Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oh Boy # 4 - Taking a little nip!

Whenever ArrowBoy hears me filling the watering can to quench the flowers on our patio, he makes straight for the tap, and the moment I move away, he is right there with his mouth open to catch a few drops of delicious coolness!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dining IN with the Elephant Cafe - what a treat!!

      I know that many of the local moms who read this blog also work full-time outside the home, so I have a treat especially for you today! I was recently asked to review some
child-friendly, healthy, ready-made meals (yes, it is actually possible to use those four words in one sentence!!)  from a delightful little company called Elephant Cafe.

     So let me tell you straight away that the food was great!! We received samples of Charlie's Cottage Pie and Fab Fish Pie to try. Sweetpea is a real meat lover, and Arrow always prefers fish, "and so betwixt the two of them , they licked the platter clean!" They did each have a taste of the other's dish, but in the end stuck to their own. And of course Mama 'helped' a little, and I can definitely see why the bambinos were happy: no 'offending' textures or overwhelming flavours, or any 'visible' vegetables - shhhh...don't tell them that it is actually just chopped up really small!

   And that is how Elephant Cafe got started, actually: The owner's daughter was a very fussy eater. When her parents finally 'struck gold' with a recipe that contained some healthy  'goody, goody goodness' AND met with approval from their
daughter, it was just too good to keep to themselves. They "decided to create yummy, healthy kids meals packed with all the stuff kids need without any of those things they don´t."  Yes, their meals are free of added sugar, salt or preservatives!

You can choose from
  • Charlies' Cottage Pie
  • Cheesy Peasy Pasta
  • Fab Fish Pie
  • Messy Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Very Vegetable Lasagne

The highlight of our taste test had to be the SQUISH SMOOTHIES that were delivered with our samples, though. In fact, as far as ArrowBoy was concerned, I could have left out the food altogether, as long as he could have had some more Squish! Although called a smoothie, these are really little pouches of fruit puree that contain ONLY FRUIT. NO sugar, NO preservatives, colourants, or any other yucky stuff! I love the packaging, too: these wont spill easily, and even a really little guy like Arrow can handle it all by himself!

Squish is the brain child of the owner of the Elephant Cafe, too!
It is made locally and is full of yummy goodness.

Other flavours in the range:
  • Apple and Guava
  • Tropical

ArrowBoy enjoying the Pears and Berries version.

And just finishing off the Bananas and Strawberries, too!

Aaaw, is it really all gone??

   Another treat is a visit to Elephant Cafe's website. The design alone speaks volumes about what this company is about: no-nonsense, simple, child-friendly products. The site it easy to navigate and chock-full of information about nutrition, reclycing, and of course how to order their scrummy meals. By clicking on each menu item you can see a picture of the meal, and get imporatnt details about ingredients, allergy advice, nutritional information, and heating instructions (1.5 mins in the microwave on high is all it takes!)

From their website:

It is important for us to keep our kids healthy so it seems only right to keep our planet healthy too, so our kids can continue to enjoy it. We know we´re not perfect but we are doing our bit to be environmentally responsible.

Things we do

  • All our packaging, although made of plastic, is fully recyclable. We do use thin plastic trays in an effort to reduce the raw material needed. Reusing the trays is a great way to reduce waste. Our kids use them for mixing paint or as battleships in their bath tub wars. When you do need to throw them away please put them in the recycling waste. If your area doesn’t have the recycling man, then we’ll collect your old trays on our next delivery and dispose for you.

  • Even our food scraps feed the hungry. We have our own worm farm and all our vegetable peelings and organic waste are fed to our hungry worms who work very hard in their factory turning this into natural fertilizer for the garden. Anything our worms can’t finish is given to Tessa, the school piggy.

   Sweet, aren't they?? OK, so now all that's left for you busy busy busy mommies out there is to place your orders for supper! For more information, please visit, or call 082-728-4263, and enjoy!
*Please note that I have not received payment for this review. I was given free samples to try, though,  in exchange for an honest review of the product.*

Friday, October 22, 2010

Creation Collage

I think spring is a great time to be learning about how God created the earth!

We have had tons of fun every morning with our Creation Bean Bags, and reading and singing about God's handiwork. And after all that, we sat down every morning to work on our lovely creation collage. I was hoping to give you day-by-day pictures, but I have been having some camera issues, so can only share with you the end result:

For the background we used a large, very thick cardboard circle, and every day we added collage elements according to the particular day of Creation we were studying.

