Thursday, September 29, 2011

Check out my new craft blog!

Hey everyone!

I have just started a new blog called Craft to the Rafters. Here you will find posts on all my crafting shinanigans. I decided to create this blog so that I can keep my crafting projects separate from Lachlan's journey. I will however post any that involve Lachlan and are child-oriented. Most of you know however that I enourage more expressive art in young children, than 'craft'. However, we do still do some from time to time and often Lachlan becomes engrossed in my crafting projects. When this occurs, I modify the project to create one that is developmentally appropriate for him.

At the moment, there is only one project on Craft to the Rafters. This is the Folded Flower project that I posted on Lachlan's blog a few weeks ago. It has now been removed and moved to Craft to the Rafters so you can find it there.

Keep checking in at Craft to the Rafters. I'm working on Halloween wreath at the moment and various other things as I'm planning a pumpkin party for Lach and his friends. I just have to bring some of my good ol' American Halloween fun to Australia. It just isn't the same! A friend and I have also decided to craft together one evening a month (to give us a break from our normal tidying up after the kids fall asleep at night and then crashing and burning on the couch after a long day!). We thought it would be a great opportunity to do something we love and to have some girl chit chat...and of course, I just have to share what we come up with! :-)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Give your wand a little swish...

The other day Lachlan saw a magic wand on a program we were watching. Each time the wand was waved, something would appear: a rabbit, a dog, etc. "Oooooooo," he said. "Cooooool! I like this mommy!"

With that I set out to make a wand my little magician. I wanted to make something soft so he wouldn't hurt himself or others. Running around with a stick in his hand just shouts, "Doom!" A wooden star wand that you pick up at the craft shop was an option but then I could visualise it flying across the room like a ninja star towards his sister...hmmmm, perhaps not. So I decided to go with some felt and make my own tip of the wand. I turned to Rhythm & Rhyme for some inspiration. I'd seen some wands she made up awhile ago and liked their look. I however decided to use a real tree branch from our hard for the handle. We have a curry tree in our vegetable patch that we sadly have to constantly chop down because the root system is bothering our neighbours water pipes. We constantly hack at it to make sure it doesn't grow too big and of course it just grows back with a vengence. It has pretty much become a supply tree for me. I use the branches for all sorts things now!

I think the way I did this craft demonstrates how you can make something for little to no money. I actually had everything on hand and most of it was from something I recycled: the felt was from my scrap box, the branch was from the yard and the ribbons were from one of my shirts (you know the pesky hanger holder loops from the shoulders?), I snipped them off and the matched the wand perfectly and added a little pizazz, too! I used pure wool fleece as stuffing (I always have a bag on hand thanks to our local woolworks farm). I can't help but to think of the sheep when I'm using it. Lachlan always likes to run over to the paddock and say hello to them when we pick up supplies; so we do literally know our fleece by name :)

If you make a wand, make a design that is meaningful to your child. I chose to do moon and stars because Lachlan absolutley is fascinated by them both. I drew the star and moon free-handedly on paper and then used that as a template to cut from the felt. I just used a few beads from my craft box as stars. I sewed a larger, purplish bead as a 'wishing star.' After I finished sewing them all on I heated up the hot glue gun. While I was waiting for that to heat up, I sewed the purple ribbons to the base of the stars (hiding the top ends inside where the stuffing will go). I then glued the felt stars to each side of the branch. Next, I took the floss and began doing a blandket stitch around the outer edges, stuffing the star with wool on either side of the branch before closing it of with stitches. And, voila! There ya have it, I magical wand for you little magician made from natural fibres.

I was pleased with how it came out considering it was something I whipped up in a jiffy. I think this wand with the moon and stars would be a cute think to add to a child's bedtime who is a bit fussy about going to sleep. It could be that magical 'sleep wand' from the Goodnight Fairy. A wand that makes you very, very sleepy!

As all wands should have a special magical rhyme, I made this one up for ours:

"Give your wand a little swish, close your eyes and make a wish!"

What types of wands can you make up? I'd love to see what materials you use and what magical spell you give it!

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Little Old School Noodling...

So tomorrow I am rostered to bring the craft to our Tuesday playgroup. I was assigned to dye noodles and cut straws into segments for the purpose of making necklaces. Yes, it is a very traditional craft. How many parents have not had some sort of noodle artwork hung on their refrigerator or around their neck? It may be a little bit old school but this activity is great for fine motor development.

Using the pincer grasp is a very important milestone for young children. First attempts for infants generally occur while they are feeding; picking up a small cheerio or sultana. As infants grow and become toddlers they master picking up small items using just two fingers: the pointer and thumb. Once this is mastered, children can better use their fine motor skills to assist them with mastering hand-eye coordination. It is one thing to pick up a piece of string and a noodle or bead, it is another thing to be able to thread that noodle on the string. A major accomplishment for a young child! So nooodle art isn't just, "the same old noodle art!" It is something really amaing for a child to do. Of course, you can be more creative than noodles as we like to be in our house. You can thread card board tubes with strings, PVC piping with rope; the opportunities are endless. Just use your noodle and think up some creative ways for your child to do some manipulative work.

As I was prepping the craft for tomorrow, Lachlan decided he would like to make a necklace. I let him go ahead and make one because he rarely does the craft a playgroup. As soon as we arrive he chugs his little caboose straight to the train track set with no intention of making a stop at the craft station.

Lachlan threaded a noodle or piece of straw onto the string and after each one he excitedly said, "I did it! I did it!" I suppose after all these years noodles haven't lost their magic!

When the necklace was created to his liking, Lachlan switched gears. He grabbed his yellow hummer and began sticking straw pieces inside of it. I asked what he was doing and he replied, " Now it a passanger car, mommy!" and so it was and he vroom-vroomed it all around the living room. Just another example of how a child's imagination can turn into anything and take you anywhere!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Gumnut Windchime

Today is Father's Day in the good ol' land of Oz! Lachlan was excited that he could give his daddy the gift that he had been working on- a gumnut windchime. This morning, when I told him it was the day to give his gift to daddy, he ran over to him as fast as his little feet could carry him ad handed him the box. When his daddy opened it, Lachlan acted like he was just as surprised to see what it was. He's so proud of it! We have it hanging from our back porch. There is a gentle breeze today and as I type this I can see it swaying in with pride. I love that Lachlan made it with clay; we can see his little toddler finger prints in it- a reminder that he was once that small. The middle imprint is from a seashell that Lachlan pressed into the clay. I let Lachlan design it as it his his creation, but if one wanted to make a decoration for their home, it would look great if you did an imprint of a gumnut or gumleaves to coordinate.

The rest of the day we spent at the city zoo. It was very fitting as many of the animals have just given birth to their own little babies and you could see some of the males watching over their young with pride; especially the meercats, where there were two young pups.

Now we're back home and both kids are zonked out after a long outing. The house is very quiet and still, probably the best Father's Day gift to hubby of all! I wonder if I can request that for Mother's Day as well?

I'll leave you with a Father's Day poem...

What Is A Dad?

A dad is someone who
wants to catch you before you fall
but instead picks you up,
brushes you off,
and lets you try again.

A dad is someone who
wants to keep you from making mistakes
but instead lets you find your own way,
even though his heart breaks in silence
when you get hurt.

A dad is someone who
holds you
when you cry,
scolds you when you break the rules,
shines with pride when you succeed,
and has faith in you even when you fail...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Spring Walk

Some firsts of spring
Today is the first day of September, the first month of spring! We have been waiting and waiting for its arrival. We welcome the warm rays of the sun kissing our face. When I stepped out the door this morning, I told Lach I was going to check the weather to see if it was going to rain. He followed behind me in his pajamas and said, "Nope! A sunny day!" and it has been so far.

