Monthly Archives: July 2009

Love Is A Verb

1100035_23998660A mum I know just moved in around the corner with her two young children.  Moving is tough with kids, so I cooked dinner for my new neighbour and dropped it off late in the afternoon.  It was only a simple meal, but I included some bread, a fruit basket, disposable plates and forks (who wants to wash up when you’ve got boxes everywhere) and a card.  And my friend was grateful.

I didn’t do it so that I could blog about it and get nice comments (though you are welcome to leave one).  I didn’t do it so that I could tweet about my RAOK (though it might make an appearance on twitter).  I didn’t do it to make myself feel good (though that is an added bonus).  I didn’t do it out of obligation, or because I believe in karma, or even just to be nice.  I’m not saying those reasons are necessarily wrong reasons, they’re just not my reasons.

I did it because there is a passage in the bible about love that says we should share with people who are in need, and practice hospitality (Romans 12:13).  I’ve been on the receiving end of that kind of love, and I want to pass it on.  I also want to teach my kids about love.  I want them to know what it truly means to love people, and I want to show them that love is a verb.

Winter Wonders

img_6253Living in sunny Brisbane, Queensland, we really don’t get much cold weather.  But for just a few weeks (or it might only be days) each year, while grumbling about daytime temperatures that dip below twenty degrees, we rug up in woollies and celebrate the “season” that is winter.

Here are the wonderful things we only do in winter:

1.  Make pumpkin soup.

2.  Wear beanies and scarves.  (A novelty at three or thirty.)

3.  Drink warm milos together after swimming lessons.   Yes, most kids in Qld swim all year round.

4.  Soak up the sunshine in the middle of the day.  For the rest of the year we avoid midday sun like the plague!

5.  Snuggle up in the evenings with throw rugs in the lounge room.

What do you do with your kids in the winter time?  Is it even winter where you are right now..? blogchicksclickie-1

Collections Up Close

img_7331When I saw the magnifying glass at my cheap shop for less than three dollars, I didn’t even hesitate.  I knew my daughter would get hours of entertainment out of it, and I’d certainly get my money’s worth.

She has actually used her magnifying glass outside every day for the past week!  Firstly we talked about what it was made of, and what would happen if she dropped it.  (I don’t think we need to only give our kids plastic things.)  I showed her how far away she needed to hold it so that items appeared enlarged.  Then she set off exploring the back yard.  She spent a few days just looking.  She looked at flowers, seeds, bark, nuts and leaves up close.  She followed a moth around that refused to stay still, and investigated a trail of ants.

img_7344Once the novelty of that wore off, we started a collection of little things.  I already had a tray perfect for displaying a collection which I picked up second hand for about a dollar.  We looked around together for interesting little bits of nature to fill each compartment.  At first it was slow going, but before we knew it the tray was full of gumnuts, feathers, coloured leaves, seedpods, and more.

What a low stress, low mess, lovely way to spend a few afternoons.

Mums Card Giveaway!

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Pick your favourite design...

GIVEAWAY CLOSED – WINNER ANNOUNCED!!!

Thanks to random.org the winning comment number is 32.  Congratulations Amanda!  You have one a set of 20 Mum’s Gift Tags. Thanks to everyone who entered.  I hope you keep stopping by here.  If you’d like to make sure that you never miss a post (or a comp) you can subscribe to my blog by email or RSS.

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I have often joked that mums need their own business cards!  On more than one occasion I’ve found myself scrambling for a scrap of paper to exchange details with another parent.  Or more often, trying to input a number into my mobile with one hand while pushing my child on the swings at the park with the other!  I need some Mums Cards in my pocket, or tucked into my nappy bag.

Mums Cards are sturdy, matt laminated cards personalised for your family.  As well as your contact information, you can add your kids’ names and important details like allergies, medical conditions, emergency contacts and more.  You pick the details, you pick the style, and you have the info you need at your fingertips.  Check out the funky designs here.  Go on! 

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Win these!!!

Tell me which design is your favourite by leaving a comment and you could win a set of 20 Mums Gift Tags valued at $20!! (My favourite is Butterfly Flying because I have one daughter and one son – cute huh?!)

While you’re at the site, check out the new products like useful notepads (shopping, babysitting, to-do lists, etc) and the gorgeous gift tags you could win ;)  The giveaway is open to Aussie residents only, and the winner will be drawn randomly on Friday 7th August at 6pm.

Best of Both Worlds

Feeding animals with Pa

Feeding animals with Pa

My kids had a wonderful time with their grandparents on the weekend at the Samford Show.  Samford is just on the outskirts of Brisbane.  It is close enough for commuting, but still has a country feel (though not sure for how much longer…)

We had such a lovely day.  Although the Show had the usual attractions, we bypassed Sideshow Alley entirely and headed for something else.  My daughter loved feeding the animals, was fascinated by the woodchopping, cheered the piglets on in the pig races, and didn’t release her grasp on her wool straight from the sheep’s back all day.  I have shared a lot lately about raising city kids, and this was a chance for me to give my kids a little bit of country.

If you are raising children in the city, how do you expose them to wide open spaces, animals and dirt?  And if you are bringing your kids up in the country, what do you you teach them when you come to the big smoke?  I’m interested in how happy, healthy, balanced kids are raised all over Australia (and beyond).

Little Helping Hands

img_6843I have come to the conclusion that there are two ways you can deal with housework once you have young kids.

Option A – do the housework when the kids are asleep.  On the positive side, your house will be really clean.  On the negative, you’ll be cleaning til 2 in the morning and the kids will probably wake you again at 6.

Option B – let the kids help.  On the positive side, you can relax at the end of the day, and your kids will learn valuable skills.  On the negative, the cleaning might not be done to your standard.

