaseproof baking paper in the base.  Pour in the goo, using a spatula to get all of it.  You can now allow your assistant to lick the bowl (but unless you have a bath prepared try to discourage them from actually putting their head in it).
  • Put the tray in the top shelf of the oven for 20 minutes until the surface is slightly springy to the touch.
  • Allow to cool in the tray and then cut into 9 or 12 squares.
  • Make a little thick icing with icing sugar and a tiny bit of water and divide into 3 or 4 small dipping bowls (about 1 tbsp in each).  Add a drop of different food colouring to each and stir.  Ask your assistant to drizzle the coloured icings over the cake with a tea spoon.  (You can also use writing icing, but for younger assistants I think they find it quite difficult to squeeze from the tubes).
  • Now remove the squares from the baking tin and try not to eat them all at once.

Monday, 23 May 2011

A day in the life...

Today was a stay at home day.  The weather was pretty awful with gale force winds and heavy rain.  So we stayed at home and chilled:

6am - my day begins as I hear Little Sister requesting a feed.  I fetch her from her room into our bed, feed her and she settles back to sleep.

6.45 - Big C is still not stirring much, Little Sister is back to sleep and the rain is bucketing down outside.  I decide to get up and take the Waggy-Tailed-One out for a run.

7.20am - I'm home again.  Take off wet things, dry dog, set out breakfast things, unload dishwasher and dive in the shower.

7.30ish - Get out of the shower to be greeted by Little C, dress, have breakfast and a coffee.

8.15ish - Big C leaves for work.  Little Sister wakes and has a nappy change and gets dressed.  Then Little C has a nappy change, gets dressed and brushes teeth.  Little C plays and reads while Little Sister has a good feed.

Around 9.30 - I take a very sleepy Little Sister through and put her in her cot for a morning nap.  Little C and I head upstairs where he does some drawing in his room and I clear some paperwork on my desk.  The nap was unsuccessful so we head downstairs to retrieve the crying Little Sister.  I change Little C's nappy.

It's now about 10am - Little Sister has a cuddle and then sits in her bouncy chair.  Little C gets creative with  the play dough and I order a big monthly grocery shop online (I've been building up my shopping basket over the last few weeks and am now just adding the last few items and booking my delivery slot.

11am - through to the kitchen where I heat up some soup and butter some bread for Little C and I to eat lunch.  Afterwards, while Little C is still eating, I put the ingredients in the bread maker and switch it on.  Then Little Sister, who by now is really tired, starts to get hungry, so I give her a quick bit of milk, then take her through, change her nappy and lay her on my bed.  I whizz back to Little C, clean the tomato soup off him, change his nappy and settle him into bed for a nap.

11.45am - Little Sister is getting desperate.  I climb into bed beside her and settle down for a feed/snooze.  I can now rest and cuddle her (interrupted only by the cold caller, who also wakes Little C, at 1.45pm) until...

2pm - I leave Little Sister comfortably asleep in bed and go and get Little C.  He plays happily in his room for a little while as I change the bedding on his bed and hers, and put a washload on, then he comes downstairs to watch a few episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine while eating a snack of apple, yoghurt and Rice Crispies.  I have some of the snack and then let him get on with it while I sort some laundry and do some ironing.

3.30ish - I get Little Sister (big nap!).  I give her some more milk.  Then I get a whole load of hats and scarves and things and play dressing-up with Little C.

4.30ish - I run a bath and bathe Little Sister while Little C rides his trike around the house.  Then, once she is dry and dressed, he gets in the bath.

5.15ish - Little C sits in the hallway, naked, playing with his towel.  Little Sister is settling back to sleep in the sling.  I'm starting to make dinner.

5.45ish - Big C gets home and we have dinner.  Little Sister wakes just after 6.  After dinner I change her nappy, change Little C's nappy, both in PJs, and feed Little Sister, while Big C cleans up the kitchen and gets changed.  Big C has a cuddle with both. 

6.45ish - I take Little C to bed and Big C takes Little Sister, armed with a bottle of expressed milk.  By 7.15, I'm hanging the laundry and clearing some more paperwork.

