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Friday, December 23, 2016

The Twirlywoos

Have you met the Twirlywoos?

Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy and Chick are some of the newest residents of ABC Kids, landing on our screens here in Oz about 3 months ago now. When the show first came out bub would run around the house saying it's the Twirlywoos mummy, the Twirlywoos are back! It took me ages to figure out what she was saying.... Twirly boos, tombliboos? I had no idea, so I sat down and watched it with her to see why she was so excited.


It turns out The Twirlywoos are actually pretty funny {even though they don't talk properly}. Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy, Chick and their friend Peekaboo are incredibly curious. They sail to our shores from far away on their special boat to learn something new each day. They hide, watching inquisitively what's going on around them, then when the coast is clear, they investigate what they've seen.

The show is made by the creator of The Teletubbies and In the Night Garden {perhaps why the name is so close to the tombliboos} and is purposefully designed to introduce and explore age appropriate concepts with preschoolers. Each episode the Twirlywoos go on wacky adventures and learn new concepts like up, over, behind, round and round, through and upside down. The show teaches these concepts to toddlers and preschoolers using a combination of stop frame animation and live sequences using images that correlate with how 3-4 year old's perceive the world around them. There's also lots of added humour with jokes and funny mishaps occurring along the way as they explore the world around them.

Like most of the tv shows on ABC Kids, there's also an abundance of Twirlywoos merchandise to support the show and bring the stories to life at home. I'm all for imaginative play so of course some of it has found it's way to our house. Naturally there are character play sets and figurines, but being the mean mummy I am {i.e. being super strict about what plastic toys enter our house}, I went for the activity books and plush toys {sorry, not sorry}.


Board books are seriously one of the best gift ideas ever, especially for kids who still like to tear pages instead of turn them [we had a mishap with one of her favourite books last night that required emergency reconstructive surgery}. The Twirlywoos board books show a complete reenactment of an episode {minus the live scenes} so you can recreate your child's favourite episode as a bedtime story. The sticker activity book allows kids to place the stickers in scenes from the show to tell the story. I love that it makes the stories interactive and also makes kids problem solve about where the stickers go, plus what kid doesn't love stickers? I still love them as an adult. Aaand how cute is the little Toodloo plush?! There are plush toys, both big and small, available in each of the characters {perfect for pretend play, or terrorising the cat, if your child is anything like mine}. The Twirlywoos books, plush toys and play sets are a great way to bring the fun of The Twirlywoos to life in interactive play at home.

To get to know the Twirlywoos and all their friends, play games and watch the Twirlywoos explore their world, visit www.Twirlywoos.com, or check out the latest Twirlywoos news on Facebook www.facebook.com./Twirlywoos

Disclosure - I was gifted the books and plush toy shown above. All opinions expressed are based on my extensive experience watching The Twirlywoos {soooo many times} with my 3yr old and from playing with the products provided. I did not receive payment for this post.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

6 Free Printable Christmas Activities for Preschoolers

A couple of weeks ago a wonderful thing happened, I finally got my own laminator. To say I'm slightly obsessed with it would be a gross understatement. I've never loved a machine as much as I love my laminator {if that's not a sign I should be a teacher I don't know what is}. Needless to say ever since I've had the laminator I've been on a quest to laminate all the things and that's involved printing out a tonne of printables that we can re-use.

There are so many super talented bloggers out there making educational, fun and interactive printables and the cool thing is you can pretty much find them for any theme, you just have to know where to look for them. Over the last fortnight I've been scouring Instagram to find the best free Christmas printables from some of my favourite kid bloggers. Holiday themed printables are great because they help build excitement for Christmas, while also reinforcing fundamental developmental skills. Like most kids bub learns best when playing and printables are a wonderful way to facilitate this {in a slightly more structured way}. These are our favourite free Christmas printables we've been using this year and links to where you can download them for yourself.

Learn shapes, letters, numbers, counting and more with these free christmas printables
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Animal figurine sensory, small world, bookish and game play ideas

I'm a huge fan of learning through play. It all started when bub had to go to speech therapy at about 18 months old. She was referred for two reasons, speech delay {she wasn't saying as many words as they expected for her age} and more importantly they suspected she had some sort of sensory processing disorder {because she wouldn't engage with many people outside our immediate family members, and she had no interest in socialising with other children}. With a family history of autism it was decided to get her into speech therapy asap to try and get her engaging with others as well as helping her develop her speech. 

