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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ways in Which I Amuse My Toddler - Playdough

I know, I know, there are heaps of posts already out there in blogland on how to make playdough, and activities to do with playdough, etc etc.


I just thought I'd share one more, just cause I can ... right?!


LL loves playdough and I actually introduced it to him quite early on, in a desperate bid for something to do. Initially he wasn't that sure and preferred to watch Mummy or Daddy cut out shapes or roll balls or make figures etc.


But he's slowly gotten the hang of it over time and now it's probably one of our most used play activities.


The recipe I've found the easiest to use is this one:


Playdough Recipe
2 cups of plain flour
2 tbs Cream of Tartar
2 tbs Cooking Oil
1 cup Salt
2 cups of Water
Food Colouring

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan (except food colouring) stir over medium heat for 3 - 5 mins or until the mixture congeals. Once cool add food colouring.



The recipe makes a fairly large ball so sometimes I separate into two balls and make two colours.


I also find it keeps really well in the fridge and will often last for a month or even more.


Here's some pics of our fun times with playdough ...












Happy Playdoughing!! :)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Grateful for ... Playgrounds

My grateful posts lately are a reflection of how much I am enjoying being back in Australia, and indulging in all the simple, wonderful, everyday things I can offer LL here - grandparents, libraries, and .... Playgrounds!!

This whole trip I have definitely been grateful for playgrounds.

And we have certainly been getting out there and enjoying many of the playgrounds on offer.











There are some seriously fantastic playgrounds around the place, and they are a great source of entertainment for everyone, not just the kids. Even if we stay for only 10 mins, 20 mins or an hour - LL has fun, learns something new, wears off some of his abundant energy, we all get some fresh air, and Mr B and I or the Grandparents, can smile and watch as LL runs around, explores and has a ball. And everyone now and then we get called upon to go down the slide too. Which let me just say is no mean feat with a big preggo belly!!!

Mr B and I have also witnessed changes in LL because of his adventures at the various playgrounds we've taken him too. His confidence is slowly growing as he conquers new challenges - climbing a ladder, hauling himself up a step, or overcoming his fear to slide down the slippery dip all by himself.



In Francistown, in Bots, the playgrounds are sadly unmaintained, rusty, and often falling apart. They are typically also for older children, with no real toddler friendly equipment. We have tested out every playground in town, but our visits are always short due to the limited equipment to play on.

As a result we have bought LL a trampoline and a plastic climbing toy with a slide, but for some reason this is not quite the same as heading off to the playground and having a run around.

So this week, I'm definitely grateful for playgrounds; for the opportunity to share them with LL.

Linking up with Maxabella Loves' 52 Weeks of Grateful and Kidspot

The Name Game

So it seems Mr B and I may have possibly settled on names for baby no.2. Maybe?? ....

The name game ... it's certainly not an easy task.

With LL we pretty much knew we liked his name even before we were married, when we were first discussing children. I was completely set on a girls name I'd chosen years before, and adamant that Mr B would agree, like it or not. Thankfully he agreed.

But this time around it hasn't been as easy. Not knowing the sex I guess makes it a little trickier, yet I like the idea of having to choose names for both sexes in preparation. The unknown appeals to me for some reason.

The main thing that gets me, though, when choosing a name, is the idea or thought that my child will be stuck with this name for the rest of their lives - or at least until they are old enough to change it legally themselves.

I don't want it to be too common. Although this is hard, as almost all the names I like are "common" to a certain extent. LL will no doubt be one of two, three or four in his year at school with the same name, as unfortunately his name is very popular. Mr B and I were not fussed at the time with this as we liked the name, and wanted to use it regardless.

We also don't want any silly conotations from initials or name shortenings to eventuate. I will never forget when my High School PE teacher told the class her son's name was Richard. I realised quickly, what that meant for her poor son considering her surname was Head. I still wonder now what in the world she was thinking when she named her son that.

A good friend of mine also had the unfortunate experience of her first name, coupled with her maiden name, sounding like male genetalia. She said she was often called this piece of anatomy growing up.

Kids can be cruel and Australians just love to shorten names, invent nicknames, and have a laugh at others' expenses.

All of this contributes to a certain amount of pressure on parents when trying to select a name for your future child, to then carry with them always.

So we've written the list (well I have; Mr B has just said yes or no), and re-written the list, shortlisted a few, said them out loud over and over, married them to our names and LL's, and finally, just maybe, the names could possibly fit.

This time around I'm adamant about the boys name and thankfully Mr B likes it too. It fits with us, and it fits with LL. But the girls name has been trickier. This could suggest that we're having a girl, just because I'm so unsure about the name.

