Monthly Archives: April 2009

Real Aussie Mum – April

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Nicole is mum to Zoe and Riley (What a gorgeous photo!)

Each month I’d like to share with you a Real Aussie Mum.  Despite the differences we all have as mothers, we can learn so much from each other just by sharing what works for us.  This month, meet Nicole from sunny Brisbane, Qld!  Before becoming a mum she was a teacher, and she has two kids:  Zoe is almost 3 and Riley is 7 months.  Here are her five faves:

Favourite outing with kids – a fortnightly trip into the city!  We catch a train in, play in a park, then head over to the library and museum.  The State Library (Qld) has a wonderful kids corner much like a playgroup with art, stories, kids yoga, music and more.  It changes all the time!  The Qld Museum has a wonderful dinosaurs area that just reopened.  Plus it has a huge whale and an aeroplane to wander under.  Then we have lunch and a play in the park at Southbank before hopping onto a CityCat (speedy river ferry).  We leave home at about 8:30am and get back any time between 2 and 4 in the afternoon.

Favourite at home activity with kids – Our favourite outside activity is the trampoline.  We all get on!  I sit with Riley while Zoe bounces.  It is an enclosed tramp so I fill it with balls from our ball pit.  Lots of fun!  Our favourite inside activity is getting lost in the playroom for hours at a time.  We dance, play music, read books, build with blocks, play playdough… You name it – it’s there!

Favourite family meal – We often eat funny faces (ok, this is a must at least four nights a week)!  Our favourite meal to prepare for is take-out night.  We have a picnic on the family room floor, with a rug and plastic plates.  Zoe loves helping to dish up, and makes sure everyone has sauce, water, napkins, etc.  We love to cook chocolate brownies too, though I’m not sure they qualify as a meal…

Favourite bedtime story – Going On A Bear Hunt (by Michael Rosen).  Zoe can read it herself now, without looking at the words.  She loves acting it out with her bed friends and makes a cave under the covers.  Riley loves being a lion in the cave!

Favourite way to unwind! –  I don’t think I have unwound in three years!  I don’t have “just me” time, but I do enjoy sitting on my lounge swing out the back while I watch the kids play.  One day soon I will be able to have a cocktail on it while swinging.  I went from being pregnant to breast feeding, back to pregnant and more breastfeeding with about six weeks off in between!

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Would you like to share your five faves, or do you know about an interesting Real Aussie Mum I could feature next month?  Email me catherine{dot}oehlman at gmail{dot}com

Take Your Pick – Garden Art

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Garden Art Collage

If you’ve had a morning of exploring your backyard (or a local park) and collected a bunch of interesting things, what do you do with them all?!  Here are a few easy ideas your toddler will love:

1.  Make a collage.  My daughter never gets tired of sticking bits of bark, leaves, feathers and twigs onto cardboard.  Go figure.  It costs next to nothing, takes up a good chunk of time, and you end up with an artwork that generally looks pretty good!  PVA glue needed, so you’ll have to supervise this one closely.  Alternatively try a playdough collage.

2.  Make patterns.  If you don’t have a whole lot to pick in your yard, this one might be for you.  Your toddler will need to collect several of two items.  Since the macadamia is a significant tree in our yard, we often collect nuts and leaves.  Show your toddler how to make a simple repeating pattern – leaf, nut, leaf, nut…

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"Look at my fairy garden Mummy!"

3.  Make a ground picture.  Not all art has to be kept!  Another advantage of ground art is that you aren’t limited by the size of a page, or even the size of a table.  You can make huge pictures outside on the ground (but small ones are fine too).  Try making a person, or just a big face.  Try making a mini city and bring some cars outside to drive through it.  Or, like my day-dreamy daughter… make a fairy garden.

On the Go!

img_6038It’s official.  Our little man is definitely crawling.  Occasionally he’s up on all fours, but mostly he is scooting around the floor in his own commando crawl style.  I had honestly forgotten what it was like to have a crawler in the house.  Admittedly, last time I had a crawler I didn’t also have a messy toddler.  So here are the first five things I did to accommodate a crawler in our home:

1.  Mopped the floor!  Ok, so I’m slack with this.  I sweep our wooden floor boards every day, but mopping is such a big job.  I aim to do it weekly.  I’m trying harder with that aim now.

