Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Window painting

I haven't really been feeling like doing much lately so this week I opted for an easy activity with the kids - window painting! The kids loved it because they thought they were doing something they weren't allowed to! I used powdered tempera paint for the paint as I had some old containers of it lying around (you can buy tempera paint from art and craft shops though - they are useful for a whole lot of different kid's activities which I'll hopefully get around to doing in the next few weeks).

Jacob and Esme get to work!

Window art - we used blue, green and red paint. The kids enjoyed mixing up the colours and seeing what other colours they could make too.

The great bit about this activity is that the clean up is just as much fun as the actual activity - give the kids paintbrushes with water and they are happy to 'paint' it off!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A kid's birthday party without the hype

Well, the sugar 'hype' that is! I have written before about how I like my kids to eat as healthy as possible. While I don't mind them having the occasional treat if they are at a party I am not a big fan of parties where the only option is unhealthy, sugary food (and lots of it too!) So, for Esme's birthday I decided to make a big effort to make it as healthy as possible. Here is what we did. Esme's party had a farm theme so everything was organised with this in mind.

Party food

Main dishes

Unfortunately I didn't really get many pictures of the party food (perhaps that's because it disappeared too quickly!) But we had ham and pineapple pizza, BBQ chicken pizza, sausage rolls, wedges, mini quiches, vol au vents, dip with carrot and celery sticks and fairy bread - yum! To drink we had fruit punch and just a couple of soft drinks.


Ok, so we did still have some sweet things. You've got to have cake though, right?! This was Esme's pig cake. We also had fruit kebabs (with pineapple, mandarin, banana, strawberries and kiwifruit), gluten-free brownies and rice pudding.

Party games

Pass the parcel

Between each layer I put a sheet of stickers with farm animals on them. In the middle was a packet of small plastic farm animals (amazing what you can find at the cheap shops!)


The pinata we made at home before the party using papermache. It was a great activity for the kids to be involved in too. Inside the pinata I put some more small plastic farm animals, some blowers and some party poppers. The kids seemed to enjoy the things inside the pinata, even if it didn't contain lollies!

'Lolly' bags

This was the bit I enjoyed doing the most (the things you get excited about when you have kids!) I didn't want to put any lollies in at all this year so the bags contain sheets of farm colouring pages (free down loadable ones from the web), a pack of crayons, a balloon, bubbles, sesame snaps, sultanas and a couple of homemade bikkies (cut out with farm animal cutters that Esme got for her birthday!)

Ah, so much fun! I can't wait for the next party to come around! Actually, that's Chris' birthday, I'm not so sure he'll appreciate all these efforts ;)

Esme is 2!

I can't believe my little girl is two already. It seems only yesterday she was born! In fact, as we were eating dinner the night of her birthday I was remembering her birth. She was born at 6.48pm on the 27th of August at home. I was sitting in front of the window just opposite the dining room. My doula and midwife had only just arrived and were setting up and Jacob was sitting at the table eating his dinner. I was mostly zoned out but I remember him making these silly piggy noises and everyone laughing at him. Esme was born not much later, she came quite quickly and surprised everyone (myself included!) It was such a beautiful moment and I have such beautiful memories of her birth. Click here if you want to read her full birth story but be warned, it's very long!!

Here are some pictures of our day

Opening presents. Chris and I made some felt fruit for Esme (more on that later!) Esme was so taken by it that she thought she'd like to have a bite of the banana!

Birthday cupcakes! I don't think Esme ate any of the cake, just the icing!

Happy Birthday to my not so little girl!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The finished products!

A few weeks ago we did some papermache. Well, we finally got around to finishing them and painting them. Here are some pictures of the work in progress and the finished products.

Esme needed a bit of help to paint hers but Jacob did his almost entirely by himself - I was very impressed! I think they turned out pretty well in the end. Don't you?

Painting the giraffe finally inspired me to write a Zoo book for the kids from all our recent Zoo excursions. Jacob loves it, I have already read it to him many times on the computer (Daddy still has to print it so I can laminate it and bind it, he'd better hurry up ;))

Kinder excursion on Puffing Billy

Yesterday we went on Puffing Billy for a special Kinder excursion. We are so fortunate to have Jacob's Kinder close to Puffing Billy. Every time we go to Kinder on Thursday we have to wait till we see Puffing Billy cross the road before we go in. Jacob's Kinder teacher went away for a few weeks at the start of this term and she promised the kids that they would have a special trip on Puffing Billy when she returned. So yesterday we finally go to do it (after having it postponed the previous Monday because of horrible weather!)

We got on the station at Menzies Creek and travelled to Emerald Lake where we shared lunch with the other Kinder children before the trip back. Jacob absolutely loves Puffing Billy so this trip was very special. He stood up at the window and watched the scenery go past. He wasn't quite brave enough to sit at the window - although Esme was!!

Here's Jacob looking very excited about it all! He is already asking when we're going on Puffing Billy again!

