Saturday, 30 May 2015

exploring light and colour with rainbow blocks

My little sidekick, Miles, and I have gotten into a bit of a routine on days when the older two kids are in school. After breakfast, chores and independent play is done, we spend a little time playing by the front window, soaking up some togetherness along with the wintery sunshine!

Side note: Have I mentioned lately how much I love two year olds!? They are the most fascinating little creatures, I'm so grateful to have a bit of one-on-one time to just chat, play and watch this litle man explore the world!

Miles has always been hugely into any kind of block and building play, so when I was given the opportunity to try out these gorgeous Rainbow Sound Blocks from Finlee and Me, I jumped at the chance, knowing my little man would be alllll over them.  I must admit I have been very eager to add these particular blocks to our block collection too as they tick every box for me - open ended play, sensory experience, natural materials! Plus, you know....just soooooo preeeeetty with all the colours!! :)

And as you can see, he sure did love them...

Eager to investigate this amazing wooden 'box' the blocks come in...
Quick to unpack, and start building!
Naming shapes and colours as we stack...
He sat quietly for sooooo long, just stacking, sorting and and moving them around :)
The smooth, raw wood finish just makes you want to keep touching the blocks!
...and it was all yellow orange!!
Each block has a variety of small or large beads inside. Of course, Miles had to give each one 'the shake test' to check out what sound they made. 
Just a teensy bit obsessed with the hinge at the top of the box! 'Snap, snap'
'Building a House!'  (A toddler's work is never done, you know)

Of course, the best bit... looking at the sweet sunshine pouring through the blocks and reflecting on the carpet! Miles was so intrigued at this mysterious occurrence, he kept touching the coloured reflections while we named all the colours.

I am a huge fan of block-play for kids. Any opportunity for open-ended play is such a valuable thing for children, especially when it includes a sensory experience too. These blocks definitely fit the bill - beautifully textural raw wood, a variety of sounds to experience when they shake them, and the gorgeous colours to look through and experiment with reflection and light. The thing I love about blocks like these is they are an investment in years of quality play.... as evidenced by my four and six year old who couldn't wait to get their hands on them too!

If play is the work of childhood, then building with blocks is not a bad job :)

This post was sponsored by Finlee and Me, a lovely online store filled with a vast range of goodies for babies, kids and even Mums! All opinions are 100% my own. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

#highlightsreel // all kinds of wheels and wonder

The days roll by, filled with precious little moments that will one day seem like the big moments. 

I try to capture some of them here, pinning down those fleeting joys that scatter through our days 

Amidst the mess and stress of life, God gives us these happy little anchors to remind us of what truly matters.

Bike riding practise...
Ready to ride!
A proud Papa watches on...
Washing the cars is a family affair...
At the car wash... (our driveway)
Car washing // Apple eating
Our family is a teeny bit pizza obsessed. So, sometimes you just gotta make mini-dessert pizzas. Chocolate sauce, marshmallows and white chocolate drops. Ummm.... deeeeelish!
Despite the many happy and sweet moments captured here, in reality these are hard days for our family. On one of my emotional (teary!) days, I emerged from my room to discover this beautiful fruit platter prepared by the kids to 'make me happy again'. My little blessings, they are such a source of joy on the darkest days.

I walk by to discover him peacefully inhaling the scent of the flowers. We should all take such moments of simple pleasure!
I love to see literacy emerge, naturally and at it's own pace. Lately Eli has been so interested in writing letters, mastering one at a time. Nothing quite so charming as seeing a world of letters slowly transform as little ones learn to decipher the codes!
Every day (multiple times a day!) the craft area transforms from one thing to another, as she rapidly changes her plans about 'what I'm going to be when I grow up'. This minute? A teacher! She has the desk and pose nailed, I think!! ;)

Here comes the clippers....
First home haircut from Daddy. 
Magnatiles in a sunny spot on a cold day.

Peekaboo!! So grateful for my quiet days at home with this little guy when the older two are at school for half the week. He is my little buddy and we just have the best time hanging out :)

Lily doing a bit of Reading Eggs... and everyone wants to have some input ;)
The playkitchen was transformed into a Lego workshop. In fact, Lily hung a sign saying 'Please don't come in here, we are working on Lego in our workshop.' Serious business!
'Shopping? Shopping bags! Go to Aldi??
Yes, those puppy dog eyes are pleading for me to take him to Aldi. He seriously wanders around the house most of the day with two shopping bags over his shoulder, just waiting to go to the shops. This kid!!