It is also Thursday which means it is they day that Lachlan and I have our weekly special morning tea. We walked down to our local cafe for some tasty treats. He had his usual chocolate muffin and I indulged in a vanilla slice. Noelle sat in the pram wondering when she'd have teeth so she could join us.

When we finished we walked across the street to the park we and played on the equipment. Lachlan opened a fruit shop and I bought things for a fruit salad. Lachlan also suggested I buy some rice to but in it too...interesting! We finished our fun by going down the slide, well I WENT down the slide. Lachlan decided it would be fun to catch me. I worked very hard not to plough him over when I got to the bottom. He successfully caught with outstretched arms and we exchanged a nice cuddle. A lady went by with her grandson and asked who was having more fun, him or me? I think we shared in the fun equally.

A closer look

Afterwards we took a stroll around the park and Lachlan began to ask his usual questions. He wanted to know the names of every flower and say them back to me. We saw ferns and star jasmine growing up rocks. We spotted what would be the last winter wattle in bloom of the winter season. I love wattle. It has become one of my favourite blooming trees in Australia. It is just gorgeous. I picked a sprig of wattle from the tree and shared its vibrant yellow colour with Lachlan. We decided to take little cuttings of our favourite plants so we could look at them more closely at home.

Fern and Wattle Rubbings
We examined them with a magnified glass and noted the similarites and differences. We smelled each flower and realised some were very pleasant and others not so much! My main objective was to make a sun catcher out of the samples but I realised that the only baking paper I had was not wax so I'll have to leave that one for another day. Instead, I showed Lachlan how to do a classic paper rubbing with the leaves. Something so simple that probably every one of us has done, but is magical to a child. That is why I like this activity, it reminds us that magic and joy can be found in the most simple things.  He loved how he could make the leaf appear just by using a crayon. Here is his result. He was very pleased. Tonight I think I'll go get some wax paper so we can make that suncatcher tomorrow; just in time to hang beautifully on our kitchen window to catch some spring sun.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

There is something about a rainbow that catches the eye of every child--and adult, too! Most obvious would be it's beautiful colours, but then there is a magical mystical side of the rainbow; wondering if you could ever find the end of it and would there be a pot o' gold? Perhaps a rainbow just always makes us feel good because it can only appear on a rainy day. A rainbow is a glimmer of hope that there may be sunshine the rest of the day and warm rays on our face.

Lachlan loves rainbows. Like many children he gets very excited when he sees one. I believe he's only seen two real ones in his life: a gorgeous double rainbow in Italy and then another one on our recent trip to the Whitsundays. We were walking back from the jetty after a rainy morning and right over the island was a beautiful rainbow. Lachlan was thrilled! He actually asked me to take a picture of him in front of the rainbow. It didn't come out too well, but him posing for the camera for his special shot is priceless.

Look carefully and you'll see the rainbow in the clouds!
 Well yesterday Lachlan was was having fun playing on his daddy's computer. He likes to get into Word and fiddle around with the design buttons to make shapes and change their colours. He wanted to make a rainbow and asked his dad to help him. They printed their work off when they completed. Lachlan was proud.

A rainbow mobile
 I suggested that we do something with their beautiful rainbows. I gathered some muffin patties in rainbow colours from the drawer and some fishing line and before you knew it, Lachlan and I had made a beautiful rainbow mobile. He found a nice place above our kitchen counter to hang it. Now while he's at his easel, he can always look up and remember the order of the colours of the rainbow, just in case he forgets who Mr. ROY G. BIV is :)...for those of you who missed that episode of Seasame Street, he is Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

Stay tuned because we are going to be doing a lot more extension from rainbows and water as this has been an interest for Lachlan. We've already done some experimentations and will post them once we have finished.

Treasures in a Bottle

A bottle of treasures
So today I was going through my bedside table and came across a little box full of tiny pendants that I have collected since I was a knee high to a grasshopper. Don't ask me why I hang on to such things. All I can say is that I have a hard time throwing things away from my childhood; especially now since they are probably (as our nephew would say) antiques! Anything made before the year 2000 is ancient to him!

I was sitting on the bed looking at all these little charms and taking a walk down memory lane: a little golden locket from my grandmother, a silver cowboy boot from my friend Katie in the 6th grade and a tiny butterfly that was my sister's. I remember where I was when they were given to me, like it was yesterday: sitting on my grandmother's bed, at my birthday party surrounded by friends and in my sister's room when she decided she had out grown such things. I remember thinking that I had something new and special; a little treasure.

I began thinking today what I could do with these little trinkets as I didn't want to just chuck them in the bin, but they are certainly doing no good just sitting in a dusty drawer among other things that I never use. Lachlan tip-toed in my room and stood next to where I was sitting. It was as if he knew I was looking at something special and needed to approach quietly and gently.
"Oh!" he said, with a little twinkle in his eye. "What's that called, Mommy?"
I told him they were pendants and he repeated the word. He began to point ad say each one: "butterfly, sailboat, boot..."
As he was doing this it made me feel like I was back to working with my developmental therapy patients. I have a "I Spy" bag filled with little objects and rice in which the child can explore. It looks like a huge bean bag but has a vinyl window where the child can see what is inside. As the bag is moved, new objects appear that were once hidden within all the rice. I use it as a fun way to have a conversation with a child to test their receptive and expressive language. I might ask, "Where is the zebra?" or say, "Here is a shoe. What color is it?"

I thought to myself that these little things in my hand would be perfect for that and I could make my own little "I Spy" game; but one with a few of my childhood treasures. I asked Lachlan if he'd like to make a 'treasure bottle' with me. Of course, he was keen! I mean you don't hear the word treasure as a toddler and not want to see what that is all about!

Some of the treasures we added, but ot all...
 I went around the house and dug through all my little odds and ends drawers for tiny objects. Afterall I was going to need a few more things to make our bottle worthy of exploring. Before we knew it we had an assortment of things that we just small enough to fit through the time of our bottle.
 I choose to use a long wavy shape bottle with a cork. I like the look of it and more importantly it is a great size for toddler hands. It is glass which teaches him how to be gentle but it is not so bulky that it would slip out of his hands easily- the point is to move and rotate the bottle a lot to unbury the treasures.
Here is the list of things that went into our bottle. If you make one, write up a list o you don't forget and if you give it as a gift, the receiver will have fun trying to find all the items.
  • thumb tack
  • screw
  • cowboy boot
  • sail boat
  • turtle
  • paperclip
  • flower
  • button
  • leaf
  • gumnut
  • sea shell
  • diamond
  • butterfly
  • golden locket
  • magic crystal
Remember that whatever you choose to put in your bottle must be small enough to move around easily within that size of bottle. If you put large objects in a small or narrow bottle they won't move around well and will jump together. Tiny objects get nicely lost in the rice. You may also use larger bottles, such as a mason jar. Items can be larger than the ones I used in that case.

Lachlan helped me fill the jar with rice and the treasures and a closed it tightly with the cork. I like the cork because you can push it in to the resistance you want and can still undo it if you'd like. The most secure I can make it with my strength is too hard for Lachlan or myself to undo but I'm sure not too hard for my strong, brauny hubby to open :-)

So there you have it; a nice little treasure bottle of memories to, well...treasure! Things that once were special to me, can now be special for Lachlan. He can now sit and have fun discovering a bit of my childhood memories and who knows, perhaps they become his now too! Until next time, folks, happy treasure hunting!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sink or Float?

After our little adventure building a boat at the Steiner school fair, we came home and Lachlan wanted to test it out on the water. I filled up a container with water so he could sail away. Unfortunatley, Lachlan grew quite frustrated with the boat. He kept telling me that the sail was to big and he was very annoyed. He decided that the boat was not good for sailing and before he could get more frustrated, I decided to see if I could diverge his attention towards something else.

