Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Celebrate Halloween with PJ Masks

A few years ago I was very anti Halloween... I'm so scared of anything supernatural and gory it's not funny. Harry Potter scares me, that's how much I don't do supernatural, so the thought of dressing up as a ghost, witch, zombie, or anything with fake blood totally freaks me out. Halloween has never been my cup of tea, however apparently my daughter is the total opposite of me.

Since she was about 3 she started getting into Halloween as it's been gaining more popularity here in Australia. By getting into it I mean she watches cartoons about it and wanted to decorate the house. Each year she gets more and more into it and literally starts asking me from November when it's going to be Halloween again. She wants to go all out these days... decorations, costumes, trick or treating etc. So, I've relaxed my stance a little and we do a few Halloween play activities, and we even dressed up and went to a Halloween party last year.

Of course she wants to repeat it all again this year, but truth be told I wasn't a huge fan of the witch outfits we used last year and the gory kids Halloween costumes still freak me out. Perhaps I'm a bit of a prude, but I don't see the need to introduce young kids to such creepy things. The main reason she loves Halloween is because she gets to dress up and eat lollies, she basically thinks it's just a big dress up party, so that's what we're doing this year. No gory costumes in sight. This year it's all about the PJ Masks!

If you have a child aged 3-6 you're probably well aware of the PJ Masks by now {if not I've put the theme song video below, it'll get stuck in your head, you're welcome}. By day, six-year olds Connor, Amaya and Greg go to school like everyone else. As night falls, they put on their pyjamas, activate their animal amulets and magically transform into superheroes - Catboy, Owlette and Gecko.




Trick or Treat this halloween as Catboy, Owlette or Gecko


The PJ Masks are the perfect kids dress up idea for Halloween because they're night time superheros! They've been favourites in our house for years now with bub first discovering them via YouTube before they became a permanent fixture on ABC Kids. Owlette is her absolute favourite so when she got her very own Owlette costume she was beside herself excited.


Her costume is one of the new PJ Masks Hero Dress Up sets {RRP $39.99}. It's a full body onesie costume and her favourite part is it comes with real wings. The costumes are available in all characters and come with a fabric mask. The sets are available from Target, Big W, Myer, Mr Toys, Toymate, and Toyworld. In the photo above she's wearing the new Owlette costume mask, available separately in all characters from Kmart, Target, Big W, Myer, Mr Toys, Toymate, and Toyworld. 

Each year I always worry about having lollies on hand for trick or treaters. Admittedly this worry is mainly because I remember I only have packets of loose lollies in the cupboard late Halloween night and it's usually too late to run to the shops to find individually wrapped ones. For someone who's usually over prepared for everything, the candy is always my downfall. Not this year though.

This year I'm prepared with a heap of PJ Masks PEZ dispensers. They make the perfect Halloween candy because they're already individually sealed and the kids can keep using them after Halloween is over. Now I just have to make sure the girls don't find them all before Halloween!

PJ Masks PEZ dispensers, Catboy, Owletter and Gecko are available in major retail and department stores for $3. Flavours include strawberyy, lemon, orange, cherry, raspberry, cola and fizzy.

Do you do Halloween at your place? What will your kids be dressing up as?

Toni x



Disclosure - Bub was kindly gifted a costume and some pez for the purpose of this post. 
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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Chalk and cheese

The very first thing I noticed when baby girl was born was that she looked almost identical to her big sister. Apart from hair and eye colour, every other feature looked the same. They were almost born at exactly the same weight too {only 50g difference} despite me going a week overdue the second time around. A feeling of calm washed over me as soon as they put her on my chest because it was like meeting someone I already knew. It was all so familiar. 

However, it's become inherently obvious that their personalities and likes/dislikes are completely chalk and cheese. The food they eat, the clothes they like, the toys they like, the way they play, reaching various milestones, learning to talk, the sleep {or lack thereof}... it's all been so different. Which basically means everything that worked the first time around is pretty much irrelevant now.

I'd done this parenting gig almost four years before this little person came into my life, yet I still constantly feel like I know nothing. Nothing. That's a tad disconcerting as a second time mum who should {apparently} have it all figured out.

So what do you do when your second child is so different?

You wing it adapt. Make changes. Try everything, until finally something works. It's basically like being a new mum again and starting from scratch. Fun times!

Take sleep for example, first time around I thought we had a bit of a rough time, but now I know we had it pretty easy. She had her normal unsettled periods, regressions and the poop nights when she was teething or sick, but for the most part she slept through the night from a few months old on her own and in her own bed. I honestly have no idea how that happened because we never sleep trained, never used white noise, never tried getting her attached to a comforter, we never stuck to a strict routine. Our only routine was feed, get into sleeping bag, go to bed. Oh and her muslin wrap became her blankie {purely by chance}. She kind of just fell into her own groove and we ran with it. No such luck with her sister though.

This time around we've tried it all. We swaddled, arms in and arms out, and then tried sleeping bags {she hates them}. We used a dummy, until she rejected it and decided I was her personal dummy instead. I've rocked, shushed and patted for hours in the middle of the night. We tried white noise toys and apps, a lulla doll {this works as a sleep association, but doesn't keep her asleep all night}. We even went to sleep school and tried implementing a routine. No luck. This child was sent to break me I swear. Seems she's a stubborn, independent, free spirit who will only sleep on her terms.


The only thing that's worked to get me a minute amount of broken sleep each night {and stopped me going insane} has been co-sleeping and letting her snuggle against me and feed all night. Now don't get me wrong I love cuddles, and to some extent I think I've become co-dependent needing her next to me at night too, but after 16 months of chronic sleep deprivation something needed to change. It's lovely having snuggles but it's utterly exhausting having zero personal space within a 24 hour period. Times that 24hrs by 16 months and I was seriously beyond touched out.

I thought I'd tried every type of sleep aid available, then I got to see the new Gro company Groromper at the Brisbane bloggers brunch. In simple terms it's like a quilted onesie you can use instead of a sleeping bag, but it has some really cool added features like underarm breathable mesh vents, a reversible zip and foldover grippy foot covers. It's like the best features of a onesie and a sleeping bag all rolled into one. This video probably explains it a lot better than me.




I couldn't put my hand up to try it fast enough, and I'm so glad I did, because my child is now sleeping without me for a few hours a night. Yes I repeat, I can put her down and walk away without her waking up screaming every 10 minutes. It's a bloody miracle.

I think the key is that the Groromper has helped to regulate her body temperature at night, keeping her warm and then helping her cool down through the mesh vents when needed. It's something we've always struggled with as she absolutely hates having anything restricting her legs at night. She screams and kicks off blankets and when I put her in a sleeping bag she flails around like I've just locked her up in a straight jacket, even though her legs can still move around in a bag. The Groromper allows her to have complete movement, including rolling all around the cot {which she does all night long}, but she can't kick it off and the best part is she doesn't feel like I've layered her up in anything. She just thinks the Groromper is her pyjama onesie. 

