A Trolls Party On A Budget

Ameli turned five a little while back and wanted a Trolls party. There’s so much you can do with a big budget, but when you only have a tiny budget and a small party, you have to be a little creative!  Here’s a few of my favourite bits from our Trolls Party on a budget. Host a Trolls Party on a budget!Read more: A Trolls Party On A Budget

How To Make A Princess Poppy Necklace

When it comes to ideas, I think I do okay, but when it comes to the actual creativity, I have to look to others and build on or adapt their ideas!  I don’t know who the originator of this Trolls bunting is as I can’t find it on the Dreamworks site, yet it’s labelled as Dreamworks, so we’ll go with that till I learn otherwise. I didn’t want it as bunting though, but as necklaces, dotted around the forest for the children to find it during a treasure hunt, so we created our own Princess Poppy Necklaces.Read more: How To Make A Princess Poppy Necklace

Party Ideas For The Fantastic New Beauty And The Beast Movie

I, along with much of the rest of the world, went to see the new Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson on the weekend and I absolutely loved it. I found myself smiling through most of the movie – right up to the mass of villagers and their pitchforks descended on the castle, anyway.


YouTube Direkt

While I think Luke Evans plays dangerous vapid vanity with frighting acuity, Emma Watson absolutely stole the show, as I’m sure she was supposed to, being the lead actress and all. I could honestly not imagine a better actor for the role of Belle, a headstrong, before her time, literate girl from a French village (with an exquisite peasant wardrobe! I’d dress like that all the time, if I could!)

If an actress brings something of herself into a role, Emma Watson is the perfect person for this. Alone up there (if I recall) among the Disney films that look at love as more than a physical attraction based on a your place in society – a beautiful maiden in one or another form of distress, and a prince – and it’s one of the few that place the female lead in the heroine role, so there are many reasons to love this story, original or new.

Something I thoroughly appreciated in the new film, however, was how reminiscent, but better, it was of the original, with similar dream like sequences and choreographies. It harked back to the original so much, yet was so enhanced and just beautiful. Everything about it was beautiful. I walked out of the cinema thoroughly inspired.

I did also walk out thinking that this new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was going to spark many a Beauty and the Beast birthday party with the crowd that may have outgrown the cartoon version some years before. I know if I was planning a party around now, I’d probably be planning Beauty and the Beast!

So here are some of the best party ideas I’ve found, but I expect there’ll be many new, fresh ideas coming out as the new Beauty and the Beast fanbase grows!

Top 10 Food Ideas

There are some incredible Beauty and the Beast Party Food ideas around, but I don’t know many mamas who have the time, skill or resource to go to the lengths some of the Pinterest mamas do, so here are some of my favourite, I-could-probably-do-that, Beauty and the Beast party food ideas.

Top Party Game & Decor Ideas


Goodbye To Breastfeeding – 8 Years A Breastfeeder

Ameli was born in October 2009 and aside from a single prenatal class on breastfeeding, the sum total of my thought and planning on the subject of breastfeeding was “we’d best get in some formula, just in case”. I hadn’t considered “in case of what?” I certainly didn’t plan on becoming an active breastfeeding advocate.

Breastfeeding at one hour old

As it turned out I fell in love with breastfeeding Ameli. It was so easy with her. We ended up doing a lot of things we’d never considered. The nursery remained unused as we coslept, the pram was sold in favour of a variety of slings. We travelled to 20 different countries in her first two years, and breastfeeding was just the simplest solution to everything from hunger to pink eye, comfort to ear infections. Breastfeeding worked for us. So well in fact that I had huge oversupply and ended up donating breastmilk to AIDS babies for the six months we lived in South Africa.

Breastfeeding did more for me than feed my baby. It led me to an entire tribe of mothers who were in many ways just like me. I stopped going to groups where people looked at you weirdly because you were still feeding a two year old and the first time I sat in a group of other mothers breastfeeding their toddlers, I cried, because I felt like I’d finally arrived home. Perth Nurse In 2013Read more: Goodbye To Breastfeeding – 8 Years A Breastfeeder

Dear Girls, Choose What’s Right For You

Dear Girls*

I want to tell you something about this world I brought you into and I want you to remember that it’s love that brought you here. Love, and destiny, maybe, or purpose. For some reason, it was you that made it earthside. Here’s the thing I want you to know about this world:

No matter what you do, it will be wrong to someone. So whatever you do, do it because it’s right for you.

