Wednesday, 27 February 2013

To Wean Or Not To Wean?

Those of you who have been following the blog for a while will know that I suffer from chronic pain. It's of unknown origin, so far untreatable, and a complete pain - literally! Haha. So far I've been pretty determined not to let my condition negatively impact my daily life with Bean (although of course it does in small ways all the time), but then recently the question of weaning came up.

Since Bean was born and I began breastfeeding I've always seen weaning as something far off on the horizon way into the distant future. It's funny because in the very beginning I didn't plan to breastfeed for more than a year max! But then towards the end of the first year people would ask me when I would stop and I would say "oh...sometime in the next 6 months." And that's been my response ever since! Now I'm almost at the end of my second year breast feeding Bean and I would very happily keep going another 6 months! I love doing it, and I love what it gives to our relationship.

However, as my illness began to get progressively worse when Bean was around 18 months old my husband and I were forced to consider the idea of weaning. We ultimately decided to wait till she turned 2, because I felt that I could manage till then and I'd always held 2 years as some kind of breast feeding milestone in my mind. The immune system is fully functional by 2 years of age, and the World Heath Organization recommends breast feeding for at least 2 years for optimal physical and emotional health of both mother and child. Of course, now Bean is almost 23 months old with her birthday looming right around the corner...and I know in my heart, as much as I hate it, that we need to go ahead with our agreed plan.

There is absolutely no part of me that wants to wean her yet, but I'm at the point where I need to take stronger medications to manage my day to day and I think it better if she weren't exposed to them long term. So here we are. Not where I wanted to be, but here nonetheless. And I'm going to do everything I can to make the weaning process as gentle and honoring as possible, both for Bean and for myself. I will share it all with you here, and hopefully any of you who find yourselves where we are (for whatever reason) will take heart, conformation and perhaps some inspiration from our journey.

Wish us luck!

B xx

Monday, 25 February 2013

Pinkalicious Sensory Salt

I adapted the idea for this activity from on this recipe from The Imagination Tree. I've had it in the back of my mind for a while and then one morning Bean climbed up on to the dining table whilst I was clearing up from breakfast and began pouring out the table salt and drawing patterns in I took the opportunity to redirect her with this!


Table salt
Neon pink powder pigment (found on eBay)

All you do is fill a shallow container with salt then mix in a tablespoon or so of pigment...Et voila!

I set up the invitation outside because it was a sunny day, but this could also be an indoor activity with a dust sheet underneath for easy clean up.

Bean got straight to work pouring...

...and drawing in the salt...

...Then she decided to add some water from the nearby water table...

....of course the clothes got ditched after a while and she used the wet salt mixture to paint herself...

...which required some guidance from mummy about not getting the salt in her eyes!

Bean spent a good 45 minutes in focused play and exploration, and with the bright colour and interesting texture of the dry/wet salt mixture I think this is a really interesting sensory material to make. Its also pretty versatile in terms of varying the colour, adding glitter or other texture materials, or incorporating scent using dried herbs or flowers. We'll definitely be trying it again!

Happy Playing!

B xx

Sunday, 24 February 2013


One day last week I was listening to a podcast from Progressive Parenting about the attachment parenting principle of responsiveness. For those who aren't familiar with the concepts behind attachment parenting theory this is where to find out more. For me I sort of stumbled across this style of parenting purely by accident, not realizing there was a word (let alone a whole theory) to describe how I was already parenting by my own basic instinct. I didn't read any parenting books when I was pregnant, or even give much thought at all to how I wanted parent or what type of mother I would be. All I knew was that I would love my child with every part of myself, and the rest would get worked out as we went along. I guess in some way I always viewed parenting as a partnership between parent and child, and so in my mind there wasn't any way to know what that would look like until I got to know who my child was.

Since the day Bean was born I've been on a very steep learning curve! And in more recent times I've turned to books and blogs for advice and ideas on how to handle the various challenges that come up in each stage of her development. Hence, how I came to listening to a parenting podcast while I was driving home one day!

The lady being interviewed (one of the founders of Attachment Parenting International) was asked about how best to handle difficult behavior from a child in an attached and gentle way, and her answer really struck a chord in me. She said, that the one major difference between handling challenging behaviors positively versus negatively is curiosity. It's a word I don't use or hear used much in relation to parenting but as soon as she said it something clicked for me. Curiosity, she said, is the key to building and maintaining a connected relationship with your child, particularly in the times when they act out, because a parent who approaches their child with curiosity is much more likely to be open, calm, and empathic in dealing with any given situation. So rather than reacting to difficult behavior with anger or frustration, or skipping over tantrums with standard responses, a parent who has a mind set of curiosity stops to think 'Hmmm, why is my child doing this? They must be feeling something. What are they feeling? What can I do to help?...'. Being curious about our children is the way to get to get to know them. And I mean really know them, not just the outer surface which is what they show us with their behavior, but what lies underneath that behavior - their heart.

