Category Archives: Parenting

Painting

On a certain weekend morning, FBB wanted to paint.

That is usually not a problem in and of itself.  He paints frequent enough in school and at home, and he knows what to and not to do with paints.

Except this time, BBM is also around.  And she has never painted before.

I put the 3-sizes-too-big Hello Kitty art smock (gift–don’t ask) on her, made sure FBB put on his own smock, set out the paints, brushes, and paper, and went on to do the dishes.

paint on the face

paint on the face

This is what I saw when I was done:

Paint on the face!  Thank goodness for non-toxic, water-soluble tempera paint!

Oh, and just when I thought FBB is old and responsible enough with paint, he showed me his hand:

FBB's painted hand

FBB’s painted hand

He can wash his own hand, thankyouverymuch.

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Duct Tape Crafting

I bought some fancy duct tape, wanting to make crafts with FBB.   I was not happy with the way he stores paper bills in his (coin) bank, and the hand-me-down wallets he has received thus far are too… classic (read: old) for a 5-year-old. So, one Saturday afternoon, I decided to make a duct tape wallet with him.

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Truth to be told, it was mostly my work.  He got bored by the precision required rather quickly.  Instead, he used the scraps and made his own craft.

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Modelling Dough, Part Deux

After I published the previous post on playdough making, I found a recipe for homemade version of Crayola’s almost-mythical Model Magic via The Artful Parent:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1.5 cup cold water
  • Food colouring

Combine, heat over medium-low heat, stir until consistency of mashed potatoes.  Transfer to mixing bowl, covered with dampened kitchen towel to cool.  Sprinkle cornstarch on surface and knead in food colouring.

The recipe doesn’t seem to keep as well as the regular playdough though, so I won’t send this in to school the next time it’s our turn.  I’m pretty sure it’ll come in handy in the next–oh, 10 years or so–time we need a cheap air-dry clay.

Playdough Time!

Playing with homemade playdough

A few weeks ago, FBB came home with a teacher’s request to make playdough for their class.  (Understandably, with so many kids, they want fresh playdough every week.)  I signed up, and today was our turn to provide the weekly playdough supply.

His teacher provided us with this recipe:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 tbsps of vegetable oil
  • food colouring

This is a no-cooking recipe.  Just combine everything except the food colouring in a mixing bowl, then knead in the food colouring.

I vaguely remember many other recipes I saw online use cream of tartar as well, so I decided to use one of those recipes instead.  Here’s the one I ended up using:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water (I used cold, filtered water)
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp of cream of tartar
  • food colouring

(So basically half of the recipe above, double the water, plus cream of tartar.)

I tripled this recipe, mixed the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, transferred into saucepan, added the liquid, cooked over low heat–and constantly stirring with a silicone spatula–until the texture was right.  Then I divided the dough into three parts for different colours.  (His choice, of course.)

If I were to make this again, I would switch from cold water to warm/hot water.  I would also switch from using food colouring drops to Wilton cake dyes for more intense colours–I used at least 15 drops of red and it was still a long way from the intensity I wanted.

Since FBB’s play dough have long since dried out, he wanted to save some of the fresh dough at home.  To keep the kids (or at least BBM) away from the stove, I set up a playdough playing station with our silicone mat and let them play with the still-warm-to-touch playdough.

Although no one in his class is Celiac/gluten-intolerant, I found the following gluten-free version as well:

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1.5 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Food colouring

Happy playdough modelling!

[Update] Here’s a better version and instructions I found via The Artful Parent, which I’ll use to make the next batch:

  • 5 cups water
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2.5 cups salt
  • 3 tbsps cream of tartar
  • 10 tbsps vegetable oil
  • food colouring

Mix water, salt, cream of tartar, and food colouring. [Note: I still prefer to add food colouring at the end, just because I want to make smaller batches of different colours instead of one big batch of a single colour.]  Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring regularly until hot.  Add oil.  Stir in flour one cup at a time, stirring in between each addition.  [Note: I’m sure this technique gives better consistency.]  Mix until playdough pulls away from pan and is no longer sticky (pinch it between fingers to test).  Let cool on counter, then knead.

Why We Won’t Enrol Our Son in YRDSB’s French Immersion Program

Our beloved son FBB is in SK. I have been contemplating enrolling him in French Immersion.

Since he is currently in a Catholic school, in addition to whether to enrol in French Immersion or English stream, we also have the choice of enrolling him at either the Catholic or public system.

(Both Catholic and public school systems are 100% government-funded.  They operate as separate entities, and, as such, sometimes have different philosophies and different policies.)

Obviously, the English public school has been ruled out on the day we enrolled him in the Catholic system.  The sole reason we originally put him in Catholic school is because the school is closer to home.

We attended the information session at the Catholic French Immersion school last month, and the public French Immersion school last night.

