Sunday, September 29, 2013

Creamy Chia

Looking for something a little bit different for breakfast?

Why not try creamy chia?
It's amazingly high in Omega-3 and protein and provides a great start to the day.
It's fast to make and gluten free.

I found Creamy Chia through Petite Kitchen, here.
We've made our own personal alterations though, finding the coconut milk too rich for us to stomach.

Instead, this is how I make our Creamy Chia:

2 T chia
1/2c water
1c plain natural yoghurt (use flavoured if you prefer)
1 T honey (don't add if your yoghurt is flavoured)
1/4c fine coconut
2 T currants (or other dried fruit)

Start by mixing the chia seeds into the water, in a bowl or mixing jug.
Let it stand a few minutes till the chia absorbs the water into a gel.
I often make this while cooking dinner - it is SO nice getting up in the morning knowing that breakfast is already made!
Add other ingredients and mix.
Cover and refrigerate overnight (or for a couple of hours).
Serve with fresh or tinned fruit and a sprinkle of cinnamon.


I really enjoy it with cubes of fresh orange.  Munchkin loves his with babaco (but then he just loves babaco - a relative of papaya!).  You could try banana, tinned peaches, or frozen berries.


YUMMY!
Chia is one of those amazing ancient grains that was nearly lost to us, and is now making a resurgence.  It is expensive compared to most foods I generally buy, at about $3.06 per 100g at my local PakNSave bulk bins (significantly more expensive again if you have to buy it in little bags of Ceres Organics or similar).  BUT, a very little really can go a long way.  To make this breakfast, the chia only costs 76c.
This recipe makes enough for Munchkin and I to have breakfast, any leftovers disappear for afternoon tea or supper but there always any!  Munchkin frequently asks for Creamy Chia for dessert now too, after having it once on a soup and toast night.

Amy


Friday, September 27, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet?

That’s the phrase that has been going through my head lately.

It’s been four and a half years of job hunting for Boyo.  Four and a half years of revamping his CV, writing covering letters, scouring job postings, talking with employers, having interviews, and still not having a full time, permanent job.

I realise that we are blessed.  We are doing okay.  Honestly.  But it’s just tiring, doing what we are doing for the length of time it is taking. 

Four and a half years of part-time work, out several nights a week, with all of our sleep subsequently disturbed.

Four and a half years of feeling like we’ve been led “down the garden path” time after time, with people sounding excited at Boyo’s experience, saying they might need someone, having talks, realising workload has dropped, deciding he’s too old, faffing around with whether they want someone full or part-time, not getting back to him, changing their minds left, right, and centre.

Four and a half years of not knowing what summer will hold as our student allowance ends at the end of November each year.

By the time I graduate, it will be six and a half years.  6.5 years of my life to get this degree.  I will have spent Munchkin’s entire preschool years studying.  Except the year I worked part-time instead.

So while some other mums get to enjoy gardening, or coffee, or cooking, or even cleaning on their own when their child is at preschool, I don’t.  I don’t have time.  I am trying to manage a thirty minute walk on my own (because if you’ve tried walking with a three year old lately, your heart rate usually only rises due to their skinned knee, not your walking speed!).  I don’t have time to enjoy the days he is at preschool because I study.  Next week is officially study-leave for both myself and Boyo.  That means no classes.  Yay!  But it does not mean a break.  We might take one day off to have an outing together.  We did that back during our last study break and it was really, really nice.  But the rest of our study break will be spent studying.  Loads and loads of assignments.  Research, interview, essay, online quiz, you name it, I’ve got it on my list for the next two weeks.  Of course I won’t get it all done.  But having just been sick for two whole weeks and still managing to hand in two large essays BECAUSE I had done a heap of work early on them, I know that as a part-time student, full-time mother-of-preschooler I MUST keep moving and keep ahead of deadlines by several weeks, just in case I end up being called into the ‘stop everything else because this sick child requires constant Mummy cuddles’ phase that occurs all too frequently when you have preschoolers.

Studying when Munchkin was 2-3 months old - Child Development textbook!
Now, in my saner moments I know that we are doing the right thing, using this time to up-skill. I know that some of our circumstances are our own doing.  We could have done better when we were younger at preparing for our future.  We could have managed our careers better, done many things differently.  So I know that this is just how it is.  And usually when people ask me how I do this mother come student gig, I just say I don’t know, I just do what I have to do.  I don’t want applause.  I don’t want pity.  Most of the time at any rate.  But right now, in all honesty, I just want it to be over.

