Adventures of a Free-From Clothbum Mum!

Cloth nappies, dairy-free living, reviews and parental ramblings!

Busy Activities: Sorting Trays.

Now that Monkey is nearly 2, he’s pretty much always on the go.

Always active.

Learning new things all the time.

His language is increasing exponentially and he’s surprising us both with just how much he knows.

It’s an absolute delight to watch him learn so many new things everyday.

However…
There’s always a time…

A time when you just need an active little Monkey to have a quiet moment.

A moment (or preferably a good half hour) where he is so occupied with an activity that you can actually get stuff done.
Usually boring stuff like housework.

So, with this in mind I’ve been putting my teaching brain to use and have started to create him some little activities that we’re going to keep in a box that I can pull out at a moment’s notice.

These are basically Busy Bag activities (you can Google this and loads of great and cheap ideas will come up) but I’m also creating ones that are just a little bit bigger.

This one has been an enormous hit so far.

Basically it’s an egg box that I’ve painted in different colours.

I’ve then gone and got a whole range of items that he can sort.

Pom Poms, feathers, foam stickers, large beads, big buttons (whatever I can lay my hands on that’s nice and cheap, to be honest)

The other morning he sat and played for ages.

Sorting

Counting

Moving things from one section to another.

Placing objects in cupcake cases.

Whilst he was doing this, I was busy cleaning and tidying up our kitchen. But I was listening.

Listening to him saying his colours (he didn’t get them right all the time, but I could gently correct him where necessary. He has a thing about red so EVERYTHING is red first!)

Listening to him saying his numbers. Not always in order, but it’s a good start!

Watching him trying to put colours together (not always successfully!)

And generally having a whale of a time.

Not bad for something that cost pennies!

What Busy activities have you made for your little ones? I hope they’re having as much fun as Monkey is!

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Messy Play for Matilda Mae: Homemade Playdough

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I appear to have misplaced my wireless keyboard, so this post is going to be short and sweet.

We’ve had a lovely morning! I decided to make my own playdough.
Now, I’ve done it many times before but always used salt as a base, which I didn’t want to do with Monkey.

This version has 1 cup of flour, 1/2 a cup of water and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

It initially didn’t mix together too well so I carefully dribbled a bit more water into the mix until I was happy with it. I then wanted to get some colour into it but my food colourings are very strong and I knew they’d stain dreadfully.

So, I improvised and used a packet of jelly crystals. It worked really well and we got a lovely, slightly mottled and spotted pinky/purple dough.

Then….

I just let Monkey have fun!

I put out –

A rolling pin
Various cookie cutters
Dried pasta of various kinds
Clay tools to make marks with
Feathers
A plastic fork
Trains and cars
People/animals
Plastic eggs that open up and have lovely serrated edges.

He has had so much fun!

Making marks
Squishing
Squashing
Rolling
Stretching
Pulling pieces off and making small balls
Putting the pasta and feather into the dough
Moving everything from one container…to another…to another!

He been playing for well over half an hour and is utterly entranced!

There is a linky badge for linking up to the wonderful Jennie at Edspire, who is linking up lots of messy play blogs in memory of her gorgeous daughter, Matilda Mae, who very sadly passed away from SIDS a few months ago. I don’t seem to be able to get the badge to work at the moment but please head over to her blog to see what an inspiration she is.

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Crafty Baba (well, Mummy really!!): nappy making!

Sewing is something that pretty much fills me with dread. I watch other people making astounding items, whipping them up without a second thought as to how mind-boggling complicated it looks to people like me.

Ok – I did some sewing/ Home Ec lessons when I was at school and managed to rustle up a nightie, an apron and a rather dodgy-looking skirt, but my recent attempts at sewing have pretty much involved straight lines. I’ve managed to create curtain tie-backs, sew up some hems and made cloth wipes. All immensely challenging items…

So, when I heard that a cloth-nappy making course was starting up, I had to join up, even though was rather sceptical of my sewing abilities. But, a course that’s local to me was just too good a thing to miss and I made my way over to the very talented Zoe at Crafty Baba , in Suffolk

I, along with three other intrepid sewers (including the lovely Katie from BabyCalm in Ipswich ) took along our own nappies. We used these to create our own patterns and worked really well together to get some paper templates sorted out. You can download patterns online, but it made a lot of sense to use a shape that we know already worked.

We worked in Zoe’s gorgeous kitchen, finely honing our patterns until we had what we wanted. Then, we had a whole heap of materials to choose from to get our different layers cut out. This bit was relatively easy and great fun – thinking about what would look best on our babas’ bums!

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Then, after a nice lunch break in the sunshine – the sewing machines came out. Eeeek! I was ever so worried – especially when it came to sewing in the elastic. But, it actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be and before I knew it – I had something that vaguely resembled a cloth nappy.

