Monthly Archives: March 2009

Play With Your Food #2 – Pizza Night

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"Let's put on the yellow toppings first Daddy."

This is an old photo because my toddler has been making mini pizzas since she was about 18 months.  Now that she’s almost three, she runs the show when it comes to Friday night pizzas!

I cheat by using bought pizza bases, and I like the mini ones because we can all have our preferred toppings.  I do know some other mums though who make their own bases.  (If anyone would like to share a recipe, leave a comment!)

As my daughter has become more capable with her fine motor skills and more confident in the kitchen, she has been able to take a bigger role in pizza prep.  At 18mths her job was to sprinkle selected toppings from small bowls.  These days she spreads the sauce with the back of a spoon, selects toppings according to what each member of the family likes, and constructs the pizzas with limited help.  Of course I still do all the cutting, as well as opening and draining tins, and putting toppings into child sized bowls.  I try to make sure there are different colours (eg capsicums) and shapes (eg mushrooms) in our toppings.  I often find she will try an unfamiliar veggie if she has put it onto a pizza herself!

In a few years time I’ll be able to place my order and enjoy pizza night without lifting a finger. ;)

The Five Love Languages

If you’re interested in making the relationships in your life the best they can be, have a look at Dr Gary Chapman’s blog.  He wrote the New York Times bestseller, The Five Love Languages. Leave some comments there and you might win a book like I did!!!  Just click on the image if you’d like to check it out.

Want to improve your marriage?  Read The Five Love Languages.

Want to understand your children?  Read The Five Love Languages of Kids.

Want to know how to better resolve conflict?  Read The Five Languages of Apology.

Wait a While

img_5612This photo was taken the day after my son tried baby rice cereal for the first time.  A little ambitious, perhaps?  By next week he’ll be after steak!  I heard myself saying, “Not yet mate.  You just need to wait a while.”

If he’s anything like me, patiently waiting might not be one of his strong suits. I get restless waiting for the shower water to heat up, or the microwave to ding, or even the tv to power on!  So waiting for long term things is a challenge for me.   (Read – The Waiting Game).

Over the years there have been a lot of things that I’ve asked God for.  When I bled right through the first trimester, I begged God to let me keep the baby and I sensed him say yes.  Though unexplained, the bleeding didn’t prevent our son from growing.  But there have also been times when I’ve asked God for something I really wanted, and he said no.  Like the time I considered taking a teaching job in Singapore.  God knew that the timing was horribly wrong for me.  Or the time I asked him to take an illness away from someone I love.  God’s answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

Then there are times when God doesn’t give a yes or no.  He just says, “Wait a while.”  I can be like a baby with my head in a cereal box that I’m just not ready for!  My son can’t understand why he isn’t ready for cornflakes, but I’m his mother who knows him, loves him, cares for him, protects him, and knows what’s best for him.  I can’t always see why God says “not yet” to me, but I trust that he knows me, loves me, cares for me, protects me and knows what’s best for me too.

I’d love to be a published author – I just need to wait a while because God’s answer is “Not yet.”  (I suspect my son will get to try cornflakes first.)  I’ll let you know when that answer changes, but in the meantime I’ll keep growing, keep writing, and keep blogging so that I’ll be ready!

(I wonder if I should send this pic to Kellogs for their next ad campaign.  “Another Kellogs Crunchy Nut…?!”)

Leaf Rubbings with Rainbow Crayons

img_5803I love activities that involve both indoor and outdoor time.  They are great for when it’s too hot (or too cold) to be outside for very long.

First we upended the crayon box and salvaged all the broken bits.  I removed any labels, and my two year old put her choice of colours into mini patty pan cases.  (You can use regular patty pans but the mini ones work well for mini fingers.)  We put the cases into a mini muffin tray, then into the oven on 180 degrees C.  How long it takes them to melt really depends on the quality and quantity of crayons you are melting, so keep a close eye on them.

While the melted crayons were cooling on the kitchen bench, we ventured outside to collect leaves.  We have a bush commonly found around Brisbane with butterfly shaped leaves.  I encouraged my toddler to find “matching pairs” of leaves, and she enjoyed the challenge of finding leaves of a similar size.  We felt the smooth and rough sides of the leaves, and talked about the veins.  Then we headed back inside with them.