It would be such a relief to have Boyo in a stable, steady job.  I know that would mean big changes and adjustments for us.  Munchkin would miss seeing him so often during the week.  I would miss his help with Munchkin (particularly at times like the past two weeks when he’s juggled his study to help me with Munchy and mine!!!).  BUT, it would just be nice to have stable, predictable income that actually meets our needs.  It would be nice to feel like someone sees in Boyo what I see.

That they see how determined he is to get work, how hard he is trying, how much better he will be as an employee than when he was younger (why do people want to hire young sprats anyway?!). I wish someone would take notice and see that he’s been faithfully working at a supermarket doing nightfill for four and a half years to support his family, while studying hard to upskill and try and get back into his industry.  I wish they could see how passionate he is about civil, how he lives and breathes it, how his number crunching brain is made for that line of work and how much he’s missed being a part of it.  I wish they could see that he really KNOWS now that this is what he wants to do, so he’s going to be committed, and focused, and enthusiastic about their company and their work.  I wish…

And I wish I had my degree. I know that working now with Munchkin the age he is wouldn’t be terribly helpful or easy.  I just want to be able to do something other than study (I get to blog in the evenings ‘cos study leaves me too wound up to sleep, otherwise I wouldn’t even be doing this).  I know I will really enjoy working in early childhood.  I love hanging out and meeting Munchkin’s play buddies, or talking with the kids at church.  And I know that this season has created changes in me, just as it has in Boyo.  I’m less structured than I used to be (some of you may be laughing right now, but it’s true, I used to get really upset if I didn’t get my list crossed off, now I just move it to another day!).  I’m having to learn to accept changes to routines every few months, which I suppose is good for my routine-loving soul.  I’m becoming more flexible, I hope.  I’m a better parent for it, at any rate.  I’m also learning to lower my standards.  I’m an A grade student.  Just always have been used to that.  I like to do a really good job on things.  I’m thorough.  Well, I am learning to be less so.  I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to pass.  No one is likely to ask me what grade I got on any given assignment during my studies.  Nope, they will check I have a good qualification, and watch me interacting with children.  So it’s okay to allow myself some work-life balance by being a little less picky over assignments or whether I read all of the extra readings in any given week.  Grin. 

This time has definitely wrought good changes in both of us, melded us together as a team at a time we really needed that.  So I’m grateful for all the good things it has done and the bonuses it offers (like being able to go for a walk together today, a windy Friday morning).

Munchkin and Boyo have an amazing relationship and have always spent lots of time together!
I know we are nearly there.  I know that.  I just wish we were “THERE” already.

It’s been one of those years.


Amy

What Do You Want?

I've been thinking about my blog a bit lately, and deciding that it is probably past-due for a revamp.  A bit of a tidy-up, some new pics, and a general make over.  The problem is that all this tutuing (fluffing around) takes time.  Time which is scarce for me.  There are vege seedlings to plant, food to cook, child to play with, husband to spend time with, and (the biggest issue) assignments to do.

BUT, I am going to get there, even if I at least tidy up the top tabs and nothing else.  Grin.

Please help me: What do you enjoy reading?

While I don't want this blog to become all about the numbers (how many followers, how many comments, and so forth), I still want it to connect with real people.  There's not much point having a blog if it is solely a personal diary.  I mean, I'd may as well just write it in Word on my computer.  I write primarily as an outlet for my passions, and to share things I've been up to, but part of the motivation for that is to inspire you, my reader.  So what inspires you?


Are you a foodie, or a greenie?  Do you like being encouraged to garden or go on walks?  Are you interested in ideas for playing and learning with young children?  Or do you like deep and meaningful, thoughtful posts?  Do you like posts tagged so they're easy to find, or do you use the search button instead?


Please, tell me what you would like to read.

And a special message to all my lurkers.  YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!  You folks who read sometimes, or periodically, but with great stealth and silence.  You amazing folk who I know are out there, lurking in the shadows, devouring these blog pages, but not letting on that you are a closet blog reader!  PLEASE comment.  Even if this is the only time you do.  I just want to know what you enjoy about this blog.  Otherwise I might be tempted to stop writing, and that would be terrible (for me at least!)...


