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Sew Busy in our house! Teaching life lessons with needles and chin ups.

Where to begin?! When life gets so overwhelming I had to let something go and unfortunately that was talking to you guys through this blog 😦 I’m sorry!

The loveliest thing though about my last 6 weeks was having my sister & nephew visit from out of town and training together, hanging out, and showing them a few of our homeschooling activities. The days have been packed so the whole family is looking forward to a few days off over the holiday season!

A few great focus areas for my two children have been sewing (the very latest obsession), rock climbing, developing chin up strength, and non violent communication. For me, alongside busy days with my children and managing some events for our community homeschool group I’ve been working my behind off trying to finish up some illustration jobs I’ve been commissioned to do, as well as compete in the grand final of my basketball league (we won!) and attend the Disney reunion down in Sydney (where I previously worked as an artist)! You’ll probably see the evidence in my Instagram feed – Phew it has been busy!


So I’m super happy about how my kidlets have been developing over the last two months as THE biggest lessons I’ve been trying to imprint on their ever-sponging brains are;

  • Have a plan/be prepared
  • Practice and persistence to achieve your goals
  • Words are like magic if you use them properly.

And these lessons, through every day activities, are sinking in! Yay!! 

Sewing has taught my two the pretty big lesson of having a plan, and being prepared. Oh how the tears did flow! Seam allowance, needle threading, hand sewing, placement of cut outs…. All the mistakes are being made and it’s wonderful as once the frustration has cleared we can talk it through and do better next time. 

Chin ups are a big focus right now – for some reason they’ve been something my two have latched onto through watching myself and my husband train at the gym. Practice and persistence come up very regularly in most activities or pursuits but chin ups have been demanding and the joy of reaching goals has been sweet! My eldest can now do more than me!!! Talk about confidence booster! And because this is something it’s not possible for me to help them with it’s been extra special as they’ve achieved all by themselves πŸ™‚ and the goal posts can always be moved to achieve more if they wish ❀️❀️❀️

And finally, this is a long running, always continuing lesson which I’m still learning for myself! The power of words! Now that my littlest is 3&Β½ she’s coming to a stage where she has her own opinion, she wants to lead and direct what she is doing, and her independence is growing. So, therefore the disagreements come thick and fast some days and we need to learn to master our communication. This is a work in progress that’s for sure! 

I’ve been so happy to see the progress with my two I just had to share!!! 

Did you find any activities in particular helped your own children with perseverance, preparation, or communication?

Would love to hear if you did πŸ™‚

C xx

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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 πŸ˜‰

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 😦

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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

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Easy Chicken PΓ’tΓ© Recipe

A family favorite of ours is this easy chicken liver pate recipe. My children go in and out of their taste for this depending on what their body needs but it’s a great side dish full of vitamins, protein and yummy-ness. Clearly I enjoy it πŸ˜‰


Ingredients;

  • 300-500g chicken livers, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 small-medium onion sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tbs Butter
  • Fresh rosemary / mixed dried herbs / fresh oregano / your favorite French herb mix (approx 1-2 tsp)
  • ΒΌ to β…“ cup pouring cream
  • Optional: 1 tbs brandy 

Method;

  1. SautΓ© onion and garlic in butter before adding bay leaves, cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add chicken livers, cook for 5 minutes. Add herbs and salt and pepper. 
  3. Stir livers then cook until just done. Remove bay leaves.
  4. If adding brandy, do so now then light with a match or lighter in order to burn off the alcohol, then simmer for a few minutes until well incorporated into the mix.
  5. Remove from heat and then allow to cool for a few minutes before moving everything into a food processor or blender (I use a stick blender). Add cream and process until smooth. 
  6. Pour into a glass bowl/container and refrigerate for a few hours until firm. 

Enjoy!! Xx

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Nature, Numbers, and Caterpillar Bites

The caterpillar that bit me πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚


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

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Kids Shadow Puppet Movie

* Apologies if you received this via email unedited! An accidental button bump published it!
My eldest child and her friend meet every week to focus and work on a project of their choosing as part of their homeschooling fun. Yesterday, they just finished off a fantastic shadow puppet movie, inspired by Bunk Puppets and facilitated by my friend Anita! The two girls came up with the story line, characters, props and voices. Very very cool!

I am so proud of both of them πŸ™‚

Here it is if you’d like to check it out! http://youtu.be/j9yq_O7CRcU

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The un-naughty Black Fudge Recipe!

It’s not so naughty to eat tasty treats πŸ™‚ feast your eyes on this!

Forgive my “click it before it gets eaten” phone camera pics!


Heavenly…

If you’ve ever had real Japanese black sesame ice cream, think of the same flavour, only more intense and certainly as moreish. Maybe even more moreish! 