During her months at speech therapy I learnt a lot of techniques from the therapist and it became my main goal to utilise them at home between visits, so I could help her speech and social skills develop as best as possible. Her therapy really propelled my interest in learning though play and it's never been quashed, despite her being discharged from speech therapy after 9 months {she caught up to all the required levels for speech and was even above some of the markers for her age}. To this day we still do many play based activities at home and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

I've loved watching how her play and interests have evolved as she's grown older and learnt so much more. She's very much into imaginary play at the moment so I'm often leaving out activities which facilitate that and let her imagination run wild. Without a doubt some of her favourite toys for imaginary play are her animal figurines. She plays with them pretty much on a daily basis in some way shape or form, so needless to say we've gathered quite a collection of creatures over the last few months. The good thing is they're so versatile so we use them for a number of play based learning activities and bub never gets bored with them. These are just some of the ways we've used our animals to create fun learning scenarios over the past few months.


* This post contains some affiliate links *


BRING STORIES TO LIFE WITH BOOKISH PLAY



We love reading so books are always on high rotation around here. I used to only use my high pitched enthusiastic voice and hand gestures to bring stories to life, but these days we take things further and extend stories with our toys via bookish play. This works particularly well as she can re-enact the story after with her toys, adding to or changing the story line as she sees fit. We have so many animal based books {especially little golden books}, so our animals have been the perfect props for story time.

Bookish play with our orcha whale and manatee






LEARN ABOUT ANIMALS WITH BOOKS




We also use our animals to help bub understand books that are a bit above her comprehension level. Obviously she can't read yet, so picture books are her jam at the moment, but we do have some other lovely books in our collection that we use for learning rather than stories. Our mini edition of Animalium is like a mini encyclopedia of animals from around the world. It includes all different types of animals from invertabrites through to mammals and explains the evolution of the animal kingdom in chronological order. Children {and adults} can explore the pages to discover facts about each species including their body structure, life cycle and the habitats they live in. The book {written by Jenny Broom} also includes many intricate and colourful illustrations by Katie Scott {which of course are bub's favourite part at the moment}. The book is also available as a set of Animalium flash cards.



With bub still being so young we haven't really used Animalium to it's full potential yet, but it's still been a great little learning resource for her. I skim read the book to her {skipping the in depth explanations} and we look at all the illustrations and talk about the different features of each animal. We also get our Oh Ivy animals and match them up to the illustrations to help her correlate the pictures in the book to real life animals {the 3d animals make the 2d images more relatable for her, especially at such a young age}. We've also been talking a bit about where the animals live and what they eat as her understanding grows. She also likes to "read" the book back to me and quiz me on the facts. "What's this animal mummy? And what colour is it? Where does he live?"



ANIMAL SMALL WORLD PLAY



One of our favourite ways to use our toy animals is for small world play. Small world play involves creating little "real life" environments so children can act out scenarios from real life helping them process new concepts through play. Small worlds can be an independent activity, but are also great for play dates allowing many children to role play different scenarios together {they're also a great way for them to learn sharing and turn taking}.

Small world play is my favourite type of play because for the most part she can do it independently and it provides so many opportunities for learning, many of which are self initiated. Small world play is great for language development, fine motor skills and cognitive skills as she move pieces around and acts out different scenarios she comes up with. We also usually combine small world play with sensory elements such as water, playdough, dried food {cous cous, rice, pasta}, fake grass, stones, or sand to add a textural element and engage even more senses.

Farm small world featuring log fence, hay bales, horse, sheep, goat, hereford cow and fresian cow




I also sometimes set up small world's that represent stories or shows she's seen so she can act out storylines that she's aware of. The photo above is a Peter Rabbit small world where I included our fox, racoon, rabbit, echidna and squirrel to represent characters from Peter Rabbit {Mr Tod, Tommy Brock, Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy Winkle and Nutkin}.

We've also done a rock pool inspired small world which I designed specifically to teach her about how pollution in the ocean can harm animals. I used some small pieces of real rubbish and some of our Coles mini collectables to represent the litter discarded into the ocean and I entangled some of the animals so she had to rescue them. There are in depth instructions to recreate our rock pool small world here.



I have even more small world's planned using our farm animals with cous cous and oobleck and our arctic animals with blue water beads, amongst others {check out my small world posts for more small world animal play inspiration}.

