Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mobility for disabled toddlers and young children

Today I saw this video and cried- it makes me so happy when people have a brilliant idea and share it because of a deep love for humanity. 



Dr. Cole Galloway, scientist and founder of Delaware University was inspired to turn relatively inexpensive powered toy cars into safe and mobile vehicles for disabled children.

Galloway says the toy cars can be modified for around $200 which is a cheaper alternative to expensive electric wheelchairs- and more than mobility that $200 also buys freedom and inclusion. The manual on how to mod your electric car can be found at
Go Baby Go.

Go baby, go go!
Sandi D


Friday, 14 March 2014

Derptime

Hunter, you make me laugh. Today we realised instead of calling our cat by her name 'Turpentine', you call her 'Derp-Time'. 

Friday, 28 February 2014

Trust in the kindness of strangers.


A while ago you may remember I posted a photo of my son's most beloved KissKat asking if anyone had a body double in case of tragedy, and that I would pay good money. An Instagram follower @2sisler responded saying yes, she had the exact bear. She then blew me away by kindly sending us one as a beautiful gift- KissKat Ver2.0 flew all the way from wintery Canada to hot summer Australia.
OG KissKat on the left, shiny fresh "fluffy" KissKat on the right.
We have never met in real life, and yet @2sisler 's generosity has me crying. Thank you so much. I know that one day your generosity will help hold back heartache for my little man. In a world full of disappointments and heartaches, knowing I have one 'get out of jail free card' to help hold back a sad milestone for my son and keep his heart optimistic and open a little longer feels like armor.

Love your neighbor, we are all global citizens, one earth to share. Trust, share, ask for help, lend a hand- be a good role model for your kids and together we can build a better world.



Stranger than kindness,

Sandi D

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A letter to my son age two and a half.



Hunter, you are now two and half.
You continue to amaze me! As I type this you are sitting beside me cruising YouTube for films about monster trucks. You are particularly fond of the made for YouTube cartoons that show monster trucks crushing the alphabet or counting to ten. Your grasp of the English language continues to develop at a rate of knots, so I begrudgingly value the role these short forays into tv-land play in enhancing your learning.



As you learn to talk more, we get to teach you more and more things. One of the main things you are learning at the moment is toilet skills. Another is being gentle and nice- you sometimes get very upset and hit me or daddy- or even other kids. We are making great headway with both. Both are equally exhausting. You are so sweet 99% of the time that your outbursts are minor blips. You still say some cute things, for example you mispronounce pillow (pee yo), and call milk “milky moo”.


You are really great at remembering people and names. You love going to hang out next door with Callum and Reb and ‘Niggit’ as you call their dog (real name Knight- pronounced the way Monty Python say it). You miss your daycare teachers and sometimes ask about them during the week when you are not at daycare. You love our friends. You especially love your Grannie.


Your favourite things to do include playing at the “planepark”, riding your balance bike (your little legs can finally reach the ground!), playing in your toy kitchen, helping me make smoothies, drawing and anything to do with being in the garage fixing things with Daddy.
Some nights you love bath time or shower time, and some nights you scream blue murder. There is no way of telling until it’s on. You love brushing your teeth. Daddy showed you his electric toothbrush so now I’m on the lookout for a battery operated one for you. You are equally hot and cold about bed time. You go to bed at 7pm now, but some nights you’ll push to 7:30. Despite how late you go to bed, you are still up at the butt-crack of dawn. 6:30 is a sleep in for you lately, preferring to get up 6am. Thank god for the long daytime nap. The days you miss it you are one stroppy little so-and-so. I fear you have inherited your fathers need for sleep. Generally you are a cheerful and thoughtful little guy who follows instruction well and loves to learn.

I love you so much I can’t even explain. Just this morning I was thinking about how my job is to teach you how to be a good person, and your job- is to teach me how to be a good human. We learn and grow together. Recognising that has helped your Dad and I too. Sometimes a marriage can be difficult, but remembering our commitment to love each other- and remembering that love is teaching and learning simultaneously- really helps. We make a great family.
 
 
One last thing before I forget. You found my lip balm the other day and asked Daddy about it. He told you it was lip balm, and you looked at him incredulously, and said “lip bum?!?” while pointing to your butt. SO CUTE.

Xx Mummy

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Ruin Your Day With Tits: Music Videos in Support of Breastfeeding In Public.


