Salt Art – Heart of Tifiti

Salt art was a new experience in our house. It was perfect opportunity to use a new art process to explore the story of Moana, which is still a firm favourite in this house.

You will need

A3 white paper

Water colour paints

PVA glue

Salt

Food colouring

Pippettes

Paint brushes

Salt Art Process

We began by painting our sheet of paper in various shades of greens and yellows.  It was a lovely opportunity to explore mixing paints to make different shades of greens.

After this was dry we began the salt art. The first step was to create the spiral shapes using PVA glue. Our glue was in a squeezy bottle which gave Meemoo and Pook a workout for their hands. it is quiet a skill to squeeze the bottle and to get the glue to make the shape you desire when you are only little.

Next we gave our paper a liberal coating of salt and after shook off the excess. Now it was ready to add the colour. I had mixed a few drops of yellow  and green food colouring with some water.  Meemoo and Pook used a syringe to suck up some water and drop it onto the salt.  They enjoyed watching the colour travel along the salt. It was difficult to be precise and some off the ink leaked into the paper.

Our guest blogger, Sarah,  used the same process to make Salt Art sea animals.

It is a really fun process and an interesting way for children to make pictures.

 

Travelling with Kids

Travelling with kids, something you cant avoid, especially if you are a family of expats.

There is often a trip planned somewhere in this house. By the end of the year I think we will have flown 10 times and been on at least 5 long train journeys!! Meemoo and Pook have got used to travelling.

 

Here are our 5 top travelling tips

Activities for travelling with kids

This is crucial to preventing boredom, little people are less keen to sit and watch the world go by.  For Meemoo and Pook I pack a bag with a few simple activities

  • Plain paper and pencils
  • Storybooks
  • Favourite small figures
  • Blind Bag Toy

The girls do also have a tablet to play on (well they nick Speedy’s and mine) but I try to save it until we are part way into our journey. This adds a bit of excitement as it is not something they play on regularly.

Food

I make sure I take snacks and then spare snacks and a few more. The trickiest times we have had , have been when the hunger monster strikes.  I plan our travels around the food, what we are going to eat where and when.  Meemoo and Pook also love to suck on a lollipop as we take off. I have no idea if it stops their ears popping as most of the time they crunch them, but it gives them something to do. Also if they are really tired it must remind them of sucking on a dummy as they will often fall asleep part way through!

Toilet Time 

Going to the toilet becomes something of an obsession when we are travelling. Most of the time we see one and have time we just go to the toilet. Lots of the reason for this is that Meemoo has been difficult to toilet train , so we still have lots of reminders! There is nothing worse than having carry around wet/dirty pants for the rest of the journey. TBH I have often just binned them!

Tantrums!

Its a fact, someone, somewhere will have a strop while travelling.  Go with it and try distraction or offer one of the spare snacks!

 Time to travel with kids

Time, is often a major cause for stress. It is no fun running for a plane or train with 2 children in tow and lots of baggage.  We recently missed our train by four minutes so next time we travel I will be making sure we have even more to spare.

 

What are your top travelling tips?

Leave a comment , we love to read them!

 

Balcony Play Space

Our balcony has become our new play space. Outdoor play spaces, I think are just as valuable as having a decent place to play inside.

Since we have moved to a flat , Meemoo and Pook have a small balcony to play, which is not quiet the same as having a garden to run freely in when you are 3 storeys high!

Rethinking our outdoor play 

Having a balcony and being three storeys high meant I rethink of how Meemoo and Pook would play outside. What exactly could they do safely in the space? How would we make the space safe?

How we created a  safe balcony play space?

The first concern being so high in the sky is safety. Our balcony had railings but they were not safe enough. It was too easy to throw toys threw the bars or climb up them.  The first thing we did was to buy some safety barrier in a lovely shade of green.

Our balcony also has a large section of wall that protruded into the space. The safest way to manage this risk , was by buying the biggest plant pot that would fit in the space. There is no space left to climb and it is too heavy for the girls to move.

