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DIY Flubber

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Amelie and I recently revisited the Children’s Museum of Art where a great deal of our time was spent playing with their giant tub of blue flubber. Flubber is a lot like silly putty – you can squish it, its bouncy, it’s stretchy, its sort of moldable but gooey at the same time, you can break it apart and squash it back together… in short, it’s a lot of fun! The recipe for flubber was posted on the wall at CMA so I decided to have a go at making my own so we could carry on the flubbery fun at home!

Flubbery fun at CMA

Flubbery fun at CMA

 

Here is what you will need to make your own flubber:

1 cup of school glue (e.g. Elmers, PVA etc)
1 cup of water
One tablespoon of Borax, dissolved
Food colouring or tempera paint

 

1. Pour the water and glue into a plastic mixing bowl and add your colour. (I used natural red food colouring and only added a small amount, this was definitely not enough to make red flubber, as you will see from the photos. My tip here is to add a lot of your chosen colour!)

2. Mix the glue, water and colour together until you get an even consistency.

3. In a separate bowl mix the borax with enough hot water to dissolve it, then slowly add it to your glue mixture. This bit is actually really cool, the mixture turns rubbery as soon as the borax solution mixes with it.

4. Use your hands to knead in the borax solution until it all comes together to an even consistency and you’re done- you’ve made flubber!

Tip– If flubber sticks to hair or clothing, vinegar will remove it.

 

And there you have it, super easy to make and very fun to play with! Amelie enjoys popping bubbles in flubber, stretching it and using her toy animals (or even herself) to make footprints in it. We use a kinetic sand tray for playing and store it in an airtight mason jar when it’s not in use.

 

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HAVE FUN!

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An Arty Father’s Day Gift Tutorial

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Amelie and I created this sweet little masterpiece for Mike this Valentine’s Day and I thought I’d write a tutorial as it would make a beautiful Father’s Day gift too. It’s a fun project to do together and an easy way to create something unique and heartfelt from both you and your kiddie(s)!

 

You Will Need:

  1. A canvas (I used 16″ x 12″)
  2. Paints in the colours of your choice
  3. Brushes- kid friendly ones and thinner ones for your text
  4. A sharp blade/scalpel
  5. Masking tape
  6. A pencil
  7. A lettering stencil (unless you want to go freehand with the text)
  8. A sheet/drop cloth if your doing this with smaller artists!

 

 

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Firstly decide what shape you want to leave blank for your text to go in. As ours was a Valentine’s gift, a heart seemed the best choice, but a circle or even a star would work well too. Take into account the length of your text and the size of your font when deciding on the shape and its size. Once you’ve decided on a shape, lightly sketch it onto your canvas in pencil. Next, using a stencil or freehand, lightly pencil in the text you want to use in your finished piece.  Once you have your shape and the outline of your text, you need to begin laying masking tape over the shape. You can overlap it slightly to make sure that there are no gaps.

 

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Next take your blade and cut the masking tape around your shape. It should be sharp so that you can easily cut through the masking tape and not harm the canvas below. Don’t worry about this too much though, canvas is pretty tough!

 

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Once your shape and text is all covered with the masking tape, the real fun starts! Give the canvas to your kiddie(s) and let them paint it however they want. We used Crayola Tempera paints and I put a few splodges of red and white paint on the canvas and let Amelie have fun mixing them in together. When we created our canvas, Amelie was in a very “dab dab” phase with paint and liked to use small brush stokes which meant that the finished pattern looked a little like rose petals, which again, was nicely appropriate for Valentine’s Day. If you have little kiddies you might want to put a cloth or plastic mat on the floor as this bit gets gloriously messy!

 

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Once your collaborator(s) has done their part you need to wait for everything to dry, then you can carefully peel the masking tape off to reveal your shape and text beautifully surrounded by some awesome original artwork!

 

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Next you need to paint in your text. I used a stencil for my text and painted it using a very fine brush and acrylic paints.

 

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Because tempera paint dries so quickly, Amelie and I actually completed this whole project in one day. By the time Mike came home from work it was wrapped and hidden in my wardrobe waiting for Valentines Day!

 

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There you have it! A sweet, thoughtful and unique art collaboration for someone you love! Enjoy and get messy!! 

 

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Courage

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I wrote this piece as part of my audition for The Sling Diaries- the theme was Courage, and I thought I’d share it here too! If you aren’t already familiar with The Sling Diaries and Sakura Bloom, you can read about how much I LOVE their slings in this post and find out more about The Sling Diaries project here.

 

Courage

The word Courage often evokes images of a fire fighter heroically saving others from a burning building, or of an activist risking their life to carve out new paths for humanity. The courage of motherhood is quieter, more personal and nuanced. Courage is defined as ‘the ability to do something that frightens one’ and in that respect motherhood has you covered in terms of the whole “do one thing each day that scares you” thing. Every step on our journey brings new questions and a whole myriad of ways to worry “Am I doing this right?” “Am I good enough?”

