Apple Swan!

 

Apple Swan.

Apple Swan.

 

The other day I saw a gorgeous friend of mine Jason make an Apple Swan and INSTANTLY I thought, “I can go on NO LONGER through life without having made one!”

Don’t ask me why it seemed so important to me, (Ha ha ha) but it looked so darn adorable and I just could not help myself!!)  I just ADORE novelty food and this was just right up my alley!!!

So I found out how to do it by watching a Youtube clip over and over and over again – but it was a bit annoying, as I had to keep stopping it and pausing it and rewinding it again, so I thought if anyone else would like to try it, that I would do a step by step photo instructional so anyone can do it quite quickly without all the fuss I went through!  It was way easier than I thought it would be!!  Definitely not an activity for the kids to do, an adult NEEDS to do the cutting and they need to be  very careful as it takes a little coordination – of which I have little! 😉

When I showed my 4-year-old (my other 2 children were not there – one was at school and one was asleep), I could not believe how much something so simple made him laugh, smile and giggle so much!  Gosh his little, blue eyes twinkled with excitement and wonder….it was such a beautiful thing!

So here is an easy instructional post so you can make this for your little ones too if you are interested, it could be a real lunch box talking point for the kids tomorrow!!  😉

He loved it soooooo much!!!

He loved it soooooo much!!!

Take a pretty apple.

Take a pretty apple and give it a good wash to get off any nasties.

Cut it in half on a slight angle, ensuring you cut right through the centre of the apple so that you can retrieve two apple seeds.

Cut it in half on a slight angle, ensuring you cut right through the centre of the apple so that you can retrieve two full apple seeds.  We need two apple seeds to use for eyes later on.

Put aside the half with the stem at the top of the apple still attached for later, as we will be working with the section with the bottom part of the apple to begin with.  Firstly though, spritz or dunk the cut parts of apple in lemon juice to avoid it browning.  Remember to apply lemon juice to every cut section of the apple as you go too.

Put aside the half with the stem at the top of the apple still attached for later, as we will be working with the section with the bottom part of the apple to begin with. Firstly though, spritz or dunk all of the cut parts of apple in lemon juice to avoid it browning. Remember to apply lemon juice to every cut section of the apple as you go through this whole process too.

Keep aside two nice looking apple seeds that will be our swan's eyes later on.

Keep aside two nice looking apple seeds that will be our swan’s eyes later on.

Get out two butter knives that we will use as our makeshift "spacers" so we can get our cuts fairly even, and place them at each end of our apple as shown.

Get out two butter knives that we will use as our makeshift “spacers” so we can get our cuts fairly even, and place them at each end of our apple as shown.

Make a cut down the centre from the top of the apple to the bottom a little to the side of the centre on each side just until your knife hits the butter knifes.  DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM!

Make a cut down the centre from the top of the apple to the bottom a little to the side of the centre on each side just until your knife hits the butter knifes. DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM!

Then go in from the side at the level as your butter knives until you meet the vertical cut.  Give it a wiggle to remove the wedge  out and repeat this same step on the other side of the apple.

Then go in from the side at the same level as your butter knives until you meet the vertical cut. Give it a wiggle to remove the wedge out and repeat this same step on the other side of the apple.

You should then have an apple with one tall red line going down the middle and two cut sides, so if you look from the front it kind of looks like an upside down T.

You should then have an apple with one tall red line going down the middle and two cut sides, so if you look from the front it kind of looks like an upside down T.

Using the butter knives as spacers cut into the wings

Using the butter knives as spacers cut into the apple the same way as when we removed the wedges for wings.  Go in from the side, but not all the way through, then turn it over and cut down to meet your other cut.  Then remove your new wedge and then cut the same way.  For the last tiny cut, I used the knives as a guide and cut a line along so I knew where to cut but didn’t leave the knives there and cut it without them as it was a little fiddly.  See the picture below to see what it will look like.

You should have two apple wedges that you have cut using your butter knife as the spacers so that they look like this.

You should have two apple wedges that you have cut in to 3 smaller wedges (declining in size) using your butter knife as the spacers so that they look like this.

Then put the largest wedge on to the side of our cut apple but push it back a little way so that it looks like this.

Then put the largest wedge on to the side of our cut apple but push it back a little way so that it looks like this.

Then do the same with the next biggest wedge you have cut.

Then do the same with the next biggest wedge you have cut.

Then add the last tiny wedge.

Then add the last tiny wedge.

Then cut a small rectangle out of the top of the apple at the front where we will put our swan's neck in to stand up.

Then cut a small rectangle out of the top of the apple at the front where we will put our swan’s neck in to stand up.

Then find your other half of the apple that we put aside earlier and using the butter knives as spacers again, cut them in to three even slices across  so that you have three rounded love heart shapes slices.

Then find your other half of the apple that we put aside earlier and using the butter knives as spacers again, cut them in to three even slices across so that you have three rounded love heart-shaped slices.

Take the middle sized piece that looks like a love heart with a flat bottom.

Take the middle-sized piece that looks like a love heart with a flat bottom.

Then, using your knife, look at where you can make a cut so that you can get a nice shaped head and beak using the natural line of the apple.

Then, using your knife, look at where you can make a cut so that you can get a nice shaped head and beak using the natural line of the apple.  Do you see the shape of the head there above the blade of the knife?

Then make a cut, but do not cut all the way across.

Then make a cut, but do not cut all the way across.

Then cut down to make the neck line.

Then cut down to make the neck line…..

So that it looks like this.

So that it looks like this.

Then cut down to make a straight back of the neck.