After a year of begging, Lily is finally learning to play her little guitar!! Thanks to the time and talents of our lovely friend, Michael :) In just two lessons she learnt to play Twinkle Twinkle - she was sooooo excited :)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

why kids are like vegetables...

They grow....

Though you planted them, though you had some small part in their creation, it somehow still takes you by surprise. They flourish, unfurl... blossom. They emerge into something amazing and while yes, certainly, you watered and fertilised... you know you can't take full credit for their fruition.

They are just so incredible, huh??! You want to take photos every day and share them on Facebook!!! Look, everyone, look! Because yes, you are bursting with pride, but really it's more than that... it's marvel. Look... these amazing creations. They are so much more than the sum of their parts. They are so much more than the labour and love we pour into them. We 'blindly' plant and 'hopefully' water but it is God who gives their growth... and it is much more than we could ever have hoped or imagined.

You want to shout this wonder to the roof tops, you want to murmur it over and over in your heart of hearts... It's not pride, you know you can't take credit for all they have become. You want to just shout out an invitation to others - to marvel and wonder along side you..... look at these fascinating things! How did they become all this?!

Am I getting carried away here!? Ahem ;) Well, gardening can do that to a girl!!

You see, over the last year, I have become an eager (if somewhat clueless) owner of a kitchen garden. I plant things.... some fail, some thrive, it's all a bit of an experiment, but to my utter shock and amazement, I love it. Never thought I would say that about gardening.

I have been taken by surprise at how absolutely thrilling it is to see actual, real live, vegetables growing in my very own veggie patch. Sure, some wither and fade (*cough*raspeberries*cough*) but the ones that make it.... yowzers, I cannot believe how exciting it is!

Out there, amongst the dirt and the mulch, I couldn't help but be surprised at how satisfying it was to raise this little crop... humble though it is! That feeling of joy, satisfaction, pride but also gratitude and wonder... it felt like a lighter shade of how I feel about my kids. Now, I am not saying I love my zucchinis as much as my kids.... (or am I?! Ha!). But I kept asking myself, why am I so excited about this? Why do I want to talk to everyone about every garden picking? Why do I feel the urge to take a photo of every cherry tomato and share it on my Facebook page?!

Yes I am excited and 'proud' in a way... but honestly, I hardly feel like I can take credit for this crop. I really have no idea what I am doing it, I am kinda winging the whole venture, it's rather 'learn as you go'. I plant a seedling, I water (sporadically!) and fertilise (thanks, Chookies for your manure!)... but the result is honestly still a shock!! I can only marvel at the result... in a similar manner (just a glimmer of the depth of it) in which I marvel at my children. I nurture and train and discipline and pray... yet who they are - these amazing, individual, strong, quirky little people - is so much greater than what I invest in them. They are hardy and robust little creatures really, to stand up to my fumbling parenting! I can only gaze at them in wonder, thank God and yes... snap a photo to share on Facebook ;)

Whether in the garden or the home, that feeling of love, of joy in nurturing, of satisfaction in seeing them thrive, that wonder in seeing something grow and flourish.... it is the same privilege to watch a life emerge. It is a daily miracle that we get to witness up close.

So... that's why I think kids are like vegetables!! :)

My lovely readers, fellow parents and gardeners, let's continue to prepare the soil, to plant, to water, nurture and tend... Give it all you've got. Knowing we hardly know what we are doing, yet knowing that the 'produce' will be something far greater than the sum of its parts...something we can marvel in. Go ahead, enjoy your bounty of blessings! Watch them thrive before your very eyes xx

Just some musings from my kitchen garden :)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

#highlightsreel // a birthday bounty + a checkmate

My baby girl learnt to play chess! Playing my first game with her kinda blew my grown up. She 'taught' me all the rules too, which was pretty cute, and kept telling me through the game 'Don't worry, Mum, I have a plan'. Her plan seemed to involve losing a lot of pieces ;)

So determined to take his rightful place at the 'craft table'. He wants to draw and glue and anything else the kids get to do. A serious artiste.
Miles informed me 'Circles!'

Lily went on an interstate trip to be a flower girl in a relative's wedding. We missed her desperately but none so much as Eli. He set up this 'welcome home' display for her, every toy set up with their own special prop. When she came home, he went absolutely crazy with joy. Ah, sibling love is the sweetest!
Miles teaching himself to use scissors. Adult 'crimping' scissors no less! He sat there for ages, using both hands to open the scissors for every snip. PS Note the crossed legs!!!

He took his huge Bible, and propped himself in front of the TV like so, while Eli was watching Aladdin. He 'read' from the Bible in a very stern manner for several minutes. Was this some kind of rebuke about Disney movies? A sermon on the evils of TV? Who can say?! ;) 
He prefers to do his own reading these days. 
Trying to teach her brother chess...
Nothing like hearing the happy sounds of my trio singing 'Ring a ring a rosie' in the backyard, over and over. Giggles galore! #melt
Lily asked if we could make 'meat pies' for dinner and so, together, we did. Well, meat and veggie pies ;) Sure they were rustic but the kids were proud of their handiwork! She was eager to make little decorations for the top of each, this one was a bird in its nest :)
Eli has been teaching himself to write the letter 'A' lately, so decided to top his pie with that letter. Love seeing his eager natural learning unfold :)
'Yes, Ma'am??'
She pulls out this British accent and silly faces, I don't know where from, but it slays me!
We are all in love with these 'Peek and Seek' bags from Finlee & Me! Great little activity to keep hands and eyes busy in the car, the waiting room, during church services, etc. Who needs an iPhone?! #gifted
Sleeping Beauty... on the coffee table.
Teaching Miles to help unstack the dishwasher. Two eager teachers, one even more eager pupil.
You know you are focusing hard when it gives you double chins.
It was one of those sweet afternoons that was actually as idyllic as it sounds (rather than much more chaotic in reality!). I spent over an hour gardening with Lily and Eli.  It was truly precious time. They eagerly 'dead headed' all the roses, swept gravel, and just generally clipped and dug and of course, found bugs and worms. We chatted together as we worked in the fading afternoon light, happy to be productive and together. I was diggin' it :)
Sweeping that pesky gravel from the driveway.
I don't know where these crazy kids get their crazy ideas... but I love them. It was Daddy's birthday so the kids decided they would ALL dress in Spidermen outfits for the entire day. In his honour. you know?! And don't ask me how come we have three Spiderman outfits, I have no idea. All hand-me-downs from somewhere!
Oh me, oh my, I love them so much I could cry.

She finally got her chance to play chess with Papa - after teaching him all 'her rules' first of course! :)
Someone was determined to give 'the most presents'. Lily spent two solid weeks crafting about 16 presents for her beloved Daddy... each one presented in  a gift bag. She was soooooo excited to give them, with so much love and time and devotion poured into each gift. Just love her generosity xx
I made a baked blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake... birthday treat for my wonderful guy xx
'Don't touch the freshly blown out candles!'
My beautiful boy made twenty Lego creations in honour of his Dad's birthday. He then spent about 10 minutes presenting each one individually to his Dad and explaining all about it. Bless :)
Some of Eli's precious Lego creations made for his Dad. Mark was just so proud of him :)
Reading out one of her many Birthday stories for Daddy...
Canberra: Showing off at Autumn

The kids volunteered to make dinner one night (Black Bean Wraps) and decided to get out the kitchen scales to weigh every topping. Too cute :) Eli was very keen to be precise, though not sure he really knew what he was measuring, lol.

Her 'fancy platter of sauces' is clearly just the right weight.
They learnt to chill like this from their Daddy :)
So excited, I had to share!! After hunting foreverrrrr for the perfect 'car caddy' to keep
our very full back seat organised, I got one custom made from a lovely lady on Etsy.
Just love all the pockets, the print and the space for all the kiddo's bits and pieces!
Hopefully it helps me keep the car cleaner?! Just love Etsy :)
Another day, another lunchbox... but made all the sweeter with these gorgeous Lunch Love cards from Finlee & Me. I have a whole set of cards to choose from each day, it's so fun to select some daily encouragement for my little lady (and Eli has a boy's set too!). #gifted
Luscious pomegranates, delicious boy xx