Lastly in an effort to deter Meemoo from climbing I ensured we bough folding furniture that would not be left out as a climbing temptation.

How do we use our new  balcony play space? 

With a little space, I have managed to squeeze in many different play opportunities.

Meemoo and Pook adore playing in their house, which fits perfectly in the space.  It allows them to continue their many role play games from inside and does not stop their game. ( Yes it does mean toys are dribbled from one of my flat to the other!)

Water play is floor based with our new waterways toy. It is a wonderful toy for exploration of how water flows and moves.  We also have a small paddling pool, just big enough for the two of them to get in and cool down!

We no longer have our mud kitchen but we have in miniature a small box of natural objects to explore.

Perhaps one of my favourite things is our new painting easels. It was easily made from an old cardboard box and some pegs use to attach it to the fence. Meemoo and Pook had a great time painting. I cant wait to set it up again when the weather is dry.

Amazingly this all fits, with space still for a little running and perhaps more importantly for my table and chair to sit at and drink tea while they are playing outside.

How do you use your outdoor space? What is your children’s favourite thing to play with?

 

Disneyland Paris Top 5

Disney top 5 for under 5s , my 5 top tips to make the best out of a trip to Disneyland Paris.

Early Magic Hours 

Early Magic Hours are an exclusive privilege for guests staying at all Disneyland Paris  hotels on site.  Basically you are allowed into the park from 8 am until 10 am before it opens to the general public. Only certain area and attractions are open.

It is an effort to get up early when you are on holiday but we used those 2 hours to get so much done.  It is a great time to meet some characters, in Main Street. We managed to meet Minnie, Chip and Dale and Donald Duck without too much of a queue.

We also used the time to ride some of the more popular rides, Peter Pans Flights, Dumbo’s flying and Buzz Light Year Laser Blast. It was a favourite ride and we would do it many times in a row, taking full advantage of no queue. In total we managed to ride it 10 times in our holiday!

Our favourite things to do

Meemoo and Pook enjoyed many of the rides at Disneyland Paris and there was plenty to do without worrying about the bigger roller coasters. Truthfully since a terrifying ride on Indiana Jones Temple of Doom about 15 years ago, when it went backwards!  I came off green, I have not enjoyed the big roller coaster since. The majority of the rides that the girls enjoyed where in Fantasy land.

At risk of writing a list in a list our favourites were

In the Disneyland Park

  • Buzz Light years Laser Blast
  • Its a Small World
  • Carousel
  • Peter Pans Flight
  • Storybook boats
  • Runaway Train
  • Dumbo

In Walt Disney Studios Park

  • Slinky Dog
  • Aladdin’s flying carpets

Make time to watch the parades and the shows.  They are great opportunity to rest weary legs in the middle of the day. Also more importantly they were just amazing and equally favourite along with all of the rides.

Things to take to Disneyland Paris

Apart from the basics we found  a few things invaluable on our trip to Disneyland Paris.  Water bottles to refill at the various water fountains dotted all over both parks. It was a life saver on a hot sunny day to have a free drink with us as branded drinks are expensive in the parks.

The other item was a pocket picnic blanket. It folds up very small and was great to put down to sit on when waiting for a parade or a show, after the a rain shower and especially as Meemoo and Pook spent all week dressed in costumes that I did not want them to ruin wriggling around on on the outdoor floor.

After much debate we did take a stroller, tho it is not used at home anymore.  it was so useful for resting tired little legs and a handy place to hang all your bags of junk. We did take a bike lock for it but only used it once. I always made sure that I left nothing on or in the pushchair!

Book meals

You can book your meals 60 days before you arrive. Now I know this sounds mad deciding where you want to eat and when before you have even packed to go on holiday. Lots of the more popular restaurants and character dining  get booked up way in advance.  It was one less thing to have to organise each day when we were all tired and hungry. It did not really get in the way of what we wanted to do . The majority of our meals were booked for 6:30 pm , by which time we were ready for dinner and bed! 10 hours in the parks is pretty exhausting.

