Monday, July 30, 2012

Be My Little Baby

 Being a "Baby"
Being a Big Girl

When O was a baby, she didn't like being wrapped up like a baby.
She is all for suggesting swaddling now that she is growing so quickly out of babyhood. Far too fast for me, but sometimes I think too fast for her too.
I remember reading that it's always good, no matter how old your child is, to make them feel like a baby every once in a while. It is a good way to connect with those early feel-good days when you are in someone's arms most of the time; spoken to with high-pitched coo's and blamed for absolutely nothing but your perfectness.

Being a toddler has to be hard work. 
You want to do everything you see everyone else doing, but your body just can't keep up! O is your typical toddler, soaking up everything she see's and hear's like a sponge, only to repeat our actions and words when we would least likely want her to; oblivious to us that she was paying attention at all, until it is far too late! 

O likes to be wrapped up in a blankie, rocked like a baby and smirks when I give her the high-pitched "OOH you are such a CUTE little baby..coochie coochie coo!!"

Then once she has had her fill of baby time and fueled up to return to the wacky world of toddlerhood, she is back to being a Big Girl, holding a pencil in her mouth as we wrap up wood projects and choosing the tall stool to sit on, even though the small one is sitting right there!

Canadian Girls with Curls in Shanghai

 Hungry for Hand! (Three months old +)
Still wanting that hand! (Twenty months old +)

If you put your right ear to your shoulder, the top picture looks twice as cute!

O & Little Hollywood just seem to be getting cuter as they age.
(If only they could share their secret!)
The girls were Belly Buddies back in the day and met each other formally, not long after their introduction to the world. It is a treat for us to get to see them grow into little girls, both Canadians, born in Shanghai.

Friday, July 27, 2012

this moment

"no words, just a single moment this week. a moment i want to remember."
A Friday blog along ritual, inspired by SouleMama

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Baby Pool
Bathing Beauty

O talks about 'simming' all day long.
When we aren't going to a pool, she asks to swim in the tub!
Yesterday we joined friends for O's first experience in a kiddie pool, so I was lucky enough to get some snapshots while attempting to stay dry! (the little wet seals thought it was a great idea to slide into the pool head-first from the edge!)

O & T are three days apart and very cute to watch together! O is heavy on the hugs and T is, to put it simply; ravishing! T's mommy had a whole pool party for two; water pistols, bubbles, balls & baskets. A fabulous sensory experience for the toddlers!

Take tips from T's Mommy! A rich waterplay experience involves load of floaties and vessels for water transport; water pistols, plastic baskets with holes {worked well as a 'shower'!), balls for floating. The bubbles were a beautiful addition! Clever Mommy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit!

 Smile of Approval!
Recipient reviewing the product. Quality check etc.

Odds & sods of scrap material are perfect for stitching up a few bean bags; simple, inexpensive toy with tons of play opportunity.

Pictured are three sets of bean bags, approximately 5x5 inches square each.
Every bag is sewn twice along each edge to avoid possible spillage.

One set of bean bags contains teeny tiny mung beans.
The second set, medium-sized red beans.
The third set, large lima beans.
Each pattern is filled with each kind of bean.

I tested the new project on my toy-tester.
She reviewed the patterns.
Tested the quality.
Then started gnawing on the bags with mung beans.
I think they started sprouting today!

Note: Spot clean only. Do not soak!

Match Patterns. Like separating laundry, little people can start learning about pattern by matching the bean bags with the same designs.

Bean Guess. Using several types of beans or grains gives different weight and texture. By feeling the bean bags, children can sort by type of bean.

Toss & Catch. Bean bags are the perfect size and weight for learning to catch! Much less tricky than roll-away balls, bean bags land firmly where they are thrown so it gives a toddler a great chance to learn where to hold their hands.

Hula Hoops. Pair a stack of bean bags with a few scattered hula hoops and let your child figure out the rest!

Pylon Obsessed

The beloved pylons

There is very little painting happening these days in our household. Not for lack of subject matter, but simply lack of time. These days any creative juices I can funnel, can only be managed into ten-minute time intervals. I keep reminding myself 'she is small for so short a time...Your projects will still be there when she is too cool to play with you anymore.'