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Result! Finishing it off with the KAM poppers tool was an experience that will haunt me for the rest of my days. My god, those things are fiddly but Zoe has reassured me that once you get used to using them, they’re a breeze. That’s quite a relief for me as I plan on converting a lot of my old aplix nappies to poppers, so – phew!

We all had a really lovely day and for anyone like me, who’s just that teeny bit too scared (or downright terrified) at the prospect of trying to make their own cloth nappies at home, a course like the one at Crafty Baba is just what you need!

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I made this! (Said with lots of excitement!)

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I’m going to put up a proper blog post over the next few days, but I just had to break from my weekend to share this with you.

I had THE most lovely day yesterday! I went along to a nappy-class run by the lovely Zoe at Crafty Baba . I have always wanted to have a go at making my own cloth nappies, but really didn’t think that my sewing skills were up to the task.

I have a long way to go before it’s perfect for Monkey and I’ve got the pattern that suits him the best, but how’s this for a first attempt? I’m so impressed! I found out a few things about nappy making that I’ll let you in on, but I’d say that if you can – go on a course. It’s brilliant!

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Memories are made of these…

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As Monkey is growing, I’m doing my best to keep up with all the photographs that we’re taking of him. My goodness – there’s LOADS of them and I’m finding it very hard to choose which ones I want to print out for keepsakes.

My mum made photo albums for all of us and I have so many fond memories of sitting, curled up next to her and looking through them. She must have got a little tired of going over and over the same photographs as I used to ask her to tell me stories about them – where we were, who the people were in them, etc. Those albums are very special and I’m now about to start scanning in all the photos from them so that I have digital copies, just in case anything ever happens to them.

Thinking back to those albums, it made me stop and think about something quite important. Our generation take so many photographs, thanks to digital cameras and memory cards – but how many of us remember to print them out? Hands up those who have images stored away on computers? Who’s actually remembered to back them up? How about making hard copies? And what about an actual print?

There’s so many photos that I don’t have backed up – it’s actually quite worrying when I stop and think about it. In fact, as I’m typing – I have a hard drive whirring away, backing up all those that I’d forgotten about and my plan for the next few weeks is to make a second backup and burn them all to CD’s so that I have multiples. It’d be heartbreaking if something went wrong and I lost them all.

And that’s the problem that a lot of us could face. But what made me stop and think even more is this thought. How many children nowadays actually get to flick through photo albums? How many get to FEEL a photo? I know it seems old-fashioned but there’s something so lovely about looking through real albums. They’re even nicer if someone has put them in there, along with comments or written information. I think it makes the whole experience really special and is great for posterity. Those children can then show them to their children, and so on… and so on…. (as long as the photographs haven’t degraded).

So, with that in mind – we’ve been making little photo albums for Monkey. Some of them have been done via an online printing company, so I can choose photos and type in information for them. I also have a whole stack of printed photos that I’m steadily putting into an album for him. It’s time-consuming, but it’s wonderful to look back at how much he’s grown already and I know we’ll have some lovely moments together looking through them.

I also got two wonderful Baby Memory Books when Monkey was born, which I’m also putting things into for him. Photos, information, hospital bands, dates of when he reached certain milestones, his weight and height charts/info. I have to make myself remember to do it, as there’s often not enough hours in the day – but they are looking so fab and I’m really pleased with them.

We also have a big memory box that I’m putting all kinds of things into. All of his cards from when he was born and his first Christmas have gone in there, along with his first babygrow and mittens. His little knitted hat and blanket that he got from hospital and a teeny little pair of blue dungarees. We also got the papers for the day he was born and his birth announcement. I think I might need to get a bigger box, though, as there’s no way I’m going to fit everything in over time!

The final thing that I’m doing is a lifetime journal. This has pages where you fill in information about yourself so that your children can find out what you were like. It’s a wonderful idea as I know that when my grandparents died, my parents had so many questions that they’d wanted to ask about their heritage/ their parent’s lives and had never got answers to. I’m just picking it up every now and then and writing a little bit in.

Which makes me wonder. What kinds of things are you doing for your little ones? Have you got any lovely ideas for them – ways in which they can have things to look back on in the future?

I’m off to add in more information about myself. Obviously – the slightly censored, not too brutal version! Mummy has to have some air of mystery about her… (plus I had far too much fun at Uni!!)

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Love doesn’t have to cost the Earth: ideas for a thoughtful, homemade Mother’s Day!

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As my first Mother’s Day as a Mummy is approaching, I thought that I’d put up a blogpost about it. But, the more I thought about Mother’s Day – the more annoyed I actually started getting. I know that sounds very strange, but – bear with me.

