Monday, June 30, 2014

Sun Tea

Sun Tea

Both hubby and I have childhood memories of Sun Tea.
His father used to carry a Mason Jar of tea in the tractor at the farm.
While my mother used to make Sun Tea in a giant glass jar on our old back porch.

Sun Tea is strongly supported by the Raw Foodies, since it only requires sunlight to prepare.
We used an herbal fruit tea to avoid caffeine.
O figured out that she can also use her mini glassware for this beverage!
She claims she is drinking 'wine'.

Garage Sale Hacks: Spicy

Chalk Paint Mason Jars

My mother has a lovely system of spices, with little mason jars all organized and labelled on top.
Between her spice drawer and the chalkboard paint craze on Pinterest, we got down to business with our own spice collection.

We scored over 35 Mason jars at a garage sale this weekend, cleaned them all up and painted three coats of Martha Stewart's black chalkboard paint on the inner lids.


Trade in your Tupperware. In favour of a more environmental household, some families have thrown out all their plastic tupperware and are subbing in mason jars. They come in a variety of sizes to suit leftovers and picnic needs. They are definitely a bit heavier to carry, but your carbon footprint is a bit lighter!


This Garage Sale was selling some irresistible mini glasses for $0.25, that O happens to use for all of her beverages now!

Water Play

 Hot Hot Summer

It was a toasty last day of June.
We took a page from Teach Preschool "Ten Terrific Ways to Get the Most of Water Play" and added some colour to the splash session.
This actually turned into a mini lesson on which colour combinations create other colours.


O decided to dunk herself from top.... toes.
And stopped long enough to pose for a picture.

Baby C was focused as ever!
There were enough buckets to go around so no sharing necessary.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Teach

The Teach: Letters & Lecture

I am taking a back-seat on this ride.
This journey that I would like to think myself an integral part of, I am merely a fraction of the whole.
The adventure of growing up and becoming who one is does not require any formal education, rather ample room to explore the world around us. 
No one can let us know who we are or how we should make meaning of this life.
Children are capable of being curious, social and intellectual without any help or guidance.
We could probably take a few lessons from them.

So I take a back-seat and enjoy the ride every day.

Form Drawing. Case in point; children do not need to be taught how to form letters or numbers. Just as they learn how to speak and walk, they learn to read and write. I have made a conscious decision not to give lessons on the alphabet, other than singing the song and signing the letters (ASL). O has demonstrated, from her own desires, the beginnings of Form Drawing which is taught in Waldorf education as the base for learning to write As seen above, she took to our chalkboard wall this week with a series of lines and circles, which she has introduced to me as letters.
She has even progressed from drawing in large form, using her arm movement to draw, to using her wrist in order to minimize the size of her 'letters'.

Another vote in favour of unschooling.

Face Paint

 No pictures!

 Okay, then take my profile!

Now we're talkin'!

O is making daily use of the Face Paints we picked up for $0.89 at Cambridge Surplus.
I attempt to document her work.
She pretends not to want her picture taken, but then tells me which angles and expressions will look best!

Parenting Picks: Fruit Kabobs on 'Olive Us'

 Fruit Kabobs

With weather under the weather and baby under-the-weather, we tend to cook and read lots more.
A while back we came across a fantastic 'documentary' called Olive Us, about a family of six siblings and their adventures in France. One of these snippets is centered around three of the sisters making Fruit Kabob's, so we watched this (again...we've seen it a few times already!)..and made our own skewers.

 Sour Granny's

Olive Us. O loves watching these siblings, but time and time again she asks for "How to be Two" based on a day-in-the-life of the baby of the family, June Blair.
I don't really use this blog as a forum to promote products, but I am definitely in favour of giving props to creative families. The Blair's have hired help for their clever video journalling of family life; the cute background music, the French countryside, educational adventures, focus on nature, the juggling of sibling relationships. Quality viewing.

Under the Weather, In the Library

 Quiet Time

Baby C has been feeling abnormally under-the-weather this week. 
She has been staying close to me, nursing and snuggling.
Today she showed signs of feeling better and wandered off to the library on her own.
Her book of choice?
Olivia, of course.
She can even read an upside-down book!


She caught me taking her picture, but just continued enjoying her books after acknowledging I was there. 

Fairy Houses

Last year we made a little fairy garden on our Shanghai balcony.
I've been reading 'Creative Family' by mama blogger, Amanda Blake Soule
In this clever book, she mentions the fabulous read Fairy Houses, so we set to work yesterday on our Annual Fairy Architecture.

My Granny was a frog collector (whether she wanted to be or not, people always gifted her frog trinkets. At one time I counted over 60 odd frogs scattered around her apartment. Several from lands far and wide.)
I inherited part of this collection, thus we had some inspiration to start with.

Granny's Frogs

More inspiration?
The Library Book Sale was last week and we scored with a lovely book that we have been perusing.

This is a classical-style Fairy Book, with loads of little snippets about how to attract Fairies and tasks of the Fairy World to really evoke a sense of wonder about  who could inhibit our Fairy Home when we are sleeping.

