Farm style playgroup

I took Miss Bee to a new playgroup today.  It’s an outdoor farm playgroup running at our local school which is 5 minutes drive. 
Miss Bee was immediately impressed by the entry point which is a huge genuine Farm gate hanging off chunky fencing poles.  The set up was excellent with several large outdoor mats with a range of engaging play activities for quiet play or non mobile children.
The huge draw was the ducks which immediately delighted us by quacking.  They free range so Miss Bee was able to go into their ducky house called “Duck Inn”.

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Next she ventured to the wonderful playdough tray presented with natural materials (yes,  just like I present dough at times!  But different materials than I’ve used with dough.) Made me covert an outdoor tray for playing dough outside. I’ll have to source one.  Plus a huge basket tray like that.

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Then the chooks caught her attention.  Bless her, she tried to offer to play ball with them like our dog.  They didn’t seem to understand fetch.  It was wonderful seeing her so respectful and gentle with the poultry as she didn’t chase it bother them. 

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Story/song stones inspired me too. We sang Incy Wincy Spider then looked through the other stones.

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Musical options including up cycled pots and pans, wooden shutters and loose bells for ringing. Just look at that cute smile in the photo with the bells!

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Water tank “easels” with paper- even the tank itself got painted a little. 

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It’s all outdoors,  fenced and free range play.  I loved it.  She loved it.  I think we’ve found a new favourite activity. The bonus was we invited one of her little friends who also loved it.

Canberra Playground “bucket”list

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Boundless April 2016

Miss Bee loves being outside running climbing and sliding down slides with the wind in her hair. The only trouble is our local park is kind of old, decrepit and plain dirty. Thus begins my search for new fun cool parks to take her to! According the site Weekendnotes these are the top 10 parks in Canberra.

We can tick off John Knight Memorial Park, Boundless and Mini Q on her list. But I think they should have added Yarralumla to the top 10 as it’s just so fun and easy to supervise.

Here’s my previous post about park adventures.

Here are some more for our bucketlist:

Crace park looks fun even if it is on the other side of town. Looks like lots of variety.

Fadden pines is closer but I admit she has there when she was not quite walking and all that loose tanbark left her decidedly filthy which has put me off. But I guess I just need a change of clothes and make sure she’s not wearing something I like too much lest the stains refuse to be soaked out.

The Canberra Hospital park. Now that it is cooling down I am game to try it. I find soft fall bring out my latex allergy so avoid soft fall whenever possible in summer due to the off gases cause me to react. It is a COOL park and BONUS there is a café next level up.

Springybark rise (wherever that is.. I assume somewhere near Crace..!) It has a car theme… then end. She loves cars.

Glebe Park playground looks great. I usually avoid Glebe park worrying about what I might find there- like perhaps a syringe? or a broken beer bottle?  But it at least LOOKS clean. We’ll give it a try. Thankful for the dreaded soft fall in this instance.

Black Mountain Peninsula Playground it’s been some years since I went there but I do recall that it was ungraded and looked kind of cool and funky.

Heritage Park in Forde pretty sure that is North too. But wowsers that park looks cool. Wish they’re upgrade our Southside parks like that.

Holder Park looks basic yet I think Miss Bee would have fun.

Corroboree Park Ainslie has had a fantastic upgrade and is a hop and skip from a brunch at Dickson I think!

Tidbinbilla is also on our list but it’s a longish drive and timing it to make the most of the entry fee makes it hard while she’s younger. That said, we could do a walk with Poco and there are kangaroos and emus.

 

 

Autumn on Fire

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Our Manchurian Pear tree is finally changing colour after an extend period of hot weather.

I adore the way the light plays through the leaves and I wish you could have sat with me under the tree in the warm sunlight too.

The colours never cease to appeal to me.

Miss Bee made a fresh Autumn leaf collage on contact sticky paper. I love the way the light really shows the colours and the tiny details.

Screaming over icecream: brats or nurture?

This article caught my attention.
http://www.scarymommy.com/jamie-primak-sullivan-dumps-kids-cones/?utm_source=FB
It talks about a mum who throws out her children’s icecreams after they fail to acknowledge the worker serving them.

My first thought was “good on you”. About time I heard about a parent willing to stand their ground over values instead of indulgent parents who are scared to say no incase their children dislike them.

This is twofold and funnily enough links (at least in my mind) to a book I was reading reviews about yesterday. The book is by the author Madeline Levine PhD “The Price of Privilege:  How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids”.

I was reflecting about the concept of entitled children.  Surely entitlement is primarily a taught value stemming from indulgence? Who is it that is doing the indulgence and why?