"Let's play a guessing game." I said. "How about we play 'sink or float?' Lachlan was eager to see what this game was all about and the frustrations immediatley left his face. "Let's gather some objects in the house and bring them over here. Then we'll see if they sink or float!" I grabbed a few things: a styrofoam ball, a mandarin, orange and a rock. I held up the ball. "Do think this will sink or float?"
"Float!!" Lachlan exclaimed. I handed it to him and he dropped it in the water.
"oooooooh, float!" he said. He was very pleased. We moved on to the rock and he predicted correctly that it would sink. He was however very surprised that the mandarin floated, as well as the apple.

"Okay, buddy. Now it is your turn to find some things to put in the water." He walked around the house looking for something but came back with nothing.
"Is there nothing you'd like to put in the water?" I asked.
"Oh! Fish!" He said as if the idea suddenly popped in his head. He ran over to his light box where he had some toy fish and seashells. One by one we brought them over and shouted, "Sink!" with each fish or "Float!" with some of the shells. Many of those sank as well. He also learned that they would float if he gently placed them on the water, but once they filled with water, they would sink to the bottom.

It was a fun experiment for him and before we knew it we were testing out race cars, jungle animals and the peel of the mandarin after mommy ate it. (supervising a budding scientist makes you very hungry, I tell you!)

So why not grab some objects and test them out with your child. This is a fun experiment for all ages. It is a great sensory activity for young ones and as they get older wonderful for cognition and problem-solving. You don't have to set up a container, you can just incorporate it into your child's evening bath. Might be just the thing to lure that bath-hating toddler to the tub! Have fun!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Magical Day at the Steiner Spring Fair

The last week has been a bit of an exhausting one. Our little girl and I have been sick and we were pretty much stuck inside the house for the last week. Lachlan missed out on both his playgroups as he had to stay home with us sickies. I had workshops to conduct and also some meetings as well. All I wanted was the weekend to arrive so I could have some rest! Also, the school that our steiner playgroup is affiliated with was having the Spring Fair on Saturday and Lachlan was really looking forward to it and I was too! I prayed that we would be well by then.

Friday arrived and I was feeling much better but our little petal was still under the weather and had been battling a fever, too. I didn't have the heart to tell Lachlan that we most likely wouldn't make it to the fair. When I told him he was disappointed. I gave him a glimmer of hope and said if his sister was fever free for 24 hours, happy and smiley AND the sun was shining warmth on our skin, we could go.

Saturday arrived the next morning. Noelle was fever free and her happy, giggling self again. However, the weather was looking a little suspicious. I couldn't see the sun anywhere. Just a hazy grey sky. That morning, Lachlan, Noelle and I sat on his bed and pretended it was a boat. We were going on a special journey and singing, "Sailing on our boat, what do we see?" (look for something in the room) "I see a choo cho train floating past me!" Eventually we began to sing, "Looking through the window..." and lucky for us, "we could see the sun, looking at me!" With this, Lachlan was ready to go. He had a fever free, happy, smiling bub and now the sun. Mission accomplished, let's go!

While we were driving to the Steiner school the sun seemed to go into hiding again. The temperature wasn't too bad though so I bundled us all up and we walked happily along the sidewalk to the fair. Well, I walked and Lachlan ran at his fastest toddler sprint! After being stuck in the house with us for a week, I could swear his little feet were pitter-pattering "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, Almighty, I'm free at last!!!"

So we arrived at the fair and our first stop was to see the bunnies and guniea pigs. Our playgroup leader had her daughter's bunny there, so we were happy to give him a pat. Next, it was down to the preschool and kindergarden classes for some crafty activities. Lachlan surveyed all that was on offer before deciding what he wanted to do. He said no to the tee-shirt painting as he was drawn to something else: the sound of tapping hammers. Outside boys and girls were building boats out of scraps of wood with their dads (don't ask me where the moms, were. guess I'm the only one whose hubby works on a Saturday!) Lachlan was mesmerized by the sound of the hammers and nails. He was in heaven and eager to have his tiny hands clinch a hammer.

After giving the teenage boy in charge, 3 paper tokens from the necklace around Lachie's neck, we began to work. Lachlan picked out scraps of wood, watched others to get inspired and guided me as to where to place the wood to secure it down. I tapped the nails in just enough so they were secure and he began to pound them down further. A couple of final taps from me and they were nice and tight. The nice teenage gentleman even came to lend a helping hand while I gave Noelle a feed. He refered to Lachlan as the "Designer," and was very patient as Lachlan told him what should go where, which was a looooong process as Lachlan tended to put much thought into each piece. Lastly, he picked out a rainbow sail attached to a bamboo switch and placed it into a hole drilled by his new friend. And voila! We had a beautiful sail boat- complete with two back seats and a steering wheel nailed to the floor!

Lachlan also used his tokens at the beading station, where he made a beaded star necklace and then at the Fairy Garden, where he created a beautiful Gnome Garden, as he has a gnome at home that needed a garden, out of moss and other natural materials. He worked so intently on this garden. I was so proud of him and loved watching him work. He picked up moss and stuck it in the soil and then very carefully gathered and placed little seashells, pine cones and pebbles in the garden. The only bit I helped him on was the mushroom which needed to be molded from coloured beeswax. It is very firm stuff and it takes a lot of work to get it to be pliable. I shaped it for him and he stuck on some yellow wax spots to the top. He also placed a little 'wish bubble' in the garden where you can make a wish for something that you really, really want.

Once again, I found myself enjoying magical moments with Lachlan. It is something that I love so much about Steiner, the philosophy embraces the magic of childhood which is often found when child and nature meet. There is just something so wholesome and pure about watching your child work with natural materials; exploring and manipulating them to create their own little masterpiece and lucky me gets to breathe in every moment of it. These are the times when I love to just sit back and wach Lachlan's imagination unfold, surprised and inspired by where it takes him and what he creates. Afterwards, I just want to hold him in my arms, hug him and whisper in his ear, "enjoy these moments, baby. these sweet, simple moments." I am so fortunate to still remember moments such as these of my childhood which fill my heart with warmth.

After all the fun was over, I grabbed Lachlan's little hand in my left and pushed Noelle in her pram with my right and we walked back to the car. Well, I walked and this time Lachlan did a sort of toddler skip. All I remember is his smiling face, the sound of his joyous giggles and the beaded star necklace bouncing on his chest. He was so happy and I was so happy that after a week of sickness, cramped up inside, that I could give him this day.

The next morning when Lachlan woke up, he went right over to his Gnome Garden, which we placed on our sofa table. He climbed on the sofa to be at eye level with the garden and said, "I want a wish." I asked him what he would like to wish. He looked at his bubble and then to me and said, "A cuddle, mommy." I wrapped him in my arms, closed my eyes as I rested my chin on his head and I knew that I would always remember this sweet, simple moment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ong!

Over the weekend was my father-in-law's birthday. He is also known affectionately as 'Ong,' (grandpa in Vietnamese) by his grandchildren Lachlan adores his Ong and particularly looks forward to Saturday night dinners at Ong and Ba's house. It takes me nearly an hour to get there with traffic but it is worth it to see how Lachlan's face lights up when he sees my father-in-law and my mother-in-law's pho can not be beat so that makes it very worth it, too!
This particular Saturday was very special as we were going out for dinner to a restaurant for Ong's birthday. Lachlan could care less about going to a restaurant. He was excited that it was his grandpa's birthday and just as importantly, that there would be birthday cake...and even more important than that, there would be birthday candles. Lachlan told me that day he thought Ong might be turning three as he is older than Lachlan, a mature two.

I asked Lachlan that morning if he'd like to make Ong a special birthday card. "Oh, yes!!!!" was his response, in true Lachlan fashion as always. He carefully thought about what he would draw. His result was a picture of Ong and his birthday cake, with three candles, complete with little flames on top.

