Monthly Archives: November 2010

On Barbies and Backtracking and Being A Big Girl

Be gentle with me on this one, ok?

So you remember the Barbie post?  (If not you might want to jump back and read it here.)  In the post I shared my thoughts about Barbie, and my personal reasons for not purchasing the dolls for my daughter.  The post sparked LOTS of healthy debate.  Some mums agreed with my concerns regarding body image, some shared that while they played with Barbies themselves as kids they don’t want them for their daughters, while others publicly declared their love for the dolls of their childhood.

We are a Barbie-free house.  Backtrack. We were a Barbie-free house.  Somehow, despite hearing nothing about Barbies at home, my daughter has still caught the Barbie bug.  First of all we had this… “Mummy, if I could only have ONE thing for Christmas, I would wish for a Barbie.”  My eyes widened while my husband stifled a chuckle.

And then there was this note from Kindy:

For the Christmas Concert, your child has chosen to dress up as: Princess Barbie. Please provide a suitable costume.

There are some times as a mother when I believe you should stand your ground.  There are also times when I think you should back down graciously.

My opinion of Barbie hasn’t changed. If I’m perfectly honest she still makes me feel a little inadequate. But for the sake of my daughter, I need to take a deep breath and be a big girl.  My issues are mine alone.  She will have enough of her own without taking mine on board as well.  So, I am graciously backing down from this one.

I bought her a Barbie t-shirt to wear in the kindy play.  (Yes, I did cringe handing it over at the checkout.)  She will dress it up with her own accessories and a home made crown.   And I’m considering her one Christmas wish.

As least this Barbie and I have something in common ;-)

Christmas Giveaway 1 – ABC Kids Mag Madness!

This week two fabulous kids’ magazines from the ABC have been released.  The full-colour, super-glossy mags will appeal to lower and middle primary students, and are sure to entice reluctant readers.  They are also an excellent way of encouraging reading during the long school holidays.  I think these make fantastic stocking-fillers, or great gifts that don’t cost a fortune.  You can pick them up online, from ABC shops or newsagents for $7.95/$8.95 each.  Thanks to my friends at ABC Kids I have FIFTEEN magazines up for grabs AND a grand prize pack!! I {heart} ABC Kids.

The Fairies Magazine:

Fly into the wonderful world of The Fairies Magazine, where we bring the magic, fun, fantasy and friendship of Fairyland to you. You’ll be as busy-buzzy as Barnaby with activities such as: art, craft, cooking, puzzles, quizzes and how-to tips.  Get crafty and make your very own fairy princess tiara and Fairy Friendship hanging mobile.  Use our fairy steps to draw a cute cupcake and little ladybird, and bake Toadstool Treat muffins that are yum yum for your tum tum.  Add up the numbers to help Twinkle with her tooth problems; help The Fairies through the maze; find the hidden words to discover what The Fairies did on the weekend; and match the shapes to put Barnaby back together again!  Plus, every issue comes with a FREE MAGIC FAIRY WAND!

FIVE prizes: Fairies Magazine with bonus fairy wand.

ONE grand prize: Fairies backpack, magazine, DVD and book!

Mr Men and Little Miss Magazine:

Calling all fans of the Mr. Men and Little Miss! You are invited to join us in Dillydale™, where everything is delightfully dizzy.  Cooking is the hottest thing since Mr. Grumpy’s last temper tantrum, so get the kids in the kitchen with these giggly-great recipes to make a Mr. Happy cake and funny pizza faces. We all love to squish, squash and shape playdough, and we show you how you can make your own in just three steps! Plus get colouring-in creative, and join Mr. Noisy’s rock band with these DIY instruments.  We have pages and pages of puzzles and activities for endless entertainment. Pick a pose for Mr. Strong; enjoy the thrills of Little Miss Daredevil’s board game; solve Little Miss Magic’s puzzlemania; plus there’s Little Miss Bossy’s crossword, Mr. Bounce’s maze, word finds, spot the differences and so much more.  Be a Green Hero with Little Miss Sunshine, Little Miss Scary introduces you to the world’s ugliest fish, and laugh at Mr. Tickle’s and Little Miss Giggles’ jolly jokes. There’s even a FREE PENCIL CASE on the cover!