FLASH CARD FUN




Flash cards are often used to help children learn things like colours, shapes and letters, so it's no surprise that they can also be used to learn animals. We've been using our Two Little Ducklings animal sound flash cards with our animals to play lots of matching games. We've mainly been matching the animals by the picture and by the sounds they make. I vary our matching games each time so it's interesting for her. Sometimes we pick a random flash card from the pile and she needs to match the right animal then we talk about its colour, the sound it makes, how many legs it has, where it lives, what it eats etc. Other times we put out all the cards and I give her a collection of animals and she simply matches them all up with the right cards. We also turn them into a simplified memory game where she needs to guess and turn the cards over to find where the animals are {instead of matching two cards she just finds the matching animal card to her guess and then pairs it with the correct animal figurine}.




SENSORY FOOTPRINT GAMES



One of the most simple ways to use toy animals is to make footprints in different materials. We've used them in playdough and most recently play foam {as shown in photo} as well as using washable paints to make prints on paper. What starts out as comparing different footprints usually evolves into pretend play where animals are stuck in mud/swamps/grass etc. Last time she spent a good 45 minutes telling a huge story about how the cow was stuck and the lion needed to come rescue him, but then the lion got stuck so the horse came to rescue them... It kept evolving and somehow the animals morphed into batman and bandits {3yr olds have the best imaginations}.


SORTING GAMES


Another simple way to play with toy animals is to play sorting games. You can sort by colour, type {mammal, reptile, bird etc}, sort by the number of legs, sort by habitat {as shown below}, sort by the food they eat. Just adjust the sorting game depending on your child's age and level of understanding.


All of the animal figurines pictured in this post are the CollectA brand which make up 99.9% of our entire animal collection {we have a few Schleich ones floating around}. I prefer CollectA because the animals are so lifelike and nice and sturdy, they easily withstand rigorous toddler play, which can get quite animated at times. They're also all one piece with no holes making them great for water play {no funky black mould can get in there, thankfully}. They're also a bit cheaper, which is always a bonus.

As you can see we've already enjoyed using our animals in numerous play experiences and I still have so many more ideas, we've only really scratched the surface. If you're on Instagram make sure you follow us @Finding_Myself_Young for other animal play inspiration ideas.

Toni x

Disclosure - All animals shown in this review have been purchased by myself. I did not receive payment for this review, however this post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Flying Sprout Busy Bags

We're huge fans of busy bags in this household and have been for some time. With bub having severe food allergies from birth, her eye problems and the need for speech therapy, spending time at specialist appointments and waiting at hospitals became second nature. I quickly learnt keeping a baby {and then toddler} occupied while waiting for what can sometimes be hours is essential to maintaining one's sanity, so my love affair with busy bags was born.

For those who aren't familiar with busy bags, they're simple activities or a collection of play items stored in a bag to keep young kids occupied independently. The main version of a busy bag I've been using since she was young is a canvas bag packed with a number of different items, such as a book, colouring book and crayons and various little toys. These have kept her well entertained for the majority of the time. As she's gotten older I've swapped out some of the items to include more challenging and educational activities such as threading cards, phonics cards and puzzles. 

With a new baby on the way meaning lots of physio and hospital appointments for me at the moment, plus the need to keep her entertained when I'm breastfeeding once baby is here, I've been actively collecting items, printables and games to include in busy bags {so I have a huge stockpile of interchangable activities for the coming months}. I usually put together my busy bags myself with various bought items and printables, but lately I've been including professionally made busy bags as well. Flying Sprout is a really cool small business I've found that sell a huge range of busy bags and printables suitable for toddlers through to 7yr olds.

Flying sprout logo

Flying Sprout is run by Bianca, a qualified teacher who's currently a stay at home mum. With 8 years of primary school teaching experience {and having been a numeracy co-ordinator for a period of time}, she knows the basics children need to learn to support them at school and she knows how to provide opportunities for children to learn independently to buid their skills and self confidence simultaneously. Each of the busy bags and activities offered at Flying Sprout are designed to allow children to learn and practice essential skills whilst having fun. Each kit contains an instruction card and all the items required for each game or activity. We've been trying out three of the Flying Sprout busy bags for the last few weeks and this is what we think.

educational busy bag ideas for toddlers.

APPLE BUSY BAG - NUMBERS TO 10


Tha apple busy bag is a great little counting activity that includes 10 jumbo paddle pop sticks with a magnetic strip {numbered one to ten} and 55 paper clips. Kids can line up the paddle pop sticks in number order and then put the correct number of paper clips onto each stick. This activity is designed primarily to focus on counting from one to ten, but it's also great for number recognition, sequencing and one to one correspondence which are all important foundation maths skills needed for school later on.