Enjoy the magic

Take the time to stop, enjoy the magic because it is a magical place to be. Enjoy the music playing in each of the lands, take time to dance to it up the street, look up at the buildings, look at all the amazing attention to detail and soak it all up. Enjoy watching your children’s eyes sparkle.

We had the best trip and I don’t think it will be long until we return!

My Sunshine Girls

This is my story, it is not one I have told very often, but I am telling it now.

June is SANDS awareness month.  While I have not been affected by a still birth or neonatal death, I have experienced a miscarriage and mine was in June.

7 years ago on my 30th birthday Speedy and I were so excited to be going for our 12 week scan. It had been touch and go to see if we would even  make it this far.  I had had a bleed at 7 weeks. It was the most terrifying thing,  and not helped by the fact that I was on a school trip with the whole of my Foundation unit, 40 children, 7 members of staff and countless parent helpers relying on me!  After waiting to see GP that evening, and another week long wait for a scan, the bleeding had stopped, there was a heartbeat. I was given two weeks rest but that was all. I assumed as time went by , as we got closer to 12 weeks, we were past the worst.

The Scan

After a nervous wait it was our turn. The nurse seemed to look for ages, then she said

“I cannot see a heartbeat”

We were told to drive to our nearest general hospital where we would need another scan. I barely uttered a word. Speedy drove us to the hospital. We drove in silence neither of us daring to speak for not being able to keep it all together.   The second scan confirmed the worst, there was no heartbeat. I then had a choice, natural miscarriage, D and C or medically induced miscarriage.  I was frozen, I couldn’t make a choice. We went home with a bunch of leaflets explaining our options. It was a long drive home, trying to hold it all together till we got through our front door.

Medical Induction 

Still to this day I have no idea why I chose this. Fear of going under the knife, strange hope. It was ok tho, a few days before I was given a pessary and then a few days after more in the hospital where we spent the day playing trivial pursuit, watching Wimbledon final and British Grand Prix, in between me passing clots and eventually our ‘beany baby’.  Distraction was our aim of the day, distraction was my best way of coping. I went home the same day, the pain was manageable with a few paracetamol .

Road to recovery 

Brutal honesty, it took a long time, a very long time, until I held Pook in my arms 13 months later. I struggled all through my pregnancy to imagine bringing the baby home.  I remember feeling that the bottom had fallen out of my world and I had no idea how to begin to put it back together. My motto became

‘Just do something’

The idea being to do anything to keep moving forward in life while still being so sad. That the grief would become less all encompassing with time. Running helped. I ran a lot that Autumn.

People did not know what to say to me and I heard many platitudes

“It was meant to be.”

“You will be stronger.”

“You can try again.” (Personally this is the most stupid! Why would you want another baby when you are mourning for the one you lost. )

Others have far sadder stories and difficulties. We need to share them, there is nothing wrong or right about them . They are our stories and we need to be proud of them. Seven years later people still blog about stigma of miscarriage. So here I am standing with them telling my story.

My Sunshine Girls 

I was lucky, I only had one miscarriage

 

 

 

Sensory Sea Play

Sensory Sea play was a fun alternative to water play. I set it up while Meemoo was recovering and needed to keep her hand dry.  I decided to use rice as the base. Rice is very easy to dye. Rice is also pretty easy to sweep up when it inevitably gets spread about.

How to dye rice

  • Spread the rice out on a flat tray
  • Drop over blobs of food colouring

  • Mix the food colouring through the rice until it is well coated
  • Leave to dry overnight.

Setting up Sensory Sea Play

The rice was put in a clear deep sided container. I added another handful of white rice to the box and mixed it through. Next I added

  • sea shells and a stones
  • plastic fish and coral

I set it out to play on a piece of blue fabric I had spare.

Meemoo enjoyed playing with the rice. She added her Aerial doll and Flounder. We then created some stories using Aerial and the fish. Pook came home and joined in the play. The play then changed again as Pook added cups and spoons for pouring, filing and stirring. Later in the week when the play was returned too I add some tweezers. This provided a perfect opportunity to practice fine motor skills.