Later that night we gave the card to Ong and ate dinner at a chinese restaurant. Unfortunatley Lachlan, his sister and myself had to leave before the cake as it was getting way past bedtime and a couple of little guests were getting a bit cranky. I am always the one who gets to leave parties early ( the 'boob factor'). I can't remember the last time I stayed for the cake at a party! Daddy however was very nice and brought some home for us. The kids had been asleep for hours but I stayed up to taste a slice :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

A milestone moment for mommy...

As you might know, Lachlan has been invoved in a Steiner playgroup this year. We absolutley love how much attention is given to children being children and the value of childhood. A key component is the making of toys from natural fibres. Children enjoy the opportunity of watching their mom or dad create a toy for them; a lesson the demonstrates to a child how something special can be made from simple materials. It shows the child how to work with your hands, how to be creative and also patient. For me patience was a thing for this most recent project of knitting. I had never knitted in my life; always wanted to learn but never had the opportunity presented to me. I was a bit scared to tackle it I must admit. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my own accomplishments and I thought I wouldn't be much good at it and fail miserabley. I thought to myself, however; that this would equally be a good lesson to Lachlan: you don't have to be good at everything, but you should give everything a go at least once if it is something of interest. I could also show him that I might fail miserabley at knitting, but it doesn't make the experience a failure if I tried my best and most importantly that I can do it with grace, a sense of humour and perseverence.

So our first knitting lesson was to knit a chicken. It sounded too hard for me at first but when I realised it entailed just knitting a square I thought I might have a chance. A few of the other moms at play group guided me. It took me forever to get just four rows. I was pretty much doing a row a week because I was so slow and would drop a stitch here or there and need someone to help me out. Eventually no one finished and it was time to take them home to complete as we were going to move on to a new project. I took my four rows of fifteen stitches home and tried to complete it. I kept messing up though and didn't undertand what I was doing wrong. Eventually my husband who literally knows how to do everything, told me that I wasn't even knitting right in the first place! Well, I created some sort of knitting technique but not a proper one! He of course, who can do all things, showed me how it should be done. I unraveled a month's work and started from scratch. Boy, I'm glad I did because the right way is so much easier!! I guess before, I was going through the wrong holes. I'm glad that I asked for help from my husband, another good lesson for Lachlan--never be afraid to ask for help and if you are having a hard time learning from one person, it might just mean that someone else might be able to explain it to you in a better way.

So after advice from many people and youtube, I am proud to say I knitted my first chicken, completely by my own two hands alone! I left her on Lachlan's breakfast table so he would discover her in the morning. He's just what he requested, a Leghorn (I think from Pamela Allen's book, 'Fancy That!' :) Here is our little chook friend...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exploring Light

So today was an excitng one for me because I got to drag out all my science materials as I am prepping to teach a workshop. One component of the training is to introduce to teachers numerous ways that they can allow children to explore light. I dug through my office to find my light box and other materials. I also took a nice trip to our local dollar shop to see what else I could add. Then, I called Lachlan to the room and that is where the fun began...

For this exploration, you need a light box or you can make on yourself if you have an old table, a light and some opaque perspex. The media for this is endless, but your goal is to find things that are translucent/transparent. A must is the primary colors: yellow, red, blue. Then add in whatever fun objects you find of varying colours. Here is a peek into our material box:

You can see in the pictures that we have a nice collection of beads, buttons, glass decorative rocks, marbles, glow insects, neon shot glasses, rainbow blocks and various 'cellopane plates' which I made out of using round needlepoint wooden frames and covering them with cellophane. These are in the primary colours so children can stack them to make different colours. Other items we have on hand that are not pictured are plastic coloured storage lids which do the same as the cello plates.

Once everything is gathered, let your child go to it! Just remember to supervise if you have small objects such as beads or marbles as they can be choking hazards. If you don't trust your child, they aren't ready for this media so best to eliminate it. There are pleny of other things you can use, be creative!

There is just something magical when ordinary things are placed on light or "the sunny shining spot" as Lachlan likes to call it. The objects just seem to come to life with their glow.

Transparent coloured scales make a nice effect and of course, Lachlan saw that they were fit to be steam engine tenders (where the coal is loaded) and the glass rocks: coal. Everything is seen as a 'train' possibility to this kid!

Putting a mirror in the background adds another dimension: makes the space look larger, the objects and light reflect from it and children get to watch how the movements of their hands are mirrored.

So this was all just a nice preliminary intro to our light box. I was busy with my wee one while Lachlan was exploring so I didn't have time to do much provocation or expanding on his ideas. We'll bring more resources out either tomorrow or when we get back from our vacation and we'll be sure to post it; but you get the idea so start planing some light fun today and share with us! Until next time, Happy exploring!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Wear an 'S' on My Chest

Supermom. Of course, I'm a supermom; but so are you! If you wake up every day even when you would like another hour of sleep, you are a supermom. If you know how to turn a blanket into a fort, a cape, a nice place for a teddy bears' picnic then you are a supermom. You are a super mom because no matter how tired, frustrated and impatient you may be you still manage to get a smile out of your children and dinner on the table.

The best thing about being a supermom is your modesty. People will ask you how on earth you do it and you simply say, "I don't know. I just do. Don't we all?" Right now you might be asking yourself the question: "Am I a supermom?" Of course you are! If you can relate to any of the following you are definitley a supermom:

You are a supermom because you now claim the shower and toilet as your Fortress of Solitude and even they get invaded by the wee ones. And when the same little wee ones fall and get hurt, your super kiss on a grazed knee makes everything better. You are a super mom if you've ever found yourself cooking, breastfeeding and talking on the phone at the same time; and all of these feel quite normal to you. You know just how your child's dinner should be served: the shape, size and colour of sippy cup he'll want. Your super reflexes have saved said cup numerous times from plummeting to a watery grave on the kitchen floor.

You are a super mom because baby drool has become your new hair gel and diaper ointment your new face cream. You can change your toddler's nappy when he is standing, sitting, upside down or in a full run. Your super speed gets him every time. A super mom knows the difference between a number 1, a number 2 and the horrifying number 3!

Supermoms are 'in the know.' We know the difference between a ninkee nonk and a pinkee ponk. We manage to keep our sanity after listening to the same song 100 times over and over and over again and when our precious tot asks so sweetly, "one more time" we press play, again and shout along with the music.

Supermoms always help other super moms in need. It might be as big as watching their wee ones while they take a secret mission to the shops or as small as an exchange of a reassuring "been there" glance when they see their child's tantrum. Super moms also work great in numbers. Get them all together at a playground or birthday party and they will get everything ship shape, when it is time to wrap up the event.

You are a supermom because you aren't afraid of a challenge. You tackle Mount Washmore in your laundry room and mystery stains on your carpet. You can whip up a meal in a jiffy, using limited ingredients if need be and you can't remember the last time you ate a hot meal or in one sitting.

Supermoms are just that--super! And although they don't need anyone to tell them how great they are, it is always nice for them to have a reminder. These moms put their family first, don't think twice about it and ask for little in return; except a goodnight kiss and snuggle and perhaps the occasional footrub.

You are super because underneath that shirt of yours you wear an 'S' on your chest and you don't even know it. Heck, sometimes you don't even think you deserve it, but I'll tell you, you do. Sometimes your partner might not even acknowledge it or you may have a hard time seeing it, but trust me. It is there. It always is. Of course somedays are better than the other. Sometimes it seems like their is kryptonite hidden somewhere and you might feel like throwing in the towel because you've had enough--your powers are weakening. It is nothing a little cat nap or smile from your child can't fix. Your super strengths allow you to heal quickly- before your child can even say, "more milk, please?" you'll be on your 'A' game again.

So don't despair and have no fear. Your super strengths are with you. You are great at what you do. You are a supermom, yes; but you are also so much more. You are you and that's the best super strength of them all. So wear your 'S' proudly and let your cape blow in the wind. I know who you are and I am proud of you!

