Friday, December 31, 2010

Good-bye 2010

I have to say, this is a year that I will be glad to say good bye to. I've had some of my lowest moments this year with an ectopic pregnancy earlier this year and then a subsequent miscarriage which I really struggled to come to terms with. I also lost my Grandad in October this year. So, not the best year but I am feeling positive about 2011 and all that it will bring. Already we have had something good come of everything that has happened but I'm not quite ready to share that on here yet.

I did have some positive things happen this year though. In February I completed my breastfeeding counsellor training with the Australian Breastfeeding Association. It marked over 18 months of hard work and committment from me. I'm very proud of my achievement. It means that I am able to counsel other mother's and the wider community on breastfeeding issues. Since I qualified I have doing a monthly shift on helpline as well as email counselling. I enjoy being able to help and support other mother's and always find it amazing just how much I know about breastfeeding these days! I have also taken over as co-group leader of our local ABA group and am enjoying the challenges and rewards this brings.

I've also been enjoying doing more sewing this year. Now that the kids are getting a little older it gives me a bit more freedom to get things done. I've toyed with the idea of selling some of my creations but in the end I just think it'll be too much work and stress on my part. I'll just enjoy making things for my kids and gifts for others in the meantime.

Jacob has enjoyed his first year of Kinder this year and is looking forward to attending more days next year. Steiner education really suits his personality and I think we have made the right choice in choosing this mode of education. He gets along so well with his teacher and we have seen him grown so much in terms of confidence and socialisation from his time at kinder this year. He is growing rapidly as well. Just this morning I realised his pants were getting too short, the same pants he's had for the past couple of years!

Esme is a real little girl now, cheeky as always! She loves to talk and can hold proper conversations with us these days. It's always funny listening to her and Jacob have conversations when they don't know we are listening. Next year I'm looking forward to spending more one on one time with her when Jacob goes to Kinder.

Chris continues to work at Swinburne. It seems that the University are a little ignorant of his abilities. Twice he has applied for a higher up job there and been refused despite the fact that he is more than capable to doing the work for the positions!

A happy and prosperous New Year to everyone! May it be better than the year that was!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I love applique!

I've been getting into a bit of machine applique lately and I'm really enjoying it! Last year I started appliqueing for the first time but I was a little scared to use the machine to do it so everything was hand sewn - which was quite time consuming. This Christmas I thought I'd try my hand at some machine applique and these t-shirts are the end result:

It's actually really easy and quick! All I do is draw or find an image online that I like, cut the pieces out, iron on the t-shirt and away I go. I'm starting to understand how the sewing machine works and can do slightly more complicated pieces now! Now I just need to find more hours in the day to do more...

Let's go fishing!

This is one of the projects I was working on for Christmas - it's a kid's fishing set. The fish are hand sewn with felt and have a strong magnet sewn into their nose. The rod is made from a piece of bamboo with a magnet attached to the end of the string. I'm quite happy with how they've turned out in the end. I am, however, a little sick of the sight of these fish at the moment seeing as I have now sewn three of these sets!

The bag that holds all the fish and the fishing rod (a piece of bamboo with a magnet tied onto the string at the end)

The bag opens up to make a pond for the fish

My kids absolutely love this set. I think I'll be making another one for Jacob's birthday!

I got the patterns for these fish from one of my favourite Etsy stores. This is where I purchased the patterns for my felt fruit and vegies too.

Memories of my Grandad

My Grandad passed away in early October this year. Although it was quite sudden, his passing was peaceful and all the family had a chance to say their good-byes before he died. I just wanted to share some of my special memories of my Grandad. This is the speech I gave at his funeral.

I remember…holidays spent on the farm with you and Nanna. They were special times. Going down to visit you in the raspberries and calling you in for morning or afternoon tea. It was always the same thing for morning and afternoon tea – bikkies and cheese! I remember walking down to the creek with you and visiting the vegetable garden. Kisses and cuddles with you before Nanna would put me to bed.

I remember…afternoons spent at your place playing backgammon and checkers. It used to be a little ritual playing with you and my Dad. I don’t think I won very often but I had lots of fun trying!