TEN prizes: Mr Men and Little Miss magazine with bonus pencil case.

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To enter this comp simply leave a comment below letting me know whether you would like to win The Fairies mag or The Mr Men and Little Miss mag.  Only one entry per person, so you have to choose!  Competition is for Aussie residents only, and closes 8pm Qld time Friday 3rd December.  Winners will be drawn randomly.

Sticks and Stones

I blogged recently about the awesome time my kids had building cubby houses with children of various ages.  (If you missed the post you can check it out here: Outdoor Multi-Age Play)  One of the comments I received was from Brooke, and it really got me thinking…

Then Jenny posted a wonderful entry on the same topic, “A Playground Of Loose Parts!”  (She also has another post on Loose Parts if you are interested.)  In the post she writes, “Providing a rich diversity of interesting loose parts that can be mixed, lifted, carried, stacked, shaped, pushed, pulled, gathered and rearranged gives children limitless opportunities to play in creative, productive and exciting ways.”

My kids don’t play with many toys in the backyard (apart from trucks).  What they have instead is a collection of buckets, spades, baskets and containers which are used in their play, plus the natural loose parts we have available.  In our yard this includes rocks in a range of sizes from the dry creek bed, sticks, bamboo, bark, branches, sand, water, soil, vines, macadamia nuts, and leaves.  I love watching the ways they use these materials in their play.

Sometimes I still get it wrong, and impose too many rules.  I want to say, “Can you please not take all the rocks out of the creek?” or “Don’t pick all the heads off the flowers!”  I have to remind myself that the point of the creek was to give the kids a natural playspace, not to be an untouched art installation in the yard.  And I have to remind myself that a flower picked to decorate a child’s creation is not a wasted bloom.

I want my children to be able to play in creative, productive and exciting ways, and I know that giving them a space rich in natural loose parts is a great way to provide the playful opportunities they need.

Are there any loose parts in your backyard? Do you find it easy to let the kids play in their own way, or like me – do you sometimes have to bite your tongue?!!

Two Years

November marks my second blogoversary here at SquiggleMum!  My first year of blogging was exciting but also a very steep learning curve.  It was about making my mark online.  My second year of blogging has been incredibly fast paced, but very rewarding.  It’s been about learning to juggle online and offline commitments.  I am looking forward to my third year of blogging!  I hope it will be a year of good choices, healthy balance, and loyal readers.

In honour of 2 years of blogging, here are some of my 2-faves from 2010:

My 2 fave events: Australasian MOPS Conference and Connect2Mums Awards Night

My 2 fave interviews: Justine Clarke and Jimmy Giggle

My 2 fave posts: Ten Words for Ten Years and How To Build A Creekbed

My 2 fave 2010 tweets

My 2 fave photos

Thank you to all my readers who take the time to visit my blog, leave comments, tweet with me and check out my fb page.  Some of you have been with me since the very beginning, others I have met along the way.  Thank you, thank you!  I think my readers are a very special bunch. xx

Playing With Pasta

We have enjoyed playing with dried pasta lately. I let the kids choose which shapes of pasta they would like when we do the groceries. Different shapes are suited to different activities, but all are great for keeping little minds and little hands busy. Here are three easy ideas to try!

  • Pasta pictures. I put out small bowls with a handful of different pasta shapes in each.  I also put out sturdy squares of cardboard, and PVA glue.  For Mr 2’s picture I spread glue thinly over his whole page so that he could stick pasta where ever he liked.  “Stick! Stick! Stick!” he said each time he glued a piece of pasta to his card.  He was very proud of his finished product!  For Miss 4, I put the PVA into a small yoghurt container with a cotton bud to use as a brush.  As you might expect with a four year old, she had an idea in mind and set about creating her image with carefully placed pieces of pasta.  As you might also expect with a four year old, I had NO idea what she was creating so had to ask some sensitive, open ended questions to allow her to explain her work.  (Her pasta picture was playground!)

  • Pasta Sculptures. The addition of playdough makes 3D sculptures very achievable.  Miss 4 had tried to glue some of her pasta pieces so that they would stand up on the page, but was frustrated with process of making it happen.  This lead us to the idea of using playdough with the pasta.  Again, we shouldn’t make any assumptions about children’s art.  Instead of asking, “What is it?” or worse, guessing “Is that a …?” I usually say, “Can you tell me about what you’ve made?”  I might have guessed the creation above is an echidna, but actually it is an island with lots of rocks and sticks and some very tall trees on it.