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One of my favorite quotes regarding parenthood is by Elizabeth Stone and says that “Making the decision to have a child, it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” That quote has always stuck with me for beautifully capturing the vulnerability that comes with parenthood. The pure force of love I felt towards Amelie from the moment she was born was the most beautiful, wonderful and ecstatic thing I had ever felt, and at the same time utterly terrifying. As parents we make decisions every day that affect our children’s lives, we must be a role model when we feel less than perfect, be a teacher when we are afraid we don’t have the answers, to know that we are charged with teaching them about the world, about life, about love. There are times when being so much can become incredibly overwhelming and it takes great courage to silence the inner critic who often surfaces uninvited to insist that I must be doing this all wrong and to trust ourselves.

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It can be all too easy to get wrapped up in scrutiny, whether from an outside source, or often from ourselves. But that same depth of love that drives our fears, paradoxically gives us the courage to face them. I have found motherhood to involve a lot of introspection. Having the courage to look at myself, my values, fears and actions more closely and to think about what messages I want to pass on to Amelie and what kind of example I want to be to her. At times this self analysis can be exhausting and scary, but out of this introspection came growth and a newfound confidence.

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Courage is one of the myriad of qualities that children seem to have in abundance yet often seems to diminish over time. There will be situations in Amelie’s life that may make her doubt herself, but I hope to nurture and support her natural courage and show her the wisdom of her inner voice. I want her to know that it is OK to question ourselves, but that she has the strength, wisdom and courage to overcome and learn from her doubts.

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As time goes on and I see the amazing, loving, bright and bold little girl Amelie is becoming, I get that more and more confident in my role as a mother. When we have the courage to listen to our instincts, our child and our family, we find our true voice. We see that we really are good enough. Motherhood has given me the courage to surrender, to be both a teacher and a student, to more deeply understand myself, and to jump in and wholeheartedly experience everything my new role has to teach me.

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Our Day at the Children’s Museum of the Arts

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This past Monday Mike had the day off work, so we decided to take Amelie to the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Soho. There are so many amazing art museums in NYC which we have visited with Amelie, including the Met, MoMA and Guggenheim, but that was when she was a little younger and now none of them are really suited to active, inquisitive toddlers. The Met, for example, has many of its exhibits freestanding in the middle of the floor with no ropes around them, only a guard that tells you off for getting too close – definitely not a fair day out for a small person whose primary urge is to look with her hands and her parents who don’t want to deal with judgey side-eye from non parents, so an art museum dedicated to children sounded perfect.

As this was our first trip CMA I think I was expecting a colourful art museum with a lax ‘no hands’ policy, but this place is really geared towards hands on creativity. It is a great place for kids of all ages, from the very littles to teens, with separate art studios for different ages where kids can get creative with a whole range of materials. Amelie had a great time in their WEE Arts studio, geared towards kids age 0-5 where there are tons of art materials out ready for little hands to explore. We do a LOT of art activities at home as well as Amelie’s weekly art class, so Amelie was right at home -she painted with water colours, built a sculpture with blocks, played ‘flubber’ with daddy, explored play doh, made a collage and lots more. It was so great to watch her have so much fun trying out all the different mediums.

The entire building is dotted with colourful and interesting art, with their main exhibit ‘Cabinets of Wonder: The Art of Collecting‘ occupying the large space in the center. The exhibit features “historically strange collections of natural objects, art, or bizarre artifacts that Illustrated the collectors’ rare knowledge, prestige or power. They can also be considered museums for our imagination, containing the objects and stories that demonstrate our curiosity for collecting.” which was definitely an exhibit I enjoyed. It reminded me of some of the dusty antique collection cabinets I’d seen for sale at oddity shops in the East Village, and of an exhibit I once saw featuring a mock-up of Charles Darwin’s study. Amelie had fun looking at all the objects, plants and animals, and calling out the names, sizes and colours of ones she recognised.

We spent a good couple of hours exploring the museum together, visiting the ball pond on the first floor and watching Amelie enjoy herself with the art materials, before heading out for some lunch… during which Amelie asked to go in her sling and then promptly fell asleep. It had been a very busy day!

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Winter Wonderland

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Winter: shorter days, bitter temperatures and wearing all the layers just to go on a quick trip to the shop. I’ve had a counter on my phone since mid-January counting down the number of days until March 20th- the first day of Spring and my very favorite season. I can’t wait for the trees to spring back to life, for picnics in the park, for long walks exploring nature with Amelie and for the colourful explosion of tulips that happens in our neighborhood each Spring.