She was a little wary of it the first 2-3 nights, mainly because I roll the foot covers over so her feet stay warm and she hated that. We sleep in air con though so she has to have her feet covered or she wakes up as soon as she gets cold. Once she accepted that she's grown to love it. In the morning when I take her out of it she grabs it and puts it into her cot and snuggles into it.

We've been using the long sleeve Groromper mostly because 90% of the time we have the aircon on in our room at night so our room sits at about 18 degrees. We'll {hopefully} be moving the girls into a shared bedroom together by the end of the year and that room has no aircon or fan. With summer on it's way I'm glad there's also a short sleeve Groromper available for warmer temperatures, so we can avoid WW3 trying to get her to use sleeping bags again. Thankgod.


Not going to lie, I'm kind of dreading moving them into a shared room because I'm scared her sleep will go to poo again.

At the moment she feeds to sleep initially and wakes once or twice a night for feeds. I feel like we're in a much better place sleep wise {finally}. I can now put her down and know I have at least 2 hours of free time at night, I'd have more if I could keep my eyes open longer. I finally feel like I have a teeny bit of personal space and free time back. I know she's warm or cool enough and I know she can't get tangled up in any blankets. I'm actually so relaxed about her sleep at night I forget to use the video monitor {which is huge given I have major anxiety}. I feel like we've finally found our groove.

Of course that may change again in a few weeks when we try to move both girls into a shared room, but hopefully not. Wish me luck!

Have you had non sleepers too?

Toni x



Disclosure - I was sent a short sleeve and long sleeve Groromper for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed within this post are based on our experience using the Groromper {and my immense sleep deprivation}. I did not receive payment for this review. Stock photo has been used with permission from The Gro Company AUS.
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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Coles Little Shop mini collectables help kids understand why plastic is bad for the environment

If you live in Australia and you shop at Coles {and most likely even if you don't shop there} you should have heard about the Coles Little Shop mini collectables over the last few weeks. For those who aren't aware they're a set of 30 miniature supermarket items that can be collected individually in blind bags each time you spend $30. They've caused a massive uproar because they were launched relatively close to the introduction of the single use plastic bag ban across the eastern states. Why eliminate plastic bags to replace them with useless plastic crap has been the catch phrase of numerous Australians across social media since their introduction. I can see where people are coming from in regards to the complaints about plastic, however I do think it was just an unfortunate case of bad timing for Coles. No doubt this national promotion was planned months in advance and coincidentally launched close to the plastic bag ban in some states. A genius marketing concept, but a PR nightmare {or perhaps not, any publicity is good publicity as they say}.

Controversy aside though, I have to put my hand up and admit I was always going to collect them. Normally I'm not a fan of plastic toys, but there's just something about little tiny versions of everyday items that's had me as excited as my 5yr old. In fact I've possibly been more excited than her, it's a close call. My inner child is very much alive and well and has been getting an adrenaline rush every time we've gone shopping over the last few weeks. I need to have them all... every single one. Tiny pieces of plastic that literally do nothing, except make my heart explode with happiness every time I hold them {it's entirely possible I have a problem}. It's OK, I let the kids touch them too, occasionally. Last time I checked I was a 33yr old adult, yet I'm as giddy as a school girl.

But what do you do with a bunch of mini plastic stuff once the adrenaline rush of collecting them is over? Contrary to popular opinion, they aren't useless at all, they can actually be quite educational. Learning through play is something I'm extremely passionate about and one of my favourite ways to inject some learning into our days is to do small world play with my girls. Small worlds are little real life environments that give children an opportunity to act out scenarios to help them process new concepts through play. The Coles minis are perfect for small world play because they're real life items and they're already small {be still my beating heart}. 

The obvious choice for a mini collectables small world would be a supermarket, but I've come up with an idea that helps use these little bits of plastic to help educate children why plastic is bad for the environment. Yes I see the irony. Rubbish and the environment have been keen areas of interest for my 5yr old lately and this has been one of the most thought provoking small world scenes I've ever done with her, so I thought I would share it so you can recreate it, or your own version, with your children too.

< Please note this activity is not recommended for children under 3 as some items may pose a choking risk. Full adult supervision is required >


What you will need:


~ A deep tray {we used the Kmart drinks tray}
~ Marine animal figurines {ours are from Oh Ivy}
~ A few pieces of rubbish {plastic, lids, twisty ties etc}
~ Ocean themed loose parts {aquarium plants, rocks etc}
~ Coles Little Shop mini collectables
~ Tweezers, handy scoops or tongs
~ Food Dye {optional}
~ Water


For our small world I went with a rock pool theme using animals found in shallow water relatively close to the shore, so it would be easier for my 5yr old to understand how they could get entangled in litter dumped by people at the beach. You could of course use any marine animal figurines. To set up the small world I first placed all the rubbish, animal figurines and mini collectables into the tray. In a separate container I mixed a few drops of blue food dye with some water then filled the tray with the water. I made ours quite shallow because I didn't want it being splashed everywhere {which eventually always happens}.

I used a mixture of real rubbish which I knew my daughter would recognise {clear plastic, part of a milk bottle lid, a twisty tie and cut up straws} and the mini collectables to represent the dumped rubbish. I knew the collectables would entice her to play and the household rubbish would make the experience even more real for her. I only used collectables that we had doubles of {so our good ones in the case didn't get damaged} and deliberately chose mainly drinks as they're more likely to be dumped at the beach. Please be aware the stickers on the minis may peel off after being in the water and the cardboard ones will disintegrate, so don't use your most cherished ones as they may get damaged {or use a dry sensory material like dyed rice, coconut or beans as a substitute for water}.

I included a pair of tweezers and handy scoopers with our set up to encourage her to remove the rubbish and rescue the animals. I left it up to her to choose which one she used, or if she wanted to use them at all. You could use tongs or a ladle as a substitute or they can just use their hands.

When I first brought out the tray we had a conversation about how it's really bad for the environment and animals when people throw rubbish into the beach instead of in the bin. She was naturally curious so this lead to discussions about the type of rubbish and how each animal had been affected, where the rubbish should have gone instead and we counted how many pieces of rubbish was in the ocean. She then used the handy scooper to remove all the rubbish and rescue the animals {added scissor skill practice without the need for scissors}. There was also a lot of imaginary play with the animals and she repeatedly put the rubbish in and out of the tray freeing the animals each time. You can see our actual play in this post on Instagram {swipe across for videos}. There are so many learning opportunities from this small world, depending on how your child plays with it. I love open ended, child led play and will usually answer and ask questions based on topics she naturally brings up while playing.

Learning Opportunities


- Environmental awareness
- Categorising types of rubbish {recycling, non recyclable}
- Language development
- Animal facts{names, what they eat etc}
- Fine motor skills {removing the rubbish}
- Hand/eye co-ordination
- Hypothesising {how did the rubbish get there, how can it hurt the animals}
- Imaginary play
- Sensory play
- Counting

If you recreate this small world I'd love for you to share and tag me {@finding_myself_young} on Instagram so I can see it. Also, if you have any other awesome ideas for using the Coles minis let me know. I have a few more ideas up my sleeve, but I'd love to hear yours too.