  • Pasta necklaces.  Both of my kids like dress up beads, and pasta provides excellent threading opportunities.  Large shells with large holes are perfect for little ones who are developing their fine motor skills.  Smaller shells with smaller holes prove more of a challenge for older children.  We also added some pieces of coloured paper simply punched with a hole in the centre for some bling!

Do you have any other pasta play ideas to add? Leave a comment below…

Giggle and Squiggle Giveaway

Jimmy Giggle and Hoot the Owl are fast becoming household names in Australia.  The hosts of ABC Kids have just released their first album –  Beak Bopping Tunes.  To celebrate the release, I had the opportunity to interview James Rees (aka Jimmy Giggle)…

Cath - Congratulations on your success as the host of ABC For Kids.  Other television stations have had hosts for children’s programs for some time. Were you intimidated by the challenge of taking on this role as the face of ABC Kids?

James - I would say more nervous than intimidated however I was greeted with the loveliest bunch of people who made me feel so comfortable and still do to this day. I couldn’t really ask for a better experience at the ABC.

Cath - Is it true that you didn’t have any television experience before landing the role as Jimmy Giggle? How did you get the gig?!

James - Yes that is true. I was involved in theatre and drama throughout my schooling and television was a pipe dream of mine. After spotting an ad in the paper for an audition for new kids presenters on the ABC I sent away a video and a few months later found myself filming the first episode. Crazy!

Cath - My kids really enjoy the songs “My Best Friend” and “Five Steps To Bed”.  Which song do you and Hoot most like performing together?

James - Well we have a number of new songs that have been released on our new CD and will appear on the show in the not so distant future. We both love the “Getting to Know You Song” and a favourite of mine is the new hip hop track on the CD called “Use Your Words”.

Cath - What do your mates think about Jimmy Giggle? Especially those PJs and slippers…

James - My friends think the Jimmy Giggle thing is pretty hilarious and they’ve taken it all on board and secretly really want a pair of PJ for themselves.

Cath - So what does the future hold for you?  There is already a “We love Jimmy Giggle (James Rees)” Facebook page for all your fans.  What’s next…?

James - Firstly, I have to personally thank all our fans. It’s very sweet to have people show their support for the show, whether it be on Facebook or via mail. In the future we hope to expand the show to keep it fresh, exciting and most of all fun. Personally, who knows what the future holds, that’s the exciting part.

Cath - As always with interviews I like to give my kids the chance to participate, so this is direct from my four year old:  “I know a lot about birds. What kind of owl is Hoot?  Mum said you are real but Hoot is a puppet.  Is it funny working with a puppet?”

James - Hoot says that he is a ‘little blue owl’ and he also said to make sure you are tucked up safe and warm in your bed every night as he flies on the night watch!

I received a copy of the CD compliments of my friends at Roadshow, and I have FIVE CD’s up for grabs for SquiggleMum readers.  Entry is easy – just leave a comment below.  Aussie residents only please.  One entry per person.  Five winners will be selected randomly. Comp closes Wed 17th Nov 6pm Qld time.

You can also buy copies at the ABC Shop Online for $14.95.

This competition has closed!

Congratulations to the randomly drawn winners (who have been notified by email):

  • #11 Jessie Persse
  • # 50 Kylie
  • #3 Danielle Wright
  • #60 Julie
  • #56 Candice

Beach Holiday (and Toddler Tips)

We took a spontaneous long weekend away to the Sunshine Coast, which is only an hour from home for us.  All four of us really needed the time away from everything, we shared some lovely moments on the beach together:

The boys learned about water and waves.

We explored the rock pools (one of our all time favourite family activities).

We discovered new and interesting creatures: hermit crabs, fish, molluscs… and check out the amazing Spotted Sea Hare we found! (No, I didn’t know what it was without googling, though I guessed sea slug.)

And at the end of the day, we wandered the sandy shore together. Happiness.