Once cool and hard the crayon-melts were ready.  What a delight to peel off the patty pan cases and reveal the swirly rainbow colours!  We placed pairs of leaves (vein side up) under paper and rubbed over them with the flat side of our rainbow crayons to create butterflies.  These crayons aren’t the best for drawing with, but theyare great for rubbings.  They are perfect for little hands to hold and don’t leave any scribbly marks as you colour over the edge of the leaves, as normal crayons would.  (The image didn’t capture the colours well, but you get the idea!)

The end result was a relatively cost-free but busy afternoon spent exploring plants, recycling crayons, and creating art!

Rainbow crayon-melts

Rainbow crayon-melts

Lamenting Lost Sleep

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The Good Old Days

Life as I know it is over.  My toddler has completely dropped her daytime nap, and there is nothing I can do to convince her of the value of sleep.  She was never a great day sleeper, but even one short nap was an opportunity to put my feet up, have a coffee, watch a little Dr Phil or catch up on emails (often all of them simultaneously).  Suddenly my long days seem more like a test of endurance than ever before.

Every time I get comfortable as a mum the scenery changes.  I know other mums have shared with me their frustration over this too.  Just as you feel settled with breastfeeding they start solids.  Two minutes after they have learnt to sit up on their own, they are off crawling all over the house, sending you into a mad childproofing frenzy.  And just when you have learnt to coordinate a toddler’s and infant’s routines – your toddler decides sleep is for babies! In the early years of mothering our kids grow at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up with them.

I find managing the transition into a new phase a challenge, but always worth the effort.  So, after spending today lamenting, here’s my plan of attack for coping with situation I now find myself in.  I know that allowing my two year old to be on the go from 5:30am until 7pm is ludicrous.  She needs some low-stimulus time to herself and an opportunity to recharge her batteries.  I need a chance to regroup too!  So sleep time has officially been renamed “rest” time.  We’ve decided that the rule for rest time is that you need to be doing something quiet on your bed for an hour.  Read, draw, play with dolls, snooze – as long as you’re on your bed.  I set a timer, and shut her bedroom door.  When she goes to kindy next year rest time will be a normal part of her busy day, so insisting on a daily downtime now isn’t doing her any harm.  And if her little body does still need to have a sleep occasionally I know I have provided the opportunity for it.

Life as I know it isn’t over, it’s just changed slightly yet again.  What do I do during rest time?  Put my feet up, have a cuppa, and catch up on emails while watching Dr Phil of course!

Rainy Days

img_5767I was racking my brain for a rainy day activity this week when a thought occurred to me.  What activity can you only do in wet weather?  Play in the rain of course!  So today we went outside – not despite the weather, but rather because of it.  We delighted in putting on our raincoats and pulling on gumboots, ready to explore the sloshy backyard.

We looked at the way water droplets sat like diamonds on leaves.  We hunted for creepy crawlies that came out during a break in the rain.  We found secret hiding places under branches to escape the downpour.  And it was fun!  I had anticipated that we’d spend 30 minutes or so outside.  An hour and a half later our hungry tummies dragged us back into the house.  Besides, the sun had come out and we were starting to swelter in our raincoats.

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Come and hide with me Mummy!

Although I grew up playing lots of rough and tumble outdoor games as a child myself, I am sometimes too precious with my own kids.  It’s right to keep them out of the sun on hot days, and rug them up in cold weather.  It’s right to make sure they are playing in a safe place free from obvious hazards.  But it’s easy to be over-protective and I often I need to just loosen up and let them be kids.  The worst thing that happened today was that they got a little wet.  Big deal!

Busted for Cheating

952049_88628796I have a confession to make.  My suburb blacked out on Wednesday night, and I think it may have been my fault.  Indirectly at least.  You might remember that I decided to give up tv five nights a week during the season of Lent (past post: Give A Little).  Apparently cheating doesn’t go unnoticed by God!  Oops.

