Friday, 28 September 2012

Letting Go

Welcome to the September edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Exploring and Learning.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by "http://positiveparentingconnection.net/carnival-of-authentic-parenting/" target="_blank">The Positive Parenting Connection and "http://www.authenticparenting.info/p/carnival" target="_blank">Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are writing about this exploring and learning! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


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‘The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes’ - Proust

I see so many parents day to day too stressed out, following their child around at the park saying things like “Don’t touch that”, “Don’t get your clothes dirty”, “Don’t run, you’ll fall”. I know we all have days, when we feel exhausted, cranky and on edge, and on those days it can be excruciatingly hard not to slip into that state of tension where we try to control every situation, solely so that we feel more in control of ourselves. I have those days too, and they SUCK...for everyone involved! The problem is when we grasp to control these situations we not only create a lot more tension and stress for ourselves and for our families, but we also hinder our children’s ability to freely explore and learn from their world.


I find on these days I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and let go of the metaphorical reins. By letting go of my own need for control I allow Bean to lead the way and show me a view of the world through her eyes. The less time I spend worrying about dirty clothes, grubby hands, and ‘germs’, the more time I spend connecting, exploring, and learning together with her.
Exploring and learning are what a child’s life is all about. Gazing at the world with eyes wide open, taking in every minute detail, using touch, taste and smell to thoroughly examine every new thing they encounter...this is how children get to know their world. As parents it’s an important part of our role to help facilitate this process and also to provide plenty of opportunities for exploration and learning to happen.


Often I find the best opportunities come along when we don’t have anything planned. On a day when I’ve been too tired to plan outings or activities in advance, and can’t be bothered to try and check anything off my eternal ‘to do’ list, fun ways to learn and explore arise from Bean’s natural curiosity. Helping Daddy break down branches in the back yard, taking a walk down the street and stopping to smell all the different flowers along the way, or emptying out a kitchen cupboard...these are all opportunities for exploration and learning. The key is to take the time to explore things with them - forget the schedule for a minute, slow down to their pace, get down on their level, interact and have fun!

As adults we tend to forget that children see the world so differently to us. To a child something we’ve seen thousands of times can be a great source of interest and excitement. A stick is not simply a stick, a puddle is not simply a mess – they have colour, texture, and are completely different from all the others on the ground. In order to appreciate this we need to let go and let our children re-educate us in the magic of discovery. When we let go of some of our adult preconceptions we open ourselves up to catching a glimpse of both their view of this world we share and most importantly of their inner world. This is how we gain a better understanding of who they are.


Parenting is in many ways is a continuous process of letting go. In the beginning when our lives are turned upside down by our newborn baby we practice letting go of selfishness – we let go of our previous lifestyle, alone time, social life etc. Then we can make room for nurturing a new life and spirit and free up our energies for the person who needs them most. When our baby becomes a toddler we practice letting go of fear and control. Suddenly this little being we spent many months protectively cradling in our arms is bustling around on stout little feet with their own fully-grown agenda. From toddler to child we keep letting go of the reins bit by bit, giving more and more freedom as abilities and maturity develop, whilst still being present to share in their delights and comfort their wounds. And so it goes...the more they grow up, the more we have to let go. And so we grow.

By giving our children the space, time, and opportunities to explore freely and learn in their own way and at their own pace, we also give ourselves permission to let go and once more see the world through child’s eyes, to grow up into an adult with a spirit that welcomes what we do not yet know.

B xx

P.s. A huge thank you to Jake for helping me edit this post, you are my team!




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"https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-S-KiTwrpw6Y/T7v2BdBtn0I/AAAAAAAAAgE/7OThXtdZImo/s225/APBC-Graphic3.png"
alt="APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting" align="right" border="0" />Visit "http://positiveparentingconnection.net/blog_carnival" target="_blank">The Positive Parenting Connection and "http://www.authenticparenting.info/p/carnival" target="_blank">Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Does your child ever do something that makes you wonder, "what was he thinking?!" Dionna at Code Name: Mama had a post planned about how her child doesn't think when he pulls out the art supplies. Then she discovered a mess of her own.
   
