More sunshine, less whine

Sunshine and the great outdoors are the allies of the exhausted parent.

Armed with a double shot almond milk latte, in a huge mug, the lads and I began carrying supplies out to the deck for a morning of mess and imagination. Because when you are outside, mess can wait, and it does not agitate.

 

Whilst my lads age range might mean that compatibility in play is sometimes elusive, there are some things that just win every time, like sensory play.  We have used rainbow rice, cloud dough,  play dough and water play again and again over many years (new batches of course!!).  These are simple, low or no cost activities that I enjoy as much as my kids do.  It is really important to know what you enjoy in terms of play as a parent. Yes, we play things that we don’t particularly enjoy, because the kids want us to join in. But when we find things we enjoy as much as they do, the play is different. And we can all feel the difference.

 

So this morning, we played with cloud dough, play dough and rice with plastic animals and duplo. And afterwards, those animals really needed a bath.

We brought the dolls house and peg dolls I made outside, and Asher showing Tobias how to create an avalanche of animals down the staircase.  

Then we made some necklaces with our animals. “More,  more, more” resulted in Tobias wearing a zoo.

 

 

Not one complaint. No bickering. No fussing. It really isn’t rocket science; kids (big and small) need to be outside.

 

And does the fact that there are things strewn across the deck concern me? Not one iota. But if this same mess was inside, I would be finding it very hard to leave the activities out for much longer.  The lads will go in and out all day, and these things will be utilised in endless ways, as their imagination leads.

Oh, and I got to have my coffee while it was hot.  And we filled the neighbourhood with bubbles. Everyone’s a winner.


The List: School holiday edition

School holidays when I was a child consisted of a whole lot of reading and playing with the neighbourhood kids.  Life is so different now.  Firstly, most of our immediate neighbours were children 200 years ago, so they aren’t exactly suitable playmates for my children.  Secondly, electronic devices when I was a child consisted of vacuum cleaners and toasters, so they weren’t exactly appealing as objects of amusement.

Juggling the use of devices is an ongoing issue, and we are currently trialing a screen time token system.  Our lads don’t have their own personal device, but we do have a Wii and an iPad as well as 2 laptops which we allow them to access with our permission.  The tokens are working really well so far, as the lads are highly motivated to accumulate screen time minutes; therefore chores are done more willingly, and bedtime is no longer such a drawn out process for Middle Son.

 

However, screen time is only a minimal part of the lads day, so there is a need for other activities to fill our days.  Now with a 14 week old baby in our family (a belated post coming up about this big news!), occupying the bigger boys is a much more pressing issue!  So what does one do when they have a 7 and 8 year old who need to be entertained, but one does not have the same amount of time as in previous school holidays?  Why, you construct a list, of course! I do love lists, and grab any opportunity to pen one. So the arrival of school holidays was a fitting occasion to create a list of potential activities for the lads, so that they had a resource to go back to when the childhood profanity is spoken – “BORED!!!”

After I presented them the list, I requested that they initial any activities that sparked their interest. Here’s what happened…

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The list has since mutated, with the addition of science experiments involving water pistols, cloud dough and aluminium foil art.  I will post updates as these are ticked off the list.

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Yard Sale Psychology

You can learn a lot about humanity by holding a yard sale. Firstly, about your own life. The accumulation of stuff that we once deemed so necessary in our lives, now up for grabs to passers by. My “no buy it diet”changed me forever. So the amount of stuff we culled this time was, in fact, minimal, but there’s still that quiet reminder that too much stuff doesn’t add to the essence of our lives.

First observation – blokes came looking for stuff for themselves! Tools and fishing gear. So many a man walked away empty handed.

Second observation – some people wear tshirts they probably found at a different garage sale, for example; “Trust me, I’m an alcoholic”.

Third observation – women usually buy with others in mind. Therefore my sons started singing “all the single ladies” in the hope that it would have a Pied Piper effect on the neighbourhood ladies. Women came mostly buying for friends with babies or children.

Fourth observation – women AND men change their minds. One lass purchased something only to return 10 minutes later for a refund. Do I look like a department store?! But I do look like a pushover, it seems. So I handed her fiver back. It hurt too, as that was 25% of our takings at that point.

One fellow thought long and hard about a Lego and Wii purchase. As we were eating dinner there came a knock on the door, 6 hours after we packed the gear away. He had $10 so we did an after hours deal on the doorstep. Odd, but the kids scored an extra $5 each.

Fifth observation – kids learn niceties quickly when greeting copious amounts of strangers asking them “How are you?”By the end of the day, they were (unprompted!) asking, “And you?”

Sixth observation – making a batch of gluten free scones and a pot of fruit tea for morning tea is good on any day.

We didn’t make much cold hard cash, but our home feels lighter, and our ongoing quest for less is strengthened!