The two nights I’m allowing myself to watch tv are Sunday and Tuesday.  But I thought that if I only watched a little on Sunday night, I could sneak a little on Wednesday night too.   I justified it to myself even though I knew it was a technical loophole.  The tv had only been on for about ten minutes on Wednesday night when there was a huge electrical noise outside and the power went off.  To quote Steve Urkel, “Did I do that…?”

My logical brain tells me that the power went out because a transformer blew up and I had nothing to do with it.  My heart tells me that God sees everything, and there is no such thing as a coincidence.

The power wasn’t off for long – just until after my show had finished.  I think this week I’d better leave the tv off when it should be off, for the sake of my neighbours!

Play With Your Food #1 – Sausage Face

img_5437Sausages and salad for dinner was a summer time staple in our house when I was a kid, and nothing much has changed now that I’m the Mum.  Except the presentation that is!  It’s not hard to throw a few sausages on the bbq or into a frypan and chop a bit of salad.  Dinner can be on the table in no time.

I’ve always found that the key to getting toddlers to eat anything is to involve them in the process.  The more fun you can make it the better.  I sometimes struggle to get my two year old to eat lettuce, tomato, celery and cucumber – but eating ears, eyes, a nose and silly hat is a breeze!  Just give your kids a few bits of whatever salad is in your fridge and they are bound to come up with creative facial features.  Cherry tomatoes make great eyes, mushrooms are great for noses, or try capsicum slices for big hoop earrings.  Play with your food!img_5659

Superwoman

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I’m a bit of a fan of Alicia Keys, and I’ve heard her song “Superwoman” a couple of times recently.  It’s a great song, but it’s got me thinking.  A few years ago this song probably would have been some kind of anthem for me, but now I’m not so sure.  She sings, “Even when I’m a mess, I still put on a vest with an S on my chest – Oh yes I’m a Superwoman.”

I’ve dedicated a fair amount of time in the past in a vain attempt to become a Superwoman.  Time and time again I’ve found it is a worthless pursuit.  No one actually wants or needs me to be superhuman anyway!  My husband doesn’t need a Superwife, my kids don’t need a Supermum, my girlfriends don’t need a Superfriend and God doesn’t need a Superchristian (Jesus already took care of that one).  They all just want me to be real.  Once upon a time – ok, not so long ago, when I was a mess I would put on my Superwoman costume like the song says.  But these days I’m trying to let go of the Super-complex.  So when I’m a mess, I’m going to pick up the phone instead of my big S vest and call a friend for help.  When I’m dealing with a toddler’s tantrums and can’t quite get dinner on the table, I’m going to ring my hubby to get take-away on his way home.  And when people ask how I am, I’m not going to tell them I’m “fine” unless I actually am.  Well, I’ll try.

I’m not there yet, and I will probably continue to struggle with the Super-complex for a while.  Maybe I’ll always struggle with it!  I know I need to learn to be content with good-enough.  It’s ok for me to be a good-enough wife, good-enough mum, good-enough friend, and good-enough Christian.  The truth is that it is actually quite freeing!  And hopefully, my kids will learn that it is ok for them to be good-enough too.  I don’t want them to think they need to be Superkids.  They are super just as they are.

(Pic is of a not-so-super-me.  Just to remind myself…)

Chalk It Up

img_5646Kids love to draw, but drawing gets boring very quickly.  For a bit of variety today we sat on the front patio and drew on the concrete with chalk.  Somehow this was infinitely more interesting and exciting to my toddler than crayons and paper.

We chose a spot to sit and looked at the world around us before we started drawing.  I expected her to tell me she could see a tree, the car, or maybe even the bird in a nearby branch.  Of course she saw something I hadn’t even noticed.  “I see the sun Mummy!  I’m going to draw the sun,” she announced.  And she did.  Check out her cool chalk drawing!

It was good to be reminded that my child isn’t a carbon copy of me.  She sees the world through her own eyes and will view things differently.  And no matter what activity I suggest we do together, she will do it in her own way.

Get outside with your kids and draw all over the driveway.  Scribble on the steps!  Graffiti up the garden path!!  Chalk is cheap, and besides – it will wash off with the next rain.img_5652