Toni x



Discosure - I did not receive payment or product in exchange for this post. I am in no way affiliated with Coles.

*Some affiliate links have been used within this post. They do not affect the price you pay, but if you decide to purchase I may earn a small commission {to fund my toy addiction}.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Introducing kids to steam education with KiwiCo

Have you been worried about how to entertain your kids as they get older?

Confession time, I've always loved learning through play and I could happily set up small world or sensory play invitations for the girls all day long, but I'm well aware as they get older these types of activities will no longer cut it, and that's terrified me. I can do young kids, but I've always worried how I'd keep older kids entertained {other than craft and iPads}. But a year or so ago I discovered steam education and it's like a lightbulb went on in my head and I've been patiently waiting for bub's interests to catch up so I could unleash all the steam ideas!

If you've never heard the term steam before, it's an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. Steam education refers to fun learning activities based around these subjects that provoke inquiry, problem solving, collaboration and experimenting. Steam learning is process based learning that involves critical thinking to reach a solution. I've been slowly incorporating it into activities now bub is 5 by doing more experiments like the skittles rainbow and making volcanoes. We're only really at the start of our steam journey and I can see her interest in science and engineering in particular is growing as is her constant thirst for knowledge, so when KiwiCo contacted me to trial their steam subscriptions boxes it was right up our alley.




KiwiCo is a US based educational subscription box company that specialise in steam education for children 0-16 years. KiwiCo make science, technology, engineering, art and maths educational activities accessible, engaging and fun to inspire the next generation of scientists, artists, makers and creators. KiwiCo was created to celebrate kids' natural creativity and curiosity, while helping parents who want to bring enriching experiences to their children. They've recently introduced shipping to Australia and bub was lucky to be one of the first Australian kids to trial their boxes.


The crates are available for different age brackets and include age appropriate steam activities. We were sent a koala crate, kiwi crate and a tinker crate. With her 5th birthday this week, I wasn't entirely sure whether the koala or kiwi crate would be most age appropriate, so it was good to be able to trial both. The koala crate was definitely a big hit and we did those activities straight away. She's also really excited to make everything in the kiwi box though. Having seen both, I would recommend if your child is already in school go the kiwi crate, but if they're still in kindergarten or younger stick to the koala crate. Both require some adult assistance still. The tinker crate is obviously way out of her age range, but it was great to see exactly what's included and I was seriously impressed. In fact I'm sure it would take me a while to construct the hydraulic arm that was included in that box {a high school student could probably still do it quicker than me, because my brain is a little rusty thanks to kids!}.






The koala crate was our favourite because it included musical instruments, but I was really impressed that all the crates include a detailed {both pictures and written} instruction booklet, activity booklet and all the items needed for each activity. I love that the boxes provide hands on learning opportunities where kids can build their own items {with a little help}. It was so much fun watching bub's sense of accomplishment as she turned a few loose pieces into a fully working xylophone. I can't wait to finish building our arcade game from the kiwi crate.



KiwiCo currently have a special until July 31st where you can get a free month when you sign up for a 12 month subscription. To activate click the link below and use the code FREEMONTH. If your kids love all things science or construction, it's definitely worth looking into.

Get a free month with a 12 month subscription with code FREEMONTH



Disclosure - I was sent some KiwiCo crates to trial and review. I did not receive payment for this review and all opinions expressed are based on our experience building and playing with the contents of the boxes.

*Some affiliate links have been used within this post. They do not affect the price you pay, but if you decide to purchase I may earn a small commission {to fund my toy addiction}.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Love me when my heart is tired

Have you ever been so tired you feel like you simply can't do anything, yet you somehow get to the end of each day with no clue how you survived? 

Chronic sleep deprivation is torture, like actual torture that is used in war time, yet here I am experiencing it in the middle of suburbia and it's been 14 long months with no end in sight. Nobody is coming to rescue me from this torture though, I'm expected to endure it with a smile on my face and tell everyone how much I love my kids and life etc, and figure it all out on my own. On social media people like to live out this fantasy land, when behind closed doors it's a whole different story. Because happy is easy to deal with and anything less than perfect isn't. The truth is sometimes gritty and harsh and painful, all the things people don't want to experience. So we run and hide from it and pretend it doesn't exist.

I'm not really one of those people though. I tend to call it like I see it and admit when things are falling apart. Having two children has been a lot harder for me than I ever imagined it would be. I'm not sure if it's because of the added pressure of allergies, a baby who's also allergic to sleep, a big {unintentional} age gap, or a combination of all of these things. Or perhaps everyone with multiple children experiences these feelings regardless of their situation.

There's been lots of crying, feeling helpless, feeling like I'm failing, lashing out {because my tolerance level is often minimal} and swearing. Yes I swear, I know it's wrong, I know I shouldn't, but I do. Sorry {not sorry}. I know at times I've turned into a cranky, yelling, generally unpleasant, borderline insane person and my friends and family have had to see me like this. Sure there are a few days where I feel like I'm winning at this mothering gig, but more often than not things feel like they're falling apart to some extent. So, this is my truth, and my apology, and my plea to everyone to still love me when my heart is so very, very tired.



To my friends...

Love me when I put up negative Facebook statuses. Don't ignore me, shut me down, or tell me it gets better. My brain logically knows it will get better at some point. I know I won't have a 15yr old sleeping in my bed waking for boobies every 2hrs {least I don't think that happens, right?}. I've done this before, I know at some point this will all be a distant memory. But at 2am when I've had one, maybe two hours of broken sleep interrupted 4 times by a baby that won't take no for an answer.. I forget that it will eventually end. In the cold, dark of the night {or sometimes the cold, foggy start of the morning} I vent on Facebook hoping for some kind of acknowledgement that I'm not alone. Hoping that someone out there sees me, someone gets me. Please don't respond telling me all the things I should be doing, because that makes me feel like I'm failing even more than I already think I am. Just see me. Let me know I still matter. Tell me to have a cup of tea. Even better organise a playdate so I get to see you in real life. 

To my mum...

When I call you in tears saying I just can't take it anymore, it doesn't mean I want you to question everything I've done. It means I've tried everything and I'm beyond done and please God come and help me. Don't tell me you don't know what to do and leave me lost and crying on the other end of the phone. Tell me you're coming over and everything will be ok. Because even though you might not know what to do and you can't "fix" it, my brain tells me you're my mum and I should run to you when I need help and everything will be ok. Listening to me and coming over will make everything ok, even if it's not. I promise I won't be a crying basket case forever {well hopefully not}.

To my husband...