Noelle Mountain

Anyone who is a parent of more than one child knows it can be a bit tough juggling their attention between the two; especially if you have a child who is eager to share his every accomplishment. Lachlan is a great big brother but he certainly can have his moments when he doesn't want his sister be involved in anything. This is a part of the adaption process when you are no longer the only child; sharing affections and objects with others can seem 'not so fun.'

A few weeks ago we had a week or two straight were Lachlan just didn't want Noelle next to us when we were playing together. She of course is a baby and likes stimulation and interaction, after all she is human! I always have her sitting in her bouncy seat or plopped ever so snuggly in our bean bag chair so she can hear and watch us play. I always look at her and ask her questions when role playing just as I do with Lachlan. Noelle is a happy baby and will never disappoint-she always gives a smile and giggle back.

The other day I made the mistake of showing Noelle a train while Lachlan and I were playing. He did not like this. These are his trains, of course, not some slobbery baby's! I explained to him not to worry. She's just looking at it, she's too little to ply with his toys...yet! Well, to Lachlan, simply looking at the train was unacceptable. I obeyed his request as I didn't want a jealous rage to begin and Noelle, certainly cared none the less. This reaction went on for a week and finally I decided we are going to make Noelle a positive association when it comes to play, not a negative one. If I can convince him that Noelle has something to offer by being around, he'll be more likely to accept it. So you might be asking, "what does a drooly, baby that sits around like a sack of potatoes have to offer?" Well, I'll tell you...

So Lachlan and I being playing trains as usual. He's 'Lady' and I am 'Rosie.' (from the Thomas and Friends collection, just in case you aren't in the steamie groove). Noelle is sitting quietly on the bean bag chair and all is good. She's being her sweet and most gassy self as usual...Just smiling away (probably the gas...) I ask Lachlan, I mean 'Lady' where we should go today? He says to the zoo. So to the zoo we chug. "Chug Chug Chug" we go merrily along. "Oh, wait! What is this?" I ask. Lachlan looks at me in anticipation of what is to come. 'Rosie' approached the bean bag chair and Noelle. "Why it is a mountain!" Lachlan likes this. "It is Noelle mountain!" I exclaim. "Shall we go up it?" Lachlan replies with an "oh, yes, mommy!"

So up, up we go. Up Noelle mountain. We reach the top above Noelle's head. "What do you see down there?" Lachlan says, "O-elle!"
"That's right! Noelle! A giant baby!!" Lachlan laughs in excitement. I ask if we should drive out trains down to talk to this massive baby in the middle of the mountain. He is very keen. We drive halfway down next to Noelle's shoulder.

"Hi baby!" I say. "We like your mountain! Would you like something?" I ask Lachlan what we could give this big baby. He suggestes some apples so off we chug down the mountain to get some pretend apples and make our journey back up to Noelle.

"Here O-elle!" says Lachlan as he gives her some pretend apples. "Want some water, too?" he asks. "I think she does," I reply and down the mountain we go again.

This continued for almost an hour. I was so pleased to seem him being a willing participant in a play session with his sister. Of course, he thought it was all about him as toddlers do, but makes no difference! Now every day Lachlan asks me if we can go up Noelle mountain. Not only does he bring her pretend food, he's begun bringing her a teether as well when she's upset (she has two little teeth popping up!)

All it takes is some creative thinking and positive associations and you can foster a great sibling relationship. It also takes time. For some, a lot of time, but they'll get there. Rome wasn't built in a day they say and for some children, a good relationship isn't either. Patience, patience! :)

And from the ground, grew a seed...

A happy moment for our little Lachlan. On day 14 of our seed planting we had a wonderful surprise...

It was a rainy and misty morning so Lachlan and I put on our gumboots and opened the front door to check on his pot. Like every other morning, he rushed over to the pot hoping the fruits of his labour would have sprouted. Tpday he leaned over to catch a glimpse and he was silent for a moment. I big smile filled up us face and then he finally said, "Woooooooooo!" and clasped his hands together in excitement.

"What is it?" I asked. "It's a fow-er, mommy!" He began pointing to the sky. "It gonna grow up big and tall like a twee!" He continued to ramble on with so much excitement I only caught few words; something about watering it and high as the sky. Now that his pea seedling is a real tangible thing, I'm sure he was envisioning it growing up to the clouds; perhaps to climb and find treasures galore and battle giants. The rain began up again so we had to go inside. Lachlan continued to talk about his seedling an occasionally ran to the front widow to look at it (the reason it is growing in the front of the house in a pot and not in our veggie garden. He can sit and look at it from this spot whenever he'd like)

So we'll keep on keepin' track of the seedling. Only one of the four up thus far. I'm thankful for the one. Lachlan was drowning the poor things with water I thought they'd never sprout! I was already thinking of way to secretly swap out the duds with a dummy! Thankfully it didn't come to that because if I had to I would. After all, a mommy's got to do what a mommy's got to do!

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

Winter. Winter in Australia is lovely. On a sunny day we can go outside and not worry about chasing around our toddler trying to keep his hat on. We don't need sunscreen and we can stay outside as long as we want without feeling like we are going to melt.I love it. So far, this seems to be one of the warmest winters we have had since I've lived here. (knock on wood! We're only in the third week or so...)I do remember my first winter here: my husband and I just moved into our house, were sleeping on an air mattress with no heat and woke up to frost and icy windows. We soon found out it was a record low. So far that hasn't been the case, it has been great weather to explore the outdoors.

We try to take advantage of the sunny days as much as we can in our house. I can not stand being cooped up inside. Something I thank my mother for because she always made us play outside on days when it wasn't rainy or too cold. I later realised this was to keep the house clean. Something I didn't appreciate as a child, but with two little ones of my own, I totally understand and they haven't even reached the age of inviting friends over yet! I can definitley add "maid" to my resume.

We've been spending a lot of time at the zoo or finding an orchard or farm somewhere to visit. Last weekend we went mandarin picking for the second time this year. Although, Lachlan says he doesn't like mandarins, he certainly enjoys the orchard experinece. I always found an orchard to be somewhat magical when I was a child; running along the rows of trees, weaving through low branches trying to get lost in hopes that you could be smart and brave enough to find your way back. An orchard appeals to the senses as well: sweet smells and tastes, soft grass, smooth leaves, the sounds of birds singing and pruning shears clicking; followed by a soft thud as the fruit joins the others in the bucket. Oh, how I love a day at an orchard!

Lachlan found his magic in the tree ladders. He'd climb to the top platform and look at the tree in search for the perfect mandarin to pick. Once he'd find it we would hear "this one, Daddy!" My darling husband, no matter how far away or how high up a ladder he was would stop what he was doing to clip that perfect mandarin for Lachlan.

I wasn't much help in the orchard this time around. I was carrying our 12 week old so I merely supervised and most importantly tested a mandarin from each tree to ensure its sweetness. Sometimes I wasn't quite sure and did a second run just to be certain--very important and tedious business, I tell you. What ever would the boys have done without my tasting expertise?

I particularly enjoyed Lachlan helping his daddy out. They have that special father-son bond that any parent would hope for. He loves his dad and likes to mimic him; such an important process in the developing child. Sentimental me tried to capture every moment I could with the camera hoping that the feeling would forever live in the photo;sometimes a photo is truely worth a thousand words.

After our mandarin picking adventures, Lachlan became more interested in seeds and how things grow. I always cut an apple for him crosswise so he can see the little star that lives inside. This week, Lachlan wanted to keep the seeds and asked if we could plant them. It was late at night so I told him we could in the morning. He gripped the seeds so tight in his hand and keep them safe and warm. He even slept with them that evening. In the morning we went headed out to the garage to find a pot and some soil to plant his seeds. During this process, Lachlan dropped his seeds somewhere never to be found. He was very disappointed and of course there had to be no more apples in the house to replace them! I promised him he could plant seeds and I wasn't going to break it. I went in the house and dug through my seed drawer to see what I could find. I took the whole drawer out for Lachlan to pick something. While he was doing this he discovered the labeling stakes and decided to created design with those as well.