  • "http://onelittlebean1.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/letting-go.html">Letting Go
  • - Sutra at One Little Bean writes about letting go of metaphorical reins and reminds us that to child something we’ve seen thousands of times can be a great source of interest and excitement.
       
  • Jennifer at "http://www.hybridrastamama.com/">Hybrid Rasta Mama
  • shares "http://www.hybridrastamama.com/2012/09/50-ways-to-explore-connect-to-nature.html.html">50 Ways To Explore and Connect To Nature With Your Children. If you are looking for some inspiration on getting outside with your children, this is the post for you!
       
  • "http://www.thatmamagretchen.com/2012/09/turning-2-learning-gifts-for-my.html">Turning 2 | Learning Gifts for My Favorite Toddler
  • - That Mama Gretchen is preparing for her daughter's 2nd birthday with a round up of her favorite learning toys and activities.
       
  • "http://positiveparentingconnection.net/toddler-play-learning-activities/">Play & Discover: 6 Learning Activities For Tots & Preschoolers
  •  - Ariadne over at Positive Parenting Connection is sharing 6 activities that are fantastic for toddlers and preschoolers to work on cognitive, motor, social and language skills, while having lots of fun!
       
  • "http://www.authenticparenting.info/">An Unschooler's Take on Lessons
  • - Laura at Authentic Parenting experiences inner conflict about lessons and learning.

    Thursday, 27 September 2012

    Rainbow Rice

    This is another fun and colorful medium to use for sensory play - rainbow rice! It's SO easy and quick to make, and Bean loves it. So here's the how to:


    1. Take 5 cups of white rice and put inside a sandwich size zip lock bag.
    2. Add 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol (Brand name 'Isocol' if your trying to find it in Australia).
    3. Add 30 - 50 drops of food coloring. This is variable depending on how bright you want the colour to end up, I usually use about 40 or so drops.
    4. Close the bag, squeezing out the air, and rub the contents around until the colour is evenly spread through.
    5. Empty the rice out onto baking trays or baking paper to dry (overnight is best as it takes a few hours).


    ...and that's it! Easy peasy!

    Rainbow rice has SO many uses. We generally use it either in a variety of bowels for scooping play, or in a clear tub on the light panel, but it would also make a great addition to a sensory table (which is on the Christmas list for Bean!). It can also be incorporated into arts and crafts, and would make a bright shaker in a clear tub or jar for little ones, and the list goes on!

    Hope you're having a colorful day!

    Bxx


    Sunday, 23 September 2012

    A Finite Time


    Yesterday I came across this article about an illustrator who set about trying to raise funds to self publish his children's book on kick starter:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/21/the-bear-ryan-sohmer-becky-dreistadt_n_1894529.html

    His name is Ryan Sohmer and his illustrations are truly stunning. So is no wonder his campaign raised more than $75,000 in just a matter of weeks! As I was flicking through the gallery of his work, one of the illustrations and it's wording really struck a chord with me:

    I've been having a tough few days after catching the flu, struggling with my chronic pain, and not getting much sleep with Bean in the final push to get all four of her eye teeth through. When it comes time for Jake to leave for work in the mornings I literally have to fight the urge to get down on my knees and beg him not to go!!

    At times like these it takes some kind of stimlus to get me to shift my focus from everything that's wrong in my life, and see all the wonderful things that are right. This time that illustration was it.

    Because it's true, there most definitely is a finite number of years that Bean will want and need me as much as she does now. She won't always want to hold my hand when we walk down the front steps, or nuzzle in to my chest when she's tired but doesn't want to sleep yet. She wont always want to show me when she finds a beautiful flower in the yard, or for me to sit in the bunny chair and read 'Mr Noisy' at the top of my voice for the seventh time that day. One day, much sooner than I'm ready to admit, she'll want to play with her friends instead of with me at the park, she'll want privacy and space, and to be as independent as is natural for a growing child to become.


