Garden magic.

The Fairy Garden

Despite my best efforts I have let winter get the better of me again this year. I have really felt the oppression of the grey skies and the claustrophobia of day after day hiding from the rain. Even when outside I’m wrapped in so many layers that I don’t feel fully free. The first signs of spring have appeared here and there and I can already feel myself breathing a little easier. September 1st is the unofficial first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere and it is my absolute favourite day of the year. Spring brings hope and restoration and rejuvenation.

Little Fearse has been asking me lately if she can plant something. They have been talking about gardens a lot on Play School and I think she has got the green thumb bug from there. I’m still stalling over that veggie patch and am not a confident gardener, but I felt as though maybe I could manage a small succulent garden. Of course, I did already have a small succulent garden in the bathroom which I managed to kill, so time will only tell whether I do any better with this one.20140820_125042

I took her to the nursery to choose some pretty succulents and then we took some cuttings from a couple of plants at home. At the op shop she chose a little shell, a miniature bird bath, a tiny little gentleman bear and an old Christmas angel to decorate her little fairy garden. She was super excited and kept saying things like “This is fun! This is a good day!

The three of us made it together. Little Fearse got a kick out of throwing dirt around with the trowel and BP got a kick out of teaching her how to squeeze the pot to get the plants out and I got a kick out of being outside.

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When her garden was finished I made the most of the sunshine and set up a couch my Mum picked up from hard rubbish and restored for us. We always intended to paint the cane coffee table (something Mum’s cousin picked up from hard rubbish for us) the same colour, but I’m tired of waiting for it to happen. There are enough different greens in our yard for it to not really matter anyway. I added a few more potted plants and created a little oasis, ready for some yard fun during the spring and summer.

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I’m feeling really excited about the change in seasons. How much are you influenced by the weather? Do you enjoy all seasons, or have a preference for one?

Mama xo

Toddler musings on the difference between ‘house’ and ‘home’.

On the way home from family day care yesterday Little Fearse started a conversation with her BP about our house and whether it was also our home. Later, on the way to Granny and Papa’s for dinner this happened:

Lil Fearse: Bye bye Daddy’s house.

Mama: Bye bye home.

LF: Daddy’s house, LF and Daddy and Mummy home.

M: That’s right, it’s our home.

LF: Go Papa’s house.

M: Yes, Papa’s house and Granny’s house. It’s also their home.

LF: NO! Papa house. Granny house. NOT home!

M: Well, yes, it’s their house and their home, too.

LF: NO NO NO NO NO! Daddy’s house Papa and Granny home.

M: Is our house Papa and Granny’s home, too?

LF: Yes. Mummy and Daddy and LF and Papa and Granny home.

I think it is a most remarkable thing that our two year old wants to distinguish between a house (structure) and a home (heart). For our last year or so we have been working on making this house a place to put our hearts. We are getting there. When our family came for LF’s birthday on Saturday many commented that they were starting to see the difference. There is less stuff and more room for that cosy, homey feeling. It is so restful and calming. It makes me happy.

Mama xo

Play time fun

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We’ve been having lots of fun together lately, Little Fearse, Big Poppa and I. Play has included; exploring nearby nature parks; dressing up; lots of crazy, unbalanced, creative towers; dressing like Dad; creating a zoo; bathing with rose petals gathered from the garden; cooking pancakes; learning about the fragility of eggs; designing our own ragdoll; deciding that actually, she needs a face; riding on things designed not for riding; sharing fun breakies (and playing musical chairs).

Little Fearse and I had an early Earth Hour with a candle lit bath last week. It was a really lovely way to spend an hour, playing ducks in the near dark. She is thoroughly enjoying her little tent, filling it with blankets and phones and toys – her own hideout. We are visiting the library every second week and falling in love with new stories each time. She loves turning surprising things in to drums and drums into surprising things.

Watching an almost 2 year old create and imagine and explore is such a joyous thing.

Mama xo

Hot Days: An Ice Age Adventure

The middle week of January was a scorcher here in Victoria. The heat started around 35C and grew to 43C by the end of the week. The house was hot, the yard was hot, the car was hot. Everything was hot. BP does not cope well with the heat. He gets hot and bothered fast. It seems that my daughter also suffers from this infliction. She also shows the heat in her face quite alarmingly. She goes beet red and stays that way until the weather breaks. I used to think she was somehow sunburnt, but I’ve learned now that it is her body’s way of telling me how hot she is because she isn’t yet able to. (I personally love the heat, but this post isn’t about me.)