Lachlan in the end decided to plant some sugar snap peas. You can tell by the pictures he was very involved every step of the way. In fact he did all the labour. I only guided him by asking questions to see if he knoew what to do next. I always beleive in speaking in developmentally appropriate detail to children.Sometimes we 'dumb down' our talk thinking they won't understand; however children are very capable of understanding more than we think. How else will the make connections to the world unless we provoke thought through conversation. Our process went something like this:

First, we find a pot and soil and discuss that we are preparing a nice little bed to plant our seeds in...
Next pick out the perfect seeds. We talk about how inside of each seed there is a tiny little baby seeding waiting to come out. All it needs is some love from us which we give with a sunny spot and some water...
We then space our seeds out in the pot, explaining that they all need their own bit of room to grow; just like us. When the baby seedlings wake they'll want to stretch their little root legs and feet and will need some space...
Each seed gets pushed into the ground to make sure that it is warm and snug in a blanket of dirt...
Next we get our watering can and some water from the tap. If it doesn't rain the plants will need us to give them a nice drink...
Lastly we give the seedlings a nice long drink to help them get a good start in life. Growing is thirsty business!
We also write a name label for the peas so we won't forget what they are and so they'll know who they are when the pop up into the world!
Finally, the thoughest part--we watch and wait and wait...

As stated in other blogs of mine, provocation is so important for the learning process; asking questions to expand on what children already know is very helpful to their cognitive/problem-solving skills. Lachlan did really well coming up with the answers. He knew a lot more about gardening then I would have given him credit for. I suppose he pays attention to hubby and me in the veggie patch after all. Either way I hope he has a little green thumb. Time will tell! Why not try planting a seed with your little one. It is a great first lesson of life, the responsibilty of caring for something and even teaches children about death. I'm just hoping our little peas make it to the seedling stage first, as Lachlan is watering the heck out of it! Peas are a great plant to grow with children though as their germination is only 7-10 days. It is a relatively short length of time, though for a child it can seem like an eternity. Lachlan's immediatley began staring at his pot, and staring and staring and waiting and waiting. Guess I'll go wait with him. Until next time, Happy gardening!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chalk City

It is a perfect sunny day: not too sunny, not too cold. A jeans a jumper kind of day. What do you do you might ask? Well, normally I would say go for a nature walk or catch a train for an outing in the city. But on this particular day, our baby girl was sleeping, dad took our car to get serviced so Lachlan and I were stuck at home.
Being the clever little lady that I am, I asked Lachlan if we could bring the city to us. "Oh yeah!" he said ever so excitedly. "How might we do that?" I probed him. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. "How about we use this chalk?" The wheels began turning in his head at this point. "We draw a city, mommy!"...and so we did. I asked Lachlan what our city needed: a Woolies (our local supermarket),hospital,police and fire stations,school, park (with a slide and sandbox, of course) and most importantly a train station. How could Lachlan live in any city without a train station?! I added a church and some additional houses.

So there on our driveway we drew what would be hours of fun. We both crawled back and forth on the concrete moving our cars around on the road that we both ended up with holes on the knees of our pants. I asked Lachlan where we should drive to next in our town and as we arrived to our destinations we realised we had no where to park. This is the best thing about a chalk city, you just draw as you go! We added parking spots and trees where we thought trees should go. When we came to railway tracks, Lachlan said we needed boomgates so we drew some too. Before you knew it we had a very busy town complete with a zoo and skyway or sky "train" as Lachlan likes to call it. The next best thing about a chalk city is that it is cheap! Got a driveway or sidewalk? Yes, you say? well then you are halfway there! Find a piece of chalk and a few cars and you are all set. If your child is deprived of toy cars then grab a couple of rocks or sticks and pretend those are cars. Use your imagination and have fun!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Someone Take Away the Hot Glue Gun!

I have a confession to make. Most people who know me well, know that one thing I am not is a girlie girl. I can't ever recall a day when I went out of my way to buy something in the colour of pink. It wasn't until I was older that I even enjoyed wearing dresses. I think I went through most of my youth in sweatpants. In summer it was shorts and I accented my attire with grazed knees from falling off my bike an calluses on my hands from climbing and swinging from my favourite climbing tree. These are all things I look forward to doing with Lachlan, though hope his first bike attempts are painless ones.

When I found out I was having a daughter, I was surprised. I never imagined having a little girl. I hoped of course that she would be a child that would feel confident being herself. I have to admit though, a small part of me hopes that she'll me a little tomboy like I was. I think part of me is afraid that if she isn't I won't be able to relate. Perhaps sounds strange, I'm sure. Afterall we both are girls!

I was excited to have a girl in the house. One more double X chromosone to equal our house out. Someone hopefully to be my allie in times of war against the testosterones. The girls department is also always about 3 times larger than the boys so shopping would also be more fun. I just hoped that she wouldn't have a wardrobe entirely of pink and free from those dreaded baby hair accessories- yuck!

Well, something has happened to me. I find the colour pink growing on me. I actually don't mind it and think my little girl looks adorable in it. I do however love her in blues and reds and wish it wasn't so darn hard to find them from newborns. Really, people? Can't our kids be exposed to other colours! But that aside, I will admit that I no longer hate pink. We have become friends.

The most shocking thing that has happened occured last week. A photographer came to the hosue to shoot some baby photos. I grimaced as she began to pull out a pair of nappy covers with lime green and hot pink ruffles. I've come a long way, but I'm not quite to hot pink ruffles yet. Thankfully Noelle's legs were too cubby for them so it saved me from hurting the lady's feelings as she made the covers herself. Next, out of the bag came a headband with a flower. Inside my head, I was thinking, "give me a break, lady!" I obviously hadn't made my distaste for hair accessories on babies clear. Afterall, what is the purpose? They don't keep their heads warm and half the time the bubs don't even have hair. I cringe when I see bubs with no hair but have a bow on their head. Someone please tell me how the bow is attached? Is it glued, taped, stapled? Is this another purpose for blue tac? I just think it is all a bit silly. I'm sure some people are desperate to make sure people know their child is a girl and not a boy. I'm sorry for parents who feel the need to do that, but it is their choice and if it helps ease some sort of paranoia or combats potential embarassment then so be it.

As the photographer approached Noelle to place this headband on her head, I didn't know what to do. Do I save my little bub from having to look like some primadonna or do I let it happen. Well, I let it happen. Afterall part of wanting androgynous children is to let them like both sides of things. Keeping her from girlie things is just as bad as keeping her from toy trucks so this mommy had to do a reality check. Once I finished the battle in my head, I came to and looked at my little angel. There she laid with a headband on and nothing else. She was all smiles, giggling and cooing. She even seemed to pose for the camera. Then a strange thing happened. It was as if I had an out of body experience. I could here a woman ooo-ing and ahh-ing, saying, "isn't she sooooo cute! how adorable." The voice sounded familiar. I then realised that woman was me!

What in the heck happened? How could I go from being a hairband nazi to this? I found myself rationalizing the situation: well, it is a flower, not a bow. It is crocheted and made from natural fibres, not something plasticy and synthetic. Noelle seems to like it. Ohhhhh, look she's smiling....

So what was I doing the next day? I was at my local craft store finding some wool yarn and elastic. I got out my felt and began creating a flower. Before I knew it I was cuting and rolling and hot gluing felt like crazy. The entire time the angels and demons were sounding off in my head. "What are you doing?!"...."Oh, but it will be so darn cute!"...."Seriously, step away from the glue gun!!"...."Oh, it's just flowers and they are blue flowers, that's not too over the top girlie..)In the end the demons won and I crocheted a headband with a flower for my daughter. When I looked at the finished process I realised that it wasn't the demons, it was an archangel that won this match because it was too stinkin' cute to come from anywhere else and my little girl would look divine in it!