    So I want to make the most of these precious years, this time of being the at the molten epicenter of Bean's universe. And whilst there will always be days when I long for more space and time to myself, I must remember to sit and savor the magic of this place where I'm still her sun, moon, and stars.

    Bxx

    Saturday, 22 September 2012

    Mementos

    Ever since Bean started showing an interest in art and craft I've been actively encouraging her budding creativity. I found a little table and chairs on gumtree, and then cleared two shelves on one of our bookcases so that she could have all her art and craft supplies accessible at her level (Montessori style)...


    She does a lot of mixed media pieces, first she goes and gets out her paints and brushes, followed by the dot art bottles, then pens and crayons, and often she finishes off with every kid's favourite - stickers! And of course, being the doting parents we are, her latest works go on display...


    ...But there's also a rather large stack accumulating on top of the art shelves! which I've begun to sort through every so often...


    I love starting to collect these mementos made by Bean, and with the ones I've decided to keep I pencil in the date and her age at the bottom for posterity. I'll probably have a closest full in a few months time!! but I just can't bring myself to throw them ALL in the recycling.

    I remember my own mum kept a drawer in the kitchen full of all kinds of keepsakes from my childhood: mothers day cards, paintings, salt dough figurines, books I'd written and illustrated, short stories, and photographs. As I got older I used to look through the drawer from time to time. I liked to remember the times past when I'd lovingly created the various pieces, but most of all it gave me a sense of how much I must be loved. Since my mum had cherished this collection even through all those years, numerous teenage rebellions, and three different houses!

    So I hope that one day Bean will enjoy looking through her own assortment of mementos, and perhaps feel that same warmth and appreciation that comes with the knowledge that you and all your creations are treasured by someone you love.

    I, however, may need to find some more storage space! ;-)

    Bxx

    Wednesday, 19 September 2012

    The Newborn Haze

    I cant believe Bean is almost 18 months old! She's grown up so much lately, both physically and mentally...more and more words are spilling out each day, shes stronger and more coordinated, and she understands at least 80% of what we say to her (oh help!). Spending my days with Bean is, on the whole, a lot of fun these days...but it didn't always feel that way. Her impending milestone got me thinking back to the days when she was just a tiny baby bundle, a brand new being so warm and vulnerable, with that intoxicating aroma of sweet milk and honey. Her sudden existence was so incredible to me that I fell in love head first, diving deep into her without a second thought, so consumed that I couldn't come up for air.


    Not many people seem to talk about how hard it can be being a new mother, or how intense those first few months are. I call it 'The newborn haze' because that's what it felt like for me, like a thick fog had settled over Bean and I, enclosing us away from the rest of the world in our own fragile universe. I felt lost in her, like I no longer knew myself and couldn't remember who I'd been before she took her first exquisite breath. I was blank and full, with no room inside me for anything else but her.


    One of the most difficult parts was not being able to really express or make sense of how I was feeling, it was so unexpected, so foreign, and I didn't know where to start unraveling the threads. I think partly I was in shock at the reality of becoming a mother, and how much that would consume and totally change our life. In pregnancy, most of us focus our thoughts on being pregnant and eventually giving birth, we devour books, make plans, and monitor everything in minute detail, but we don't often pay much mind to what happens after the birth. In our culture preparing for the arrival of a baby mostly means having all the 'stuff' you need neatly arranged in the baby's room, and having a bag packed for your impending visit to hospital...but what about being mentally and emotionally prepared? Well, I guess there isn't really anything that can truly prepare one for the earth shattering undertaking that is becoming a parent, it doesn't matter what books you read, or what your friends tell you, it's something that can only be experienced first hand.


