How to cut your own hair.

I knew something was up by the deafening sound of silence coming from Callum’s bedroom.

The next sign was the small pile of honey blonde hair on the carpet.

“Come out from under your bed. I won’t be cross. I just want to have a look” I said, as calmly as I could.

Out he crept, scissors in hand, with his brand new hair-do….which was actually not so bad! His fringe was a bit shorter than before, but at least now he could see without having to brush it out of the way.

When he realised that I was not going to have a meltdown, he made his way to the mirror, where he proudly observed his handiwork.

“What do you think?” I asked. “Hmm, yeah, I like it”, he smiled.

“I know it was getting in your eyes, but I was going to take you to the hairdressers this week you know”.

“Well”, he said “Now you won’t have to”. Fair point.

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“When can we do the fun stuff?”

Today we went to Hazelhurst Art Gallery in Gymea to see an exhibition of artworks by leading Australian children’s picture book illustrators.

Curator Mike Shuttleworth says Look! gives children a chance to see artwork from their favourite stories up close and explore the process of visual storytelling: “Here are works from Australia’s finest children’s book illustrators. The exquisite images tell many stories, some beautiful, some hilarious, some difficult. They help children to understand their world. They give imaginations fuel to dream.” 

My kids loved wandering around the exhibition, talking about the pictures, asking questions. There was one picture in which the artist had scratched the paint to make the foxes fur look, well, furry. Next to the painting, the artists’ tools were displayed in a box. My kids found this especially fascinating as it gave them a special glimpse into how illustrations can be created. When we got home, Callum stuck a piece of aluminium foil onto paper, then scratched it with a pencil. He said “See, this is what the lady did with the fox!”

In the middle of the space was a big pile of cushions, a cosy armchair and bookshelves displaying all the books from the exhibition. After looking at all the pictures, we sat and read a couple of our favourites, including ‘Love from Grandma’.

As it was the first day of the exhibition, there were a range of special activities for the children, such as short films, book making, craft, drawing lessons, and FACE PAINTING!!  My kids’ love for face painting knows no bounds. Callum actually spent most of the time asking “When can we do the fun stuff? I really want to get my face painted!” So, we made our way to Studio 1, where we found an extremely long queue leading to a surprisingly calm looking face painter. After asking the kids if they reeeeeally wanted to have their faces painted (I know, stupid question), we lined up, and lined up, and lined up…for 90 minutes! This was a lady who clearly took her job as a painter of faces seriously. (see results below)

In the end, I took my tired little puppy, kitten and vampire (!?) home for lunch and a rest. We didn’t have long as my kitten had a McDonald’s party to go to.

So, if you’re in the area, and are looking for a free, fun experience for your kids these school holidays, I would highly recommend the LOOK! exhibition.

Image at top: Elizabeth Honey, illustration from I’m Still Awake, Still, music by Sue Johnson, Allen & Unwin, 2008, gouache on paper

Teaching your child to read.

Lately, Callum has been showing such an interest in letter and sounds. He says things like “Pirates use an X to mark the spot, and a boy at my kindy has an X because his name is Max” and “if you turn a W on the side and draw a line, it makes a B”.

This is the perfect time to nurture his interest with lots of language and literacy experiences.

We have been:-

  • Writing a range of signs, lists, directions, labels, maps and stories
  • Making ‘words’ with the alphabet magnets we have displayed on the fridge
  • Reading lots of books with simple, predictive text, such as ‘Dog in, cat out’
  • Thinking of words that begin with the letter that designates our car parking space at the shopping centre
  • Playing with alphabet puzzles and games
  • Visiting the library
  • Writing letters in the flour on the kitchen bench
  • Talking about the letters we see in street signs
  • Making letters out of play dough
  • Singing funny, made up songs which contain letter sounds, such as “L L Lucie, L L Loves, L L Licking, L L Lollipops”.

Literacy learning experiences can be found absolutely everywhere, and you do not have to spend a fortune (no matter what the toy catalogues tell you!) If your child is showing an interest in letters and sounds, then they are ready to take those first steps on the path to reading. Just remember to keep it relaxed, positive and fun!

Could you ‘buy nothing new’?

 

Have you heard about ‘Buy nothing new month’?

The website buynothingnew.com.au describes it as “literally about taking one month off to really think, “Do I really need it?” If I do, “can I get it second-hand, borrow it or rent it? What are my alternatives? Can I borrow from a friend? Can I swap with my neighbor?” It’s about thinking where our stuff comes from (finite resources) and where it goes when we’re done (often landfill) and what are the fantastic alternatives out there to extend the life of our ‘stuff’.