So there ya have it. I've hit the deep end. Now if I start blogging tutorials for big pink bows, do please plan an intervention! It is a cute little headband, the flowers though are too big for her head, they need to be shorter so I'll have to make another out glue gun!

A Magical Day

Yesterday was winter solstice. It was a big day at our Steiner playgroup as we have been preparing for this day for the last few weeks. Lachlan and I worked hard creating his rainbow lantern. He had been looking forward to carrying it through the spriraly walkway he had been told about and having his lantern lit.

When we arrived to playgroup that day we were all asked to wait outside until all our friends arrived. Our play group leader was busy inside preparing the surprise festivities for the children. We all anxiously awaited outside with a special food we brought to share in celebrtion of the shortest day/longet night of the year. Lachlan and I brought our favourite pumpkin pie; an American tradition, usually made for Thanksgiving. It was the perfect food for us to bring as it represented a part of our american culture. The pie was also made from one of our garden pumpkins which Lachlan and I have been tending to all autumn, weekly inspecting them to see how much they had grown.

When we were finally allowed to enter the building, the children were asked to walk in silently. The room was dark, except for a few candles that glowed around the room. The room was decorated as a night sky with stars on the walls and a spiral made from tree branches and leaves on the ground. In the middle stood a tall candle with a flickering flame. All the children were silent as thye walked in. Lachlan was the last to enter and as he saw the lovely display he let out this loud, "Whooooaaa!" which broke the silence. He was so excited to see the candles glowing, he couldn't contain himself. I think everything must have looked so magical to him. He and I sat down with his baby sister and watched as each of his friends one by one took their lanterns from a table and walked around the spiral to the lit candle. We all sang a special song as they did so. When it was Lachlan's turn he was so excited. He seemed so grown up, holding his little lantern so delicatley and making the softest steps through the spiral. When he reached the little flame his teacher lit his lantern and he smiled; his face lit up as much as his lantern.

Later our teacher told us a beautiful story about two children who walked through the night with their lantern and found a crystal cave. There a gnome gave them a bag of seeds and magical crystals. The teacher then gave each of the children a little sachet with special treasures inside. I tucked it away for Lachlan to open at home.

The next day (today), I could tell that Lachlan needed a lot of my attention. He had been a little bit clingy the last few days and seemed a bit jealous of his sister. Today I decided that I would give him my undivided attention the whole morning. No phone, computer or housework- it could all wait. My little man needed me. He needed me to be present with him. The last few weeks had been busy for our family and although I'm always with him everyday, I'm not always "present." My mind has been elsewhere thinking about work, family and close friends who have been ill. I'm certain Lachlan picked up on this; so now the day was about just him and me and Noelle tagged along like the good sister she is, sleeping most of the time.

Today was a gorgeous day. I had to spend this day with Lachlan outside, the sun was calling us to come out and play and we obeyed eagerly. In the garage I found a bucket of landscaping pebbles which I had been digging out of our garden for the last year. I brought them up to our front porch, hoping to entice Lachlan. I took out about 6 rocks and began to make a half circle. Lachlan was intrigued and began taking rocks and adding to the ones I put on the ground. I sat back and watched where he'd go with it. He was amazing! He kept adding pebble next to pebble and before I knew it, he had made a beautiful spiral. Just like the one from our winter festival! He then began to branch off of the spiral, stopping for a moment and then saying, "Mommy, it's a 'Q!" and indeed it was. It looked just like the letter Q. Lachlan continued to add to his creation and by the end he had a lovely pebble design on our porch. We went inside and got a little gnome his teacher had given him a few months ago for his brithday and also grabbed a little toy puppy dog. "Let's take these guys on an adventure, shall we?" "Oh, yes!" Lachlan replied and off we went, setting out on what would be a magical adventure. I was the gnome and Lachlan was the puppy (of course!) We hoppd along the pebbles and Lachlan suggested that we follow the path through the spiral. We went back and forth playing with our characters and having a lot of fun. I then realised that I had Lachlan's little sachet from playgroup that he hadn't opened yet. I ran inside and brought it out, placing it on one end of the pebble path. "Look, treasure!" Our little gnome and puppy discovered the treasure and Lachlan untied the string to unveil the surprise. From inside a bunch of tiny stars, seeds and precious stones fell out. Lachlan was amazed. He especially loved the tiny stones. He picked each one up with his small fingers and added them to the end of the path. Next, he had the puppy eat the seeds.

It had been awhile since I had really sat and enjoyed Lachlan use his imagination, uninfluenced by me. He has really been absorbed into trains the last year and for months that has been all he'll play with. I was eager to see him branch back out into other creative modes. The pebbles did the trick I guess. I love watching Lachlan work. Everything he does serves a purpose. You can see it in his face as his eyes concentrate so intently.His hands and fingers always move with such precision. You can tell that his mind already has something mapped out and they follow his lead like it has been rehearsed a hundred times. If Lachlan accidently drops or bumps something in the process, frustration will be released. He doesn't like anything to disturb the process and seems to want the image in his head to be replicated perfectly. These are the moments when I know it is my role to step back an let him create. When we wants to involve me he will. My cue is generally a "your turn, mommy!" or "next one, please!" And when it is my turn, I just pray I do what is expected of me! If not, we have a grumpy gus on our hands!

After lunch, Lachlan asked to go right back outside and play with his magical pebbles, as we call them now. We continued to role play. He even had the idea of using the string from the sachet as a snake, which he slithered through the pebbles and up a tree which we made with a stick. I could have played all day to tell you the truth. We had so much fun!

Later we took a break and went for a walk to the park. The day was still gorgeous and the sun felt wonderful on our faces. However, the sun began to sink lower and lower behind the trees as the afternoon grew shorter. We ran around the open playing field chasing each other and chasing our dog, Maxwell. On one end of the park is a steep ravine. He stood at the edge and looked down. From the ravine grew tall gum trees which the leafy tops where at our eye level. As we admired them, we noticed our shadows dancing in the leaves. We waved, jumped, danced and giggled as our shadows followed our lead. We then ran up a hill and rolled down, something I hadn't done in a long time! Lachlan laughed as we stood up, shaking all the grass off our clothes and out of our hair. The sun began to hide even more behind the trees and I knew that was our signal to head home. Neither of us wanted the day to end. We had so much fun. It was a spontaneous, special day just for us. I wanted to breathe it in as long as I could: breathe in the smell of the fresh cut grass, the sound of the fairy wrens singing in the distance and the youth of my son; so innocent and beautiful. I wanted all moments to be like this one and I hoped that he would remember this moment in years to come. I know he most likey won't, but I will treasure it in my heart for the both of us.

We walked home, ate dinner, lit his special lantern and I read him his books and tucked him into bed. As always, I prayed for angels to watch over him and to keep him safe until the morning light. I blew out the candle in his lantern and kissed his forehead. I could see his lips curl up in a smile as he closed his eyes and I thought, I'm the luckiest mommy in the world; my precious, sweet boy.

So our magical day is done, but tomorow will be a new one. One where I will remember to be not just physically present with my children, but emotionally and spiritually. When we do this an amazing thing happens; we can be children again! We can see things the way our children do, the way we used to before we got all grown up and sucked into the hustle and bustle of life.So go today and "be present" with your child. I hope something magical happens. xx

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hi-ho, Hi-ho! It's Back to Work I Go!