Time will tell .... and hopefully when we say the name out loud and tell the baby that this will be it's name, it will all seem perfect. It will all seem just right.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Summer Reading


I love to read, as I've mentioned many times here before. And there's something about reading a good book during the summer holidays that I have no problems indulging in.

This summer I seem to be on more of a mission than usual. There's a baby on the way; and I am feeling the need to get my fill of books before I get a little tied up for a while.

Here's how my summer holiday book list has been shaping up so far:

Peter Allison - Don't Look Behind You

Don't Look Behind You, But ...

After reading Peter Allison's first book, "Whatever You Do, Don't Run", I knew I had to buy a copy of his second book when I saw it at the local school book fair back in Bots before Christmas. I read his first book just after arriving in Bots and thoroughly enjoyed it. At the time I'd be on one or two safari adventures, so I could somewhat identify with the stories he was describing. This time around I've seen a lot more of Bots and South Africa, and so his adventurous tales were even more relatable, to the point where at times I was starting to think this guy either attracts trouble or he's a bit of an idiot. For those interested in Africa, Allison's tales of his safari guiding days make for an exciting easy read.

Kasey Chambers - A little bird told me

A Little Bird Told Me...

Ok I'll admit it, I'm a bit of a Kasey fan. I've got almost all her CDs and have enjoyed most of her music since uni days. But I also admire her as a person; not that I know her personally; but what I've read about her and seen of her on tv, appeals to me. When I heard that she was releasing an autobiography I was very keen to read it. And it didn't disappoint. Obviously she's not a writer or author by profession, so the writing, itself, isn't brilliant. But I thoroughly enjoyed reading what she had to say about her life - growing up on the Nullabor, living quite a sheltered childhood, becoming involved in music with the Dead Ringer Band and the Australian music industry, and now today her everyday life as a mother, wife, daughter and sister. It was nice to read the human side of this professional musician, to realise that while the lifestyle might seem glamorous, her everyday is typically just the same as mine. As a woman, she struggles with similar issues, and suffers similar burdens. As a fan, it was a great read.

Monique Roffey - The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

This book I contributed to bookclub 12 months ago, despite never having read it. I had seen good reviews online and being someone who likes to read new authors and interesting stories, I bought it in the hope that it would be just that. Throughout the 12 months that it lived in the bookclub box I think maybe one or two people read it (not sure if this is saying anything about the book, or just an indication that our bookclub may have struggled to read much of anything last year??) and said that they enjoyed it, so I was keen to read it myself and just see if it was good, bad or so-so.

The story is set in Trinidad over a period of decades, and focuses primarily on a married couple who have moved from England to Trinidad just as the British began their departure of the country. For the most part, I found this novel engaging. I discovered numerous aspects of the history of Trinidad, which I have never previously heard or read much about. I also enjoyed following the marriage dynamics of the main characters, reading about the way the marriage relationship changed over time, how expat living ultimately affected it, and how the two characters dealt with this. It was definitely an enjoyable read, but I am unsure if I would actually recommend it to others, as it was not a positive or warm story, and would not be to everyone's liking.

Monica McInerney - Lola's Secret

Lola's Secret

It's not often I dislike a book. Typically if I haven't enjoyed the story 100% I will still be able to find something good to say about it. This book for me, though, was a disappointment. I have read all of Monica's previous books and always enjoyed them. But this one ... not so much. To me it seemed like a book solely written to fulfill a writer's book contract. It seemed to be a mishmash of stories joined together to form a whole, with many parts being a complete waste of time and having no impact on how the main story played out. In the end the novel could have been half it's length, and maybe as a result, a much more enjoyable read.

Rachael Treasure - The Girl and the Ghost-Grey Mare

The Girl and the Ghost-Grey Mare

Again another disappointment for me I'm afraid. (What a rarity for me - disliking two books, one after the other!). I started this book, read maybe the first two chapters, and then for probably the first time ever, decided that life was too short to suffer through a book that I wasn't enjoying, and so stopped, and returned it to the library instead.

Belinda Alexandra - Golden Earrings

Golden Earrings

I started this book, only to have to return it to the library before I'd finished it. I will be coming back to this one though as what I've read so far had me hooked to read more ...

Kerry Greenwood - Introducing the Honourable Phryne Fisher

Introducing the Honourable Phryne Fisher

My Mum introduced me to this author and book a few weeks ago and I'm thoroughly enjoying the read. This particular edition is three books in one, of which I've read the first two. Mum likened the main character to Precious Ramotswe from the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency novels by Alexander McCall Smith, and I have to say that I agree with her. In fact the concept of the series is similar - strong female lead character who has a penchant to solve mysteries, supported by several sideline characters that reappear in subsequent storylines. But that is where the similarities end. Instead these stories are set in 1920s Australia and Phryne Fisher is from a wealthy British family, where money is no option, and she enjoys living a rather flamboyant and promiscuous lifestyle.