2.  Got down on the floor with him and looked at the house from his eye level.  Oh boy.  How had I not noticed all those craft scraps, small toys and balls of fluff in the corners?!  Removed them all (though this needs doing again every morning before he sets off).

3.  Checked the safety gate on the stairs.  He’s getting faster every day.  How bad would I feel as a mum if my child took a tumble down the stairwell because I had neglected to check/shut the gate?

4.  Put together the playpen and gave it semi-permanent space in the living room.  I don’t use it all the time, but I find it incredibly useful.  I can separate baby and toddler if they are getting on each other’s nerves.  I can limit baby’s access to activities going on if he isn’t ready for them yet (eg playdough).  And importantly, I can put him somewhere safe so that I can go to the toilet!!!

5.  Got the camera out and took some happy snaps.  I can’t believe he’s on the go already.  I suspect that I’ll blink again and he’ll be trying out those legs of his, and then he’ll really be off!  I sometimes have to remind myself to celebrate the stage my kids are in, regardless of whether they reach milestones earlier or later than I expected.  It was hard to get good photos though… he wouldn’t stay still!

Do you have a crawler in your home?  How do you deal with it?  Don’t be shy… leave a comment below!

Oblivious to the Obvious

img_5060“Mummy, look!  Someone coloured in the sky!”  My daughter’s innocent comment stopped me in my tracks.  It was right around grumble o’clock (you know, when the kids are tired, you’re trying to get food on the table, and everything is just a bit tense).  I left the dinner prep for a few minutes, picked up my grizzly son and we all went outside together to look at the sunset.

We quietly snuggled and watched the horizon turn from orange to pink to purple.  I considered explaining why the sky was “coloured” and sharing some information about how the earth rotates, but in the end all I said was, “God did a good job, didn’t he?”  My toddler smiled at me like I’d just worked out a secret that she knew all along.

Perhaps that’s why the bible says God has hidden things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children (Matt 11:25).  Unlike adults, young kids don’t need to find an explanation for everything that is beyond their understanding.  They are happy just to be awed by it.

It’s been a while since I was awed by God’s handiwork, but I wonder if that’s because I have become oblivious to the obvious.  Is God revealing himself to me all the time, and am I too busy to notice?  Has life become so hectic with two kids that I’ve forgotten to take the time to literally stop and smell roses, and credit the one who came up with the whole idea of flowers in the first place?

This week, I’m going to try to pay a little more attention.  When my daughter says (as she often does), “Come quick Mum!  Something’s awwwwesome!!!” I’m going to unbusy myself and check it out.  After all, she’s usually right.  Rainbows, caterpillars, stars and toadstools ARE awesome.

A Week With Playdough

Making your own playdough is a cheap and cheerful activity to do with your toddler.  Here’s how to keep the fun going all week long, with five tried and true activities my two year old loves.

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Monday – make your playdough together. A basic recipe is 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup plain flour, 2 tbs cream of tarter, 1 cup water, a little oil and food colouring.  Mix dry ingredients, then add water and oil.  Finally add your colouring.  Cook for a few minutes on the stove top until dough forms.  Leave until cool or your toddler will burn their little fingers!  Allow some free play time with the new playdough.  (If your kids don’t regularly play with playdough, read this article on how to set up a playdough kit.)