It is officially in October, but it is a wonderful way of thinking, no matter what month it is.

Cutting down our spending on new stuff has a multitude of benefits including more money in our wallets, less junk in our homes, and a reduction in ‘shopping induced stress’. It is also an important step towards a more sustainable future for our planet.

 

We went to a second hand sale in Kangaroo Valley a couple of weeks ago, which is where I bought this gorgeous old oil painting ($45!!!) and the pears, plate and runner in the top photo. We also bought some books, a couple of toys for the kids and a set of football goals. All together, I think we spent about $60.

Even though this is more than I had meant to spend (“I’m just going to pop in for a look, honey” HA!) I came out with some great quality, pre-loved items that I knew we would get a lot of use from.

Now I just need to work on my ability to drive past a garage sale without yelling “Stop the car!”

If you are interested in this topic, the book ‘Not buying it – my year without shopping‘ by Judith Levine is a great read. (and I bought my copy at a second hand book sale!)

Space to breathe.

I found out today that, for a variety of reasons, I will be working less hours next semester. Luckily I’m in a position where this part time job provides us with a bit of extra money, rather than having to rely on it to survive. So I’m actually really thrilled!

This semester has been extremely stressful. For a while there my brain felt like I was in one of those electrical stores where every television is on a different channel.  There were just so many different things going on. Next semester, I am going to use the time to focus on the important things.

Callum starts ‘big school’ next year, so I’m looking forward to enjoying this time with him, without always feeling like I’m rushing from one thing to the next. I’m going to spend more time planning and cooking wholesome, thoughtful, interesting meals instead of constantly rotating the same favourites (well, that’s the plan anyway!). I am also going to dedicate time to some professional development opportunities that I have been putting off.

Mainly though, I am going to create some mental breathing space, concentrating on doing a few things well, rather than spreading myself so thin. I think we all have a tendency to think “the busier, the better”, but next semester my motto will be “breathe, be calm and take your time”. I’ll let you know how I go!

Photo via Pinterest.

Let’s go fly a kite!

The past few days have been wet, and we have mostly stayed indoors.

The kids have slowly been going stir crazy!

Today, however, was beautiful. Sunny, mild, with a light breeze -

perfect weather for flying a kite.

Charlotte took these photos of our afternoon.

I always love seeing things from a child’s perspective.

They always seem to notice the little details that we miss.

(By the way, the kite was $4 from K-mart. So much fun for so little money!)

And I’ll send all my loving to you.

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When I was little, my mum would sometimes put little notes in my lunch box. She would write things like “your mummy loves you” and “hope you are having a lovely day” and there were always lots of kisses and a smily face! I still remember the warm feeling they gave me, when I would open up my sandwich, and see my mum’s familiar writing tucked inside the wrap.

I like to do the same thing for my own children. School can be a tough place sometimes. When your friend doesn’t want to sit with you, when your teacher gets cross, when you can’t do the maths work; it’s nice to know that there is someone waiting for you at home who loves you no matter what.

Do you leave love notes for your kids or partner? Have you found a note written for you? (I don’t think one ever outgrows the thrill of receiving a love note!)

How to get stuff done.

Lately I have had so many major, time-consuming things on my ‘To Do’ list, but I have been struggling to get started on any of them.

My thought process has been something like this “Oh I really need to update the whole policy manual for work (or clean out the kids clothes drawers, or get my business accounts reconciled etc etc) , it’s going to take hours, I don’t have hours right now, so I will do it later”.

However, I have never quite been able to find the many hours I needed to complete each task. (surprise surprise!)

This weekend, the weather was wet, windy and cold. “The perfect time to get stuff done”, I thought brightly.

However, by the middle of Saturday I still had not begun any of my jobs (which were mentally growing bigger by the second).

I decided to take a different approach. Instead of thinking “I need to do [insert whole mega-task here]“, I said to myself  “I will now spend one hour …….”

This was an achievable goal.  I knew I probably would not get the whole job done in that time, but I knew I could work on it for that amount of time. Being a perfectionist, I tend to put off starting jobs if I think there is a chance I may fail. This was a way of setting myself up for success.

I started with clearing the summer clothes out of my daughters overflowing drawers. After one hour, I felt so pleased and motivated, that I kept going for another 20 minutes until it was finished. I then spent 30 minutes reconciling accounts, and another 30 minutes sorting out my sons room.

