Sunday, 1 March 2015

Spring Crafts from Baker Ross - Review

We are lucky enough to receive a box of fun crafts from Baker Ross every season, and our Spring box has definitely not disappointed!  It included the Valentine's Day Heart Glasses that we reviewed back in February as well as a few crafts for Easter and Mother's Day.

I love these Bird Suncatcher Windchimes, I'm saving them for Ethan and Ivy to colour in a few days before Easter.  Hopefully the weather will be nicer by then, and we can hang them outside for the Easter Bunny to hear them ringing and so he'll be able to find our house.

Ethan was very excited to make the Easter Bunny's House!  This came from a great kit that makes 2 egg shaped houses completely out of foam stickers.  So this is a perfect craft for when you don't have the time to get out loads of supplies ready or to be able to supervise fully.  Putting the base together was quite tricky, so I had to do that part for Ethan, but after that he was able to put all of the stickers on by himself.

These Chick and Bunny Pop-up Puppets are another great craft kit that doesn't need any extra supplies.  We brought these out to a restaurant with friends the other day, and the kiddies happily sat and decorated the puppets with stickers and played with them afterwards.

These 3D Wooden Bunnies are super cute, and Ethan was able to paint and decorate his however he liked.  He decided straight away that he wanted to paint his white, with black ears.  Then we raided the craft drawer to find pom poms and googly eyes to stick on him as well.

And the one that I'm not meant to know about, are these cute Mother's Day Handprint Poems that Daddy spent Sunday morning doing with Ethan and Ivy.  I have seen a few sneaky photos, but I can't wait to see the finished products on Mother's Day!

* This is a review post, we were sent all of these craft kits from Baker Ross to make and write our honest opinions about. *

Our Sunday Storybook - The Princess and the Pea

We've been sent a lovely version of The Princess and the Pea from Parragon Books to read and review.  

It's a really sweet book, following the traditional story, but with the difference of having these slide out pages, that both Ethan and Ivy loved to pull out and push back in.  It really helps to keep Ivy interested, as her attention span for books is not much at the moment!  And the fun with Ethan was in discussing the story afterwards, and talking about all of the funny things that we could put under his mattress and if he would feel them or not (if you're wondering, he would definitely feel if there was an elephant under his mattress!)

* This post contains an affiliate link *

Friday, 27 February 2015

Ivy's First Bedroom

Ivy has finally got her very own bedroom!  At just over a year old, we hadn't actually intended on keeping her in with us for so long, but then we hadn't intended on living in this house for so long, so everything hasn't quite gone to plan.  We've had some bad luck with the houses that we're trying to buy falling through, but we're in a lovely rental house for now, and hopefully we'll find the perfect house soon.  We decided that it was time to rearrange the rooms and give Ivy a little space of her own, even if it is just for a few months.  

There were a few challenges to face as the room is very small, we didn't actually want to buy any new furniture as we really are moving soon (hopefully) and we couldn't paint or put up any permanent fixtures as we're renting...but I think that we still made a lovely little space for our lovely little lady!  Our theme is a purple starry sky, but we've also got lots of teddies to go along with it.

We've got the Ikea chair where I sit with Ivy and read her bedtime story and she has her milk before bed.  On it are the sun and cloud cushions from Ikea and the star from Mothercare, which I love.  We've also got the laundry basket from Ikea on the floor beside the chair.  Up on the shelves we've got an assortment of baskets holding books and teddies, along with part of Ivy's teddy collection.  We also have a keepsake box from TK Maxx, full of Ivy's special baby memories.

Ivy's cot is from Mothercare and her starry bedding is from John Lewis (quilt) and The White Company (sheet).  We've decorated the walls with photos of Ivy, like her cake smash collage and her weekly photos collage as well as star wall stickers.  On the night stand Ivy's got her Twilight Ladybug, a Steiff lamb, and a starry sky projector, all lovely birthday gifts that Ivy received.

We're also using a couple of other night stands to hold the rest of Ivy's clothes, with a basket of all of her lotions and potions on top (we love Aveeno, Sophie la Giraffe and everything from Neal's Yard for her sensitive skin) all of her jewellery in an adorable starry jewellery box and her hair bows in the tin that had biscuits in that we received as a gift when she was born.  There are also some frames from Mothercare that I need to find some cute photos for above the night stands.  They're from the Bedtime Wish range, which I love!  We've also got the door hanger from there, and may have to go back for a few more bits.

Overall I really am happy with Ivy's little room, now if I could only convince her to sleep through and stay in her bed all night!  