Then cut down to make a straight back of the neck.

It should now look like this.

It should now look like this.

Then using your knife, round the back of the neck nicely to look like this.

Then using your knife, round the back of the neck nicely to look like this.

Then place an apple seed on to the place where it looks like an eye should go.

Then place an apple seed on to the place where it looks like an eye should go.

Squash the apple seed down in to the apple using the side of your knife.  Then repeat this on the other side of the face with the other apple seed.

Squash the apple seed down in to the apple using the side of your knife. Then repeat this on the other side of the face with the other apple seed.

Then put the bottom part of the neck in to the small rectangle space you cut in to the top of your swan earlier and voila!!

Then put the bottom part of the neck in to the small rectangle space you cut in to the top of your swan earlier and voila!!

He couldn't stop smiling when he saw it all come together!

My angel just couldn’t stop smiling when he saw it all come together!  As soon as we placed the head in place he got all excited!!

Touching it ever so gently! xx

Touching it ever so gently! xx

Ha ha ha!  I made his head fall off!  Oh no!!

“Ha ha ha! I made his head fall off! Oh no!!  Hee hee hee!”

"I am putting it on backwards to make him look so funny!"

“I am putting it on backwards to make him look funny!”

Trying to reattach it properly.

Trying to reattach the head to face the same way takes some serious concentration.  Shortly after this, he ate the whole apple, smiling the whole time as he ate each uniquely shaped piece of apple.

He wanted to draw the "instructions" on how to do it, so that we can make them again!

Afterwards he wanted to draw the “instructions” on how to make Apple Swans, so that we remember how to make them again! So cute!  He also then asked if we could make a Tomato Swan, which I promptly explained would not work the same way as they are too squashy, however I vowed that we would make more fun fruit again very soon.  xx

So cheap, so fun and so easy – please post photos to The Grateful Mummy Facebook page if you try it or any other fruit shapes, I would love to see them and our friends will too!!

Have a beautiful, love filled day my beautiful friends.

Much love,

Fern

xx

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Best Ever Cinnamon Scrolls.

Best Ever Cinnamon Scrolls.

Best Ever Cinnamon Scrolls.

Click on the link below for a free printable recipe:

Best Ever Cinnamon Scrolls

Cinnamon is not only a beautiful, tasty, soul soothing spice, but it also has so many health benefits, that means that I am constantly on the lookout for new and tasty ways to incorporate it in to our diets.

One of our favourite cinnamon recipes is by far Cinnamon Scrolls, they are tasty, a little sweet, but packed with the goodness of cinnamon and they are great for lunchbox snacks for the kids and adults alike!

I will quickly list a few of the ways that cinnamon is beneficial for your health in case you didn’t know how amazing this stuff is!

Cinnamon contains numerous health benefits for the following: blood sugar levels, candida yeast infections, stomach bugs/flu, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, fungal infections, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, it is said to assist in helping prevent cancer, to assist with arthritis/osteoporosis, improvements in alertness, memory and cognitive development, is an anti-oxidant, a weight reducer, lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, is an E-coli fighter/Salmonella fighter, prevents tooth decay and gum disease, assists in prevention and reduced effects of colds, sore throats and coughs, Helps prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, improves PMS, helps with Depression/Reduced Irritability/Mood Enhancer, is a virus fighter, and can help to prevent Parkinson’s Disease.  These are just a few of the benefits that cinnamon is said to help us with!

Read more here:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266069.php

All I know is that it tastes absolutely delicious, so if it comes with ANY health benefits at all, I will try to squeeze as much of that delicious stuff in to my life as humanly possible!

Here is the recipe that I use for Cinnamon Scrolls:

Ingredients:


Dough:

2 cups plain flour

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1¼ cups thickened cream

  

Filling:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

Icing:

½ cup icing sugar

1 tablespoon milk

Method:

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl and add the cream and stir until just combined.

Lightly flour bench space and knead dough on floured surface until smooth (approx 30 seconds).

Roll the dough into a 20cm x 30cm rectangle.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon into a small bowl.

Brush the dough with melted butter then sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over dough.

Roll from longest side to form a scroll then cut into 8 equal slices and place each slice into a baking dish, then flatten slightly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Cool on a wire rack while you are making the icing.

In a small bowl whisk the icing sugar and milk.

Pour the icing over the scrolls and serve warm.

Entomology Exploration: Fun with Insects!

Which butterfly is this one?

Which butterfly is this one?

Having three little boys, of course they are fascinated in anything to do with bugs and creepy crawlies (and other animals too!), so I decided to buy a beautiful, educational reference guide for them to use in everyday situations where they might be interested in a particular animal.  If we ever have a spider in the house, my boys do not scream for me to kill it, instead they yell for Mummy to “Quick!  Grab the Animal Book!”.  I truly love that they do this, as it demonstrates a love for learning, a kindness towards and an interest in creatures and understanding them rather than wanting me to get rid of them!

 I know that these days you can google lots of things on the internet to identify creatures, but I find that you are not always in the position where you are able to simply jump on to google and do this, and therefore miss out on beautiful learning opportunities.  In addition to this, I think there are important life skills learnt from being able to know how to find and reference something in a book.  To be able to look at the contents, find what you are looking for in alphabetical order, find the page number, remember the page number then find that number page and then reading the information for yourself – it is all a very hands on, kinesthetic form of learning and great for visual learning too as they can see and touch the actual pages – these simple sensory actions go a long way in terms of children gaining and retaining knowledge.

This is the book I am referencing and I highly recommend it for your bookshelf at home.

Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide

Click the picture link for a direct affiliate link to Fishpond.com.au where you can buy it with free shipping!

It has recently been fully revised and updated to take into account the latest scientific discoveries and developments, to add more than fifty new species, and changes to the distribution, population numbers, and conservation status of many animal groups, Animal brings together the expertise of natural history specialists and outstanding wildlife photographers to illustrate, describe, and explain the incredible range of creatures in the animal kingdom.  It has everything from insects to mammals to reptiles to sea creatures – it is such a wonderful resource and the pictures are just stunning.

I also got out our light table, our resin encapsulated insect blocks our 24 plastic butterfly set, insect set and the Animal book with a magnifying glass and I left this on the table with two little stools as an invitation for them when they woke up.

They saw the invitation and ran to it excitedly and sat down busily exploring straight away!!

 

The insects in resin were a wonderful catalyst for discussion about each insect (and fun to build towers with too!)

The insects in resin were a wonderful catalyst for discussion about each insect (and fun to build towers with too!)

 

 Mr 4. kept referencing back to the book, “Where is this insect in the book Mummy?  Help me find it.”

 

Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide

 

 Mr 2. was a bit enthralled with the resin insect blocks and just wanted to build towers with them which was fine too, this is good for fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and we still learnt the names of the insects in there, “ant”, “beetle”, “grasshopper”, etc.  He is 2 and a half years younger, so he got a different experience out of this activity than what my 4-year-old did.

"Ooooh!!!!  Look at this one!!"

“Ooooh!!!! Look at this one!!”

 

 

Mr 4 made a house with the resin insects for the plastic ant.

Mr 4 made a house with the resin insects for the plastic ant.

 

 Then Mr 4. got very interested in matching the resin insects up to the similar plastic insects that we had on the light table.

They were great for matching up too, "Hey look mum!  These are the same!  Let's see if we can match them up to a their pictures in the book now!"

They were great for matching up, “Hey look mum! These are the same! Let’s see if we can match them up to their pictures in the book now!”

 

 

"See Mum, this is the same!"

“See Mum, this is the same!”

 

"These all match."

“These all match.”

 

 Once Mr 4. had satisfied his curiosity about the creepier bugs, he moved on to all of the beautiful butterflies……

"Let's look for the butterflies now.......where do butterflies come from mummy?"

“Let’s look for the butterflies now…….where do butterflies come from mummy?”

"These ones look the same!  What are their names called?"

“These ones look the same! What are their names called?”

 

Mr 2. loved looking the resin insects the best, he liked looking at them closely with the magnifying glass and holding them to the light...

Mr 2. loved looking the resin insects the best, he liked looking at them closely with the magnifying glass and holding them to the light…

 

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They sat there so calmly the whole time, they were so quiet!!  Other than the constant questions of course - which was great! :)

They sat there so calmly the whole time, they were so quiet!! Other than the constant questions of course – which was great! 🙂

 

After we did this in the morning, my 4-year-old asked to watch a show on butterflies, so I googled a documentary on Butterflies on You Tube called “The Journey of the Butterflies” about the migration of the Monarch Butterfly (fascinating stuff!) and let the boys watch it and before bed.

Watching "The Journey of the Butterflies" on YouTube on the television.

Watching “The Journey of the Butterflies” on YouTube on the television.

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The boy’s favourite part was watching the transformation of the caterpillar to a chrysalis then to a butterfly!

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Their other favourite part was the ending, where there were thousands and thousands of Monarch butterflies all in the same area flitting about in Mexico! Breathtaking!!

He then wanted to draw a picture of a butterfly which was totally adorable, then he said, “Look, this is like the one we saw in the book and on the light table and on that show we watched today, this is my favourite one.  I saw this one change from a caterpillar to a butterfly on that show, that is why I like this one the best.  I liked how he did that, that was so clever!”  🙂

I loved how this activity inspired him to initiate asking me to put on a documentary for him and that he then wanted to draw a picture of it, it seemed to cement his knowledge and to debrief all he had learnt about butterflies throughout the day!

I was inspired to set this activity up for the boys because it is currently spring here in sunny Queensland, Australia where we live, so there are beautiful tropical butterflies flitting about everywhere.  The boys had been asking lots of questions about them, which is why we bought our pack of 24 plastic butterflies to learn more about them, we bought ours at Fishpond.com.au and got free shipping, click on the picture banner /affiliate link below to be taken to the site and type in 24 Plastic Butterflies to buy your own beautiful set too:

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This was such a gorgeous activity that my 2 boys loved today, my older son was at school when we did this, and had lots of homework to do tonight when he got home, but I know tomorrow when he sees it, he will be totally in to it too!  He absolutely loves our Animal Book and is totally fascinated by creatures big and small, so I can’t wait to see how he plays with our Entomology station tomorrow after school!  It will be an entirely different interaction I am sure!!

I have decided I am going to get one of those live butterfly kits for my boys for Christmas, they sound amazing, and I love the idea of my boys seeing the process of transformation from caterpillar to butterfly for themselves and then releasing the butterfly in to nature themselves – there is so much learning in being able to witness this miracle of life for themselves, so if I am able to source one, I will do a post on it too and let you know how it goes!

Until then, have fun and enjoy and be grateful for your beautiful families.

Much love,

Fern

xx

Jelly Worms!!

Jelly Worms!

Jelly Worms!

Every Halloween we try to make some kind of edible, novelty, spooky food.

This year we decided to try to make realistic, jelly worms that we had seen a photo of on the internet.  There wasn’t a very detailed instructional on it and it took a little trial and error to get it right, so I thought I would write a post on it for anyone who would like to try it for themselves for those of you who didn’t want to have to try a few times like we did to get them right.