I started my preparations for the week on the weekend before – freezing fruit salad; buying frozen yoghurt (something Little Fearse had never eaten before); freezing bottles of lemon juice and water; obtaining a variety of foods that could be cooked outside on the barbie; cleaning out the wading pool, and preparing an Ice Age Adventure (inspired by this Frozen Ocean Animal Rescue).

This took a couple of days to prepare. First I had to purchase some toys, as Little Fearse didn’t have any figurines that were quite the right size or weight. I headed to the op shop hoping to find some sea creatures, but instead I found a couple of dinosaurs, a lion and a snapsnap. Uh, sorry, a crocodile.

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Paired with two heavy little Muppet toys I layered these in a large bowl of water, starting with the heaviest. I let each layer freeze for a few hours before adding a new layer and new water.

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Luckily we were passed down a chest freezer from BP’s Mum just before we had Little Fearse. Lately I’ve been really conscious of it getting a little low on supplies, which means it’s using much more power than it should be. With the addition of several bottles of icy water and this Ice Age Adventure it was running at a much more optimal level.

We waited until Friday, when the house was at its hottest, before we unveiled the adventure. We decided to do it in the bathroom where the tiles would keep us cool and used the wading pool instead of a tub. This ended up being a great idea as it turned it into a kind of swampy pool at the end, adding to the whole atmosphere of the experience.

I started off using a spray bottle of coloured water (our blue and green food dye was very dark) and two containers of pink and green salt. Next time I think I’d stick to plain water and green salt. This is what gave it the best colouring as you can see in the pictures.

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A few tips:

– Little Fearse was a little young to do this alone. She did more watching and celebrating of animal freedom than actual ice-scavating. She still loved it, but either tee up an older child or adult to help your under 2 year olds.

– Sometimes the ice could get sharp, briefly, as it melted. Not sharp enough to cut, but sharp enough to hurt. Be wary of this when supervising your child.

– Very slightly warmed water in sqeezy bottles (like the sauce and mustard bottles we ended up using, over the spray bottle we started with) are more effective and easier to manage for little hands.

– Using ‘new’ toys rather than toys your child already owns has the extra excitement that comes with new toys. Little Fearse was really excited about getting the lion and crocodile out most of all and this kept her focused and attentive. We’ll try and find a way to rotate these out in our next toy cull. We do plan to do another Ice Age Adventure and will collect a few more toys for that. It’s EASY to find this style of toy in op shops or at the market. You could work on a theme – African animals, dinosaurs, sea creatures, little dolls etc

What activities do you share with your little ones on hot days? Any tips for surviving the heat? There is still a good deal of heat left in our Australian summer yet.

Mama xo

30 (+4 bonus) MORE day care lunches

I read a few family food blogs. I read them for inspiration but more for admiration. I love looking at the perfect little lunches they serve their small people. They use shapes to create cute sandwiches and add little notes and flags and smoothie pouches and turn them into crazy scenes and wild animals. I love that stuff. I don’t do that, though. What I do is put together foods I know my little person loves. It looks similar every time, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

When reading these blogs I have noticed that they get a lot of criticism around the ingredients they use (organic is too expensive, non-organic is unhealthy), or the quantities (too much food or not enough food), or not covering all the food groups. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m just Mama Fearse, setting out to feed Little Fearse food she loves that is mostly healthy and nutritious. Every one of these lunches also comes with a bottle of water and a smoothie (usually banana or mango if it’s in season).

Our last post, 30 days of Day Care Lunches for a 12 Month Old has been our most popular by about 1000 views. Parents out there are looking for ideas for food to feed their kids. I hope our new list gives you some new inspiration.

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TOP ROW: 1. Popcorn & cheese, cherry coulis & plain yoghurt, veggies & home made hummus, summer fruit salad, 2. Pumpkin muffin, veggie & cheese salad, pikelets with strawberries, nectarine, 3. Boiled egg, tuna and butter bean salad, yoghurt apricot balls, blueberries & plain yoghurt, twirly apple, frozen peas & steamed carrots.
MIDDLE ROW: 1. Chicken & bacon casserole, apricot, whole meal wrap, steamed carrots, 2. Apricot and kiwi fruit salad, berries in plain yoghurt, pop corn, papadams, 3. Close up of the twirly apple.
BOTTOM ROW: 1. Steamed asparagus, home made chicken nuggets, 2. Frozen peas and fresh tomatoes, egg and bacon pie, papadums and summer fruit salad, 3. Guacamole with capsicum, organic corn chips, pumpkin muffin, blueberry and sweet lemon salad.