It’s amazing how success inspires you to want to do more. I was so productive today, that I am actually feeling excited about spending more time on my list of ‘jobs I don’t want to do’  tomorrow. This is a whole lot better than the usual feeling of dread that procrastination brings.

What do you need to spend one hour doing? Do you put things off, like me, or do you find it easy to  just get stuck in?

Photo via  Apartment Therapy.

Copyright (c) 2012, Teaspoons and Tinsel. All rights reserved

A black & white party.

cupcakes

Eight years ago today I became a mum, and my life changed forever. I felt like I was now looking at the world in colour, after a lifetime of watching the black and white version. I was swept away in a sea of maternal love for this vulnerable, gorgeous, tiny creature. She was what I had always wished for, and I couldn’t believe that she was really here!

That eight years has passed in a flash, and now the little person who was passionate about fairies, pink and My Little Ponies, is now requesting ‘black and white’ parties. I was actually  thrilled as I knew it would be an easy theme to go with, and together we came up with lots of ideas.

Charlotte wanted cupcakes instead of a traditional birthday cake, which worked out well as there was no tricky cutting of the cake after blowing out the candles. I bought the cupcake wrappers from a party shop in Bondi Junction and the little flags from Hot Dollar. I used the Donna Hay cupcake mix, which was more expensive than the other cake mixes, but produced such lovely, light cakes. I have made my own in the past, but wanted to make this party as easy as I possibly could.

I put stickers on the black cups so the children could label their own drinks with their names. The black and white straws were from Hot Dollar, which had a whole range of decorations in different colours (including black & white!).

I made a row of bunting using wrapping paper, which was really easy and looked so striking against our white walls. The hanging lanterns were left over Christmas decorations that I bought last year from Typo.

The children all wore black and white, which suited both the boys and the girls, and seemed to be quite an easy outfit to put together (unlike some of the more ‘ambitious’ dress up parties my kids have been invited to over the years).

We set up ‘pizza making’ in the kitchen, using Lebanese bread for the bases. We put out bowls of mushroom, pineapple, capsicum, mozzarella cheese, olives, and shredded ham, along with tomato pasta sauce to spread on the bread.

The kids were so proud of their creations, and after their pizzas were cooked, they couldn’t wait to eat them, with one little girl declaring “This is the best pizza I have ever had in my life!”

‘Pin the tail on the zebra’ was a popular game. I am now an expert on the stripe formations of zebras after studying Google images to see what they looked like. (My first attempt looked like a stripy unicorn)

Happy birthday Charlotte! We love you. xxxxxxx

Happy Mother’s Day.

Will you be celebrating Mother’s Day this Sunday? I am looking forward to a cup of tea in bed, lots of cuddles, and a few very carefully chosen presents from the school ‘Mother’s Day Stall’.

Are you familiar with this concept? Basically, you buy a present to donate, or send cash so the P&C can purchase suitable gifts for the stall. A week or so later, you send your children to school with another envelope of money, so they can buy you a present (hopefully not the one you sent!) from the aforementioned stall. So, in other words, you are not only paying for your own Mother’s Day present, you are paying twice!!

It is, however, a wonderful way for the P&C to raise funds for the school, and the kids get such a thrill from bringing home their purchase, hiding it under the bed, then presenting it with much fanfare on Sunday morning.

For my own mum, I will be giving her a ‘Greeting Card File’. My mum buys the most thoughtful, special, personal cards throughout the year. She then puts them ‘somewhere safe’ and promptly forgets about them. This means that she often rediscovers the perfect birthday card, in the back of the cupboard, a month after the recipients birthday. Or she goes rummaging frantically through drawers and cupboards shrieking “I know I bought it!! It MUST be here!!!” as the special day looms.

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To make the card file, I purchased a small concertina file from Officeworks, and decorated it with a packet of ‘birthday themed’ die cuts that I already had. Some glitter glue and a sparkly green ribbon made it more festive.

I used my labelling machine to print off labels such as ‘boy’, ‘girl’, ‘sympathy’, ‘get well’, and ‘thank-you’, and stuck these onto the dividers. I have been collecting nice greeting cards with this project in mind, so I had a good selection to fill the file with. My mum can then add the ones she already has (when she finds them!

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Happy Mother’s Day mum! I could not have wished for a better mum than you. You are the warm encouraging arm around my shoulder, the reassuring words in my ear, and my best friend. I love you. XXXXX

A gorgeous song for mother’s day.

Image -Mother and Child by Gustav Klimt.

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