    18 months into this parenting journey and I realize that ever since Bean was born i've slowly but surely been transforming myself. Everything changes when you create a life, your routine changes, your house shifts around, and your schedule goes out the window along with your social life and self image! So it makes sense that as people we dramatically change as well, and no one ever said change was easy. I now see the newborn haze as a stage of metamorphosis, like a caterpillar going into it's chrysalis a new mother goes into the haze to begin her transformation, to let go of the parts of herself that no longer serve and discover new aspects that will help her to emerge, a stronger more diverse version of her previous self. When Bean was about 6 months old, once we'd come through the other side of colic and reflux, things started to shift for me. I gradually began to feel myself as an independent entity from Bean and over the year that followed I slowly edged my way out of my cocoon. Now, for the first time since Bean was born, I feel like I've fully emerged. And whilst I still struggle some days, and definitely have more growing to do, I think i'm finally ready to open my wings and bask in the sunlight.

    Bxx

    Sunday, 16 September 2012

    Light play

    I first came across the concept of using a light panel for play on Play At Home Mom LLC, those ladies are the experts on this particular piece of equipment - i'm just spreading the word! So here's the original post I read:


    Once I was convinced of the idea, I did some research on stockists in Australia, and found this one for the best price at Educational Experience:


    It's definitely NOT a cheap purchase, but it is a truly versatile toy which lasts a child many years, and therefore I see it as a great investment in learning. So with the help of one of Bean's grandparents, we went ahead and bought one for her first birthday. A kind of unusual gift for a one year old perhaps, but 5 months on and it's one of the only toys we have that still gets used every day, often more than once a day (and now that Bean can, she regularly gets it out all by herself, which tells me that it's not only me who really enjoys it!).


     What I find so exciting about the light panel is the endless possibilities it has for play - there are SO many things you can use it for that it's really only limited by your imagination and creativity. In the beginning we used it mostly to enhance sensory play, such as the above photo of Bean exploring coloured rice...


    ...and coloured feathers from the craft store...


    ...and glass pebbles from the dollar shop.

    Now Bean is a little older and more coordinated we've started doing things like building and stacking on the light panel:


    The blocks pictured here are 'Rainbow Crystal Blocks' available online from Kangaroo Toys (http://www.hop.com.au/product?KEY_ITEM=WY2202&KEY_ALIAS=WY2202), and the little cups Bean is stacking are just transparent shot glasses bought at the dollar store. Bean has really taken to the stacking cups lately, and the other night we stumbled across a way to play peekaboo with them using a humble kitchen roll tube...


    Here she has a long stack of cups in her hand and uses the tube to cover them up "Where are the cups?" I say....


    "Ahhhhhh!" she exclaims pulling the tube off to reveal the stacked cups. So funny! 

    Other things we've done so far with the light panel are....


    ...Shapes. Cut out from some lighting gels that I found on ebay for around $15 (which gets you a lot of them so I have many more shapes still to make)...


     ...Colours. Using colour paddles to demonstrate colour mixing, also available online from Kangaroo Toys (http://www.hop.com.au/product?KEY_ITEM=CT8157&KEY_ALIAS=CT8157)...


    ...and Magna Tiles, which I picked up on our recent trip to the US from Discount School Supply (these are also available in Australia from Kangaroo Toys, http://www.hop.com.au/product?KEY_ITEM=LS546&KEY_ALIAS=LS546, but unfortunately they're about twice the price as when you buy them from the US). Above we've used them for patterns....


    ...and here for building (although so far I do most of the construction, whilst Bean is mostly the demolition expert!).

    There are heaps of other things I plan to try on the light panel in the coming months, such as painting with watercolours and exploring water beads, and of course as Bean grows and develops the list of activities for this toy only gets longer! So, if you can do it I highly recommend this as an educational and developmental toy...or maybe drop a hint to some helpful relatives around Christmas time! Just sayin' ;-)

    B xx



    Saturday, 15 September 2012

    Things to do...

    I don't know about you, but most days there seems to be WAY too many things that I need to 'get done'. Mostly these are just small house or child related tasks, laundry, dishes, errands to run, phone calls and emails to be returned etc. But those small things really seem to build up quickly into one giant heap of things to do! Some days It doesn't bother me so much, and I just steadily work my way through as many things as possible whilst Bean naps. But then there's the other kind of days (like today) when that giant pile of stuff to do seems to grow eyes and teeth that glare and snarl at me until I quickly retreat into my metaphorical hole and hug my knees whilst silently rocking back and forth...