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, indeed! Last week it was back to work for me. I've had the last several months off as we welcomed Noelle to the family. I wasn't planning on working so soon after her birth but I had an opportunity come up that I didn't want to miss and since I own my own business, I can for the most part make my own schedule. If something doesn't suit my family, I don't do it. It is a luxury of owning your own business and also being able to work because you love it, not because you have to. In that regard I'm very blessed. Besides, I'm only working a few hours every fortnight (bi-weekly for my fellow Americans) so it isn't taking me away for too long. My hubby is also staying home during that time, otherwise I would not do it. Although we have an amazing woman who watches Lachlan when I need her, I'm not at the place yet to leave Noelle with anyone for a lengthy time unless it is my husband.

I did figure out the one upside to leaving your precious newbie for the first time, you are more nervous about how she is going to do, then how you'll preform at work! I was heading off to a brand new client which has potential of giving me a lot of on-going business. Generally I would be a bit nervous about this and not sleep much the night before as my mind would be racing. Instead, the sleep that I did get was good quality- the tiredness of being a mommy does wonders in the realm of sleep sometimes. Instead of worrying about what might go wrong on my drive to the city, I was worrying if Noelle would drink my breast milk from the bottle and if not would she be very upset. If she was upset would she find enough comfort in her daddy's arms? Fortunatley I was able to swith this worry off as soon as I reached my destination and parked the car. From then on I was in work mode...well, almost. My boobs start filling up with milk and became completley engorged like ballons ready to burst; but after that subsided a bit I was then ready to step out of the car as a working mommy again, praying I wouldn't let anyone down that day but most importantly that my breast pads wouldn't let me down! And speaking of 'let down' I have hyperlactation so when it does come down, it comes down like a high pressure elephant hose! It has embarassmet potential written all over it. Trust me, I know from experience!

Fortunatley work went off without a hitch (or waterworks!). I trained a lovely bunch of women on literacy development in young children. The best part is that the first half of training I got to talk about Lachlan and his literacy journey as he was my 'research subject' for the first portion of the workshop that involved development in 0-2 year olds. It was as if he was in the room. I don't generally use my children as examples in my work, but for those of you who have followed Lachlan these last two years, you know that there couldn't be a better subject then him regarding literacy. The child just loves to read and write and demonstrates this with various modes and media.

I left the workshop feeling very confident. I had excellent feedback and many of the participants waited in line afterwards to tell me how much they appreciated the information and the way it was presented. It made me feel really good as it reminded me of why I do what I do: to get parents and professionals excited about supporting childrens' development. It makes leaving my children to work so worth it, to know that I might have made a difference in the way a caregiver thinks about children and in turn, that caregiver will make a difference in the life of a child. Perhaps one day my child or your child.

So onwards and upwards! I've begun the great task of juggling it all. Somehow I seem to manage quite well--or so people tell me. Many friends ask me how I do it and I'm always surprised with this question. I just figure we all do it! I will try though to give some tips that might be helpful to others in my next blog entry; but honestly I believe most of the credit goes to the good temperment of my children and a supportive husband. I don't declare to be a supermom or domestic diva but if one trick of the trade helps ease the tension of another parent then I'm happy to help. Until next time..


Introducing Noelle and a Big Brother!

Big Brother and Little Sister

Sweet Angel, Noelle

Yes. I know, I know. I have been completley slack about blogging. I've been keeping most everyone informed via facebook these days. I've had a good excuse for my blog laziness. The arrival of our sweet little girl Noelle. She graced us with her presence in April. Since then our little world has been filled with a little bit more joy-I didn't even think that was possible! Children have a way of doing that though and she makes it very easy. She's a great sleeper and as content as can be. She's made her place in our family and all of us have welcomed her with much love; especially Lachlan.

Lachlan has been an amazing little brother. If his sister cries he tells me that he has to "check on Noelle." He returns and always tells me she "needs mummy's milk." It seems as soon as toddlers learn the ropes of becoming a big brother, they also become parenting experts as well. Lachlan loves to direct and correct me regarding my parenting skills. If Noelle cries and I think she needs a burp, Lachlan will say, "No, mummy. Noelle needs mummy's milk!" He definitley thinks we are doing things all wrong in the parent department. When Noelle first came home from the hospital I put her a little bouncy seat. The seat swallowed her up and she could't move out of it as she was so small with no strength to move around so I didn't even both strapping her in. I was sitting next to her on the floor and there was no change of her wiggling her way out. Lachlan of course called me out. He runs over and shouts with urgency, "Click, clack, Mummy! Click, clack Noelle!" He was right. We should always, "buckle up" what kind example was I setting and certainly what kind of parent am I? I'm sure this is what was running through Lachie's head. From then on he insisted on supervising me when ever I put Noelle in her seat. Most of the time insisting that he 'click-clack' her in himself. I'm sure he thought I'd muck it up. He'd lost all trust in me!

So with a second on our lives have changed but definitely for the better. I thought it would be a lot more busy in the house, but surprisingly not much has changed. I believe this is because Noelle is very content. She has really become even more comfortable as part of our family of the last few weeks, wanting to be held less and happy sitting or lying around watching her parents and big brother. She's just taking everything in now where as before she was happy but she did like to snuggle a lot. She's a sweet snuggly baby and won't disappoint you when she's in your arms. She'll flash you a beautiful smile and delight you with many coos and gah-gahs.

A bonus about having a bub in the house is that it actually makes me slow down. Sound strange? It isn't when you think about it. A bub needs to be feed at least every four hours and that means that every four hours at least I need to slow down, sit down and focus on feeding my daughter. I breastfeed so it makes the time even more intimate as we develop a special bond. I use this time to also have a snuggle with Lachlan. To make sure he's not left out I always ask him if he'd like to come and have a snuggle with me while I feed Noelle or if he'd like me to read a book to him. He'll hold the book and turn the pages. He won't want to sit with me all the time and if he does it won't last more than ten minutes as he'll want to go off and do something else, but I let him know that the option is always open and he need not feel shy about joining in with my special time with his sister. After all there are plenty of feeds in the day that Noelle and I just enjoy our one-on-one company so no one misses out.

I've also eased the brotherhood transition for Lachlan by making sure he is an 'involved family member.' I emphasise this because I think that it isn't just important to talk about a sibling being a big brother or a big sister, although this is important but to help them see the bigger picture: we are are family. Family means that we ALL love each other and we ALL help each other out in times of need. We are a family unit and each person is as important as the other, no matter how big or small.

I explained to Lachlan that when Noelle cries she doesn't just need a nappy change or fed, she needs "help." This is a word that many toddlers understand and if not we explain it by our actions. In the beginning, if Noelle cried I told Lachlan that she needs our help. "Let's go see what she needs. Can you help me figure out what she wants?" As Lachlan has always been a 'thinker' this technique is fun for him. It presents a challenge; a problem to solve and of course helps develop those very important problem-solving skills; all great for cognitive and emotional development. When we figure out what is wrong, I ask Lachlan if he'd like to help me. If it is a nappy change he'll hand me the clean nappy, wipes and fasten the nappy as well. Sometimes he likes to help, but other times he is satisfied with determining the solution and could care less if he's involved in the rest of the process; that's alright too. I also use this technique when Lachlan is upset. I say to Noelle, "What's wrong with your brother? Let's go see if we can help him." Lachaln then understands that this help thing is a two-way street. Again, we are family and our job is to help one another, love one another and work together. I just love the fact now that when ever his sister gets upset, the first thing that pops to his mind now is to check on her.

So the time is come where I think I'm ready to write on this blog more regularly again. I had taken a break not because I was actually too busy, but because I knew that my family needed more time with me. I wanted to make sure that these first couple months, Lachlan had all the love and attention he needed from me as we all settled into our new family. He certainly didn't need a blog to compete with. It seems now that we are all confident and content with our new roles and the new dynamic of this family and there is a bit moe wiggle room for this mummy to have a bit of writing fun.  As always, until next time, Happy Parenting!