I love when people share a great message with flair, which is exactly what this music filmclip entitled "Ruin Your Day" by Sparrow Folk does. These two Aussie ladies set out to prove, through some delft use of 'turning the tables', that breastfeeding in public is not for anyone's "pleasure" (except that of a baby comforted with nourishing food).



"Everybody knows new mothers are exhibitionists/Taking every chance they get to ruin your day with tits."

Bravo Sparrow Folk, I just love it! If you loved this filmclip and are in Canberra between the 17-21 April 2014 you can see Sparrow Folk live at the National Folk Festival. I expect there will be quite a few mums chanting the tune like an anthem as children under seven are free.

Ruin your day,
Sandi D

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Pre-writing drawing skills with chalk and trucks (or cars)



Lately Hunter has been really into chalk, and trucks. So this is really a logical end point: trucks that draw roads!

All you need is a toy car, a stick of chalk and some tape (may I suggest any broad tape, such as masking tape, gaffa tape or packing tape- Washi tape is not really sticky enough for this) and a piece of flat ground upon which to draw "roads".

At the Savage-Darling household we are in the chalk/truck business, and business is good.
x Sandi D.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Quick Break: Underwaterworld for Toddlers

To welcome in 2014 we visited Underwater World. I was unsure how Hunter would take it, I figured he would either really enjoy it, or he would be overwhelmed and clingy. Happily he really enjoyed it.


Hunter didn't enjoy the touch pool, but he did love the seals and the underwater tunnel. We spent $19 and got to meet a seal up close and personal! It was my highlight- closely followed by the Otter show. I just adored hearing about all the daring Otter escapes!



Since we've come home Hunter has spoken a LOT about fish and sharks. I think I might pick up some plastic figurines of water toys and make some of these lovely Pinterest ocean sensory tubs.

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/217439488228817517/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/88664686384943610/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/50947039504135199/ 
If your little one likes The Octonauts, or sealife, or just hanging out in new places that arent 40degrees (how HOT has it been lately?!?) get along to Underwater World. We bought our tickets online via RACQ and found them to be the cheapest tickets available, however if you aren't in the RACQ you can also buy discounted tickets online through the Underwater World Website.

Underwater love,
Sandi D

Monday, 30 December 2013

Hunter LOVED Christmas!

I'm usually not a huge Christmas fan, but this year was different. Knowing our son is the perfect age to begin understanding the season made it that much more exciting for both Lee and I. We went a little overboard, getting him two big pressies, as well as a Duplo set.


The first thing we got him was this sensational Hip Kids Retro Kitchen set- however we were lucky enough to find this one on eBay- one of those rare times where exactly what you want is listed in the wrong category with spelling errors. So we scored this for minimum bid. Hunter already had a bunch of wooden kitchen things, and now they have a proper home. He was wild about it!

Hunter was also lucky enough to get a pedal car- a Jeep that Daddy plans to respray into something a bit cooler than a Police car. As soon as he saw it he put KissKat in the passenger seat and drove off singing Jingle Bell Rock which was rather cute. It was rather difficult to get Hunter out of it in order to travel to Pa's for Christmas breakfast and Grannie's for Christmas lunch. 


Apart from giving our son gifts, we also gave bags of groceries to The Food Bank, a charity that does amazing work feeding families in need. 

Better than giving though was the time spent with our families. The older I get the more I appreciate this aspect of the holiday season. 


I hope you have all also enjoyed a brilliant festive season too.

Jingle bell time, it's a swell time
Sandi D




Monday, 9 December 2013

Makes me happy: We went to Bribie Island

Not that long ago we went to Bribie Island for a morning. Since I'm finally backing up my iphone and transferring the photos to my PC I figured I may as well share some of them with you. We had a really great day.

It was the perfect time to take Hunter, and I don't just mean the weather. He was so engaged in the experience. He wanted to find shells, to spot sharks (there were none, be he kept pointing them out), to build castles and to feed the birds. 


Life's a beach,
Sandi D

Monday, 2 December 2013

Hunter's First Toddler Christmas Party

On Saturday we went to Hunter's first ever daycare Christmas Party. 
We got to see his class perform Jingle Bell Rock, and the nursery rhyme Open, Shut Them while dressed as bells. If that sounds like it was an orderly event I'm afraid I have led you astray. I would have been better to explain it as watching the care staff, dressed as Christmas Town folk, sing while simultaneously wrangling a crowd of unruly toddlers. For their part the toddlers mostly pulled at their costumes and occasionally mimed some of the song parts (Hunter only mimed the part  'give a little clap, put them in your lap' and later 'put them on your chin' before reverting back to stunned mode). It was an adorable muddle.
(That's Hunter, putting his hands on his chin, last red bell on the right).

