Sunday, July 31, 2011

Making it Fun to Get Things Done: Morning and Evening High Fives!


With the birth of our third baby about eight weeks away, this Mama is going into overdrive to get everything ready to ensure a smooth transition to becoming a family of five. One of the most pressing things for me is to get Sweetpea and ArrowBoy a little more motivated to help with getting ready for the day, and for bedtime. They are quite capable of doing quite a bit around the house already, and thrive on routine, but I thought a little encouragement might go a long way to help me cope with things once the littlest one arrives.

  I recently saw a cute idea on Pinterest for creating a morning and evening 'High Five' chart and visited the blog where it originated,  called  Life as a Mom. You can read about their system for getting things done, and see her  High Five charts, here!

   I adapted ours a little according to things my children are capable of and familiar with doing every morning and evening. Actually, mornings around here go pretty smoothly, except maybe for an occasional clash of wills between myself and Sweetpea when it comes to choice of outfit! Evening routines are also pretty set and the children are comfortable with it, but I inevitably end up exhausted from cleaning up their books and toys after they've gone to bed. That has got to change!! So, two of our evening High Five fingers will hopefully remind me to get them started on clearing away their things before supper!

  I didn't glue down the fingers on our charts, as I thought it would be fun for the little ones to 'unfold' the High Fives as they get things done. I also used visual clues for my little non-readers so that they don't need to have to ask what comes next. I only included the things they do on their own. Fixing them breakfast or putting them to bed with a story, are things I do for them, so they are not part of our charts.

Our Morning High Five goes as follows:
1. Go to the Toilet
2. Get dressed and put away pyjamas
3. Make bed
4. Wash face and brush teeth
5. Brush hair

Our Evening High Five goes as follows:
1. Put away books
2. Put away toys
3. Take a bath
4. Brush teeth
5. Brush hair

   And can I confess a little something here? I actually really enjoy coming up with all kinds of nifty little ways to encourage my troop. Watch this space for more ideas of how I'd like to set my children up for success, and make it fun to get things done!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rainbow Tutu for my little princess

   One of the thousands of little things I just love about our daughter is the fact that she is such a contradiction of terms. For example, at the moment she spends most of her days dancing and dressing like a ballerina princess, while obsessing about all things Lightning McQueen! I so enjoy her being this age and to watch her loving things so passionately! And it gives me such a thrill to encourage her interests. So after reading Angelina Ballerina for the umpteenth time one night, I decided it was time to make the girl a tutu of her own. I found a great, very simple tutorial here and whipped up this little number in no time!

   Later that week we were invited for a princess-themed play date over at Trudie's from Fun with Little Mouse, and I thought a felt crown would be a fun addition to Sweetpea's outfit. Found a sweet little tutorial here - and had so much fun sewing those darling felt flowers!

  The play date was super fun, by the way!! Even the Little Prince had a great time! They decorated crowns...

...and cupcakes...

...and enjoyed every bit of it!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our Little Man's Second Birthday

Hold him a little longer
Rock him a little more
Tell him another story
(You've only told him four)
Let him sleep on your shoulder
Rejoice in his happy smile
He's only two and a half
For such a little while
~ Authour unknown ~

           Our little ArrowBoy turned two last Thursday, and although the poem above is about a two-and-a-half year old, it brought a lump to my throat, knowing that all too soon my little boy will, by the grace of God, be adding months...yes, and his age. He is my pensive one, my giver of kisses and hugs, who is happiest when he can crawl onto my lap or nestle his  head in my neck. He's a lover of stories and construction vehicles and Mickey Mouse and cleaning supplies; he's my diligent little dish washer, who loves to vacuum, and stir the food, and hide treasures in the bottom drawer of the freezer...or the microwave! He's a collector of little stones when we go for a walk, and a chaser of guinea fowls and ducks; he is..yes, a boy as per that cute little definition: A NOISE WITH DIRT ON!! And oh, how is it possible for one so small to have such immense brown eyes with which to render his Mama speechless and without resistance?


   This year, instead of having a birthday party for ArrowBoy, my husband took the day off from work and we all enjoyed a lovely day together! As per usual on special days, we started the day with a merry little breakfast. Since our little guy is really into all things construction at the moment, he woke up to his bowl of oats being served on site, complete with construction vehicles and road signs!

And then we were off to the Two Oceans Aquarium for the day. We saw some pretty cute penguins there, but THIS one was so adorable, we brought him home with us!

Birthday lunch at the Spur - you've got to love family restaurants on a day like this!

While the Dad and Sweetpea were absorbed in some serious colouring in...

ArrowBoy was enjoying the view of the harbour and all those big, beautiful boats coming and going!

And JUST because it's his birthday...a yummy strawberry milkshake!

Smiles all around!

Fun with dad.

And then...the absolute, ultimate, perfect highlight to this little man's day:

Just up the road from our home there are some major construction going on as our town's sewer system is upgraded and expanded. So earlier in the week I called the civils company that is doing all the excavations there at the moment, and arranged with the engineer in charge of the site to bring ArrowBoy around for a ride in the backhoe loader - his absolute favourite of all construction machines!

The engineer - a dad to a little boy just slightly older than ArrowBoy - was super nice and went to a ton of trouble for us. On arrival at the site Arrow was given a hard hat and fluorescent vest (the latter which turned out to be way too big for him, so we ditched that idea!).

While we waited for the loader to show up, the children were fascinated by a tipper truck off-loading some sand. 