After visiting my sister and brother-in-law's home where their basement is a full-out home gym, Olivia has been obsessed with these mini pylons. The rare time that we are in Canada, Olivia somehow equates Auntie's (so far) childless home with fun adult things to get into. Once in the gym, she can sniff out the pylons.

Since we are really not at Auntie's house as much as we should be, I brought her beloved pylons home to Olivia with the oh-so-friendly felt:) My saviour material of choice when a project just won't escape my mind, but I only have ten minutes....

She has not met them with the same enthusiasm as she does Auntie's, but of course there is no toy like somebody elses:)

Treasured Tee Pee

 The most treasured Tee Pee
Multi-purpose 'Firelog' Pillows

Before Olivia was born, I saw a picture in one of our decor books of a tee pee for kids in a living room. Fortunately, I have a handy husband who was excited to take on a project together.

We searched for wood posts in Shanghai, which is no easy feat and came upon a woodworker in an alleyway, en route to our local hardware store. We managed to have 6 wooden poles, each 6 feet tall, custom cut for 200rmb (around $30.00CAN). Dada-to-be managed to carry them home 4 blocks, which was also no easy feat! Preggers carried his new drill;)

Our next step was to head to the fabric market to look for beige canvas. Instead we settled for beige linen, that cost a bit more than the poles and proves to be much softer than canvas.

A few meters of rope are thread through drilled holes halfway up the poles with knots to hold them in place. Then the pregnant lady spent a lot of time on a stool in the tee pee, cutting and placing guide stitches for the seamstress to complete on the machine (pre-sewing machine purchase).

For Olivia's nursery, I was looking up all things woodlands and found log pillows. Despite the variety at the fabric markets, I could not find material with a wood-grain pattern. We bought four 'loglike' pillows from IKEA and waited to find the right material to cover them.

On Olivia's first trip to Canada, we came across the material pictured on the pillows above. The wood-grain fabric is sewn right to the pillow cases, so it can all be un-zipped and thrown in the washing machine.

Now, not only can she build a 'fire', but has a great obstacle course for her early crawling escapades, games of peek-a-boo under the tee pee walls and quiet reading times. 

Funky Fabrics. Check out these amazing tee pee's for sale at Banana J Creations

Tee Pee Decor; Bunting. Bunting is easy sewing starter project for any novice. Here we made some bunting for O's first birthday party and strung it on the tee pee. The contrast of the bold colours on the beige linen were a hit! Kids can also help make bunting and add letters to spell their name. 

Longhouse Field Trip. Expand your knowledge of Iroquois life with a field trip at Ontario's Crawford Lake.

Kiss Sandwich

Assignment: Learning how not to eat your young

Mother Nature did a wicked job of making you fall madly in love with your wee.
Chubby cheeks.
Glossy little lips.
Heads that bob around like little birdies.
Hair to match
Kiss sandwiches.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Felt Food: Bowtie's & Ravioli

Bowties: Step One
Step Two...All Done (Pinch & Stitch)
Ravioli~Shear square edges. Sew. Stuff. Sew.

Felt pasta is a great starter project.
It only requires a few, cheap supplies and you don't need to be a sewing novice to make this meal.
I had some scraps and a few minutes. 
Now Dabby and I are being served pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Math; Shapes, Counting, Addition & Subtraction. Talk about the shapes used, if your wee one is going to help you prepare the felt for the project. Measure the rectangles and squares to determine the length of the sides.

Restaurant. My baby sister and I used to play this game as often as we could, but I think we used the food my mom had already prepared for lunch. O will play this game with us and knows that there should be a money exchange at some point during the dining experience! 
Include server, chef, menu's, bill and play money for lessons in home economics, reading, writing and math.

Pestle & Mortar Play

 Granite Stone Mortar & Salt from the Dead Sea
O concentrating on her rhythm!

We combined two gifts from Dabby, to make a little activity the other day.
A few years ago he bought a Granite Stone Pestle and Mortar. We were in a serious Jamie Oliver phase;)
In the Spring, Dabby took a business trip to Jordan and brought back salt from the Dead Sea. I enlisted my wee helper to grind the salt into a fine powder for body scrub.