    Obviously this is partly a matter of perception, which is greatly affected by how full my emotional and physical tank is. If I'm running on empty I look around me and all I see is mess, and before I've even done one small thing I'm already overwhelmed. Whereas if my tank is at least half full I'm better equipped to tackle things one at a time without losing the plot in the process.

    The other part in this is just accepting the fact that having a child means I can't get as much done as I used to, I have to lower my standards, let some things slide, and not worry so much if everything isn't in order. I must admit I find this the hardest part of all! Bean is in full teething mode right now, which means her naps are short and restless and my leash is shortened to be within about 5 feet of her at all times. My tension levels start to run high after a few days of this, and my snarling pile of things to do gets totally out of control. I feel trapped, and I panic. The only thing that can potentially stop me in my path to melting down is taking a breath to look into Beans eyes. I see the innocence and wanting in them as she tugs me away from the sink and down the hallway to play or to cuddle. If i can really stop and see that then it's enough to make me forget the dishes, at least for a little while, I just have to breathe and allow myself to step out of my mental bubble for a few crucial seconds...otherwise I miss it.

    B xx

    Thursday, 13 September 2012

    Playing Grown Ups

    Earlier this week whilst Bean and I made a sunny day visit to the park (http://onelittlebean1.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/here-comes-sun.html), Jake drove to a far away place to pick up a special surprise for Bean that I found for her on eBay...


    A play kitchen!...


    ...With pots and pans...


    ...and wooden play food! :-)

    I've been looking for one of these for ages (trying to find a wooden one at a reasonable price) and was very excited to stumble across this. I have vivid memories of playing with my own pretend kitchen as a child and how it made me feel so BIG, like I was a grown up too. In fact, as I got to thinking back I remembered that at a certain stage of my childhood "playing grown ups" was one my most frequently enjoyed games, both on my own and with friends. It's a universal truth that children learn the most from us by mimicking our behavior, that's how they learn the workings of things like relationships, roles, social situations, and how to relate to other people. It's also why when we parent with a 'do as I say, not as I do' approach, it often backfires. When my friends and I would play grown ups most of our interpretations of what it involved to be 'a grown up' were centered around performing chores such as sweeping, ironing, cooking, and taking care of our 'babies'.

    These are, of course, the stereotypical roles that girls learn from their mothers. But there was also a more complex side to our play at times. For example we would act out how we thought a person would behave in order to get someone to do something for them, which generally involved using basic manipulation or bribery. Other times we might mimic a fight that we heard our parents have the night before, or a scene from an adult TV show (glimpsed surreptitiously from behind the sofa when our parents thought we were in bed).

    Remembering this made me more aware of the fact that at even at 17 months old Bean is already picking up so many signals from our behavior, and particularly from how we interact with her, each other, and other people. I must admit I shudder to think what behavioral patterns of mine she might pick up in the future! But, at least being aware of the fact that it's going to happen has renewed my motivation to be the best model I can be for her. And for the moment I'll enjoy the fact that, at least for the time being, Bean's grown up play is as simple as trying to boil an orange... :-) 

    B xx
     

    Wednesday, 12 September 2012

    Splish Splash!


    Bath time is quite possibly Bean's favorite time of the day. She's always loved water, and when it gets to 5:30 in the evening she knows its time for her bath and will often take my thumb/pants/hem in her little fist and literally drag me down the hallway to the bathroom. However, as with everything in life we all like a bit of variation, so lately i've been trying to think of ways to give bath time a little twist (as much for my own sanity as for Bean, because one can only sing "Three Little Ducks" so many times before you want to send those duckies somewhere REALLY far away).
    Bean has been experimenting with art and craft a lot more in the last month or so, and I thought bringing some colour into the bath might be fun...

    ...So I added food colouring...
     

    She loves to watch it swirl around in the water...

     

    ...and mix it in...