Apple busy bag from Flying Sprout


Bub can count to twenty already, but she loves to count at any given opportunity, including counting random objects when we're out and counting how many mouthfuls of food or drink she's consuming during dinner. I know it's not really normal 3yr old behaviour, but any chance for incidental learning is fine by me. Needless to say she loves the apple busy bag. She was counting out all the paper clips as she made each number on each stick and then counted all the sticks up at the end. Once she's finished she then repeats it over and over {and usually yells at me if I try and pack it up}. I have to put it away all stealthy while she's pre-occupied with something else.


ORANGE BUSY BAG - ANIMAL SHADOW MATCHING


The orange busy bag is a cute little animal shadow matching game that includes 12 laminated shadow cards and 12 mini plastic animals for matching. I love the simplicity of this activity and that it can be easily mixed up by simply changing around the layout of the cards each time. I also love that some of the shadow positions aren't an exact match to the way the plastic animals are standing which makes it a little more challenging. However it can also be made easier for younger kids who have a shorter attention span by using less animals and cards.

Orange busy bag by Flying Sprout

Bub loves matching anything and everything at the moment so this bag has been a huge hit and she's always asking to match the animals. She gets a little confused between the rooster and hen because they look similar and she calls the goose a duck, but other than that she's pretty good at it. She even got all smarty pants on us and was deliberately holding animals over the wrong shadows and asking us if they were right. "Is this the pig mummy? Oh no no no that's a cow". I have no idea where she gets her sarcastic personality from *cough*.


CHRISTMAS BUSY BAG - SPELLING WORDS


At the moment Flying Sprout have special christmas busy bags available including the christmas spelling busy bag. The spelling busy bag includes 12 laminated picture cards with the matching words and 85 individual letters that children can use to spell each of the words. The letters can also be used for other spelling activities like making a christmas story or using them in a sensory tub and many other letter activities.

Flying Sprout christmas spelling busy bag

Being 3 bub doesn't know how to spell yet, but she has known the alphabet since she was 2 so she's very good at letter recognition. She could easily identify the items from the pictures but some of the bigger words were a bit tricky to spell {because she kept getting confused with ordering the letters because there were so many}. So instead we've been focusing on the smaller words such as tree and star which she's had fun matching up. She puts them in order following the cards then spells them out to me. "S, t, a, r.... spellllls star mummy. Look it's a star!".



ALPHABET JUMBLE PRINT


Flying Sprout also have a few printables available as digital downloads. We've been using the alphabet jumble print as an alphabet matching game. It includes all letters of the alphabet in both lower case and upper case all jumbled up in the wrong order. Ours is laminated {so it can be used over and over} and bub's been using her clear glass pebbles to find the lower and upper case version of each letter. The letters could also be circled with whiteboard markers and then wiped off to reuse. She loves finding the letters and is now regularly talking about lower case and upper case versions of letters on a daily basis rather than just identifying individual letters.
Flying Sprout alphabet letter jumble digital download

All of the Flying Sprout busy bags that we've tried out have kept bub entertained independently for prolonged periods of time which is super useful for appointments and when I need some spare time to get things done at home. She's also made a lot of them interactive at times asking me questions about which move she needs to make next so she feels like we're playing a game together. They're a great way for her to practice skills she already has and to extend on her current skills through different activities. Most of the bags have extra game options added on the guide cards and the items can be used for other activities too {i.e. the plastic animals can be used in small word play}. I also love that the busy bags all come in sealed splash proof bags which means I can store all the pieces together so they don't get lost and it makes transporting them super easy when we're out. Bianca has clearly spent a lot of time and effort putting together each activity to make them educational, entertaining and fun for kids. 

Flying Sprout are currently having a 12 days of Christmas promotion with different specials for each of the first 12 days of December, to see the daily offers drop by their Instagram account or Facebook page. Bianca is also offering an exclusive discount for Finding Myself Young readers, simply use the code FMY15 to save 15% off any Flying Sprout products in the etsy store. You can also find other fun educational ideas on her blog, like this one about using m&m's and skittles for learning. If you have a lot of appointments like us, are planning a road trip over the holidays, going away camping or just need a few minutes peace while the kids are entertained you should definitely check out the awesome products available from Flying Sprout.

Do/did you use busy bags with your kids?

Toni x

*15% off not valid with other offers.

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

Linking with Kylie
Friday, November 25, 2016

Click Clack Toys to the rescue

For the last few weeks bub's been obsessed with firemen and fire engines. "Firemen help people mummy, they put out the fires". She gets so excited each afternoon when Fireman Sam comes on tv and nearly pees her pants with excitement if we ever drive past a real life fire truck {thankfully she's still in nappies or that'd be a problem}. So she was beyond excited when she received a parcel from Click Clack Toys and opened it to discover a fire station and fire engine {she loves the helicopter too, but was beside herself excited about the fire station}.