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Reliving my bookworm childhood through my bookworm children

The feeling that comes over me when I catch a glimpse of a book from my childhood is almost embarrassing. I mean, I almost squeal. It’s everything in me to refrain from running around asking the people around me if they remember the book, in case they too might share the ecstasy of my find. I’ve been able to restrain these impulses to date, but one day, I will likely stumble across something that will reveal to my fellow op shoppers that I get a tad too excited over small things.
Here are some of the books I have scored from the thrift shop in recent times – I wonder if you enjoyed these too?

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The thing is, the lads don’t always share my excitement when I come home with these treasures. Some of them, they adore (like ‘Choose your own adventure’), but I am still waiting for them to catch the excitement of Encyclopedia Brown (it will happen, believe me. Watch this space).

Stories from our childhood are special. They remind us of times of imagination that ran wild, secret reading sessions when we were so quiet that perhaps we could almost be invisible. Visits to the library were a tradition for me in childhood, and I am so thrilled when I see my lads in libraries and op shops scouring book shelves for their next adventure. And sometimes my lads are almost invisible too, cloaked by the cover of a great book and an adventure on every page.

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Quick & Thrifty redos

Uni starts again next week, so I am cramming in a few quick projects before I have my head stuck in books for a few months.

I paid $1 for a few off cuts of fabric from the op shop yesterday, and recovered a boring lamp and a few canvases I had around home. I still have more than half of it left. On a roll, I remembered I had a $1 doily and stitched it onto a footstool I purchased for $5 from the tip shop a few months ago. I had recovered it with black fabric given to me already, but the doily made it complete, and made me smile. The lads aren’t so sure about doilies…it is an ongoing discussion around here – The Great Doily Debate. I think you can see who is winning. Three v One, yet I still manage to have doily dominion.

These few makeovers cost next to nothing, and we have a few new splashes of colour and another seat (or footstool!) in our living space.

What do you have around the house that you could tweak so you love it and use it once again?

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Eden Farmstay Getaway

A farmstay is something we’ve often talked about doing with the lads. When a great winter deal came up for Eden Farmstay we jumped on it. It has far exceeded my expectations, and I’m sad to be leaving in the morning.

Pigs, chickens, roosters, bunnies, alpacas, goats and cows fill the beautiful pastures. Eggs on toast like I’ve never tasted. Frost in the morning, sunshine through the day. Animals living as animals should live. what a way to spend 3 wintery days!

Asher’s hope for this trip was to hug a goat. Not only did he get to do so, on many occasions, he also found a kindred spirit in Ian the kid.

Isaac, who is not an animal lover, has amazed us with his enthusiasm. On the first day, he was ever so cautious and adamant he would not hand feed animals. By day two he was feeding cows apples and allowing goats to nuzzle food from his palms. A goat even jumped up on his chest and he dealt with it beautifully. Now he wants a bunny.

Wearing gumboots everyday felt so good!

There’s something really special about this place. Matt and Jo (our hosts) go far above what you would expect. The feeding routine starts with a gentle tap on the cottage door, prompting us to all jump up to grab our gumboots and head out for the rounds with Matthew. He could have done the feeding much faster alone, but instead spent close to an hour leading us and giving us time to feed the animals and extra time to play with the goats. One thing I’ve realised doing the rounds is alpacas are among my least favourite animals, with spit that makes sewerage smell like daisies. Seriously.

We will be back, and I encourage my local friends to support this great family in their venture, and come for the best local mini break available!

http://www.edenfarmstay.com/

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Feeling cushy

Tonight it felt good to start and finish a project in an hour. I whipped up a few cushion covers using thrift shop items: a pillow case, off-cut fabric and zips. I paid around $1 for the supplies I used.

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I am thinking some napkins might be next on the list of straight line sewing projects for me.

Shadows

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Shadows

We have had a few sheets of black cardboard Matt bought home from school last year that are a bit damaged from being used as backdrops for displays. Tonight as we were looking through a Science experiment book from the Library, we stumbled across this and I remembered the cardboard.
It was the first ever shadow sketch experience for the lads, and we got to turn the lights out and use their Lego man torch, which of course made the whole process so much more fun! They were amazed when we cut their silhouette out. We now have beautiful, frugal, simple art in the play room.

Fort Frenzy

We are fast approaching the end of our first week of school holidays. They always go so fast! The weather is crazy; cold and gusty, but altogether cosy indoors, so what did we decide to do today? Why, we let our inner architect out to play and created an indoor fort, of course!

We used sheets, clamps, pegs and rope and the lads have been in there ever since, reading, watching ‘Spy Kids’ and making frequent requests for food. Their Dad is in there with them, showing no signs of coming out of this boy cave anytime soon… I have a feeling this may stay for a while.

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