You know all the times when I yell at you about stupid stuff because I'm just at the end of my God dam rope and the fact you haven't taken the bin out or remembered the kids drink bottles pushes me over the edge? Don't turn those moments into WW3. Just take them with a grain of salt. Remember I haven't slept properly in a really, really long time and I'm a slave to small children every. single. day. Its draining and constant and sometimes tiny stuff will set me off, for no apparent {logical} reason, because my tolerance level is below 0. It doesn't make sense. Tomorrow I'll realise that and know I was overreacting, but right here and now I need to vent so I don't lose my mind and unfortunately you're the only adult in the room, so it gets directed at you. I'm sorry, I know its shit. I know it's unfair, but I also know while this tiny dictator is still a sleep thief it probably wont change. My bad. Remember that invisible bubble the Dr told you to hide in when I was first pregnant 5 years ago? Maybe bring that back and camp out in it for a while, say another year or two.... I should be back to myself by then {oh God I hope so}.

To my big girl...

I'm sorry your world has been turned upside down and sometimes chaos is our new normal. It may seem like I think about you less and your needs don't matter as much anymore, but the truth is you're always on my mind. I spend so much of my day wondering if I'm doing everything right. Do I give you enough hugs? Have I told you I love you enough? Did I spend enough time with you, or did I unintentionally dismiss your concerns because your sister needed me? I don't love you any less and you aren't less important, it's just there's two of you and one of me now so waiting, sharing and not always getting what you want when you want it is the new normal and I know you don't like it or understand it right now, but unfortunately that's the way life is. One day things won't be so crazy I promise.

To my baby girl...

I feel like I'm robbing you of the mother you deserve. You get a tired, cranky, glass half empty mum most of the time when I want to be an excited, energetic, glass half full mum. I want to spend my days setting up all the play activities for you and nurturing your little mind, reveling in your new skills and giving you all of me. One day we'll get to that point, probably once you start sleeping through the night, for now boobies and cuddles are hopefully enough.

To myself...

Give yourself a break. Don't feel guilty that the house is messy, the to do lists never get completed and you feel like you fail more than you succeed. Forgive yourself for not meeting your own impossible standards. Reduce your expectations. Write have done lists instead of to do lists. Celebrate the small wins, because during this monotonous chapter of raising small people the little wins are the biggest victories. Give as much time and energy to yourself as you do to everyone else. Love yourself as much as you love others. You matter too. Love yourself even though your heart is tired.


*This post was in part inspired by Alan Walker's song tired, which has somewhat become the anthem to my life these past few months. I listen to it most nights when I have a shower, you can listen to it here.
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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Have you heard of Mokulock wooden building bricks?

You all know how much I love toys, right?

My penchant for online shopping, coupled with the occasional opportunity to review toys for the blog, means I've pretty much been the toy queen in our house from day dot. When it comes to toys, my kids always come to me {possibly because I'm a girl and like the same things as them, or maybe because I hardly ever say no}. Anyway reasoning aside, for years daddy's been sitting on the sidelines patiently biding his time, waiting for the day he could finally introduce the girls to Lego and reign supreme in the toy department. He's literally been counting down since they were born. What he wasn't counting on though was me discovering a product even more awesome than Lego and totally stealing his thunder! Whoops... I almost feel bad about it {ok not really, because you all know how much I absolutely love wooden toys}. I've found the most amazing wooden alternative to Lego and the best part is it's now available in Australia.



WHAT IS MOKULOCK?


Mokulock pieces are wooden interlocking building bricks made in Yamagata Japan. In Yamagata 70% of the land is mountainous and the residents co-exist with nature, dependent on cultivating the forest for resources. Trees cannot thrive when they're close together in the mountains as not enough sunlight can filter through, so to ensure the survival of the forest as a whole, in the winter forest thinning occurs utilising the snow as a cushion when the trees are felled. The wood used for Mokulock bricks comes from the felled trees that are unsuitable for making furniture or architecture.

Mokulock is made from 6 different types of wood; Japanese Cherry, Japanese Zelkova, Japanese Bigleaf Magnolia, Birch, Hornbeam and Maple. Each individual brick is carved from a single piece of wood making them all unique with a different grain, texture and colour. No 2 pieces are ever identical, which if I'm completely honest would normally irritate my OCD, however I find the unique markings quite fascinating. Another plus is no chemicals, paint, glue or finishing oils are used in the production of the bricks, making them even more eco-friendly.




BRING NATURE INTO YOUR PLAYROOM


Research has confirmed wood has a calming, comforting effect. Mokulock is an organic, eco-friendly alternative for those who love the appeal of Lego, but hate plastic. It provides a multi-sensory play experience without the overstimulating bright colours and cold, hard feel of plastic. Instead Mokulock is warm and textured with subtle colour variations and a natural aroma, allowing sensory input without causing sensory overload.

Mokulock provides hours of open ended creative play that naturally aids fine motor skill development as the pieces are carefully manipulated into place. These bricks never get boring because they can literally be used to construct an unlimited number of designs, inspired by your child's imagination. As your children grow the complexity of their designs will evolve too.

The first time we played with Mokulock bub was coming up with ideas of what to build on her own then asked me to build one and she would copy. We did trees, people, houses and a pyramid all initiated by her. She got a bit frustrated when she couldn't get the bricks to join together perfectly the first time, but her stubborn streak is a blessing in disguise because she kept going until she mastered it. She's now asking me to search out more complex design ideas so we can build animals like dragons and crocodiles. Keep an eye out on Instagram to see all the creations we come up with.





MOKULOCK IS FOR EVERYONE


Whether your children are building simple towers or intricate multi level buildings, there's a Mokulock set for every member of the family from inquisitive toddlers right through to the biggest construction lovers. Although the regular Mokulock pieces are small and best suited to children aged 5 and over, they're also available in bigger sizes so younger children can join in too. And of course adults can play too!

MOKULOCK

The regular Mokulock brick sets include full {8 studs} and half {4 studs} sized bricks. Mokulock sets are available in 24 pieces, 36 pieces, 48 pieces and 60 pieces.

TSUMIKI

Block pieces in the Tsumiki sets are 8 times bigger than regular Mokulock pieces. They're similar in size to Duplo and designed so young children can start learning how to build with interlocking blocks. Tsumiki is available in 28 piece or 56 piece sets and come with additional eye stickers to help bring kids creations alive.

BUBU

The Bubu car is the only Mokulock set that includes wheels and bevel cut pieces. The set contains 14 pieces designed to build a specific wooden car which is the perfect size for little hands. However, the pieces are compatible with all Mokulock bricks, so it can be used in conjunction with other sets to build even bigger vehicles. 

KODOMO

Kodomo literally translates to children in Japanese and these sets are designed to add a little bit of magic. The Kodomo sets include regular Mokulock bricks in full and half lengths with the added bonus of cute eye stickers to help bring kids creations to life. Kodomo is available in 34 piece and 60 piece sets. For your chance to win a 60 piece set enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

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After playing with the regular Mokulock bricks I would suggest they're great for children aged 4 and up {we don't have Tsumiki, but I would assume they would be good for 3+ as they're similar to Duplo}. I always supervise her while playing with them, moreso because I need to keep her younger sister away from them as she still mouths everything. Word of warning too, you will need to keep them away from adult males, if you ever want to play with them again. The good news though is that he has forgiven me for stealing his thunder and now enjoys regular building sessions with bub. It's actually really lovely having a toy they can both play with and enjoy simultaneously. Mokulock gives them the option of working together for a common goal or alongside each other and it's been great watching them bond over a shared interest.