Click Clack Toys are an Australian owned and designed environmentally conscious company focused on providing fun for today's kids while also looking after tomorrow's world. The wood used in their toys is sourced from sustainably managed plantation timber forests. They're made using non toxic glue and brought to life with water based paints {so no nasties for the little ones}. The toys also come in recycled cardboard packaging {even the rubbish is environmentally friendly}.

Their range is primarily based on vehicles including construction vehicles such as diggers, dump trucks and cement trucks; rescue vehicles including a police car, ambulance, fire truck and helicopter as well as delivery vehicles including a post van, tractor and semi trailer. Of course all these vehicles will need somewhere to park so Click Clack also have a police station, fire station and airport available.

It's no secret that we love wooden toys around here. Wooden toys just have a natural nostalgia about them, not to mention the hours of imaginary play they create. They also seem to last a lot longer than plastic toys, which is why I've been slowly replacing all our plastic toys with wooden alternatives over the past few months. I'm totally hoarding all her wooden toys for the grandkids later on.

The main feature that sets Click Clack Toys apart from other wooden toy companies is that each item has a build-able component, right down to the individual vehicles. I love that this brings an added dimension to the toys and also helps kids use their cognitive skills, hand/eye co-ordination and work on their fine motor skills. Bub loved being able to build the toys because she felt like she made them herself. Obviously being 3 she doesn't have the skills to put them all together properly, but she did assemble the fire truck and had a good go at putting the helicopter together.



"Look mummy I builded it. I made it all byed myself". She was super proud of herself when the individual pieces turned into proper functioning vehicles. While the toy vehicles are relatively easy for younger kids to put together, the fire station is a little more complicated and did require mummy's expertise {although it could probably be built by a child over the age of about 8}. Each piece of the station is separate and slots together easily with an interlocking dowel system {just like flat packed furniture, but it's much less frustrating to put together}. Thankfully the instructions are also clearly listed on the back of the packaging including pictures which makes it easier for budding child engineers, or clueless mummy's, to construct.

The fire station was pretty easy to put together and only took about ten minutes in total from start to finish {including being interrupted by her "helping" me a few times}. Considering I never assemble toys and usually leave that to daddy I was actually super proud that I put the fire station together {correctly, the first time}. Is that a little sad? I don't really care if it is I'm totally owning it. Bub was super proud of me too "yay mummy you did it, you build the fire house, now I can play with it". Okay so she was probably more excited that she could play with it rather than my construction skills, but I'll take any praise I can get. Here's the finished product, not bad hey?



The fire station has two opening doors on the garage allowing the fire truck to exit in either direction when there's an emergency. It can also fit comfortably under the helipad. The helipad is the perfect place to store the helicopter while it's awaiting the next emergency. The helicopter and fire truck are both sold separately, but are the perfect toys to accompany the fire station for hours of imaginary play

Since we put the Click Clack toys together I've left them on her play table and at least a few times a day I hear "weeee-aw, weee-aw, weee-aw quick, quick there's a fire! Quick helicopter we have to go. Okay I'm coming let's go put out the fire. Firemen to the rescue". It's beyond cute listening in on her scenarios as she plays with the toys. Her daddy and I often just sit quietly listening to her, smiling to ourselves at how fun her imagination is {other parents do this too right?}.


I really love that the toys have provided hours of imaginary play already, no doubt with many more to come. I also love that they give kids the added satisfaction of being able to construct them themselves. Seeing the look of accomplishment and pride on her face once she made the little toys was pretty cool. The fact that she was also working on important developmental skills whilst doing that was an added bonus. Click Clack Toys really are a unique, affordable and environmentally friendly option for Christmas and birthday presents {or just because} and they're also loads of fun! I'm thinking we might have to add to our collection for her birthday next year.


WIN A CLICK CLACK TOYS FIRE STATION SET




Thanks to the team at Click Clack Toys, I have another fire station set to give away to one lucky reader. The set includes the fire station, fire truck and helicopter {usually sold separately}. To be in the chance to win simply fill in the rafflecopter form below and leave me a comment letting me know which Click Clack toy is your child's favourite and why.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TERMS & CONDITIONS
Competition commences upon publication and ends at 11:59pm December 4th 2016. One winner will receive a fire engine {RRP $12.95}, helicopter {RRP $12.95} and fire station {RRP $19.95}, total prize pool $45.85. 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. Winner will have 72hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook.




