Thursday, February 26, 2015

Picnic Bento

So I kind of feel bad that I'm posting yet another small and insignificant post about food, but given that it was Rachel's first ever bento, I feel it's also a little bit legitimate. We went to the park on Wednesday and these are the lunch boxes I packed for my girls to devour.

I made them the night before, and forgot to take my camera, so the photos are a little blury. Not only are they taken on my phone, they were also taken while Sophie was trying desperately to get at the food. And I was wearing my sunnies, so I couldn't really see that well. Anyway. The food.

Rachel's lunch. Cucumber slices, watermelon, rice cubes with seaweed stars and sausage. She does well to gum at all of this solid food with her two small teeth in the front to help out.

Sophie's lunch. Cucumber slices, rice cubes with seaweed stars (which I thought she would love, but instead rather fastidiously took each one off telling me it was "yucky". I guess she was teaching me for ruining the purity of plain rice or something.), mini sausages. Fruit salad, with orange, watermelon and yellow watermelon. 

Because I was in a bit of a rush when I made them the night before, I didn't get to put cute forks in, but that didn't matter. They ate them none the less.

And I was really glad that I'd taken it all to the park, because we left all the mess on the ground there for the ants and the birds, and I didn't have to clean up one bit of stray rice.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Excessive Reading

I now read up to three hours every day. I'd say, on average I do at least two hours. It's pretty good to be getting in all that reading time. Too bad it's reading the same books over and over again.

Ok, before I get all doom and gloom, I have to admit, I'm pretty happy that Sophie's favourite thing to do is sit and read with me. She'd do it all day if I let her. Recently, we've also upgraded from rather small, short, simple story lined board books, to slightly longer with somewhat more complex story lined picture books.

When Rachel is asleep, (and often even when she is awake), Sophie grabs the chunk of new books off the shelf, (about eight centimetres thick of books) and we plonk ourselves on the couch for some quality reading. We have even gotten to the point where she's happy to read each book only once before moving to another one, though that Shoes from Grandpa by Mem Fox is tough to distract her from.

I feel that I've been reading each of these books a little too long when we get to ones like Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen. All of the animals seems to be drawn with an exaggeration of weight, I notice. Except of course the mouse (the ultimate boat sinking culprit). Misdirection, it seems, is being taught at a very young age.

I also notice though, that all of the incredibly round and well bodied creatures seem to be female, while the tiny mouse is a male. Is the author trying to say something about body weight to my two year old? Am I thinking about this way too much as I read it for the umpteenth time?

Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen 

The story that always makes me feel much like crying is Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. This tells the story of a young boy who is friends with a lady from an old folks home who has lost her memory. Maybe it's because my own, only surviving, grandmother is now in one of these places and she too is losing her memory, but I am easily moved by the simple story.

Wilfred Gordon with Miss Nancy
Image from Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas

Maybe it's because I can see the beautiful relationship that there is between children and the elderly, that none of us adults can really understand. Sometimes it's like they really do have their own secrets. Maybe reading this children's book is actually teaching me something about life.

So I enjoy the two hours I have a day of sitting with my girl (sometimes both my girls) and reading. After all, Albert Einstein once said:

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." *


For those interested, the books currently in circulation in the reading block (in no particular order) are:

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen
The Particular Cow by Mem Fox
Christmas Wombat by Jackie French
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
Incy Wincy Spider by Kate Toms
The Magic Hat by Mem Fox
Mr Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham
Little Rabbit Waits for the Moon by Beth Shoshan
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Time for Bed by Mem Fox
The Magic Sky by Lucy Richards
Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? by John Butler
Shoes from Grandpa by Mem Fox

*For more information on this quote, read here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Organized Again!

Sophie's lunch for tomorrow contains mostly leftover dinner from tonight. Tricolour spiral pasta, cherry tomatoes and cheese, strawberries and some crazy yellow flesh watermelon. Oh, and a squeezie yoghurt pack.

It's a little bit vegetarian, but also a little bit delicious.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cardboard House Upgrade

A long time ago, I made some cardboard houses, which have been used in various places and functions. Some of them now live at the local church where we go to play group on a Tuesday. Some of them still live at home with us. One of them has been drawn on my many people, and with lots of colours.

