Thursday, June 27, 2013

Long Live the Skip Rope!


Long Live the Skip Rope!
..and the Pick-Up-Sticks, playing cards, marbles, wooden blocks, Jacks, hopscotch....

In raising O, hubby and I are doing our damndest to get back to the basics.
Letting playtime be good old-fashioned playtime, which is brain food for children. 
Avoiding the TV as much as possible... all other electronic and battery-operated gizmo's. Instead we try to purchase or create toys that will last throughout time. 
They aren't the priciest toys, either. They are simple and leave limitless possibilities.

That is not to say that O does'nt pick up Adam's cell phone and start scrolling across with her finger while giving good, old Dad 'the look' when it doesn't work like an IPhone!
(no matter how much you shelter them, they will find a way!)

O LOVES watching kids skip! 
She is not quite co-ordinated yet, but she can whip a mean double-dutch!
I have a red rope meant for a Christmas craft, that O keeps discovering.
Every time she brings it out, new games arise.
Today I paid close attention to how much she was learning from these games.


We tied the ends to her chairs, so she could have a platform for jumping.
She took initiative to estimate distance, so that the rope would lift high enough for her to clear.


She watched me tie one end, which inevitably led to her asking if she could tie the other. 
This could easily be expanded into a lesson on Knots.

Action Shot!
 One-Leg Jump

She started by jumping over with both feet together.
But she concluded (again on her own) that this was too high, so she attempted One-Leg jumps.


When we untied the rope, I initiated a game of 'lassoing' her in, with a hand-over-hand pull, while she held the opposite end. She laughed hysterically at being pulled towards me while she ran to keep up.
This was followed by chants of "My turn Mom! Take turns Mom!"
In a few short seconds, she taught herself the hand-over-hand pull.

The language skills (naturally) used in game or sport seems to amplify simply because there is a lot of action taking place. 
Take turns.
Plus the both of us were laughing most of the time, which is always a plus when playing with your kids.
Cost of rope: $2
Cost of quality time together: Priceless

No 'Poo & DIY Pitstick: Frugal & Eco Living

"No 'Poo" refers to NOT using shampoo products on our hair.
It sounds gross all-round, but we DO use product, just not commercial shampoo.
We have simplified down to a Baking Soda Wash & Cider Vinegar Rinse.
It is a bit tricky to get used to not lathering up, as the baking soda definitely does not lather.
The Cider Vinegar Rinse is absolutely NOT no-tears material, so be cautious of your eyes!
The shine is lovely. But rinse well or risk smelling like a Chip Wagon (which may be an aphrodisiac!)

Baking Soda & Cider Vinegar are 'pantry items' around here. We have avoided using chemicals and subbed in these two, cheap products for cleaning house. Baking soda, plus some sea salts and oils serve as a great base for 'home spa' recipes.

Now for the Pitstick.
I receive weekly emails to my inbox from Apartment Therapy.
A few weeks back, a recipe for Homemade Deodorant popped up.
It was perfect timing! Buying Pitstick (as my husband calls it) in Shanghai is a nightmare.
We actually have to stock up when we go back to Canada. However, so many of the female commercial deodorants STILL contain aluminum (except good old Tom's!).
So, we collected the ingredients from our home apothecary and today we are trying out the Pitstick recipe.

Not only are we saving money on commercial products, we are reducing the amount of household waste while using ingredients that are safe to go down the drain.
..and of course incorporating a little science into our day!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beautiful Baby Wyatt: Little Manly Play Kitchen

 Beautiful Baby Wyatt & his Mommy

Without seeking signed parental permission, I am taking the leap & posting a picture of my new nephew, Baby Wyatt. Not only is he absolutely adorable, he is even cuddlier than he looks!

My sister asked, previous to having children, if she could inherit the toys my husband and I have made for O & siblings. Instead, we custom-designed a Boys Play Kitchen, just for Wyatt...(& his siblings!)

 Turquoise & Lemon

The fabric is a stretchy denim in turquoise & lemon, used for the curtains & aprons. No frills, just straight sewing.