Disclosure - I was provided with the Click Clack toys mentioned above for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the toys. I did not receive payment for this review.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The big reveal


I know some people are very traditional and want to keep their baby's sex a surprise until birth, but we're basically the opposite of that. For us after waiting months and months {16 months this time} to conceive in the first place, the thought of having to wait another 9 months to find out the sex of our baby just feels like self-imposed punishment. As far as we're concerned we don't need anymore surprises, for us knowing the sex is pretty much the only thing we can be in control of throughout the whole process of making a baby. And once you've been through the uncertainty of infertility, being able to control one tiny aspect becomes even more paramount. I get that we aren't really in control of it though, i.e. we have no hand in choosing the sex, but just knowing the outcome of something within this process is extremely reassuring.

So, for those reasons, as soon as we found out we were finally pregnant the first conversation we had was "we're finding out the sex right?", which was met with a resounding YES from both of us. 

As soon as I got pregnant I instantly thought I was having a boy. The same thing happened last time, although I think last time I subconsciously told myself I was having a boy to lessen the shock {incase it really was a boy} because deep down I really wanted a girl. However, 2 weeks before we were due for our scan I had an overwhelming feeling we were having a girl and it turns out we were. This time around it honestly didn't bother me what we were having, in fact I started to warm to the idea of having a boy as it meant we'd have one of each if this ends up being our last baby. However, once again about 2 weeks out from our scan date I started having an overwhelming feeling it was another girl. I'm starting to think it might be some kind of in built mothers intuition.

At our scan our little bean was being extremely uncooperative and wouldn't stop flipping around {literally doing 360's} every time the ultrasound tech tried to take measurements. It also had it's legs crossed most of the time and kept grabbing it's feet so was bunched up completely. Funnily enough all this cheeky behaviour and restlessness made me think it might actually be a boy, but eventually she opened her legs for a fleeting moment and we found out we're having another baby girl.



It turns out bub is going to get the baby sister she was longing for after all, although at first she wasn't too pleased with the result. When we first told her she spent a good ten minutes whinging and yelling at us that it was a baby brother not a baby sister, but she's since come around. She now calls her baby doll a baby sister like the baby in mummy's tummy and when we ask her what's in mummy's tummy she says a baby sister. I'm so excited that she's going to have a sister because I never had one and always wished I had. It's going to be so fun watching them grow up together.



Friday, November 11, 2016

I haven't met you yet but I already love you.


For the last few months I've been quietly pondering in my head how I'd possibly love you as much as I love bub. I literally didn't know if it would be possible, but then again I didn't know how much I'd love her until after she was born. I've watched friends agonise over whether to have more children because they're unsure they'll be able to love a sibling as much as they loved their first child. I guess it's such a huge change the first time developing a love for someone who never existed before and you can't possibly know if it'll be the same the next time. Love for a child is a whole different kind of love and it's hard to imagine your heart expanding even bigger yet again to love two little people. For me though, it was never a question of whether to have more children, but I've still wondered if my heart was indeed capable of expanding yet again.

I haven't even met you yet, but I already love you so very much. In fact I literally only just discovered you exist an hour ago and I've been over the moon giddy with love {much like a teenager} ever since. There have been many happy tears, tears of disbelief, thanking of the universe and lots of smiling uncontrollably. I always believed this day would finally come and now its here and its even more special than I ever imagined.

Just like your sister there weren't really many signs that you were even in there. There have been a few twinges here and there, but that's been the same every month so I tried not to read anything into it. Of course now I know you're there I'm hypersensitive to every little ping, twinge or cramp and I'm trying so hard to not read anything into it. I don't want to be scared the whole time like I was last pregnancy. I'm going to think positively. You're not going anywhere you're going to keep baking away and when the timings right I'm going to hold you in my arms and smother you with kisses.

I can't wait to see if you're a little mister or little miss. To snuggle you and be addicted to your new baby smell. To tickle your toes, hold your little fingers and stroke your forehead. To make you laugh and smile and wipe away your tears when you're sad. To waste hours of my day staring at your beautiful face. I adore you already and I can't wait to meet you in person. My heart has already expanded and you already hold a piece of it.