8ish - Little Sister isn't having any of it and is now latched on to me again.

9pm - I put her back in her bed.  She's fast asleep.

9.30pm - She's crying.  I leave my blog-post and go and fetch her.  It's now nearly 10pm and she's on my knee, hiccoughing, she's filled her nappy again!  I'm going to post this and then settle in front of the TV for half an hour.  If she's still awake at the end of that, then she's coming to bed with me - Bummer.  On a plus note, Big C has just taken her to change her nappy.

Wow - big long post!  Sorry it's just filled with the minutiae of mundanity, but for those of you who don't do it, this is what a stay-at-home day looks like for a stay-at-home mum with an almost 2 year old and a 3 month old.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Universal Truths of Parenting

  • Your child is always the most beautiful child you know
  • children do not follow the script - if you want to show somebody how independent and confident your child is - that's the moment that they'll hide behind your legs and refuse to speak; on the one occasion when you don't take a spare outfit for the baby they'll simultaneously vomit and explode their nappy.
  • They like to tease.  A couple of nights of sleeping all the way through from 7.30pm to 7am, and then they'll show you who's boss by just not going to sleep until at 11pm you give up and take them to your bed, where you'll at least get some sleep!  
  • Nothing beats the beauty of your sleeping child, the sleepy smile in the morning, the first smiles of recognition etc. etc. 
  • You cannot hurry a toddler.  The more you chivvy and chase and get stressed the more likely it is that they will hold a sit-down protest, or do something naughty enough to warrant a time out.
  • No parent is ever confident that what they are doing is right.  If any parent seems to be sure of themselves and their parenting, then they are either a bad parent or they hide their insecurity well.  All parents worry constantly about whether they are doing the best thing for their children.
  • Parenting is the most magical and scariest journey you'll ever make.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Pond frogs

More creative crafts to do with toddlers.  This is dead easy and the outcome is lovely.  We saw Mr Maker make a frog on a pond on CBeebies and later that day Little C decided that he would like to make a frog.  When I finally figured out what it was that he was asking me for, I said that we would make a frog the next day.  We don't quite have the bits and pieces and paper cups that Mr Maker was using, so while feeding Little Sister at 4am I came up with our own way of doing it:

  • What you need
  • paper plate
  • blue paint
  • brown and black felt pens
  • 2 green milk bottle tops
  • green egg box
  • white tissue paper
  • PVA glue

What to do
  • cut the egg box so that you have the six individual egg compartments.  The corner ones are best.  Trim if required so that they stand level when upside down.  These are your frogs.
  • take two pieces (about 10cm square) of white tissue paper per frog and roll into balls, cover with PVA glue and stick to the top of the frogs to make eyes.  Leave to dry.
Paint the paper plate blue.  Allow to dry.

Using the felt pens draw a pupil on each eye, some nostrils and a big smile on your frog.  You can also draw some warts.
Use the PVA to stick your frogs to the pond.  Also stick the milk bottle lids as lilypads.  Now you can trim some more card from the egg box to froggy feet shape, draw on some webbed toes and stick in place.

Ta Daaaahhh!!!! Frogs in ponds

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Clothes you need for children

It's very easy to get carried away and end up with wardrobes and drawers full of clothes which hardly ever get worn.  Even for the messiest child though, you only need a more limited stock of clothing which can be worn and loved.  Of course, some of this will depend on how often you get your laundry done.  If you wash once a week, you may need a couple of extras so that you don't run out while everything is drying on the line.  Also you may need a few more clothes for the bottom half during potty training (or do laundry more often at this time).  

