October 13, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
13 Comments

Guess My Picture

Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers

Over the weekend my immediate family gathered to remember my brother, Ryan, who died this time last year. We released some balloons, drank a beer and remembered our happiest and fondest moments with him. We cried, laughed, hugged and cried again. Ryan’s three boys were there, along with their cousins, nine kids in all. Ryan’s ashes are in a beautiful garden with winding pathways, leafy gum trees, a big open lawn and a fountain. It’s just perfect for kids, they love it there. They’re all very young, and don’t really understand the finality of death.  It makes it very hard to stay sad for long when you’re surrounding by laughing, playing children. I hope that Ryan would have loved the way that we paid tribute to him.

After the memorial I went to my mum’s house along with some of the family. It’s such a strange thing, grief and loss. It’s so intense, emotions are so heightened. But the everyday, mundane moments continue. “Do you want a sandwich?”, “Mum, let’s play hide and seek”, “Tell me about your holiday”. It feels surreal to carry on with life, as normal, when someone so important is missing, forever. But you do. Carry on.

Kids are the BEST for distraction from grief, for me anyway. They just want to play. Pebble was tired and cranky that day, we’d let her stay up too late the night before, I guess we were too weighed down our own sadness to worry about bed time. I needed something to distract her, so I suggested we play this game. Her cousins and Uncle soon joined in too, then Nana too. I think I’ll always think of this game as “The Game I Played When I Didn’t Want To Think About My Dead Brother”, but that’s kinda wordy so I’ll call it, “Guess My Picture”.

Guess My Picture

For children age 3 and up.

Minimum 2 players.

You will need

  • paper
  • something to draw with – pens/pencils/crayons/markers

How to play

  • Player 1 draws a picture on the paper. The first person to guess the picture wins that round. Player 1 writes the initial of the winner next to their picture. This is good letter recognition and writing practice, but it’s not essential to the game, so skip that bit if you prefer.
  • Player 2 takes a turn to draw a picture while the other players guess what they’re drawing.
  • Continue on until everyone has had a turn, then start all over again.

It’s very simple, and very addictive. At one point we had three generations and eight people playing! We kept it very casual, with players coming in and out of the game and toddlers scribbling on the page alongside our game. Sometimes, when pictures were very tricky to guess, we asked for clues. I hope you enjoy this game too.

Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers

How to you cope with grief and loss?

October 9, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
32 Comments

The Poo Finger

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The Poo Finger

There are many memorable moments in parenting. The first cuddle. Their first car ride home. Their first smile. Your first poo finger.Yep, you read that right. You really know you’re a parent when you experience this little gem.

Come on, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. As if this doesn’t happen to all parents at least once! This is how it goes. First you smell it. Your little darling has filled their nappy. You grab the back of the nappy with the tip of your index finger, intending to take a look at the situation and … BAM! You got yourself a poo finger.

It usually happens in the early days, to the uninitiated. But it can catch the experienced off guard too. You think you know your kid and their poo schedule, you’re pretty sure there’s gonna be nothing there but you check anyway and… BAM! Poo finger.

I’m pretty grateful (I guess?!) that this has only ever happened to me a couple of times and each time I was at home. Close to soap and water. *shudder* Can you imagine?

Note: that’s totally peanut butter on my finger. I am not that dedicated to my blog that I would voluntarily stick my finger in poo. Sorry.

Do you have a poo finger story?

This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.
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Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

October 6, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
17 Comments

Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

I’m pretty open about the fact that these days, I rarely set up paint play for the kids. It was much more common occurrence before Rocky came along. These days it’s watercolours all the way! They’re so easy to set up and clean up, I just can’t resist. But Pebble misses her REAL paint, her sloppy, slide-across-the-page paint. Last week she asked if we could get the paints out I said ‘yes’. She almost did a double take!