Pasta prints

We seem to be developing a bit of a theme lately around tactile activities with food! A couple of weeks ago we did some painting with condensed milk. This week we tried our hand at some pasta prints. I cooked up a whole lot of spaghetti and pasta (adding a few drops of food colouring to each lot to make it a different colours) and let it cool. The idea is that the cooled spaghetti sticks to the paper and you can make pictures out of it. I realised afterwards that it's probably a more appropriate activity for older kids who have the coordination to make a proper picture but nonetheless my kids enjoyed feeling the texture of the pasta and of course, eating handfuls of it!! Please excuse the blueness of these photos - that's what happens when you put a blue tarp down on a sunny day!

Be warned: the pasta makes an awful mess when traipsed around the house ;) I usually do these activities outside but for some reason decided to do this one inside. I think I was still finding bits of pasta days later!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sponge printing

I found these great natural sea sponges while I was in Bunnings the other day and thought they would be fun for the kids to paint with. They are all slightly different and made different patterns on the paper which the kids found interesting.

I set up the easel and let the kids go for it. Both of them got involved and did lots of painting (which we will later use for wrapping paper ;))

Of course, this inevitably led to experimentation. This is Esme asking very politely if she can paint the slide...

Of course I let her. After all, the paint does wash off and they had so much fun!

Visit We play at Childhood 101 for more great play ideas

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A day of mixed emotions

Today is not the easiest day. Although I did think it would be harder than this. I think it has been the lead up to this day that has been the hardest. The sense of anticipation of what this day signifies. Yesterday I was an emotional wreck. I was horrible to Chris and the kids. And I just felt flat the whole day. Today I feel calm.

I guess I should explain why I feel like this for those that don't know. Last year we had what we thought was a miscarriage. It turned out it was actually an ectopic pregnancy but it wasn't picked up until quite a few months later. So the whole process was very long and it was a very difficult time emotionally for me and our family.

Today, the 15th of August, signifies our angel baby's due date.

If you'd asked me a couple of months ago how I would feel on this day I would have said I would feel angry, bitter and resentful of all that I have gone through. A few months ago, I was angry at the universe. I didn't think it was fair that I had to go through this. I would always ask, 'why me?'. I've gone through periods of feeling such bitterness towards other pregnant women and their healthy pregnancies. It used to make me scream inside when women complained about their pregnancies. Why couldn't they understand that I would give anything to have those trivial ailments of pregnancy if I meant I could have a baby growing in my tummy?

I missed that beautiful feeling of growing a baby in my tummy, of feeling the first movements and kicks. Of watching my tummy expand week by week. Each week I used to think of how many weeks pregnant I would be and what I would be experiencing/feeling at that stage of development. Until I just lost count of where I was up to. And then I would feel guilty.

Something has happened in the past month or so which has enabled me to start the healing process. Maybe it's just a shift in my thinking, I don't know. But all of a sudden I'm starting to see what this little baby has brought in to my life, instead of what's been taken away.

For a start, it's made me a more compassionate and empathetic person. I have a greater understanding of loss and what it means. I can now offer support and understanding to others who have gone through similar experiences. It's funny just how little understanding you have of mothers who have experienced loss until you actually go through the same situation. So many people haven't known what to say to me after my loss and think that mentioning it once is enough. What they don't understand is that the grief continues for a while and it helps to keep asking how you are doing. Acknowledging that you were pregnant and you held a baby in your body for a little while and in your heart forever is an important thing.

I have developed some beautiful friendships, with women who have shared the same experiences as me. Their support and love has been invaluable to me.

I have also learnt to appreciate things in life a lot more than I used to. I am grateful for the two beautiful children I have and for the miracles they are, and for having such a wonderful, caring and supportive husband. I know now that I will never take another pregnancy for granted. That I will appreciate and embrace all the wonderful changes to my body that a pregnancy will bring and the beauty of growing a child within me.

Attracting birds to the garden

Welcome to the August 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 "Science", because this is National Science Week. Science includes all sorts of practical activities and exploration and we have lots of different ideas in this carnival. Check out the links at the bottom to find some other great posts on science.


We live in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria so we naturally get a lot of wildlife coming to our property. We see lots of beautiful birds around but I wanted to do some activities with the kids that would attract these birds just a little closer.

The first thing we did was make some bird feeders. These are really so simple to make and the kids had some much fun making them! It was also a great sensory activity as the kids were able to get their hands into the mix to feel the different textures and help to press it into the molds. There was also a fair bit of tasting involved - luckily before we had put the seed in ;)

Bird feeders


1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup bird seed


1. In a bowl combine polenta, peanut butter, sugar and flour. Stir in water
2. Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes or until mixture is very thick
3. Stir in bird seed. Cool.
4. Press into a mold (we used small metal ramikins, lined with gladwrap). Add string if desired.
5. Put in the fridge to cool and harden.

We also made some pine cone feeders. These are pretty simple too! Put some string around the bottom to hang them and then fill the pine cone with peanut butter. I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be able to find any pine cones for doing this activity but luckily I happened to come across some when we were out one day recently. The things I get excited about lol!

Daddy and Jacob also made a birdhouse that we could hang in the the tree for the birds to nest in. Using these instructions it was quite easy to make and Jacob loved being able to help Daddy with some sawing, gluing and drilling.