Mum x



Friday, November 4, 2016

Twinkl teaching resources

I'm not sure if I've shared on here before, but I'm planning on studying early childhood education once bub's gone to school, with the plan to work in childcare and possibly teach kindy. I wanted to work in childcare back in my early 20's but knowing I had fertility issues I chose not to because I thought being around little kids all day would just make me long for my own even more. Looking back I think that was the right decision because just seeing babies would make me sad for what I was missing, so I can imagine how much pain I would've been in being surrounded by children day in and day out. However, my desire to work with children has never waned, if anything it's gotten stronger since becoming a mum. Needless to say we do a lot of learning through play activities at home so I can indulge my passion and she loves it.

I share most of our activities over on Instagram, which has earned me the nickname pinterest mum from some of my friends. Ironically I hardly ever use pinterest, instead I either think up our activities myself or am inspired by other teachers and homeschooling mums I follow on Instagram. We do a lot of sensory play and small world activities as well as working on the alphabet and counting. I've started adding printables and activity sheets lately to mix things up and keep it interesting for her. One great resource I've discovered for these is Twinkl.


Twinkl is a comprehensive teaching resource site providing teaching, planning and assessment materials for babies right through to school aged children. The twinkl resources include lesson packs, power point presentations, display materials, worksheets and craft ideas. Twinkl is originally UK based, but an Australian curriculum section has been added to support Australian teachers and homeschooling families. In addition to this there is also a create section where you can create your own resources based on various templates. There are also heaps of resources for parents and child minders to use at home.

For the last few weeks I've been feverishly trawling the birth-twos section of the parent resources and downloading anything I know bub will be remotely interested in. There are so many different resources available including games, busy bags, sensory bin ideas, sensory recipes {playdough, cloud dough, slime etc}, puzzles, playdough mats, phonics cards and can you find posters. Needless to say I've also bought a laminator and been going to town printing and laminating all the things {seriously where has this magical machine been all my life}. Bub's been a huge fan of the phonics cards and can you find it posters. She's been using glass pebbles to find the items on the posters so we can reuse them and she even cheers herself at the end saying "yay I did it mummy, I did it".



There are also numerous themed resources designed to help teach certain story books, such as the Gruffalo {see the image above for just a tiny selection of Gruffalo resources}, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Jack and the Beanstalk and Room on the Broom, just to name a few. We've printed out a heap of Gruffalo themed resources as bub loves the movie and the book. There's also resources themed around seasons and special holidays and events. We printed out the Halloween phonics cards {below} and I've downloaded heaps of Christmas activities which I'll share on Instagram as we do them.



There are so many other resources I've downloaded to try later on including dot-to-dot sheets, colouring sheets, letter formation worksheets, number formation worksheets, pencil control activities and a heap of other playdough mats. Bub has show a keen interest in learning how to write letters and numbers so we'll be working on playdough mats and formation sheets to help with that soon. I've only really scratched the surface with the resources available on the site though, every time I go on I find other cool things to download, now it's just a matter of finding enough hours in the day to do all the cool activities.

If you're a teacher or early childhood educator I would definitely recommend Twinkl as there are so many resources for the classroom. It's also just as beneficial for stay at home parents, homeschooling families and nannies as there are numerous activities that can be done at home, especially for younger children. Twinkl offers a range of free resources {simply sign up for a free account}, or there are paid subscription options which give you access to all resources on the site. We've been using the paid subscription and will continue using it as it's definitely value for money and there are so many more activities that will become relevant as bub's abilities continue to develop and once she starts school. There's also the Twinkl Facebook page and a special Twinkl Australia Facebook group for even more inspiration and ideas.

Toni x

Disclosure - I was gifted a premium subscription to Twinkl to access all resources in order to provide a review. All opinions expressed are based on our experiences with the website and printable resources. I did not receive payment for this review.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Little Bairn

Last time I was pregnant I was working full time so my days consisted of working 9hrs on my feet, coming home eating dinner and basically going to bed. I didn't spend much time taking care of myself. It was more about making it through each day and getting closer to my maternity leave {if I'm completely honest}. Unfortunately by the time I made it to maternity leave and had free time to relax, my pelvis had separated and I could hardly walk. So there wasn't much relaxing going on. My last few weeks of pregnancy were filled with pain from a pelvis that no longer functioned and then to top it off I developed carpel tunnel and pupps rash, just for shits and giggles. Between infertility and the physical complications I swear the universe was trying to tell me I wasn't meant to be pregnant.

