Saturday, 31 March 2018

As I write this, Xiaobao is exploring scraping her water bottle cap on the floor. I'm not sure if shes focusing on the sound it makes, or the feel of the vibrations on her hand, or just the repetitive action, but she's engrossed.

She has an opportunity that she hasn't had of late - an hour of free reign in the 'play room' without Baobao, who is off to bed a little earlier than usual after a busy day of egg hunting, chocolate and crafting. Xiaobao, on the other hand, has had a day of restful napping with Baba and so, is nowhere near ready for bed.

I'm struck by how rarely I see her engrossed in an activity. She's naturally very physical and loves climbing everything, and half of her time is spent doing gross motor activities. The other half of her time is spent following her jiejie. She so often wants to do the same thing as her sister - insisting on pencil and paper when her sister writes, playing with the toy kitchen when her sister does, and always bringing her sister the most precious of toys - Baobao's tiger. She spends so much time focused on Baobao, that I often wonder if she really has time to explore for herself.

So, as I observe my younger child scraping her bottle cap on the floor, I'm happy that she's exploring independently for a little bit longer - exploring something that has taken her interest in depth and I'm happy in the knowledge that she does have the concentration that Baobao had, but so much more as well.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Easter Basket Gift Ideas For Under 5s

All links are to shops I buy from myself and love. No affiliate links. 

It's coming up to Easter, which of course means Easter Baskets! Coming hot on the heals of Christmas, Lunar New Year and two birthdays, it's hard to think of more gifts. We only do one or two small gifts for Easter anyway.

Here are some of the things I've been considering.

£5 and Under
  • Hard boiled eggs dyed with Okonorm Natural Egg Dye
    Nothing says Easter more for me than an array of brightly coloured eggs in a basket. Baobao and Xiaobao both love boiled eggs and filling out the basket with colourful eggs is both cheap and effective. 
  • Tinti Magic Bath Egg
    If boiled eggs aren't your thing, Tinti Magic Bath Eggs are beautiful, ethical and quickly used up. 
  • Felted Easter Egg
    Looking for something to use year on year? These felted easter eggs add a bit of rainbow fun to your easter basket and once you've bought them, you can definitely use them year on year. They may be one of my favourite things on the Myriad website right now. 
  • Easter Carrot Felt Decoration Sewing KitIf you prefer a craft activity, Hobby Craft stock these adorable felt carrot decoration sewing kits. Baobao is just becoming interested in stitching, so we're not quite ready for this kit yet, but it's definitely something to stash for next year.
  • Giant Spring Bumper Craft TubIf you have an avid crafter, this craft tub is excellent value for money and includes enough craft materials to last you through until summer. 

£10 and Under
  • Ostheimer Rabbit RunningOstheimer produce beautiful wooden animals and this rabbit is no exception. Baobao is just starting to get into small world play, encouraging her animals to cross rivers and climb mountains and so I feel like this is a great gift for other small world loving 3 year olds.
  • Ambrosius Flower Fairy - DaffodilHow can I have a list without my own favourite item to collect? Although our flower fairies are technically for our nature table, they are by far our most played with item. They were even helping Baobao to tidy up the other day. 
  • EgglingDo you have a budding gardener? Don't have space for a garden, but want to bring a little more nature inside? Inside each egg is a mini garden waiting to grow. A beautiful gift for cultivating both mindfulness and a love of nature.
  • Bajo Small Rabbit Push Along ToyXiaobao loves push along toys at the moment and this Bajo Rabbit push along toy is both cute and ethical. Perfect as an Easter gift that will last all year round. 
  • Dinosaur Turquoise Egg CupLooking for something without rabbits, chickens or flowers? Or have a dinosaur lover in your life (I know I do)? This egg cup is stylish and sure to please at every meal time. Just add toast soldiers. 

£20 and under
  • Wooden Egg Craft KitThis kit includes everything you need to make your own Easter decorations - FSC certified wooden eggs and non-toxic Natural Earth Paints that can be used both as tempera or water colours. An engaging activity for Easter Sunday.
  • Sarah's Silk Rainbow StreamerBaobao loves her rainbow streamer. It encourages her to move in different ways - jumping, twisting and twirling - and allows her to express herself in different ways. A definite, must have toy.
  • Om Baby HaremsOne thing I love to do for Easter is begin to prepare the children's summer wardrobes. This year is no exception. Om Baby harems are made from ethically produced fabric, hand printed and dyed with eco dyes. They are perfect for cloth nappies and most importantly are designed for ease of movement. Every baby and toddler should have a pair.
  • Ingela P Arrhenius Animal Nesting DollsI love nesting dolls generally, but these are maybe the most interesting ones I have come across in a while. I think it's the ears.
  • Raduga Grez Cloud Stacking ArcsSpring wouldn't be complete without a rainbow and this one even comes with a cloud. It just screams Spring.
£50 and Under
  • Polly Had A Dolly Cuddle BunnyXiaobao is very into soft toys at the moment. She's reached that stage where she loves to cuddle and kiss things (as well as throw them across the room obviously). This Waldorf inspired Cuddle Bunny is the perfect Easter gift for the soft toy lover in your life and actually doubles up perfectly as a first doll. 
  • Woodthinks Wooden Leaf PuzzleI love Montessori and Waldorf inspired wooden puzzles and when I saw this one I gasped. It has multiple uses, outside of being a puzzle and can even include the scientific names of each tree represented. 
  • Om Baby Om-sieUp until Baobao ditched nappies, we loved Om Baby's take on dungarees - the om-sie. Now Xiaobao lives in hers. They're just so comfy and easy to wear, hard wearing and last forever. Baobao was in her first om-sie for well over a year and now Xiaobao is wearing it too.
  • Duns Sleeveless Dress Duns are my favourite Scandi brand. They wash incredibly well and carry beautiful prints. We learnt with Baobao that their dresses with gathered skirts suit her perfectly. This print especially reminds me of my youth and has that nostalgia factor to it, so I just keep coming back to it again and again.
  • Grapat Sprint CollectionLooking to start your wooden toy or loose parts collection? This set of nins, rings, coins and cups from Grapat includes everything you need to get started with loose parts play, all in a beautiful array of Spring themed colours. 