Rocky hasn’t had much chance to explore these paints before, so we set up tray of paints, some paint brushes, some paper and I left them to it stood nearby to make sure Rocky didn’t eat it or tip it on his head. The paper was very quickly abandoned in favour of smearing the paint across the old coffee table that we use for outdoor art and play. Finger painting, hand painting, belly, elbow and feet painting!

Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and PreschoolersTips for Paint Play with Toddlers and PreschoolersTips for Paint Play with Toddlers and PreschoolersTips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

At times it got a little crazy. Rocky decided halfway through that he’d like to play with the space hopper… while still covered in wet paint. Then he stumbled around the backyard and landed hands first on the BBQ, leaving his sticky wet paint mark on it’s cover. But apart from that we did ok – we got messy without getting MESSY!

After some fun with smearing, Pebble turned back to her paper and starting printing. She also made some paint resist art work on the coffee table by splodging, smearing and slopping paint on top of a piece of paper on the table, then pulling the paper back to reveal a perfectly rectangle space beneath.

Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Once the kids were getting tired of the painting we added a big squirt (and then another and then another) of dish washing liquid and turned the hose onto the table. Their excitement was renewed as the paint frothed and soaped and bubbled. They played together until the table was all clean, then played in the suds as they gurgled in the grass. Then I threw both kids in the bath and scrubbed them clean! Here are my tips for happy paint play with toddlers and preschoolers:

Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Tips for Paint Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers

  1. dress in old clothes (that includes you too!)
  2. distract the kids with something else and set up all the equipment before you invite them to play
  3. have a bucket of water and an old towel ready for clean up (or play near a hose)
  4. remove anything from the area that you don’t want to get covered in paint (including space hoppers!)
  5. breathe! Relax! Let it go! Mess is good!
  6. make cleaning up part of the play and get the kids to help
  7. go straight in to the bath after play and get scrubbed up
  8. distract the kids some more while you clean up yourself and the rest of the mess if needed (a snack and a pile of books or a favourite TV show work for me).

Do you embrace messy play? Or do you avoid it like the plague?

October 2, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
4 Comments

Halloween Activities for Kids

15 Halloween Activities for Kids

Here in Australia, Halloween has only recently started to be embraced. When I was a kid I only went trick or treating once and that was because my teachers that year happened to be really into Halloween. We had a Halloween class party and of course I needed to show that costume off to the neighbourhood.

Where I live now our property is a bit secluded from the street. I guess the kids are too freaked out to come to our door because every year I buy treats to give out and every year I end up having to eat them myself. Oh well (mwahahaha).

I know some Aussie’s are dead set against Halloween but I don’t mind it at all. It’s a bit of fun. Here’s some fab Halloween activities for kids thanks to the Kids Co-Op.

15 Halloween Activities for Kids

  1. Countdown to Halloween Ghost Chart (Edventures with Kids)
  2. DIY Paper Mache Trick or Treat Bucket (You Are the Roots)
  3. Monster Play Ideas (Octavia and Vicky)
  4. Cute and Creepy Mummy Garland (Edventures with Kids)
  5. An Invitation to Make Monsters (Multicrafting Mummy)
  6. Online Halloween Games for Kids (Octavia and Vicky)
  7. Halloween Cupcakes (B-Inspired Mama)
  8. Halloween Lacing Cards (Tot Schooling)
  9. Glow in the Dark Lanterns (Nuturestore)
  10. Printable Googley Eyes Monsters (Tot Schooling)
  11. Toilet Paper Roll Ghosts (Dabbling Mama)
  12. Spider Snacks (Octavia and Vicky)
  13. Halloween Clothespin Pattern Sticks (Lalymom)
  14. Fuzzy Wuzzy Pom Pom Monsters (Our Little House in the Country)
  15. Cardboard Box Monsters (Our Little House in the Country)

Do you do Halloween in your country? Where are you from?