img_6094Tuesday - Playdough Pictionary. You make something (animals work well) out of playdough and your toddler guesses what it is.  Give clues as you make your animal (or object).  “I’m making an animal.  Can you guess what it is?  My animal has four legs (make legs).  My animal has a body and a loo-oong neck (make body and  neck).  My animal has a little head (make head)…”  Keep giving clues until your child guesses the animal (it was supposed to be a giraffe, not a dinosaur).  The running commentary you give models excellent language structure and vocabulary for your toddler, and they are likely to copy when it’s their turn.
img_6079Wednesday – nursery rhymes. Do a nursery rhyme playdough performance!  Pick a simple nursery rhyme – the simpler the better.  Make the characters  you need together, either with cutouts or as you did in yesterday’s game.  (eg for Jack and Jill  you’ll need two people cutouts and a bucket.  For Humpty Dumpty you’ll need an egg shape cut in half and put gently back together, and a wall.)  Show your toddler how to “act out” the rhyme with their playdough as you sing the song together.  This always gets a “do it again!” response.
img_6073Thursday – make an impression. Choose three objects from the playdough toys.  Roll a ball of playdough out thickly.  Get your toddler to close their eyes while you use an object to make an impression in the dough, then remove the object.  Your toddler then has to work out what made that shape.  This is hands down my daughter’s #1 playdough game.  She is now very good at it, using multiple shapes in her impressions and playing for easily up to an hour!
img_6090Friday – take it out! Ok, so playdough is usually an “inside” activity.  Change things up by letting your kids have playdough outside.  Let them stick leaves, twigs, feathers, and whatever else they find into the playdough.  Let them make balls out of playdough and roll them across the grass.  Let them make animals to roam through the yard.  Let them make impressions with leaves.  I know what you’re thinking… “but the playdough will be ruined!”  So what?!  Throw it out.  After all, it probably cost you less than a dollar and you’ve had a week’s worth of fun out of it.
Have another idea to add?  I’d love to hear it (and other mums probably would too).  Just leave a comment below…

SquiggleMum (name change)

img_6104When I started mySquiggles, I wasn’t sure about this whole blogging business.  I hadn’t really decided if I was doing a mummy blog, or a writing blog, or just a blog for my family and friends.  Since starting late last year this blog has evolved into the mummy blog it is today, and I am becoming known around the traps as SquiggleMum.  So… from now on this blog will be called squigglemum.com to more accurately reflect what you’ll find here.  I hope that the change won’t confuse my existing readers (who are so very important to me).  You’ll be automatically redirected from mysquiggles.com to the new site – but please update me in your favourites/bookmarks!

This change has been a lot of work, and I’m so grateful to my supportive hubby who understands infinitely more about the blogosphere than I do.  And thanks to all of you who encourage me through leaving comments, linking to my blog, adding me to your blogrolls and recommending me via digg/stumbleupon/etc…

Take your Pick

img_5626Kids love to pick things.  (Take noses for example!)  Head out into the backyard with your kids and see what you can find to pick.  Don’t assume that you need a beautiful cottage style garden for this kind of activity.  Flowers are lovely, but most yards have other things to offer too.

My daughter had a delightful time in the garden filling a basket with macadamia nuts.  She collected them from the ground, investigating the way the outer casing came away from each one to reveal the hard shell.  She picked them from the tree, amazed at how many she had been oblivious to until she looked hard for them.  She counted them.  She rolled them.  She made patterns on the ground with them.  She made her own fun with them, and all I had to do was give her a basket and say, “Let’s see what we can find to pick in our yard!”

Only thing is, now I have to find something to do with them all.  Anyone know how to roast macadamia nuts?  I’m thinking about macadamia choc chip bickies.  Mmmm…

Ok, so you might not have a macadamia tree in your yard (especially if you don’t live in Queensland).  Any plant will do!  Pick fruit.  Pick flowers.  Pick leaves.  Pick clover.  Pick up twigs.  Pick up feathers.  Just spend an hour outside exploring together.  God’s got a whole science centre outside your back door for free, if you’re interested in showing it to your kids.img_5635

What's in a Name?

209723_8930I spent some time yesterday with a mum-friend, discussing potential baby names for her little one that’s on the way.  I find there’s something so lovely about playing with names.   You get to try them for a while, listen to how they sound out loud, see them written down, dream about nicknames and play around with different combinations.  Mind  you, I would only do this with a close friend!  There’s nothing worse than sharing a baby name you like with someone who turns their nose up without regard for your feelings.

For both of my kids, I chose old names that have been out of fashion for a while and are on the way back in again.  I like old names because I feel like they’ve already proven their worth.  They’ve stood the test of time!  I like to make sure names have a nice meaning too.  But for me, the most important part is how the name sounds and feels to say.  I have to say names out loud.  I need to whisper them quietly, and I also need to say them firmly (because that’s something you do a whole lot when they are toddlers…)

I came across a great blog this week which is all about baby names.  If you’re expecting, or planning on more kids you might like to check out the nameisms blog too.

