Saturday, November 23, 2013

Toddler Tales: Mystery Box

What could it be?

Daddy bought a plain, old wooden box the other day.
He knows mommy likes to organize things, so boxes are well-loved in our home.
O also loves boxes and we were pretty sure when she saw this, she would claim it for herself!
Without missing a beat...she saw it sitting idly.

O: "What is THAT!?"
M: "I'm not sure?"
O: "Maybe it has money in it!"
M: "Maybe."
O: "Or maybe it has a cow in it!"
M: "Maybe!"

Truth be told, we placed a few of her tractors in it. 
But the best part of the box was the 'grass' inside.
O insisted I be a cow and use it as a trough!

EXPAND ON BOXES
'Thank-You Bear'. Greg Foley has written a simple and profound book about a bear who found a box and decided it would be the perfect gift for his friend mouse. On the way to give it to mouse, he passed other animal friends who couldn't see why it was so fabulous. Bear was convinced that maybe it wasn't such a great gift after all..until he gave it to his happy friend Mouse! This book is a fabulous read for it's pure message!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Baking with Babes: Play with your Food!



Flour Child

Face it, getting your hands dirty can be just plain fun.
Some adults need lessons on how to get our hands dirty, but once we get into it...it's therapeutic!

Baking and cooking with kids covers a whole lotta ground. 
It offers...
~time to connect & chat
~a learning opportunity about food, it's origin and how experimenting with various foods and spices leads to creating recipes
~exploring the five senses; touch, taste, smell, sound, sight
..and it is useful to the function of the family. Passing on your cooking tips, traditions and meal-sharing.

We definitely don't create full-out meals every day, but a few times a week, we take the time to sit, create and get messy.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mine: Sharing is Overrated

Mine all mine!
I am horrible at sharing.
When a new baby is welcomed to the family and the older sibling struggles with having to share their home, toys and, of all things, their PARENTS, we encourage them to open up their minds and hearts.
But as my mother has said, imagine your husband introducing the idea of a third person into your relationship.
Likely would not go over so well.

I noticed that when we started having our babies, we had to watch our language and our behaviour.
Especially as children age and pick up on everything we say and do.
We are their first role models and essentially that means always being on our best behaviour.
Frankly, being on your best behaviour all the time is BORING.
It is a load of work and not always much fun.
Naturally, O has not missed out on my inadequacies in the sharing department!

She hoards our things in little cache's around the house.
If Baby C dares to look at one of O's toys, she whips is away from baby's sight.
Any time Baby C manages to pull her mothers attention in another direction....storms set in!
Who can blame the kid.
Sharing is overrated.
Check in with yourself. How many times in a day do you tell your child, 'that's Mommy's/Daddy's'?

Now, if O (or I) refuse to share something, our only request is that she find a suitable replacement.
This works. Everyone wins.
For now.

EXPAND ON SHARING
Toddlers Rules of Possession. I cannot remember where I found this, but the list is remarkably accurate! And does not just apply to toddlers!
1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it's automatically mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.

EXPAND ON SHARING
BOOKS!. Big Red Lollipop. This fabulously illustrated book of three sisters was a winner in our house. We found it on We Give Books.org but it has since been removed from the site.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tee Pee For Three

Welcome Inn

We've pitched our tee pee again from it's hibernation.
It's a warm and welcome place to spend the winter.
It suits Baby C as a soft, quiet, simple environment.
It suits O because she thinks it's her own house within our home.

Our Resident Waitress

O happily serves us 'soup' (broken noodles, dried basil from the garden & spinach leaves) in her colander!

The 'Regular'

Daily drop-ins from our regular patron baby....always serves up a smile!

Vegan Bites: Tea Heart Sandwiches

 I Heart You

Tapped for something interesting to serve besides soup and sushi (we eat a lot of soup and sushi), I found these little tea sandwiches on Pinterest. 
Super simple and a nice way to put a little love in your lunch.

We used tortilla wraps (tricky to cut with our cookie cutters!) and Sunflower Butter, homemade by a Shanghai Mama. Amazing alternative if you are a peanut-free household. She uses coconut oil and a pinch of raw sugar, resulting in fabulous flavor!

