Friday, August 26, 2016

The Day You Came Into The World

The day you give birth, especially for the first time, is such a life altering event. Regardless of how you give birth, once that tiny human has entered the world everything changes. Relationships and priorities change, bonds are formed and life will never be the same. Even though my own birth story didn't go the way I had hoped, it was still the most important {and memorable} day of my life to date so I wrote it all out in a blog post so I'd remember all the details years later when my memory is hazy. Frances Lalor, a local children's book author, went even further and wrote a book to capture the memory of her birth story for her daughter.

The Day You Came Into The World is written about the birth of Frances' first child. The story uses simple words and scribble like illustrations to take us through the day her daughter arrived, including the anticipation felt beforehand and how everything changed once she was born. Although the sequence of events are slightly different to my own birth story, the sentiments expressed throughout the book are the same as I felt before and after my own daughter was born. The book will be easy for any new parents to relate to as the emotions felt are the same, regardless of the delivery.



At some point in time our kids are inevitably going to ask questions about the day they were born, which can be quite a delicate conversation to have. I know when the time comes for me I don't want to let her know how crazy her delivery was, but I do want her to know that it was the most special day of my life despite all the drama. The Day You Came Into The World makes that conversation much easier to have with children and explains their birthday in a almost fairy tale like way. I've always believed that books play an important role in helping to explain situations to young children. Reading about something in simple words with relevant pictures can help make big concepts so much easier for young children to understand. The book accurately captures the emotions felt by new parents and conveys this very simply in a way that young children will be able to relate to.

The Day You Came Into The World would be a perfect gift for a new mum, at a baby shower or after birth, so they have a special way to explain to their children just how wonderful it was when they came into the world. It even includes a page at the end to record the baby's birth details. The book can be purchased online or find a stockist here. 20% of all book profits are also donated to towards children's hospital foundations to help sick and injured children across Australia. The book also comes beautifully gift wrapped when purchased online which is a lovely added touch.

Did you have a good birth experience, or did things go a bit pear shaped like mine?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was gifted a copy of The Day You Came Into The World for the purpose of review. I did not receive payment for this review.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Fit Fingers

If you follow my Instagram account then you'll know I'm very passionate about learning through play and doing hands on activities with bub so she learns and practices skills that she'll need later for school. At the start of the year I had a conversation with my friend about all the skills kids in her daughters prep class were meant to know prior to starting school and how so many kids didn't know what to do. That conversation really sparked my desire to help prepare bub for school {even though its still a little while away}. Before then I knew of basic development skills but we hadn't done much other than speech therapy to actively help bub learn these skills. After finding out how important fine motor skills like pincer grip, pencil grip and hand strengthening are for children starting school, I decided to come up with different activities I could do at home with bub to help develop these skills. 

I share a lot of our activities over on Instagram. They're all age appropriate and child led so bub only does the ones she wants to do and at her own pace. Everything is set up like a game so she is both playing and learning rather than me specifically teaching her how to do things. I personally know I learnt better by doing things myself rather than being shown, so that's how I teach bub, with a bit of guidance as she plays if needed. I get lots of ideas from other toddler based accounts on Instagram and that's often where I find lots of our educational resources as well. A few months ago I discovered Fit Fingers on Instagram via Discovering Our Toddler after they reviewed their resource pack.



Fit Fingers is a carefully curated pack of resources designed to help children build fine motor skills while having fun. The kit includes a number of loose parts including beads, buttons and pom poms, pipe cleaners and various threading strings, plasticine, crayons, pens and pencils, pegs, scissors and some toys. Above is an example of just some of the items included in a Fit Fingers pack. I love how all of the small parts come in little resealable clear pouches which makes storage after playing really easy. The whole kit also comes in a big oversized clear pencil case so everything can be kept together when not in use. The packaging itself can also double as an extra fine motor skill workout for kids as they pull open the seals and learn to work the zip. As it contains various loose parts, the Fit Fingers pack is suitable for children 3+ and should always be used with adult supervision.



Prep teacher Natalie and her husband Mark developed the Fit Fingers pack after seeing how much children struggle at school when they have weak fine motor skills. The Fit Fingers resources pack offers parents and children many hands on, engaging and multi-purpose activities designed to build hand strength and fine motor skills in young children. The pack comes with a list of different activities for scissor skills, hand strengthening, threading and beading and to develop pincer grip, to give parents numerous ways to use the kit. There are also additional activities available in the resource section online.

