Thursday, 6 December 2012

and 3,4,5

Where has the week gone?  It's been crazy busy and crazy cold.  So much for my plan to blog our daily countdown, daily.

Day 3:

Speaks for itself does day 3.  A simple but hugely enjoyable activity.
The perfect end to a busy, cold day and 'up there' in the spirit of a simpler Christmas.

Day 4:

This was an interesting one because it took C a moment to get into that she needed to find the water cooler *for real*.  She, and sometimes 'we', plays a lot of imaginary games with invisible objects so when I said "you need to find the water cooler", she launched into such an exaggerated search of the immediate vicinity that Sherlock Holmes would have been proud.  When I said "there's a present hidden there", she shot off down the hall and found the chocolate lollies that I had hidden inside.

One of the other "hiding place" cards I have is the front room cushion, which is big enough to hide a book behind.  There are more of these "treasure hunts" coming up and I'm sure she will need less prompting next time.


Ingredients:  Cookie cutters, fingers and a bottle top; acrylic paint; glitter ( I LOVE glitter); brown paper.

And another mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows if you fancy.

 I think it looks cute.  Just like the painter.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Our day 2 (everyone else's 3!)

Today we made paper chains. Eventually.

It took a little while for me to figure out that varying the amount of spit didn't make a jot of difference and that I didn't need  the glue stick.

The design has been changed.

Nowadays there is just a little square of glue on one end that was nigh impossible to detect without close scrutiny.  Sticking problem now solved (although C preferred by this stage to still use the glue stick) we set about assembling our chains.

I haven't made chains for many years and it was very therapeutic with quick results (essential for a toddler - and me!).

Armed with enough chains to get us started, we set about getting the tree in situ, arranging the fairy lights and setting the tree train up for another year!

This box is heavy Grandad

A dry run

Christmas Express - late, just like the real thing!
"Choo choo" and paper chains
C's chains on her count-down tree

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Let the countdown begin...

We have forsaken the chocolate advent calendars and gone for a kind of "combine-what-needs-doing-with-loves-doing-with-giving" calendar.  I was busily a-cutting and a-sticking and a-gluing (ouchy ouch, hot glue guns and me don't really go) to get ready for our "countdown tree".

Luckily, C is unable to comprehend time, and thus the fact that there should be 24 sleeps and "things to do", on the tree instead of 23.  Ho hum, next year.

The small fake tree in the playroom has envelopes hanging from the branches with a little card inside.  Each card gives the activity, or shows a photo of the hiding place of a small gift (e.g. I have taken a photograph of one of the lounge cushions), for that day.  My two used to love doing treasure hunts so this is just a variation on that really.

Today was our Day 1.........

So off we went to Elveden Estates for a wonderfully festive couple of hours out to pick our Christmas tree.  Each year, volunteers and their Newfoundlands pull your tree to your car on little carts for the cost of a  donation, which then gets split between local charities. Some years the dogs have sported beetle boppers or fairy wings - I saw one in a tutu this year but missed the photo opportunity.  The dogs appear to love the fuss and people love seeing them so it's win win.

We had friends for dinner; jobs to catch up on; and pork to mince so it's just as well that we are including deocrating the tree as part of our countdown, with a heavy emphasis on homemade decorations.  I would like to say it's for sentimental or environmental reasons but actually it's all part of my 'simpler christmas' plan.  Tomorrow's "count down" actvity?  Making paper chains to decorate the tree with of course!

Happy December!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Paper, pens and chocolate cake

Christmas may be a few weeks away but Christmas planning - and shopping! - is already well and truly here.  This year I stumbled on the "something you want" "something you need" "something to wear" and "something to read" philosphy.  Perfect!

I am someone who always says I don't want Christmas to be just about pressies but then ends up not being able to resist buying "just one more thing".  I love choosing and buying, or making, gifts.

I asked C what she wanted as a Christmas present and she said "paper and pens".  Ok. That's one sorted.  But just giving "paper and pens" feels mean.  It's what she's asked for; it's what she wants; so WHY does it feel mean?  A friend's little boy wants Santa to bring him chocolate cake.  How many parents would actually go along with this request instead of the "top toy of the year" they had planned?

This got me thinking:  how did our society's relationship with money get so complicated?  Why is it so difficult to buy children gifts based solely on what they WANT, even if the costs vary so much?  When did monetary value become synomous with love or appreciation?  Do we subconsciously put a price on everything? 

The same time I stumbled on the "want, need, wear, read" idea I also found a blog written by a family who had tried this.  She was comparing her children's "want" requests and decided that because they varied so much in price, she didn't think sticking to them would be fair.  So child x got 2 "wants" (equal in value to child y's single "want"); which meant child y then needed another gift to even up the number...and so on.