Here's my list of clothing required for children:
  • underwear - 7 vests for toddlers and pre-schoolers, older children may or may not wear them.  10 pairs of pants and ten pairs of socks (I've seen advice that suggests getting socks in all one colour at any different size so that pairs can be more easily and correctly made as they come out of the wash).  I personally avoid tights like the plague and think if it isn't warm enough for socks with a skirt then put them in trousers, but for a girl you may wish to have 3 or 4 pairs of tights as well.
  • tops - about 10 in total, some vest tops, some t-shirts, some long sleeved, allowing for changes through the week in all seasons.  Set one or two aside for rough wear (in the garden, camping etc.) or if you have a younger or messier child then go the other way and keep one or two aside for smarter wear (not for art work, baking, garden etc.)
  • bottoms - again about ten in total including shorts, jogging trousers, jeans/combats, tidier shorts/trousers, skirts for girls (some of which could be teamed with leggings to extend their wearability).  Same goes as for tops with keeping one or two aside for messy/tidier wear.
  • Jumpers - it depends on your climate and how warm your house is.  We live in Scotland and during the winter heat the house enough that it isn't cold but a jumper is comfortable so about seven jumpers/sweaters is reasonable to allow a change every day if required.
  • occasion wear - a smart/pretty/dressy outfit for weddings, christenings, smart parties etc. - get one for summer and one for winter.
  • Apron/overshirt - for artwork/baking.  
  • Swimwear
  • Seasonal wear - sun-hat, warm hat, scarf, gloves, waterproof coat, summer coat, winter coat
  • Footwear - smarter / everyday shoes, messy shoes / trainers for playing, wellies for puddle jumping / camping / gardening, sandals for summer
  • nightwear - a couple of pairs of pyjamas or nighties (one to wash and one to wear), possibly different ones for winter and summer depending on your climate and how temperature controlled your house is. Dressing-gown and slippers.
  • Uniforms and sportswear - whatever clothing and equipment is required for school / pre-school / any clubs or activities that your child enjoys.
For babies up to 1 year:
  • 8 vests with poppers (long and short sleeved, white and coloured); 8 sleepsuits (all the time for the first month or so, then for night time); 10 outfits - t-shirts, tops, dresses (if you insist, though please don't put a dress on a crawling baby - this is tantamount to cruelty), trousers, leggings, dungarees, shorts etc. which can be worn in lots of combinations; 8 jumpers; a few pairs of socks and/or bootees, a sun hat, a couple of warm hats, a couple of bibs, a warm jacket/coat, an all-in-one mega-warm suit for really cold occasions, mittens in winter, swimmies, an all-in-one waterproof suit which includes the feet so you can put them on slightly damp grass once they are sitting/crawling, a little pair of soft shoes once they are pulling up to standing / cruising.

How to get the best of this list:
  • Take hand-me-downs but don't feel you need to keep/use all of them, just take the bits that you need and hand back or pass on the rest.
  • Shop for the age range twelve months ahead - while your child is wearing age 3-4 you can pick up any bargains that you spot for age 4-5 during end-of-season sales and so on.
  • Use charity shops - particularly for babies many of these clothes are hardly worn.
  • If you have a boy and a girl you don't need to get a whole load of new clothes.  Pink clothes for girls are not compulsory and there's nothing wrong with putting both genders in the same clothing, especially if they are reasonably gender unspecific.  I've started early - my baby girl is wearing trousers and t-shirts that were her big brother's.  I usually have one item of clothing - a top or the trousers which give the indication that she's a girl, but actually don't mind if people have to ask, they are usually strangers stopping to tell me she's gorgeous. 
  • Use "the system".  I've mentioned this in my clothes post.  Every spring and autumn (probably the Easter holiday and October half term) we would pile all our clothes into mum's room and she would bring out a suitcase full of clothes ready for the coming season, either clothes that the older ones had outgrown the year before or hand-me-downs from cousins. A trying on fest would follow until we all had a set of clothes that fit us ready for the coming season.  We would then sit with mum and go through a mail-order catalogue, while she listed the page and catalogue numbers of items we liked.  She would judiciously use charity shop finds and the catalogue to fill gaps in our wardrobes, knowing that she was getting stuff that we liked.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Three creative child books

I found these three books in the library, and after reading, thought I would review for all you lovelies...

