October 30, 2010

A visit to the Aquarium

We had a WONDERFUL outing to the Two Ocean's Aquarium in August. (I know, I'm a bit behind with posting :)) I thought at the time that Little One was ready to enjoy the experience and I was right. Fun was had by all...even Daddy. I also had a field day with all the photo opportunities and I think I frustrated my family a little as I was always trailing behind.

So here are some pictures of our outing. 

I just loved the tank  with the clownfish. You can crawl in at the bottom (it was a tight squeeze!) and sit in the middle of it. This was a big hit with both children (and me!). I was so focused on the clownfish, that I didn't even notice the hermit crab until I looked at the pictures. Can you spot him?

This is one of my favourite pictures of the day. The sea anemones. Aren't the colours just amazing?

This is one of the smaller shark tanks. I know that the pictures are a little dark, but I was determined to not use my flash at all.

This is the biggest tank and there are huge sharks and a giant loggerhead turtle swimming around in it. I haven't put in a photograph, but there is a semi-tunnel, which is a real treat to walk through.

 Just a little ol' turtle.

A friendly seagull that was after any scraps from lunch.

While we were there we also caught a terrific puppet show, saw sea horses, giant spider crabs, jellyfish, rays...and so much more. If you are ever in Cape Town, this is wonderful outing for the whole family.
To visit the aquarium website, click here.

(PS. My only gripe with the day, was my concern about lack of railings in the pelican exhibit. There is a boardwalk and fairly deep water on one side of it. Little One headed straight for the edge, and I strongly feel that there needs to be some kind of railing or sign warning parents of the danger. I emailed the aquarium and voiced my concern about the matter. They have responded and said that they would consider both options and I'm waiting to hear from them for further news in this regard.)

October 26, 2010

Adam's Art Spot : Superhero Softies

This is Adam's (a.k.a Big One) spot for sharing some of his creative ideas. He needed my help with this one, so the handiwork was done by me.

The request was for superhero soft toys, so the suitable candidates were picked and we set to work!  We decided on a design for the masks, drew it onto craft foam (after measuring our superhero's faces) and then cut them out. I then used elastic from some old birthday party hats to tie the masks on. (I used a toothpick to pierce the hole on the side of each mask.) String would also work just as well as elastic and would probably be easier to use. I found the elastic to be finicky.

For the capes, I cut out a very basic long triangular shape from felt and tied it around each toy's neck with string. Once again using a toothpick to make the hole in the felt. 

And there you go...Superhero Softies! I think they are so cute and it got me thinking about how easy it would be to revamp some old soft toys and give them a new look. Have you ever revamped a soft toy? If you have, please do share. I would love to hear about it.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more of Adam's super ideas, you can do so here.

PS. I'm linking this to two amazing blog parties, Show and Tell @ ABC and 123 and Tot Tuesdays at My Delicious Ambiguity.

October 24, 2010

A Parenting Philosphy

Most of my post university training has been in the field of play therapy. I have attended many play therapy courses over the years, but one that really stands out for me, was a course by Garry Landreth, a child-centered play therapist. Child-centered play therapy is, as Garry puts it, a philosophy for living one's life in relationships with children. It is for this very reason, that I feel compelled to share some of this philosophy with parents.

Garry wrote a wonderful book called Play Therapy-The Art of the Relationship. The last time I read it, was probably before I became a parent. I have recently read it again and it has been so enlightening to look at the philosophy through parent eyes, rather than merely therapist eyes. Something that I want to share with you is what Garry says about how children should learn through play therapy. (I must mention, that when he refers to play therapy, he is referring to child-centered play therapy.)

He says this:
  • Because children are allowed to be fully themselves, with no criticism, suggestions, praise, disapproval or any efforts made to change them, they learn self-control and responsible freedom of expression.
  • Because children are respected and not evaluated, regardless of their behaviour, they learn to respect themselves.
  • Because all their feelings are accepted and understood, even the intense ones, children learn that their feelings are acceptable.
  • Because they are allowed to express their intense feelings, they are able to learn how to responsibly control their feelings.
  • Because children are allowed to struggle to do things for themselves, they learn to assume responsibility for themselves and to discover what that responsibility feels like.
  • Because children are allowed to figure things out for themselves and to come to their own solutions to problems, they learn to be creative and resourceful in confronting problems.
  • Because children are allowed to control their own behaviour (within the careful use of therapeutic limits) and can make their own decisions, they learn self-control and self-direction.
  • Because they are accepted just as they are, with no conditions, they learn, at a feeling level, to accept themselves as being worthwhile.This is significant in the development of a positive self-concept.
  • Because no choices are made for the child, they  learn to make choices and to be responsible for making their choices.
Even though Garry is talking about a play therapy relationship and not a parenting relationship, when I consider these learning outcomes, I  wonder whether I'm successfully facilitating this kind of learning in my role as parent. I am fully aware of the fact that parenting is not therapy and that the therapeutic relationship described by Garry is a unique one, but I choose to uphold these principles in my relationship with my children, to the best that I can. 

Yes, I do praise; I do evaluate; I make suggestions; I disapprove! But reading this is just such a good reminder of the respect we should have for (our) children! I certainly want my children to have the kind of personal acceptance and self-respect that Garry refers to; and, to be resourceful problem-solvers and to take responsibility for their feelings and their choices. I choose to concentrate on these desired outcomes, using these principles to guide me as I fine tune my own parenting philosophy. 

Shoo, I know this has been a mouthful. Now I would love to hear what you think. 

Reference: Landreth, G (1991). Play therapy The Art of the Relationship. Bristol, USA: Accelerated Learning Inc.

October 20, 2010

I dare you!

 Paint with your Tot!

