Friday, February 28, 2014

Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province


Getting out of the city is wonderful!

Fast Train

O loves to play train, so she was thrilled to get a ride on the real deal!

Spa Life

West Lake is the most popular tourist spot in Hangzhou.
We opted for a more secluded vacation away from the tourist hub, which involved less money and more peacefulness!
Narada Spa & Resort was virtually void of visitors, made of natural stone and wood (rarity coming from big city Shanghai!)They housed an outdoor and indoor pools; one for lane laps, the other for kiddos!
We were completely impressed with their outdoor playground; giant steel slides, full-out jungle gym, shubbery labyrinth, sandpit and swings.

Bleak Mid-Winter

Despite the hazy, wintry feel, the weather was crisp and clean.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Theme Day: Hawaii

 Hula Baby

Hawaiian Day was born from February Bla' well as inspiration from one of our Hawaiian songs,  "Come to Hawaii"

It involved some food, music and dance, but we definitely could have amped up the experience with seashells, sandplay and coconuts!
Grass Skirt

Easy grass skirts that last.
Simply sew a strip of elastic in a circle. 
Cut stripes of ribbon and tie around the circle in halves.

Mini & Maxi

We made one for each Hula Babe!

The grass mat (actually a bamboo mat!) was a perfect 'sensory' toy for Baby C who loved scratching the surface!

Fruit Kabobs

O's sensory experience involved threading fruit on skewers.
Don't be fooled. Most was eaten before meeting the skewer!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Touring Temples: Jade Buddha 1928

 So small

The world is a big place.
The more you see of it, the bigger it becomes.

 Festival of Lanterns

The more doors you can open.


The more fires you can spark.

The world is a classroom.

Etiquette. Asia warmly welcomes people of all faiths into temples. However, respecting etiquette is expected. Step over the high thresholds at entryways (it forces you to look downwards and is said to keep harmful 'shuffling' Spirits on the outside). Dress modestly. Observe local customs and follow suit. Avoid posing for pics with religious statues. Feel free to observe or participate.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rainbow Spaghetti

Rainbow Pasgetti

Imagination Tree features loads of amazing, quick sensory activities for wee ones. Today we opted for their Rainbow Spaghetti

 Save Some

Three bowls were for dying.
One was for eating!

There were several 'take-out' containers available!

Even Baby C got involved with a little Baby Science!

Wet Noodles. Kids in kindergarten loved it when I brought a bag of wet noodles. Not only did they get permission to play with their food, they learned how to make letters and numbers. Sticks well to most dry surfaces, including blackboards!

Vegan Bites: Brownies

Carob Brownies

Carob Brownie Recipe
*from How It All Vegan
Sift together...
~1 1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup carob powder
~1 1/2 t baking powder
~1/2 t salt
~3/4 cup maple syrup
~1/4 cup apple juice or water
~1/3 cup oil
~2 t vanilla
Stir until just mixed. Pour into 8x8 inch oiled pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

First Valentine's Day: Sister Love

 Sister Love

Lotta hugging going on for C's First Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's: Red Hot Prints

 Potato Prints

To make some Valentine's cards, we took a hint from Tutu's & Tea Parties
Veggie prints are pretty simple in terms of prep, mind some messiness...and they're serious print-work with lovely results.


Not too surprised that O turned this into imaginary play and confessed she was 'bleeding' complete with soiled cloth!

Valentine's Flower Shop

Local Florist

We made some paper flowers and O set up shop for Valentine's Day.
Our Fruit Stand stripped of baskets of felt food, worked really well as a portable venue;)
We even added some cellophane bags and ribbon so she could wrap customers purchases.

Chocolate/Cookie Shop. Expanding on the sweetness of Valentine's, you could bake cookies or chocolates and set up shop. O collected some orange pom poms and insisted that her shop sold flowers AND oranges!
Gift-wrapping is fabulous small motor skill work!

Chocolate Wrapping!
Daddy will never get this open!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shanghai Snow

 A Tasty Flake
We had a little snowfall in Shanghai.
Slightly pathetic if compared to the Polar Vortex in the West!
Fun, nonetheless!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chinese Name Seals

C & O's Stamps

Chinese Seal Stamps are common 'tourist' gifts, with seal artists running rampant in Yu Gardens.
We have purchased one's for ourselves and gifted our nieces and nephews over the years.
It was Olivia & Charlotte's turn.

To stand and watch these artists carve English names together Chinese characters (mirror images), on tiny stamps within 15 minutes makes me happy to fall into this souvenir trap. These are lovely keepsakes.
We have used them to sign letters, envelopes and artwork.

Find It Jar

 Wee Things

Find It Jars can be commercially purchased...or you can DIY a custom bottle.
You can choose a theme or simply collect wee things from the household.
We chose the latter. 
As O and I were going from room-to-room contemplating which items would be small enough to fit in the jar (and not too small that we wouldn't be able to notice them) interesting conversations were emerging...
~how we could dry the bit of moisture left in the bottle?
~why dry items were important
~how salt might create dampness?
~length and width
~names/uses of objects she had no vocabulary for (mostly she surprised me with how many words I didn't realize she knew)
All-in-all we collected 27 items, which barely covered the bottom of the bottle (see above).

 Funnel Play

O was thrilled the funnel would be needed and quickly insisted she could handle the job.
So the items would not be stuck at the bottom, she poured a scoop of rice, added a few items and continued layering until the bottle was nearly full of rice and 'stuff'.

Roll, shake & find

Older kids would be able to write a list of what they find.
Younger kids can check off a picture list.
You can add adjectives to increase the language value.
If you want to learn how to class objects, you can ask which objects belong together, in traditional or innovative ways.
The rolling, shaking and sound-making helps this project double as an instrument.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Confidence: Raising Healthy Girls & Problems with Praise

(Photo courtesy of Frampa)

I'm a Praise Junkie.
In other words, my image of myself often hinges on how others feel about me.
Fortunately, I married the opposite.
When I met my husband, I thought he was the cockiest man alive.
I admit now, he is confident.
This doesn't mean he is unaffected by what others think, but he is not dependent on others opinions; he see's opinions as just that.

Thankful as I am for this marriage of two different people and how that will afford our children healthy perspectives, it is not enough. 
I have to be conscious of what creates Praise Junkies and the risk of raising them.

There is loads of buzz about praise these days, particularly in light of Attachment Parenting. Praise, when used to manipulate children's behaviour is coined 'sugar-coated control'.
Parents trying to avoid negative control tactics (punishment) tout praise (positive attention) as the better alternative, without realizing its "two sides of the same coin." in the words of Alfie Kohn. 
The coin being control.

What happens when parents goal is not to control their children (find negative or positive ways of getting their children to obey them) but rather to help them think for themselves and create their own moral compasses. Instead of 'doing to' tactics, parents employ 'working with' tactics (Alfie Kohn); using dialogue, perspective-taking and asking your child to help with solutions.

Avoiding praise is a process that is not easy for me. 
So, I started by not saying anything. 
When she draws that (beautiful) picture, hugs her sister or uses the toilet, I had to start by biting my tongue. Once I knew it was okay not to pat her on the back every two minutes, I noticed, she never sought my approval. She does these things because she chooses to (intrinsic motivation) not because she would be liked/accepted/rewarded for doing them (external motivation.)

Playful Learning has a lovely article on tips for raising confident girls.

Fixed Mindset Vs Growth Mindset . An article by the mainstream, Baby Center UK has impressed! It discusses how praise can pigeon hole a child who otherwise believes they have potential to grow in many areas.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Proud Babe! Day Two

Someone started to roll this week!
It's a whole new playing field now!

 Day Three