Unfortunately it's been a bit wet the past couple of days so we haven't had a chance yet to hang all these things up for the birds. I promise I will update this post as soon as we have it all set up. Hopefully we will see lots of beautiful birds coming to visit soon!!


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 "Science."
  • CatWay at Adventures With Kids is Magnifying It by playing with magnifying glasses and microscopes to help your child explore the world of the very small.

  • Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now was never very scientifically minded. One year, though, we participated in a homeschool co-op science fair. Two months later we moved and didn’t have the opportunity to participate in a science fair again. But that experience was a great learning opportunity – and, yes, it actually was fun!

  • Monique from Your Cheeky Monkey is commencing on the road of learning about the Human Body (both inside and out). Find out a few of the things we are doing to learn about our amazing bodies!

  • SMMART Ideas shows how you can enjoy making these sticky spiderwebs with your child, learn how spiders actually make their webs and other arachna-facts!

  • Amanda B at HomeAge says that science is not her forte, but for young children the world is one big science lesson. How do we answer all their questions so that these answers are meanings rather than facts?

  • Narelle from A Bunch of Keys has some simple kid friendly activities to do to help attract birds into the garden.

  • Deb from Science@home's daughter has decided to be an alienpologist, and she's reflecting on all the different ways kids are exposed to ideas and fun activities.

  • Staci at Teaching Money to Kids has a simple sorting activity that kids can do anywhere to get them to observe and compare.

  • Ash from Mm is for Me have been running their own family Science Week with lots of fun activities.
Thanks for visiting our carnival, we hope you find some interesting new blogs.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Esme's favourite phrase

'May May do it'

This is the phrase we are hearing most at the moment!

I love that my little girl is gaining her independence but oh my goodness, it is frustrating! She insists on doing everything herself. This includes putting her clothes on, getting into her carseat, carrying things, etc. Being so little, she isn't always capable of what she wants to do and sometimes we don't always have time to let her do what it but if you try to stop her all hell breaks loose!

While we are on the topic as well, I am completely amazed at what she can actually do. Things that Jacob wouldn't have been able to do at that age and, in some cases, still can't do! Esme can just about dress herself at the moment, she can even get legs into pants and (generally) put them on the right way. Jacob still needs help to do it at his age! I think we just have one kid who does everything quicker than others and one who does things a little slower. Nothing wrong with either of course, and we love them both them same ;) It's just interesting to observe those differences.

I know that this time will pass by very quickly so, in the meantime, I am trying to embrace my little girl's growing independence. And perhaps it's a good lesson for me too: to take life a little slower ;)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TV free kids

Our kids don't watch TV.

It hasn't always been this way though. When Jacob was little (probably from about 18 months+) he used to watch at least an hour of TV each night. It would get to about 4.30 and he would be tired and grumpy (by this stage he'd dropped his day sleep!) and I would just be wanting a break from it all. So the TV went on. He was always one of those kids that would quite happily sit in front of the TV and watch. It was never anything terribly bad. Just playschool type shows.

It wasn't until he was a bit older that I started reading and hearing about how it was better for young children not to watch TV. By that stage I had Esme. She was also completely different to Jacob in that she doesn't like to sit still so if I put the TV on wanting a break from the kids she would still be coming over to me wanting my attention. So I gave up on that idea. For a while I would still use the TV occasionally, usually when I was at the end of my tether with the kids.

But then I realised that there were other, better, ways to calm myself and the kids down when we'd all had enough of each other! Often just making a complete change of activity would help; like taking all the cushions off the couch and putting a blanket on top of it to make a mountain or, simply, sitting down on the bean bag with the kids and some books.

And so our TV free journey began ;) I can't say I miss it at all. And I love that the kids are not caught up in all the 'merchandising' that goes with TV. I'm hoping to keep it this way as long as I can! I know the kids will be subject to outside influences as they grow up (although hoping to somewhat alleviate this by sending them through Steiner education ;)) but for now this is our choice.

Now, I just wish we could do something about the adults in the house watching TV ;)

Painting with condensed milk

I did have another post planned but we did this yesterday and I couldn't resist not sharing straight away. Yesterday we painted with...condensed milk! I used to do it quite a bit with the kids I taught but I hadn't been quite brave enough for the huge, sticky mess that would result with my kids doing it. It was such a beautiful day here yesterday though that I didn't mind doing it and then stripping off the kids if they got really dirty ;)

All I did was pour a little of the condensed milk onto plates and then add a drop or two of food colouring which the kids mixed in. It makes a beautiful marbling effect as the colour is being mixed in and is a great way of experimenting with mixing colours.

Esme discovered that if you shake your hands with the condensed milk on them that it floats in the air a little while before landing (kind of like making fairy floss, if you have ever seen that being done!)

I was really surprised that the kids didn't even attempt to eat it until I mentioned something about tasting it. Then, of course, Esme couldn't stop licking her fingers ;) Jacob was more interested in painting with it though which I was really surprised about. Look at Esme - butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, would it?

We made some beautiful pictures - condensed milk goes all beautiful and glossy when it's dry (just make sure you keep it away from ants because they like to eat it. Trust me, I speak from experience ;))

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