Wednesday, 17 September 2014

10 Alternatives to Traditional Lullabies



I love singing to my kids at bedtime.


I’m not renowned for my voice. I used to joke that my eldest son was faking falling asleep before I'd finished just to shut me up!

Still, there’s something very soothing and a little bit magical about the beautiful words of a peaceful song echoing through a darkened room before those final whisperings of 'good night' and last kisses to tiny foreheads.


Over the years, we seem to have allocated one song for each child that has become “their” regular bedtime song, but we still like to mix things up occasionally. I find "Hush little baby" can be a bit tiresome after the hundredth version, so some of our bedtime song choices may not be your usual slumber-time pics.


Here are our...



Reverse psychology at it’s best! This one is a winner.



Yep-another one from Mary. That Poppins woman knows her stuff!



“Sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you” ...say no more.



Sometimes I wish I had a voice double, like Audrey did, but I’m getting better at this one.



The song John Lennon wrote for his son, Sean, is the perfect thing to sing to your boy/s. Mine like that I use their names at the end.



This is the most beautiful song. I change the lyrics to “in my baby’s eyes” and insert ‘he’ and ‘his’ where appropriate. It is, however, a challenge for me to get through that last verse without sobbing.



I wrote a whole post about how this song makes me reflect on my role as a mother and the importance of the task at hand. You can read it here.



My lovely in-laws discovered this one for me. When I ask my boys “How much does mummy love you?” they always reply “moon and back”  (If you don’t know why read this book asap) This one is by Dolly Parton. So sweet. I’m still learning this one.



You can leave out the Steve Tyler-style wailing and keep it quiet and soothing. This a beautiful song whether you sing it to your partner or babies. I don’t want to miss a thing, either.



I’m not a fan of Garth Brooks at all, but my Hubby likes a few of his songs as he grew up listening to them and this is the one he has sung to all four boys (with ‘he’ and 'him' inserted in all the right places). Hamish used to sing along with him when he was still sleeping in the cot – just beautiful.

Over to you now- what's your alternative lullaby of choice?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Remember my friend, Rachael?

She's been doing some big things with her blog- Sew Today, Clean Tomorrow - since she did that tutorial for us. Her last Beginners Quilt-Along resulted in such seriously gorgeous quilts that I'm tempted to give it a whirl.

Well, Rachael has tagged me in an Around the World Blog Hop. This little bit of internet love sharing is making it's way all over the globe. So from beautiful Tasmania, you are traveling here to the steamy 'Top End' of Oz. Welcome to the Territory! 


First, here are my answers to the questions...

1. What am I working on? 
After a very busy first half of the year- where the poor blog suffered a bit of neglect, I'm working on increasing my posts and providing more fun and inspiration - for me, my boys and my readers.

I'm currently attending the Clever Cookie School of Blog. I'm learning so much and slowly tweaking the blog to have it look and function like I dream it can.
Last week I discovered how to make cute little graphics like this one...


2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
There are a lot of mummy blogs out there and I'd like to think I have a unique voice- because I'm me and because I'm raising boys. 

I've recently had an epiphany that what I'm trying to do here on the blog and in my everyday actions is to make the ordinary extraordinary

I've started an Instagram campaign where we can tag our pics #sahtmakingtheordinaryextraordinary and share the little bits of extra we are putting in to make life magical for our children and ourselves.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?
I really, really loved the community of creative, inspiring people that I'm meeting online. There's often an incredible solidarity between mothers too.  I wanted in. And when someone takes the time to comment on your blog- to let you know they liked what you had to say - it's like a big virtual hug!
  
4. How does my writing/creating process work? 
Mostly, I'm just reporting in on something we've done- our little extraordinary. 

I don't consider myself a 'writer' but sometimes the words just come to me and I have to let them flow. That's what happened with this post and I'm really proud of it.


Secondly, I'm tagging these amazing women to join in and sending the love on it's way...


Sarah - Creating Contentment
Like me Sarah is the mother of four boys - and one girl! - and she works very hard to make the best life for herself and her children.  Her blog chronicles her journey both as a mother and as a person seeking to find contentment in all aspects of life, including the challenging parts.  Sarah's words and stories are always inspirational and her attitude is what I wish mine could me.

Barbe - Fashionista in Suburbia
Barbe is my fashion guru. We met doing the Fox in Flats Style Dares and sharing selfies on Instagram. Barbe has this ability to put together the most stylish outfits and makes cool look incredibly effortless. She is the reason I now own a leopard print scarf, pants and ballet flats!

Melanie - The Juhala Adventures
Melanie is my Instagram friend who makes me want to Homeschool. Her house is fun of full and learning, her photos are full of joy and anyone who practices Christmas carols from September has me as their number one fan. Throw in that she's a sci-fi/Star Wars geek like me and we are clearly meant to be BFFs.  


So, what happens now? Hop your way over to these blogs next Monday to see their answers to the questions above and be sure to say "Hi!" from me.

A Montessori Button Board

Montessori materials can often be expensive. However, the more I read online, the more I'm inspired to make my own simple activities.

One of the things I've made is a Montessori Button Board. The purpose of a button board is, obviously, to teach children how to undo and do up buttons in order to help dress themselves but it also helps with concentration and fine motor skills. The beauty of this one is that it also incorporates colour and shapes. It was also really easy to make.
First, I cut out a variety of different shapes from different coloured scraps of felt and arranged them on a larger piece.