Thing is, I utterly hate how much the world has become so commercialised. EVERYTHING is an opportunity for people to sell us stuff that, quite frankly, we probably don’t need and would have never missed if we didn’t get it/ have it shoved down our throats via lots and lots of advertising! Ok, so I’m a sucker for certain bits and bobs, but I do find the way in which days like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day have gone a little mental quite wrong.

Mother’s Day doesn’t need to be the big song and dance that a lot of companies would like us to think it is. I mean, do you really need that latest tablet PC or e-reader for Mother’s Day? And – more to the point, is that something that a child should be giving to Mummy? They don’t really speak of ‘love’ now, do they?

So, slipping into my other role in life (primary school teacher), I thought I’d put up some cheap but lovely ideas that you could do for Mother’s Day. Hopefully this’ll be useful for anyone who’s struggling to come up with an idea/ doesn’t want to spend a fortune/ has an Other Half who’s struggling (subtly leave the iPad/ computer/ phone open on this page!)

The simplest gift is something like a handmade card. Costs practically nothing, but it’s the thought that counts. It doesn’t have to be all-singing and dancing, but a bit of glue, glitter and funky-coloured pens will keep any little one happy and amused. Mum will love it – because it’s just for her!

Flowers are always a good bet. But, why waste money on shop-bought ones. If you have a garden, take your little cutie outside and let him/her pick some for Mummy. You could then tie them up nicely with a bit of twine or ribbon and then make a little label for them with a personalised message. Cheap and so thoughtful!

If you’re a whizz (or not just downright dreadful) in the kitchen, how about whipping up some biscuits or cakes? Biscuits would be better as you can cut them out in heart shapes and use icing pens to put messages on them easily, whereas cakes can be slightly more tricky. You could put a hole in the top of them and thread a piece of ribbon in them, just to make them look pretty.

Carrying on from the idea, how about making and painting salt-dough shapes? If you look up Salt Dough on the net, you’ll get some very simple recipes to follow. Then, treat it a bit like biscuit mix and cut out/ make whatever shapes you wish. You can either let the shapes air-dry, or put them in an oven on a very low temperature. Then – paint and decorate them however you wish. There’s lots of ideas on the web – but Mum will love the fact that they’re just for her!

If you’ve got an FIMO in the house, then why not make Mummy her own pendant or earrings? You could take a few different colours and marble them together. Then, if you want to make beads, roll bits of it into small balls and use a cocktail stick to make a hole all the way through. You could get more adventurous and create different shapes and patterns (look online for lots of examples). For pendants, the world is your oyster. Just remember to put a hole in them for threading through a bit of leather thong (or ribbon). Follow the FIMO instructions for cooking and if you’ve got beads, cook them on the cocktail sticks so that the holes don’t close up (a little tip is to make the holes slightly bigger than you think you’ll need them as they’ll close up a bit during the baking process).
Once your FIMO is cooled, you can varnish it if you so wish. Beads can be threaded onto stretchy cord or ribbon and you can even get things from craft shops to turn them into earrings. I’ve done these a lot with a craft club that I’ve run and Mums absolutely love them!

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Another thing you can do with FIMO is create shapes that you can stick onto a plain card with a glue dot, to create a very personal and beautiful card. Very simple, very effective and completely individual. I’ve done cards with FIMO hearts on them, glued onto a card with a ribbon behind them. They were quick to do and looked fantastic.

The picture that I’ve put at the top of this post is of a card I made for my hubby for Valentine’s Day last year, but the idea can be adapted for anything at all. In craft shops you can buy this fantastic embossing foil that usually comes in a tube. You can cut it to whatever shape you wish and then use a stylus (blunt cocktail sitck will do) to create patterns. You press (not too hard) on the ‘wrong’ side to create your pattern, then turn it over and go around it (like you’re outlining it) to make it stand out. I’ve used this to create all kinds of cards and it can be really effective.

Time is something that most Mums say that they’d love as a present. So give it to them! Make Mum put up her feet and you/you and the children do things for her. Just something like making a cup of tea and getting her a biscuit would even be enough to make her smile, but breakfast in bed would be amazing! The simple things are often the best!

Why not think about planting something for Mummy? Little ones absolutely adore watching things grow and they (in my experience) really enjoy planting seeds. You could get a simple pot and paint/decorate it first, before planting whatever you wish in it. That way, both Mummy and children can enjoy caring for the present over a long period of time and watching it develop and grow.

However (and this is a personal thing for me, as well as many cloth bum mums) DON’T stuff the nappies unless you know exactly what you’re doing! Whilst she’ll love the sentiment, the practicality is that you might not get them exactly how she wants them!!!

Hope your Mother’s Day next weekend is special, ladies!

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