I bet this goes on in many homes, year in - year out, in the name of "fairness".  No wonder Christmas pressie buying becomes a headache and escalates into crazy money.  Been there. Done that.  Definitely not going there again.


want need play read
want need eat read    (I'm liking this)
want need make read

Any others to share?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Can you guess what it is yet?

 Put your toddler googles on and see if you can see what this is....

 Well? Can you?  Here's a clue.....

The answer is at the end.  So to the beginning...

We've had a chaotic couple of weeks.  I couldn't tell you what we've been doing, but it's been very tiring and we seem to have been away from home a lot.  There have been a couple of occasions where I felt I have had to stop C playing just so we could go somewhere which was probably just as much, or maybe even less, fun than she was already having alone at home.  Pretty pointless really.  So as of this week, I've vowed for us to spend far more time here.  Just 'being'.

Having neglected my chores for long enough, today I decided to do some laundry.  We have set up the utility room so C has a "messy play" area, with glue; paints; water; and other 'materials' which seem perfectly useless as "messy play" until put in the hand of toddler-child.

Our (I was willingly lured from the ironing) sticking and gluing session ended as every messy play always ends for C:  with paint....stripping off ("I in the nip!" says C)...and a bit of body art....

Such is the regularity of this occurence that we tidy up whilst we wait for C to dry sufficiently to walk to the shower without leaving painty footprints (she ALWAYS does the bottom of her feet).  Tidying up didn't take long so I went back to my ironing for a few more moments.

An iron!  Of course!
Next thing I know C is busying herself back and forth "ironing".  She has an ironing board but as yet no iron.

Ah, but this didn't stop the girl from her play: she was using her whisk as the iron and sticking it in the key of the linen cupboard whilst making "sssshhhshhhhhh" steam-irony noises to heat it up.  Isn't imagination wonderful?  We won't bother with getting that iron for christmas after all.      

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Jewellery making....toddler style

Some days I just have a spurt of inspiration (is "spurt" the right verb?) and as it happens so infrequently, I go with it.  I was actually clearing out the utility room when I came across some florist wire that I bought for goodness knows what; and a couple of polysytrene egg boxes which my ebay eggs arrived in eons ago.  Voila, I had the brilliant idea of sticking the wires in the polysytrene and giving C some glowstick connectors (little plastic tubes) to drop on the wire.  A bit like a stacker on a smaller, finer scale. Well I thought it sounded like the kind of thing she might like but C had other ideas....

She took the wire out of the polystyrene; broke up the egg box and threaded the plastic tube on the wire.  I left her to it and went on sorting out the contents of the utility room cupboard which by now were strewn everywhere.  Ten minutes later, C walks in saying "Your birthday Nannny, here's a present for you.  A bracelet".  Her creativity took me completely by surprise and I went along with it.  She choose some buttons and pony beads to add to the glowstick plastic things and played for at least an hour; making bracelets and necklaces.

She then moved onto other birthday-related projects (she LOVES playing birthdays), her last creation being a "birthday cake" - in which the wire found itself back into the polystyrene, just where we began.


Friday, 31 August 2012

The too hungry caterpillars

Or should I say "gazzilions" of stripy, hungry caterpillars (and eggs, grrrrrrr) in the no-idea-what-they-are-but-look-like-cabbages plants.  Today, being one of the few nice days of late, was a garden day, Grandad and I picking the caterpillars off the plants and putting them in pots to give to the chickens (who incidently didn't touch them!).

I must be the only person to find the Very Hungry Caterpillar MIND NUMBINGLY DULL AND BORING (sorry Eric Carle fans!), so we never read it, but C and I have watched this you tube vid  quite a few times; needless to say one of us was pleased to see so many caterpillars and eggs. At one point we did have to say that C could only play with the caterpillars outside the veggies, as quite a few were successfully helped in their bid for freedom from the pot and were dropped back on the plants - never to be found again.

C played with them for about half an hour; "giving them kisses" (eeurgh!); "cuddling" them (it's actually under her finger!)....

....stroking(!) them....

....sticking them to her jumper.....

....sticking them to her wellies

 (which they don't).....

....feeding them grass.....

...and although C was very careful not to squash them, she was very matter of fact when one did 'stop moving'.

I just hope I can tap into some of that 'groundedness' when the first of our animals leave us in the next couple of weeks.....

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Just another evening.....

The summer sun is setting, gently casting an orange hue over the paddock......

The flies buzz quietly and move unhindered by a single breath of wind.....

Animals contently finish their evening feed, basking in the evening warmth........