The driver saw us watching and pointing, and invited us for a drive!! Let me tell you, 'twas a mission for this Preggy Belly to make it up into that cabin  - I had no idea just how high it was from the ground! But in we got and the children loved it - the massive cabin, the very bumpy ride, the crackle of the two-way radio...then we watched a loader scoop some more sand onto our truck, and soon our friend the engineer showed up with Arrow's ride of choice:

And finally, our kind engineer showed us just how to use all those fascinating levers to 'dig'. 

We could hardly get the boy back in the car - in fact, he stopped dead in his tracks and would not move an inch closer to the car, begging for "More hap-en-kap!" (his Afrikaans term for a backhoe loader). In the end the only thing that persuaded him to leave was...a promise of some birthday cake!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sewing up a storm...Matryoshka style!

Two years ago we had the privilege of being the host family for a lovely young lady from the Ukraine who participated in a year of spiritual equipping at our church. On her first visit to our home she surprised me with a lovely, hand-painted matryoshka key chain, and I have been in love with these sweet-faced Russian lassies ever since.

So when the pregnancy hormones recently drove me to a sewing frenzy, everything I touched smacked of matryoshka loveliness, and I thought I'd show you what I came up with:

Above: A rainbow fleece scarf. I actually made two, one for Sweetpea, and one for a dear little friend who had a birthday in June. Lesson learnt from this project: not all fleece is created equal. In fact,
 only the orange fleece I used on this scarf is the really nice, non-pilling kind. What a pity that our local fabric shops do not make an effort to stock the good quality stuff!!

Above: Two hairclip holders - again, one for Sweetpea, and one for her friend. I LOVED sewing these!!

Above: A while ago I bought a whole bunch of brightly coloured shopping bags on sale at Pep (seriously - they were R2, 99 each!! I couldn't resist!!) This merry little felt  lady sure spruces up this bag, don't you think?

She now accompanies us on our trips to the library and is very helpful in carrying our books back to the car!

Above: Another Pep treasure! This beanie cost me R6 (for US readers, that's not quite $1), and I just added a friendly felt lassie to dolly it up a bit! It's a hit with Miss Sweetpea, of course!

And my favourite Matryoshka-inspired piece of handiwork is a little pillow I embroidered..maybe for the new baby? I haven't quite found a spot for it yet, but it makes me smile every time I look at it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First steps in sewing: Paper Plate Weaving

One of my daughter's favourite toys for over a year now, is a lacing set where she 'sews' or laces different outfits onto a wooden doll's body. Having played with it over and over and over again over a this past year, she very quickly mastered the basic movements of hand sewing when I recently made her a 'sewing board' out of a recycled polystyrene plate. (Please click here if you missed that post).

It was soon time to move on to something a bit more challenging. First up was sweet little craft kit that required her to do some overhand stitching to complete a craft foam handbag. I think it came out really well, don't you?

And then I saw a picture for paper plate weaving on Pinterest a while ago, and it was the perfect next step! 

Here's the how-to:

(I used small paper plates so as to not discourage her with a project that will take forever to complete.) Glue two paper plates together to make it a bit more sturdy, and then use scissors to cut little notches into the rim of the plate. 

Now loop some wool across the plate, anchoring it in the notches. This is a picture of our first attempt, but the web was too 'dense' and chubby little toddler fingers would have struggled to weave this, so I undid it and only looped it around every second notch. (I really hope I am making sense here??)

Next, thread a plastic needle (available at shops that sell knitting supplies, or in children's craft kits) with wool or yarn of your choice. We are currently learning about pastel colours and a few skeins of soft baby colours was our palette of choice! 

Knot the end of your yarn around one of the strands in the center of your 'web' and start weaving! I did about half of the light green weaving in the center first, just to get out of the denser webbing before I handed it to Sweetpea. 

When you are ready to change colours, just tie the end of your new colour to the last bit of the previous colour and continue merrily along!!

When you have finished your masterpiece, cut loose the loops that formed your web and tie them together in pairs to stop your weaving from unraveling.

Note from this very proud Mama: Apart from about half of the green circle in the center, and me knotting the wool for her when she needed to change colours, Sweetpea did this project entirely on her  own. I showed her how to keep the weaving nice and tight, and she did an EXCELLENT job of this - I am VERY proud of my 3 1/2 year old for her beautiful work!!

Linking this to ABC and 123's Show & Tell and Beneath the Rowan Tree's Weekly Playdate

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pastel coloured egg cup wreath

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?  
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

We have been playing around with 'colour families' and are currently having fun with pastels!! Think marshmallows, cotton wool, babies and spring, and you'll get the general idea!

Spring is still a few months away and the dismal greyness and wetness of a Cape Town winter sometimes threatens this Joyful Mama's joy in a serious we decided to create our own spring time cheer in anticipation of what's to come! The result: a merry little wreath made of painted egg cup flowers! (I got the inspiration for this wreath here).

We started by cutting loose the cups from some empty egg cartons...and then turned each little cup into a 'flower' by slitting the sides and pushing them open to form petals.

Next, we painted our flowers in pretty pastel colours,

...and painted a cardboard ring light green.

Then we glued pom-poms for the flowers' centers...

and stuck all the flowers onto our cardboard ring.

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"  ~Robin Williams

If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.  ~Terri Guillemets

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.  ~Bern Williams

Linking this to ABC and 123's Show & Tell


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