What we’ve been up to

I keep writing posts in my head, but somehow they never make it onto the computer!
Well it’s been nearly a month since I last posted, so instead of making excuses, I’m just going to give you a little glimpse of some of the things we’ve been up to based on the pics I find on my camera.

First, someone turned 3 (I know I wasn’t going to post anymore face pictures if him, but couldn’t resist the birthday pic. Plus, didn’t get many photos that day because I was busy having fun)! And ended up having quite a big, mostly unplanned, birthday party. Sprout was a happy camper, and I think everyone who came was as well. There was no theme, no planned activities and, um, thanks to my forgetfulness, no party favors either since I forgot to hand out the homemade play dough “build a monster” I had prepared. I’m slowly still giving them out as thank yous as I run into people. And speaking of forgetfulness, I may or may not have locked us out of the house the evening before his b-day (leaving the key IN the lock from the inside, making it impossible to open with R’s key) which may or may not have resulted in us forking over €200 (!!!!) for a locksmith to open it in under 5 min (minus 2 hrs waiting time, of course)…

We had chocolate cake made by moi (nothing fancy, but oh so yummy – see pic above). I used this recipe for the cake, and this one for the icing (adding tons more cocoa powder to it to make it less sweet and more, um, chocolatey). Birthday boy approved and it quickly disappeared.

There was also a cardboard rocket-ship, partially finished, that I insanely made after seeing some biggish boxes heading for the recycling bin at the craft shop. You can’t waste cardboard, right? And since he’s been on an astronaut kick for ages (partially due to this book he loves) I decided to make it into a rocket-ship late in the evening. I totally expected it to fall apart with so many kids jumping in and out of it, but it’s still in our living room. maybe we’ll paint it and add the bottom “fins” or whatever they’re called. or maybe not. I already let him have a go at it with markers, pastels, etc. Let me know if you’d like me to share how I put it together. I don’t have pictures, but it’s fairly straightforward.

He also received many gifts, which we’re thankful for, but I have to figure out how/where to store so many toys. I usually rotate them, but don’t know where to store the out of rotation ones in our small apartment! Any ideas? We didn’t help by giving him a quite large wooden spaceship with many little bits… but we couldn’t resist buying it for him. You see, after Christmas we came across it at a shop and he wanted to buy it (it’s very, very rare for him to ask us to buy something). I explained it was a very big purchase, usually for a special occasion like Christmas or a birthday. So he hung on to that and would occasionally mention his “birthday spaceship”. He showed so much patience and self-control, we decided to get it for him. He plays with it every. single. day. Plus, it’s really well made – will last a looong time.

We’ve been having really grey, rainy, soggy, icky weather for about a month now, which means we’ve also been doing lots of indoor art projects and such. Speaking of which, I’ll soon have to write a post about the toddler (preschooler?) art group I’ve been hosting for over a year now.

In this photo we were doing contact paper (sticky paper) collages with feathers and tissue paper.

And we finally got around to planting some seeds! I hope to have a post on that as well *sigh*.

That’s some of the things we’ve been doing. What have you been up to this Spring?

A present for a little friend

Yesterday was a little friend’s first birthday. He’s actually one of Sprout’s best friends younger brother. Their Mom is really sweet and always has cute little gifts for Sprout. I’ve been meaning to gift them something handmade for a very long time, but something always seems to get in the way. This time I decided to just get to it.

The other day we were talking about fabric balloon covers to make balloons safer for babies and toddlers if they pop. I remembered seeing a free pattern somewhere online and decided to dig it out and just make it. It actually came together pretty quickly and easily. Sprout now wants one, so I guess aI will be making more! You can find the pattern I used here.

I used some Alexander Henry 2D Zoo fabric I’ve been hoarding, left over from Sprout’s duvet cover.

Sorry I didn’t take pictures without the balloon, but basically I made a button-hole on one end (the pattern is a bit different) so you can just pop in a balloon, inflate, tie up, tuck it in and play!!

I hope he enjoys it!

The 100 languages of children

Today I’m sharing a poem I’ve come across recently (Sorry, can’t credit where. I tried looking but can’t find the original post.) and that’s been playing through my mind as we’re currently having issues with preschool. It’s been tough on Sprout, and on us as well. I honestly don’t know what the best course of action for this year is. Pulling him out of school brings along issues of its own, plus we otherwise have a hard time exposing him to French language sufficiently given we’re in a very International, predominantly English speaking milieu. It’s such a pity the schools I absolutely loved (namely Montessori and Roots and Wings) are either obscenely expensive or only English language.

The Hundred Languages of Children

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred.

Always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

-Loris Malaguzzi
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

Playful learning: heads up on a giveaway at Tinkerlab

I came across this on the interwebs and wanted to share in case anyone is ineterested. These are two blogs I love: Tinkerlab and Playful Learning. If you have a little one, it’s worth having a look just to get to know them. Tinkerlab has started a series on Tinkering Spaces and there is a chance until tomorrow toPlayful Learning win a spot on Mariah’s e-course “Playful Learning Spaces” in this post right here. I have taken the course, even though I still have some things to implement, and I can totally recommend it to anyone wanting to create inspired kid spaces around the house. She also has a fantastic book I have and love: