Wednesday, 28 May 2014

21/52 - mini foodies


A fun new activity that works those fine-motor skills like a boss... peeling hard boiled eggs ;)


His current fave snack - 'Ants on a Log'.

(Peanut butter and a line of sultanas on a celery stick, if you somehow missed this childhood rite of passage).

Oh, we thought we were super clever to create 'bugs on a log' too - 
hummus and pepitas lined up on celery :)


Mmmm, just noticing a food theme in the portraits this week! What can I say, it feels like these kids do little else but eat!!

Miles had half a hard boiled egg and I was amused to see him spend quite a few minutes just taking the yolk out of the white and putting it back in, over and over. I thought to quickly grab my camera as I was so charmed by his cute activity, but when I returned he had decided to eat/destroy the yolk and was busy filling the empty egg white with sultanas. Why not, huh?


His default 'chill out mode' in the evenings, as we kick back with a cup of tea, a bit of chocolate and a little TV show watching together after the kids are finally tucked into bed.

Ahhhhh, peace. 'Switch off hour' is how we survive these little years ;)

(Bonus points if you can tell what show we are watching!?)

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.

More highlights from the week that was...

It's kinda like he is in chocolate bar commercial, showing of the product so perfectly, lol!!
It was one of those melting moments. A photo capture where the memory is definitely more important than the poor picture quality. It was a day when the kids just played outside for hours after school and didn't want to come in. Dusk was setting in, the chill was pervading but still these two capered and adventured happily around the yard together. I overheard sweet voices saying 'Let's just sit down and look at this lovely sky and sunset together' 'Wow, a sunset!! It's so beautiful!! Wow!!!' And so, they sat and giggled and marveled at God's creation, and I stood and marveled at the same thing, though from a different perspective. What a gift it is to see this sibling bond grow and flourish.

This book. It is amazing. I highly, highly, highly recommend. I gotta say, I am a big reader and know the gist of the many
parenting 'bibles' out there and honestly, not much feels new or helpful, but this one is really set apart. The title kind of says it all! It is filled with so many practical, varied, mindset-changing examples, my eyes were really opened to new ways to listen and communicate. I particularly wanted to learn how to be a better listener with the kids, especially with Lily in school now. So hard not to just jump in with a moral when she tells me school stories!! It's also filled with comic style cartoons that get to the point, good for hubbies ;) Anyway, just wanted to throw a little book recommendation out there. NOT saying I am 100% on board with everything in it (we all make up our own parenting recipe, right?!) but it has plenty of good stuff in it that can apply to any parenting style. I feel like I need to read it 5 times just to help it all sink in!!
Sensory Bin fun. Rice and beans are good for play too, not just eating ;) He poured and scraped and played and dug. 

His favourite thing was having me bury these glass marble 'treasures' which he would then dig for!
'Look, Mama, I made 'Eli'!!'
Exploring with a vintage set of Cuisenaire rods before school.

At the library for National Simultaneous Story time. The same book is read in libraries and schools all around Australia at the same time. Anything to support and encourage literacy, we are on it!! :) They read 'Too many elephants in this house' by Ursula Dubrowsky. A charming story and a fun morning's activity for Eli, along with his buddies Harper and Zoe (and Miles!)
Eli amazed us all with his egg peeling skills, he was the most proficient of all of us! Will have him on duty from now on ;)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

a Barbie alternative // the lovely Lottie doll

We welcomed a new little friend into our household recently... her name is Lottie!

She was a special gift for Lily after she achieved a major milestone (stopping thumb-sucking at last after a significant regression - hooray, hooray, hooray).

Our journey to little Lottie was a winding one. Lily had started asking for 'a Barbie' after seeing several of her little friends had them. But... I just couldn't bring myself to buy her one. Now please don't get me wrong, I don't think Barbie and her ilk (Moxie, etc) are the devil incarnate or anything!! I grew up with Barbie dolls and certainly don't consider myself scarred for life or anything ;) And yet... knowing my daughter, I just felt myself pause at the thought of consciously purchasing a Barbie for her. Maybe it will happen one day, but she just seemed too young and I just didn't feel comfortable about it.

I love to see my little girl's imagination run free as she plays, creates, and processes through her dolls and toys. I appreciated the idea of a very special doll for her but.... I kinda wanted her to live out this creative world through a little girl doll who looked a bit more like her. You know - with a real child's body. Or at least a real woman's body!!! One of the things I am conscious of with my kids is letting them truly embrace their childhood, and just be free to be kids. As much as possible, to be free of the body image issues and the early sexualisation and adult-ification of childhood that seems to run more and more rampant in our society these days. She is growing up in her own sweet time, no need to rush the process!

And so began my internet search for 'a Barbie alternative', thinking surely there would be a plethora of them after all the Barbie controversy over the years. I was pretty surprised to find the pickings were slim to almost non-existent. Really???! C'mon, people! I knew I could not be the only parent looking for an alternative.