* This post contains affiliate links to some of the items through Amazon, and regular links to the rest if you're interested in purchasing any of the items for your own little ones rooms. *

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Making Fruit Salad

This is a story of how a simple fruit salad saved the day! It was just one of those days that we were all feeling tired and poorly, I didn't really want to leave the house but the only way to get Ivy to nap was to go for a walk in the pram, so out we went.  We ended up at the grocery store, for no real reason, but I decided that we could buy some fruit and make fruit salad, and Ethan was instantly excited and on a mission to buy all the fruit!

We got home and Ethan ate his lunch without any fussing (the beauty of being motivated to make fruit salad after he finished) and then the making began.  Ethan was able to help every step of the way, bringing his step stool up to the sink to wash the fruit, then bringing it all over to the table to prepare.  He got out a cutting board and a butter knife (I'm not quite ready to trust him with a real knife!) and got started on chopping up the fruit.  Of course there were some harder fruits that I had to do for him, but he did quite a good job on his own.  And it was so much easier than baking and not having to stop Ethan from snacking on all the ingredients along the way!

He loved it and was so excited to eat his fruit salad when he was finished, and to share it with everyone he saw!  He's even talking about it a few days later, randomly telling people about it who don't even ask.  I highly recommend some fruit salad making next time you're having one of those days!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

10 Ways to Help a Determined Baby Learn to Walk

It's so funny how children develop at such different paces and in such different ways, they are completely unpredictable!  Ivy has been cruising along the furniture and finger walking since she was about 9 months old, so we really thought that she would walk early, but she only just took her first steps (yay!!!!) at just over a year old.  

Here's a list of all of the different things that we did to help Ivy to feel confident enough to take those first steps on her own.

1. We got her a walker to hold onto and support herself to walk around the house.  We actually ended up with a few different ones (gifts and ones that Ethan had) and as each one is different, they all helped her to develop in different ways.

We have a regular plastic walker that's quite sturdy and was a good starter for Ivy, but was quite difficult to turn corners with.  We also have a wooden trolley with blocks for Ivy to push around, which moves much faster but can kind of run away from Ivy if she pushes too hard.

For Christmas Ivy got this adorable stroller walker, which she loves!  It's great for her to push around now as it is a lot lighter, but now that she is more confident and doesn't need as much support she can manage it.  We even have a very lightweight stroller for her to try out, but she does need someone to hold it with her for now as it really does slip out from under her.

2. They say that the best way to learn to walk is with bare feet, so that they can really get a good grip and a good feel for the ground.  So we try to take Ivy's socks off as much as possible, and when she is in tights we have got her the ones with grips at the bottom to help a little bit.

3. We have encouraged Ivy to cruise along the furniture as much as she can.  We've done this by clearing off any low tables to make them accessible to her, as well as placing items along the furniture to encourage her to move along to reach it.

4. We started
finger walking with her as soon as she had shown she was ready (taking those steps cruising and with the walker already).  To start out with we would hold both of her hands securely, then slowly we started holding on less tightly, then moving onto holding one hand only, then having her just hold onto one finger.  By this point she is basically walking by herself, but she has that security of knowing that someone is there holding onto her.

5. We make sure that Ivy has the chance to walk on different surfaces throughout the day.  We have wooden floors downstairs and carpet upstairs, and we definitely notice a difference in her confidence walking in the different areas.  We were also lucky enough to go on a warm holiday recently, so that gave Ivy the chance to walk on the grass and different surfaces outside as well.

6. Another way that we help Ivy with her walking in the house, is to set up a sort of furniture obstacle course to expand her range of cruising.  We found that if we moved a small table just a couple of steps away from the couch she was actually able to turn around and take one unaided step towards it.  So then we moved more furniture around and saw that her curiosity to explore was stronger than her reservations about taking steps on her own.

7. A great way to get Ivy standing and wanting to take steps is to have some desirable items  just a few steps away and distractions.  I've found that from a young age she was able to do a lot of things before she thought she could simply by seeing toys that she wanted!  One of the things that really works for Ivy is bubbles!  Whenever we're at a baby class and they do all the bubbles at the end I'm able to stand Ivy up and she's so mesmerised by the bubbles that she stands unaided for much longer that she ever has, and those steps towards the bubbles are not far off!

8. We love to go to baby classes, many of which go up to 18 month olds, so Ivy gets the chance to watch older babies walk.  I can see her watching them and I know that it encourages her to want to be able to walk around and get to the best toys first!

9. We have also been focusing on strengthening leg muscles for Ivy.  She loves to climb and we take her to a baby gym class where she gets to climb around on a variety of different surfaces.  We also did a lot of swimming with Ivy while we were on holiday and encourage her to crawl and finger walk wherever we go.

10. It's also very important to make it fun and give them lots of praise so that it's something that they really want to do to make themselves and everyone happy.  You should have seen Ivy's little face when she took those first steps, I don't think that she quite knew what she had done, but the three of us (Ethan included) were cheering and clapping for her, so she started clapping too!

Best of luck with your (soon to be) toddler, enjoy those first wobbly steps!

* This post contains affiliate links. *

Monday, 23 February 2015

Trunki Yondi - Review

We recently went to Cape Town (from London) on a 12 Hour Flight, and I was searching beforehand for anything to make that flight a little bit easier.  The lovely people at Trunki offered to send us a Yondi to try on our travels.  The Yondi is a travel pillow with a difference!  It comes in several different cute designs, Ethan chose the monkey, which suits him perfectly!  It has magnets in the front, so that it comes together and doesn't slip off if he leans his head forward onto it.

Ethan really struggles to sleep anywhere but in his own bed, as he just can't get comfortable, so it's nice to have a travel pillow that makes it a bit easier for him.  It gives us different options of ways to help him to fall asleep, and helps him to stay asleep and supported. 

We keep the Yondi in the car now, and if we go on a long car ride we've got it there for Ethan to use whenever he needs it.  It also helps to get him into the sleeping mode, we've got all of our routines at home for naps and bedtime, which can be difficult to replicate on the go, so now it is part of our travel sleep routine.  He can wear the Yondi, and I can tell him a story, say goodnight and then he feels ready to sleep.  It helps that it's so cute and cosy, so even if he doesn't have it around his neck he can hold it and give it a big cuddle!

* This is a review post, we were sent a Trunki Yondi to try out on our travels and to write an honest review. *

Thursday, 19 February 2015

10 Fun Ways to Play and Celebrate Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!  We may not be Chinese, but we do have a special connection to Chinese New Year because in 2011 it's the day that we found out that I was pregnant with Ethan (so he was born in the year of the rabbit), and in 2014 it was the day before Ivy was born (meaning that she was almost a snake, but was born in the year of the horse instead).  

So we have to make a little bit of effort to celebrate every year, and this year has been a bit hectic, but we're finding 10 fun and simple ways to play and mark this special day:

1. Playing with animal toys.  This one is more for Ivy, as she's just starting to learn new words and sounds it is really fun to play with little toys, telling her what each animal is called and what sound it makes and hearing her try to imitate the words that I'm using.

2. Playing with chopsticks like I did with Ethan a couple of years ago, and as we will be doing today.  We've got these lovely learning chopsticks that are great for Ethan to use, we've also been using some big tweezers to get the chopstick technique and to pick up small toys.

3. Make a sheep craft like this cute Q-Tip Painted Sheep from Dabbling Momma, so easy for little ones to make but absolutely adorable!

4. Bake some fortune cookies using this recipe from Martha Stewart.

5. Make a Chinese lantern like I did every year with my class as a teacher, as it's quick to prepare loads of them in advance and have the children decorate them at school and bring home.  Over on Crafts on Sea there are loads of different varieties of lanterns that you can try making.

6. Make a dragon mask and do a dragon dance!  Just go over to Itsy Bitsy Fun and download their Printable Dragon Masks to colour in, then find a big sheet to cover yourselves in and dance around the house!

7. Make red envelopes like we did a few years ago and put all sorts of fun treasures inside!  I found some other cute printable ones from Activity Village that we might use this year.

8. Make a Chinese New Year sensory bin using rice as a base and chopsticks as well as little Chinese bowls and spoons.  You could even put some little toy animals, or maybe some dragons if you have them.  Or you could try this sensory play idea with play dough that I saw on Nurture Store, it's simple and looks really fun.  I think we'll be getting the red play dough out today!

9. Look up which year each member of the family was born in and draw pictures of those animals.  Ethan has already memorised that he is a rabbit, Ivy is a horse, Daddy is a dragon and Mommy is a monkey (which he thinks is hilarious!) so I may get him to draw a family picture of the four of us as our animals today!

10. Eat Chinese food!  We'll take any excuse really, but I think that we'll definitely end our day with some spring rolls and some noodles and another chance to use our chopsticks!

Happy Chinese New Year!

* This post contains a couple of affiliate links. *