Why “Moana” is Disney’s Best Children’s Film Yet

Moana: A Mother’s Review;

I’m a parent of two very different children, and I wear my high alert parenting goggles when I watch or choose films with my kids. I have chosen to be a Conscious Parent and I know children take a lot from movies whether we realize what/how much of it or not. I’ll be writing about how we watch movies in a separate post 😉

As I’m sure most of you know, Western, English speaking “children’s” films leave a lot to be desired when it comes to role models. On the whole I have been gobsmacked at watching only the 2 minute trailers for children’s films over the last 10 years because of the increase in endless violence, sexism/gender bias, terrible role models, and severity of character-on-character mistreatment both verbally and emotionally – and it’s all made out to be funny. It is just incredible ðŸ˜Ķ

But – never fear dear parents! A great film has arrived in Disney’s latest creation – Moana. I will be putting together a list of great films for conscious parents soon (why didn’t I do that earlier?!?!?!) but for now I’ll give you the bullet points as I know you don’t have much time!

1. Strong Role Model

This won me over for point number one as Moana displays so many admirable qualities. She’s physically, mentally and emotionally strong. She must overcome many barriers, trust her instinct, and believe in herself. Despite the fact she yearns for the sea and exploration she does so in wanting to be a better leader for her family and village as opposed to fighting or rebellion. And she’s not “super sexy” or sassy anything like that 🙂

Any “attitude” throughout the entire film is only character frustration or misunderstandings as opposed to plain rudeness or malice. So the biggest things my two kidlets are repeating/taking from this film are; trying to be better swimmers (yay!), being strong, trying hard, courage, females being in positions of great responsibility, seeing through the pain of others, and well, the words “butt cheek” did enter the eldest’s vocabulary but I’m not complaining about that with everything else she’s taken away from the film.

2. Presention of Culture

Although this story and characters (I believe) are not intended to represent a specific South Pacific Island or specific Nationality, I believe that the overall presentation of the island way of life, the region, and peoples to be positive and in many ways true. Happiness, sharing, reliance on the coconut, roles within the community, dancing… And the hair – my daughter wants hair like Moanas now, and even as I write this my youngest is covering her arms with removeable sticker tattoos, haha!! I was easily able to discuss and relate my children to SO many aspects of the movie (from the boats to the dancing, tattoos, language, roles within a village community, etc) not only because of our trips to New Zealand but because I have dear friends from the South Pacific Islands and we (myself and my children) are always involved in cultural and global exploration in order to widen their circle of knowledge, wisdom and tolerance. Moana is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to exposing your children to this regions peoples if they aren’t already 🙂 And I believe it’s also possible to research the less Americanized/Disney-fied versions of the story of the Demi-God ‘Maui’, for example, if you wish to further educate yourself.


3. No Unnecessary Violence and Minimal SlapStick Humor

What a relief to be able to watch a film without constantly reassuring my children that “we don’t hit others like that”, for example. I think there are two points in the film where it comes close. But this was a huge part of the appeal of this film as well as we saw that it’s only necessary to fight in self defense as opposed to attack or to be funny or provoke others. Or most importantly, when we can’t use our words effectively.

Thank you, Moana Directors, for this!

Oops, I must note though that a few scenes may frighten young children so please cuddle tight and answer their questions through those. I’d recommend ages 4 to 5 and older watch this one.

4. Great Story

Easy to follow for the children, and as I say in both points 7 & 9 the lessons were obvious, and it’s a wonderful coming of age story. I personally am happy the main character is female, too, since I have daughters 🙂

As I said in an earlier point it’s a Disney-fied version of a legend, so, research further for the history behind it. Or otherwise simply go and enjoy the film! 

5. Visually Breathtaking

I’ve recently started following Andy Harkness, the creative Director behind this masterpiece, and I would have to say I’m very impressed with pretty much every element. And when you do watch it – check out the amazing texture, look and movement of the hair and also water! I just wanted to touch it all!

6. Beautiful Music

Moana and the supporting characters have far easier voices to handle. This thankfully is not a repeat of Frozen. And yes, I do have the Frozen soundtrack. And yes, I do know all the words.

Secondly the mixture of languages was refreshing and also for my children, exciting. They appreciate the culture behind the music and I think that’s a wonderful thing!

7. Lessons Are Clearer

What I’ve actually noticed with a lot of kids films (Disney’s included) is that there are a LOT of underlying themes that simply go straight over the heads of our children but not without first modeling unwanted behaviors and adding confusion or inappropriate themes to their minds. And no, I’m not a “way out hippy”, or extremely religious, or extreme anything type of parent, I’m just aware of what they’re digesting, processing and regurgitating!