After the performances we all got to go and play. The daycare put on a big show, with a petting zoo, miniature train, merry go round, jumping castle, sideshow alley and Santa! It was pretty fab :)
Lee was off to the petting zoo like a flash, he and goats have a weird synchronicity. He patted a cow until it fell into a hypnotic trance, and all the cattle flocked to be by his side, which meant Hunter got to pat them all while the other kids were stuck getting snapped at by a grouchy duck. 
Of course we had to ride the train several times. Hunter has recently developed a fascination with building train tracks, so riding in a real train was a timely treat. 
 
After a few more rides Hunter came face to face with the Jolly Man himself. He didn't quite know what to do, so he simply stared the man down until the gift was handed over. Hold your ground mate. Hold your ground.
After Hunter was well and truely exhausted we headed home. But not before we took a moment to thank my mum for being there with us. Four years ago to the day I lost my father, so spending the day with my mum was good for the soul. 

All and all it was a really fab day. 
Merry Christmas, 
Sandi D

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

How do I teach my toddler how to clean up after himself? Teaching kids how to tidy, the Montessori way.



Even though I have a ‘relaxed’ interpretation of the Montessori Method, I do consider myself a Montessori Mum. One of the ways we incorporate the Montessori Method into our daily life is in our care of the home environment. This involves teaching my toddler how to clean up after himself.

"The children of three years of age in the "Children's Houses" learn and carry out such work as sweeping, dusting, making things tidy, setting the table for meals, waiting at table, washing the dishes, etc ., and at the same time they learn to attend to their own personal needs, to wash themselves, to take showers, to comb their hair, to take a bath, to dress and undress themselves, to hang up their clothes in the wardrobe, or to put them in drawers, to polish their shoes . These exercises are part of the method of education, and do not depend on the social position of the pupils; even in the "Children's Houses" attended by rich children who are given every kind of assistance at home, and who are accustomed to being surrounded by a crowd of servants, take part in the exercises of practical life . This has a truly educational, not utilitarian purpose . The reaction of the children may be described as a "burst of independence" of all unnecessary assistance that suppresses their activity and prevents them from demonstrating their own capacities. It is just – these "independent" children of ours who learn to write at the age of four and a half years, who learn to read spontaneously, and who amaze everyone by their progress in arithmetic."
-Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence


Understanding that all his daily activities have a set up, interaction and then a clean up period gives Hunter a sense of order and control which is empowering for him. Actually playing a role in all of those stages is educational and transformative. For me, the positives of this are multiple:

  • The house is generally in a neat state, with only a few toys out at a time. This is great for me as it cuts down on chaos, makes tidying for guests a breeze and gives me more time to enjoy my ‘mummy time’ when Hunter naps. Instead of cleaning up after him, he has already done it as part of his play. As far as he knows, it’s all part of the fun.
  • Toy sets are kept together, meaning no lost parts which saves us money, and saves Hunter disappointment and frustration.
  • My son understands the ideas of preparation, anticipation, and focused play. Only having a few things out at a time limits his options in one way, but in another allows him a deep and meaningful exchange with what he is playing with.In return, he values his toys, and really plays with ALL of them- again, saving me money.
  • I have read that activities like wiping the table down after a meal reinforce development in fine motor skills such as pre writing skills (bring to your mind’s eye the movement of the cloth, left to right and up and down).
  • Being a part of the household activities, such as by wiping down the table after breakfast, helps Hunter feel like a valued part of our family team. He knows that he is contributing his part, and this contribution is valued by Mummy and Daddy. We reinforce this by communicating with him that his work is important to us as well as to him.
  • The respect he has for his environment is great too. He knows what ‘clean’ is, and knows that ‘clean’ is the optimal state for his house. When spills happen, he works with me to help get the house back to its optimal state. This has been so awesome during this time of potty training, as there is so much wee to clean up…
  • A happy house is a harmonious house. Both Lee and I feel more relaxed in a tidy environment. Clutter stresses us both out. Having all three of us on board the tidy train helps maintain harmony. It also helps Hunter understand the relationship between work, order and beauty. I have an inkling that this is part of teaching Hunter mutual respect too.
  • Finally, the seeing his determination, and witnessing the accomplishment and independence Hunter experiences knowing he can do things by himself is priceless.

