Christmas crafting part 3 – refreshing an old toy

I spotted this little pull along toy on a Market stall for £2, a sweet little mouse playing a xylophone, in need of a new ribbon and a touch of paint. At first I was just going to freshen up his nose, but I’m working on repainting a toy kitchen for Joss so thought I’d try my hand at a smaller project first. I think it looks sweet, but I need to work on my brush skills!

Here’s a before and after shot, I just need a nice shiny red ribbon now!

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Mammy (0) – The hot footed kid (1)

This week was not my finest, not by a long shot.  When your day starts like this maybe you should’ve known!

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This week Joss got the rotavirus, except I didn’t realise until we’d gone out for the day, to a museum, with a packed lunch and big plans.

OK so we saw the dinos, and the animals, I thought a bit about Night at the Museum and we had cake, and then it all went a bit wrong, and a bit smelly…

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So we popped into a section of the Museum called the Mouse Hole, totally sweet little under fives room, with dressing up stuff and stuffed animals and a hole in the wall leading to a little secret room for children to hang out amongst softplay sized chunks of cheese cushions.  Sounds great I hear you say.  I looked in there though and it made me come out in a cold sweat, the entrance was teeny, I decided we’d play in the main room instead, until Joss asked for water, I headed for her bag as she headed for the mouse hole, “hang on darling, Mammy’s got your water, one sec”.  Joss got in the mouse house.  Too quick for me…

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I peered through the adult height window, “come to Mammy sweetheart, lets play out here…please…”  – “NO!”

Oh well, I thought, she’ll come out soon, but then I heard straining and grunting, and she was getting upset.  Claustrophobic, I started to feel hot and ill, then the smell reached me, good grief!

I panicked.

My super Mam reflexes kicked in, did I push my fear aside and go in and get my girl?

I’m not proud of this but I had to get someone else’s four year old to bring Joss out for me, I couldn’t see an adult sized door and was too scared I’d get stuck in the toddler sized tunnel leading off the front door.

Having never had to bathe a child in a tiny sink I had my first and only wish that I had disposable and not washable wipes, I’ve also never looked at a cloth nappy and wished I could bin it rather than wash it, but this poor child has suffered this week :(

I’ve started a wee scarf for her and she has rested, I’m telling you now though, we aren’t going to that Mouse Hole again until she’s old enough to come back out!

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Chad Valley Ride-On Review

Joss is never happier than when out and about, exploring! Now that she’s walking she really enjoys the daily walk we do to the Farm at the end of the street, but she tires easily so we often take it easy, but I’d been thinking of a toy we could take out to let her rest her legs for a little while.

She was lucky enough to have the opportunity to review a product from the Argos Dream Toys 2013 range – see the range here.  We reviewed the Chad Valley 6-in-1 Ride On Quad.

As you can see there was a bit of fun for both of us involved in our first trip out with the Quad, and Monkey came along for the ride too!

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She loved the wind in her hair and as we like an autumnal walk it was nice to go through the crunchy leaves too!  This added a real fun element to what soon becomes boring as we do this walk a lot!

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Indoors Joss had a good explore and I will probably pop the handle off so she can use it as a push along toy too.

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I loved the sturdy design with side bars and back stop for safety, and the six in one design means that it is suitable for her younger friends too with the rocker option, or older playmates, and Joss herself in time to come when the parent handle option is no longer needed.  As Joss is always on the go it would have been nice to have a harness to stop her hopping out but we use reins for walking anyway so used those for a little more security.  As the handlebars control the front wheels she was still a little young to steer but we soon got the hang of turning slowly!

If buying as a gift I’d say give yourself an hour to assemble, and you will need some items from a toolbox, a hammer and a screwdriver.  I assembled this on a Saturday when Joss was out with Daddy as it required a bit of hammering to fit the wheel caps, a bit noisy and fiddly with an impatient little one about, but quite a satisfying task to undertake for someone who likes making things.  I thought the stickers were sweet too and as Joss loves stickers we added a few of our own!

Whether you have a younger baby and would like a rocker that grows with them, an active tot that who loves to walk but needs a break from walking, or an older one who loves to scoot about this might be the dream toy for you.

Review in collaboration with Argos

Disclaimer information here

Amazing achievements in Autumn

I am so delighted by Joss’ walking, there’s nothing like walking hand in hand feeling her little fingers stroke the palm of my hand…until she tries to wriggle free and run away!

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I blogged about our Autumn box recently, it’s been lovely to play with, the pinecones are a big hit so I think we’ll gather more to explore and then maybe do a spot of painting and glittering for a Christmas activity. I’ve loved hearing her talk about the trees and the ‘leafs’ this week, a free, fun activity for an inquisitive tot and a reason to get out in the fresh air to gather more stocks as the leaves get crumpled and break apart!

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This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 November challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Whinfell Forest

Messy play, what’s stopping you?

What if you have a toddler and understand why messy play is important, but you can’t stand mess and different textures yourself?

This is sort of my dilemma, I say sort of as I feel the fear but do it anyway, and in the course of the last few months I’ve developed a few ideas for lessening the mess that some of my readers might find helpful.

1) Do it somewhere else

I’ve blogged about supporting our local Children’s Centres, many offer opportunities for messy play, I’ve learned a lot about development through them and Joss has had great messy fun!  In the early days before I discovered Pinterest I thought messy play was just painting, but we did food play, shaving foam art, fake snow etc and it exposed me to mess away from my own home, a great intro to messy play!