I remember…your talent for making things with your hands. Such beautiful wooden things you made. I still have that dollhouse you made me for my Sylvanian family. You made it specially so that it looked the same as the one from the shop. I hope that one day my children can enjoy it too, just like I did. And those special toys that you made for your great grandchildren. Little wooden puppies that the kids could pull along, penguins with feet that you pushed along the floor and wooden hobby horses. The kids have spent many hours playing with these special toys.

I remember…spending hours with you in your shed. Your shed was always a little treasure trove to me when I was a child and I used to love to visit you in there. You used to show me the toys you were working on, such clever little inventions, and how they worked. You never tired of explaining things to me and having me there watching you even though I’m sure I must have been a little annoying at times! I remember how you had a collection of little plastic toys that you’d collected from cereal boxes. Every so often you’d pull one of those out and we’d construct it together: little plastic camels and carriages and the like.

I remember…visits to the museum with you and Nanna when I was younger. We used to go in the school holidays. Mum and I and Stephen would meet you on the train at Lilydale and we’d travel in together. I always liked to visit all the different exhibits with you because you would spend time explaining things in detail to me and didn’t try to simplify things just because I was a kid.

I remember…your stubbornness. It used to annoy me so much having an argument with you because I knew I could never win! You would always just give that laugh that meant that the argument was over.

I remember…your passion for learning. You liked to read lots of books about lots of different topics and watched lots of documentaries. I always used to think you knew everything!

I remember… your love for all of us. How we knew how proud you were of us without even saying anything. You took an interest in all of our achievements and what we were doing.

I remember…what a wonderful great-grandad you were. You always loved to watch the great grand children play when we visited and delighted in making toys for them while you were still able to. On one of our last visits to you in the hospital when you were sick you smiled when you heard Jacob and Esme’s voices and felt them touching you. Always a proud great-grandad to the end.

Merry Christmas!

The kids were so excited about Christmas this year - especially Jacob who well and truly knew what Santa was about this year! We managed to wake up not too early on Christmas morning and the kids opened their presents. It was so lovely to see them both so excited about every little present they got. It just goes to show that you don't need to give kids a tonne of expensive presents to make them happy. Saying that though, we did splash out and get the kids a new bike each for Christmas this year.

The Christmas tree - finally decorated!

The Christmas tree on Christmas Eve - with all the kid's presents underneath.

Jacob opening a present

Esme very excited about the presents in her stocking!

Happy kids :)

We spent Christmas lunch with Chris' family and then in the evening we travelled up to see my Aunt and Uncle at the farm. The kids always love to visit the farm - they love playing on the swing and trampoline and going for a walk around the property. The day after Boxing day we shared dinner at Mum and Dad's place with more family. As fun as it's all been I have to say I am glad Christmas is over for another year!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Making your own Christmas wrapping paper

We love to make our own wrapping paper in this house. It makes for an easy, cheap and meaningful way of wrapping a present. A while ago I cut Christmas shapes into some sponges (just your everyday generic sponge from the supermarket). I cut a Christmas tree, star and a bell. Then I set out some green and red paint and let Jacob get busy. He really enjoys doing this and he gets so excited when we wrap and give presents using paper he has made.

Jacob gets busy with the painting - he likes to add his own artistic touches ;)

Some of the completed wrapping paper - yes, I admit, I did get in on the action!

Some other alternatives to wrapping paper we have used:

* Using old paintings/pictures that the kids have done - what better use for the surplus of paintings that are always lying around the house?!
* Using material and ribbon to wrap presents - especially good for people who like to craft and can use the material or alternatively you can reuse the material the following year!
* Using teatowels to wrap presents - multi purposable and functional!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Homemade Christmas Decorations

We have been busy making yummy stained glass biscuits lately. Stained glass biscuits are basically just a basic biscuit with crushed up lollies added as they cook so they have a stained glass look when they are cooled. It's been lots of fun. The first lot we made we used this recipe here. They were all eaten pretty quickly though.