So now when I spend time with Bean I remind myself to remain curious, because the one thing I want more than anything in our relationship is to know each other. One of my biggest regrets with my own family is the feeling that they don't really know me very well as a person, and that I don't really know them that well either. That's something I'm working on, and as an adult this is a much more difficult process as the pattern of the way we relate has already become deeply ingrained. But It's never too late to change your perspective on how you relate to your children (or anyone else for that matter), they adapt to change much faster than we do and like a bud waiting for spring they blossom under our consistent nurturing, gradually opening up to show us the beauty and complexity of their bloom.

With my own little Bean I'm determined that I want to know her - both her light and her dark, her interior and her exterior. And the best way to get there is to be curious.

B xx

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Sand Pit Treasure Hunt

Bean is a big fan of 'Playschool', and I must say it's been a great source of inspiration for me as well! Recently we were watching an episode where they were digging for buried dinosaur bones in a sand pit and ever since then Bean has been singing the 'digging song' and pretending to find things in the sand at home. That gave me the idea for a treasure hunt!

So early one morning whilst Bean was sleepy and distracted, I quickly snuck in to the garden to set up this invitation:

I used loose purple glitter and little black stones to mark the spots to dig for buried treasure...and this is the treasure:

The only things I bought specifically for this activity were the colored gems, which I stumbled across at the dollar shop for $1.95 each - bargain!

Of course it wasn't long before Bean found the invitation...very excited!...

...and started digging...

...and finding...

This was so simple and cheap, and since then we've also done it using sea shells as treasure. So much fun for a curious little person...

Happy Playing :-)

B xx

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Rainbow Ice Sensory Box

Here in Melbourne we've been enduring an autumn heat wave, so when I was suddenly struck by the idea for this activity I couldn't BELIEVE I hadn't thought of it sooner! But anywhoo...

The rainbow ice sensory box was a big hit with Bean - who is currently obsessed with all things icey cold.  We ended up doing it twice in two days with different colors of ice and it was both beautiful to play with and a nice way to keep cool :-)

This was our first box, made with just water and blue, green, and red food colouring:

In the second box I opted for colours that would mix together better when melted, as the water from the first box ended up kind of black and grimy looking. So this one has pink, red, and yellow:

As the first batch melted we used the ice to draw:

Then with the second batch Bean requested we use the hammer! "BANG BANG BANG!" :-)

With the first batch we also put it on the light panel to add another sensory dimension (photo credit goes to Jake here! - I'm not this good):

But I just loved the way the colours melted together in the second batch - it looked like liquid sunshine...

This was a perfect activity for a hot sticky day, extremely quick to set up, and very minimal on clean up (FYI: whilst food colouring temporarily stains hands and clothes it all comes out in the wash)...

...Happy Playing!


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Water Beads may have noticed it's been quite some time since I posted anything! Well we had what can only be described as a VERY busy holiday season, which included overseas family visits and moving house right after new year...and I have to say I hope NEVER to be that busy again! 

But aside from all the mundane business we've also been busy at play, and I have loads of new stuff to share :-) 

I thought I'd start off with some fun we had recently with water beads! For anyone who doesn't know what water beads are this is a great post that explains the concept. I'd previously written a post about our first experience using water beads when Bean was much younger, but she was so fixated on putting them in her mouth I had to come up with a more edible alternative. 

Now at 22 months I figured it was time to give Bean another chance to explore this lovely play substance, and this time we had a blast!

I set up the invitation outside as I wasn't sure what the mess factor would be (FYI not too bad), and just laid out some scoops and lots of different size plastic containers. Bean loved handling the beads, running her fingers through them again and again, scooping, pouring, adding water, mixing, throwing, squashing...As you can see I didn't take many photos - I was playing too!

This is one of the most successful play invitations i've made in a while, and at only $3 for the water beads on eBay (including postage) its also the cheapest! The beads lasted for about three days of intense play and then started to get a bit mushy and break down.

Next time I plan to try them inside on the light panel for an extra sensory stay tuned :-)

Happy Playing!

B xx