Looking back over my blog, my interests (and therefore posts) have certainly ebbed and flowed over the years.  I'm finding myself increasingly drawn to play and learning with Munchkin at present - a combination of his age and my training I think.  And I've been meaning to show you all glimpses of our low-chemical house for years, but just kept putting it off...but now my sister-in-law is starting out on this journey too, perhaps I will be more motivated to share what I do here?



Well, it's been a beautiful spring day.  Gusty wind.  Scuttling clouds.  Periodic bursts of warm sunshine.  I have a killer hayfever headache, but greatly enjoyed spending time outside with Munchkin and friends this morning. Picking daisies, taking photos, planting 'trees' in the sandpit, going for a walk down through our walkway.  It's a lovely day.

Amy

Seriously, please give me some feedback!  I promise I won't bite! Thanks, you're awesome!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How's This for a Yummy Lunch?

Sometimes it's hard to come up with a nice lunch, especially in a hurry.  I don't know about you, but we tend to get stuck in the same old, same old rut.

Munchkin knows he will almost definitely get a Kindy Biscuit every time he goes to kindy.  He doesn't mind; he rather likes them!

But sometimes it's nice to find something different.  I'm trying to expand our repertoire of food, find ways to get us eating more greens and legumes (like chickpeas and black beans!), and get away from eating the same foods multiple times a day.  I figure that nutritionally speaking we would be better off to have more variety in our diet.

This is all on a tight budget, of course.  Without a vegetable garden producing for us at present, I'm really noticing how much veges are costing but still trying not to skimp on things I know should ultimately provide us with better health.

This was our morning tea when we planted the Big Garden recently:


Shared between myself and Munchkin, that meant half an apple, a gold kiwifruit, a kindy biscuit (surprise, surprise), and a container of nuts each.  Plus a container of hummus with carrots for dipping, and some sweet orange and brown sugar kale chips, and some savoury Morrocan ones.

Yes, it was delicious!

I am really wanting to dry some more kale chips.  Just looking at that photo makes me want to do it.  But the orange juice make a really big mess of the dehydrator, and I'm just plain tired.  Maybe next week.  I know they will probably be eaten within days, if not hours, of being made!

Amy

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Love Chickpeas! And a Hummus Recipe

I have a recent new love.

Chickpeas!

Chickpeas for the freezer, and hummus for my lunch - yay!
I never used to like them much at all.  In fact, I have memories of childhood days when my dad tried to make various chickpea dishes to the consternation of our entire family!  Ever since that overload, I've tended to avoid them.  But then I discovered a recipe that uses chickpeas in a coconut curry.  Never game to have them on their own, we have never the less enjoyed the curry made with a mix of pumpkin, kumara, and chickpeas.  Hubby is still not impressed, but will swallow.

Then more recently I realised that I can make my own hummus!  I rather like hummus, chickpeas or not, so have been whipping up the stuff every few weeks to feed my new addition to the stuff.  We have free lemons and homegrown garlic, so hummus is a cheap and healthy option for both study-related snacking and Munchkin lunches.
Not much to look at - chickpeas starting to simmer on the stove!
Really Easy Homemade Hummus
(originally from a forum on Aussies Living Simply)
1 cup of cooked chickpeas
1/4c olive oil
2 cloves roughly chopped garlic
1/2 t salt
1/4c lemon juice (approx) + 1-2 T extra water

Put everything in the blender and whizz away.  I usually add the lemon juice as everything else is blending, and the water if needed to get a not-quite-gloopy consistency.

I make a double batch and freeze it in little containers for a few weeks of snacking.  Which means I need to make more soon - just took the last one out of my freezer, boo hoo.

I recently also put chickpeas into meatballs without my family knowing (shhhh, don't tell Boyo).  They were a bit more mushy than normal (i.e. fell apart a bit too easily), but otherwise very scrummy.  Half a cup of chickpeas mashed with our potato masher added to my usual mince, egg, and rolled oats mix.

There's a new recipe waiting in my 'to try' list too - Spanish Style Braised Chickpeas.

And I've even tried roasting them!

Simply rub in a little olive oil, salt, and herbs/spices then roast till crunchy.
Not quite the crunchy experience I had hoped from googling recipes and instructions, but still very edible.  My latest used Morrocan seasoning with a dash of cayenne.  Perhaps a teeny bit too much cayenne?!  But at least they were edible. I  managed to burn my very first attempt.  Not enticing, believe me.  Even the chooks didn't get those.