Onto each shape I added a button hole. I'm lucky enough to have an automatic button hole function on my sewing machine. All I needed to do was read the manual, then I did a practice one on some scrap fabric.

It works by putting your chosen button into the back of the foot.
This makes the button hole just the right size on your fabric. As long as you start it in the right spot it pretty much does the rest for you!

Putting a pin at the end helps prevent you from ripping through the stitches when it's time to make the hole.
 
Then you tape your button into position on the backing felt.
And stitch it too...
 
I took the threads through to the back and tied them for extra strength.
 
 Then your little ones can practice doing up buttons.
My button choice was limited so, instead of matching button to shape colour, I chose to sew each button on with coloured thread to match the shapes. Not as easy to match for little ones, but we'll get there.
  

Rohan is now 2 years and 8 months and he can get them off by himself. On is trickier, he likes to just place them on top when the buttons aren't co-operating!

Ta da!

Do you Montessori? I'd love to hear your tips on easy materials you can make yourself.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

My Plan for the Ordinary




I had an epiphany the other night while doing the ironing.


It is, actually, rather unusual for me to have such moments of clarity and insight whist performing a menial household task and no, sadly, this will not encourage me to iron more.

I was thinking about my life, this blog, my 'niche' and trying to determine what exactly it was that I was hoping to achieve with my one wild and precious life. (How great is Mary Oliver?)
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Then a phrase popped into my head that summed up everything it is I am trying to do...

"Make the Ordinary Extraordinary"

Yes!


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Of course, I want my children to know that the little things are important. That the little things are worth noting, sometimes celebrating. That the little things can be the most wonderful things.  But, for me, it's not just about the little things. 

It's about the ordinary things. It's about breakfast, lunch, dinner. It's about housework and weekends and books and television.

It's about taking those everyday things and making them a little bit more magical.
 
That's the reason why we don't 'just' watch the Superbowl, or 'just' screen a Harry Potter movie, or 'just' have a picnic, or 'just' have friends over for lunch.

And that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit extra.

One more motivational quote, because they're better in threes...
 
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And I want you to join me.

If you're on Instagram share a picture of you and your family adding that little bit extra to make the ordinary extraordinary.  

Tag them #sahtmakingtheordinaryextraordinary so that our awesome community can see them and I'll be sharing my favourites at the end of the month.

If you're not an Instagrammer, I'd love you to share your story with me via email. (stayathometerritory@gmail.com)



Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Montessori Inspired Egyptian Studies



When I wrote this post about our Montessori-inspired African-themed playroom back in January, I promised to do regular posts about all of the different themed units we'd explore throughout the year.


Now, I'm sitting here A) Trying to figure out how it’s September already and B) Determined to catch up on all of the posts I’ve planned but not actually gotten around to this year.


So, I’m introducing Montessori Monday. Yep, each week I’m going to share a Montessori-inspired post and I’m starting with a little themed-activity we did at the end of last year. (If you look closely you'll see Halloween decorations in the background of one photo!)


I get so much inspiration from online – other blogs, especially, but also the wonderful, creative people I’ve come to know on Instagram.  My friend, Melanie, posted a photo of some Egyptian activities they were doing (their Homeschooling constantly inspires me) and I got really, really excited about the idea of making pyramids with my boys. This was my first attempt at a themed series of activities.


So, I present to you our Montessori-inspired Egyptian Studies...



I set up a little section in the playroom as our cultural studies area. We made an Egyptian flag, located Egypt on our mini-globe and collected a range of related, interesting items. 
These included: the photograph Liam’s Godparents took of Abu Simbel, some painted parchments Uncle Nick bought for us on his visit, some pictures we found online, Egyptian-themed alphabet cards and a few African animals.

I also printed a hieroglyphic alphabet and set up a sand tray for the boys to trace the shapes of the hieroglyphics in. The pyramids are from Uncle Nick too. 
For Liam (who was 7) I wrote a letter in hieroglyphics for him to translate. He wrote me a reply too. It was really good fun.


We visited the library and borrowed a few books about the country, the pyramids and mummies. Discussion of mummification can be a little overwhelming for little ones.  I kept the talk basic but factual and simply explained that different cultures have different ways of saying goodbye to those who have died and preparing them for the afterlife. 


The library books helped us to colour in Tutankhamun too.
 We talked about squared-based pyramids and had fun making some – both out of paper...

and with our Crazy Forts...

The finally activity in our studies was to plan and prepare for an International Food Night. We researched traditional Egyptian recipes and then made Bamya – an Egyptian Meat and Okra Stew, Ful – a national dish of broad beans that can be cooked in a tomato or garlic sauce, Koushari – which is an interesting mix of lentils, macaroni, rice, and chickpeas. 
This was followed up with some foods that would have traditionally been served after a meal – grapes, dates and almonds.

Had I wanted to arrange all of these activities in Montessori categories it would have been like this: 

Math
Pyramid construction using paper templates

Pyramid construction with Crazy Forts

Language
Stories & Guidebooks about Egypt
Alphabet cards with related terminology
Hieroglyphic alphabet and letter decoding

Geography/Culture
Globe
Flag
Objects from Egypt
Food research
 
Science
African animals
(Mummification)
 
Sensorial
Recipes & International Food Night
Photographs
Colouring In
African animals
Pyramid construction with Crazy Forts 
We finished the unit really hoping we'll all get to visit Egypt some day. Have you been?