Monthly Archives: September 2010

Sadness and Kindness

Dear Sad Lady,

We saw you eating sushi at the shops today.  You were sitting with two kids and you were crying on the phone.  Did you hear some bad news?  Or was it just a bad day?  Did someone let you down?  Or were the kids just being a handful?

We saw you, sad lady.  We were going to stop and see if you were ok, but we decided you needed flowers.  So we bought you some.  Pink roses.  Just a little bunch.  We got them as fast as we could and raced back to the sushi place.

But you were gone.

So we didn’t get to tell you that we noticed.  We didn’t get to let you know that strangers care.  We didn’t get to brighten your day.  And we’re sorry.

You will probably never read this.  But maybe sharing the story will inspire someone else to buy pink roses for a stranger.

With blessings,

SquiggleMum and Kids.

PS – here are your roses:

Matthew 25: 34-40 (NIV Bible)

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father… For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

On Air: Ideas for Outdoor Play

I was on my favourite local radio station this morning 96five talking about the importance of outdoor play. Click on this link or the image below to hear a podcast of the interview.

If you are looking for simple outdoor play ideas while the kids are on holidays, try some of these:

Ideas for Under 5s

  • Mud pies – set up a simple dirt kitchen and let the kids cook with mud. Give them some utensils and bowls and they’ll be happy. Mine love using patty pans too (though they get soggy pretty quickly).
  • Digging – kids love to play in sand, but don’t stress if you don’t have a sandpit.  Let the kids have a corner of the garden to dig up the soil.  There are all kinds of interesting things to be found underground.
  • Rainy play – everything to a toddler is magical in the rain. Colours are stronger, surface textures change, there are new smells and sounds and tastes in wet weather.  Gumboots are a necessity.  Raincoats recommended, but depends on the climate.

Ideas for Over 5s

  • Plant something – kids love participating in the whole process of growing things in the garden. It’s even better if you plant something that has an end product to enjoy (like flowers, veggies or herbs).
  • Climb trees – didn’t you climb trees as a child?  If you don’t have a suitable tree in your backyard, find a park that has some climbable trees.  If you are nervous about allowing your child this freedom, have a read of my recent popular post about tree climbing.
  • Creature Hunt – encourage kids to find the wildlife in their local area. Some kids will love bug hunting and enjoy using a magnifying glass, while others will be more focused on catching creatures!  If you have an avid tree climber, you could let them take binoculars up the tree to investigate birds too.

If you are interested in more information about outdoor play, check out the Children & Nature Network.

Some Days They Draw On Walls

Some days my children are gorgeous.  They play nicely together.  They make each other laugh.  They share adventures.  They create things.  They listen and follow instructions.  And I look at them and think I must be doing something right.

Some days my children are a handful.  They rile each other up.  They have tantrums.  They are disobedient.  They break things.  They draw on walls.  And I look at them and wonder what I’m doing wrong.

I love my children on the good days.  I love them just the same on the hard days.  My love for them is not dependent on their behaviour.  I love them because they are mine.  Nothing they could do could make me love them more.  Nothing they could do could make me love them less.

My children are so much like me.  Some days I am gorgeous. Some days I am a handful.  I too am loved unconditionally – by the One who is perfect. His love for me is not dependent on my behaviour.  He loves me because I am His.  Nothing I could do could make Him love me more.  Nothing I could do could make Him love me less.

That kind of love frees me from the impossible pursuit of perfection.  I am free to be imperfect. And so are my kids.

You might also like:

Birthday Boy (and Bear)

Birthdays are special.  They are all about…

Inviting friends (and their bears) to share in the fun.  I chose these fun invitations and thank you tags from Nomie Boutique Stationery.  (I kind of left ordering the invites til the last minute, but Naomi had the invites ready in less than two days, and offered express postage. Phew!  I was delighted with the service I received from Nomie.)

Opening presents. One year olds don’t really get the whole present thing, but two year olds?  Bring it on!  We hung a green mosquito net to create a jungle present tent for the party.