The salt is a little wet, so the granite stone worked well (apparently the wooden pestle and mortar are best for dry goods.) We got some large motor skill action, made some pretty designs in the stone mortar and practiced scooping skills. The pestle was a little heavy for the wee girl, but she did not notice and kept working at it! She always seems to see work as play and I guess for kids they are one in the same (why do we grow out of that!?)

Multi-Purpose Tool. Spices, spreads and science, this really is a multi-purpose purchase. Check out some idea's

'Granite' Chef. Put granite to the test with some veggie recipes from around the world. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

this moment


"no words, just a single moment this week. a moment i want to remember."
A Friday blog along ritual, inspired by SouleMama

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Coin Drop

O's latest favourite word.

We're collecting items around the house, in addition to tools I have used teaching preschool over the years, that we think will be useful for imaginative play, science, maths and language. A few weeks ago Dabby came home to wet money hanging in the bathroom! After I assured him we were not running some kind of underground business, he was interested in all the bills we have collected from different countries and had stashed away. 

Then I set out to clean the coins with soap and water.
Apparently, soap and water is not the best solution to cleaning coins.
Salt is supposedly the key ingredient for dissolving copper oxide. 
On our list today is to try a salt solution and see if they sparkle up a bit better.

O loved her introduction to the coins and bills; it was a little scary how much she loved 'swimming' in money!
She hoarded the coins on the sofa, would only share one of her hand full of bills with me and sang 'Wheels on the Bus' for the American penny (the Lincoln Memorial that apparently resembles a bus!)

In true Montessori-style, we then cut a penny-sized slot in the top of an old, plastic honey jar and watched O master some fine motor skills.
(She was still far more interested in hoarding!)

Great site to give a little science lesson to your coin-cleaning adventures.

Bank Play. Set up a play-bank at home with a few bills, coins & cheques.

Collect-a-Hobby. Many lessons evolve from a coin collection! See Coin Collections for Beginners.

Open a Bank Account. Great way to start teaching the value of money. An experienced Canadian mom writes the basics

Monday, July 16, 2012

Toddler Tales


(Conversation with increasingly verbal 19-month old, on taxi ride home)

Mama: "Before we go home, we'll buy a watermelon."
O: "Shu Shu?" (meaning Uncle, a term of respect in Chinese. We buy watermelon from an 'Uncle'.)
Mama: "Yes. We will buy the watermelon from Shu Shu."
O: "Money?"
Mama: "Yes, We will pay Shu Shu for the watermelon."
O: "Money!" (pointing to the taxi driver.)
Mama: "Yes. We will pay the driver."
O: "Mook on mack!"
Mama: "Yes. The driver on the bus says "Move on Back!"

Always two steps ahead!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Waldorf Rainbow Ribbon


Rainy Saturday Stroll
Captain O

There was no sign of rain when we headed to Shanghai's Century Park on Saturday, just the typical mugginess of Shanghai summer.
The park has a 'hand'-made lake where you can rent a supremely slow-moving motorized boat for an hour. We were not sure if O would be a fan, since our past experience (renting a family bike) resulted in ten minutes of peddling and loads of screaming. As it turned out, she was quite happily snugged between us in the two-seater...then up and down on the seat, seated behind mom, seated behind dad, under the bow, perched on the life-jackets and most happy in the Captain's chair behind the wheel. "Steering very much like her mother," commented her father.
Without much warning, the sky blackened and we were stuck in a downpour of heavy rain. Our boat was soaked, O's raisins had turned back into grapes and we were finally relieved from the humidity!
Notice our little Pirate and her Dabby, post ride; soaked and strolling;)

The Birds & The Bee's

 Fish Feeding Zone
China's Hungriest Koi!

Most often we are no longer tourists in our own city. By our own city, I mean Shanghai where we have made a home for the past four years. It doesn't take long to take things for granted.
With more discussion about unschooling, we have been looking into all the activities the city has to offer. Add a family of new (super LOVELY) friends and we had a great Friday afternoon at the Shanghai Wild Insect Museum.
Much more than just insects, the museum hosted bugs, spiders, snakes, turtles, frogs, fish, iguana's and a menagery of small animals. The koi pond (one of the million in Shanghai) was a big hit with it's pebble food vending machine.

