Monday, 28 May 2012

Hours of fun... with a few cardboard boxes!

At Tesco last week I forgot to take my shopping bags, so I picked up a few cardboard boxes from the end of the check-out and used them.  Rather than take them straight to the recycling or to my craft heap, I decided to leave them in the sitting room as an invitation to play.

It worked!  The children have put things in the boxes, sat in the boxes, sat on the boxes and worn the boxes.

The boxes have also been city blocks for the cars to drive in between, and they've been C's house for him to drive to in his car outside (one was also the Health Centre/ Dentist.

We haven't even started on the possibilities that might present themselves if we start painting the things...

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Outdoor Living... and Letter Weekends

Unusually, our corner of the world has been a blaze of sunshine and warm temperatures all week.  It's been gorgeous!  All week we have been outside as much as possible: eating outside, ironing outside, we had a fire and cooked outside, and really just being outside.  

With sun hats firmly on and slathered with high factor sun-cream we have just been loving the outdoors.  Our nap-time coincides splendidly with the warmest time of day, so the children are nicely resting - siesta-style - in the shade inside.

The other thing we've started to introduce is a letter day on a weekend.  I don't really plan too much for the children to do on the weekends, because I want them to be relaxed times with the family, and we are often so busy with Scouting activities and events, or Hubby being at work, that it's better just to go with the flow.  However, following C's lead, each weekend morning, he selects a letter from the "letter box" and puts it in a basket.  We have a quick brainstorm of words which start with that letter.  At points during the day when we need some direction I quickly come up with something that starts with that letter.  We also have a go at writing the letter on paper and on the easel chalkboard.  

Last Saturday we had the letter N:

  • We wrote a letter to "Nana"
  • We "noticed" some things
  • We found our "name" on some things
  • We ate something "nice"
  • we wrote in a "notebook"
  • we practiced our "numbers"
  • we trimmed our "nails".
Last Sunday we were very busy (plus it was X!), so didn't do much to do with our letter.  Yesterday we had the letter F:
  • we played "football"
  • we counted our "fingers"
  • we had a "finger of fudge"
  • we pressed some "flowers"
Today we had the letter B, but there haven't really been any occasions to use it, as we have just been playing outside all day, though I did suggest that we get the "baby bath" out to play with water in the garden, and also C's "bike".

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Taking toddlers to the dentist

Okay, so I'm still a bit rubbish at keeping up with the blog.  Perhaps this time I should blame the beautiful weather?  We've been outside in it any chance we've had, and there has been lots of pottering about in the garden (another post).

This one's about taking toddlers to the dentist.  I've been going to my 6 monthly dental check-ups since I was first pregnant with C, and the children have always come along too.  I make sure that I keep things very relaxed and fun (I didn't take C with me when I was a bag of nerves facing my first ever filling!).

Despite this, C has yet to open his mouth more than a fraction and let the dentist have a look at his pearly gnashers.  

  • We've tried an "open wide" dentist game - he checks out my teeth anyway.  
  • We've tried bribery and corruption - if he showed the dentist his teeth, I would ask her if he's okay to have a battery toothbrush - he opened a centimetre, just enough for me to accede that he'd tried and get the toothbrush.  
  • I've admired his lovely teeth.  
  • We've talked about why the dentist is good, and that she helps us to take care of our teeth which are really important.
Still no show.  This time around Bug (aged 15 months) opened wide and had a giggle at the dentist, but still not C.  Now I know why.... to keep things relaxed and non-intimidating, the dentist wants to look at their teeth while they are sitting on the edge of the chair or on my knee, not lying back with all the machinery and lights...he told me afterwards that he wanted to open his mouth on the "lying down chair" and he had been waiting for that.  So now I know.  Next time he'll get to lie down on the big chair at the dentist and we'll see if he manages to open his mouth!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Our topic in April was... my body

So it's well over half way through May, and I'm only just getting around to this.  I was sick for a week, and recovered just in time for my sister-in-law to visit for a week.  So the last few days I've pretty much just been trying to catch up with a huge back-log of tasks and the blog has been sadly low on the priority list.

We try to go with a loose topic each month, and do things to fit in with it.  It keeps my imagination fresh and gets us doing lots of different things.  Here are some of the things we did for "My Body"
  • We sang "One finger, one thumb", and "Heads, shoulders, knees and toes".
  • We did some cutting and sticking with pictures of faces from magazines.
  • We painted our face.
  • We drew self portraits.
  • We did the "Fitness and fun for me and Mum" DVD that my mum gave me.

  •  we made paper chain people

  • we went to the dentist and the health centre
  • we drew around our hands and feet

  • the children lay down on big sheets of paper and we drew around our bodies
  • we started trying to teach Bug to point to her nose / toes etc.