    ...until the whole bath is coloured :-)

    This could also be achieved using non toxic washable water colour paints, available from most craft shops, for those who would prefer not to use food dyes. 

    Another way i've found of bringing art and colour to bath time is a product I bought on line for under $10 - Bath Crayons! Bean LOVES these, and they're so easy to use and easy to clean, they literally wipe off the tub with just water and a cloth, leaving no residue at all. Can't recommend these enough!


    Bean in the bath this evening drawing very enthusiastically...


    Tonight's finished masterpiece! :-)

    Sweet dreams everyone...

    Bxx

    For Bean

    Did I mention I have a chronic pain disorder? Well...it definitely didn't slip my mind! In reality I suppose I wasn't planning on mentioning it at all (to anyone - let alone the internet) but the fact is that I started this blog with the intention of giving an honest view into my life as a parent, without any sugar coating, because let's face it - parenting isn't like being in a Huggies commercial. So there we have it. The fact is that at the moment I'm struggling to cope with constant pain and constant parenting, and I wish that the pain would just go away...or else that I could just take a couple of days off from everything! But, of course it doesn't work like that, once you become a parent there are no days off or time outs, and particularly since we don't have any helpful grandparents living in this country! Living with chronic pain is draining, frustrating, and depressing, but 10 years ago I made the decision to continue on with life as normally as possible, so that's what I do. However, this is much more of a challenge now that i'm a mother. Before Bean was born, I'd developed certain coping strategies that just don't hold up now that I have a little person who depends on me for her every need, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I don't have the luxury of taking naps when I feel like it, spending three days watching Grey's Anatomy back to back on DVD, or even taking pain medication whenever I need to. Things are very different now.

    So why decide to have a baby in the first place you might ask? Well, after trying many different treatments in both the Conventional and Alternative medical routes I'd pretty much given up, but several doctors along the way had told me that since my problem seemed to be hormonally linked there was a 50/50 chance that my symptoms might be permanently cured or at least greatly reduced after pregnancy. It was my last option, and since we had both always wanted to have kids anyway,  Jake and I decided to take the gamble...and yes, it was a tough blow to come out on the wrong side of that particular coin. After being symptom free all through pregnancy, when Bean was about 5 months old (just when we'd made it through the other side of severe colic/reflux) the pain gradually came back to pretty much exactly the level it had been before. Ouch!

    Ask me if I regret it though, and the answer is of course unequivocally 'no'. As hard it may be sometimes to parent through chronic pain, I feel like I didn't really know myself until Bean came along. Every day she helps me to be a better person by needing me to reach deeper into myself to find more love, more patience, more compassion, and to let go of selfishness and useless self image. That being said some weeks are much harder than others, and this is most certainly one of those weeks. And as much as i would like to think that my pain is simply mine and doesn't affect her, it clearly does. So I would like to say to Bean that i'm sorry i've been so crabby and impatient lately, and I'm sorry if I seem further away from you than usual. When I see the sunshine beaming from your face i'm more acutely aware of the clouds shadowing my own, so I do my best to smile when you smile and laugh when you laugh, because after all, happiness is the best medicine.  I hope that one day you'll understand how much pure joy you've brought to my life, and that even though my gamble didn't pay off in the way I was expecting, it gave me a more irreplaceable gift than I ever could have hoped for - it gave me you.

    Bxx


    Tuesday, 11 September 2012

    Dot Art

    Ok, this is a product found at the craft store which I think is great for toddlers just starting to experiment with making art.


    They're called Bingo Bottles or Dot Art bottles, and what they are is a squeezable bottle with a sponge top, filled with non toxic washable watercolor type paint. At I think $4.99 per bottle, they aren't cheap but judging by the amount of paint used each time I'd say they'll last quite a while. Bean has really taken to these since we got them, as they're so easy for her to use, all she need do is grab hold and press (or bang!) the bottle onto the paper - simple and fun! I often set these out before bedtime in the evening as a less messy alternative to painting...



    But often it becomes a mixed media piece! ;-)

    Goodnight!

    Bxx

    Here Comes The Sun...