 The milking is finished.....and all that remains to do this evening is.....

kiss goodnight a 'sleepy' child bathed and ready for bed.....but, hang on a second..........

A look is exchanged between Nanny Southwellski and Grandpa Southwellski.

"Don't ask", he says, "At least I won the battle over her wearing 4 pairs of socks".  Fleecy pjs in August! I ask you. 

Going on holiday

There was  a time a few weeks back when whoever C asked to play with my reply was "they're on holiday".

C: "me go on holiday tooooooo"

Me: "ok, we can go on holiday.  What would you like to do on holiday" (it's so hard to explain the notion of holiday to a 2 year old so I turned the tables - clever eh?)

C: "feed ducks; walk, walk, walk; eat brown sausages".  The reference to brown sausages actually means unbattered, unlike the ones we have got for her from the fish and chip shop.

I may not be a duck but FEED ME!!!
Well, with that list in mind (ignoring the fact that we actually have ducks here that she could feed AND we could walk down to the forest or river AND that we could purchase an unbattered sausage), Grandpa Southwellski and I took C 'on holiday'.  We went to Pensthorpe.  The only place I could think of guaranteed to have ducks to feed, whilst providing a change of scenery for us adults too.

It was actually great fun.  If that sounds unexpected, it's intentional!

We pond-dipped; played croquet; fed ducks; and "walked, walked, walked"; but alas, alack we forgot to pack brown sausages in our picnic!

Oh well, that just means we will have to go on another 'holiday' soon.

Anyone for croquet?

Monday, 13 August 2012

The animals came in two by two....

Wow, a WHOLE MONTH since I've blogged.

C continues to be interested in  obsessed with nursing, the milking variety rather than medical.  Poor Blossom and Scarlett (2 of our bitches) are constantly having to roll over for a "teat inspection"; even the cats (male and female) have had to endure a teat finding session - cats aren't terribly cooperative and it's every bit as difficult as it sounds I can tell you!  So although C has her nursing cat and nursing book she was very excited to actually get to do some milking herself.  Enter our new milking Nanny, Simone and her cheeky and immature goatling pal, Ashia.

Simone and Ashia are "part 3" (veggies were part 1 and chickens, part 2) of our self sufficiency plan, but more about them another time.  Part 4 and 5 followed on very quickly from part 3 - about 23 hours in fact, with the arrival of 2 weaner pigs ("piggy pig-pigs") and 2 lambs ("sheepy sheeps").  I'm guessing you can tell by the 'impersonal' names that these four are around for a specific purpose.  And a specific length of time too. 

So, it' been quite a month really.  As for C, she has taken it all in her stride - but was especially fascinated to find out that the pigs were actually gilts - and that even from the other side of the fence she could see their teats..... 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Auction fever....

"Auction fever" is a nasty bug.  Symptoms include itchy hands relieved only by giving money in exchange for, what can only be described as, TAT.  I'm not sure if "tat" has the same meaning to my non-UK readers.  You may call it junk.

Grandad and Uncle Luke returned from auction with a box of goodies including a guitar with a couple of strings and broken tuners; a little Tike car with a bent wheel; and the most hideous pot you ever did see.

"Tat" aka "junk" aka "rubbish" aka "auction fever"
They also bought a trampoline.

Now we have had long discussions in this house about whether to buy one for C or leave it until she is older, I guess that question has now been answered.  It came "as is" with no safety net; nor padding around the springs; nor ladder.  We um-ed and ah-ed about whether to buy these accessories, not from a cost point of view but ironically from a safety point of view and have decided to leave the trampoline as it is:

1. no safety net = no false sense of safety. We have seen children bouncing off the safety nets and playing more recklessly than they would otherwise, because they think they can't fall off.  There's a good reason Nanny says "stay in the middle" and if you fall off onto the grass you'll know why.

2. no ladder = no unsupervised play.  If she isn't big enough to get on by herself then she isn't big enough to play unsupervised.

3.  spring padding = creeping closer to the edge.  This follows on from 1.  C knows the metal is hard (she's banged it); she knows you can slip through the springs (she put her hand and foot through them - on purpose of course).  She also knows to stay in the middle and if you jump off of the middle you stop and go back to the middle again.
IMHO "safety features" not only give children a false sense of security but adults too.  I can imagine thinking "I'll just pop the washing on, C will be fine in her enclosed, padded jumping cell", when what I should have been doing was leaving the washing and standing trampoline-side saying "I see you've jumped off the middle"; to which she will reply "oh no - in the middle" before moving to jump again.
Who needs a ladder when you have a Grandad?
So, for the time being the trampoline stays.  As for the other tat, if you find you desperately need a broken guitar then email me....