A lovely jar of  almost-guilt-free snacking!
I think chickpeas are great because they are filling, good protein and fibre, easy to cook, and blend in well with other things.

And while we are discussing the virtues of chickpeas, might I also add that black beans are great too.  A friend wrote me out her family's Cuban recipe and we have now had black beans in tortillas not once, but twice in the past few weeks!  Very edible.  Just don't look closely, Boyo nearly gagged at the mush that was our delicious black beans.  Of course the fact that one crock pot meal is providing us with three dinners hasn't at all influenced my love of these skinny little black beans.  Grin.


Amy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Free-Loaders

My bantams are free-loaders.  I didn’t mind it too much over winter, but this is really too much.

My big girls have been laying solidly for at least a few weeks now.  Reliable, hardworking chookies, they are.  

But my banties?  Nope.  Not an egg in sight.  A few days hogging the nest, looking hopeful but with nothing to show for it but air.  Lots of eating.  Lots of clucking around.  Flying (hmm, really should clip those wings again).  Hunting for bugs.  Telling the other hens off.  BUT NO EGGS!

Now I know that they lay less eggs per annum than the Australorps or the New Hampshire Reds.  But just a few would be nice right about now.  After all, I’ve been graciously feeding them without any real return for months.

I decided it had to stop.

I need eggs.

We had words.  Or at least I did, with one bantam at a time.  They were each strangely silent.  Madge had nothing to say for herself, except for a few ruffled clucks as she made her indignant way back into the hen house after being dismissed onto the ground.  


Midge similarly seemed uninterested in discussing this serious issue.  She was more interested in gazing around the back yard and avoided looking at me altogether.




Do you think that the fact they wouldn’t make eye contact indicates I’m being completely ignored, or they were instead terrified and intimidated into egg-laying compliance?!?

I guess only time (and eggs!) will tell!
(It's been several days and I still haven't seen any eggs.  Darling husband has suggested popping them into a frypan.  Wonder if that would do anything???).

Amy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Spring is Sprung

With spring here, the Big Garden has been transformed from a wilderness of weeds into a productive vegetable patch once more!

A little early, even for Tauranga (we usually get tomatoes into the ground about mid-September, so we were probably at least two weeks early).  Our tomato and capsicum seedlings are covered with juice bottles to protect them.  Otherwise we would have had to re-pot seedlings several times and that's just not high on the priority list this year.

I didn't even plant seeds.  (gasps of shock!)

We instead had a rather lovely outing to Growers Direct in Te Puna on their second birthday bash, and collected a whole lot of seedlings.  Great priced seedlings in good condition.  Perfect!


And if that hadn't convinced us to come back again, some chocolate in exchange for the little fluffy balls found by the Munchinator, and morning tea for all at the free Birthday sausage sizzle.  After an incredibly windy, wet, and in all ways wild night previously, the day had dawned calm and clear.  Ah, the perfect weather for spring seedling collecting!



We are therefore now the proud owners of eight different tomato plants, and five capsicums.


Have I mentioned lately how much I love seeing new seedlings tucked into moist earth?  I can almost see them reaching their roots down, down, down and their leaves up towards the sun.


It took most of the morning for my dad and I to decide how to organise the trellis, get all the supports up, and get the tomatoes into the ground.  He (clever man) then rigged some shadecloth over top to help the new plants settle in.  Munchkin enjoyed walking underneath, leaving his toys for awhile to play with us.



He loves gardening days, because gardening days mean Munchkin gets to play in the dirt for hours and hours, happily brrrummming his big dump truck, bulldozer, and loader.  They used to belong to his uncles, but they might do three generations yet!  As long as there are big machines, dirt, and some kai handy, Munchy-baby is one happy camper.  Sometimes a little grubby, but then so are the rest of us by the end of a gardening day.

My chooks were let out to enjoy their little yard, but decided they would much rather enjoy their roof, thank you very much!  Must remember to trim their wings again since they've moulted.  Plus of course a higher than knee-high fence might help.  Grin.  At least they are usually well behaved enough to stick to the roof or the lawn and haven't enthusiastically decimated any vegetables as yet.  Supervising, that's what they were doing!