    Ahhh the first spring like day we've had all week! A trip to the park was solidly on the agenda. So whilst Jake went off to pick up a special surprise for Bean (post to come), we headed to one of the beautiful parks we luckily have within walking distance from home.

    I absolutely love taking Bean to the park, theres this certain air of excitement and exploration that comes over her when she's out in nature, which is just enchanting to witness. For myself I find being outdoors and away from the house to be somehow soothing, and even when the weather isn't so forthcoming it gives me a strong sense of togetherness to be out in the elements with Bean. Any grittiness that's built up from the bustle of home and the struggle to 'get things done' simply melts away when we're at the park, and life becomes all about running, sliding, swinging, and hiding for that precious hour or so. The days dusty slate is blown clean in the breeze, and we head home feeling more relaxed and connected.

    Trips to the park also hold so many possiblities aside from enjoying the playground equipment, and I love to see how each visit will unfold. Yesterday's trip included...

    Pretending to be a bird on a nest...


    Running in the sunshine...


    Eating a delicious strawberry snack...

     

    and on our way home Bean stopped to post sticks and leaves she found into peoples mail boxes...


    ...Hopefully our neighbors don't mind the special delivery! :-)

    Bxx
     

    Monday, 10 September 2012

    French Toast & Dancing

    I must take a moment or two now to tell you how inconceivably lucky I am to have my husband Jake. This morning, as with every other morning in our house, Jake cooked us a scrumptious breakfast - French toast and bacon today. He was a pastry chef in a previous incarnation and does at least 75% of the cooking in an average week...and yes, I know, I am insanely blessed!! Not only does he have superior cooking skills, he's also the most wonderful father to our Bean. This morning after Bean had brushed her little hands together to declare that she was finished with her breakfast, Jake scooped her up and danced with her to the music playing on the dock. One of Bean's favorite things in the world is dancing with her daddy, she drapes her little arms around his neck, rests her cheek softly on his shoulder, and smiles contentedly.

    Watching them dance got me reflecting on how important fathers are to a child, in the beginning it's often all about mum and milks and dads can sometimes feel like a bit of a third wheel. But as babies grow into toddlers they develop independent relationships with the other important people in their life, and so dad becomes more than just the person who cooks the breakfast. Now, just like mum, he provides fun, safety, comfort, teaching, and love but all in his own unique and cherished ways. So I would like to say Thank you to Jake for being Beans dad, you make our world the happiest place to dance.

    Bxx

    Scooping Play

    This winter was the first one we've had with Bean beyond the newborn stage, and it therefore provided me with the slightly daunting challenge of utilizing my "creativity and resourcefulness" in finding lots of indoor activities to keep Bean entertained! One such activity she's enjoyed in various forms is 'scooping play', which involves some kind of dried food stuff, several different size containers (bowels/tupperware/ice cube trays) and various scooping implements (spoons/cups/measuring scoops). This game has loads of variations and is great for sensory stimulation and developing hand-eye coordination. It's also particularly enjoyable for kids in the 'dumping' stage, which we've been enjoying for about 6 months or so now! ;-)

    So far we've done this with a mixture of yellow and red split peas (lentils):


    And a mixture of dried soy beans and red kidney beans:


    Bean goes into a state of intense concentration during this game, which can last anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour or more...carefully scooping up the peas, dumping them into another container, running her fingers through them, taking handfuls of peas and watching them fall to the floor, stirring them with a chopstick...its beautiful to watch. I just sit with her, observe, and offer commentary on what she's doing so she knows I'm interested and paying attention (whilst fighting the urge of my inner neat freak to pick up all the peas off the floor as they scatter everywhere! - trust me, clean up is far easier once they've lost interest).

    Recently we've even brought the scoops and containers into the bath and used them for water play at bath time, which is even more fun when you add a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor paint to the bath water!

    Happy Scooping! :-)

    Bxx

    Sunday, 9 September 2012

    Sound Baloons!

