Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Indoor Badminton

 Hanging Birdie

We visited friends the other day who had the most ingenious set-up in their playroom: indoor badminton!
They hung the birdie from the ceiling and provided her boys with child-sized rackets. The kids loved it and they were actually very good at it too!

We happened to have an old badminton set hanging in the closet.
It was stored and has remained there since before O's birth, when my husband and I thought it would be fun to take up a new sport together. The first time we took it outside, a group of three boys literally grabbed the rackets from us and told us we were no good. (that will teach us to try our hand at badminton in the Badminton Capital of the World!)
In the closet the rackets have remained!

 Trial Run

I was a bit nervous about where to hang the birdie.
So many potential things to damage by a flying racket!
But Daddy rigged up a spot in O's 'classroom' (as she calls it) and it was very successful.
She mostly used her hands or another birdie to swat at it, but eventually tried the racket and told me,
"Mom, I am very good at this!"

..and again my toddler has taught me a lesson; confidence is half the battle.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Finger Paint Recipe

 Ocean Mix
We attempted a new fingerpaint recipe.
It is still a bit more transparent than store-bought paints, but good for mucking around.

Finger Paint Recipe
~3T sugar
~1/2 t salt
~1/2 c cornstarch
~2 c water
Mix. Heat over medium and continue stirring until thickens.
Tint and place in airtight containers. Refridgerate.


We store ours in a Mason jar, untinted. As we use it, we spoon out a dollop and add food colouring.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Henna Happy: 33 Weeks & Growing!


After O and I went to my 33 week appointment at the midwife's, we came home for a little Henna-for-three party.
We bought the plant-based tube of dye at an Indian store here in Shanghai. You can purchase the powder and mix your own paste, but the pre-made versions are very inexpensive and come with a thin tip (mendhi cone) for application. Should you purchase your own powder, choose herbal (not black) and tattoo (not hair) henna.
I reminisced a bit about the summers a highschool art friend invited me to share a Henna booth with her at local festivals. The two of us always had a packed booth and some fabulous weekends working in the sun.

O was my guinea pig. 
She happily laid on the floor while I painted around her navel!

This particular brand did not dry and flake off, as I was used to.
Instead, it was more like a gel. 
We attempted setting it with a hair dryer (heat helps strengthen henna's natural hue, therefore the best spots on the body are the warmest, such as the palm of the hand).
It never did dry and flake, so when wiped off, the smearing caused a little skin-tinting around the design.

Dyed Skin

O did not seem to care.
She was very proud to prance around the house with her belly poking out. 
She made multiple requests for more designs.

Managing my own belly, was a bit of a challenge, but we now have matching Tummy Tattoo's!
Henna is traditionally done in the third trimester and some moms have started incorporating it into their baby showers; a nice way to bless and pamper expecting mommies.
Check out these pregnant moms who anticipate safe births & healthy babies with henna bellies http://www.hennacaravan.com/pregnancy.html

The best Henna Tips I learned from my friend Sadia:
~use a safety pin to 'seal' the tip of opened henna (you often need to poke the tip to encourage any grainy bits of henna to push through)
~rub a little henna oil on skin prior to creating the design (not only smells great, but helps to set the colour)
~to encourage a strong hue, choose the warmest spot on your body (palms are popular), allow to set in the sunshine and avoid swimming pools or scrubbing the area under water the same day as the design

Please Note: Use natural Red-Brown Henna as opposed to Black Henna, which contains PPD's (para-phenylendiamine's) 
PDF Books. Check out this website that offers a load of information and designs, regarding Henna and it's traditions in Indian Culture. http://www.hennapage.com/

Monday, July 22, 2013

Toddler Tales: Our Newborn is Coming

 Folding newborn clothes

There are a few things O is teaching me about how to help her ease into the role of Big Sister.
Never mention that ANYTHING the baby will use was once hers.
As is the case with bringing out the newborn clothes. Amongst the ooooh's and ahhhh's we were both blurting out while rummaging through the teeny, tiny pieces, I bit my tongue several times.
There was no mention of any former owner!

A Big Sister will switch from being fully independent (for example: I said I was going for a run and she said she could stay home by herself) to fully dependent (to which I assured her, "Daddy is home, it's okay." and she started screaming "OH THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!")
Or the days she tells me she cannot eat because she has no teeth (a.k.a she is a baby) until the mention of the word 'popcorn' to which she flashes her mouthful of pearly whites!