How did you choose the names you did for your kids?  I’d love you to leave a comment below.

Don't Blow It! (Egg Craft)

img_5970I remember blowing eggs to decorate for Easter as a child, so thought this year my toddler and I would enjoy some egg decorating of our own.  Wisely I decided to do the blowing part while the kids were asleep.  As the eggs were just past their use by date, I didn’t want to put my mouth on them so instead I used a small syringe to force air into the shells and force the goop out.  It worked nicely but it was a very slow process.  Very.  And I managed to drop one half way through.  My husband laughed at my inefficient strategy, and before I knew it we were both in the kitchen blowing eggs with a bike pump!  It took half the time, but I’m sure the neighbours would have been amused if they were looking through the window.

After rinsing the empty shells out and leaving them to sit for a while, I put them into the microwave for a minute or two to make sure they were completely dried out.  (This wasn’t my idea… I read it online somewhere!)  The eggshells were only in for about 10 seconds when I started to hear a high pitched whistle, like a teeny tiny kettle boiling.  It was one of those slow motion moments as I ran across the kitchen crying “Nooo!” with my outstretched arm reaching for the stop button.  In the split second before the microwave door opened the whistling egg exploded with gusto!  At least the rest were saved.

Finally the surviving shells were ready for decorating.  I opted for simply painting and adding glitter with glue because the whole ordeal had already been stressful enough.  And as the shells were so fragile, I spent the whole decorating time terrified that the eggs would shatter in my toddler’s hands!

This morning my daughter and I proudly hung our decorated blown eggs onto a branch and set them on the table for our Good Friday family brunch.  Did they look lovely?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  Not sure!  I can’t quite decide whether we’ll do it again next year now that I’ve got the hang of it, or whether we’ll scrap the whole blowing business and just hardboil them in food dye!img_5958

10 Daily Survival Tips for Mums

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#5 Have fun playing together!

1.  Start the day with a hot shower.  In the secret world of mums I’ve discovered that most of us only average a shower every second day!

2.  Eat breakfast.  We would never let our kids skip the most important meal of the day, but we justify forgoing our own nutritional needs because by 7am we’re already too busy.

3.  Have a plan for the day.  You don’t need to have a minute-by-minute timetable written up, but some idea of how the jobs to be achieved and appointments to be kept will fit in the with the kids’ routines for the day certainly makes life easier.  Toddlers often cope better with the day too if they know what to expect.

4.  Take time out in the middle of the day.  Even if your kids are too old for a daytime sleep, you can insist on a mandatory “rest” time.  This allows kids to have some quiet time with reduced stimulus, and allows mums to take a sanity break.  Put the tv on, read a mag, close your eyes for a quick kip, have an unhurried cuppa…. give yourself the chance to reset for the afternoon.

5.  Have fun playing together.  Sometimes I find I’ve been so busy catching up on everything that needs doing that I haven’t actually played with my kids.  They might have played beside me, but it’s not the same as playing with me.  Give your kids your undivided attention for a block of time during the day doing what they want to do, and you’ll reap the rewards for it.

6.  Get dinner ready ahead of time, or plan for a meal with low prep time.  Go for one pot meals in winter (slow cookers are great for this) and simple salads in summer.

7.  Always have the number of at least one other mum-friend on speed dial.  And always, always, always call them when you need to.  Call if you need another mum’s advice, call if you’ve lost it with your kids and you need to calm down, call if you aren’t coping for whatever reason.  If you don’t call them when you need help, they won’t call you when they are at their wit’s end either.  You don’t have to be alone as a mum.  If you don’t have someone to call, email me!

8.  Drink coffee – lots of coffee.

9.  Read and pray with your kids at bedtime.  It’s a nice way to finish the day, regardless of how trying things may have been.  Tuck them in, kiss them and tell them you love them (even if you haven’t liked the way they’ve behaved…) then shut the door and breathe a sigh of relief.

10.  Get to bed with your husband before you’re completely exhausted (oops… sorry Honey – will make it up to you tomorrow night).

:)

Do you have another tip to add?  Leave a comment on what gets you through your mothering day below: