A Long Weekend and Toddler Art Group

We had a long weekend (courtesy of the Queen’s birthday holiday) last weekend; which we took full advantage of and had one of those lovely, somewhat rare, productive, relaxing weekends where we truly got to spend quality time together & get projects done without feeling busy, rushed or overwhelmed.

Saturday was reserved for haircuts and relaxing at home getting chores done. Sunday we spent out and about where we went to Mike’s parents place (a gorgeous big home on acreage with chooks, a dog, guinea pigs and pretty wild Australian birds (and the odd possum, koala, deer or goanna – although Cam & I are yet to see these).

Cameron is very comfortable with Mike’s family & was happy to spend time inside due to rain and chilly weather. He plays very well independently at the moment and enjoyed being doted on. He is the first grandchild of Mike’s parents and they adore him. We had a yummy lunch before going to a birthday afternoon tea for a sweet friend of mine who is the Mama to one of Cammy’s little friends.

Monday was particularly lovely where Mike and I spent the day at home doing things with Cameron. I baked bread, we started a herb pot, Mike took Cameron for a ride in his trike around the neighbourhood, Mike finished the custom chalkboard wooden lid for Cameron’s sandpit and Cameron and I did some painting.

On Tuesday we had our Toddler Art Playgroup where we took things outside for messy fun! We made goop (cornflour & water mixture with food colouring), shaving foam paint and painted with acrylic paints and sand.

It went really well despite some tears and hesitation at first with the new materials! Cameron walked through the paint with his socks on just before the playmates arrived and walked it through my tiles! Charli (our kitten) ran under the goop and got it on her forehead. It was messy and fun. Cam’s sandpit, outdoor toys and mudpie kitchen got a work out too.

Cameron’s practical life cabinet is well and truly up and running and he so loves it. It has even boosted his vocabulary as he has started asking (“peeze”) for different things before or as he gets them (bowl, juice, apple, banana, orange, tissue and water) because he has all of these things available to him now and is excited about the freedom he has.

He is very careful and deliberate though and takes care with his actions. He will put things away as I ask. He is yet to learn how to sweep effectively, or use the dustpan and brush well, or use a spray bottle by himself – but he tries all three.

At 17.5 months, he can (with help) spiral & core an apple on the contraption, pour freshly squeezed orange juice from a small jug to his little cup, spoon any wet or dry food into a bowl somewhat successfully, feed himself, use a fork, get a glass of water from the dispenser (still has trouble sometimes, and still is keen on pushing the lever and allowing water to go on the floor occassionally), sponge up spills, wipe tables with paper towel and his face with a tissue or wipe.

Here is his new shelf set up in his playroom. He has puzzles and stackers, his dough & tools & a new peg activity. He has mastered the four shape puzzle and his stacker some time ago but still loves to repeat the activities.

Hope you enjoyed the update! Let me know what you think :)

Fun Baby Activities Two

Since my previous post here on fun baby activities, Cameron has become even more interactive and is constantly on the move and has started scaling furniture and spends loads of time standing.

Clearly, both structured and free-form play contribute significantly – and in different ways – to a babies development. Some of the more structured activities we have been starting recently are:

1. Pegs: putting pegs in and out of bags/buckets and I put them on Cameron’s clothes so he has to unclip them which helps his fine-motor skills.

2. Hammering: you can use loads of different things for this – drums, xylophones, sticks with buckets, toy hammers, hands with tables. We sing songs and tap with the beat or while I make myself food or get Cam’s ready I let him loose with a pot and wooden spoon.

3. Stairs: best to do this when you have minimal stairs, a confident crawler and stander and padding around the stairs. Cam loves climbing and this obviously helps his gross motor skills.

4. Sink or float: this one is a bath game we play sometimes with various toys/objects.

5. Ball throwing: Cameron has just started to throw a ball and go to retrieve it which means loads of repetitive play.

6. Tunnel crawling/peek a boo: Cameron loves his tunnel (ikea one) now and takes to carrying items through it and playing peek a boo with me.

7. Threading: obviously, this one is done with the babies dexterity in mind so for Cameron I use something with a large hole that is easy to put a rod through but he’s slowly getting the hang of it. Once he’s older I’d love to get him some wooden threading buttons and lacing shoes.

8. Magnets: this I saw over at The Activity Mom where you use some simple magnets and your bub takes them off and puts them back on. This is great for toddlers too where you can use the alphabet magnets to spell simple words and play letter games and number games.

9. The “button bag”: fabric stores carry extra-large buttons (buy the biggest you can find, a minimum of 2 inches across) that make safe and satisfying play-things. They’re great for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Choose eight buttons or so in matching pairs and try find a widely varying selection of colours and textures. Put them in a small cloth bag, and let your baby take them out and put them back in, over and over. Help bub match them up, or make a pattern. This bag full of buttons is perfect to tuck in your purse or nappy bag to pull out when you’re away from home and your baby is getting bored.

Aside from this there’s lots of labelling going on here where I’m talking about body parts, actions, foods, etc to get Cameron onto the idea that everything has a name/place/purpose.

Cam is a lot more talkative now so it’s easier for me to ‘talk back’ to him and encourage him to have conversations with us. He’s loving waving, hi 5ing (although, he’s only done this around myself, Mike and my sister), signing [now regularly signs Dad, boobah (milk), finished (his version), and more recently bird (a lot like waving but he knows the sign and looks for them when I do it)] and we’re trying to teach him to clap.

It’s been rainy and gloomy so it’s spoiled our fun lately but just prior to this weather Cam and I had been going out everyday and having so much fun at parks with friends and his cousins. It’s so adorable to watch him play and get dirty, sandy and wet. You have to watch him though because he likes to eat anything he can grab so I just follow him around :P

Cameron is doing brilliantly at swimming and loves the socialisation wherever we go. He has to learn how to be gentle though – it’s so hard with young babies! He’s so rough with everyone and likes to follow older children.

I’ll do a post soon on how to make your own pretty recycled handmade paper and one on how to make a ‘key chain’ of sensory fabric flash cards which I’m working on at the moment.

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My ‘Rainbow Baby’

For those unfamiliar with the phrase “rainbow baby” it is a baby that is born following a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Cameron is my rainbow baby. He is my beautiful and bright rainbow that followed the storm and injected hope for better things. A rainbow is always more appreciated having just experienced the storm.

I choose to inject my families life with positivity and cherish every minute. I want to be able to look back in the future when my children are all grown up and have kids of their own and be able to say that I devoted my time to creating beautiful positive memories for my family.

I suppose it can seem a little over the top to some – having a rainbow themed birthday party for a half-birthday, painting with a really young infant, rolling down a hill at a park just to hear my son laugh, designing and re-designing his play space to adapt to his ever-evolving personality.

But it’s me. That’s just what I’m like. I talk openly about things like pregnancy loss, depression and anxiety because they’re hard… but the core of me is Rachel The Life Lover. I refuse to feel like less of a person, just because I don’t fit someone’s idea of who I should be.

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, and love… to complete your life.”

So Cammy, my rainbow baby in every meaning of the phrase. Thank you for lighting up my life and creating all these sweet memories with me.

I love helping you experience this lovely world… Even if there are a few bumps along the way. Like that bruise on your forehead from were you banged your head on the glass while we had a shower. Or that blood blister on your fingernail from where you jammed your finger into a cupboard door trying to use it to stand up.

Each of those ‘bumps’ (literally, heh heh) were followed by snuggles, giggles, bubble-elf-hats, tickles, stories, tunnel-time and more memories like your ever-present babbling of late (goodness! it’s like he heard how I was worried that he wasn’t as vocal!)

What makes you feel blessed?

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