This time around everything is different. I'm not working 9hrs on my feet all day, well at least not in the traditional sense of the word work, instead I spend 14hrs a day looking after a toddler with no real break. Oh how I miss lunch breaks, but at least I have a couch I can rest on {when she lets me}. I'm fully aware of the physical ailments that could potentially be waiting for me down the track so I'm trying to slow down and take care of myself now {as much as I can} while I'm still pain free. Hopefully I won't have as many complications this time, but I'm being realistic, since a lot of them were hormone induced they're likely to happen again. So operation pregnancy pampering is underway starting with some pretty awesome bath soaks from Little Bairn.


Little Bairn is an Australian owned and made, luxury certified organic skincare range for mums and bubs. Little Bairn products are made using high quality natural and organic ingredients such as nutrient-rich plant oils, essential oils and botanical extracts. Little Bairn stock a range of baby products including lotions, powders, massage oils and bath soaks. In addition to their famous baby products, they also stock a beautiful range of products for pregnant women including bath soaks, belly oil and nipple balm.

You've probably seen Little Bairn products before as they're featured in many popular baby boxes and gift packs from different children's boutiques and subscription box services across Australia. In addition to this they also have their own range of gift bundles to choose from. As soon as I saw the pregnancy journal gift set I fell in love. I mean what's not to love when we're talking two gorgeous bath soaks and a beautiful pregnancy journal. When it arrived the packaging was just as gorgeous as the products.



LITTLE BAIRN BATH SOAKS


The journal gift set comes with both the Relax Me pregnancy bath soak and the Heal Me postnatal bath soak. Each of the bath soaks come in a generous size with enough for multiple baths. The Relax Me soak is rich in minerals designed to detoxify the body and relieve aching muscles {hallelujah, every pregnant woman's dream}. It also has calming rose petals and lavender flowers, bub loves to tell me "there's lots of pedals in your bath mummy". I've been getting lots of leg cramps and restless leg syndrome at times but the salts and minerals in the bath soak have been helping to alleviate it on the nights I use them {it's also great stress relief after a testing day with a threenager}.


The Heal Me bath soak is designed to promote healing and recovery after birth. It also contains a number of essential oils to help relax the body. I can't wait to use this one once I've given birth, although I'm sure I'll need to enlist daddy's help with the kids in order to make a bath happen.

Up until a few weeks ago {when bub decided it'd be fun if mum started having baths with her} I hadn't actually used our new bathtub. We renovated the bath about 2 years ago, that shows you how much I get time to relax in the bath. I've quickly learnt soaking in rose petals and minerals {by myself} is definitely a lot more relaxing than sharing a bubble bath with a toddler and 4500 bath toys. I've been taking advantage of some me time in the bath as often as possible {while I'm still able to get in and out of it without help}. So far I've had 3 baths and the container is still over half full {I'm making it last as long as possible}.


My bath looks way more relaxing in this photo than it usually does, what you can't see here is the basket full of bath toys at the other end and the plethora of appliques stuck along the wall.

BAE THE LABEL PREGNANCY JOURNAL


Last pregnancy I planned on keeping a pregnancy journal, in fact I bought a really nice notebook to give me something to look forward to while trying to conceive her. However, after years of ttc I spent my whole pregnancy worried that something would go wrong, and for some reason that meant I was too paranoid to ever fill in my special journal. Still to this day that notebook sits blank in my bedside table.

This time however I was determined to not make the same mistake. Thankfully I now have the gorgeous BAE the label pregnancy journal  to use from my gift set. To be honest I didn't even know there was such a thing as a purpose made pregnancy journal {hence my original plan to use a notebook last time}. The pregnancy journal is so much more organised than my notebook would've been. It has spots to record memories from each week as well as pages to record special moments such as ultrasound photos, cravings, name ideas, and my favourite page below ~ how I told your father we were pregnant. I love that it includes that because I'm sure the memory will fade over time {mind you this time I have hard video evidence, which I threaten to post on Facebook all the time}.


I'm so thankful to have this wonderful keepsake of my entire pregnancy to one day share with my son or daughter. I would've loved to have known what pregnancy felt like along the way for my mum so I'm sure it'll be a treasured memory for them too. I just wish I had neater writing, but I'm sure they won't mind.

The Little Bairn pregnancy journal gift set is a great gift set for women from the beginning of pregnancy through to the end. It'd make a great gift for pregnant friends or family members, even if you don't find out they're pregnant until after 12 weeks {they can still go back and fill in the start of the journal while everything is fresh in their minds}. You can also purchase the two bath soaks separately from Little Bairn.

Did you take time to treat yourself during your pregnancy?

Toni x


Disclosure - I was gifted a Little Bairn pregnancy journal gift set for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on my experience with the products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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