WHERE CAN YOU GET MOKULOCK IN AUSTRALIA?


The entire Mokulock range is now available from Oskars Wooden Ark, Australia's newest online destination for quality open ended wooden toys. Growing up in Germany, owner Simon was surrounded by many high quality wooden toys thanks to his kindergarten teacher mother, which cemented a deep love of handmade wooden toys and open ended play from an early age. He and his wife Thuy recently opened Oskar's Wooden Ark {affectionately named after their son} after emigrating from Germany to Australia, in the hopes of bringing the wonderful handmade wooden toys he enjoyed playing with growing up, to children here in Australia. You can read their entire story here.



Oskar's Wooden Ark specialises in wooden toys, stocking popular wooden toy brands Grimm's, Ostheimer, Wobbel, Grapat, Mokulock and Magic Wood, who's products are sourced from sustainably managed forests in Europe. Wooden bricks, rainbows, cars, animals, Nins and wobbleboards are just some of the iconic toys that grace their online shelves. Each product is unique with individual grain marks made by nature. They're also great for developing fine motor skills, high contrast vision, letters, numbers, counting, mathematical reasoning and language development whilst engaging children in hours of open ended play.

To celebrate their opening and Mokulock being available in Australia, they're offering all Finding Myself Young readers 10% off* all Mokulock products. Just use the code finding_myself_young when checking out at www.oskarswoodenark.com.au. You may even be lucky and get a special Mokulock wooden key charm with your order.

Win Mokulock thanks to Oskar's Wooden Ark


Thanks to Oskar's Wooden Ark I also have a 60 piece Kodomo set of Mokulock wooden building bricks to giveaway to you! To enter simply follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget {so I can contact you if you win} and comment below letting me know what your kids would love to build with Mokulock? You can also enter over on Facebook and Instagram for additional chances to win.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

TERMS & CONDITIONS
Competition commences upon publication and ends at 11:59pm May 10th 2018. One winner will receive a Mokulock 60pc Kodomo set RRP $89.90. Finding Myself Young will not be held liable should the prize be lost in transit. Competition is open to Australian residents only, excluding ACT. This competition is a game of skill and will be judged as such. All mandatory entry steps must be completed to constitute a valid entry. Incomplete entries will be deemed invalid and excluded from judging. Entries can be made via www.findingmyselfyoung.com, Facebook and Instagram and one winner will be selected from the total entry pool. Winners will have 48hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook or Instagram.

* Discount code is valid 8th May 2018 - 10th May 2018

Disclosure - I was gifted Mokulock wooden building bricks for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed within this post are based on our experience building with Mokulock. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Bringing memories to life

This post is in collaboration with Brand Meets Blog

I remember being fascinated by our photo albums when I was little. They were so chunky and there were so many of them all lined up in a row on the bookshelf next to the Reader's Digest and our Encyclopedia Britannica collection. I'd regularly get them down and gently flip through the pages careful not to knock any of the photos out of place. They were the old-school albums where the photos were held in by sticky pages, except the pages became less sticky and kind of redundant as time went on.

I'd spend ages marveling at the fact I really was a baby once and there was a time before my brother existed, even though I didn't remember any of it. Those original baby albums probably inspired my love of photo taking and insatiable desire to capture memories. While I loved looking at them, when I was allowed to, I always wondered why mum put our photos in albums that sat on bookshelves collecting dust. I never understood why there weren't more hanging on the walls so we could see them everyday.

Fast forward 20 something years and chunky photo albums seem to be a thing of the past. In fact I've never even put together a physical photo album, but I have the modern day equivalent with 35 photo albums on my Facebook profile, an Instagram account {for photo sharing} and 9000+ photos sitting idly in my phone gallery. With so many things being digital these days, it can be easy to get lost in our devices and forget about the physical world around us. It's only recently occurred to me that despite the fact I take and share photos every single day, my kids don't actually see them at all {unless my 4yr old steals my phone}. They don't even have a dusty photo album they can pull off the shelf and flick through. For someone so obsessed with making memories, I can't believe I've been {unintentionally} forgetting to share them with my own children.

In my defense, creating some kind of photo wall display has been on my to do list for a while, but it's always been put in the too hard basket and not been a high priority.  I haven't printed photos out previously, because the thought of taking two kids into a store to use a kiosk then wait for the photos to be printed sounds like an awesome day out a special kind of hell {I know this because we all went with my mother when she printed hers}. I want to have more visible reminders of our time together as a family though so I decided to make a start on my photo wall with one of the maternity photos we had taken last year before baby girl's arrival.

It turns out, unbeknownst to me until two weeks ago, you can easily order canvas prints online from CanvasChamp. No long winded trips to the shops. No battling to get two kids ready to leave the house, or entertaining them while they get oh soooo bored waiting in line ups. Just a few clicks on my laptop and I had a 40x50cm canvas print ordered for our photo wall in under 5 minutes. In mum time that's the equivalent of Justine Clarke singing everywhere's a dancefloor {which incidentally is a good way to occupy the kids while using your laptop}.


canvas champ online ordering form



I could of bit the bullet and ordered the entire wall display in one go, but I'm indecisive and if I waited until I'd worked out all the photos I wanted it would never get done. I'd also never ordered canvas prints online, so if I'm completely honest, I was a bit apprehensive about the quality, especially given they were a lot cheaper than I was expecting {so being somewhat pessimistic I decided to try before putting all my eggs in one basket so to speak}. However, I'm happy to report the canvas arrived in perfect condition and really well packaged a week later.

I wouldn't hesitate ordering more prints online now and I'm actually considering ordering some for mum for Mother's Day. What better gift than memories of your children and grandchildren right? You can get a free 8x8 canvas print with your first order if you sign up to the newsletter too. They also have wood prints, how cool! If you know how obsessed I am with wooden toys you'll understand why that excites me so much.
canvas print of Finding Myself Young maternity shoot



This photo from our maternity shoot now takes pride of place on our wall. As soon as bub saw it she said "wow mummy look at the picture, that's when we were in the forest taking photos when bubby was in your tummy. It's so beautiful". Of course my heart melted. I'm so glad she has a daily reminder of our family adventure to the forest and how excited we were to become a family of four. I also love that her little sister will be able to look at it each day and know how much we looked forward to meeting her {and maybe one day she'll believe me she really was inside my belly}. Now I really want to print more photos and organise another family shoot with all four of us {even though baby girl's technically in this photo} so we can hang even more memories on our walls.