The remaining seedlings went in over the next week here and there.


Beans, zucchinis, kale, perpetual spinach, beetroot, lettuce, spinach, and herbs.  We still have some potatoes, corn, and cucumbers coming as the weather warms up further.


And now we wait, and we water, and trim, and tie up, and de-slug, and hope.  We hope for an AMAZING harvest.  Soon, I'm hoping soon.  But then I always hope it will be soon!  There's just nothing quite like eating food from your own garden.

What are you growing this spring?

Amy

One Old Sheet

Item A: One slightly worn, older sheet.  Still in good nick, but has always been slightly too narrow for queen sized bed.  Retired from active duty.

Item B: Mummy wondering what on earth we can do on a mostly fine morning when we are not feeling particularly well.

Item C:  Small boy needing occupation for an hour or so (preferably without resorting to yet more digital media).

Results?

A HUT!


The perfect location found us in the front garden during our wanderings around the yard.  So after some time kicking the soccer ball around, I asked if he wanted a hut.  YES!  Aha, there are sheets kept in the linen cupboard for just such a need.  Enter the light yellow sheet, four pegs, and some tiptoeing from Mummy.  Instructions from Munchkin of course, and a good place to nestle in together once finished (along with requests to remove the branches from underneath us!).

The hut was of course only used as a hut for as many minutes as it took to erect.  But it was fun.  And it opened up a new avenue of exploration for my boy, who has never spent much time in our front garden, or in any garden bed between the agapanthus plants for that matter.  Play then became centred around his little plastic bike, morphed into a fire engine.  The hut became a fire station for a while.  Then the fire engine kept getting stuck in some bushes further down the yard, and the Mummy tow truck was called in to help (repeatedly!).

We had a lovely time outside.  We enjoyed some sunshine, which is great for the soul and for the vitamin D.  We had fun together.  Munchkin did some running around, some ball kicking, and some sitting in gardens.  All in all a great adventure.

The hut remained in the garden for twenty-four hours.  Just in case we wanted to use it again.  But it rained, so the sheet has returned to it's quiet life in the linen cupboard, dreaming of it's next big outdoor adventure!



Amy

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Baking That's Not Baking

We did some baking recently.

Only I didn't turn the oven on.

In fact, I didn't do any cooking whatsoever!

Instead, we did "raw" baking, trying out some recipes that utilise the wonderful powers of a food processor.  Mine is pretty old - passed onto me by a family member (thank you!) when they upgraded...but it still did the job just fine, despite being rather noisy (note to self: be sure to warn preschooler first so he can leave the room next time you decide to turn roasted almonds into almond meal in the foodprocessor).


I am now hankering after an Omniblend.  It blends and purees and pulses and all kinds of lovely things, and at half the price of the other high quality blenders on the market.  All without it's blade wearing out, apparently.  I've completely worn out our blender blade after a year of Green Smoothies.  But we can't afford to replace it, so are just putting up with lumps in our smoothies.  One day, one day...but in the meantime, I can still make these delectable treats:

Raw Mayan Chocolate Fudge from Home-grown Kitchen.




If you like chocolate and orange, you will enjoy this!  Slightly sticky, very yummy.  No added sugar...which was okay even for me who usually likes my chocolate pretty sweet.  Grin.

Raw Lemon and Coconut Truffles  from Petite Kitchen.


Lovely and lemony.  Delicious!  They took a fair bit of blending, but were totally worth it!

And some Energy Balls from Nicola Galloway (of Homegrown Kitchen's) book, Cooking for Your Child.  


These are Munchkin's snacks at present, simply popped in the freezer between layers of baking paper.  They take hardly any time to defrost and are definitely a good energy-dense food.

Loved having something new to snack on.  Drawbacks?  They use more expensive ingredients - nuts (not great for friends with allergies!) and coconut oil (which is pricey) in particular.  Benefits?  Easy to make, taste amazing, gluten free, and a much healthier snack option than any other baking I can think of!

Amy

Ps - my thanks go to Elizabeth at To Find A Silver Lining for passing on these two fabulous blogs to me!

Bubbles Galore

What do you do with a sunny, but breezy day?

Make bubbles, of course!


And the very best bubble blowing material?

Budget dishwash.


From the mouth of a professional (okay, it was another student teacher, but I have now proven that they know what they were talking about!).