We made another lot the other day using gingerbread (for some reason we seem to have quite a surplass of gingerbread - I can't understand why). These ones we made for hanging on the Christmas tree. All we had to do was add a hole at the top for the string before they were cooked. The kids had lots of fun making them (or in Esme's case, eating the dough!)

Jacob helps to roll the dough and cut out shapes

The finished product - I think they look quite good!

Then we hung them on the tree together. I think they look very pretty on the tree! Now, I wonder how long they will last before some little person decides they look too tasty ;)

Esme carefully hangs the biscuits on the tree

They make quite nice Christmas tree decorations!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gingerbread House

I couldn't resist sharing some photos of these gingerbread houses Chris has been making this Christmas. I think he's done such a great job! The recipe Chris used for making the gingerbread can be found here. We used copha in it instead of butter so that it lasts longer (butter will go bad after a while).

In other Christmas news, I am running very behind with my preparations this year! I like to make presents for people (or at least the kids) and I still have a lot of sewing to do that I am really hoping is done in time! I think it's going to be a busy week next week! I will post pictures of my projects as they get done as well as some crafty stuff that I am planning on doing with the kids next week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Green toys for kids

Have you heard of Eco-Toys?
They sell toys for girls and boys.
Based in Hawthorn and online,
They really have some awesome finds!

Why do we like this store you ask?
To explain is no hard task!
Eco-Toys sell toys that are green,
To ensure our world stays clean.

No chemicals or residues,
That really is such fantastic news.
Fair trade labour and good conditions,
Ensure for workers a great tradition.

Eco-Toys are made to pass the test,
The quality is by far the best.
Each toy that's made is individual,
And we really think that rules!

No other store compares,
Because Eco-Toys takes such care.
Too many favourite toys to list,
But here are a few we just can't resist:

Marble runs to build and roll
I think Jacob would think that's cool!
Wooden tea sets with cupcakes,
Imagine all the cups of tea to make!

Make sure you check out their online store
It really is the best for sure!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Taking a break

You may have noticed that I haven't been around here much in the last week or. That's because I've decided to take a bit of a break from blogging for a while. It will definitely only be a temporary thing but I am likely to be gone for at least a month or so. I'm just feeling that I'm a bit low on energy at the moment and need to spend some time looking after my own health and our family. So see you all in a month or so!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

A trip on Puffing Billy with playgroup friends!

Disclaimer: I didn't take this photo ;)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jelly painting

This week we tried painting with jelly crystals! I wasn't sure how this activity was going to turn out but activities involving things we can eat always seem to be successful around here! I grabbed a few different coloured boxes of jelly crystals from the supermarket (Homebrand ones were about 40 cents each so it worked out to be quite a cheap activity in the end) and then mixed about half of each packet with a small amount of water. Then I let the kids loose! They could choose whether they wanted to use paintbrushes or their hands to do the painting. The paint left little crystals on the paper which the kids found interesting. I would have saved the drawings so we could check if they smelt nice when dry but alas the ants got to them first ;)

Esme started out by using the paintbursh to draw on the paper...

But it didn't take long for her to figure out that this 'paint' was quite tasty and painting was quickly abandoned in favour of licking the paintbrush and fingers!

Jacob tried dipping his fingers in and making dots on the paper

It took him a little longer than Esme to work out the 'paint' was edible but then all he wanted to do was eat it!

Visit We play at Childhood 101 for more great play ideas

Monday, October 25, 2010

Through the eyes of a four year old.

We recently gave Jacob an old camera to use. He loves it and would happily spend all day taking photos of things (if the batteries didn't keep running out!) It's really interesting to look at the photos he takes just to see the world through the eyes of a four year old. Here's a selection of a few he's taken so far (picture quality of the old digital camera leaves a lot to be desired but you get the idea ;))

I'm thinking of doing a little photo scavenger hunt for him too. I read about this in a blog recently (if anyone reading this can remember whose blog it was please let me know so I can give credit to them!) I always thought Jacob would be too young for this but I've come up with a modified version. Instead of having a written list of things he needs to take photos of I'm planning on putting some colours on a page and telling him that he needs to take a photo of something that colour. Will be interesting to see how he goes ;)

In the meantime, it's back to being told to 'smile!' Oh the irony!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Chooky cuddles! Our chooks have to put up with a lot - Esme loves to catch them and give them big cuddles. Lucky they are so placid!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finger Painting

We opted for an easy tactile activity this week - good old fashioned finger paint! It's really easy to cook up and takes no time at all. I got the kids to mix in some colouring when it was all made. They both really enjoyed the actual painting but got a little funny about having the paint on their hands so I had to provide a bowl of water for them to dip their hands into every so often (hence why the finger paint got a little watered down!!)