What you will need:

 2 packets of red jelly/jello

 1 cup of whipping cream

2 tablespoons of powdered gelatine

Green food colouring

A packet of 60-100 bendy drinking straws (depending on how many worms you would like to make.

2 rubber bands

Tall skinny glass (the same height as the straws)

They looked soooo cool!!

They looked soooo cool!!

Method:

Firstly make up the jelly/jello as per the packet’s instructions, add the extra gelatine and stir to dissolve well, then whip in the cream.  Add about 5 drops or so of green food colouring to make a red-brown earth worm colour.

This was the colour we made our jelly mixture.

This was the colour we made our jelly mixture.

 

Next grab your tall glass/drink bottle/jug and fit as many drinking straws as possible in there so that the straws fill the empty void of your vessel.  Then stretch out your drinking straws so that the bendable part of them is fully outstretched.

Grasp all of the drinking straws together in a bundle and wrap an elastic band around each end so that they are tightly bound together.

Bind the straws together and find a tall cup/jug/vessel that is the same height and circumference as your straw bundle.

Bind the straws together and find a tall cup/jug/vessel that is the same height and circumference as your straw bundle.

Then place the straws in to your tall skinny glass/jug/bottle, ensuring that there is not much space at all on any side of your bundle of straws, otherwise the jelly mixture will just run down through the bottom opening and fill in the void at the side of your straws.

The creamy part of the mix separates from the translucent part of the jelly, so one half of the worm is a creamy looking jelly/jello and the other half is standard, translucent jelly/jello looking.  The creamy part looks so realistic and “wormy” and I wished the whole worm looked like that.  Next time I will try to make this mixture the same way as when people make white jelly with condensed milk (however I will use red jelly still and add the green food colouring to get the colour right), apparently this jelly mixture does not seem to separate and I think this would look better personally than having one half creamy and the other half translucent.  The top part of the straws is where the creamy part of the mixture will set, so it looks the most effective if you put the ridged, bendy part of the straw up the top end of the glass where the nicer looking creamy part of the worm will set.

As mentioned, I will try this with a different mixture next time and report back if it is more successful!

Then pour the jelly mixture in to the straws, ensuring that they are all filled to the top of each straw, then place in the fridge to set.

We had worms for sweets!

I never thought I would actually ever say to my child, “We will go and read a book after you have finished eating all of your worms”.  I experience new “firsts” every day with my children!  Ha ha ha!

Once set, take out of the fridge, remove the rubber bands, then remove any excess jelly that might be set to the outside of the straws.

Then all you need to do is squeeze the worms out of each straw in to a bowl.  We used pliers to hold one end of the straw then squeezed the worms out with our fingers as the straws were sticky and slimy and difficult to hold without the pliers.  This bit took a little while to extract the worms from the straws, but it was really fun to see them come out perfectly formed and look like worms each time!

Our bowl of jiggly, wriggly worms!!

Our bowl of jiggly, wriggly worms!!

 As we ate our worms we talked about the texture, look, smell  and the taste of them – it was such a sensory experience and they played with them on the plates and slurped them up like spaghetti and used them to draw pictures on their plates, there was so much open opportunity for discussion and learning all through just a plate of worms made out of jelly!!  It also made a spooky treat for dessert on Halloween which we all loved!

Hope you love them too!

Love Fern.

xx

Grow a pineapple plant from the top of a pineapple!

I am so excited!  Our baby is having a baby!!  I feel like a grandmother!!

I am so excited! Our baby is having a baby!! I feel like a grandmother!!

 

A great way to grow a lovely plant and eventually your own pineapple too is so easy!!

All you have to do is cut the spiky end of the pineapple off the top (with about an inch or 2 centimetres of the top of the actual fruit of the pineapple) of any pineapple you buy and then plant the base part in the ground with the spiky parts sticking up the top either in the ground or in a medium to large pot.

It takes approximately 2-3 years for the plant to get to full size and to fruit, but in the meantime, they look gorgeous and it is ever so exciting when the pineapple “has a baby” starting to grow out of the centre of it!  Sadly they plant will slowly die after fruiting, however you can just start the whole process over again by cutting the top of your pineapple that you grew and replanting it – the whole “Circle of Life” (cue Lion King them music and silouttes animals walking in single file along the horizon: “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba….Sithi uhm ingonyama”…….

They grow to be a decent size - all from the small spiky top of your average pineapple!

They grow to be a decent size – all from the small spiky top of your average pineapple!

Being a terrible gardener historically, I have never been more excited about a plant before, I almost feel like a Grandmother, my baby is having a baby!  Ha ha ha!

I will post updated photos as our baby pineapple grows to show you too!

So fun to teach the kids about gardening and about where fruit comes from and is a bit of science education for them too, plus you get a lovely plant and a yummy pineapple too!  We do tend to cut the tips of the leaves off ours though as they can be a bit spiky to have near children.

Have fun with it!

Fern

xx

Tips to help your children to settle to sleep faster and stay asleep!

They are so angelic when they sleep!!

They are so angelic when they sleep!!