  1. Biscuits with vegemite and cheese (a good back up if you’re not sure if your wee one will eat the other foods you’ve offered – Little Fearse is a little fussier now she’s getting older and more determined)
  2. Papadums
  3. Celery and peanut butter sandwiches
  4. Lemon risotto
  5. Home made Baked beans
  6. Oatcakes (Little Fearse likes these plain as much as she likes them with vegemite or peanut butter and they are pretty easy to make at home.)
  7. Twirly slinky apples (after some debate on our Facebook page we bought one of these gadgets second hand…we have used it several times a day since purchased.)
  8. Mini apple pies (stew apple with cinnamon, no sugar needed – puff pastry again)
  9. One eye (bread with the centre cut out (BP uses cute animal cookie cutters) and fried with an egg in the middle -better warm, but still fun cold)
  10. Sultanas, the ultimate sweet snack (or other dried fruits)
  11. Fried rice
  12. Kidney beans, diced capsicum and corn with guacamole and lime juice [to keep it fresh] – add some plain corn chips for the full nacho experience
  13. Banana salad with yoghurt and honey
  14. Mini lasagne pin-rolls (thank you Pinterest)
  15. Eggplant Pizza
  16. Cheese and grated apple sandwiches (the apple goes brown, but it still tastes good and she doesn’t seem to mind)
  17. Vegemite and cheese OR spinach and cheese triangles (puff pastry…easy!)
  18. Flatbread roll ups with chicken, cheese and spinach leaves (or whatever combination you like…she tends to dissemble these anyway!)
  19. Mini cheese and vege pizzas on English muffins
  20. Rice and tuna casserole
  21. Home made cheese twists (use puff pastry for this, too) and hummus
  22. Home made chicken nuggets and wedges with guacamole
  23. Plain yoghurt topped with stewed fruit / berries / berry coulis (if you find some  cheap overripe berries)
  24. Chicken drumstick with peas (be sure to check for small bones, there is at least one sharp bone in a drumstick that we like to remove first – of course you may like to remove the chicken from the bone yourself)
  25. Left over roast meat and veggies in a wrap.
  26. Banana bread (or zucchini bread, or bread made from whatever you have a lot of at the time)
  27. Tuna or salmon patties (made with mashed potato, bread crumbs, herbs and lemon juice)
  28. Pikelets with a little jam or peanut butter
  29. Jacket potatoes (topped with veggies and cheese and tomato salsa)
  30. Fruit crumble (made with whatever is in season – we do a lot of apple and rhubarb crumble over the winter and peach in the summer)
  31. Pop corn (unseasoned)
  32. Egg and bacon pies
  33. Fruit and yoghurt balls (I buy these at the market and will occasionally give Little Fearse one or two in her lunch as a special treat)
  34. Home made dips with broken up wraps or veggie sticks (or papadams or biscuits or whatever) – one of the big changes since our last entry is that LF now has the motor control to manage a spoon or dipping foods into other foods.

I’d love to hear from you, too. What do your kids love in their lunches? What have we forgotten, or not thought of yet?

Mama xo

Best of 2013.

We’re going to take a week’s break from the ‘blog as a part of our BNN conclusion celebration. In the mean time, you may like to read back over some of the most popular posts of 2013. The most popular of these is about 10 times more popular than any of our other posts, so it almost doesn’t even feel right to have 9 other posts in this list. We will be publishing a follow up to this post when Little Fearse returns to Family Daycare this year, in a week or so.

Is your favourite Fearse Family post here?

1. 30 Days of Day Care Lunches for a 12 Month Old

2. Stuff – A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance

3. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month

4. Why are we doing this?!

5. What will we NOT buy second hand?

6. The Book Embargo

7. A big ‘to-do’ about nothing

8. My 2-4-1 challenge

9. A clothes shock take. Arg!

10. Challenges we already anticipate

 

We hope you enjoy reading back over some of the high and low lights of our year.

The Fearse Family xo