Esme looks a little uncertain about getting her hands into the paint!

Jacob got right into it all, as per usual, making lots of swirls and dots with his hands

We made lots of different coloured paint - red, blue, yellow and green.

And of course, we had to take prints off the paint when we were all done :)


1 cup cornflour
cold water
3 cups boiling water
food colouring

Blend cornflour with a little cold water. Add boiling water. Boil for 1 minute until clear - make sure you stir though, our fingerpaint got a little lumpy! Add food colouring.

Visit We play at Childhood 101 for more great play ideas

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Learning about volcanoes

Welcome to the October Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is "Studies of Society and the Environment" which covers all the humanities, from history to finance, geography, politics and of course the environment. Check out the links at the bottom to find some other great posts on SOSE.


For the past couple of weeks we've been learning all about volcanoes. Our interest in this started because of some rocks that Jacob found on a recent trip to a friend's farm. We brought them home to show Daddy and he told us they were volcanic rock. Jacob found this very interesting so we thought it'd be good to do some activities around volcanoes.

The rocks that sparked Jacob's interest in learning about volcanoes

We went to the local library and borrowed some books about volcanoes. The local library is really such a great resource for information. Jacob spent the next week looking at the books we borrowed and talking about how volcanoes work. It's interesting the conversations you have with young kids. Jacob told us that he wanted to see a volcano up close but we had to explain that it was really, really hot and you can't get close to a volcano that's erupting!

The books we borrowed from the library

We decided to make our very own volcano with papermache. We made a frame out of wire and then built the layers up to make a mountain. We left a hole in the middle for a bottle (more on that in a moment!) The last time we did papermache, Jacob really enjoyed it. This time, however, he did about two strips and then got distracted by something else. So lucky Mummy was left to finish it all!! After it had all dried we painted it.

Jacob, doing some papermache before he got distracted, leaving Mummy to do all the work!

A rare moment of brother and sister happily doing an activity together!

The finished product!

So, can you guess what's coming yet? The bottle in the middle of the volcano is for our science experiment! We put bicarb in the bottle and then added vinegar, coloured with red food dye, and a little detergent to make our very own volcano eruption! Lots and lots of fun and a great way to simulate an actual volcano for the kids (not that volcanoes are caused by bicarb and vinegar reactions but y'know ;))

The vinegar gets poured in

Erupting volcano!

Jacob and Esme both loved watching the volcano 'erupt'

Touching the foam was really kind of funny!

We had a couple of fun weeks learning about volcanoes. I wonder what we'll discover next?

Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.


Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on "Studies of Society and the Environment."
  • The Planning Queen has pulled together some of the many great sources that you can use to keep kids up to date with world news.

  • SMMART Ideas is writing about how your 2 year old isn't too young to learn the names and locations of the state she lives in and those around her...or even countries of the world!

  • For Adventures with Kids, photos can provide a great starting point for telling or discovering history, from family history to world history. Find out some questions to ask about the photos to get you started and where you can find historical images.

  • Narelle at A Bunch of Keys has been having lots of fun learning all about volcanoes and how they work.

  • Monique at Your Cheeky Monkey knows that kids are fascinated with igloos - how they are built and why they don't melt. We investigate why!

  • Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has a fun treat to celebrate the end of a geography unit on land and water forms.

  • At Homeage, almost every day they get another piece of the world delivered to their door, helping them learn about where and how other people live.

  • Deb's girls at Science@home have been building their family tree and talking about all their relationships.
Thanks for visiting our carnival, have fun reading all the posts.
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