Yet despite the bare trees and the bitter Polar Vortex hitting us, I have to admit that this has been the most beautiful Winter I’ve ever experienced. We’ve had more snow in the past couple of months than I’ve ever seen in my life and the city has been transformed into a shockingly beautiful, snow covered wonderland rivaling Narnia. Amelie has been having a ball playing in the snow. On snowy mornings she would run over to the window and excitedly shout “Look! Snowing!” She would honestly stay out there all day if she could, just kicking the snow, jumping in the puddles as it thaws and picking up handfuls and throwing it in the air and yelling “SNOOOOW” and laughing. The days that weren’t threatening frostbite, we enjoyed getting out playing, making snowballs, watching people ski and just taking in how amazingly beautiful and magical everything looked. Oh, and taking plenty of photographs to remember everything! So here is my Winter photo-dump; enjoy a little slice of snowy NYC!

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I (Heart) Salt Dough!

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I vaguely remember using salt dough as a child but largely forgot all about it until I used it to make some christmas tree decorations with Amelie in December, and now I am completely obsessed with the stuff! It’s easy, toddler safe, cheap to make and has a bajillion uses – what’s not to love?

 

The recipe is unbelievably simple:
One part salt
One part water
Two parts flour
Dash of oil

 

And that’s it! Just hand the mixing bowl to your kiddie, let them stir to their hearts content while you flour a flat surface and grab a rolling pin and some cookie cutters, then go nuts! The only downside to salt dough is the drying time. You can let it dry naturally in a warm place overnight (although it could take longer, depending on the thickness of the dough) or you can put it in the oven on a very low setting for a few hours. I’ve heard you can put it in the microwave for around 3 minutes, but as I don’t have a microwave I can’t vouch for that method (If anyone tries it, let me know how it works out!) You don’t want to put it in the oven on too high a setting or the shapes will puff up, slow and steady is the trick here. So, what to do with this magical stuff? Well, your imagination is the only limit really, but some of my favorite uses of Salt Dough have been:

Color Recognition Stars

No further description needed really! I’m going to make some different shapes this week for shape recognition too.

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Tree Ornaments
I pre-cut the shapes in the evening, let them dry, then the next day we decorated them together. I did some and Amelie did some. I used acrylics, Amelie used tempera paints, pencil crayons, glitter and felts. I varnished them, threaded them with ribbon and voila, the tree looks awesome!
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Alphabet Tiles
Amelie is very interested in learning the names of letters so I decided to make her some alphabet tiles to practice on. I cut small circles and painted the letters of the alphabet on them with acrylic paints. I’m actually surprised how well these have held up considering how much they get tossed around. So far they’re all still intact, bravo salt dough, bravo.
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Heart Garland
I love how this turned out. I used a heart cookie cutter, a drinking straw to make the lace-like detail around the edges and letter stamps to stamp the letters spelling Love, Peace, Family, Dreams and Happiness into the dough. Once dry I pained them white, then filled in the letters with a very fine brush and red acrylic, then threaded them with ribbon and hung them up. They really look lovely and were so simple to make. I guess you could use any shape to make a garland and I’ve seen this stamping technique used to make gift tags, which is a lovely idea.
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I’ve managed to keep unused dough in a sealed container with a splash of water in the fridge for a couple of days, it just needed a little flour, but worked fine. I really like making and using this stuff, it’s so versatile and takes no time to make. You can cut out shapes/squish it/play with it with your child or knock up a batch of shapes while they nap and decorate them together once they are dry. I even have a few spare dried shapes available on Amelie’s art shelf for decorating on rainy days.
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HAVE FUN!
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Breastfeeding in Style

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It’s been 28 months since my breasts took over my life. No seriously- as soon as those two glorious pink lines showed up on the pregnancy test, my boobs were all “LETS DO THIS” and just ballooned to the point where couple of weeks into my pregnancy I met two of my friends for coffee and they actually guessed I was pregnant because of them. Yes, even before I’d told some of my family, my overachieving bosoms were already brazenly giving me away. In the two years since then my boobs have been a pretty central theme in daily life- from just trying to contain the damn things during my pregnancy to, as a breastfeeding mother, having to gain access to them 24/7 for the past 18 months and counting. And it is that last point that I’m here to talk about, dear reader.

Once I’d gotten past the common difficulties of the first weeks of breastfeeding Amelie, I found I then had the challenge of deciding what the hell to wear and putting together a breastfeeding-friendly wardrobe. There are dedicated breastfeeding fashions available, complete with concealed openings and clever draping, but I found they tend to be ridiculously overpriced (around $60 for a pretty unremarkable top) and frankly, a little plain. I also found a lot of these clothes tend to cater to maternity AND breastfeeding. This means you get the afore mentioned concealed openings, but with the standard maternity empire waist and tons of extra bump-friendly fabric up front. While this is a great way to get some extra use from maternity clothes, there will come a point where draping yourself in all that extra fabric might not be the most flattering post-baby look.