Last week, when I was getting back to feeling fabulous, I looked at the one that was still under the house and decided it was time for an upgrade. So I pulled it into the house and got to work. I reinforced the roof, and painted some tiles. I wall papered the inside with some $2 wrapping paper from Target. (This, I feel, made the biggest difference to the house. Suddenly it was so cool, just because of that wrapping paper.)

I used my sisters old paints (from her high-school art days (man these paints are old...)) and did a quick coat of blue on the outside and did spend some money getting coloured gaff tape from Spotlight for the trims. This, by the way, is the internet-go-to of how to make your cardboard house look cool and last longer. I don't know what the internet people who have done this in the past are on, but that tape was super hard to get on looking good. I doubt I'll be doing tape again.

Anyway, now these amazing specimens of cardboard houses live in the house and are used daily by lots of small children. I know it's only cardboard and will one day die, but I love these houses. I almost can't wait for them to die so I can justify making another one. Or two.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Getting My Act Together

Haven't posted a post like this for a while mostly because I haven't made one of these for a while. I'm busy and lazy you know? In any case, my act is together today, and here is Sophie's lunch for tomorrow. Yummy pork chipolata and sauce, avocado dip, tomato wedges, cheese sticks, slice of cucumber and home made potato gems. 

Delicious and nutritious. Though, knowing the little girl who is going to eat this the way I do, I know in all likelihood, the tomato sauce and the avocado dip will be eaten straight before anything else is touched. That's ok. Everything else (except the cucumber, of course) will be eaten eventually.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Potential Realised

Someone forgot to tell me that using baby powder on babies is actually a thing of the past and people don't really do it any more. Somehow on the weekend, I came to the realisation that I'm the only one I know that uses baby powder. What are these other people doing? I wonder. Probably having to deal with nappy rash. But apparently, powder is considered a bit dangerous now days because you can inhale it accidentally, or something.

Meh. While I've been diligently doing an extra step during nappy changing time, those other people have been missing out on all the potential that comes from hoarding, I mean saving, the empty powder bottles. And now people, I'm excited to share to you that that potential has been realised! Hooray!

I give you, the Bowling Mat in a Bag!

So when I looked at the collection of baby powder bottles, the first thing that sprang to my mind was in fact a bowling set. Pretty uncreative really. I did, however, spend a long time pondering just how to make a bowling set that was easy to set up, and understand by a two year old.

See, I know lots of other kids who have bowling sets, but as far as I can tell they spend most of their time in their cases. Because bowling sets are hard to set up. You kind of need to be there for every minute of it. Helping kids to set up the pins, showing them where to go, making sure they stand back far enough, ensuring they don't overarm the ball at the pins excreta. It's not really a thing that kids can do on their own, (or none of the kids that have sets do it on their own that I know of).

So I spent lots of time thinking about how to make this accessible to kids. Easy for them to understand where the pins would go. Where they would need to stand. Where the ball would have to go in order to knock the pins down.

I knew I would make a bag for the pins to go in, and the obvious solution to many of the aforementioned questions about usability seemed to be able to be combated by an accompanying mat. Put dots at one end for the pins, put feet at the other. Pretty simple. But what if the mat got lost? How would I make this even easier for kids to use?

Enter the idea of sewing the mat into the bag. That's right people. I've now got a bag that is part of the game. Heck yes! Multifunctional! I know you are probably sharing my excitement right now and are on the edge of your seat waiting to see if I was actually able to achieve this fabulous vision. I'm more than delighted to tell you that indeed I did.

The mat part has scrap material spots on it to show kids where the pins go. The other end of the mat sews into the bottom of the bag. This means, that when the kids are emptying the pins (powder bottles) out of the bag, they will naturally pull the mat out too, and in the process turn the bag inside out. When they do this, they will see the brown shoe outlines sewn into the inside of the bag.