Having experienced setting up and putting away as part of every activity, Hunter has begun to tidy as part of normal play routine. I said ‘begun to’ because I am not a strict Montessori Mum. There are days (like today for instance) when I couldn’t be stuffed to do much organisation. I haven’t tidied away any of his toys from yesterday, or the day before (I work two days a week, after daycare Hunter has free reign to play with any toy in any way, and Daddy often gets tasked with the tidy up, which sometimes means the tidy up is left for me to do on my first day off). Right now Hunter has out all his matchbox cars, the play garage, a couple of large planks of timber to make car ramps, his trike, pompoms and robot puzzles, his teddy bear and some playdough and cookie cutters- all of this clutter is so not Montessori (and neither are half the toys either, but thats another story for another time). And yet I notice that the cars that were scattered throughout the house are all now back at the ramp. When I told him it was time for a nap, the playdough was returned to the tub and the cookie cutters put in the kitchen sink without my intervention.

 
So how do I actually do all of this? First, I set up his play environment so he can access the tools he needs. Just near the door to the laundry I have a stash of cleaning supplies for Hunter: a child sized broom, dustpan and brush, and a play vacuum cleaner. In the bathroom there is a pile of washcloths and handtowels, a child sized basin and fresh water and soap. These all allow him to clean like Mummy and Daddy do. And then I show him how to use them. Sometimes we simply clean up as we go, and other times I set up little play tables where we practise pouring coloured liquid from a jug into various vessels, and then we sponge up the mess and look at how the food dye changes the colour of the sponge.

"These very children reveal to us the most vital need of their development, saying : 'Help me to do it alone!'"
-
Maria Montessori From Childhood to Adolescence

When we prepare meals, Hunter gets his own bowl from the cupboard. Where possible he helps me prepare the food, even if that is just getting the bread and putting it in the toaster slots, or stirring the diced fruit into the yoghurt. What he can’t help with, he watches. He spends a whole lot of time sitting on the kitchen floor looking up at me as I talk him through how I am making us whatever it is we are about to eat. Once the meal is ready, Hunter carries his meal to the table, and we sit together as we eat. Finally, he takes his empty plate and puts it in the kitchen sink, and grabs a cloth or sponge and wipes down the bench. I jokingly call myself a slave driver, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. This isn’t child labor. This is fun for Hunter- this is learning through play.


One thing I will say, is that this method isn’t all fun and games. Hunter’s participation in the entire process takes TIME. Even though he has ‘cleaned’ the table, I still have to go over it again. It also involves a bit of preparation, such as having a pile of handtowels accessible to Hunter at all times, refilling his water station, researching and setting up games to play that involve the skills, as well as the time it takes to show him what is expected and encourage him to do it correctly. There are times when outside commitments mean I just can’t take an extra ten minutes to have Hunter help. As I said, I am not strict Montessori, but I think having a grounding in this method is worth it, because those extra minutes of preperation will give me hours off in the future- imagine, a teenage boy who can make his own bed!?! :)

"How does he achieve this independence?  He does it by means of a continuous activity. How does he become free?  By means of constant effort. …we know that development results from activity.  The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences."
-Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind

Through repeated tasks such a cleaning, my little man is refining his concentration, coordination, independence, and sense of order. These are skills and qualities necessary for any toddler to develop into a capable child, an empowered teen, a valuable member of adult society.

xo
Sandi D

Sunday, 17 November 2013

If a better world isn't possible, how will our children's dreams come true?

Ainda dá Tempo (There is still time) from Ainda da tempo on Vimeo.

If a better world isn't possible, how will our children's dreams come true?

There is still time.

It's a Savage-Darling life


November is flying by as fast as a monster truck. I know this because Hunter is still deep in the throws of his obsession with monster trucks, especially fast ones.

Lee has a couple of Tamiya RC cars, which have been accompanying us on our walks to the park. Even though together they drive like a drunk it is seriously adorable to see my two guys, with their matching concentration faces (tongue poking out), sharing the remote controller- Daddy on the forward and back and Hunter on the left and right toggle sticks.



When Hunter needs a bit of chill out time, he asks to watch monster trucks, which means we trawl YouTube for monster truck jump compilations. And watch them again, and again, and again.

At a recent trip to the oppshop I found Hunter a monster truck toy that drives forward and backwards. Needless to say he loves it. The first night he had it, I had to tuck it in to "bed" on the cushion of his reading chair. When he woke me up the next morning he was crying because he couldn't pull the truck through the cot bars, but didn't want to let the truck go.