365 Activities You and Your Child Will Love: Fun Ideas for Your Preschooler's Growing Mind!365 activities you and your child will love from Gymboree
Not so much actually.  For anybody with any imagination, who spends any time enjoying themselves with their toddler or pre-school age child i.e. not just putting them in front of the box or going to organised activities, then nearly all the suggestions in this book will be things that you already do without even thinking about it.  You may get a few new ideas, but not much that you couldn't think up on your own.  Here are some randomly selected from the book: 
Idea 83 - Ask your child questions about nature.  For instance, you might ask, "What has four legs and moos?"
Idea 145 - put on a show
Idea 255 - Make a comb kazoo
Idea 278 - pop some corn

Teach Yourself Developing Your Child's Creativity (Teach Yourself General)Teach Yourself - Developing your child's creativity
The first part of this book is about the benefits of creatvity, how to nurture creativity, and how to make your home a creative environment, then it breaks up into age brackets up to the age of seven and lists some "golden rules" to nurture creativity for that age, and some activities to try.  As with the previous book, many of the activities are things that I would be doing anyway, though I did get a few ideas.  I did enjoy reading the first few chapters, giving information about research into creativity and child development, and some ideas of what to do and not to do to encourage creativity in your child.  To be fair, I think we are pretty creative already, and by that, as the book reminds us, we aren't just talking about dance, music and art, we're talking about ingenuity, problem solving skills and imagination, but it is nice to read something that gives research to reassure yourself that you're doing well.  

According to this book, signs that your child may be creative include:

  • connecting seemingly random objects and ideas in fantasy play
  • asking lots of unusual questions (my three year old nephew recently asked my sister whether Tyrannosaurus Rex could swim)
  • they're often the odd one out, not necessarily dressing or acting conventionally
  • they're resourceful and good at solving problems
  • they love playing alone and can entertain themselves for long periods of time
  • they're often so absorbed in what they are doing that they don't even hear you
  • they are rebellious
What a fabulous list!
Here are two ideas for things I don't do and want to start doing more, from the age 1-2 chapter - 
  • dressing up box - I was waiting until he had the dressing and undressing skills, but actually could start with hats, bags, shoes and scarves.
  • the magic sofa - every now and then add some simple prop to transform the sofa into a car / plane / cafe etc to encourage him to try more make believe.
I like this book.

Creative Crafts for Kids: Over 100 Fun Projects for Two to Ten Year OldsCreative Crafts for Kidsby Hamlyn, over 100 fun projects for 2-10 year olds.
There are some fun ideas in here.  Not much that you wouldn't be able to find on the internet, but quite a wide variety and well set out.
There are a variety of home made cards, seasonal gifts and decorations, costumes, gifts for relatives and loved ones etc.
I like this book and would be happy to receive it as a gift or borrow it from the library again, but don't feel that it's essential enough to my life that I would buy it for myself.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Toddler Garden

 I love watching Little C in the garden.  He potters about.  

He sits on the wooden otter.  

He plays in the little car which is temporarily housed in our garden on its way from the Mother and Toddler group to the recycling centre, it's broken and scratches the floor of the village hall, but it's fine for playing in the garden.

Grandma bought him a little trolley with a bucket, spade, rake and watering can, and he loves to get his "water can" filled up and water the plants.  He also rakes and sieves gravel, digs soil and uses paint brushes to paint the shed with water.

He "helps" with digging and sowing seeds and raking.

We've also made a garden just for Little C.  We planted a tomato and a strawberry plant, some flowers and some sunflower seeds together, and added a plastic duck, a jiggly frog and a wind mill.  He loves it, waters the plants and moves the ornaments around.  As time goes on I'll also plant a runner bean or two with him, and then we'll be able to watch things grow, and harvest the fruits and veg.

We do have some garden rules.  Although he can't read yet, I've printed them out and pinned them up in the kitchen to refer to.  I'm hoping that enough reference will firmly lodge them in his mind:

  1. Always ask before you go in the garden, and then stay in the garden where Mummy or Daddy can see you.
  2. Keep an eye out for dog poo and tell Mummy or Daddy if you see any so that we can clear it up.  (We do a poo hunt for the Waggy-Tailed-One's mess as soon as he goes out, but there's always a chance that we might have missed one)
  3. Don't eat anything from the garden unless Mummy or Daddy have given it to you and says it's okay.
  4. When Mummy and Daddy say it's time to come in from the garden, come in straight away without any fuss.
  5. Always wash your hands when you come in from the garden.