Party food. Jelly in jungle colours, fruit skewers, banana lollies, fairy bread and teddy cupcakes.  The jelly was a hit with the adults too…

Cake!! I think I’m improving.  Yes, I baked the cake from scratch.  Yes, I made the icing from scratch too.  Yes, I did it all by my own self.  Yes, I was a teensy bit proud.

Blowing out candles. Despite practising ALL week, he needed a little help from big sis to blow the candle out.  She was only too happy to oblige, of course.

Individuality.  I think a party should reflect the person being celebrated.  It’s not about putting on the best show for the guests.  It’s about saying “we love the things that make you unique and special.”   My son loves his bear, so bears were part of the jungle fun.  Kids could make their bear some morning tea out of playdough, and give their bear a ride in the shoe-box swings.  We didn’t have games, because it’s not his style.  Instead we had balls to kick around, the bear activities, and jungle vines (crepe paper with leaves) hanging for decoration.  He loved it.

Learning to say thank you. This is really important to me.  Receiving gifts shouldn’t be an expectation, and thanks shouldn’t be dependent on the size of the gift.  Every gift is appreciated and my son hugged everyone after opening their gift.  We also gave out party boxes to kids as they left.  We decorated noodle boxes with jungle vines and attached the swing tags from Nomie.

Celebrating together.  I was able to enjoy this party too, because it was so low stress.  (Nothing worse than a party where the mum is stressed out!)  Simple decorations, simple food, simple activities, but so much fun.

Yes, you’re 2! Happy birthday my little man.

Disclaimer: I received my invitations from Nomie Boutique Stationery free of charge. Thank you Naomi!

Painted Dinosaurs

I picked up these wooden, unpainted creatures at an art supply store for only $2 each.  I think one is actually a lizard, but we called them both dinosaurs.  The kids loved the way the cuts in the wood enabled the creatures to move.

I set up some paints in egg cartons and let the kids go for it!  My little one just needed me to hold his dinosaur still for him, but apart from that he painted it all by himself.  Here is his effort:

And here is big sister’s.  She was more deliberate with her placement of colours, and made sure that the underside was painted too:

I think they turned out rather well, don’t you?  Watch out if you visit our backyard. Dinosaurs roam the creek bed

Family Passes to Furry Vengeance

School holidays are upon us again (where is this year going?!) and I have THREE family passes up for grabs just in time.  The new family flick Furry Vengeance is released in cinemas today.  It’s rated PG (mild comedic violence) and in my opinion is suitable for mid-primary aged kids to mid teens.

In this hilarious family comedy with a message, greedy developers pay the price for paving over paradise. For Mother Nature, revenge is a dish best served…furry!  After transplanting his family from Chicago to the Oregon woods for his job overseeing the construction of a supposedly “eco-friendly” housing development, DAN SANDERS (Brendan Fraser) thinks his biggest problem will be helping his nature-phobic son adjust. Or pleasing his demanding boss. But when his leadership role in the destruction of their habitat puts Dan atop the local animals’ hit list, he realises how much trouble can be caused by a few feisty forest creatures!

The movie is full of silliness and slapstick humour, though the underlying message is somewhat serious.  Young children will probably not be entertained by Brendan Fraser’s character being constantly injured, but older kids will likely find it hilarious.

If you have children in the mid-primary to mid-teen category who you think would enjoy this movie, be quick and leave a comment below!  First three commenters will receive two Admit 2 passes to see the movie, showing in cinemas around the country. (Aussie residents only please, one entry per person.)

I received preview tickets to this movie but received no other compensation for this post.

Perils (Ticks and other Dangers)

If you follow my updates or tweets you may have heard that my daughter is prone to picking up ticks when outdoors.  I usually find them behind an ear or on the back of her neck, which can make them tricky to remove.  Several times she has wound up requiring a local anaesthetic and small cut to remove them.  It’s all a little traumatic for a young mum child.  Recently she managed to get two ticks within a week of each other, from entirely different locations.  She was SO upset when I found the second tick, only seven days after the last encounter with one.  So was I.