Lack of sleep affects children and adults in different ways, and can have a negative effect on behaviour, emotions, attention, social relationships and school or work performance. For example, your child might be moody, have trouble concentrating on school, act difficult and defiant and get run down and get sick a lot. When you as a parent lack sleep you might have trouble making decisions, get drowsy while driving, have a lack of patience, loss of memory for simple things, feel moody and have trouble following conversations.  Tiredness really does affect your ability to perform really simple tasks well and we know as parents how tough it can be to be exhausted!  There have actually been studies on tiredness of just tired mums that say that they are more dangerous behind the wheel than drunk mums!  Three women were…tested over two-hours of ‘driving.’ One of them was a well-rested 35 year-old who gets eight to nine hours sleep a night; the other, a tipsy 27 year-old, one- and-a-half times over the legal alcohol limit and the third was a harassed 38 year-old, mother-of-three who has to survive on five to six hours sleep a night…By closely filming their ‘eye droopiness’ (how closed they are at any given second) they found that over a 65km stretch of motorway, the Tired Driver’s blink duration was twice as long as the Drunk Driver. An average driver would have their eyes closed for less than one per cent of the time, but here, the Tired Motorist spent eight to 10 per cent of the time with her eyes closed. The video of her ‘nodding off’ into ‘micro-sleeps’ is genuinely shocking (not least to the woman herself who was totally unaware).

It is essential that our children get enough sleep not only for their own health and well being but for parent’s health and wellbeing too!

Research shows that up to 40% of children and teenagers have some type of sleep problem. Sleep problems are problems with getting to sleep or staying asleep. You can manage and get over many sleep problems in your child using common behaviour strategies.

Firstly consider the sleep environment, a sleep environment that is too noisy, light, cold or hot can make it harder for children to get to sleep. People tend to sleep deeper when the temperature is colder, which is why most children who wet the bed will wet more frequently in the cooler months as they are in a deeper sleep state and less likely to wake when they feel the need to go to the toilet. So if your child is restless and wakes easily overnight, try to ensure the temperature of the room is cool enough to make them comfortable and sleep deeper.  Children need about an hour of quiet time to wind down and relax for sleep. Too much excitement, noise and activity before bed can get kids revved up and make it harder for them to settle down for sleep when it’s time.  Changes to children’s normal bedtime routine or environment can affect how well they settle down too, for example, daylight saving, jet lag, an unfamiliar bedroom, moving house or a sleepover can have a child bouncing around when they would normally be asleep.

Here are some tips to help you with some positive strategies to help your children sleep better, different things work for different people, so these are a general guide with things to consider that will assist you to cover off on some things that may help you.

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My Favourite Tips that really worked for us:

  • Sleep Competitions:  Have a competition for the older ones who love to win a contest! This is a really effective, sneaky tip that always gets my boys to settle quickly and prevents them from mucking around. I tell all the kids that I am going to listen and watch to see which child is the quietest. They do not have to be the first one asleep, they just have to have their eyes closed, lie very still and not make any noise, and I tell them that whoever can do this for the longest time is the winner. I do not pick the one who goes to sleep the fastest as that can tend to add a level of stress to the kids that really want to win, but who just are not as tired as the others, the goal is to get them to relax and settle down quickly in order to get to sleep at their own pace without stalling and playing around. Then I keep an ear and an eye out and then I let the kids know in the morning who won. I will let them have a reward, like a star on their chart, or half an hour of TV or iPad the next day after their homework or chores are completed, a special outing with mummy or daddy or they get to choose what movie we watch on the weekend together, etc. Choose an appropriate reward for your children and your family.
  • Relaxation Techniques: May assist too!  Practicing deep breathing can help your child relax and get to sleep. As they are lying in bed tell them to breathe in slowly through their nose for a count of 4, hold their breath for a count of 2 and then breathe out slowly through their mouth for a count of 4. Tell them to imagine blowing out a candle (they could even hold a finger up and pretend it’s a candle). Repeat 5 or so times for the best result.  A relaxation technique that really worked for my boys, was to say goodnight to different parts of our bodies progressively from our toes upwards, we pretend that there is a candle in each part of our body and we say goodnight to each one and then blow out the candle in there, E.g. “Goodnight toes…..(then get them to “blow” out the “candle” in their toes”, “Goodnight ankles…..(then get them to “blow” out the “candle” in their ankles, then keep going all the way upwards through the body until their head/mind is last.  We first explain before we do this, that when we say goodnight and blow out the candle, that this part of their body is asleep and now needs to be still and asleep.  It might sound a bit far out, but it honestly worked with my boys, if they are still wriggly, then we say, “Oops, toes, you are meant to be asleep, now it is time to sleep and be still, let’s blow out it’s candle and say goodnight again”, then go back and do it again until it does work.
  • Keep them very active during the day:  Give them lots of opportunities for active play during the day, so they are REALLY ready for bed that night, this ALWAYS works for us!  Chasing games, loud music and dancing, running races, swimming, whatever it takes for them to get some exercise and help expel any excess energy that might keep them wide-eyed and bushy tailed in to the night.
  • Play calming music and dim the lights: For the last hour before bedtime where possible, it starts winding them down and signalling their minds and bodies that it is soon time to rest.  Then try to keep voices soft and low and calm when going through the bedtime routine, although I may have “tested” it out numerous times 😉 yelling out loudly, “BRUSH YOUR TEETH AND GO TO THE TOILET!”  or “NOW LIE DOWN AND RELAX” doesn’t help at all – ha ha ha – and only gets them more stimulated again.