What are you thinking of adding to your Easter baskets? Will you be buying now or last minute? Let me know what you think of my own list in the comments below.

Friday, 23 February 2018

How many spoons do I have today?

Today is a hard day. Baobao has been ill for the last week and Xiaobao obviously caught the same virus. Last night, she woke up screaming with a temperature of 39.7'C. When I awoke in the early hours of this morning, that temperature had dropped down too far - 34.4'C. She seemed to be breathing and feeding fine, so I stayed awake, cuddled and fed her, until her temperature rose to about 36'C an hour later.

So here I am, sat on the sofa watching Xiaobao give Baobao as much play food as she can get her hands on. Surviving on 4 hours sleep is just that, surviving. The girls and I are fed and clean, although dressed in pyjamas. I've managed to put some washing on and hoover, the daily things I need to do to keep the house sort of ok, but at 10:30am, mentally I feel done for the day.

So now I need to decide how the rest of our day will go. Will we get dressed and go for a wander? An act that would undoubtedly raise my mental wellbeing and ease the anxiety caused by today's missed errands. I look to Xiaobao, happily playing away from me for the first time since Wednesday, and the thought of possibly making her feel like she did last night by going out in the cold today fills me with dread. So we will stay home, just for today, and catch up on errands tomorrow.

I catch a glimpse of the basket of ironing at the back of the room. It's amazing how quickly it builds up, if you don't keep on top of it every day. I should use some of today to at least get on top of the daily tasks that I have let slide this week. If I use some of the energy I have left to do that, will I have enough energy to cook? Maybe an easy dinner like 'jacket potatoes'.

I don't think I'm up for weekly tasks - even if that's just 30 minutes to deep clean the kitchen - but just doing the daily tasks should ease the anxiety levels that build as I look around the room. It's difficult, when you have both anxiety and depression. Seeing my house a mess makes me cross and scared and truly anxious. I worry that I'm not doing enough for the girls. That I'm not doing enough to provide a safe, clean home for them. The energy to fix it just isn't there and sometimes I just have to choose which spoons to give.

Right now, I am going to sit here a little longer, drink my hot chocolate in hopes that it might help me to recharge and use most of my remaining energy to be gentle with my children. I'll feed Xiaobao on demand and listen to Baobao tell me for the 5th time today that she is a microwave bean. I'll help them to resolve issues and arguments, and stop them from breaking things. We'll have a little bit more screentime than usual, but today that's ok.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Now That You Are Three......

As I write this, you are attempting to teach Xiaobao how to do the world puzzle map. You are infinitely patient with her, supporting her to turn the pieces and then allowing her to slot them into the holes. Throughout this whole interaction, you haven't shouted at her once, even when she takes one of the pieces you have claimed as your own. It's truly heartwarming to watch and I realise that as hard a year as you have had, adapting to being an older sibling, you have coped with it brilliantly and I could never have asked for more.

You move on to matching the puzzle pieces with the continents on our globe. Your curiosity and love for learning knows no bounds. Just this morning you were telling me how lions clean their young. You seem to be a generalist, not knowing a huge amount on just one subject, instead knowing a little about lots of different subjects. Everything holds learning for you and I hope it always stays that way. 

Your birthday this year has coincided with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. This has ignited both your sudden interest in the world, but also a love of sport. You have always been a physical child, from climbing to running you know no limits. You've started gymnastics this year and haven't let the fact that you are at least 6 months younger than the rest of the children hold you back. Your favourite Winter Olympic sport is skiing of any form, from giant slalom, to the half pipe, you have enjoyed it all and I only hope I can allow you to experience it yourself one day. 

If I were asked to sum up your third year in two words though, they would me independence and music. Everything is a song for you. From tidying up, to cooking, to walking to a group, you name it, you can make a song up for it much faster than I ever have. I love hearing you sing and you clearly enjoy making up these songs. My whole day has a Baobao composed soundtrack and it brightens my day.

It is often difficult for me, as a parent, but you are fiercely independent and when we are not in the heat of the moment, I truly love you for it. From brushing your teeth, to getting dressed, you want to do everything yourself. 

Recently, this independence has manifested itself in you refusing to do things that I ask you to do. It is a difficult stage, for sure, but it is important. You are learning that you are your own person, with your own thoughts, something I have always known, and I love seeing the person you are becoming.