And then I finally stumbled across Lottie. Lovely little Lottie!

Lottie dolls are a range of dolls from the UK. They are little girl dolls designed especially to look like....little girls. No makeup, no jewellery, no insanely disproportionate body shape. And even flat feet so she can stand up for herself! Ok, yes, there are the long lush locks and the big googly eyes but... in comparison to market offerings... it was leaps and bounds ahead. Kids can still change outfits and brush hair (and take it in the bath - a serious requirement according to Lily!) - but with a doll that looks a lot more true to a child/life. I was thrilled!! But now I had to see if it met the standard of my discerning five year old.... after all, this was a special gift and I didn't want to purchase something that I loved but didn't win her heart. I pulled up the website with the range of dolls and with trepidation, let her survey the offerings.... would it passed muster??

"Oooooh' she breathed. 'I can really choose one??!!'

Yup, Lottie passed the test! Phew ;)

A spare outfit for parties ;)
Every girl knows that swapping outfits every half hour is the best part of having a doll, right?!

There are a range of Lottie dolls with different hair colour and fun, kid-friendly outfits. Of course, my little dancer chose the ballerina-esque outfit... with a backup outfit very similar to the dressy outfits she owns. The tag on the box says 'Lottie has a 'childlike' body developed by a range British academics; she doesn't wear makeup, jewellery or high heels. Best of all, she can stand on her own two feet - an invaluable life skill for all girls, big and small' . Here, here! (Much more info and research on the Lottie website listed below). The doll range 'themes' focus on activities that a child can do (from soccer to swimming to butterfly catching!) and helps present a healthier view on body image and an active lifestyle. I really appreciate that they have a range of dolls and outfits that includes the sparkly fun stuff that many girls enjoy but does not limit the range to those 'hyper girly' options. Just like the colour pink - nothing wrong with the colour itself, but it gets tiresome when it's the only option for girls to choose from - it's so limiting and self-perpetuating! Argh! Likewise with Lottie, there is pink and sparkles but there is also soccer and hiking themes! And - all of them are child appropriate. At last.

When the time came at last to open up the Lottie doll box (Lottie was kept on a shelf until Lily's no-thumbsucking goal had been reached), Lily was sooooo excited. Thrilled. Swept away. 'She looks just like me!!!' she squealed with joy, and I was very happy to admit it was true, 'Except I don't have a fringe. Maybe I should get one!' (Uh oh, hide the scissors, lol!!). Yes, a girl like her, through which she can dream, imagine, create and adventure.

I think the grin on her face says it all really!

Her first moments with Lottie. As soon as Lily opened up the box, she raced to
dress in her own ballet outfit so they could be matching :)

Putting those teeny little ballet slippers back on!
Introducing Lottie to Mrs Scratch :)
Twinkle toes times two.
Soaring high into the sky...
My own little lady, feet firmly planted on the ground.
a Lottie love 

Twirling ballerinas

And.... rockstar Lottie?!
Girls don't have to be sweet and delicate. Ha! Belting out her tune with gusto.
Giddy with excitement, going a little cookoo ;)
Lottie, standing on her own two feet!

I am thankful for how Lottie encourages girls to enjoy their childhood in all its facets. I think we found a good fit for our family values with this sweet little doll. Childhood is a magical phase that passes quick enough without encouraging them too soon into adult worlds and concepts. With Lottie, I feel like Lily can happily linger in her girlhood a little longer.

And now, I am enjoying watching Lily and Lottie and their many adventures unfold (it's both hilarious and sweet). The dawning of a very special friendship indeed :)

P.S. I probably don't really need to say it on this teeny tiny blog, but this isn't a sponsored or affiliate post or anything! Just happy to have found a doll that we love and wanted to share it around so if anyone else out there is searching for a Barbie alternative, they can get a review! 

PPS The Lottie Australia website is here. You can buy it online at lots of places, I found the best online price for the doll Lily wanted here (very affordable, I thought), and apparently you can buy them in store at David Jones, Toys 'R Us and hopefully many other stores will start stocking them! Available also in the UK and US and I'm sure other countries... have a Google and see. Get on the Lottie train, I say! She rocks :)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

20/52 - a mother's day // our way

This week... we celebrated Mother's Day. And so in light of that, I made a request. I really wanted a decent photo with each of my sweet children. A little photographic evidence of the bond I have with them as individuals. 

And... I got them. And this made me the happiest Mum around :)

How good God has been to me, to put three healthy, amazing children in my arms. My blessings overflow. 





