Monday, 30 January 2012

Stickers and stamping

This week we had our first taste of what it's like to have all family members sick at the same time.  It wasn't anything serious,  just a mild cold I think but when no one is sleeping because of sore throats and fevers it can really be difficult to rest properly.

Suffice to say that we had a need for lots of easy, relatively quiet and relatively stationary activities for Freddy (25 months) to do.
First we have a simple sticker activity.  This is a great work to develop fine motor skills as you peel the sticker backing paper and apply them to the paper.

I didn't say how or in what way Freddy should do this but I found it really interesting that he didn't stick them side by side but instead decided to group them by colour.  

This is a pattern that we are seeing with him regularly now (remember the post on lining up cars?), and everything must be really well ordered and grouped for him to be happy.

This is really fiddly work for little hands and I was really surprised at how well it worked.  It's now our favourite activity (for the moment anyway).

That was 10 minutes used up so then we had to find something else to do....

Did you know that I love rubber stamping?  Well yes I do.  In fact here we have an activity that I have been planning for about 25 months now!  I made a leaf stamp from an eraser and drew a bare tree onto paper.

It's juts a question of stamping leaves onto the winter trees.

Freddy was very careful to only add them to branches and not the trunk;  we can't have that now can we :)

If I'm honest I was hoping that the introduction to rubber stamping would have Freddy begging for more stamps and stamping opportunities but sadly he hasn't :(  I'm not giving up yet though!! - Expect much more stamping fun (even if it s just me).

That was it for me, I was too sick to sit on the floor so I retired to the sofa to just watch from a distance.  And what did I see?  Freddy took out the light green pens from his green pen holder (leaving a dark green pen behind), he seemed to not like the fact that there were two different shades of green in the one holder......I feel an idea coming on for some more fun colour activities!

How do you introduce shades of colours to your toddlers?

Friday, 27 January 2012

Baby leg workout

Henry (16 weeks) loves tummy time but he is starting to get frustrated that despite his frantic flailing of limbs he doesn't appear to be going anywhere.  

So this morning whilst I was getting dressed I put a cushion from our sofa on the bed and let him try something new.

He went from bent legs.....

To straight legs....

It was so much fun to watch him as his went up in the air and back down again over and over again, and I think he seemed quite pleased with himself too.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

DIY Toddler balance board

Here's an easy project for those wanting to venture into the tool shed... why not make a balance board?
Farfar made this one or Freddy in about 5 minutes like this:

First he found a piece of wood to turn into the board (this is very easy in our house), then he cut it into a circle.  I didn't see how he did this because he was in and out of the workshop quicker than I could load an SD card into my camera, but drawing around a plate would be a good size.

Then he took an axe to a 2" wooden ball (literally) and chopped it in half to place in the middle of the board.  If you don't have an axe handy (who does?) a good idea would be to cut the last inch or so from an IKEA rolling pin (the solid one piece type rather than the one with handles).
The ball is then screwed onto the underside of the board with a single screw.
 This is the finished product:
 And here is Freddy (25 months) demonstrating how to balance (it's quite tricky).
Using a ball means that you can also twist round on this board which is fun for adults as well as children!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Crochet obsession + Swedish family = Viking hat!

What else could you possibly want to make for a Swedish family member other than a crochet viking helmet?
Armed only with this pattern, a crochet term decoder, a few balls of wool and a trigger happy crochet hand I set to work immediately but it wasn't until about half way through the project that the penny dropped about why these pattern writers always tell you what yarn to buy. I'll admit it here that it turned out slightly larger than anticipated (which resulted in somewhat droopy horns) but hey, it adds to the charm.
I think it's new owner (my brother in law) must really love the hat especially as this picture turned up on facebook....
 Maybe the Swedes get tired of the constant comparisons with the vikings but I know I never will :).

Thursday, 19 January 2012

We appear to have a thumb sucker!

Henry is 15 weeks (in this picture) and he has definitely found his thumb.

He appears to be teething quite a lot so I'm starting a search for the perfect teething toy / food item but I have to say that at the moment I think that the amber necklace is working really well.

I have only taken it off Henry on two occasions and both times he had a few really upset moments when his scream seemed to indicate pain.  That's the amazing thing about Henry you see;  he is so happy and calm normally that it is really easy to spot when something is wrong because the moment you fix it he is back to happy again.

Do you have any natural teething relief suggestions I can try?

Broccoflower for dinner

I do believe I may be about to delicate an entire post to a cabbage that we bought today.

But not just any old cabbage.

This is a Fractal Cabbage! or Romanesque Chou as it is referred to here in France.  But better yet is it's more common 'street name' if you will..... the Broccoflower!

That's because it's a plant half way between a broccoli and a cauliflower (but classified as a cabbage).

Whatever it is I think it's beautiful and it's almost a shame to eat it.