 The Seamstress

Another strong source of inspiration was O's Nature Sill.
She collects lovely little bits of nature and puts them on the child-height sill near the back of our house.
She has saved leaves, flowers that I found for her, acorns from her morning walk with Daddy, pine cones and stones. She was quite happy to make all these treasures useful to the Fairies.

Nature Sill

Then we got to work.
I mostly stayed out of the creative process, letting her imagination have the fun.
I only assisted with was the making of some Clover Garlands using needle and thread.

Clover Garland

O loves the little rocking chair, that used to seat one of Granny's frogs.
It is a tiny, spindly and ornate; perfect fairy furniture.

 Contractor Contemplating the Space

Once everything was laid out as O thought best, we set the potted Home near our Herb Pots, lest the Fairies get feeling like a little midnight snack!

Cilantro, Basil & Mixed Lettuce

Pressed Fairies. Year's ago in Denmark, I was gifted with the most clever Fairy Book yet, Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book. It is written like an Old English Garden Journal, complete with pressed flowers, leaves and grammatical errors...and the amazing artistry of 'pressed fairies' being smushed into the pages! Nothing short of brilliantly written and illustrated!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Soap Nuts: Laundry Buds & More

Soap Nuts

Soap nuts are not actually nuts at all, but fruit derived from tree's in Nepal and India.

We used them occasionally in China, by sticking a few nuts in a bag (haha!) and throwing them in the wash. When I was visiting a friend in Shanghai, she was boiling a concoction of them on the stove top, so we opted to try this out. When I looked up the 'recipe', it turns out that we can convert to Soap Nuts for all our soap needs!

Watermelon Sensory: Baby Led Solids

 Love Me some 'Shi Gua'

In honour of Baby Led Weaning, we have the Watermelon Sensory Hour.
Baby C loves squeezing the stuff through her fingers, you can see her clench her jaw whilst squishing and barely a morsel makes it to her mouth.
Note: Weaning in this sense, just means adding solids to baby's choices. 
Not taking away milk.

Now...for the camera!

If only she could get her hands on that camera:)

Brownie's with Avocado Icing

 Avocado Icing?

We baked brownies in anticipation of a birthday bash of my best bud's son.
But in all honesty, it's not the cake O misses out on. She loves icing!
My little sister used an avocado icing for my nephew's April festivities, so I thought we'd give it a go.
The following picture sums it up!

Masher. Milk. Bathing Suit. Face Paint.  
Saturday in the Summer

Yarn: Three for One Project

Sensory Love (Project One)

Baby C is on the brink of sensory bin love.
She is hitting the stage that she thoroughly enjoys getting her hands into something new.
The sensory bins have to be objects she can mouth (read: no tiny items), such as balls, nature items (pinecones) or water bins.
Today her basket was filled with balls of yarn and tied in with a project O and I set out to complete.

A Hat for my Head

Please note: this is definitely a supervised sensory bin since it can be a hazard.

 Measuring by Sight

Last time we visited our local Re-Store, the gardening section had an old suet feeder for a dollar. 
I remembered seeing an easy Pinterest project for the birds; an alternative use for the feeder
We picked up a few balls of yarn from Value Village and set out to cut 4-8 inch strips of 'nesting materials'.
You can expand the 'nesting' lesson with the book The Best Nest, as introduced by Framma.
An old classic (not Framma. The book!)

Essentially, this two minute project involves a little sensory/tactile experience, some math (sight measurements), some language (The Best Nest), biology (bird nesting) and environmental awareness (using old things for new purposes).
I love little projects that pack a punch!

With some yarn left over, I found myself reminiscing about my late granny and finger-knitting.
She taught me how to do this a long time ago and it was like riding a bike!

Finger Knitting (Project Three)

There you have it, three easy projects from a simple ball of yarn.

Spinning Yarns. An age old activity that boosts imagination and co-operation. Cut long strips of yarn and knot them together end-to-end for one long string. Roll into a ball and pass around a circle. People must tell bits of a story to make a whole until they reach the knot and pass it along. Seen in our Story Jar

Branch Weaving. Check this out from Natural Suburbia
Gorgeous and clever!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cambridge Mayor Festival of the Arts

Silent Art Auction

Friday evening festivities in Cambridge were brilliant!
It was an evening celebrating the local arts and artisans, through visual art, music, dance and food!

We started at the Silent Auction held in the trendy industrial Center for the Arts. 
For months, people have been donating their unwanted framed art and over 600 pieces were on display for the auction.

   Cambridge Center for the Arts

A children's stage featured local dance studio performing classical ballet.
Before the show began, they called all the children on stage for an impromptu Chicken Dance.
Once one stage performance was complete, you could hear another begin in the near distance.

 Blues Band

 Symphony Orchestra

Marching Band

The Market Square hosted several booths that support community projects such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the lovely 'Rare' Conservation Center and Trails

Splash Pad: Day Two

 'Tis the Season

It's Splash Pad season.
This is very new to my China-born babes, so we have toured the Splash Pads around our city this week...and so far none have disappointed!

We take turns running from swing set (O's absolute favourite activity) to water play.
Baby C will go wherever and loves to wave and watch everyone.

Park Pancakes 

Baby C couldn't get into the pancakes without assistance, so she just had a go at her arm!

And eventually she happened upon some squirrel food....

..I am guessing you see where this is going?