Of course, my beloved Mark. No fancy portraits but instead a sneaky iPhone double-selfie. We were sitting on the ground, snuggling and sipping our takeway coffee, as we watched the kids scamper around the playground. And isn't that the best representation of this season of life? Just little snatches of moments in the midst of a thousand daily demands from the little people. But - these moments are golden. A precious moment of peace and connection (and caffeine, let's not forget the caffeine) while we walk through these intense yet fleeting 'little years'.

This man made my Mother's day so special. He is solid gold :)

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.

More highlights from the week that was...

We have our own Mother's Day traditions that are establishing over the years. Firstly, our immediate family celebrates on the Saturday, rather than the official Sunday. Radical, huh? ;) Mark always asks me to write out exactly what I want from the day :) Which is usually - a break!! Combined with some sweet family time. So.... I got a blissful sleep in, followed by a parade of excited kids presenting home made gifts and cards, breakfast in bed and then a morning just laying in bed reading and relaxing while Mark looked after the kids and the house. Bliss! We then went out for a yummy lunch together which was really fun as that is something we very rarely do 'just us five'. Then - the afternoon was spent relaxing in our room, free of child and home responsibility. Yeah, it was perfect, basically!

Sunday was for the other lovely Mums in our lives. We spent the morning at church, and calling my beautiful mother-in-law and dear stepmum, then cooked a yummy pancake brunch for my wonderful mum at her place. Later that afternoon, all the extended family met up at the nursing home to spend time with my beloved grandmother. It was, all in all, a wonderful weekend. It works so well for us to have Saturday just for our little clan, relaxing and having fun without the pressure of other commitments or crowds. Then we love having Sunday free to honour and spend time with all the other amazing mothers in our lives. Hooray for a Mothering weekend :) It works for us and I'm so glad this new tradition has evolved over the years.

And so, here are a bunch more photos with my little tribe. Thanks to Mark for taking them, he did a great job, huh!?

Mothering these three - it is a privilege, an honour and a blessing. It is also the most challenging, humbling and refining thing I have ever done. This motherhood gig is full of surprises and one of the greatest is just how much it pushes you in every respect. I am learning more than I teach, I know that much! I am so thankful for God's love, grace and wisdom to lean on, guide me and fill the many gaps along the way. He gives a greater purpose to this journey. I love these three so, so much.  I am just grateful for the opportunity to know them and to love them. To have their unflinching love in return is such an honour.

So thankful to have some photos with my kids - and everyone is looking and kinda smiling ;)
You can't have Mother's Day without the mandatory 'all the kids piled in bed on top of Mum who looks like she just
woke up (which she has!). Ahhhh, who cares, the memories are worth it! Just focus on those three little cherubs :)

Cruising on the vintage trike at Mum's house
Lily tenderly strokes and talks to her great grandmother. She is so gentle and caring with her :)

Hide and seek in the gardens at the Nursing Home.

My Mother's Day bounty. Although we usually don't do 'bought' gifts,  Mark spoiled me with a gorgeous pair of
Peter Alexander PJs :) Not to mention a flurry of precious home made drawings and cards that the kids worked soooo hard on the night before (with many calls of 'Don't come in, Mum! Don't look! It's a surprise for you!). 
I will always smile at the memory of Eli walking around the house the night before, earnestly colouring in the white patches on this box as his gift to me. (It's the empty box of the best garlic crusher in the world btw, lol). In the morning Mark gave him some choccies to put inside so it wasn't just an empty box, but I would have loved it either way. So sweet! He was so excited to 'make' something for me, so I just loved it.
I have for years looked forward to the day when Lily would bring me home a gift from the Mother's Day stall at school. We all know the reputation of the gifts from these things (gaudy!). She was so so so excited and chose very carefully.
I admit I teared up a bit when she gave it to me. Ok, so, um, the frame is not quite my style, but I just love that she bought it for me with money she earned. She kept saying 'I can't stop smiling when I look at it!" and eagerly set it up on my bedside table. She thought the bouquet image was there to stay and was surprised when I mentioned I wanted to put a family photo in there. Classic! You know I will have to keep this thing on display forever now, don't you??

Precious, hilarious, memorable words from Eli. Oh, Bumblebee is his favourite
toy which is also a wheatbag! That's why he goes in the microwave, not as
some bizarre punishment, haha. I think acts of service must be his primary
love language?!

So many sweet, bizarre, hilarious answers. Made my day!! I am guessing her love
language here is 'words of encouragement'. Interesting to see it written out.
Oh, to see yourself through your child's eyes is interesting indeed. Random
things like I love chicken nuggets? Um??  And 53? C'mon!! ;)

Making Autumn leaf collages...

A special gift for a much beloved Nana. I promise he also loves her even when he is not at her house, haha! He just loves his special visits. 
He insisted on holding it up like this.
My little monkey in a tree.
How does he manage to make me laugh out loud every time I scroll through my pics?! It's the straight legs up the tree.
This kid kills me!!! :)

*happy sigh*