It is really important where possible to establish regular routines:

  • Keep regular sleep and wake times where possible: If your child is six months or older, help your child to go to bed and get up around the same time every day. Keep wake-up times on school days and weekends to within two hours of each other. This can help get your child’s body clock get into a regular rhythm. The body clock is just developing in children younger than six months, but you can still encourage a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Avoid daytime naps for older kids: For children five years or older, avoid daytime naps. Daytime naps longer than 20 minutes can make it harder for children over five to get to sleep at night, to get into a deep sleep and also to wake up in the morning.
  • Relax before bed: Encourage your child to relax before bedtime A regular bed time routine of bath, story and bed help younger children feel ready for sleep. Singing soothing lullabies to children very slowly and quietly can help them to relax if they are all revved up too. Older children and grown-ups might like to wind down by reading a book, listening to gentle music or practising breathing for relaxation.
  • Prepare for the day ahead: If your child has a busy morning routine, encourage them to use some wind-down time at night to complete morning tasks, such as getting clothes ready for the next day, making lunch, or getting their school bag ready.

It is important to check your child’s sleep environment to ensure it is optimised for sleeping:

  • Make sure your child feels safe at night:
  •  If your child does feel scared about going to bed or being in the dark, you can praise and reward him whenever he’s brave. Avoiding scary TV shows, movies, computer games or books can help too. Some children with bedtime fears feel better when they have a night light or a personal alarm under their pillows.
  • Check the temperature, noise and light in your child’s bedroom: 
  • A dark, quiet, cool, private space is important for good sleep. You can check whether your child’s bedroom is too hot, light or noisy. It will probably help to turn off electronic at least one hour before bedtime. This includes loud music, mobile phones, computer screens and TV.
  • Hide the clock if you feel your child is ‘clock watching’: 
  • Encourage her to turn her clock around or move it to where she can’t see it.
  • Try relaxing activities before sleep: If your child can’t get to sleep straight away, he could try doing something relaxing like listening to gentle music or reading a book under dim light. In the mornings, he should get out of bed when he wakes up, rather than trying to go back to sleep.

Encourage good health and nutrition:

  • Eat the right amount of food at the right time: Make sure your child has a satisfying evening meal at a reasonable time. Feeling hungry or too full before bed can make the body more alert or uncomfortable. This can make it harder to get to sleep.
  • Get plenty of natural light in the day: Encourage your child to get as much natural light as possible during the day, especially in the morning. This will help her body produce melatonin at the right times in her sleep cycle. A nutritious breakfast also helps to kick-start the body clock. Having exposure to natural light earlier in the morning is very effective in light therapy for helping people wake up feeling better in the mornings, so if your child takes a long time to wake in the morning and is very sleepy, try opening their blinds/curtains a little earlier.
  • Avoid Caffeine: Encourage your child to avoid caffeine – in energy drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate and cola – or avoid offering them in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Do an Emotional and Mental Health Check:  If fears or anxieties affect your child’s sleep, you could work on the problem together during the day. You could talk about it with your child or he could try writing anxious thoughts in a journal.
  • Do plenty of exercise: Physical activity and exercise help children aged 2-15 years to sleep longer. Keep the kids physically active during the day. Visits to the park, fun outside with balls, bike rides, swimming, chasing games, running around the sprinkler, I like to spend a lot of time with the kids outside during the day. Having a very active day helps the kids settle sooner in to bed and have a restful night. After lying in their bed for 15 minutes or so, they are normally fast asleep. It’s not a good idea to play sport or be active late at night, though. The stimulation and increase in body temperature can make it harder to go to sleep.
Found my 17 month old baby sleeping in the exact same position as the Michael Jordan symbol on his bodysuit!  I couldn't resist putting a baby basketball in his hand for a photo!

Found my 17 month old baby sleeping in the exact same position as the Michael Jordan symbol on his bodysuit! I couldn’t resist putting a baby basketball in his hand for a photo!

I TRULY, TRULY hope these tips help you, I know with my first child, he had terrible, horrible, unbelievably distressing sleep issues from Day 1, and they lasted for the longest time and it was absolutely horrendous for the longest time, I remember being so teary and feeling so unbelievably hopeless from sleep deprivation taking away my ability to perform the most simple of tasks!  It felt like the sun came out once he started sleeping better once solids were started successfully, it took loads of work, tears, time, patience and love, but we got there eventually and he has been a perfect sleeper ever since.  But for ten months, he would only sleep for fifteen minutes at a time!!  It was so, so, so hard and the closest I have ever come to feeling really, really blue.  Amazingly, I was then rewarded with baby number 2 and Baby number 3 who slept so much from Day 1 that I actually thought that there was something wrong with them!  I never had to do anything special with them, they had just read the manual already!  Whereas, with my first even a midwife came in on Night 2 and plonked him back in my arms after she had taken him to try and settle him and she said abruptly, “Oh I don’t know what to do with this one, good luck!”, didn’t give me any reassurance at all!!  We got there, but it took a long, loooooooooooong, (did I say long?) time!!!

So I don’t want anyone else to go through that same torture!  I can see why sleep deprivation has been known to be a form of torture!! I so hope this helps you!  Please share any other sleep successes or other suggestions with us!!  Any help to keep us other mummies going is SO appreciated!!

Love Fern.

xx

Glow Bubbles!

Blowing Glowing Bubbles!

Blowing Glowing Bubbles!

I will pre-position this post with the fact that this post is for the older children who will absolutely, definitely not suck in on a straw when you tell them not to, but blow out to make bubbles, my 7-year-old is totally fine with this, so was okay for this activity, however I wouldn’t offer this to my 4-year-old or my 2-year-old, as I could not say with any certainty that they wouldn’t drink up the detergent in this activity.

They looked so cool!

They looked so cool!

My boys love, love, LOVE glow in the dark activities, they also love bubbles – I mean who doesn’t love bubbles right?  Well the good news is that you can very simply combine these two things in to the one fun activity!