 Garden with your Tot!

 Bake with your Tot! 

And, I dare you, let them do the dishes!

Isn't it awesome to think that you can do all these activities with a one and two year old! It always amazes me to think of how much they grow from one to two.

So I dare you...go on...be brave :)

(PS. Little One's age in these photos...just for my own records really...painting 23 months...baking 25 months...gardening and dishes 24 months)

October 18, 2010

5 Books Feature

I don't think I have ever told anyone how much I like reading book recommendations. It's true, particularly lists of recommended children's books. Now one such place where I can read book recommendations to my heart's content is a blog called  Silly Eagle Books and I want to share a little about it with you today.

Vanessa (the author of this lovely blog) has many lists of favourite books for babies, tots and children. I really like her list of best bedtime books and of books with your little girl's name in. (I can't wait to see her list with little boys names). She also sometimes features a favourite author, like the Eric Carle post here.

Vanessa has a passion for vintage books in particular and since reading her blog, I look at older books with a new appreciation and perspective. For Little One's birthday, I purchased a number of books that I would previously not have given a second glance. Probably the best example of this, was my purchase of Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I took a chance and even though I had not read it before, I ordered it from Loot. Even when it arrived in the post, I was puzzled as to what all the fuss could be about. Well, a few reads later and this is now the first book requested at every bedtime. Little One (and I) just love reading it. There seems to be a wonderful comfort and peacefulness in the words, rhythm and rhyme of this book. It's a great buy for a one or two year old.

Vanessa has also really inspired me in how she uses books to decorate...books as art.  She inspired this bit of "Art" in Little One's bedroom.  I bought this old, badly damaged Noddy book at a second-hand store for next-to-nothing. I then painted an old broken frame and put the Noddy book cover inside as the picture! I think the title of the book is so apt  for the life of a toddler and in my mind I often think of Little One's name in place of Noddy's :).
A little while ago, Vanessa asked me (and some other book-loving bloggers) to share a list of any five books. I was thrilled to be asked and offered a list of favourite books for babies and toddlers (more than five actually). So I hope you will pop over and see what I recommend. And while you are there, check out some of Vanessa's wonderful crafts and those book lists of course :).

October 15, 2010

Colour Fun #10 - Teddy Dress-up

Colour Teddy Dress-up was inspired by this dress-up teddy at mama smiles blogspot.

I used a little wooden teddy puzzle as my template (a teddy cookie/play dough cutter could also work well). I then cut out tops and bottoms from a variety of colours and told Little One that we must dress teddy, because he is cold! 

This is the first felt toy that Little One has shown any genuine interest in, so I am thrilled! What I didn't realize, was how difficult it would be for him to place the t-shirt and shorts correctly onto the teddy. He tried hard, but I had to assist him with the placement, so this was good fine motor practice too.

Till next time.

PS. I'm linking this to Tot Tuesdays and Show and Tell.

October 10, 2010

Colour Fun #9 - Buckets of Colour

Do you know that your child will remember anything that is correctly associated, anything outstanding, and anything that is appropriately repeated. This wonderful information is from Tony Buzan's book, Brain Child, one of my all time favourite parenting books. Tony Buzan calls a baby's brain, "a gigantic association machine". Another great bit of information to know about, is that memory is enhanced by the more senses that are involved.

Now the idea behind buckets of colour, was to create a fun memory and association with each colour represented.  I prepared all the buckets ahead of time and included items such as balloons, play dough, finger paint, bubbles, whistles, threading toys, plastic animals, stickers, bean bags and sweeties. Originally the plan was to have only small things in each bucket, so that I could close the bucket and take it along anywhere if I wanted to. Truthfully though, I added bigger things, like a flute and real fruit, which obviously didn't fit into the buckets.

I must say that these buckets became so much more than just colour fun. There was counting (3 little green frogs); numeracy (cutting the play food in half); imaginative play (play dough snakes eating the play food); fine motor skills (using the stickers and threading); body parts (sticking the stickers on body parts); gross motor activities with balloon and bean bag fun; sensory play (painting, smelling play dough, eating ice cream); language enrichment ("lets decorate our bucket with the stickers"); and, identifying shapes. For the colour "green", for example, we took our green bucket outside and had a "green" picnic on the grass. We sat on our green picnic blanket, ate a green apple and played with our green toys!

For lots more colour activities, pop on over to My Delicious Ambiguity, a wonderful blog with lots of tot activities. Jenn has a whole collection of colour activities posted here.

PS. I'm linking this to Tot Tuesdays and Show and Tell.

October 6, 2010

Photo Shoot

For last year's birthday I asked my husband for a family photo shoot...something we have never had done as a family by a professional photographer. My birthday came and went and I never booked the shoot. So when this year's birthday arrived (in June), I decided that I better not delay any longer! In September we all met the lovely Jo-ann Stokes and had our shoot on the picturesque Altydgedacht farm in Durbanville. These pictures are just a few of my favourites.

 Little One scrunched his nose in so many of the pictures! I think it makes him look angry, but Jo-ann said she thought it to be very cute.

If you have been considering a photo shoot, don't put it off. With each passing year, we and our children change so much. Try to capture your family (you included) as often as you can afford. You won't regret it. 

To see more amazing photography, you can visit Jo-ann's blog here

October 5, 2010


In August Big One's school had a literacy week and on one of the days the children had to go dressed up as a book character. We scoured the net for some inspiration and then created this very easy and "cool" dress-up costume. We cut out a front and back section from white cardboard, which I taped together over his shoulders with thick sellotape and stapled at the sides. The mask was made from a cardboard box. The body suit and mask were then decorated. I loved the end result...A gingerbread man with attitude!
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