What's Up, Doc?

 Is there a Doctor in the house?
 First Patient
 Doctors Bag
X-Ray, bandages, stethascope, nebulizer mask, syringe

Since breaking out the Doctors Kit last week, O has been going around the house saying "Doc?" and then checking our heartbeat (usually in our cheeks!) with her stethascope!
The more she played with the kit, the more I realized how many practical motor skills were involved; the unscrewing of the old pill bottle (the not-child-safe version), pumping the syringe, securing the elastic mask around her head, velcro-ties on the bandages, snapping the Doc's bag open and shut...
The stethascope got the most attention by far.
Now when she see's a heart shape anywhere, she calls "Doc!" and runs for her most favoured of medical equipment!

Toe, Leg, Knee. I learned this clever song from an teacher training class in Shanghai. To the tune of 'Do, Re, Mi' sing Toe, Leg, Knee, Arm, Elbow, Jaw, Teeth, Nose and then backwards.

Medical Equipment Expansion. Older children could use a perscription or diagnosis pad to practice writing skills.  Consider a miscroscope for children who would like to learn about lab work. Not a fan of the Doctors Office? Create a kit that encompasses tools you would find at the TCM or Homeopathics office.

this moment

"no words, just a single moment this week. a moment i want to remember."

A Friday blog along ritual, inspired by SouleMama

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mud Kitchen

Easy Peasy Sand & Water Table (aka Mud Kitchen)
 Our toy-tester....

A lot of chit chat in the blogging community about Mud Kitchens.Some brilliant bloggers out there with fabulously simple idea's and gorgeous results! Dirt never looked so appealing!

We have been to IKEA to buy their Rast Bedside Table, approximately three times now for our indoor play kitchen, fruit stand and book nook. This time we tested the Shanghai Flea Market; an old furniture market on the Pudong side of the river. We found some amazing goodies; an old Gong, Chinese drums, carved Buddha statues and the perfect wooden bench for an outdoor mud kitchen. We only went home (this time!) with the bench (around $25) and a miniature stool for O.

There is a fix-it market down the alley from our home. It is an outdoor jumble of stalls that fix fans, washing machines and other electronics. They also sell kitchen supplies for pennies. We picked up two, shallow cooking pans at 5rmb each (less than $1).

Dabby cut out pan-sized spaces in either end of the bench and we sunk in the 'sinks'. 
A 25kg bag of sand at the local construction store was also under a dollar.

We added some old kitchen tools; tin bowl, wooden rolling pin and some tupperware containers.

Total cost of Mud Kitchen

Check out these outdoor adult (I mean) kiddie kitchens for more ideas & kitchen tool additions. Inspiring!  

Babe in the Bucket

Sudsy Birds Eye View
Just takin' a dip!

O is a busy toddler who has her hands on a little bit of everything these days.
Babies, blueberries, bugs... and swimming.
She chanced upon this bucket in the living room and saw an opportunity!
I chanced upon her in the bucket in the living room and so had to find another one for previously planned chores!

Large, shallow tote. We use it indoors and out for sand, water and beans. Water play is especially nice this time of year as Shanghai is approaching it's scorching 40 degree days. When it is too hot to play outdoors, we bring the tote inside for water play. Add some kitchen tools, soap suds, cars, rubber duckies and you have yourself an hour of good, old playtime.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Big City, Little Peeps

Early Bird

Good thing O is an early riser, or we would miss the teenage 'chicks' in our urban neighbourhood!
There is a long list of things that make Shanghai an interesting place to live; having the chance to introduce O to Spring chickens is pretty high on that list!

Dabby has us hooked up for a coop in Canada, no doubt!
Check out these other links for learning about raising chickens.

This Urban Farming Guide offers practical advice on keeping chickens in urban dwellings. What a load of things kids  (parents too!) can learn about life from owning a few chickens!

Backyard Chickens is an entire website devoted to the nitty gritty of fowl in your family!