Most dishwashing detergents that are that neon yellow green colour will fluoresce under a black light.  So if you have a black light, you can do this activity soooo easily and soooooooooo cheaply!!

This is how the detergent fluoresces under the black light.

This is how the detergent fluoresces under the black light.

All you need to do is get a bowl and put some of this neon dishwashing detergent in to the bowl (ours was just a home brand detergent), put this bowl over a tray – in case the bubbles get so big when blown that they spill over the side, this way will catch any sticky, soapy messes on the tray, then get a drinking straw, turn on your black light lamp overhead and get your  child to blow bubbles in to the detergent!!

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My younger boys totally wanted to get in on this action, but instead I offered them a safer glowing activity to do at the same time, which was adding some of this glowing detergent in to a large zip lock bag, sealing it up with tape along the edge in case they burst it open by pressing too hard, then I taped it to our bench for them to do “non-messy finger paint” by pressing on to the glowing, squishy bag and indenting it with their fingers to show up the dark surface beneath it.  They were totally in to this and drew patterns and letters, while I closely watched that my 7-year-old did not accidentally drink any detergent up.  He didn’t even do it once, which I kind of knew he wouldn’t, I told him that it would make him sick if he drank it, so he had to be super careful or only Mummy could do the bubble blowing and he would just have to watch.  He stared at me wide-eyed as though this was like being told you can do something totally grown up and adult and very seriously said, “I promise mum, I really, really promise!” and sure enough he kept his word.  We used a neon yellow straw to look even more effective, the straw glowed too and looked like a glow stick!

He was so very good and very carefully only blew air in to the liquid.

He was so very good and very carefully only blew air in to the liquid.

As mentioned, this is only for the older children, but the older one really loved this, while the younger ones played with the same liquid safely in their zip lock bags for non-messy finger painting.

My biggest boy loved this so much, and kept on asking to do it again and again night after night!

If you feel nervous about letting your child blow the bubbles, you blow them instead and ask them to watch and they can maybe help you pop them instead!

Have fun with it!

Love Fern.

xx

Glowing Construction with Straws and Pipe Cleaners.

Glowing Neon Drinking Straws!

Glowing Neon Drinking Straws!

My boys are such avid, little builders, they are happiest when they are building with Lego, blocks, connecting toys or anything they can use to build structures and towers, etc.  They love being imaginative, designing, constructing and then playing imaginatively with ther=ir wonderful inventions, it allows them the freedom to use their engineering skills, logical thought, fine motor skills, problem solving skills and their imagination.  Best of all, it keeps them happy and engaged for ages too, which allows me time to get dinner made or other chores while they are so busy at work.

They also ADORE glow in the dark activities, so I wanted to come up with a way to combine their two most favourite loves and came up with this!!

The neon pipe cleaners glowed like crazy!  They almost glowed like real glow sticks!!

The neon pipe cleaners glowed like crazy! They almost glowed like real glow sticks!!

Glowing Construction with Straws and Pipe Cleaners.

Scissors, Neon Drinking Straws and Neon Pipe Cleaners.

Scissors, Neon Drinking Straws and Neon Pipe Cleaners.

You will need:

A lamp with black light globe.

Flourescent Neon Pipe Cleaners.  (Fluorescent items glow so beautifully under a black light!)

Flourescent Neon Drinking Straws.

Scissors.

Then all they need is their imaginations!

Then all they need is their imaginations!

Method:

I set the black light up over the boys work surface, our surface was on the table with a black tablecloth underneath so that the glowing effect would look more vibrant!  I then asked my boys to cut the pipe cleaners in to 8cm lengths, and then showed them how to join the straws together by inserting one of the pieces of glowing pipe cleaner halfway in to the end of one straw and the other half of the pipe cleaner in to the other end of their next straw to join them together.  You could bend the pip cleaner at this join or keep it straight if you wish.  I then demonstrated how if you wanted to build a structure that also went up vertically, that you could then insert another length of pipe cleaner in to the same straw join but bend the other half of the pipe cleaner upwards to put in a straw that would then stick right up vertically.  Then I let them be guided by their own imaginations and they came up with the most wonderful ideas!!  They made “race tracks” with them, towers with them, plain shapes with them and even little houses with them.  They had such a fantastic time and this kept them busy for ages, they only stopped playing with it when I ran out of neon pipe cleaners!  Whoops!  Must get two packets of them for next time I think!

I actually forgot to get photos of their final creations as I found myself getting a tad too enthusiastic with this and before I knew it I was making things with it too, and then afterwards realised I was having so much fun I forgot to take more photos of the process!  Whoopsie!!  Never mind, we had quality time and fun together being all involved and engaged in the same project, it was so nice just playing with them and having fun, however at the expense of more photos to show you!  Sorry!

This was such a cheap, easy and super fun and engaging activity and I loved how much thought had to go in to balancing their structures and how to shape them properly, etc.  My boys loved it and I hope that your children love it just as much as mine did!

Loads of love,

Fern.

xx

Chocolate Marshmallow Spiders. Fun recipe for Halloween!

Spiders 2

Chocolate Marshmallow Spider Recipe

 A fun recipe and cooking activity for the kids for Halloween (or any time at all really) is to make Chocolate Spiders.

They are so easy to make and so super cute! My boys loved making them AND especially loved eating them!

The kids can either help you do this or they can do this all by themselves if you think they are capable to manage this.

This activity kept my boys busy for absolutely ages, they were concentrating so hard on it and because it was such a yummy activity they were very engaged and stayed engaged for a long time.  It was so yummy snacking as they went, so they not once lost interest in this – not even when they ran out of ingredients!!  Then they wouldn’t stop asking me when they would be ready to come out of the fridge to eat, so they didn’t lose interest at all until they had finished eating them all at the end of the week!!