All of the pieces within the pack are quite open ended so there really are endless activity possibilities. I get a lot of inspiration for the activities we do from other Instagram accounts, Playschool {yes really Playschool is a treasure trove of toddler ideas} and by simply making things up. In reality we've only really touched the surface with the activities possible with the Fit Fingers kit, but here's some of bub's favourites that we've done so far.

BUTTON COLOUR SORTING



Bub loves colour sorting activities using any type of materials and loose parts so I knew button sorting would be a hit. I put all the shape buttons in a tray and spread our coloured paint cups around. I added in the Fit Fingers tweezers to make the task a little more challenging. Bub's done colour sorting with tweezers before, but the Fit Fingers tweezers are a little trickier than the other ones we have so she mainly put the buttons into the tweezers using her spare hand instead of directly picking them up. It was a good exercise in hand strengthening as well because the buttons are slippery she had to hold the tweezers extra tight so they didn't slip out early. She came back to this activity multiple times throughout the day, tipping all the buttons back into the main tray so she could sort them again.


THREADING BEADS


Bub has loved threading since she was about 2 and a half. I first introduced her to threading with really chunky beads and pip cleaners so it was easier for her to grasp the beads and manipulate them onto the pipe cleaners. As she's grown more confident we've moved onto smaller beads and thinner string. The Fit Fingers pack comes with a wide variety of beads of varying sizes, materials and shapes and it also includes pipe cleaners and different string so children can work on beading at different levels. For this activity I put out a big range of the beads, a few pipe cleaners and the clear plastic line for bub to choose from. She chose a range of different beads and threaded them on the clear plastic line to make a necklace for grandma.


SORTING POM POMS


This pom pom sorting activity was inspired by Wonder and Awe on Instagram after they shared a similar sorting activity with a coloured egg carton. I coloured the egg carton with the markers from the Fit Fingers pack and then left an assortment of pom poms + the tweezers from the pack out for bub to find. Like the button sorting activity bub came back to this over and over during the day. She rotated between using her fingers and using the tweezers to sort the pom poms.

WASHING BASKET



One of the skills bub was yet to master was opening and closing pegs properly. To help her practice I used some of the Fit Fingers items to create a mini washing basket for her to practice pegging the pegs on the line. I used a small cane basket and threaded some of the clear plastic line from the kit through it to create a washing line. I then put out a selection of her dolls clothes and pegs for her to hang on the washing line. Trying to peg the clothes proved a little tricky so she decided to just try and peg the pegs on and off the line by themselves. After I helped her to squeeze the pegs with her fingers a few times she figured out how to do it herself and spent most of the morning putting pegs on and off her little play line.

Although we've already done a heap of activities with our pack {there's some more on Instagram}, there are still so many more I have planned to do. So far we haven't used the scissors as I don't think bub's quite ready to be trusted with real scissors, but I plan on introducing scissor activities soon. I love how the items in the Fit Fingers pack are re-usable and can be used for multiple different activities making the pack great value as it can literally be used for years. The activities can also be made more challenging as your child develops more hand strength and dexterity so the kit can grow with your child. I can see we'll be using the kit pieces on a regular basis from now until bub starts school.

Natalie and Mark have kindly created an exclusive offer for Finding Myself Young readers so you can get a Fit Fingers pack for your children too. To save $10 {AUD} off a Fit Fingers pack* simply use the code fmy-blog-aug-16 when purchasing from www.lapetitestore.com. This offer is available to both Australian and international readers, however is restricted to the first 50 orders placed between now and August 30th.


Toni x

* Offer terms & conditions ~ discount code is valid for $10 AUD off each Fit Fingers pack and limited to the first 50 customers. Customers can purchase multiple packs, however these must be purchased in a single transaction as the discount code is limited to single use per customer. Postage within Australia is $8 with free postage available for Australian orders over $90. International shipping rates will be calculated at checkout based on location. Discount code is valid from 23rd August 2016 - 30th August 2016.

Disclosure - I was provided with a Fit Fingers pack for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own based on our experience with the pack. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | JJ Rabbit Australia

When you have a baby it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you think they’ll need. If you're like me you probably went out and bought all the things, because books, nurses, family and strangers told you they were all necessary. After a few months though you soon realise just what you did need and what you could of lived without. Then your baby gets older and there's a whole new round of products to buy and the process starts all over again. There's a lot of gimmicky products out there, but when it comes to necessities dinnerware is pretty high up there. Your child will need plates, cups and cutlery pretty much from the time they start solids onward and you’re guaranteed to go through a heap of them so its worth investing in a good quality set from the start.