This recipe uses black tahini as the base and I love it πŸ™‚ The taste is not sickly fudgey-sweet, but nicely sweet, with a teeny tiny crunch from the added coconut.

Here you go!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup black tahini 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbs Melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla 
  • Pinch of ground salt 
  • A flick of ground cardamom (optional)

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients together then spoon evenly into a silicone mini cupcake tray (12 mould tray). The mixture won’t reach the top so don’t worry when it doesn’t. 
  2. Place in freezer for a minimum of 45 minutes then enjoy! Here in North Queensland I needed to line them and pop them in a container then leave them in the freezer and take some out to eat as I go. In colder climates you may be able to keep them in the fridge, but I’m not sure they’ll last that long haha!

Makes approx 12.

ENJOY!!!

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Book Review (early readers): The Magic Treehouse Series



Title: The Magic Treehouse (Series of 50 books)


Author
: Mary Pope Osbourne


Age range/ ability
: 4-7 


Summary
: A ‘normal’ brother and sister are the inspiring heroes in this series. They discovered a magic treehouse by accident one day and what follows is the most incredible adventures a young pair could have! They assist a magic librarian to collect books and artefacts from around the globe and throughout history in order to save not only great stories, but themselves and their friends. Each book is a new adventure and as the series continues the characters age, which also encourages reader engagement and excitement.


My thoughts
: These were gripping as far as young children’s reading goes – we have actually read all 50 books! An awesome way to nurture your new reader and get them hooked on reading (never a bad thing in my book! Haha). The characters have strong, clearly recognisable traits and Pope Osbourne presents their personalities in such a way that early readers can easily relate. There is no harsh language or anything of a sexualised or media-focused nature – simply adventure and team work, character building, and learning! Pope Osbourne has Jack and Annie travelling to all areas of the world and even throughout history and myth on their adventures – so much stimulation and inspiration it’s not funny. I can’t recommend these highly enough I was so happy we found them!

They’re also accompanied by fact books to encourage further exploration, and a website I believe, for those who use the web to complement their child’s learning.

Also, a little side note – I believe the cover illustrations have been “jazzed up” recently and so even though we’ve read them all, some covers are unfamiliar to me, like the last in the set of four featured above.


Feedback from a 6 year old
: “Wow!” “Oohhhh.” “That’s amazing!” (While reading)

“I think I’m more like Jack and less like Annie. But sometimes I’m like Annie.”

“We’ve been there, mum!”
Check out the books here : http://goo.gl/NMlN2k

*Affiliate links used.

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Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Adventure Series

Title: Arkie Sparkle 

Author: Petra James

Age range/ ability: 6-10 years

Summary: Arkie is a tweenager treasure hunter who’s parents get kidnapped. It’s up to Arkie and her ‘genius’ cousin to travel throughout time and places to figure out the clues, use their brains and gadgets, and find her parents in 7 days. Each book covering one day.

My thoughts: Although some of the themes were a little old for my daughter at the time of reading these (think ‘concern about fashion’ for one of the characters), she thoroughly enjoyed the historic references, the main character’s humble personality, and the adventure of it all. She also tried to figure out the clues too. We’d definitely read these again! Apologies for no inside page pics – these were read and returned to the library before I could say ‘boo’! I recommend this series if your child is an adventurer at heart and likes suspense. 

Feedback from a 6 year old: “I just can’t stop reading these books, Mum!”. “Mum can we read this? Can we read this? Can we read this? Can we read this?” (At midday and evening story time). 

“Even though she’s only young, she can still do all these things?”

“She must be strong, hey Mum?”

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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 180β€’C 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

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Colour-Me Choices Posters to help deal with BIG emotions

We’ve all been guilty at some point or another for responding immaturely or unpleasantly when our child has a melt down. When more than one child melts down at the same time… Well… I’m putting my hand up first to say I’ve panicked and reacted terribly. I certainly didn’t model the behavior I aim to teach and I most definitely didn’t keep calm myself.  But now that has changed.

I’m working on a series of posters you can colour in or your child can colour in, featuring the simple yet effective choice wheel. The first I have completed is SAD. Download it here. If I ever get any time I’ll be coloring these all in Photoshop to make them incredibly attractive and mid-feed-scroll-stop-worthy, but until then please enjoy by coloring yourself. Who knows, it may be rather soothing!
I choose to have these on the wall in easy to see places and when my child/ren has a moment we refer to this. Simple. And we get through ok and I hope beyond anything else that she is able to grow her personal toolbox to deal with emotions in a way I never did as a youngster or even young adult.

Enjoy and use as you feel fits in with your family.

Xx