How often do you print your photos out?
Surely I'm not the only one with thousands of photos sitting on my phone?

Toni x


Disclosure - This is a sponsored post for CanvasChamp in accordance with my disclosure policy. The maternity photo shown in this post was taken by Katherine Maree Photography.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Surviving emergency situations at home and on the go


Since becoming a mum, the health and wellbeing of my children has been my first and foremost priority. I've done a parent's first aid course {twice actually} and taught bub what to do in an emergency in the hope that we'll be better prepared should anything unforeseen ever happen. So far we've been lucky enough to survive most mishaps with bandaids, lolly water {paracetamol} or mummy kisses. I have it on good authority that mummy kisses can fix just about anything when it comes to small children, but Murphy's Law says there's bound to be a time they just won't cut it and I'm worried we'll be grossly unprepared. Having first aid knowledge is super important, but it's also best when it's backed up with the right equipment.

God forbid one of my kids ever break their arm or get bitten by a snake {yes we have them in our backyard} and I need to hold down the fort while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I'd much rather be prepared for a crisis than find myself having to MacGyver up a splint and bandage on the fly {of course I still would, because they're my kids, but I'd rather use bandages than ripping up my top}. Which is why I was glad Survival Emergency Solutions recently contacted me asking if I'd like to try out one of their first aid kits.

When they first contacted me I went searching through our medicine cabinet to find our current first aid kit. I knew we had one, but I hadn't looked at it in what I thought was months, but turns out it's been a few years. I was shocked to find it only contained a handful of bandaids and a few expired bandages {who knew bandages even expired}. I was slightly horrified at the state of it given T's a first aid officer you'd think we'd be more aware of what first aid supplies are in this house. Evidently not. Despite all our first aid knowledge, we've clearly not been taking it as seriously as we should so I'm glad they contacted me as it's put everything into the forefront of my mind. I actually count myself really lucky that nothing bad has happened over the last few years while our kit has been in such a pitiful state.


Survival Emergency Solutions was founded in 1988 by twin brothers Jerry and Tim Tyrrell after the tragic cot death of a family member who was unable to be resuscitated. After the tragedy Jerry developed the Emergency First Aid Handbook which provides detailed essential steps in first aid for various emergency situations. The handbook won an Australian Design Award, has sold over 2 million copies since then and is now available in its fifth edition.

After developing such successful publications, the company then started developing first aid kits. Survival are now a leading provider of specialist first aid kits for the workplace, home, vehicle and outdoor activities. Their kits are extremely durable incorporating world class design features, an intelligent labeling system and the ability to add personal medical items such as asthma puffers, sunscreen etc. We've got the Family First Aid Bundle so we're prepared for accidents at home and when we're out and about.


SURVIVAL FAMILY FIRST AID BUNDLE


I chose the family first aid bundle because it combines the home first aid kit with two smaller handy first aid kits plus the emergency first aid handbook. It's designed with families in mind and is the most economical way to get a kit for the home and both cars. It's currently available for 40% off + you can use my exclusive survival first aid discount code {at the bottom of this post} to receive an extra 10% off.

Unlike traditional first aid kits that usually come in a box, Survival first aid kits are in durable, water resistant double stitched bags with stainless steel zips and individual compartments for each item. No fishing through a box looking for the right item. The first aid kits are labelled with a colour coding system, split into four sections: trauma, hygiene, information and utilities, making it even easier to locate the right item when needed, saving critical minutes during an emergency. In addition to this a lot of the labels have further explanation such as burns or abrasions, wound cleaning, shock, minor wounds, sprains etc so you can quickly identify which items you might need based on what type of injury you're dealing with. There's also a restock quantity shown so you know how many of each item should be in the kit at all times {individual items should be replaced as they're used either via the restock portal online, or by purchasing at your local chemist}.

Survival Home First Aid Kit




The home first aid kit is the most comprehensive Survival first aid kit available, containing over 160 items designed to treat minor everyday injuries through to managing major emergencies while waiting for medical help. They've thought of everything from items you'd expect to find like bandaids, bandages {numerous different types} and dressings {again multiple types} to items I've never had on hand before like splinter probes, hydro gel, shears and an emergency blanket. There's also a first aid in brief booklet, CPR kit and space to add personal items like sunscreen and medication. That's still only scratching the surface of what's included, a full list of inclusions can be found online. 

I love that Survival have managed to fit so many first aid supplies into such a compact {yet incredibly organised} bag. Even though it includes so much, it still only weighs 1.5kg so is portable and easily fits into our medicine cabinet. The best part is when it's folded up and put away nothing falls out of place.

Survival Handy First Aid Kit



The family first aid bundle also includes 2 handy first aid kits which are smaller kits designed to deal with minor injuries. It includes all the supplies needed to treat minor cuts and abrasions, splinters, sprains, snake bites and fractures, before seeking further medical treatment. At under 500g and only 18cm long it's small enough to fit into a nappy bag, backpack, pram or glove box making it perfect for day trips, camping, hiking or a car emergency kit. We've got one in both cars so I know we'll always have a first aid kit with us for trips to the beach, playdates and while running everyday errands just incase anything happens.



Free iFirstAid App and e-Handbook


iFirstAid is the Survival Emergency Solutions app making first aid information available at your fingertips no matter where you are. The free lite version covers essential first aid information including CPR instructions for adults, children and babies as well as step by step instructions for bleeding, burns, choking or poisoning. There's also a travel module with emergency contact numbers for over 200 different countries.

iFirstAid is available on both iOS and Android platforms. The full version of the app includes additional first aid modules as well as find my family, immunisation and emergency broadcast options. The full version {normally $9.99} is currently on sale for $0.99.




At the moment you can also download a free first aid emergency e-handbook online. The e-handbook is a 115 page PDF version of the popular First Aid Emergency Handbook {included in the Family First Aid Bundle and available for purchase separately}. The best way I can describe the handbook is it's basically like having a first aid course available in an easy to read, illustrated text book. There's so many emergency situations covered, including childbirth, which probably would of made me feel more at ease last year while I was preparing for a vbac and hoping to avoid an unplanned homebirth! If you've never done a first aid course, or even if you want a refresher or somewhere to refer to, I'd definitely recommend getting it for home {either the paper or e-book version}.


10% off survival first aid kits

Why choose Survival First Aid Kits?   


  • Compact & Lightweight design
  • Durable, well organised kits
  • Clearly labelled, colour coded compartments
  • CPR pouch including instructions
  • A kit for any occasion 
  • Emergency First Aid Handbook
  • Easy Restock Portal
  • FDA Approved
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee 

Finding Myself Young readers can use the exclusive discount code FMY10 to save 10% off the online price of any Survival Emergency Solutions products. Simply add the code at checkout.