Baby LOVES listening to what's up with the Big Sis.
M: "Baby! Did you know your big sister is jumping on the bed?"
M: "Baby! Your big sister is hugging you!"
M: "Baby! Your big sister is doing her fancy dance for you!"

O: "Mom. Tell the baby what his big sister is doing."
M: "Baby! Your big sister is picking her nose and eating it."
O: "It tastes salty. Tell him that."

Big Sister smirks every time I mention Baby is so in love with her and can't wait to meet her face-to-face.
Of course, Big Sister already knows that.

Looking for inspiration as the mother-of-two...read on...
And be sure not to skip out on this mama's blog, which includes her amazing photography.

Many Faces of Toddlerhood

 The Angry Face

Last year, I read a post from Our Feminist Playschool http://ourfeministplayschool.ca/  about creating Emotion Rocks to help your growing child deal with their feelings. To be honest, most adults probably could use some Emotion Rocks too!

O has plenty of real and imaginary faces that scream what is going on inside. 
So we took a bunch of pictures to paste into an Emotion Booklet.
Mostly, she just laughs at herself making these faces!

 Mastering the Angry Face 

 The Happy Face 

 The Sad Face

 The Frustrated Face

The Excited Face

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Toddler Tales: The Poo Stick

The Poo Stick

Nothing is more entertaining to me than the innovation and interpretation of everyday objects in the eyes of a child.
O always impresses me with her playful imagination using simple things from the environments she plays in.
Now she is at the point where she is aware of how inventive, not to mention how humourous she is being!

Pictured above, you might notice a simple-looking wooden block with stripes.
Simple, it is not. 
It is O's 'Poo Stick'.
She keeps this in the bathroom beside the toilet.
There is an identical one, but it is her 'phone', not to be mistaken for the 'Poo Stick'.

The first time she held this, while on her potty seat, she explained to me,
"This button is for Poo. This one is for Pee. And this one is for Dog (?)"
She pushes the button and voila! Mission accomplished!

I laughed my ass off!
This was faith at it's very best! 
And I wondered why I don't use a wooden block for all the things I want to accomplish!

Today, when she used her potty seat I asked,
M: "You need your Poo Stick?"
O: "No. I can try without it. "
O: "One minute. My poo is loading." Then she laughed hysterically, knowing this would be funny!
She accomplished her feat.
O: "I not need my Poo Stick. See?"

And again, faith at it's very best!
The things we can learn from our toddlers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Raw Footage: Photography with Kids

 Behind the Lens

O has received a little Lumix, in preparation for her presence at the birth of our baby in September.
The camera will come along with a Bag 'O Treats, to encourage her involvement in baby's arrival.
Giving this 'real' toy to her two months in advance has worked out exceptionally well.
Presenting Day One of...'O the Photog'.

Out of the hundreds (I am not kidding) of pictures O took today, here are my favourites.
Tables have turned and now SHE is behind the lens, controlling the images;)

Camera-ready Daddy

'Say CHEESE, Dad!'

Post work-out Mama

El Padres
(now we can be in a picture together again!)

N.B: Underwear was worn in every pic!
Which brings about the only ground rule we had to set amidst the clicking party: NO NUDIES.
(this rule will likely have to be tossed out as baby is making his/her entrance!)
O was extra sneaky today and every time we turned around (or not!), our picture was being taken!
"I took your picture!" she would randomly announce at all times and circumstances of daily life events!
Thus, these photos presented were carefully selected!

Today O taught me 'raw footage' at its best!
She definitely figured out all of the mechanics very quickly.
It did take some time for her to figure out how to point & shoot.
In the meantime, there was a lot of ducking going on!
(granted, when a 2-year old takes my picture, I look a lot taller!)

 "Darmand" who also goes by "Wyatt"

 Zoom figured out

 Mama is 32 weeks! 

 O snuck in a profile view of her sibling!

These two SELF PORTRAITS are priceless!


 Chillaxin' (I LOVE this shot!)

In case you are in the advertisement business and seeking a fresh new perspective....

Toilet Seat

Nature Walk. Now that O is in practice mode, I imagine the camera will come everywhere with us. Being behind the lens is like a little microscope to the world. Use it for Nature Walks so you can see what your kids are actually noticing outdoors.