Fine motor control practice

Children need many varied opportunities to practice their fine motor control. It is a large part of a young child’s development that takes many years of refining both pre school and when in school.

In this activity Meemoo had the opportunity to

  • practice the pincer movement needed for holding writing implements
  • hand eye co ordination to fill up the cups

Sensory Sea play , relatively easy to set up and not too messy.  Give it a go, we love to see your play ideas too!

 

If you enjoy my blog, sign up to get new posts direct to your inbox.

Thank you for reading x

Toddler Trigger Thumb

Toddler Trigger thumb was something I had not heard of until Meemoos thumb was bent and stuck!

What is Toddler Trigger Thumb?

Toddler Trigger thumb occurs in young children. It is when the tendon has swollen and cannot glide easily resulting in your child thumb being locked in a bent position. In Meemoos case she also had a bump at the base of her thumb. It looked odd her thumb bent like that that. It caused her no pain. The only thing was she did not use it. She would  struggle with buttons. After many months of x rays and scans we finally saw a specialist at the hospital who diagnosed it straight away! I was relieved that it  was not caused by us being unaware of her damaging her thumb.   Surgery was recommended as her thumb had been so stuck for so long there was not much hope of it naturally correcting itself.

Preparing for Surgery

Meemoo was told very little about her surgery.  She knew that this time we saw the Doctors they would fix her thumb, while she had a special sleep and that when she woke up she would have a bandage on her thumb.  It was just enough information for her in the days leading up to her surgery.  The trickiest part was the morning of the surgery when she was nil by mouth.  We tackled it by basically not letting her see anyone eat. It meant we ate while she was out of the room or quickly stuffing food into your face while hiding in the kitchen. But as parents I am sure many of us are well practised in that sneaky trick!

Surgery and Immediately after 

Meemoo was very relaxed going down to surgery, mainly to some relaxing medicine she was given and the nurse blowing bubbles for her! She seemed a tad bemused when I left but no tears.

Trigger Thumb Surgery is very short and it was over within an hour. I went back to sit with her in recovery.  It took her a while to come round but when she did she was not a happy girl. I had read previously that the anaesthetic plus fact that they wake up hooked up to monitors,  IV and bandaged hands is a tad scary for them. Once Meemoo realised this was the case she got very upset. She wanted to ‘GET OUT’ and ‘GET IT ALL OFF.’

I was glad I knew this could be the case, it made it easier to calm her down.  Once she was allowed to eat and drink, well never seen someone so pleased with a cheese sandwich!

After Care 

I was concerned about this, an active toddler with a large bandage on her hand for 2 weeks!  She has needed to keep it dry and cannot ride her bike or scooter. However apart from needing to cut up her food, help her with getting dressed and going to the bathroom she has been fine. Pretty unstoppable in fact, trying to climb at the park with one hand! So roll on Tuesday when the bandages come off and the stitches come out!

 

Summer of Fun 2017

Summer of Fun 2017 is gonna be the best! Trust me on this.

Summer of Fun is  a simple set of play plans which are currently being fine tuned to help you have a fab summer playing with your little ones.  The play ideas are open ended and broad .

Whats the reasoning behind Summer of Fun 2017?

The idea behind Summer of Fun 2017  is that each day there is simple activity which can be a springboard for free play. Free play is the best, it is when your child or children are engrossed and don’t actually need you.  Free play is when a child is free to explore their ideas, thoughts, and make new connections about the world around them. So walk away and grab a coffee.

Summer of Fun is not about over planning children’s time and rushing from one thing to the next. It is not about adding stress to a busy life.

Summer of Fun is about finding a little time each day with your child to play together. They are designed to be simple to set up using basic items, paper, paints, glue and toys you already have.  We all know the oldest trick right?! Moving toys and playing with them in a new space or a new way opens up a whole new world of discovery. Yes I mean muddling them up and mixing all the tiny bits and pieces from sets together!  And it goes without saying that sometimes a mess is made, but the mess below led us to create our own paper.