Late yesterday afternoon Lee decided to move "ManLand" around, and after his bedtime bath Hunter decided to help him. I could hear them shifting the workbenches around and talking about what each of the tools was used for.  I looked in a little while later to find ManLand in complete disarray, planks of wood leaning on every surface, the two of them building ramps (or "big hills" as Hunter said) for racing toy cars and trucks. 


This morning Hunter greeted me with a smile and the words "big hill!". So today we are back in ManLand, racing cars down the planks again.

There are worse ways to spend a gloomy Sunday.

Xx
Sandi D

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Good Food and Wine Festival

Thanks to some amazing bloggy hook ups Lee, Hunter and I went with some friends to The Good Food and Wine Festival. It was fun, delicious and amazing! So many samples, so much cheese, so much wine. I never realised how many artisans are out here making fine wines, cheeses and other delightful noms.

I was most impressed, but not as impressed as Hunter.


The show is still on tomorrow, so if you're looking for a fun (and delicious) way to spend a day, tickets are $25 available at the door. The price includes all the free samples you can consume.

Big prams are going to be a hinderance as the event gets crowded quickly. Even though we arrived as the doors opened, within an hour it became more and more difficult to navigate through the throng of foodies. Face wipes are a must, as are bibs. Don't bother packing snacks though, there is plenty of fun toddler friendly available, from fresh organic fruit, to tapanades, yoghurts, meats and veg. Hunter loved the stewed fruits, conserves, scones, Maggie Beer icecream- although I wish I hadnt let him have that- not just because I wanted more, but because he doesn't get much refined sugar in his diet and so sleep time was an *ordeal*. Even though there was sleepytime hell to pay for the dietary sins I still recommend the day and will hopefully get to go again next year.

ALL THE WINES, ALL THE NOMS, MORE CHEESE PLS, IS THAT FREE BACARDI?
Sandi D


How to revamp old wooden puzzles.

Hunter loves playing with puzzles, so every time I go opp shopping I check to see if there are any in the toy section. Generally speaking, the puzzles one finds secondhand are a bit worse for wear.

 
I love an opportunity to get a little crafty, so we both get to enjoy the purchase!


Here is the 'before' puzzle- its scratched up and some of the pieces are chipped.

Firstly, gently sand pack all the pieces using a fine grit sandpaper. You don't need to go back to bare wood, you just need to remove as much of the lacquer varnish from the pieces to enable the fresh paint to stick. If the pieces are missing parts, use a little car bog or spacfiller to fill in the gaps. Once dried, sand back to smooth.

Rather than go out and buy new paint, i used what I had at home: basic artists acrylic paint. If you have spray paint or lacquer you can totally use those on wood. Just remember the paint trick: oil based finishes will go over acrylic finishes, but not the other way around.




Having watched Hunter play with this puzzle before the revamp, I knew that he needed a little extra help figuring out where the pieces go. I was just going to paint the insert to match the colour of the puzzle pieces, but then I remembered my collection of origami paper. I went through the pieces, finding patterns in similar hues to the puzzle pieces. A smarter person would have chosen their paper first, and then mixed paint to match...I prefer the idea of the pattern because it is a little bit of abstract extension for his developing mind.

I traced the puzzle pieces directly onto the origami paper, and then fiddled around with tidying the edges to get a snug fit. I found an X-acto knife/scalpel to be invaluable, but scissors worked great too. Using a small amount of wood glue (acid free craft glue) I glued the paper down.



Once dried, I took the base board and the puzzle pieces outside and varnished them, using a spray matte varnish.

I can't wait for Hunter to wake up and play with his 'new' puzzle!



Sandi D

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Backyard Painting With A DIY Toddler Safe Easel

An easel is on Hunter's Christmas Wishlist, but until then I have been using an old coffee table turned on its side with some masking tape to hold the paper up.

It is surprisingly sturdy, and just the right size for a large sheet of butchers paper.


I'm also being thrifty with the paint palette, using the base of an old baby food purée freezing station- but you could also use a muffin tray or an ice cube tray, or even an old egg carton.


I love watching Hunter paint- he has now started telling me stories about what he is painting. He painted some wheels, a cats ears, whiskers and tail and then a spider. 

"Paint me like one of your French girls"
Best of all I love to capture his hand prints- lots of Hunter's art gets used as wrapping paper and stationary but the ones with hand prints get kept for me to weep over when he's fully grown.


Bless this mess,
Sandi D
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