 Knobs & Handles

Knobs & handles are nickel-plated BASTIG collection from IKEA, instead of the white porcelain we used for O. The BASTIG collection is not only trendy, but hearty and easy for little hands to grab hold.

The faucet was a cottage contribution from my father and proud grandpa. I was searching for a small enough faucet that did not break the bank, so this one fit the bill.
My husband patiently cut the wood, drilled the holes (including the hole for the silver bowl sink), prepped the oven doors and put it all together.

We bought the stainless steel childrens DUKTIG pot set from IKEA and a small crate of wooden veggies to start Wyatt's culinary collection. 

A small chalkboard is attached to one end of the kitchen, while two extra knobs for tea towels are attached to the other.

Magnet Map & Math

 Oh Canada!

The magnificent Megan from 'My Kind of Makeover', posted a simple puzzle project on Pinterest.
I scoured through some totes to find a dollar store puzzle we bought years ago. 
Fittingly, it is just in time for Canada Day celebrations.

 Dividing into six

One hundred pieces was going to prove too difficult for O. So I completed the puzzle myself, then divided the sections into 6-piece segments. (The bottom row turned out to be 8-piece segments.)

 Six & Eight-Piece Sections

Then, I adhered a piece of card paper to the backs with hot glue, keeping the six pieces together. The magnets were cut from a large fridge magnet, whose sticker was peeling off.


Now, not only do we have a lesson in math (dividing pieces & puzzle work), but a lesson in geography as well!

Monday, June 24, 2013

First Tomato Soup

 Testing the balcony produce
 See Food

When O started stating, 
"I want something. Call the Helekang (grocery delivery) Man!" husband and I decided that we had better introduce gardening. 
When the kid thinks food comes to your door from a man with a box, a few lessons in 'origins' is likely healthy!

Tomatoes Gone Wild!

Our Balcony Crops are flourishing in the Shanghai heat & humidity. 
Tomato plants in particular are out of control! Yet they have not produced fruit like the little strawberry and bean plants have.
O plucked her first reward for all the Spring watering she has helped with; two tiny strawberries & five stringy beans. She is stil la bit confused why when she asks for more, we tell her there aren't any more...we'll check again tomorrow.
So it is back to Square One,
"Call the Helekang Man!"

First Tomato Soup by Rosemary Wells. If you are looking for a little gardening book for those beloved first veggies, this is the one! Little Bunny is having a rough day, when she dreams she is headed to her mothers garden and picking the first ripe tomato. When she takes it to her mom, First Tomato Soup is invented. Great for combining and lesson in gardening, language and cooking!

Bun in the Oven & Big Sister Prep

 Jasmine Belly

After waiting 6 long months to make the announcement to Grandma's, we can share our good news!

This pregnancy it is not just fabulous news for us, but also for O who is being promoted to "Big Sister".
I can use the word 'promotion' because I have first hand experience in the Big Sis department...and it is definitely a gift from your parents (sometimes in disguise!)

The up-turned corners of the mouth & half-smudged chalkboard

O was the first to figure it out, actually.
When we took a positive test on New Year's Day, my husband and I stayed giddy and quiet.
At 6pm, O announced on her own, "Six o'clock. Baby in mommy's tummy!"
From then on, the preparations have begun!


We are trying our best to keep life as normal as possible, but truth is, we are damn excited!
If this wait feels long to an expecting mother, I can only imagine that it feels like a lifetime to a waiting toddler!
O attends all of my prenatal appointments, has acquainted herself with the midwife nurses (who readily hand her a juice box when we arrive!) and tells me that my outie is the baby's protruding nose!

She loves when I tell the baby what Big Sister is doing or when we are 'snugging' and baby kicks her!
She watches birth video's like a medical intern and waits for our playdates to pretend she is giving birth on the living room floor!

It is definitely not the experience I had when pregnant with O; when the house was relatively quiet and uneventful! But it is a refreshing exercise in parenting to have her be a part of this miracle.