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Holidays with under 5s are full of beautiful moments, but you have to find them.  Holidays with under 5s can also be tiring, challenging, and an organisational nightmare!!  I spoke on radio this week about my top 3 tips for holidaying with toddlers.

  • #1 = make bed times familiar
  • #2 = work in with toddler routines
  • #3 = take basic kitchen plastics (2 x plastic fork, spoon, plate, bowl, sippy cup)

Click the following link to hear the podcast if you’re interested:

SquiggleMum Podcast – Toddlers On Holidays

How Mums Deal With Sick Kids

We have had a week of sickness, with both kids battling a raging fever followed by sniffles and the kind of cough that makes other mums raise their eyebrows. The thermometer is in constant use, and the infant paracetamol is getting a workout too. I think we’re through the worst of it now, with only the cough hanging on, but I’ll have to keep an eye on the little man as he is prone to ear infections.

This morning on air I shared some thoughts about dealing with sick kids.  Here are my three top tips:

  • Lower your expectations – Obviously the kids aren’t going to be at their best. Relax the routine, let go of the little things, be realistic about meal times, and don’t stress about the house (no one will be visiting anyway)!
  • Cancel your plans – If you have little ones under school age, cancel anything you can! Don’t bother with trying to squeeze things in… just let people know that the kids are unwell and you’ll reschedule asap.  If you have school aged kids, cancel school for a day or two (and sadly, yes, whatever you had planned too), and cancel afterschool activities until they are 100% well again.
  • Take shifts at night – Find a system that works for your family, so that you aren’t working 24-7. We either take turns night and night about so that only one of us is getting up, or take pre-midnight shifts and post-midnight shifts.  (This week though, our little boy only wants Daddy during the night!!)  Single mamas, you need extra help during the day because you have to deal with v-e-r-y long night shifts.

Working mums, how do you juggle your career with caring for sick little ones?  Do most of your sick leave days get used when the kids are sick, or when you are? Any tips to share?

SAHMs, how do you give yourself time to recharge so that you don’t go insane?!  Do you have a top tip to share?

If you’d like to hear the podcast from this morning, it should be available later today at 96Five.

You might like to read:

Outdoor Multi-Age Play

Thanks to a recent pupil-free day, my children had the opportunity to have a play date in our backyard with a group of kids of varying ages (from 2 – 12).  I encouraged them to make cubby houses, and gave them them access to the following materials:

  • one sheet
  • string
  • scissors
  • anything already in the backyard (rocks, sticks, bamboo, etc)

It was amazing to watch the kids interact.  The boys and girls naturally split into two “teams” and worked to make two separate cubbies.

The Girls

This cubby was built mainly by a 4 year old and 12 year old who worked together, sharing ideas and workload.  They identified “areas” in their cubby such as the storage area, entrance way, living area and even a toilet area!  They decorated their cubby with strips of palm leaves lashed to fabric which hung down over the entrance.  There was even a doorbell!  All over the cubby were labels either written on pieces of cardboard or directly onto rocks.  I especially loved the rocks at the front door (pictured above) welcoming visitors to the Girls’ Cubby House – with one rock scrawled in the emergent writing of a 4yr old and the other by a 12yr old’s hand.  Precious.

The Boys

The boys were brilliant at sourcing materials from their environment.  It was their idea to cut down some bamboo to use, so I showed them how to work the large secateurs safely and then let them chop down what they needed.  It was fantastic to see their careful and intelligent use of the tools.  They stripped the leaves from the bamboo, leaving sturdy sticks which they then used for structures in and around their cubby.  They lashed together a fence to identify the boundaries of their space, and built an impressive teepee shaped entrance way.  The entrance was marked by a bamboo arrow on the ground, and a circle of rocks sourced from the creek bed.

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I was both challenged and encouraged by the differences between the girls’ and boys’ cubby houses.  Sometimes in my desire to give equal opportunities to both boys and girls, I neglect to celebrate the unique differences between them.  Watching these kids served as an excellent reminder.  But best of all, I just loved that for TWO WHOLE HOURS, seven children between the ages of 2 and 12 worked cooperatively, creatively, intelligently, safely, and with minimal adult interference – without a “toy” in sight.

Do your kids have the opportunity to play with children of varying ages?  And have you noticed differences in the ways boys and girls play outdoors?