Before starting the third story I've decided to take a little break and have been feeling the need to read up on labour and birth again before baby no.2 decides to make it's entrance.

So I'm currently reading Juju Sundin - Birth Skills:

small product photo

And I'm really enjoying it. It just makes sense to me. And even though I have no idea how I'll be when I'm in the moment (and even if I am able to go into labour naturally), I do hope I can take away something that might help me cope with either a natural delivery or a caesarean, whatever happens.

This is a book I'd definitely recommend to other pregnant mothers, and one that I'll be loaning out to any pregnant friends who may be interested. It's not a hippie-dippy, airy-fairy guide to giving birth. It's just a practical description of what your body goes through during labour and suggested techniques that may assist you to manage the various stages. Like I said, it makes a lot of sense to me, so I'll keep reading and see if it helps on the day.

Once I've finished reading about how to give birth, I was thinking I'd better refresh my memory on newborns. Everyone has said it all comes back to you, but to be honest those first three months of LL's life are primarily a blur and I know I didn't cope well at all. So it's definitely not going to hurt if I peruse these two books, and maybe learn a thing or two that I could've used the first time around.

Dr Christopher Green - Babies

and

Megan Faure & Ann Richardson - Baby Sense

Babies 

So that's my summer reading list ... tell me ... what have you been reading during the summer break? Anything worth sharing?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Our night away

It only took Mr B and I two and a half years but we finally managed to have a night away together, kiddie-free, this past weekend. And IT WAS SO GOOD!!!!

Naturally we love our little man, we love being around him and spending time with him, but sometimes it's very easy for our focus to become solely about him, and "us", as a couple, gets somewhat forgotten about. Lately it has kind of been getting to the point where I couldn't remember a time when Mr B and I had had a conversation that either wasn't about LL, or didn't involve him interrupting us mid-chat with his delightful toddler talents.

Before arriving in Australia, I had hoped Mr B and I might make use of the grandparents to sneak away for the night somewhere, and spend some quality time together. Once Christmas and New Year were over, instead of things calming down, we only seemed to get busier and the chance of this happening seemed to become less and less.

Until .... my MIL suggested on the weekend that Mr B take me out for dinner to one of the local pubs. Mr B wasn't that keen. So instead I reminded him of our original plan to head to Adelaide for the night, and eventually sold him on the idea by suggesting we go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie.

He was in!

So I booked us into here

And made a table reservation for dinner here

And looked up movie times here

I was so excited. We were actually going to do it; one whole night away from LL, on our own! YIPPEE!!!

And the best bit?? .... It was just how I had hoped it would be.

Great movie

Aimless window shopping

A stroll along the beach

A shared ice-cream

Yummy dinner, topped off with a lovely revolving view

A comfortable hotel room with the perfect view of the beach and ocean, to sit by, and enjoy the sunset.





And the simple enjoyment of each other's company - something we hadn't had the chance to do in a while, and exactly what we both needed.

Perfect!

Plus a sleep in till 8am didn't go astray either. I seriously cannot tell you the last time we slept that late!!

Linking up for the first time with Sonia's Wonderful Weekends @ Life Love and Hiccups

Life Love and Hiccups

Why don't you head on over and get some fun weekend inspiration :)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

A little bit crafty Pt 2

After completing this little project quite successfully, I decided Mum and I should have a go at making some bunting to decorate LL's room back in Bots. It seems to be a popular thing amongst crafty types, so I thought why not have a go.

After gathering inspiration from some of my fav bloggers, here and here, I had a look at this blog for some further instructions.

Mum thought it looked easy enough, so we jumped straight in and started cutting out some fabric ...


We did three flags from each piece of fabric I'd bought on our recent trip to Spotlight. I'd chosen boats and planes, as well as some plain fabric, to tie in with the theme I'd already gone for when previously decorating his room.

The original sequence we came up with below felt like something was missing, so I cut out three more flags from some fabric I had bought to make a photoboard like this one.


We then arranged the flags into this sequence ...


And Mum used her sewing prowess to sew them all together (Mr B thought it was quite funny that I wasn't "allowed" near the machine. I just wanted it to look good so was happy to stay away. Maybe I'll have a go when we tackle my next project).

And the end result .... some good looking bunting!!! (Apologies for the busy background - this was the best hanging spot in Mum's house).


Since this came out so well I have an idea now to get some Winnie The Pooh fabric and make one for the baby's room, which will be in huge need of decorating when we return to Bots.

Hmmm... I think this crafting bug has taken hold ...