I tend to go for Option B.  I figure that I’ll benefit in the long run, and no one expects a house with a baby and a toddler to be immaculate anyway.  Some jobs my daughter and I do together (like wiping over furniture), some she watches me do (like scrubbing the bath), and some she does all by herself.  We have a split level home with lots of glass balustrading.  Cleaning the glass is one of Little Miss 3’s special jobs.  After all, she is responsible for most of the sticky finger prints in the first place!  To her it’s not a chore.  It’s an opportunity to step up to a task, be trusted to complete it, and be proud of her efforts.  The glass isn’t spotless, but I think that’s a small price to pay.

Do you let your young kids help with cleaning?  Which jobs do you encourage them (or expect them) to do?

Book-Loving Boys

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Reading With Daddy - 9mths

I recently read Trevor Cairney’s blogpost on The Challenge of Boys and Reading, and especially loved this: “Boys need to understand the value of story and storytelling from an early age… Until boys value story, they will struggle to cope with reading.”

I couldn’t agree more.  That is the one piece of advice I give to other mums time and time again.  If you want your boys to be great readers, you have to read them great stories.  Lots of great stories.  Mem Fox suggests that children need to hear one thousand great stories read aloud before they are taught to read!  That pretty much means reading your son a great book every day for about three years.  Definitely achievable, but you need to start young.  Trevor shares some great ideas for engaging 3-5 year old boys, but I’d like to suggest that you start much, much earlier than that.

Here are my tips for raising book-loving young boys:

Age 0-1:

  • It’s never too early to introduce your son to books!  Initially, look for cloth books with no more than a sentence on each page.
  • Establish a bedtime story routine while your son is still a baby.  Either hold baby on your lap while you read a very short story, or place baby down on his back in the cot and hold the book in the air above him.  If possible, have Mum and Dad take turns reading to baby.  Research shows the positive impact Dads have on their sons’ reading.
  • Allow him to explore “play” books (with chewy corners, rattles etc) and board books in his own way.

Age 1-2:

  • Continue with the bedtime routine, encouraging your son to sit still for the duration of the story.  Cuddling him on your lap makes it easier.  It’s important that boys learn to sit still and concentrate for a few minutes (the longer you put this off the harder it will be).
  • Select sturdy board books with limited text and repetitive phrases.
  • Boys often like to be physically involved with books.  Help him to turn pages.  Stories with touch and feel elements are often well received.
  • Begin allowing your son to choose which book he would like to hear.  Show him two and ask whether he would like “Title X” or “Title Y”.  He may point, or show excitement about one cover, or use a key word.

Age 2-3:

  • Extend the time you expect your son to be able to sit and listen to a story.  10 minutes is the ultimate goal.
  • Select board books with great storylines, and read each one like it’s a great story!  Be animated, be expressive!  Use your voice the very best way you can.  You have to love it for him to love it.  I can’t emphasise this enough.
  • Allow your son to begin selecting one or two library books.  (Read my post on Loving Your Library Time here.)
  • Teach your son how to gently turn “real” pages.

Town Mouse, Country Mouse

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Beautiful Brisbane

Which kind of mum are you?  A town mouse or a country mouse?

I’m a town mouse.  My husband’s job in the technology sector means we will probably always be located close to a major centre.  There are a lot of advantages to raising kids in the city.  We only need to drive 5 minutes in any direction to be at a shopping centre, local library, swimming pool, playground, video store, doctor’s surgery, or any number of fast food venues.  There are two C&K kindergartens and four schools nearby, and the private hospital where both of my children were born is 12 minutes away.  My kids love looking for cranes working on city buildings, and regularly visit Brisbane’s art galleries and museums.  We have lots of playdates with friends, and we have family close by too.  Living in the city isn’t perfect though.  Houses are expensive, business dads often work long hourse, and there is a lot of pressure on full time mothers to return to their pre-mum careers.  There is a real danger of hyper-scheduling kids because so many activities are available, and it has to be said that you can have neighbours all around you and still be lonely.

A close friend of mine made a tree change last year and moved from Brisbane to rural NSW.  Although she shares with me the struggles she has a country-mouse with two little ones at home, I have to admit that I sometimes envy her simpler life.

What kind of mum are you?  Town mouse or country mouse?  And what is the best and worst thing about where you live?  Share your joys and frustrations about where you are raising your kids in the comments below.

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I’ll be on ABC radio this evening (around 6:45pm AEST) with James O’Loghlin talking about life as a full time city mum.  You can listen to it streaming live here.

Thing With String

img_6986My daughter found a spool of twine in my craft box and asked if she could make a thing with string.  “Sure!” I said, “What kind of string-thing should we make…?”  My mind was already racing ahead, designing some kind of simple mobile or something.  Of course, Little Miss 3 already had her own idea.  “We’ll make a string person and we’ll need strong glue Mummy,” she said matter-of-factly.  I figured there was no point trying to change her mind, so changed mine instead.

I cut a piece of cardboard from a cereal box, and let her “draw” her person with cheap PVA glue.  (If your child isn’t ready for glue yet, you could get them to draw with a crayon first, and then you trace over it with glue.)  I cut some lengths of string to get her started, and helped her to place the string down on the lines of glue.  This was a little tricky, and a little messy, but a good fine motor skill activity.  She cut the lengths for the hair herself.  I decided string eyes were way too ambitious, so we just cut two circles out of the scraps of the cereal box.

She was absolutely delighted with her creation (it looked better once the white glue dried clear).  As a teacher if I had to design a string person activity, it’s probably not what I would have come up with.  Maybe that’s a good thing though.  She’ll be told what she has to do with activities soon enough.  For now, letting her run completely with her own idea is wonderful.

Perhaps your child would like to make a thing with string.  I wonder what creative ideas they would come up with?