2) Proper preparation prevents a poor performance

I find that if I plan a messy session properly it reduces my anxieties about mess.  This means having a bath run ready for Jossy if we’re paining, having flannels at hand and plenty of plastic sheets for the floors, I have some that I cut and edged so theory can go in the wash after a rough wipe down.

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3) Try messy without the ‘wet’ textures

Why not try something that explores other textures? One we like is putting down a piece of sticky back plastic sticky side up and taping to the table, then we use glitter, paper strips and newspaper cuttings to make a mess free picture whilst using pens and crayons for mark making too

4) Keep fuss to a minimum

I don’t really enjoy having sticky or wet hands but having Joss has exposed me to this more, so where possible I get involved and try to think about her learning and see it as an opportunity to re-learn to enjoy textures myself.

5) Contain mess for short bursts of activities

If Joss is bored I use the highchair as a good base for some ‘fruit painting’ with mashed berries and chunky fruits, she gets messy, enjoys a snack and draws on the tray with her snacks.  Its also a good place for small activities like play dough etc.

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First Words Taxedo / Tagxedo Tutorial

I had some positive comments on my post about Joss’ first words and some readers were interested in how I created this little picture showing her new words. I used a website called Taxedo / Tagxedo and thought I’d do a little tutorial so that you can do the same! It’s at www.tagxedo.com

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You can either point Tagxedo to a website, your blog perhaps, and have a tag cloud created out of common words on the site, or write a string of words as I did.

You may need to install Tagxedo first:

1 First Words Taxedo Tutorial

Click on Load on the left and type your text in the box:

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Click save and share to save your design and upload to your blog as you would any photograph, and remember that you cannot use Tagxedo for commercial purposes! Oh and it’s quite addictive!

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Bright eyes

I love these two weeks of the year, Halloween followed by Bonfire Night; it just brings out the child in me, lots of happy memories and things to look forward to, and it feels like Christmas and the promise of more family time is creeping up too.

Speaking of family time we were lucky to have coincided Mr B’s holidays with the Roker Park Illuminations. We both remember this from our childhoods and when we saw it was on again this week we planned a little trip out. We weren’t disappointed, the Alice in Wonderland theme was lovely, it was totally unspoiled as there were only a handful of stalls and food vans and there were just lots and lots of little bright eyed children enjoying the displays. Joss knows the words lights, bunny rabbit and cat and so she was very chatty. We bought a little glow wand for on the way home and enjoyed some quality time on a really lovely evening!

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Gathering items for an Autumn box

I blogged about treasure baskets a while back. Today we wrapped up warm and wrapped Joss in our winter wooly sling and headed out for a walk.

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We gathered items for an Autumn treasure box, leaves, pinecones and conkers, a seed head, and other nice bits and bobs that we can explore together. I have in mind to create a lion picture with yellow and orange leaves for the mane, I think we might also gather a big pile of leaves for in our yard and play with the wooden animals in them on a nicer day! I really enjoyed going out as a family today, and having a purpose in mind, to gather items, made it a really worthwhile fun walk!

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Toddler Play Monday and Autumn Fun

For this week’s Toddler Play Monday another blogger, the lovely Anna from In The Playroom, is picking up the Meme mantle with a great idea for cooking with kids, but I do have a quick idea to share. We saw lots of ideas on pinterest and I liked the idea of a threading project for Joss. This was a very quick activity which we tried one work morning when I was getting my hair dried! We got a piece of ribbon, and cut two large toilet roll inners up into inch thick pieces, Joss enjoyed threading them onto the ribbon and I think next time we’ll decorate them with some washi tape to make it more eye catching!

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I couldn’t resist sharing this photo from this weekend, I find this time of year tough for the weather and dark days but there’s something really fun about wrapping up warm and heading to the coast for a blustery icecream!

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Children’s Centre Funding Proposals

This week at work I was engaged in responding to Budget Proposals around Adult Social Care.  In doing some research and reading I came across a campaign urging me to respond to proposals around our local children’s centres.  I have blogged about their importance before here.

The local campaign page can be found here:

The Facts

  • The proposed budget cuts may result in a 56% reduction in Gateshead Sure Start centre funding.
  • If these cuts go ahead some of Gateshead Sure Start centres may be closed.
  • It is not known yet what the criteria will be for closing centres; it may be down to areas of higher disadvantage or it may be down to current centre usage.
  • Sure Start staff members may face disciplinary action if they help with this campaign.

You however, can help!

I was doing some further reading around policy and development this week for a secondment I applied for recently, more on that later, but I came across a great read arguing for longer term thinking about children’s services, you can read more here

This was my response on Facebook:

As their parents face cuts in other areas of their lives, job losses, reduced family budgets and increasing prices the idea of cutting their children’s opportunities to access play and learning facilities that support their development, whilst often supporting parents’ mental health and opportunities to engage with other parents is not a sustainable long term solution. Children’s Centres should be seen as a long term community asset, and other options for their future explored. As a new parent last year I was offered no antenatal classes, there were no support services for new parents, and I had three health visitors in six months. The Children’s Centre baby massage class was where I learned to parent, the sensory rooms provided free opportunities to talk to other new parents and the brilliant parent outreach workers provided a friendly welcome and sympathetic ear. I fear for new parents who couldn’t access these opportunities, there is very little available for under fives outside of them.

Please do respond to similar consultations in your own local authority areas and get involved in the debate about funding our children’s futures, its vital we speak up now before it’s too late.