Right after we walked out of the school door last night, we agreed to rule it out.  Here are the reasons why:

  1. Catholic board policy states, when one student is in the French Immersion school, all siblings are automatically accepted at the school and, more importantly, even the siblings not in French Immersion program still have school bus rights (we are far enough to get bus).  Public board has no such policy to keep siblings together.
  2. In our particular area, the public French Immersion program happens at one school for grades 1-3, and a different school for grades 4-8.  Both schools are far enough for us to get school bus.  Since our kids are four years apart, they will almost never be at the same school–even if both are in French Immersion.  For all we know, the kids may have crazily different school bus schedule.
  3. The Catholic FI school has 2 FI classes with about 17 students each, and 1 English class with about 12 students.  The grade 1-3 public FI school has 5 FI classes alone, plus 2 English classes.
  4. Perhaps partially related to the difference in school sizes, the staff at public FI school feels more rigid and less friendly than the Catholic FI school.  The parents at the public FI school’s information session also seem more of the aggressive, helicopter type.  I think I sniff the scent of a few tiger moms as well.
  5. The Catholic FI school has a LEGO robotics after school club. 🙂

We still aren’t sure if we will enrol him in French Immersion.  All I know is, he won’t be in the public system next school year.

Co(erced)-Sleeping, Our Version

This is in response to Co(erced)-sleeping: how we share a sleeping space with our two year old.

Co-sleeping is alive and well in our household.  The situation has evolved over the past two years, and the current version looks like this:

The Ideal Co-Sleeping Position

Only one parent is present, because our queen size bed is getting too crowded.  (More on that later.)

The crib was an artifact of our earlier attempt to remove FBB from our bed.  Now its primary functions are guard rail and storage for extra clothing and diapering supplies.

However, that is far from the truth.  Dad is usually the one who sleeps with FBB, and the most recent version of the reality is more like this:

Co-Sleeping, Dad's Reality

First, we have a toddler who has never liked being covered.  And he cries if he’s not comfortably warm in sleep.  We have to dress him warm, but he complains when we starts to put the third layer on him.

Then, there’s also the problem of FBB liking to sleep on top of someone, particularly people he loves.  The more he loves you, the more likely he is to sleep on top of you.  Apparently, he loves Dad very much, because he is sleeping on Dad’s neck lately.  Dad woke up in the middle of the night and complained to me about suffocation.  (Dad also said he wanted to punch FBB then.  I was not surprised.)

On the off night when I’m the one sleeping with FBB, I am greeted with a different problem:

Co-Sleeping, Mom's Reality

(I don’t usually sleep with him because my presence seems to excite him too much–it takes longer for him to fall asleep, and he wakes up more easily.)

Obviously, he loves me even more dearly than he loves Dad, because he literally sleeps on his tummy on top of mine.  And even if I managed to get him off my core and just sleep on my (soon-to-be-numb) arm, he stills wants physical contact with me so much that he demands the cover off me.

Nowadays, Dad consistently falls asleep with FBB, leaving me with a few hours of alone time to read, watch TV, surf the web, and tackle one of the many craft projects I’d like to try.

Night Time Diapering

Even before switching to cloth diapers, night time diapering was a challenge for me–DS used to be up a few times a night to nurse, and his diaper, even a disposable, would be soaked the next morning, often to the point of leaking.

When we first switched to cloth diapers, I used two g-Flappers in a pair of gPants.  After a while, I found his bum to be red the next morning from a soaked diaper sitting on his bum for too long.

Then I switched to two flushies, one folded in half in front.  It held all the liquid (although some days the flushies would be holding so much pee that they would burst), and we had no leaks or red bums.  However, it got expensive.

The next thing I tried was double- or triple-stuffed pocket diapers.  I often used whatever pocket diapers I had on hand, but often resort to BumGenius OS 3.0 or Rumparooz.  I particularly liked Rumparooz’s gusset and doubler–no leaks ever!

After a while, my hands got itchy, and DS’s thighs grew even chubbier, so I decided to switch to a feel-wet solution.  For one night, I tried a Bummis prefold with wool cover.  It was definitely not enough!  So I switched to a Sustainablebabyish fitted.  It was still no good.

Three months ago, I finally decided to splurge on a Goodmama fitted.  When I first received it in the mail, I was amazed how thick it was!  The Goodmama fitteds really held up all the liquid (although barely).  But I had leaks–because the Goodmamas are so thick, most of the diaper covers couldn’t cover the diaper well.  That included Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, Flip, and some WAHM-made wool covers and longies.  In addition, the Goodmama would be SOOOO soaked and stinky in the morning, and we’re also seeing red bum again.  Thinking it was my washer (which has never been cloth-diaper friendly), I tried stripping the diapers in different ways.  None of them worked well enough; there were still redness, especially where the elastics land on his thighs.

Another problem is, he has basically outgrown the Goodmama fitteds, despite them advertised to fit up to 30 lbs.  It’s his chubby thighs.  So I switched to using prefolds, with an extra prefold folded up as a extra thick doubler in front.  The prefolds are snappied (so no elastics), then I put on the wool cover and wool longies.  The prefolds are still soaked, but they are less stinky, and we had less itchiness around the thighs.

Then it dawned on me: I should just change his diaper in the middle of the night.

Sounds easy, right?  Except that I have to unzip DS’s sleep sack, take off his wool longies (for extra protection), the wool cover, and his diaper.  Then I try to take him to potty (my half-hearted attempt to night-time EC).  After that, I had to put on a clean diaper, wool cover, wool longies, and sleep sack.  More often than not, that whole sequence would wake him up, and I had to nurse him down again.  Not a fun thing to do when I was trying to go to bed.

I’m trying to find the best time to change his diaper at night so I won’t disrupt his sleep.  After that, I need to find a good time to take him to potty and ramp up the night-time ECing.  Hopefully with the warmer months night-time ECing would become easier.