8. No Hate

In this world where there is so much hatred I find it refreshing that Moana doesn’t promote hate or a separatist attitude. Love it.

9. Easy to Explain or Expand On

Winning! Even after the 3rd viewing my children still have “why” questions and I find it is so easy to explain the answers and explore the topic/question raised. We do this with all films but I’ve found this very easy to parent through 🙂

10. Appropriate Themes

Following on from the last point, I don’t have to explain the ins and outs of themes they’re too little to understand or shouldn’t even be exposed to.
That just about sums it all up! I hope that what I’ve shared was helpful for you in choosing whether or not to show this film to your children. But as I’ve said I really do think it’s their best film yet 🙂

*This review is my personal opinion and I have no monetary affiliation with Disney. 

Nature, Numbers, and Caterpillar Bites

The caterpillar that bit me 🙂

Today while we were creating some art outside on the patio a very hungry caterpillar bit my leg. 

Crazy, I know! I’ve never been bitten by one before and in truth it was just searching for food after falling on to me. As far as I know my legs aren’t green enough to be mistaken for leaves, haha! But it tickled, and it was definitely a surprise! But the by far the strongest experience my girls took from witnessing that event was that it is a wonder and exciting to be in touch with nature – all because of my response to the incident. As parents who are busy “doing”, and have already developed certain behaviors (which, can still be adjusted by the way!) we often forget the impact of our actions – however small – has an enormous effect on our children’s experience of life. It sounds like a big call, but it isn’t. It’s the truth.

I could have squealed, shouted, hit the caterpillar off my leg, displayed nervousness or fright, and been upset. But what I did do, was turn slowly, obviously surprised at the sensation, and said “Wow! It’s trying to find food and is biting my leg! Ha! It tickles (which it did) – I’ve never felt THAT before! Look girls, look! (With excitement and smiles) take a good look before I pop it back into the leaves… It’s not hairy or spikey so I know it won’t harm me, but it does seem VERY hungry!”.

One thing I did notice before I even started to respond was the gasp from my eldest as she looked to me for the appropriate action or response (she saw it first). It was only a split second but I caught it and that reminded me to pour intent into my reaction. It worked!

They then rushed happily for a closer look and smiles beamed from their little faces. It’s a pretty strong imprint which will help build their curiosity, confidence and ease in nature.

If I had’ve reacted differently as I mentioned first, I then teach my children to become scared and withdrawn from the natural world, and to hurt things. Personally I want more for my children, and for them to respect our connection with nature and enjoy it.

But on to the numbers…

So one of the biggest missing components of many modern children is said to be “time in nature”. So to combat this issue our activities outside today focused on nature itself. Some chalk drawing of course, but then we created a graph of the insects we could see in our small garden bed by creating a table with a drawing and label of each insect, searching and counting then tallying them, then creating a bar graph and pie chart. Easy and fun, outside in the sunshine 🙂


I would have a picture to show you of the graph we made but for the life of me I can’t find it!! 

Enjoy the sunshine my friends Xx

Totally Healthy Mini Cupcakes recipe for everyone!

After a small amount of tinkering here is my latest recipe for healthy kids snacks. A friend suggested to me a couple of days ago to use kidney beans instead of flour and I was reminded of the ever popular chickpea cookies I used to make and thought about trying it out.

Now, substitute where necessary as we all have different requirements but this recipe proved to be another absolute winner in my house. Except my husband never got to taste any because they were finished too quickly – oops! 

TOTALLY HEALTHY CUPCAKES 

Ingredients – makes 24

  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1 tbs vanilla paste
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs baking powder 
  • 1 can red kidney beans (or bean of choice eg. Butter bean, chickpea maybe although I haven’t tried)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk powder
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup honey (or sweetener of choice eg. Maple syrup)

Note: to make these chocolate, simply replace the coconut flour & powder with cacao/cocoa powder. 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180â€ĒC and line mini cupcake tray with papers.
  2. Blend eggs, vanilla, coconut oil and baking powder until well combined, almost creamy.
  3. Add rinsed & drained beans, and remaining ingredients and process until well combined and smooth.
  4. Spoon by teaspoon into paper cases and bake for 25 mins.
  5. Try to let them cool a little before eating!

Enjoy xx

The day I thought I’d failed my daughter, and how I made my way back to her.

