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...