We’ve used a heap of different sets over the last two and a half years since bub started solids and I quickly learnt the cheap $2 plates and cups don’t last very long {and cheap no-leak drink bottles are not leak proof at all, but that’s a whole other story}. Another thing I've learnt is that bub loves matching sets, i.e. the cup and plate look the same, whether they're covered in Peppa Pig or everything is all blue, she {like her mum} loves it when things match. It's entirely possible I've passed on my ocd in small doses.

I recently found JJ Rabbit Australia on facebook and was drawn to both their eco-consciousness and cool matching designs. JJ Rabbit Australia is an environmentally responsible children’s feeding brand with a range of BpA, Phalates and PVC free animal inspired feeding essentials. The JJ Rabbit range includes CUPPIES, ergoFORK+SPOON, aniBOWL, dipPLATES, dryBIB and siliMATs in bright colourful animal designs. They're cute, biodegradable, funky, functional and come in matching sets, so pretty much every toddler {and ocd mum's} dream dinnerware. We introduced some of the rabbit designs into our house a few weeks ago in an effort to make meal times more fun and exciting for bub {and I was secretly hoping it just might help with her fussy eating if I was lucky}.


Ironically they didn't even make it to dinner time before we used them the first day, instead we had an impromptu picnic outside with bub's dolls and fake food. If you're ever planning a fake picnic with your kids it's probably best not to use a white blanket, or at least don't give them real drink in their cup, because it's highly likely at some point it'll get knocked over and spill all over the blanket. Rookie error, won't do that again. The picnic was a good way to get her excited to use the set for dinner to eat real food later though.





Without a doubt both mine and bub's favourite piece from the JJ Rabbit Australia range is the cuppie. These cups are unlike anything that I've seen before and are one of the coolest toddler cup designs ever. We have the orange rabbit cup which has a little rabbit sitting inside the cup so as bub drinks he appears. How cool is that? I'm also a big fan of the two handles. Bub's been drinking from big girl cups for a while now, but she still uses a straw, because when she tries to drink from the cup itself she inevitably ends up with half her drink down her shirt. The cuppie has been great because holding the handles she can drink without spilling anything. It's quickly become her favourite cup and we've had a pretty major breakthrough with it, bub's finally started drinking milk from a cup. That may not seem like a huge milestone to most parents, but considering she had a pretty severe dairy allergy from birth {which she grew out of last December} it's been a long road convincing her to drink milk when she used to associate it with causing her pain. We've tried milk in other cups for the last few months but she simply refuses to drink it, but finally she'll drink it out of the cuppie.




The other pieces are innovative in design as well, for example the dipPLATES, which come in various different animal designs, are all stackable and are divided into two sections to easily separate condiments from food. The siliMATs can be used as either a non-slip placemat or as an actual eating surface as they're anti-bacterial. I've used ours as a placemat and rolled it up into the nappy bag to use when we eat out so her food doesn't end up touching the sometimes questionable food court tables. The JJ Rabbit products are designed in Austin, Texas and are distributed in Australia by JJ Rabbit Australia. Local stockists can be found here.

While I was hoping the dinner set may have brought about some miraculous changes to her fussy eating habits, unfortunately it hasn't {that tomato and lettuce on her taco plate are never eaten, but I keep persisting}. To be honest I pretty much knew that was wishful thinking, there was no way I'd change 2yrs of fussy eating in a couple of weeks, but I'll keep trying. We did have a pretty huge breakthrough with the cuppie though and it's quickly become her favourite dinner set so I definitely think the JJ Rabbit products are a worthy investment and they certainly make meal times fun.

Are your kids fussy eaters too?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided with the JJ Rabbit products shown for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Happy Hands Happy Heart Natural Playdough

We're huge fans of playdough in this house, even as an adult I still love playing with it. It's such a great sensory experience and you can't help but want to keep squishing, squashing and moulding it. Playdough was one of the first sensory play ideas I ever tried with bub, back when she was about 15 months old and going to speech therapy, since then it's been an almost daily fixture in our house. The learning and play possibilities with playdough are pretty much endless, it's such a great open ended play medium. We've used it to learn letters, shapes, numbers and colours, as well as practising fine motor skills, developing language and for hours and hours of imaginary play. 