Ah bubbles...
Chase them.  Pop them.  Watch them shimmy over the roof top.  Squeal with delight as each new bubble emerges.



Then blow some yourself.


Gently now.  Close to your mouth.  But NOT touching!  Gently.  Not too fast, not too hard.  But not too soft either.  This bubble blowing business takes concentration and skill.


Bubbles are so much fun!


Amy


Friday, September 13, 2013

My Office

In our new house, I now have an office.  I share it with Boyo, and Munchkin's toy cupboard and bookshelf.  It houses the printer, two desks, a shredder, phone, modem, my handbag, study folders, handcream, two african violet plants, and various small objects waiting to be fixed, repurposed, or returned to their rightful home.  It also still houses three half-empty boxes, the contents still waiting proper sorting.

But what it rarely houses, is me.

The office is cold this time of year.  It doesn't really get any sun.

And my desk, while very useful, is not so great at accommodating a large pile of study books, folders, laptop, and me.  It's okay when I'm just typing, as I am now.  Not a problem at all.  But trying to read a book on top of the laptop doesn't work particularly well.  And squishing the laptop to the side to make room for the book then means I can't get the mouse to work properly when I decide I urgently need to write that point into my essay!

So, welcome to my office:


The dinning room table.

I just love having a laptop and wireless.  It gives me the flexibility to do this, then when I'm finished for the day I can just pick it all up and plop it back on my desk.

And yes, those are all books for ONE assignment.  Not all of them either, I think I'd already returned some by then.  And no, the assignment is not yet finished.  It is drafted.  Very messily.  Got to get it finished next week.  Been working on a draft for another this week.  Which I really should go and read another two books for!  In my third office (aka my comfy lounge chair with footrest up and blanket over legs!).

Amy

Go Team New Zealand!

GO TEAM NEW ZEALAND, GO!

We are so excited to see our America's Cup team racing so well.  It's incredible seeing how fast those boats go, and the skill involved.

Boyo is an avid fan of most sporting forms.  He can't help himself, even if he wasn't terribly interested in the sport itself, he's such a number cruncher he'd get drawn in by the statistics anyway!  

We watched our first race at Boyo's parents, standing there in our jackets, hats, and shoes ready for a walk.  Couldn't leave until we'd seen them cross the finish!

Then there's been a few races since, watched in our lounge.


Boyo and Munchkin enjoy it greatly, and I must admit that I've been drawn in too.  The last time I really followed the America's Cup must have been over ten years ago now, and I'm just amazed at the changes.  Watching the catamarans lift out of the water on their foils, seeing the speed and dexterity, wow!

Munchkin has decided to do some yacht racing of his own.


He gets pushed or pulled round on the floor periodically, sometimes he capsizes, sometimes the sea gets too rough and the boat has to return to harbour, and once there was even a shark!

I just love how so many of the events of our days end up entwined into his play at the moment.

Hoping that Team NZ pulls off another two wins today!!!

Amy

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Today Is...

Today is INTERNATIONAL WRITE TO YOUR SPONSORED CHILD DAY!

Wahoo!!!



Okay, so I totally made that up.

Complete hogwash.  I don't even know if there is such a thing as an International Write to Your Sponsored Child Day!

But there should be.  And today can be it for your family.  This post is dedicated to, and inspired by a conversation yesterday with Elizabeth about writing to our sponsored children.  I hope it provides you with some inspiration and ideas!

Here are a few:


Now you might be thinking, "How sweet, they wrote to their sponsored children together."  You may have pictures of cultured discussions around the table with my son while drawing beautiful artwork for our beloved sponsored children overseas.  Please rid yourselves immediately of such inaccuracy!  Sometimes writing to our sponsored children is like that.  But more often than not (and definitely today!) it is harried.  It is five minutes of Munchkin's attention with a hovering Mummy, trying to get him to do something, anything artistic before his enthusiasm wanes and he is diverted (yet again!) by his cars, playdough, or sandpit.  Then Mummy finishes it all off.  Writes names and numbers, makes sure the right letter goes in the right envelope, finds addresses, takes photos (so I can remember what I wrote last time!).  It isn't usually pretty.  But we do it.  And I know it makes a difference, both to our sponsored kids and to our own family.  It opens our world to theirs.  It provides an opportunity for my son, even though he is only three, to do something for someone else.  And as he grows, it will help him realise that not every family lives in a home like ours, eats food like ours, or even looks like ours.