Many parents indulge as a way to keep peace. That peace is broader again.  Why does getting what you want bring peace?  Perhaps it feeds our sense of competition?  Having what others have means in theory that our children have equal or better advantage and the perception is that denial may indeed disadvantage them both socially and academically.  But who is pushing? To what end?  Enough.  Average.  Are these words that bring judgemental and fear of failure for many parents.  It is the dog chasing its tail as many work more and longer hours so we must compensate with quality rather than quantity. Yet ironically that then seems to happen often… earn more to spend more. Resulting in a treasure trove of material possessions. Lots of toys.  Lots of extra curricula activities.  Lots of top designer clothes.  Yet time poor.  No time left to lazily play.

When the answer is always yes.  When children are indulged with their material fantasies who is it really for?  A friend recently posted on Facebook asking for gift suggestions for her 2 year old who has “everything”. A slew of responses rained in. .. All replied to with “got it already”. Since when does a child under 2 have so many toys that there are no options left?  At that age she probably lacks insight to being that indulged.  It almost felt as if the mother was gloating.  Look how special and lucky her child is.  Miss Bee doesn’t have everything but everything she has had been thoughtfully chosen to be age appropriate,  robust,  open ended to promote thinking, gender non specific, engaging and as minimally commercially consumer driven as possible. That is my gift to her.

I like to think deeply about values.  About what sort of adult I want to raise.  My parenting derives from a top down approach.  I like to think about what values I’d like to see in my child as an adult,  what skills they will need to function independently with grace and humour.  Another book I have been reading is by the author Carol Dweck PhD “Mindset the new psychology of success”. The crux being that when praise is external motivation is reduced. Two quotes I like are “the problem is when being special begins to mean better than others.  A more valuable human being.  A superior person.  An entitled person” p30 and ” if you’re somebody when you’re successful, what are you when you’re unsuccessful? “. P31

At the end of the day I wonder what is left for a child given everything to want our strive towards?   The child who is taught over time to perceive themselves as entitled is unlikely to show gratitude when given something.

Back to the icecreams.  The more I thought about it (the kids in question were 9,8 and 5) the more I thought that top down approach would be my tactic.  Set the expectations before entering the shop.  Run through appropriate etiquette expectations and discuss consequences.  Then throw that icecream out.  Truthfully.  At 9 and 8 years I would hand them the money to pay and get them to buy the icecreams.  If they failed to follow through with my expectations of polite gratitude I’d say “you chose not to say thankyou which means you chose not to have an icecream”. I would offer people waiting a free icecream. That said… If as the original article suggested her children were repeat offenders. .. hmm I’d be more inclined not to even buy them an icecream and tell them why.

I like to indulge Miss Bee with love, experience, family, values and fun. It’s my hope this will make her an adult I like.

Sweet Time Out, Wee Hooing and chooks

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March was a busy birthday month so somehow our monthly Twelvetimes date night was lost into the ether. Yet determination and the ability claw my way back to my plan made me accept that this weekend was close enough to March to count as our March date. Big sister Kitty took our little angel while we ran quickly into the distance.
Don’t get me wrong.  I adore being a mummy.  I fought a very long hard battle for this miracle child.  She is inquisitive, exceptionally agile and an undeniable magic radiates from her wide grin as she excitedly explores the world.  The room lights up like sunshine when she giggles.
Yet she is also relentless. Pushing boundaries, demanding attention, grabbing, touching and moving.  Constantly moving. Like a bumble bee starved of pollen stumbling upon a flower meadow.  She buzzes frenzied from blossom to blossom.  Her enthusiasm and pace is exhausting. Which is why I treasure those snippets of time when I can remove the robes and hats of mummy,  teacher,  entertainer,  cleaner and supervisor stripped bare to me. Just a me who is at times forgotten even by myself.
Coffee by the Kingston foreshore with a sumptuous Italian meal and nothing but the quiet moments to talk with my hubby.  Yes these rare time are precious. Reviving.  Essential remedy. Renewal.
Today,  I am refreshed.  Although we did meet another goal- Pizza night with friends last night. I think we had fun as we polished off 2 bottles of wine and they didn’t leave until nearly 1am. Today we set out on our monthly bike ride with Miss Bee in her Wee hoo bike trailer.  She loved it.  Indeed so much so that when we returned home she wasn’t giving up on the helmet and a classic toddler tantrum ensued.  We let her wear her helmet around the house.  Sometimes with toddlers you need to pick your battles and helmet wearing was really a non issue.

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Here it is. ..late.  She’s fed and bathed, in her PJs and ready for bed, having one last play with her dolls YET again wearing her helmet. Little funny bunny.