    So since since its spring in Melbourne the weather is highly unpredictable and I've therefore been needing more indoor activities to keep Bean occupied at home. A couple of mornings ago I suddenly remembered an idea I had come across a while ago called 'Sound Balloons'. Here is the original post from Play At Home Mom (whose blog is such an amazing resource):

    http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/sound-balloons.html

    It's a REALLY easy and fun activity, and Bean (who is especially fond of anything musical) absolutely loved it! I made up 3 balloons from an old pack of balloons found stuffed in the back of a kitchen draw and things from around the house. Inside the first balloon I put 3 coloured bells from the craft store; in the second balloon I put in a few dried soy beans that had been left over from our scooping play earlier in the week (post to come); and for the third balloon I used a funnel to insert a small handful of uncooked brown rice. I put these together just after we got up, while Jake was cooking breakfast, and I put some music on to get Bean's attention. At first she thought the balloons were very funny, picking each one up VERY gently and giggling and smiling at each new sound, she then proceeded to dance about with them to the music shaking and jingling away until breakfast time! I'll definitely be trying some more variations on this theme in the future.

    Bxx

    Morning Magic

    We love the morning in our house... it's the most magical time of day. Especially when we all wake up together, and by that I mean when Jake manages to sleep past 4am (it's not Bean who I worry about not sleeping through the night in our house - although she doesn't yet either). This morning Jake and I awoke first and spent some glorious minutes enjoying the stillness and whispered conversation, and then Bean (who had been sleeping between us) rolled over to face Jake and opened her eyes with a "Oohaaweru!" and some other delighted exclamations. She gently reached out and explored his eyes, nose, mouth, and cheeks...and then again not so gently! Then she rolled over to face me with a sleepy smile and went searching for her morning milks. We spend many glorious mornings all waking up together, and I miss it when it doesn't happen for one reason or another. I love the peacefulness just before bean wakes up, and then her gentle happy babbling as she comes into consciousness. It's like being in another world, a world between sleeping and waking, a place suspended in action before those little feet slip out of bed and patter into the lounge room to start their busy day.
    After such a wonderful wake up the sound of play school nursery rhymes and electronic piano music can be rather jarring some days...but nothing a cup of Earl Grey can't fix...and then we're in to a brand new day :-)

    Bxx

    Saturday, 8 September 2012

    Once upon a time...

    ...There was a little girl named 'Bean', her mummy known as 'Boobies', and her daddy known as 'Jake'. She was an exceptionally happy and self possessed child, kind, social, beautiful, funny...etc etc...and her parents loved her VERY much. So...wouldn't it be nice to end this now with "and they all lived happily ever after."? Well, some days we do, and some days we don't. In parenting, unlike fairy tales, the stories don't always end perfectly, but the heros and heroines (I.e. mums and dads) of the real life stories do fight in the same way for the people they love and what they believe to be right...they slay metaphorical dragons, brew potions, and break curses with the best of them.

    The purpose of this blog is to tell the story of my everyday life with Bean and Jake, how we conquer evil, cast spells, and wake to true love's kiss on a daily basis. I hope it will be an honest, entertaining read, and maybe even a source of inspiration and ideas for all you other sleep deprived mums and dads out there. I'd like to state right off the bat that I am in no way perfect (and whilst I may still cling to that vague goal from time to time - I don't recommended it!). I do however, try to be the kind of mum who embraces mess in the name of play, who keeps her calm when things get chaotic, and who can see the world through her child's eyes and all the possibility and wonder that beholds. I don't succeed all the time, and when I don't I try to recognize and move on without giving myself too much of a mental guilt bashing. I believe that as parents we all do our best for our children, but I also think that there is always room for growth, and so we need to keep paying attention to both ourselves and our kids so that we too grow and transform with them.

    I look forward to feedback and exchange of ideas and inspiration, and sometimes for this to be just a place for thoughts. All of you who are willing to get down on the floor, play, listen, and connect with your kids are welcome here. Those of you who take your kids to the park and spend the whole time propped against the swings glued to your smart phone (and think that's ok!) had better find some other blog to surf. Just sayin '.

    Bxx