Not bad facial features for a 33 month old! Old Adam could maybe have looked a little more pleased with his newly acquired help meet, though! Sweetpea says the green is their hair. 

The sea is tin foil glued onto the board, and then painted over. Sweetpea liked painting on the textured, wrinkled foil.

Our moon is the top of a baby powder bottle. And it has a story: Late one Monday afternoon I was dreamily stirring a pot of something on the stove and relishing the fact that our house was so lovely and clean after a hard day of cleaning. I was right in the middle of savouring that thought when Sweetpea tugged at my skirt and said: "Mamma, I think you should come see what ArrowBoy is doing with the powder."

He had taken the cap off with his teeth and dumped the entire bottle of baby powder on Sweetpea's bedroom carpet. By the time I arrived, they have had a chance to walk around a bit, and I only had to follow the little white footprints down the carpeted passage to find the scene of the crime. Powder in our hair, on our clothes, in our library books... But how can anyone be upset about a mess that smells so great?!

These clouds used to be much fluffier...but thenArowBoy got a hold of them and...well, ate them. Yes. That's my boy: Little Cloud Eater. Sounds like the name of an Indian Brave, doesn't it?! *Giggles*

Sweetpea really enjoyed working on this and couldn't wait for her brother to go for his nap every morning so we could get into it! (For obvious reasons! We just forgot to put it out of his way when he woke up on that day we did the clouds...!) And when Daddy came home for lunch, she very excitedly showed off her latest addition to the picture. I found it a fun and concrete way to teach the subject.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Win tickets to JOHANNESBURG BABA INDABA 2010!!

All of you who are in the Jo'Burg area this weekend, be sure not to miss the
at the Sandton Convention Centre!
It's on from Friday, 22 October to Sunday, 24 October,
from 9h30 - 17h00 daily.
You can WIN a set of double tickets - see bottom of this post!

  Baba Indaba is South Africa’s premier "baby expo", or more correctly "baby, toddler and parenting expo", held annually in the cities of Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg. This truly South African baby show inspires you, the parents and moms-to-be to enjoy your baby and pregnancy and have fun while being a good parent. The Baby and Kids entertainment is also unsurpassed.

   The first time I attended the Baba Indaba down here in Cape Town, was when I was pregnant with Sweetpea. What a great place for a new mom to see firsthand all the amazing baby products out there! That was where I bought my trusty Rhubarb & Custard Baby sling, which has kept two little Joyful Babies snuggled close to Mama from the first day I brought them home. The friend who was with me that day bought a real nifty little container for freezing home-made baby food in - I remember it being launched at the show, and have seen it in many homes since then. That's the great thing about the show - you get to see and touch some fabulous products for yourself, and you can ask questions and advice from people in the know. It really is a great interactive experience for parents and little ones alike.

From the official Baba Indaba Website:
"Bringing the manufacturers, suppliers and retailers of baby care products together with parents and pregnant moms, this collaboration with great exhibitors creates an inspirational and stimulating expo packed with information, shopping, show specials and fun for you and your baby. The range of cute, new and innovative baby products provides plenty of interest for grandparents and even friends looking for that ideal gift for the “Baby Shower”.

At Baba Indaba you will find everything from prams and baby joggers to vitamin supplements and vaccinations; from toddler music and nursery furniture; from nutritional and medical products to pool safety and video cameras. In fact everyone with an interest in babies, children and parenting will find something new and exciting at Baba Indaba. You will view and experience everything that you could possibly want for bumps, babies and toddlers; all under one roof."

To WIN a set of double tickets to Baba Indaba Johannesburg 2010, you need to do the following:
  • E-mail your answer to by the end of business on Wednesday, 20 October 2010.
  • Be sure to put Joyful Mama's Place in the subject line.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Papier Mache Houses

Welcome to Rainbow Juice Box Village!

I just couldn't resist the shape of these empty juice boxes - it was begging me to turn them into little houses!

So I cut out the doors and windows with a craft knife...

And gave them a single layer of papier mache - just strips of newspaper dipped in diluted white glue - and left them in the sun to dry.

Then one coat of white PVA paint (latex paint, if you are in the US)...

And the best part of all: painting them in pretty pretty rainbow colours! I sealed it all with two layers of water-based, non-toxic varnish.