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An afternoon of tea, chooks and visiting friends on a farm was toddler heaven. Miss Bee made a little friends to run amok with! I used the opportunity to take some memory photos of the visit. Many were portraits and I have been told I am not allow to share them with you all… sorry._MG_8538

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Born to hunt?  Haaa haaa….

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Scrub a dub, parks, terror and pizza

Scrub

We celebrated the warm weather by giving “Lulu” a bath. Seems easy enough? Trust me.. trying to find a doll you CAN put in a bath was hard. Some bath suitable dolls were just creepy looking, some had reviews regaling stories of the doll needing 2-3 days to drip dry! Come on? This is meant to be a versatile little friend who can slide down a slide, sleep in the cot and dip in the bath every now and then. I can’t expect Miss Bee to wait for her baby to dry. She is after all a toddler. We settled on buying her a Miniland  last Christmas which can also wear many baby born brand clothes as a bonus. They are anatomically correct and come in a range of races. I am planning to buy her another little friend for Lulu next Christmas… hmmm boy? girl? hard to choose they are all sooooo cute!

Parks

It is school holidays. Instead of her usual routines I am freelance. I can get up and go when and where I want. I am enjoying the freedom to come and go in a more natural toddler ebb and flow. Our “main stay” so far is park visits. She loves parks and by and large it has been a positive experience.

We have visited so many parks this week I can almost claim to be a local expert. A park enthusiast? Maybe even a guru? We have visited around half a dozen parks. As many as 2 a day at times. Saturday we visited Boundless (again). Being the school holidays and a weekend it was PACKED and parking was it’s usual weekend nightmare. Wish they would just add at least 20 more parking spots. The shade is still growing but the sun was shining mildly and we had a ball. Saturday night we had dinner at the Southern Cross Club Woden in Henry’s. There is a small padded climb though style park with a ball pit area within a glassed room. I’ve taken her there before for playdates and while it’s small it rather safe. Sadly the food is very much club food and not impressive. Bland and fried would be the best description.

Sunday we met toddler friends at the Tuggeranong Town Centre park. Talk about a basic boring park. The slide might excite the most cautious child under 2. There is a large playground without a slide… and lots of metal ladders. Super boring. All I can wonder is how the Yarralumla suburban park has better equipment that the local “BIG” park in Tuggeranong and can only blame vandals who stalk around Tuggeranong in packs like malicious teenwolves.

Monday afternoon we spent a good hour on the park at Tuggeranong Bunnings. Despite being very high and looking WAY too advanced (recommended as suited for 5yrs +). The steps are rather high but she nailed it and loved the long slide. Tuesday we stayed at home making our own fun.

Wednesday was another crazy park day with two visited. My child is officially some sort of agile part monkey creature.

She climbed up a cargo net which was higher than my head, scrambled up another higher platform to then slide down a giant curly red slide.

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Now for those of you gasping in horror I will explain two things:

  1. There is no risk of falling from the top platform as the stair gap is closed in and the slide is a tube so she couldn’t fall off from the top. I was literally right with her while she climbed the net.
  2. Yes, I do sometimes have to calm my own nerves and just allow her to find her own physical boundaries by trusting her. But by doing this she has become confident and proficient.

Terror

Wednesday afternoon was a very difficult afternoon. We went to Westfield Woden and while she has been on the little indoor park many times I had failed to note it’s fatal flaw. Lack of emergency exit points. Most enclosed parks have zips for access but this one does not. I discovered this when another toddler cornered her then bit her, scratched her face and started belting into her head with fists. Just horrific when I saw her face as he approached- happy and welcoming then saw it change to confusion, pain and shock. She stood there petrified with huge tears streaming down her face and she screamed “mum…mum…mum”. Broke my heart when I started realising there was no way IN to save her. The other mum was telling her kid to stop but he wouldn’t listen. Kitty was with me and banging on the mesh yelling too…

he kept belting her again and again. Showing no sign of stopping.

She sent her older child in through the tiny gap who dragged the child out kicking and screaming like a wild animal. Miss Bee realised she was free and bolted into my arms as I had partially climbed in as much as I could. She sat head buried to my heart sobbing. I wonder if she could hear my heart breaking for her?

After the mother made a hasty apologetic exit from the park a little girl around 3 came up to Miss Bee and stroked her on the cheek. “Are you OK?” My faith in humanity was restored. I hope Miss Bee’s was too.

Thursday was another crazy park day. The morning was spent meeting playgroup friends in the neighbouring town of Queanbeyan at the aptly named Queanbeyan Park. It was beyond packed as there was an event of some sort running which we hadn’t known about. That said there are many cool things at this park. HUGE ride in spring car and wagon, 2 slides, a toddler area and ample shade including shade sails. It is FULLY FENCED!!! A softfall bike track meanders through and around the inside of the fenced area- ideal for practicing scooters or ride on trikes. There is even a tennis half wall enclosed for older kids to be entertained in while youngsters play on the park.  We spent a fun afternoon free and climbing on our old secret favourite the Yarralumla Park with Aunty and Cousin.