It’s not until you reach the lowest point possible, or, the highest point of stress that you may find your way to light. That’s how it’s been for me for the last 2 months – feeling like I’ve totally failed raising my second child. For varied and numerous reasons – lets call it “mashed up circumstances” – I hadn’t been as focused on my second as I was on my first – goodness knows I wouldn’t be able to handle any more children as other mothers so graciously do. But more than the usual “We played classical music for our first but the second just gets whatever is on the radio”, or, “We went totally organic for our first but the second ate bread and processed food WAY too early”… It was more along the lines of simply dragging the second along to everything the first was doing over this particular two month period, “hurrying” her along to keep up with whatever I was doing, and never really paying attention to more than her physical needs. I am a second born myself and I do realise how this feels. What a fool I was to repeat it for my own child!

So one day recently, all of a sudden everything felt like it came crashing down. My sweet, sparkly 3 yo was screaming and crying, constantly doing “bad” or the wrong things – that which she knows will push me or upset me, even physically hurting myself and others, and it felt like EVERYTHING I tried failed. Patience, calm non-violent communication, yelling, stupid consequences like removing cherished toys, changing the environment, making sure all physical needs were met that instant… I felt like I used all the tools in my toolbox and everything failed. I felt like she, and I, we’re breaking down. 

I cried for a while… Well, it was 2 days actually. And then it hit me like the proverbial tonne of bricks. 

Connection.

SO simple. Children lash out when they are in need. When they are hurting.


Because of the various differences between my two, I was so focused on catering to my older child’s new phase and needs, as well as the other stressors which were going on at the time, my little one was totally left behind. My heart broke when I realised this. And then, her collarbone got broken after she fell from the dining room chair. This child who can literally jump off the clothes line, hang upside down on an aerial bar, do yoga, and climb 10 feet into the air on a circus rope, fell half a metre when messing around and broke her clavicle. At the time I felt it was my fault and wanted to make it all better, then we had quite a roller coaster ride with not getting help at the hospital (long story), that even more of our relationship felt like it was breaking. I felt like a really bad mother.

From that day onwards, even though she had been in pain and frustrated at not being able to do the amount of physical activity she was used to and had a lot of pent up energy, I tried to connect with her. It’s crazy how simple it is but in the busyness of every day life we can overlook that which is most simple.

I gave her 100% of my attention and focus. We played games led by her. We read her favourite books. I shared my feelings with her. And I made a conscious effort to have my older child allow her to speak without interruption. Every day I am working on it but every day is getting better. I think at one point in the process of feeling I was losing her I thought that because my first was constantly in the carrier and very attached to me (when she was tiny) that we had a stronger connection, and that my second born was simply a more adventurous, free spirit (which she is) but that she wasn’t as connected to me and that I had no say in the matter. That was another mistake.

You CAN make a difference in your relationship with your child. Never give up no matter how old they are! All it takes, is connection. You can never fail them as long as you are trying your hardest.

Let your love rule 🙂 You got this!
Xx

How to Make 5 Little Ducks and Old Mother Duck Finger Puppets

  A quick guide for any handy person wishing to create some finger puppet fun for your toddler 🙂 

We all know the song so I won’t go on.

Materials;

  • 1 X A4 size sheet of felt
  • Scissors 
  • Permanent marker
  • Hot glue gun

Instructions;

  1. Divide your felt into 6 even pieces and cut the rectangles.   
  2. Draw a larger duck shape on the back of one of the felt sheets, making sure to position it towards the top, and draw a line out to the edge of the piece where you’d imagine the water to be if mother duck was sitting in water. Cut out this shape.    
  3. Do the same with a smaller duck shape. Cut all 5 ducks.   
  4. Use your permanent marker to draw their eye, beak and wing, like so.   
  5. Fold the two edges inwards to create the finger puppet and hot glue them on the back.   

  
These are my little cuties – can’t wait to show them to my children in the morning !! 🙂

Nailed it!!

Well – two attempts at making some of our materials for homeschooling. One good. One not so good.

The good one: Math Mushrooms

   
 Adorable! So many dots but much cuteness and I hope my kidlets enjoy these 🙂 

The not-so-good-but-it-still-functions one: upcycled plastic bottle to paintbrush holder.

  
It still works, it’s just not aesthetically pleasing! I burnt myself a few times and buckled the bottle too, but, for use at home or even on the road I think it’ll work!! Better next time 🙂

Let me know if you’d like a quick rundown of how I made these? Or what these are useful for.

Happy days 🙂

Cooking and Toddlers: Yes, it CAN work!

  

I’ll make this quick because, who has spare time when you need to prepare a meal or 10?

