expanding imaginations

I love any idea that helps kids use their imagination and own initiative.  Here is a fab example of one such activity!  Simply cut out a small section of an image from a magazine or photo, paste it on the page and let the kids finish it off however they choose.

image courtesy of artmommie.blogspot.com

free printable reward charts

How divine are these free printable reward charts to help your little ones track of their stars?  Just had to share them with you.

You’ll find more whimsical printables for various occasions, including some beautiful Christmas gift tags, on this quirky and oh-so-fabulous site Arian Armstrong.

Hope you find them helpful! x

look what I just made!

These ‘make your own’ satchel bags arrived in our little store a couple of weeks ago and, although they are designed for kids around the age of 8 to complete, I have been busting to get my hands on one ever since.

The kit includes everything needed to make one fabulous chunky felt satchel. All the pieces are pre-cut so all you need is your hands, some time and enthusiasm.

All up I spent about an hour stitching the whole thing together.  I found the whole project very relaxing and somewhat therapeutic! So THAT is what all my sewing friends are going on about!  I even let my 7 year old help me with some of the stitching, but mostly I just hid in the corner, stitching, stitching …

The 7 year old is terribly happy to take ownership of the bag. Here’s a bit of a dodgy shot of him in his jammies modelling his new crafty satchel that is already now home to all his favourite colouring in books and textas.

Not only is this a fab gift for primary school age kids but I also think it’s a lovely idea for a mama (or papa) to make one for, or with, their younger kids.

We are giving this one the DOUBLE THUMBS UP!


meet a mama – sherene from dinosnores

If you’ve ever struggled to calm your kids at bedtime then you are going to love this mama and her creations as much as I do.  You can read more about Sherene’s Dinosnore Sleepy Time CD range in our little shop and can learn all about Sherene right here …

Tell us a bit about you, fabulous you! 
I live in Manly and love it.  It is a wonderful place to raise children with a healthy, active lifestyle.  Just this week while walking home we saw a water dragon laying her eggs!  We also have seen dolphins, fairy penguins, whales, and a seal.

I am mum to my busy preschool boy Ben and 8 year old tomboy Emma, as well as the woman behind Dinosnores sleepy stores – guided relaxation for kids.

Creating Dinosnores has been an amazing adventure.  I scripted each sleepy story drawing on my experience as a pediatric speech pathologist, my children’s interests and play.  My husband took six months off work to produce our CD artwork and our website.  All our CDs are mastered professionally through Studios 301 using the vocal talent of many of our friends.  And today, we have 9 Sleep titles sold in Australia, NZ and USA and we are about to sign up a UK sales agent.  With 4 awards including CD of the Year 2011 and 2012, and so much positive feedback from parents, I am proud to have created Dinosnores sleepy stories.

Who inspires you?
My close friend Sam.  Mother of 4 – toddler, preschooler Year 2 and Year 5, and homeschooling the primary kids – she is an inspiration in mindful parenting.  She thoughtfully takes time to intellectually, emotionally and physically nurture each of her children AND herself.  She has always read something interesting about parenting, teaching science and society and every conversation I have with her is interesting and energizing (even with the distraction of our combined six children playing).

What can’t you live without?
Family, friends and coffee.

Do you have a favorite blog/s?
I have just found This Is Not What I Signed Up For.  It is Australian, authentic, honest and inspiring blog about parenting – specifically children with autism.  A sensitive, real and powerful read on the parenting journey.

How do you like to spend your spare time?
Reading.  I really miss having hours for recreational reading.  With kids and a business I don’t read as much as I’d like to but I still love to make time to read!

Best time saving or sanity saving idea/tip for mamas?
Get out of your house for a walk, some yoga, a ride or run before you get breakfast for the kids – then you can enjoy being with your kids because you have allowed yourself some ‘you’ time.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would love to introduce some new guided relaxation CDs for teens, see Dinosnores sleepy stories sold worldwide, and employ my hubby.  Then we could both work from home and be active mindful parents.  Like so many primary bread-winners he misses out on our children’s life Monday to Friday and he would love to be more involved.

What is your favorite quote?
Good mums have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids.  I have no idea who said that, but I used to give myself a hard time about housekeeping.  It reminds me that quality time with my kids is so much more important!

Where can we find you?
Or walking the kids to school in Manly!

craft express – egg carton caterpillar

We have egg cartons coming out the wazooo at the moment.  So I was a tad excited to find this easy, peasy project.

image courtesy of balancinghome.com

Just paint your egg carton, glue on googly eyes (which by now you’ll probably have in the craft box but, if not, just cut out white circles and add a black dot in the middle) then add curled pipe cleaners for antennae.  Done!

paying it forward – operation christmas child

We like to pay it forward whenever we can.  One of the ways we do this at Christmas time is by donating shoe boxes filled with goodies to Operation Christmas Child.

Our kids each have a shoe box and they choose what they would like to give a child in need overseas. They select whether the box goes to a girl or boy, and what age group they’d prefer to give to.  The organisation gives guidelines of what gifts are most suitable but generally something to love, something for school, something to help them create, something to wear and something to play with are winners.

Here’s a shot of some of our little boxes off to a new home.  For an additional few dollars you can track your box to see what country it lands in.

Apart from bringing smiles to lots of little faces overseas, this is a great reminder for our own little people of all that they have and how terribly lucky they really are.

October is collection month so there are only a few days left if you’d like to get involved!  You can check out your nearest drop off point here. x



craft express – halloween stamping!

Although we don’t celebrate Halloween in our home I’m going to get my boys to do this activity whilst I explain the tradition a little more to them.

The beauty of potato stamps is that you can make whatever shape, pattern or image you like!  Simply cut out a raised section, or dig out a section, in the shape you want.  It’s really only limited by your little one’s imagination.

These jack-o-lanterns are a great starting point!  Easy peasy.