  • we made plaster casts of our hand prints - this was a bit of an experiment which didn't work out well. We'll try it again another time using a different method
  • we talked about the different parts of our body

  • we made pipe-cleaner people

  • we borrowed a book about skeletons from the library
  • we started potty training C

Monday, 14 May 2012

Quick ideas for entertaining toddlers - shredded paper!

Bug woke up from her sleep earlier than C, and since I was in the process of emptying the bins, I emptied the shredder into the old baby bath.  First of all she had some fun just playing with this, and also putting it back into the shredder bin, then we added her stacking stars, and this gave the activity another ten minutes or so of good fun and exploring.
It was on the kitchen floor, which needed sweeping anyway, so there wasn't even any extra mess!

Monday, 7 May 2012

How to be free - DEATH TO SHOPPING, or fleeing the prison of consumer desire

I’ve mentioned Tom Hodgkinson on here before.  He’s the editor of The Idler, and has written books “How to Be Idle”, “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent”.  I love the principles expressed in “How to be Free” (though not all the ideas in the book), and while I don’t agree with the term Idle I think The Idle Parent is a must-read and describes well how I was brought up and how I wish to bring up my own children.

I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring these two books, and the ideas contained in them further, in the hope that this will help me to explore further the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.

Chapter 10 - Death to shopping, or fleeing the prison of consumer desire - THROW OUT THE TELLY

This is a very simple chapter in which Tom reminds us that we are continually wanting things that we don't actually need.  If we have a functional pair of shoes we don't really need another two or three pairs do we?  If our TV works then we don't need another one just because the old one happens not to be flat screen / LCD / HD / 3D or whatever.
Our natural desire to live well has become a desire for "stuff".  If we didn't feel the need to buy so much stuff, then we wouldn't need so much money, and therefore wouldn't need to work so much.
He suggests that there are four categories of good things: subsistence - food, drink and shelter; intellectual and moral improvement - books and friends; inexpensive gratifications - (he suggest booze and cigarettes but I'm not sure I'd agree with those!); and the fourth category is "gratifications which can only be purchased with excessive toil" - decoration, distraction, vanity and ostentation - these we can do without.
We need to be cool, not to care so much about things.  He recalls a two-year period where his family had no money.  To economise they stopped reading newspapers, watched little TV and moved out of the city.  Almost immediately they stopped spending so much, simply because they were no longer exposed to so much marketing.  So throw out the TV, stop being a zombie and get out there and live life.  Acknowledge desire, but don't let it rule your life.
How does this match up to the Ink Spots and Grass Stains Life

Very poorly I'm afraid.  I try not to buy stuff.  But I'm not very good at it.  And I have a husband who really likes to buy things and to own things - even if we never use them.  I won't even list the stuff that sits unused in the garage, the books that have never been read or the DVDs that haven't been watched.  I'm a good influence on him, he's beginning to see that there is benefit in my thrifty ways - but I don't think I'm winning.  And perhaps he's having an influence on me.  I certainly seem to have a lot of stuff that I really don't need.

Lets just say that this is one that I'm working on!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

In April we were mostly... (best pics from April)

...playing at the park...

...C too...

...playing with our cousins...


...getting a surprise sprinkle of snow...

...hanging about...

...just being gorgeous...

...Bug too...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Beltane / May Day - Celebrating the turn of the year

I like to think about different ways of celebrating the turning of the  year, and am especially drawn to those that are linked to natural cycles.

Beltane, or May Day, is all about the rising fertility of the earth.  April showers give way to warm sunshine (we hope!) and all those seeds and seedlings in the garden suddenly begin to flourish.

Over time, this festival has been celebrated in many ways, all focusing on fertility, but not necessarily just on the fertility of the soil if you know what I mean!  The maypole is certainly a pretty symbolic image, and there was a fair bit of sharing the love going on during this festival.

What you can do:

  • join in or set up a Maypole dance - may be too late for this year, but try it next time
  • make a floral crown by twining together lengths of willow and weaving in the stems of spring flowers, and coloured ribbons
  • make a mini Maypole.  Get hold of an old kitchen roll stand (a piece of dowelling stuck into a stand) from a car-boot sale or charity shop.  Use a glue gun to attach pretty ribbons to the top and pretty flowers around the base.
  • Make a fairy chair for the garden (I love this idea and will definitely try it next year!).  Get an old wooden chair (again, junk stores or second hand furniture shops are your friend).  Sand it down and paint it with exterior primer and then exterior paint in pastel colours, you can also paint on flowers and leaves to attract those fairies and then seal with polyeurathane.  Place in your garden in a likely spot for the fairies, and press down into the soil.  Plant seeds for climbing flowers such as sweet peas and honeysuckle around the base.  As the summer progresses your chair will be awash with flowers and the perfect place to spot a fairy.
  • Have a bonfire.