Have you ever seen one of these before?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Note to self: don't wash wool

I may only be a beginner crocheter but I was extremely pleased with my first effort of a baby blanket made for Henry in those last few weeks of pregnancy.  In fact, Henry's early arrival was perfect except for the fact that the blanket had not been finished and hence was not available for baby photos (of course it wasn't really that much of a big deal).

Anyway.  All thoughts that I had about this blanket becoming a new family heirloom passed from generation to generation were cruelly and prematurely snatched from me this morning when I spotted it hanging from a drying rack somewhat smaller than I remember it.

It went from being wrap-up-your-baby size to stand-a-pot-plant-on-it size in just 45 minutes.

To say I am upset is perhaps an overstatement but inside I'm crying  a little bit.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Homemade marmalade

Every morning we eat delicious fresh baked bread and homemade orange marmalade.  It's become a kind of ritual and I wouldn't want to start the day any other way now.

I thought that I would share how to make it with you (it's really really easy).

Take 6 large oranges (or 8 small ones).  I made batches from both the clementines above and the large oranges below.

Chop roughly into quarters.

Finely chop them using a juicer, blender, by hand or any other method but keep everything i.e, pips, skin etc.  We use this fancy Norwalk juicer / press.

 Put in the biggest pan you have and add 1kg of sugar.  We use organic oranges and organic sugar.

Then just stir with a wooden spoon and bring to the boil.  Keep it boiling for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so.

That's it! Wait for it to cool slightly then pour into glass jars (ours are from IKEA).  

 In these jars they make great gifts too.  Just add some ribbon and a salt dough gift tag.

 mmmmm we love you marmalade Gott gotty Gott Gott [Swedish phrase meaning yummy].

Cultural exchange package: Argentina

I'm so behind in posting about the Cultural Exchange packages that I have received but I couldn't let this one slip through the net.

The Cultural Exchange is an initiative that allows families from all over the world to make contact with each other and learn about their countries and I was very excited to be participating in a group with a family from Argentina!

So here is what we received:
  • An Argentinian flag
  • A Traditional story puzzle about the origins of the Yerba Mate
  • A letter about Argentina and some printables
  • Argentinian sweets and a recipe to make 'Dulce de leche'
  • Little Coya figurine and clay pot showing traditional local crafts (both adorable)
  • Collected seashells from San Antonio Este (Patagonia)
  • Coins (and an explanation of the different coins in use), pin badge, eraser and flag
  • Notes and a pack of playing cards
  • Tea gourd, tea and a metal tea straw (which stops you from sucking up the tea leaves)
  • Historical images and stories
  • Beautiful collected seed pods and other items used in local crafts

I think what I love most about this package is that we will actually use some of the bits in our everyday lives.  I will definitely use the tea straw and Henry's treasure basket will be filled with the beautiful seed pods and shells.  I love the idea of saying to the boys 'look, here is a shell from a beech in Argentina'.

It reminds me of the basket that we were sent from Ohio which is still in regular use today.

To all those of you who are putting together your packages this is a great example of how thoughtful it is possible to make them without the need to buy everything.

Find out how to participate in an exchange here.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Why do toddlers line things up?

Does your toddler line everything up?

Freddy (25 months) has been lining things up neatly for nearly a year now and the phase shows no sign of ending.

He lines up his cars (at 6am).....

He lines up his toys, potties and bags....,

And he even lines up his art supplies......

He has a lovely cousin who also lines his cars up so I was really intrigued to investigate why he might be doing it.

Montessori observed that a sensitive period for order starts from birth and peaks at 18 months to 2.5 years and prolongs to age five and it is characterised by a desire for consistency and repetition.   In fact it is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for the perception of the 'terrible twos', along with the desire for independence, when a child is upset that something is 'not as it should be'.

By creating order in the external world the internal mind becomes ordered and this gives a sense of comfort to most children.  I also think it's a wonderful example of the start of catagorisation skills that will help him to make sense of the world around him.

I can't help but smile when I discover one of his little 'works';  it's just the way that he does it and then walks off with not even a 'tadaaa!!'

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Baby's first disco (and bringing things to the mouth)

Those disco lights that we installed really are getting a lot of use [read cannot be switched off], but even if we are growing a bit weary of the non stop dance hall that is our living room at east someone still finds them delightful.

I have fashioned a kind of sofa bed/boat for Henry (15 weeks) to be in (which I will show you later) so that he can look at his mobiles or play without the risk of him being run over by a tractor or bicycle.  Said boat is right under the disco ball too so Henry enjoys a bit of a boogie now and then.

And of course at around 15 weeks babies really start to intentionally move things to their mouth for a quick taste or to relieve the first pains of teething.  Henry has definitely started to teeth and a wooden ring tied to a piece of muslin is a fun plaything but functional too:  the ring doesn't get lost and he kicks the fabric around with his feet.

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