Chocolate Marshmallow Spider Ingredients.

Chocolate Marshmallow Spider Ingredients.

You will need:

1 x 100g Packet of Chang’s Fried Noodles.

2 Tablespoons of hazelnut spread or peanut butter.

200g cooking chocolate (milk or dark).

1 Packet of Marshmallows.

Lollies or fruit for eyes (M&M’s/Smarties/Sultanas).

Method:

Ask the children to poke 8 noodles each in to each marshmallow as spider legs.  This is good as a counting opportunity for the younger ones.

Microwave the chocolate and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl for about 60 seconds on high, if not melted, put in the microwave again for 5 second intervals.  Mix well.

Lower spiders in to the chocolate on a spoon until covered.

Place the spiders on to baking paper until the chocolate is starting to set but still sticky and not completely set, then stick on eyes (sultanas/chocolate beanies/M&M’s) and a mouth out of a noodle.

Once set, serve and enjoy!

My boys know that these are a “sometimes” food, in our family we eat very healthy, but do allow treats at times as we believe in teaching our children about the rule: “Everything in moderation”.

Children need to learn about eating healthy, nutritious foods and occasionally having a treat, it is about teaching them how to self-regulate and about learning to make the right choices in  order to keep themselves healthy.

My boys make the right choices most of the time, therefore we do allow them treats as well occasionally, so that sugar is not seen as “forbidden fruit” and therefore more tempting.

Everyone has different opinions on allowing children sugar and treats, etc. I am never one to judge or tell anyone what is right or wrong for their family, we all love our children and know our children best and are responsible enough to make the best decisions for our loved ones, so please remember with any of the blogs posted on here, take what you love and leave the rest. 🙂

Remember that you can always use alternatives to these ingredients to make them a healthier option too, you could always substitute the chocolate with a mixture of coconut oil and raw cacao powder, and replace the marshmallow for a medjool date, etc, just  adjust this to your individual needs!  🙂

Hope you enjoy this fun activity, they taste super yummy too and are really fun for Halloween!

xx

Glow in the Dark Water Beads.

 

These glowed like CRAAAAAAZZAAAAAYYYY!!!

These glowed like CRAAAAAAZZAAAAAYYYY!!!

Coming up to Halloween we are doing a few more Glow In The Dark Activities at our house at the moment, so I thought I would sure them with you too!!  So stay tuned for a couple more in the next week!

In our house we have a thing for water beads, we love the texture, the sight, the way they bounce, everything about them!  We ESPECIALLY love things that glow too, so we have combined the two for an extra fun sensory experience!!

We made ours with a combination of different sized water beads so we could discuss size and have a different textural experience.

We made ours with a combination of different sized water beads so we could discuss size and have a different textural experience.

You will need:

A black light globe in a lamp or black light tube light – which works the most effectively.

Yellow highlighters.

Water.

Clear water beads.

They feel so different to anything else you have ever felt!

They feel so different to anything else you have ever felt!

Method:

Firstly, break open the yellow highlighter, you can break them open by simply squeezing the end with a pair of scissors and the back should just pop off.  Once broken, remove the ink pad.  Soak the ink pad in water for about an hour or until it loses it’s colour. If you really can’t open the highlighter, just soak the whole highlighter in water, tip down.  It will take a little while longer but will work just as well eventually.  You can dilute this quite a bit and it will still glow, it goes very far, but the less water, the more brighter glow you will have.  We filled a decent size tub half way up with water only using one little yellow highlighter, and I’m sure that we could have diluted it more.

Once you have your glow water, you can either just use this for water play in the dark with your black light (obviously keep the light away from the water for safety), but keep it close enough that it will make the water fluoresce.  Shine your black light where you will be using your glow water and see the wonderful, magical glow water come alive!

They feel so beautiful!

They feel so beautiful!

You can also use this glow water to hydrate your clear water beads, you can buy water beads on eBay or at stalls at markets, etc., water beads are basically the little polymer, spherical balls that you hydrate from tiny bead looking balls to become beautiful, squishy water beads that feel delightful and bounce around in such a fun way.  They are originally designed as ways to keep your plants hydrated for longer as when they dry out the water goes to your plants and the water beads shrink back to tiny dried up balls, then when you water them again, they hydrate and puff back up again.

They are non – toxic, however I certainly would not recommend that you let your child eat them.

Something else to note, definitely do not wash them down your sink or drain as they can clog your drains, so if you need to throw them away ever, put them around the top of your plants or in a bin.

They really love these!!

They really love these!!

So what you do to hydrate your water beads and turn them in to glowing water beads, is to basically follow the directions on how much water to use to hydrate your pack/s of water beads and instead of water to hydrate them, just use your glow water, it is as simple as that!  It can take up to 8 hours for them to fully hydrate.

Then put your glow water beads in a container (preferably with a black or dark surface underneath) and place this under your black light and let the squishy, soft, bouncy, glowing water bead fun begin!!

They look super effective if you play with them on a dark surface!

They look super effective if you play with them on a dark surface!

My little 2-year-old continuously tried to put these in his mouth, so I had to be right there with him and very vigilant not to let him put them near or in his mouth, but my 4 and 7 year olds wouldn’t even think about eating them so they were completely fine, but I do think it is a good idea to warn your children not to eat them before you begin playing with them.

Our boys absolutely giggle with delight when we play with these and I am sure your children will too.

Have fun!!!

Fern

xx

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