So here are some tips I’ve learned from my 18 months of trying to dress as stylishly as possible while being a breastfeeding mother!

Rethink the Nursing Bra
There are two differences between a normal bra and a nursing bra. A) A nursing bra has little clip thingies where the cup attaches to the strap meaning you can ‘unhook’ the cup. The clip makes a little “snap” sound when you undo it which after a while you may find has a strange, almost Pavlovian effect on your newborn. And B) 99.9% of them are fugly as hell. At least for me, nursing bras turned out to be rather unnecessary. The premise seems to be to move the cup out of the way so that you can nurse, but in reality, bras (and the other fabric you are most likely going to be wearing) are hardly made of iron can easily be moved out of the way anyway. Also, I’d hate to count how many times in those fuzzy first few weeks I’d finish a feed, gently lift Amelie from her boppy pillow to burp her then next time I went to feed her find that I’d forgotten to re-do the clasp from last time. That literally happened ALL THE TIME. So maybe don’t splash out on tons of nursing bras until you’re sure that a nice, soft (and nicer looking) bra won’t to the job just as well!

It’s All About Neckline… and Fabric … and Buttons
So, if you are forgoing the specially made breastfeeding garb and want to make normal-people fashion work for you, then one of your biggest considerations is obviously the neckline. Look for v-necks, wrap dresses and lower necklines (you can always add a cami underneath if you like). These necklines all make it super easy to nurse. I’m aaaaall about dresses, but the same holds true for tops. Another consideration is the fabric. I have a few things that look more high-necked but the fabric is nice and stretchy, so I can nurse in them no problem. I even have a couple of knitted tops where this holds true. Also, buttons are a nursing mama’s friend! There are loads of lovely dresses and tops with buttons in the front. (note- if you’re shopping online, be sure to check the buttons are functional before buying! I’ve been burned before! *grumble*) Here are some of my fave nursing friendly dresses at the moment:

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Layers
If you’re more of a jeans-and-top kinda girl then you can pretty much wear any top you want then wear a camisole under it. When you want to nurse you can just pull up the outer top and the cami will cover your stomach.

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This is also a good method if you want super discreet nursing, as someone would have to get right up in your business to see a hint of boobage. Which brings me too…

Keeping You Comfortable
I could go on for literally hours about how women shouldn’t feel pressured to cover up when breastfeeding and how, as a society if we saw more public breastfeeding then then this would help us to raise breastfeeding rates… but that’s not what this is about. My point is, don’t ever feel ashamed or embarrassed for feeding your child, and never let anyone make you feel that you should be covered up or hide away. That said, if YOU feel more comfortable being more covered, then you rock it! There are a whole host of ways you can show less flesh without having to cover your babies head too. In addition to the layering option mentioned above, a scarf is a simple option to keep you more covered, nursing in a sling is good too (you can also use the tail fabric to cover). Keeping more covered can also mean simple things like wearing a cardigan and arranging it to cover more of you.  In the summer I’ve also heard of people using oversized sun hats for their babies to help cover more.

Think About Shopping Online
I always find that the more criteria you have for your clothes when shopping, the harder it is to find anything. Also I would much rather spend any spare time I get doing pretty much anything other than waiting in line to try something on, therefor I really recommend you give online shopping a try. As you may have guessed by the pics above, Modcloth is my fave place to shop online, but there are tons of online clothing stores to suit your taste and budget. The ability to search via keywords such as ‘v-neck’ or ‘button down’ along with the colour and/or style you are after is really helpful and will save you so much time. Plus it can be done from the comfort of your sofa when you’re trapped under a sleeping milk-drunk baby, which is a huge bonus!

Don’t Forget the Accessories
When nursing it’s also worth considering your jewelry- specifically necklaces. Once your baby has more motor control they will become obsessed with fiddling with things while nursing- your face, hair, clothes and especially jewelry are all fair game. This is probably a good time to ditch the expensive/dainty/sentimental necklaces and go for something chunky and baby friendly. Some good brands I found are chewbeads and these necklaces on etsy. Both are also safe for teething babies to chew on!

A Note About Dressing for Babywearing
Learning to nurse while babywearing is one of those ‘ah ha’ moments in the life of a nursing mamma. It means hands-free nursing anywhere and you don’t even have to find somewhere to sit down to be able to feed your baby. It’s also super discreet so you can just carry on with what your doing and no ones the wiser However, it’s worth noting that the lift-up-the-outer-top method really wont work well while baby wearing, so plan accordingly!

I’m sure I will have forgotten something, but I do remember googling this type of thing in the early days of breastfeeding and coming up with pretty much nothing. So hopefully this helps someone! Any nursing mammas out there care to share any of their tips and tricks?

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