Knowing we have the house and cars well stocked with easy to access, organised first aid supplies makes me feel much better prepared should something happen. We've actually already used the ice pack when I smashed my knee into the cot in the middle of the night. Such a mum injury right? She doesn't even sleep in the cot, it's just an aesthetically pleasing trip hazard at this point! Thankfully my knee didn't bruise too badly though because I got the ice pack onto it quickly. It's a good thing we had it too because we had no ice or frozen vegetables in the freezer {so I couldn't even MacGyver up an ice pack if I wanted to}.

How long has it been since you checked your first aid kit?

Toni x

* FMY10 discount code can be used for 10% off the online price of the entire range of Survival Emergency Solutions products. Discount code is valid until 30th June 2018.

Disclosure - I was sent a Family First Aid Bundle by Survival Emergency Solutions but I was not obligated to post a review. I have chosen to write this review as I believe Survival first aid kits are an essential product all homes should have and to give readers access to an exclusive survival first aid discount code. I did not receive payment for this post. All product photography has been used with permission. Prices quoted are valid upon publication, please check links to confirm current pricing.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ultimate First Birthday Gift Guide

So my baby girl is turning one this week...

Everybody in my family thinks my kids are hard to buy for, apparently "they have everything" because our house resembles a toy shop. Yes, I agree, our house does somewhat resemble a toy shop {or a childcare centre} and we do have a lot of toys, buuuut there are always more toys. I guarantee I can always find things we don't have {that we obviously need}. If I had a bigger house and a never ending supply of money you can bet our house would be packed with way more toys than it is now. There's so many amazing toys out there, you just have to know where to look {or spend hours scrolling online shops while breastfeeding like me}. Thankfully you don't have to though, because I've done the hard work {aka research} for you and put together this awesome gift guide. I swear if toy scout was a job, I'd be all over it. If you have a one year old to buy for, or your own baby is about to turn one, this post is packed full of ideas, and they're all great for girls and boys.

Wooden vs plastic toys


I have to admit, when my big girl was a baby, our toy style could pretty much be described as plastic fantastic. I used to walk into all the department stores and be blinded by the bright colours, whizz bang sounds and cheap prices, I'd buy a new toy every time we went to the shops. I was so excited to finally have a baby I wanted e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. It's safe to say I quickly got over my fascination with all things noisy and plastic. The endless need for new batteries, creepy toys going off in the middle of the night and my house looking like shiny rainbow vomit had a lot to do with it. So began my obsession with wooden toys {around about when she was 18 months old}. 

Not only are wooden toys less likely to freak me out in the middle of the night, they're also inherently open ended providing numerous learning opportunities that evolve as your child grows. They inspire hours of pretend play, limited only by your child's imagination. They're also extremely durable and won't fade, crack or deteriorate as quickly as their plastic counterparts. All of these reasons are why I've only bought wooden toys for my girls for the past few years. The ones we've collected so far are such good quality I'm planning on keeping most of them for my future grandkids to play with.

But what do you get a one year old? They're too old for baby toys...


That's totally true, most one year olds are in that odd in between stage where they're too old for baby toys like teethers and blankies, but don't have the skills yet for things like puzzles and games. However, I like to think of toys that will suit them for the whole year not just what they can do right at this moment. Between 1-2yrs of age toddlers brains are developing rapidly and their physical, cognitive and language skills and abilities will also evolve exponentially.

During the next 12 months most toddlers will hit big physical milestones like learning to walk, but they'll also master less obvious ones like their pincer grip, through actions like grasping, stacking, transferring and sorting objects. They'll also start simple pretend play with their toys by mimicking actions you do with them. Not to mention their speech will start expanding and one of the best ways to facilitate this is through play.

I'm very passionate about learning through play so I've put together a list of some amazing good quality toys that will help develop these skills. And yes these are the actual presents she'll be getting for her birthday. The way she plays with each of them will continue to evolve as she gets older. Keep an eye out on Instagram to see them in action over the coming weeks and months.





HAPE ROLLER DERBY


The Hape roller derby is one toy that's been on my wish list for months. We hired it for her big sister when I was still pregnant and it was such a hit I've been wanting to buy it ever since. It's essentially a more toddler friendly version of a marble run using bigger balls. Kids put the balls into the top hole and watch them fall down the ball run, through the different holes, changing sides as they go and then finally dropping onto a bell at the bottom. It's such a simple toy, but it provides loads of tactile, visual and auditory stimulation. It's also a really easy way for younger kids to practice hand/eye co-ordination while placing the balls through the hole. I imagine her big sister will be keen to play with this one too as she's used it before, so I'm hoping it'll also help the girls practice turn taking.

I was so excited when The Creative Toy Shop added the roller derby to their Hape range, because I'd been having a bit of trouble tracking it down online. The Creative Toy Shop is an online toy store that stocks educational toys, activity guides and resources to facilitate play based learning for children of all abilities. I first met owner Brianna via her notes from a home educator Instagram account where she shares learning activities she does while homeschooling four young boys. She's now living my dream and running her own toy store alongside her teaching job. Everything available in her shop has been carefully selected to cater for children of all abilities, including those with special needs. You can follow The Creative Toy Shop on Facebook and Instagram.


EGG AND CUP GAME


This rainbow wooden egg and cup puzzle set is a great little matching game for toddlers. They can start to develop fine motor skills, hand/eye co-ordination, learn about balance and cause and effect by grasping the eggs and transferring them in and out of the cups. What I love most about this set is that it essentially grows with your child because it can be used to learn and reinforce different skills at different ages. As she gets older I'll also use it to teach her the different colours, for colour sorting, problem solving, counting and sequencing. I dare say her big sister will probably play with these a lot too.

The egg and cup game is made from renewable birch and hand painted using vegetable based paints. I got it from Works at Play, a Brisbane based toy store with a focus on affordable, sustainable, open ended toys, resources and play sets for at home and childcare centres. Owner Melissa is an Early Childhood Teacher passionate about sharing her knowledge of play resources and learning opportunities with others. Many of the toys and resources sold at Works at Play are Montessori or Waldorf inspired. You can follow Works at Play on Facebook and Instagram.


GRIMMS 7 RAINBOW FRIENDS



When it comes to wooden toys Grimms are pretty much up there with the best of the best. I'd even go as far as saying they're probably the world leaders in open ended toys. I think the best place to start your Grimms collection for a toddler is with the 7 rainbow friends in bowls. The peg dolls will help develop baby girl's pincer grip as she grabs them and transfers them in and out of the bowls. The bowls can also be stacked on their own. They're also great for introducing colour sorting and matching and eventually we'll use them to sequence the colours of the rainbow. As her imagination develops they'll also be fabulous for pretend play.

This set is made from sustainably sourced alder and maple wood and is hand finished with non-toxic, water based dyes. Each piece of Grimms has unique markings from the natural wood grain so no two pieces or sets will ever be exactly the same. I also got these from The Creative Toy Shop, they have an extensive range of Grimms toys with options for babies right through to older children.