Yummy Alternative to Peanut Butter

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Vegan Bites: Spicy Chickpea's

Saucy & Spicy Chicks

Big, huge fan of Indian spiced foods.
Quick, easy, saucy and spicy...this dish is one of my fave's (obviously, says my husband!)
*Note: go heavy on the garlic:)

Chickpea Curry
~2T olive oil

~1 celery stalk, minced

~2 cloves garlic, minced

~2t fresh ginger root, finely chopped

~6 whole cloves

~¼ t cinnamon (or 1 stick for flavour)

~1t cumin

~1t coriander

~1 t salt

~1/4t cayenne pepper

~1/4t turmeric

~2 cans garbanzo beans

~1c chopped fresh cilantro

Sauté celery. 
Stir in spices. 
Cook for 1 minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. 
Mix in garbanzo beans and their liquid. 
Simmer until slightly thickened.
Serve over basmati rice.

Parenting Picks: Patterns


 
 Tiny Flowers

A friend brought me the perfect post-maternity top, weeks before C was born, though I had no idea at the time, how much the shirt would be appreciated.
I wore it during my stay with C in NICU. It was nice to wear something from a friend, while I nursed and cuddled C amongst the monitors and hospital staff.
But C also showed me what an alert and interested baby she was as she studied the tiny flower patterns.


Paul Frank: Bold Pattern

Working with families to design nurseries has definitely introduced me to how much babies appreciate patterns.
The bolder the better. 
In fact, black and white is best, due to the stark contrast.
Newbies eyes are working hard to develop and focus.
C prefers her Paul Frank onesie to all her other clothes (above) and studies the stripes intently.


 Wee Gallery

The family owned and operated 'Wee Gallery' has cashed in (rightfully so!) on babies preference to bold black and white images. They design "smart art" to attract babies attention. www.weegallery.com 
We purchased their beautiful accordion cloth book for O and it's currently being enjoyed by C!




 C enjoying a book!

EXPAND ON BOLD FOR BABIES
DIY Baby Art. Paint or colour your own baby book. If you are not fond of drawing, find images from the internet, or give your older children black paint and white paper (or vice versa) and they'll help you complete a piece for baby.

Felt Tags. We made these with velcro tie's to attatch to the baby carrier. There are several woodlands animals to circulate over the week. Match your nursery decor with two high contrast colours.



Around the House. Take a tour around your home. I had an old black & white apron, extra large playing dice and black & white dishes C also appreciated!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Selfie

Selfie

Move over Kim Kardashian.
You have some fierce competition!

O's photography angles are far more creative than anything I've ever shot.
I love flipping through her camera at the end of the day and seeing how she views her world!
Sunshine
Always a healthy selection of Selfies!

Shanghai By Taxi

This is Shanghai from toddlers-eye view.

C & Mommy
A profound photo of her baby sisters hand on my arm.

Feed the Birds

Jinling Park, Shanghai

Last weekend, we watched Mary Poppins.
Since, O has been singing "Feed the Birds", wanting to ride Merry-go-rounds and requesting a Nanny!
So, we went to Jinling Park to "Feed the Geese", rode in the mini Merry-go-round conveniently located in the Childrens Plaza beside the park...
...and I have been speaking with a British accent and answering to 'Mary P'. 
It suffices.

EXPAND ON MUSICALS
Lyrics. When O likes a song, we check it out on Youtube and then I find the lyrics to print, as anyone who knows me well, knows I make up my own words! As I started looking up lyrics to songs my parents used to sing to me, it turns out, they were all from  musicals!
Frank Mills (mom), from 'Hair'
My Best Girl (dad), from 'Mame'

Reading Signs: Early Literacy

Street Signs

Back in my days as a nanny in Denmark, I could not yet speak or read Danish, but I could definitely understand the park pictograph of a squatting dog pooping and a big red dash through the center!

The best part about pictographs are they are (generally) universal.
And an introduction to literacy.

O is starting to read street signs and is quite proud of herself, since I keep reminding her that she IS in fact, reading. 

It amazes me that O can even look at Chinese characters (essentially pictographs that have transformed over many years) in a book and recognize that these are not an alphabet and therefore, I cannot read them to her.

EXPAND ON EARLY LITERACY
Red light, Green light. Easy and well-loved game. Cut each red and green circle and paste to popsicle stick (chopsticks are more easily attainable here!) Have children dance, walk, hop or drive their vehicle of choice while you hold up your street signs.