It's hard.  It takes time.  It is inconvenient.  I won't lie to you and tell you otherwise.  It would be easier not to do it.  But the fascinating thing is that most of those issues are in our minds.  Once we sit down and do it, I usually find myself wondering why I thought this would be such a hard thing to do. I put it off, thinking that "I don't feel like it today," or "I don't know what to write."  Then it's done, and it wasn't really hard at all.

This month's offerings were all simple.  Nothing deep and meaningful.  I don't have the brain capacity for that (I'm sick and my boy's been sick most of the week which means he's hyped up on redipred and ventolin and I'm having trouble moving at all!  Therefore anything other than eating and sleeping is a bonus!).

Drawing Munchkin's hands.  He had to be bribed to colour in - "We aren't having lunch till you colour that picture for me!"

A truck artwork from a few weeks back put to good use for our sponsored boy, and a fish card for our girl.

Some pictures cut from an old calendar and glued onto A4 paper.  I did a couple of extras to send another time while I was there!  This is for our 18 year old in Bangladesh.

Christmas Cards - supplied by Tear Fund and World Vision.  Yup, it's that time already!  Boyo has been commissioned (mostly against his will!) to write a brief message.
 I hope you are encouraged.  Write.  Draw.  Photograph.  Connect with a child who would love to hear from you!

Amy

Under the Sea

I brought out Munchkin's little scissors again recently, to discover that he is now able to use them.  Just.

So we spent some time cutting up bits of paper, much to his great delight.

I manage to avoid having him cut any fingers, clothing, furniture, and various other assorted objects that took his fancy.  Despite the scissors being child-proof ones that are incredibly blunt, they are now back in the locked drawer.  I'm just a little paranoid about small child with sharp object when I am not looking, so for now they are a 'closely supervised' item, but one which can come out regularly now that he's at a point of being able to use them.

Young children find cutting incredibly difficult.  There's so much coordination involved in simply holding a pair of scissors.  Munchkin gets that you put your thumb in one hole and fingers in another, but usually ends up holding the scissors upside down to cut.  Previously, he couldn't get them to cut at all - the scissors always seemed to end up on their side, a common issue for littlies when they first try using scissors.  Cutting is a really useful skill to have, and sometimes overlooked beside things like knowing your alphabet and counting.  But cutting helps prepare a child to hold a pencil well, to maneuver their fingers with dexterity, and to do things like maintain a straight line, or make their hand follow their mind's desire for a curve!

Before our cutting time, Munchkin had already spent a considerably amount of time carefully sticking a whole lot of beautiful stickers all over his table.  This gave me an idea.

Out came some blue cardboard, a small container of sand (from the sandpit), and some glue.

Munchkin sprinkled sand onto PVA glue to make the sand on the ocean floor.

I found it really interesting watching him, noticing how difficult it still is for his fingers to manage the coordination involved in sprinkling the sand exactly where he wants it.  And my son has really good fine motor coordination.

I carefully pried fish, starfish, and crabs from the table and transferred them to cards.

Then glued bits of his green cut-outs on as seaweed.

Ta-da!  Under the sea cards, tucked into the card box for using another day.


Amy


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Banana Bites

Here's a tasty little snack for the littlies (or not so littlies!).

Banana Bites, we are calling them.

They come from Nicola Galloway's book: Cooking for Your Child.  She calls them Banana Iceblocks.

Basically, you cut and freeze banana.  Then eat.  To make it seem more 'iceblock' like, add a wooden stick. For more exotic flavours, roll in yoghurt then coconut, or dip in chocolate before freezing. 



Munchkin loves them!

We made little short ones, using the toothpicks we already had.  


But they are really hard to get to stay in the banana, so I've since purchased some double pronged little wooden skewers for a couple of dollars at PaknSave.

Might have to try them out soon.  The last of the Banana Bites got eaten this afternoon!


This simple treat is so great for the kids to help make.  They can take responsibility for various stages of the making, and gain experience with the fine motor skills of cutting, rolling, and more.  And of course we can count how many Banana Bites we've made too!  Munchkin is just learning how to cut well, so loved being given the task of cutting the bananas.  He wasn't so keen on the rolling...he hates getting his hands dirty!

I imagine Banana Bites will be a delicious treat come the heat of summer!

Amy