She just cried and cried while I held her.  “Mummy, I think I’ll stay inside forever.  I’ll never go to the bush or the rainforest ever again!”  I felt her pain.  She loves the rainforest almost as much as I do, but the thought of dealing with ticks every time was too much for her to bear.  So at the tender age of four, we had a very serious conversation about how life is full of perils, but they are sometimes worth the risk.

If you go to the rainforest, you might get a tick – but it’s worth the risk.  We talked about all the things she loves about the rainforest: seeing amazing plants, hearing beautiful birds, breathing fresh air, discovering hidden waterfalls and enjoying a long walk. We decided a little tick shouldn’t make her miss out on all of those wonderful things.

I think this is a concept we’ll come back to many times as she grows.  If you have a go at something new, you might fail, but it’s worth the risk.  If you make a friend, they might let you down, but it’s worth the risk.  If you fall in love, you might end up with a broken heart, but it’s worth the risk.

What else in life is worth the risk?

Get Grubby Giveaway – with dirtgirlworld

Have you met dirtgirl yet? I knew I would like her the first time I heard about her, before I even saw an episode of the brand new Aussie children’s program.  Dirtgirl is a gumboot-wearing, tractor-driving, veggie-growing girl who loves to sing and get grubby!  My kind of girl.

Dirtgirlworld is a celebration of life outside!  Each episode is packed with outdoor goodness and includes issues like recycling, composting, self sufficiency, sustainability and respect for nature.  The animation is a little unconventional, so I’ll let creator Cate McQuillen explain:

“We wanted characters with heart, who were real and genuine, who spoke directly to and engaged the children who tuned in … we wanted live action with a twist. This is why we chose to go down an untrodden path in preschool animation. The technique is somewhat ground breaking … and experimental.  The incorporation of real mouths and eyes allows our characters to tell a heartfelt story, encapsulating all that is great about the human range of expression and the quirkiness and fantasy that animation brings to a story world. The bodies are real bodies. Combined, it brings a connectedness and physical fluidity to the performance.  And we like big heads!  It’s pure silliness. A bizarre art form. It blows away convention and hopefully introduces our audience to a rich visual palette to excite imaginations and inspire action.” Cate McQuillen (Co-creator/Writer)

It has certainly excited my children and inspired them to action.  Although I limit my children’s screen time, it is useful to have a dvd on standby for grumpy late afternoons – especially if it’s a dvd that encourages kids to get back outside again tomorrow!

Thanks to the dirtgirlworld creators and Madman Entertainment I have FOUR copies of the dvd to give away to SquiggleMum readers.  To win a copy, leave a comment below sharing how your kids like to get grubby! Entry is open to Aussie residents only, one entry per person please, winners drawn at random 6pm Tues 14/9/10.

“Get Grubby!”

(I received a copy of this dvd courtesy of the creators and Madman Entertainment. Copies can be purchased at Kmart, Target, Borders and ABC Stores & Centres for $19.95.)

*This competition has now closed*

Congratulations to the randomly chosen winners Jenn, Barbara, Christina, and Michelle O!

Literacy Lava 6

The sixth edition of the free publication Literacy Lava has just been released this week.  It’s a fabulous resource for parents who want to be literacy-aware, and who want to encourage their children as readers and writers.  This time I have an article included on Story Stones.  Here’s a snippet:

Stones and rocks have been used in different cultures throughout the ages to tell stories to children and adults alike.  Why not have a go at making some simple story stones of your own?  Then head outside to enjoy some outdoor story telling. The article goes on to share ideas for using nursery rhymes rocks, telling tales with stones, and even spelling outdoors with rocks!

In this edition of Lit Lava you’ll also find ideas to rev up reluctant readers, how to use newspapers to build literacy skills, ideas for dads and their sons, and more.  And did I mention the free bit?  Yep, a free resource.  Just read on the screen, or print and enjoy over a cuppa.