RAINBOW SOUND BLOCKS





Wooden blocks provide children with a delightful tactile sensory experience and are a perfect first birthday gift for toddlers starting to explore grasping, stacking and sorting. These wooden rainbow sound blocks have added sensory stimulation with coloured panels and different beads within each block. Baby girl is obsessed with anything that makes sound so I know she's going to love shaking, banging, stacking and knocking them over to explore the different sounds they make. They're also a good size for kids who are still prone to mouthing {always use them under supervision with young children} and they pack away neatly into the included storage box when not in use.

Like a lot of the other items included in this list, wooden blocks appeal to a large range of ages so I know they're something she won't get bored of or grow out of quickly {I still love playing with wooden blocks at 33}. As she gets older I'll also use them for introducing colours and shapes and in treasure baskets. I also got these from Brianna at The Creative Toy Shop, which is my go to shop for sensory play items {and lots of other toys as you can tell}.


STACKING TREE



Baby girl loves stacking {and unstacking} everything at the moment so stacking toys were high on my list of items to find for her. Let's face it there are more than a few stacking towers around, but I fell in love with this wooden stacking tree instantly. Instead of stacking the rings vertically they stack horizontally on three different tiers. I love that it helps develop fine motor skills and being horizontal and tiered it'll make her work that little bit harder on her hand/eye coordination and problem solving. The rings can also be used to learn colours and introduce counting and one to one correspondence once she's a little older.

I found this awesome stacking tree from Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy a Ballarat based store that specialises in eco friendly wooden toys and bamboo dinnerware. Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy also offer Australia wide toy hire on a monthly basis with no minimum hire. You can follow Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy on Facebook and Instagram.


GEO TRIO STACKER





Still focusing on stacking, I also came across this cute geo trio stacker. I love that it combines colours, shapes, faces and sizes. Not only can the pieces be stacked, they can also be sorted by colour, shape and size. It's also really cool that it has the three dimensional version of each shape at the top. This stacker will be great for fine motor skills, hand/eye coordination, problem solving and spatial awareness. I'm pretty sure she'll enjoy chatting away to the face blocks too, she babbles away to anything with a face {pictures, toys, bells etc}.

The geo trio stacker is by Voilà, a wooden toy brand that craft colourful toys designed to stimulate and support physical and cognitive development. The tree stacker above is by Voilà as well. I got both of them from Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy where you'll find an extensive range of Voilà toys {we have quite a few toys from this brand}.


TREE TOP ADVENTURE ACTIVITY CENTRE



Activity centre cubes and tables are a pretty staple gift option for 1 year olds that you can't really go wrong with. Toddlers love to explore and play with anything and everything and activity centres give them a chance to play interactively with multiple items at once. Not only are they having fun putting items in and out, spinning, winding, opening and shutting, and pushing and pulling little pieces, they're also doing a great deal of learning. Each manoeuvre strengthens their hand muscles and assists fine motor skills as well as teaching cause and effect and problem solving.

We've had quite a few different activity cubes and tables over the years {I know I have a toy problem}, but I think this tree top adventure activity centre may be the best one I've ever seen, because it's a 3D tree! How cool is that?! The four quadrants that make up the tree include gliding tracks, bead runs, spinning beads and gears and flaps that open and close. What I also love about the tree design is that it's up off the ground so baby girl can play with it while standing {which is good because she's been walking since 10 months and prefers standing over sitting}. It also has enough room for both girls to play together. I'm sure her big sister won't be able to resist having a go, in fact I can just imagine all the pretend play that will happen here.



COLOUR AND SHAPE FLASH CARDS




These Two Little Ducklings Colour & Shape flash cards are a great way to introduce toddlers to colours and shapes. I specifically chose the colour & shape set as they're the easiest concepts for 1-2yr olds to learn. Although flash cards are a more structured learning resource, they work well for younger kids when used {under supervision} alongside other items. To start with I'll be using the colour cards in special colour themed treasure baskets {with toys and loose parts} to slowly introduce her to different colours. As she gets older I'll incorporate them into colour hunts {pick a flash card and go find items of that colour}, colour matching items to the cards, colour sorting and I'll also introduce the same activities with the shape cards.

The flash card set includes 25 cards, featuring primary and secondary colours and shapes, represented by everyday items children will be familiar with. They're printed on thick environmentally friendly 300GSM paper with rounded edges and come in a calico storage bag. I got them from Avidiva, an online store that stocks quality, stylish, natural, non-toxic gifts for mums and little ones. Avidiva stock a range of Two Little Ducklings flash cards including the high contrast cards {great for babies} and the alphabet, counting, fruits and vegetables and feelings and emotions cards that are all great for toddlers and preschoolers. You can follow Avidiva on Facebook and Instagram.


ONE YEAR OLD GIFT BOX



What's the best thing to get someone when you don't know what to get them? Easy, a gift box....  Gift boxes aren't just for adults, there's special toy gift boxes available for one year olds too. The Big Little Box Co is a Brisbane based online business specialising in curated and custom gift boxes for little ones from babies right through to 5 year olds. The best part is almost the entire range of products available are wooden educational toys designed to stimulate fine motor development. If ever there was a business right up my alley, this is certainly it! To compliment the amazing contents, the gift box itself is sturdy white gloss cardboard with a magnetic flap and your child's name is printed on top in vinyl in your choice of font and colour. The boxes themselves make great keepsake boxes after the gift giving is over.

The Big Little Box Co have a number of curated first birthday gift boxes, however because we have a couple of similar items already, I chose to create my own box. There's a huge range of toys and books available from The Big Little Box Co with prices starting at just a few dollars so you can put together a gift box for any budget. I chose all of our items based on where she's at developmentally and her current interests. She's starting to want to do simple puzzles so I chose the Hape colour and shape sorter and the wooden bee puzzle. The wooden lion is a screw puzzle to help work her fine motor skills. She also loves anything to do with music so I got an owl shaker. Finally we're collecting the "That's not my" Usborne touch and feel books so I chose That's not my duck to add to our collection. I can't wait to see her face when she opens up her box. I'm going to keep the box to use as a special baby memory box for her {and yes I'll be ordering a box for her big sister so she has one too}. You can follow The Big Little Box Co on Facebook and Instagram.


Still need other ideas?


Most of baby girl's gifts were deliberate out of the box choices as we have so many standard toddler toys already. If nothing on this list takes your fancy, other toys we already have that are great for toddlers are:

  • Shape sorters
  • Pounding peg toys
  • Bead maze runs
  • Push/pull toys
  • Sensory balls
  • Ride on toys
  • Walkers

Hopefully this list has given you plenty of gift ideas for the little ones in your life. To see all these toys in action and the different ways we play with them over the next few weeks, follow us on Instagram. Now I'm off to console myself over the fact my last baby is already turning one. Why do they have to grow up so fast?



Disclosure - Some of the products featured in this gift guide were gifted to us and others were purchased. I have purchased from all stores featured in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I have only included items I was going to/have bought for her. All stock images have been used with permission. To see these products in action over the coming weeks follow us on Instagram. Always supervise young children while playing with toys containing small parts.

*This post contains some affiliate links

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