Photo Exhibits. Art gallery's often host photography exhibits. Tour around town, or create your own Photo Exhibit at home.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Reconstructive Surgery: Sewing with Kids

 Doctor is In!

Since O loves all things imaginary, she was anxious to begin surgery on Darmand, her beloved Cabbage Patch. He was in need of reconstructive surgery on his kneecap and one finger. We set up the Pre-Op with needle & thread and then got down to business.

I did give O her own needle and thread, but I refrained from tying a knot in the end. She found a number of other locations to 'repair', that Darmand did not sign off on, prior to being put out!
No harm done.



Shanghai Children's Theatre Festival kicked off this weekend with an amazing, bilingual rendition of Cinderella from four cultures: China, America, Russia & Mic Mac Tribe.

O has never been to a show, of any kind, so we were interested if she would enjoy the 2-hour play. In addition the play involved a witch, so there was potential that we would cause our own scene in the audience! There was a lot of prep talk about how actors wear costumes and play pretend.


It helped that there was popcorn for sale!

O seemed to enjoy the play and was full of questions, particularly "Where is the witch!?". 
The segments that were told in Chinese, questioning increased twofold!

Magnolia Children's Theatre

The grounds surrounding the theatre served as a fantastic play zone pre & post show.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fairy Garden


With some idea's listed on "50 Posts to make the most of summer", we started with a Fairy Garden.

A few weeks ago, O picked out a plant at IKEA that has been waiting on the counter for a 'home'. 
This became the starting point.
Along with some hints from Laughing Orange Studio on Etsy (check out these amazing Mini Garden Kits! http://www.etsy.com/listing/98131287/fairy-garden-broken-planter-kit

Split Yard

We split the Fairy's yard into a 'stone patio' and 'gardening oasis'.

Stump Stools & Pond

We used some branch stumps as resting stools, re-rooted some basil for greenery and added a little shell for a miniature pond.

At last, we divided O's plant into two sections; placing one in a mini pot on the patio and the other directly into the garden oasis.

The Mini Garden Guru has some lovely little additions that we will have to use to expand and embellish for any local fairies!
Stone path!
Mini chaise!
Garden sculptures!

Parenting Picks: 50 Fun Activities

Apartment Therapy, is right up there with Pinterest when it comes to my net surfing addictions.
(and I am positive there are worse net surfing addictions!)
Weekly emails arrive in my inbox from the former.
Not simply a site for home decor, but also green living, food and family life.
One stop shop!

This week's email featured "50 posts to help you make the most of summer".
So I scouted through and decided where we would start.
I am guessing the projects will take us right out of summer and into next year!
Definite read if you like getting your hands dirty with you wee ones!


Multi-Medium Art Time

 Colourful Paper

Up until recently, O was not one for 'artsy fartsy' activities. I chalked it up to lack of interest and lack of motor skills needed to enjoy the process. I have resisted pushing, encouraging or commenting aloud. Instead I just put things 'on the table' every now and then to see where she is at.

Yesterday, I set up a Multi-Medium Art Table with huge success. 
Success meaning: interested, involved & enjoyed.
It required setting out various supplies....

 Sticky Stuff

....stickers, masking tape & glue stick....

 Bowl 'o Shapes

....misc pre-cut shapes...

 Child-Friendly Scissors

...AMAZING child-friendly scissors that only cut paper...


..and two types of hole-punches. 

Then it involved stepping back. 
I offered very little instruction in terms of how to use the tools provided and held back from commenting on her work. I cannot stress how difficult this is ("That's beautiful!" comes out so naturally), but I want her to enjoy art for arts sake...not because someone else told her she is doing "nice work." 
I stuck to the facts: "Oh, that looks sticky!" "Those are triangles!" "You stacked the stickers on top of one another."
This took a lot of brain work on my part, to refrain from praise and back-patting.

Working with glue

The glue stick seemed to be her tool of choice.
I hung her work on the blackboard, at her height.
Today she took it down and 're-structured' it, taking off bits and pieces and handing them out to us.
It was hard to keep my mouth shut for this process too (taking apart her work), but I somehow managed, reminding myself all the way "art is what the artist creates...and it is ever-changing!"