Pretty self explanatory from there. Pins on the dots, feet on the shoes, and roll the ball along the big yellow strip. And at the end of the game, shove everything back into the bag, the bag naturally turns back the right way and you pull the draw strings (easy for small children (and also for easy sewing purposes)) for a neat and tidy pack away.

You may be thinking that I'm spending a lot of words telling you about something rather simple, but I'm dam proud of what I've done. It took a lot of thinking. And I mean a lot of thinking to come up with the construction of the bag. If I hadn't thought as much as I did about it, I could easily have sewn the wrong thing first and had to do more unpicking than is ever desirable. (For the record, the amount of unpicking that is desirable is none. So any more than none is not a good thing.)

I was so proud of what I'd come up with in my head, that when I actually sewed the thing together last night, I went out of my way to do top stitching along the mat, to make it look even more amazing. There are also no exposed seams, and everything is lined. Steve thinks I could sell these. Or the pattern at least. But then I'd have to think even more about how to explain what went through my head to others. And be able to put all of that into words. Probably won't.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Life Goal Achievement Unlocked

Made Baklava.

Yep, that's one to cross off the to do list. It was delicious. 

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Tupperware Cupboard

I was catching up with a friend a few weeks ago and she mentioned that she had been reading my blog. Hooray! It's always exciting when you find that real people are reading along at home. It's like dreams coming true. Or having all the pegs matching on the line when you hang up the clothes.

Anyway, my friend suggested I do a post on my Tupperware cupboard, because I'm apparently really creative and organised so I must have an amazing creative way of organising my Tupperware cupboard that really should be shared with the world. I'm not sure this is true, but I have been giving this post a bit of thought. I also figure, I don't get requests on what to post often, so when I do get them, I'd probably actually consider giving the people what they want, right?

So my Tupperware cupboard. It's the top shelf of a corner cupboard in the kitchen and is actually often organised. I wouldn't consider the organisation very creative or special though. I put all of the same sized containers together and put the lids underneath. The squarish containers go in one bigger box, the round containers together in another. And so on and so forth. The ones I use frequently sit at the easiest to access corners, while the ones used less often are farther back.

As you can see, it's not really anything to write home about. The more I thought about this post, the more I thought: "Isn't this common sense? Doesn't everyone organise their Tupperware the same kind of way?" And I suppose they do. I mean, people generally know what they are supposed to do to keep things in order. Throw or give away stuff you are not or will never use for example. Easy in theory, but not really in practice because we get all clingy and needy about stuff that really doesn't matter. So just like me, the Tupperware cupboard does not always stay as organised as it should.

I know there are factors like small children (who are actually allowed to play in the cupboard (shake your heads at me people, but I'd rather them play in the safe plastic cupboard in the kitchen while I cook than in the completely unsupervised living room where anything could happen)). But there are also factors like general lazyness. And complete disregard for order. Or the simple fact that it's just easier to open the door and throw the stuff in, rather than crouch down (cue the strange ache in my knees that must mean I'm getting old) and put it away properly.

My Tupperware cupboard suffers from all of these things at one time or another. Just the same way that my spiritual life does. I know that for things to function the way they are supposed to, I should be doing things like actually spending time with God. Reading my bible. Praying. It's common sense right? But in the same way that when I'm putting things away and I like to open the door and just throw the plastic stuff in to land where ever it may, I often just give God a quick glance and then move on. It's just easier to say "Thanks God," for something small and feel that I've said a prayer, rather than actually getting on my knees and talking to him properly.

I'm lazy. I'm busy. I'm letting small children run me over without stopping to teach them to put things back where they came from. I need discipline to actually get things going right. I feel it's not a popular thing to talk about, but having the discipline to actually do what we should do, rather than what is quick or easy, is actually really important. We don't like to admit it, but discipline is good for us. God disciplines us when we need it (check out Hebrews 12 (especially verses 4-13)), and we need to discipline ourselves for his work (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (there are so many more verses too BTW)).

So what do we need to keep our spiritual lives in order? Probably the same kind of discipline we need to keep our Tupperware cupboards in order. Maybe the next time you are going to put something away, you can remind yourself of the discipline God wants you to exercise in your spiritual walk as well.