The one thing I don't like about playdough however is when all the colours get mushed up together and become a big ball of poo brown or snot green. You know what I'm talking about right? My OCD just can. not. deal. with. that. at. all. I think that's partially the reason why I've never made my own playdough. Despite the fact I'm a relatively crafty SAHM {I think?} and I've gone and bought all the ingredients for playdough, with the best intentions of actually making it, I just can't bring myself to do it. The thought of creating the perfect colourful, soft, fluffy playdough only to have her smoosh it into a pile of poo goop half an hour later is soul destroying. That probably sounds a bit over the top but seriously I would be having an internal breakdown watching playdough that I made being ruined before my eyes. Perhaps I'll mellow over time, but for now it's just not happening.

Luckily for me {and all the other OCD mums out there} there are plenty of places to buy ready made playdough. I know a lot of mums worry about the possible nasties used in pre-made playdough, but there are many places to buy beautiful homemade, chemical free versions as well. A few months ago I discovered Happy Hands Happy Heart on instagram and immediately fell in love, firstly with the gorgeous playdough creations on their insta feed, and then with the playdough itself when I found out it was all natural.


Happy Hands Happy Heart natural playdough review
Happy Hands Happy Heart {HHHH} is a family run business creating homemade all natural playdough that's taste safe and designed to be visually vibrant and also scented to promote a calm, enjoyable play experience. HHHH are passionate about encouraging creative sensory play and have created playdough that's perfect for play based learning, fine motor skill development and scented to promote well-being and calm.

Happy Hands Happy Heart currently have 9 flavours in their range, including mandarin, blood orange, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon, pink grapefruit, lavender, spearmint and licorice. Each flavour of HHHH playdough is dyed and scented using different fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices and essential oils, so you can rest easy knowing there are no nasty chemicals. We've been playing with the lemon, lavender and licorice flavours and I have to say they smell absolutely divine. I honestly wish you could smell them through the computer {although you might want to lick your screen then}.
Happy Hands Happy Heart lemon, lavender and licorice scented playdough
My favourite of all the flavours we have is lemon, and that's purely because the smell reminds me of lemon meringue pie. I literally sniff the jar a good 5-10 times when we get it out to play with. That's not weird right? It smells sooo yummy! So naturally we play with that one the most. It's a good way to satisfy my need for lemon meringue pie, without actually consuming any calories. 

Lemon meringue playdough
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate this playdough lemon meringue pie Emma from HHHH created...
The Happy Hands Happy Heart playdough is so soft and fluffy, it literally scoops out of the jar like ice-cream. It doesn't have a thick plastic feel like mass produced playdough either, it's so squishy and light and super easy to mould. In fact when we played with it again yesterday bub and I spent a good 15 minutes just squishing finger prints into it because it felt so good. Most of the time though bub likes to roll it with her mini wood rolling pin and make heart cookies with the cookie cutter that came in our set.


I'm also a huge fan of creating what I call playdough stations for bub where I put out a colour of playdough and then a selection of cutters and loose parts for her to use with it {usually in a variety of dip trays}. I often find these playdough stations keep her entertained on and off for hours throughout the day as she comes and goes as she pleases. They're also a wonderful way to ignite her imagination and its always fun to watch what she makes with each of the bits and pieces I leave out for her. One we did recently included the licorice playdough, some black beans, rocks and the mini rolling pin and heart cutter.


Each flavour of HHHH playdough comes in a generous 400g jar, which is more than enough to keep the kids going for a long time. I'm used to tiny 50g tubs so 400g seems enormous. To make it last even longer just give the kids a little bit at a time, that way if it ends up all smooshed together with other colours you still have more in reserve. If you're OCD like me though you'll probably still only give them one colour at a time which means it can easily be put straight back into the jar when they're done playing. The glass jar keeps the playdough nice and air tight, and despite opening and using ours numerous times its still soft and squishy. If it does start drying out though its just a case of adding a few drops of water and moulding it through to make it soft again. HHHH are committed to being as environmentally friendly as possible which is why their playdough comes in a recyclable jar. When you need to restock your playdough you can also return the jar to HHHH to save $1 off your new purchase.

I love that Happy Hands Happy Heart playdough is all natural with no nasties or preservatives so I know its completely safe for bub to use. We've spent hours playing with our few jars already and the playdough is all still in perfect condition. Not to mention it still smells absolutely divine. If your children love playing with playdough, but for whatever reason you don't have the time or inclination to make your own, HHHH really is the next best thing. The Happy Hands Happy Heart playdough is available in single jars or smaller party favour sets from www.happyhandshappyheart.com.au.

Do your kids love playing with playdough too?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided Happy Hands Happy Heart playdough and accessories for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own based on experience with the products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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