Themed Days

Making Mondays 

Get all the craft mess out one one day and create to your hearts content!

Trip out Tuesdays

This does not have to be an impressive and amazing trip, some of the best days are the ones spent at your local park.

Wacky Wednesdays 

A day for Messy play, play dough, slime, gloop, we have got it covered!

Thinking Thursdays 

A day to give those Summer holiday brains a little work out with activities based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths!

Foodie Fridays

Spend a day in the kitchen cooking up a storm!

 

So why not join up and join in?!  It ain’t gonna cost ya!

Moana Toilet roll Figures

Moana Toilet Roll figures a simple, fun activity especially if like me, you have a child who lives and dreams the new Disney film.

Meemoo and I enjoyed our morning making these Moana toilet roll figures.

You will need

Toilet Rolls
Felt in different colours
Tissue paper in different colours
Googly Eyes
Felt Pens
Glue
Scissors

We began by looking carefully at pictures and our Moana figures to decide what colours we needed. I sat back and let Meemoo take charge in the deciding. She chose to make Moana. At the same time I made Maui alongside her. It is sometimes hard as an adult not to take over a child’s art, as we with good intentions want to show them how to do it.  As I sat alongside and made Maui it was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how to physically make the characters. Importantly it meant I was not taking over her creation , she could see first hand how to make them. So yes they are slightly wonky but that is exactly how they need to be, Meemoo is very proud of her work.

Meemoo’s Moana inspired figure

Pook’s Pua inspired figure

Fine motor control practice

Children need many varied opportunities to practice their fine motor control. It is a large part of a young child’s development that takes many years of refining both pre school and when in school.

In this activity Meemoo had the opportunity to

  • use scissors
  • wrap thing around and enclose a object
  • squeeze out glue and spread
  • position objects to create an effect

What is your child current favourite characters? Have a go at making some toilet roll figures and share your creations with us.

If you enjoy my blog, sign up to get new posts direct to your inbox.

Thank you for reading x

Play Spaces

Play spaces are important for both children and adults. Children need a space to play and adults, well we need a space free from all the toys.

Play spaces, I love creating them. In our last house we were fortunate to have a dedicated playroom. It is still fondly refereed to as the Rainbow room. When I knew we would be moving a play space was one of the many top priorities. Now we find ourselves living happily in our 2 bed flat, still with spaces for play.

Family Room Play Space

Our flat we has one very large room, that is multi functional, within, which I have created  a space to play.

We have limited storage, which was a conscious decision. Meemoo and Pook have 6 boxes of toys to choose from, plus Lego and drawing/writing things out all of the time.

The boxes are only half full, with the intention for them to remain that way. The boxes are themed.

Meemoo and Pook have a varied selection and there is often

  • puzzles and games
  • small world toys
  • role play toys
  • wheeled toys
  • toys relating to their current interests
  • dolls and princesses

Most days tidying up is as painless as it can be with a 3 year old and a 5 year old as both girls know what goes in what box. I have a spare set of 6 boxes in the loft and I rotate the toys roughly every 6 weeks.

Bedroom Play Spaces

It has been an adjustment having a shared bedroom. I am constantly trying to make best use of the space. Meemoo and Pook are currently have an Ikea Kura bed as a set of bunk beds. It works well for now and the main priority for us is that Pook is not too high up. The girls love to play in their bedroom together, something that they did not do much before. I have decided that ‘less is more’ when it comes to the toys which are available to them in this room.

I have created a space for all the dollies, a table top play place for small world that is easily rotated and a dressing up area, with a limited number of costumes on offer.

 

So that is a quick round up of our play spaces for now and how they are set up. It is always a work in progress. Currently I am trying to add more decoration, a challenge in a beige rented flat! I also need to find a better Lego solution.

What play spaces do your children have in your home?


If you enjoy my blog, sign up to get new posts direct to your inbox.

Thank you for reading x