I left them in the pot of pansies while I went in to grab my camera, and would you believe it, when I got back, some friendly new neighbours had already moved in!!

If you ever have trouble getting into your house, the resident Big Friendly Giant will kindly assist you.

And if you get tired of the country setting and would like a taste of the hustle and bustle of Big City Life, that can be arranged, too! This gives new meaning to the term 'mobile home!'

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How we use our creation bean bags

One of our favourite CD's is The Singing Bible that I ordered from Focus on the Family two Christmasses ago. Sweetpea was still a bit young then and the snippets of narration between the songs didn't appeal to her then, but I took it out again a few months ago, and now it is requested daily!

(South African readers: Click on the link above to order from

The set consists of four CD's that tell the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation through song and short bits of narration that tie it all together. My favourite things about this set are, firstly, the message of God's love that runs through all the songs like a golden thread, and secondly, the wide variety of music genres that were used.

One of our favourite songs is track three on the first CD, called God made the Universe! and since we've been learning about the wonderful way in which God created the world in six days, I decided to use this song as a starting point for our learning. To make it more concrete and visual, I made six felt 'pockets' for our bean bags - one for each day of the Creation story. If you missed the post earlier this week, you can click here to see how I made them.

So here is how we play:

First we read the Creation Story from the Children's Bible each morning.

Then I bring out the appropriate bean bag for that day and we discuss the picture on it.

Then it is music time! Although we sing the whole song through every morning, on the first morning we only played with the Day One bean bag. Whenever the words: "Day One - God made the night and the day!" were sung, Sweetpea and I would toss the bean bag to each other, and then continue with the actions we made up for the chorus. The following day we added the Day Two bean bag, the next day the Day Three one, an so on. As the number of bean bags increase, so does the fun, and we usually end up in an exhausted, giggling heap from trying to catch and toss all the bags!

We have also played with these by lining the bags up in a row on our living room floor, and as each day is called out in the song, we would hop over to the appropriate bag - lovely gross motor fun on less-than-perfect spring days!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Creation bean bags

      We have been doing a lot of fun activities around the Creation Story lately and to make it more concrete and visual, I made up a set of six Creation Bean Bags that we have been using in many exciting ways!

   To make the pouches, I cut strips of blue felt a little wider than our bean bags, and sewed the sides closed, leaving a little flap at the back, to which I sewed a plastic press-stud. The pictures were glued down with fabric glue and left to dry under a stack of heavy phone directories overnight.

    I used some of the heavy duty bean bags that I sell. They are made from sturdy bull denim, and filled with PVC pellets instead of real beans. This means they can be washed in a normal washing machine (a great benefit if you have children like mine who seem to learn about their world primarily through their sense of taste!!). Also, beans and lentils can get moldy - no such problem with the plastic pellets!

   So I just slip the bean bags into their felt pouches for the duration of our Creation 'theme', and can then put them away until later ( I will store them with our felt board themes - you can click here to see how I keep our felt themes together in a tidy, 'compact' way!)

Here are close-ups of the bean bags for each day:

 I appologise for the pictures that are on their sides. I have tried and tried to get them right side up, but to no avail.)



1. We played a silly bean bag toss game while we listened to the song God made the Universe from our The Singing Bible CD - more about this in another post later this week.

2. Make a masking tape grid with six squares on the living room floor. Place paper plates that are numbered 1 to 6 in each square. Place the bean bags in a line at your child's feet. As you call out the number of the day, she must pick the correct square and toss the bag onto the plate in that square!

3. On the first morning that we used these, I presented them in a 'lesson' similar to the Montessori Godly Play style. Click here for a video that shows how to go about this.

*Please note: you could also make a seventh bag with nothing on it to show that God rested on the seventh day. I only had six bean bags, so whenever we spoke about the seventh day, we would stretch out dramatically and say: "On day Seven, God rested in Heaven!" *

I also linked this post to Se7en's Friday Link Up and

Oh Boy! # 3 - Mommy's little helper, and a new haircut

ArrowBoy loves to help me wash the dishes. I took these photos one evening after supper last week. We had just finished the dishes, and the little man then proceeded to wipe clean his step stool, too.

He was starting to look like a Beatle with those woolly locks, so I finally talked the Dad into giving him a hair cut. It was a team effort with Dad cutting, me taking video and Sweetpea entertaining him!

It's a bit choppy around the ears, because he kept turning his head to try and see the scissors!

My handsome young man!


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