As of a few months ago, I have extra chefs in the kitchen when I need them, and boy does this take the frustration out of the “witching hour”! It means they get focussed time developing fine motor skills, they learn to respect the cooking and food handling (and potentially food growing) processes, AND they spend quality one-on-one time with me – it’s a win-win-win as I like to call it!

Usually, my eldest is finished first with her cooking task simply because she is more experienced and skilled. My 2yo however will spend 20 solid minutes or more cooking if necessary as she loves to be a part of what I’m doing (don’t all toddlers?). So today I’m sharing how I got it to work, and a few recipe outlines to get you and your toddler started – hooray!

  1. Ask them, with joy, whether they’d like to help.
  2. Explain the importance of, and how much love goes into home cooked meals.
  3. Teach knife and stove skills early.
  4. Have trust (and patience!) with their rustic artistry.
  5. Thank them for their part in creating the family meal.

Setting up a workstation in the kitchen.

I set up a stable footstool by the bench or dining table. Arrange a small chopping board, paring knife (or spoon if spooning or other utensils), and the food items, with as much space surrounding this area as possible. Place a hand cloth and the dish/bowl/cup next to them for transferring the food into. Have the child stand up on the stool in front of the workstation and explain the items and what they’ll need to do.

Try these simple, toddler friendly recipes;

Salad (fruit or green). Select, or have them select foods that can be easily cut, set up their work station, and until you’re confident they won’t cut themselves, stay nearby to guide them.

Yoghurt with berries. This one is great for practicing pouring and scooping. Again, guide them lightly until you see they can manage scooping the weight of the items, then relax and let them handle it!

Pancakes. This one is slightly more complex and you will need to supervise for a longer period but when they’re confident, pancakes for Mum or Dad in bed with yoghurt and berries on top is excellent!

Scrambled eggs. I have a small frying pan the children can lift and place on the stove. Have them place the butter/oils in and turn the stove dial to the appropriate setting, and have them crack the eggs into a separate bowl before pouring into the pan. Once they’re confident enough they can crack them straight into the pan. With this, I handle the transfer of eggs to plate.

Sandwiches. You can get creative with your workstation here and line everything up like a train!

Pouring liquids. Juice, milk, water, gelatin drinks. This is a great one to start small then work upwards with the quantity.

Rice cakes with toppings. My little one loves preparing the bedtime snack for herself and her sister. Coconut oil (solid of course), butter, tahini, jam, honey … whatever works 🙂

So – one more reminder before you get started – allow an extra 10-20 minutes for meal preparation 🙂 

It may be slow to begin with but such skills can only improve and serve your children in the future. Good luck and have fun!!!!

Xx

Teaching Your Children About Consent – in pictures

I could not have done this better myself. If it makes it easier for parents to give them tools to feel a little less awkward (especially those who haven’t experienced any form of sexual abuse), or a great choice of words to use, I’m all for it. I will be searching for more from Morgan in the weeks to come. Check it out;


 Originally found here.
Thank you, Morgan and Liz! I will be sharing this everywhere! Useful for fathers as well.
Xx

Book Review: The Curious Kid’s Science Book

For anyone with children aged roughly 3-9 I think this book is an absolute must have! The activities are easy to prepare (bonus for carers) and heaps of hands-on fun (awesome for the kidlets!). I’m not scientifically minded so for me this book made the basic introduction to sciences quite easy and to be honest, I’ve been having loads of fun, too!

  
You can buy yours from the Book Depository: http://goo.gl/aUnjbv
(Free worldwide delivery)

A few pics of us enjoying some activities;

   
 
   
 I believe these guys have a range of other books including “Screen Free Activities” and I think crafts, too.

Almost all of the materials are in your kitchen cupboard anyway, and the bright pics mean it’s easy for your little ones to choose (if you’re giving them the option, that is) which activity to do.

Highly, highly, highly recommended!!!

You can buy yours from the Book Depository: http://goo.gl/aUnjbv

(Free worldwide delivery)

* This post contains affiliate links

Why My Child Mimics Your Sentences

For most parents the answer to this may seem obvious, however I’ve been in the situation a few times now where I’ve needed to defend my youngster’s behavior from an upset or annoyed adult. These aren’t just singles or ‘dinks’ mind you, they’re young/new parents, and even experienced grand-folk, too.

To put it simply, she is expanding her vocabulary, learning how to pronounce these new words, and learning new mannerisms through mimicking. That’s it!

In a way she looks up to you and is then learning about you through copying. That’s how growing works! That’s how they learn to crawl, walk, eat, run… I know that this shouldn’t really need to be explained, but in my experience, some people truly don’t realize this very simple fact.

Happy mimicking my little friends! Grow on!

Xx