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Peanut Butter Choc Chip Chia Slice

September 29, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
26 Comments

Finding My Style: Fitting In To My Pants {Peanut Butter Choc Chip Chia Slice}

Peanut Butter Choc Chip Chia Slice

I’m still trying to change my ways with food and sugar. It’s a long process after a life time of eating lots of sweet things, always eating dessert and constant yo-yo dieting to fight the impact of all the sugar, fat and large serves. I will admit that last weekend I made a proper, hardcore, old school chocolate caramel slice. I made it to take to my nephews birthday party because it’s my very favourite party food. I ate about three six eight squares in one day. Small squares! Party sized squares! But still. That’s a lot of sugar and butter in one go. I felt like I had a hangover the next day. And now my pants are a little tight. Ugh!

With the support of my friend and nutrition super star, Tatum, from Make It Look Easy, I’m trying to quit with the dieting, stop overeating and follow an 80-20 style of living. 80% of the time is all the good stuff, 20% of the time I enjoy socialising and sipping a champagne or sharing party food or a sweet-something after dinner. Perhaps eight slices of caramel slice is a little more than the 20% accounts for… but baby steps, right?

With this health focus in mind (and inspired by the blogging adventures of Katie 180) I’ve been playing with recipes to see how I can modify them and pump them with a little more nutrition. That’s how this Peanut Butter Choc Chia Slice was born! Here’s the low down on the ingredients:

  • I love oat-y things – porridge, muesli, oat biscuit and slices. So it makes sense that any baking I do includes oats. They are packed full of goodness (go Google ‘oats nutrition’  if you want nutrition info, I’m no nutritionist).
  • I only have white flour in the pantry at the moment, so I used that but it’s such a small amount in this recipe that that’s all good. If you have any in your pantry you could substitute with your flour of choice (wholemeal, almond, coconut etc).
  • I have been given some organic rice malt syrup to try out, thanks to Pureharvest, and decided to throw that in instead of sugar. But if you’ve got sugar, use sugar! Just use a little less of it than a traditional recipe calls for (eg. the half a cup in this recipe is fine).
  • I had coconut oil in the cupboard, and used that instead of butter, but again, butter ain’t bad. Just steer clear of your vegetable oils. Yuck!
  • I used natural, smooth peanut butter, which is awesome for baking. It gives a fab peanuty flavour. I will admit it’s not going to give  you that stuff-of-your-childhood-sugar-salt-peanut hit on your toast in the morning, but my taste buds are adjusting to it.
  • I used 70% dark chocolate and cut it up into small pieces, instead of my usual milk chocolate chips. The more intense flavour of the chocolate is delish against the peanuty oaty goodness of the slice.
  • Chia seeds! Cos they be a super food, yo! Um, yeah, go Google ‘chia seeds nutrition’ for more info on that.

Peanut Butter Choc Chip Chia Slice Peanut Butter Choc Chip Chia Slice

Peanut Butter Choc Chip Chia Slice

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 (150g) cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 (75g) cup plain flour
  • 1 (3g) teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 (15g) Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 (180g) cup rice malt syrup
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup (200g) natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon (3g) vanilla extract
  • 70g dark chocolate, cut into small pieces

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease and line a medium slice tin. Mine is 30cm x 15 cm and 3cm deep.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir in the oats, flour, baking powder and chia seeds.
  3. In a separate microwave safe bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave until it’s runny (but not hot) then stir in the rice malt syrup, eggs, peanut butter, vanilla and chocolate. Combine with the oats and flour mixture.
  4. Press the slice mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until golden.
  5. Allow to cool for five minutes before removing from the tin and cooling completely on a wire rack (or stuff some in your face while it’s still warm!). Cut into bite sized pieces and store in the freezer for healthy baked treats on demand (dude, defrost that before you eat it).

The good news is that if you eat more of this stuff and less of the gooey, sugary caramel slices you will fit in to your pants. And that’s important for wellbeing and happiness and a reduction in wardrobe tantrums. It’s a proven fact.

Finding My Style - Fitting In To My Pants

You can catch up on my previous ‘Finding My Style’ posts here:

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