Pizza

This is what I love doing with my toddler. Quiet times, unrushed where she can DO not just watch a passive screen. Today we made lunch- Pizza from scratch. She helped knead the easy 2 ingredient no yeast dough. Super easy dough that for a non yeast quick dough was ample for a lunch pizza shared with myself and big sister. Step by step she made the pizza with me.

 

How is my detox going…. glad you asked. Pretty well! I quickly realised my older daughter likes to text me OFTEN so I needed to increase the number of available texts to accommodate that. I love how the App tells me “NO” using a nice reminder.  I am more present and am liking it. I catch myself wanting to check my little buddy… and it’s a way to quit that habit.

Going into detox. .. confessional

Held lovingly.  Always close.  Gazed at.  Checked in upon. Seeking my attention.  No. .. Not Miss Bee. .. my phone!
Is it an addiction or is it just a mum at home alone wanting to connect for the sack of sanity?
Either way I am starting to notice my little digital device is often just in reach. I notice the “other person in my life” that I’m having an affair with is my phone. Perhaps it’s escapism? Or am I (*GASP) part of the next generation of now people?  Those people who I detest?  Impatient people.
Miss Bee is engrossed in play.  Am I enjoying a well deserved moment to chill out in peace while marvelling at her cuteness?  Nope. .. I’m using that moment to quickly check Facebook.  Wow. .   It’s the birthday of someone I haven’t seen since college. I better wish them a wonderful day after all I don’t want to look like I don’t care less.  Besides,  they are probably checking to see how many birthday wishes they got.  I don’t want them to feel like a loser now do I? So far they only have 3 messages!  Ooohhh and look. . my old  work mate from 7 years ago who I haven’t spoken to face to face for 5 years has checked into a cafe. .. They have a chocolate cake and latte art. ..On a romantic date. .. better like that. Apparently my other old school mate is most like R2D2 from star wars.  Hmm what are you trying to eat Miss Bee.  Ooops I was distracted by goodness knows what rubbish.  All I know it’s that this stuff is rubbish.  If that messenger message was critical they could PHONE ME!
Interested in toddler activities?  Spend 2 hrs on Google then open Pinterest… Good bye me time!
I want to be more present.  I don’t want to be addicted to the digital virtual world.  I want my quiet times to be just that. .. enough! Moments of solitude, mindful moments to reflect,  moments to do nothing.  Doing nothing is legitimate. Doing nothing is how people destress.
So being a good digital addict I Googled digital detox! Yes there is an app for that!

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Using my twelvetimes philosophy I had to choose which apps suck my time then decide which rules to apply. .  12x! 12 hrs per day?  12 times launching. .. In a day?  In a hour?  12 minutes?  Anyway I have set my app “rules” and I have started my detox today!  My first effort was calling a friend instead of texting. .. Go me!
I am hoping for more time to just be.
Let’s see how I go.  Have I put my Blog on rules?  Ummm let’s not rush things.

Jerrabomberra Wetlands

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Sunday was a delightfully sunny 26 degrees.  Typically it’s jumper weather come April but this year we’ve recorded the second highest ever temperature for April in Canberra at a dizzy 32 degrees.  Typically it would be late teens early twenties.  We took the opportunity for another bushwalk… This time we stayed in Canberra as they were burning off down in the Namadgi National Park end of the ACT.
Jerrabomberra Wetlands is down on the old Dairy Flat Road.  Contrary to its name it’s not in the Jerrabomberra region.
Poco got a work out with Miss Bee even having a short nap. We explored with a friend joining us. The loop starts with the Kelly Loop. Of the three loops the Kelly Loop is the best one and it seems very wheel friendly. ..wheelchair or most prams would be okay.

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Bird watching hides make it interesting and we saw many bird varieties.  There are posters in the hides to help you name them.  Miss Bee knew “duck” quack quack quack which meant she was happy with her viewing.

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The further Billabong Loop which extends off the Kelly Loop seems fairly deteriorated but some areas were captivating with tall reeds and bullrushes.

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Woodland Loop was worthwhile except in one section there was a quantity of litter spoiling it.

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Woodland bird watching hide

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Miss Bee has almost mastered the bite down Camel back water storage in Poco.

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Note to self: take your SLR with you if you want the photos to look better…

Today we used some of the leaves collected to make a collage on a crayon and watercolour wash background painted this morning.  I laminated it as she is currently at the age where she is likely to rip them all off again.  This was an opportunity to recall the walk and view the leaves close up.

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