I have this little boy Lachlan Pt 5

I have this little boy Lachlan ... he is small and very funny ...

And is currently enjoying a love affair with trains

Or "choo-choo" as he prefers :)

This fascination has been around for a few months now, starting primarily when he discovered an episode on one of his kiddie dvds of Thomas the Tank Engine. He watched that single episode over and over and over again. Continuously asking for "more" whenever the 10 minutes of pure mesmerisation was over.

This wonderment of Thomas the Tank then moved onto any of his books or puzzles that showed a train, with him continuously pointing out choo-choo.

Since returning to Australia this love has grown exponentially - more books, more dvds, and his very own Thomas the Tank Engine wooden track set for Christmas from his cousin James, who also shares an affinity with trains.




Mr B and I have been nurturing this love. Last weekend we took him to the Kadina Minature Train. For $2 per person it was money well spent ... HE LOVED IT!!!





We then headed over to the local playground where a bigger choo-choo was waiting for LL to explore ...




To keep the choo-choo experiences coming Grammy and Grampy are planning on taking LL on this little beauty in the next week or so. He's going to LOVE IT!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Grateful for ... Libraries

I have loved libraries for as long as I can remember. I love to read so I guess it's only logical that I love the places where books are kept. But there's also something about a library that gets me everytime I walk in the door. I'm not sure if it's the smell of the books, the endless number of books on the shelves that I could potentially read and enjoy, the excitement of the unknown of what am I going to borrow next, or all of this rolled into one.

And now with the modern day library there's even more to enjoy - dvds, magazines, newspapers, computers, the internet, CDs, toys and unlimited reference books to help you with parenting, gardening, DIY, finance, health issues, etc etc.

The town where we live in Bots sadly does not boast this wonderful resource. The Women's Institute, a local charitable organisation, does manage a small library of sorts out of a large shipping container, which is open most Saturday mornings. And while they have quite a range of current fiction to borrow, for some reason it's not the same for me as the libraries we are lucky enough to enjoy here in Australia.

On our last trip to Australia with LL when he was 15 months, Mr B and I borrowed a few books for LL to enjoy, which was fun and enabled us to keep up our bedtime reading ritual.

Since that trip, LL's love for books has only grown. I will often find him in his room "reading" one of his books to himself, or just pouring over the pictures. Books are also fast becoming my lifesaver on long car trips as he'll happily turn the pages or play the sounds, over and over again as we drive.

And so this trip back to Australia has seen almost a weekly trip to the library in my parent's town. It has been so wonderful to see LL enjoy this environment - playing with the toys, colouring in, or just sitting at the little tables and chairs with a book.

We've borrowed dvds, lots and lots of books, and some fabulous toys from the toy library.

And he's loved them all ...



I am so grateful that I have been able to share this brilliant resource with him. To share my love of books and libraries, and watch it grow in him. And hopefully we will share many more moments together at libraries and reading books over the years as he grows. This is something I am definitely going to nurture.

Linking up with Maxabella Loves and Kidspot and the 52 Weeks of Grateful Project  

A little bit crafty

I've mentioned once or twice before I think, that I'm not a crafty person, and I'm also not overly creative. But I think one thing I have got going for me, is that I am almost always willing to give something a go, to try something new, and see how it turns out.

Having been inspired by some of the lovely crafty ladies whose blogs I follow, I thought I'd take advantage of staying at Mum's (another VERY crafty person - Mum made most of my clothes when I was a kid, and is now a brilliant card maker - I obviously did not inherit these talents!), and try to make a few things for LL and the new baby.

I wanted to do something that I could say to them one day Mummy and Grandma made this for you.

Our first project - a stuffed elephant for LL.

I found this book at the library


And decided to use the "circus elephant" pattern



Of course this called for a trip to one of Mum's favourite stores (and fast becoming mine!), Spotlight! Wow, if I wasn't so pregnant I think I could have browsed in there for ages. And I had to show A LOT of restraint to not buy too much as we won't have room to take it back to Bots. Instead I will have to wait and become better acquainted with Spotlight when we return to Australia.

We found some super cute fabric for this project, plus some others I want to try, and came away very happy with our purchases.

Next was to get stuck in.

Due to my limited sewing experience I left the sewing machine up to Mum, while I cut and stuffed.





It was a fairly simple pattern to follow and I probably could've done it by myself, even if it would've taken me a week or two as opposed to the afternoon that it took Mum and I together. But half the fun was doing it with Mum, as we haven't had the chance to do something like that since I was a little girl when I used to hang around Mum at her sewing machine, and watch what she was making.


Who would've known this crafting thing was so much fun?!!!

And the best bit ...

Feeling like you've accomplished something when the end result looks SO CUTE!!!!



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