I know that I am doing the best I can in raising you. I know that I’m trying to teach you to have manners at the table, and to run barefoot through the woods. I am trying to teach you to play nicely with others, and to hold your hand up and say “stop” when others aren’t playing nicely with you. I am trying to teach you to sit like a lady and to run screaming through the woods howling like a banshee. I’m trying to teach you to clean your ears and brush your teeth and I’m also trying to teach you to camp with no ablutions for a long weekend and come out from the trees looking like a feral wolf.in-the-eyeRead more: Dear Girls, Choose What’s Right For You

Narnia Party Decoration Ideas

Last year, before her birthday, Ameli and her dad finished reading the Narnia books, so when she asked for a Narnia party we were all very excited. We did, in the end, decide to limit it to a Lion, Witch and Wardrobe party, which she loved.

I had so many plans and ideas for this party. Everything from a horse drawn cart to take the guests from the ‘train station’ (the car park) 20 metres up the path to the manor house (the hall) and an indoor forest made of Christmas trees and a snow machine, but unfortunately in the real world, budgets prevent a lot of dreams. Story of my life.

None the less, I’m really happy with what we did manage to achieve.

Outside the hall, while we were waiting for everyone to arrive we had a thin vegetable soup, boiled potatoes, and butterless toast – war time provisions! We also had games suited to the era: pick up sticks, yo-yos, marbles. It was interesting having to teach most of the children how to play these!

Narnia Party Decorations Wartime

I didn’t have means to bring a backless wardrobe to the hall, so hung a sheet over the door, which the children revealed with great ceremony. I bought a couple of fur coats to hang in the ‘cupboard’ which was great for a walk-through experience.

Narnia Party Curtain Decorations Between WorldsRead more: Narnia Party Decoration Ideas

Beauty And The Beast Rose Table Decorations & Thank You Gifts

My head may still be spinning about the fact that my little girl turned five this weekend. I can still remember her as a newborn in my arms, the feeling of looking in her eyes the first time. Ah, the memories.

Despite my violent protestations that my girls would never be into princesses, it seems the princesses found them, even though we don’t own a single princess movie! So when Ameli asked me months ago if we could have a princess party, I had to put my personal feelings on the matter aside and decide to just let her be five. 

Our party this year was small – the smallest we’ve ever had – both because I decided she was old enough to select her own guests.

Beauty and the Beast Party Decor

One of the first things we did was to make these ‘Beauty and the beast floating rose’ table decorations – slash – thank you gifts. I must say, I am so pleased with how they turned out!

You will need:

Cut a strip of double sided tape, and stick it inside the lid of the bottle. Make sure to leave enough room to peel off the other side then fold the end of the rose – the stem – so that you have enough surface contact with the tape.

Pour a small amount – a teaspoon or so – of the gold glitter into the bottle. You want to use the fine glitter, so that it sticks to the inside of the bottle and is light and magical. Large glitter obstructs more of the rose than fine glitter does.

Gently put the rose through the opening, and close the lid. Shake the bottle around gently to spread the glitter around.

If you’re putting thank you tags on, attach them to the lid and you’re done.

I think these are gorgeous, and are a magical touch to your party decor for very little effort indeed!

On Your Last Day Of Preschool – Letter To A Four Year Old

Your First Day of 'Big Class'

Your First Day of ‘Big Class’ – You didn’t want to pose for a picture as you didn’t want to be late.

My most beloved big little girl

It’s the day before your last day at preschool and the world is changing again for you and for me. I watch you sometimes and the mannerisms, words and thoughts that come from you are no longer those of an infant or a toddler. I’m scared to say it as you are still only four but they are often barely those of a child and at times, when you speak, I feel like I’m faced with an adult – a short little grown up.

It’s strange for me, you know. I know this is your whole world and right now you are standing at the furthest reaches, the outposts of the world you know, standing on tip toes and stretching your hands out. Like a counter from which you can smell, but not yet see the chocolates. You think you see the whole world. All of life. And you feel so big, so ready for it.

I can’t imagine how I will feel when you reach the end of school, university, singledom, child-free, or when your little girl heads off to her last day of preschool. But I do know that on that day you will look at me and there’ll be a little understanding, a little sympathy for what my heart feels right now, when I look at you and see the smaller version of the future you.

Read more….

Why Wont My Toddler Share?

As parents we have this unique and rather amazing ability to forget things. From pregnancy, through birth and seemingly into childhood (and possibly further) we forget the bits that admittedly, don’t always add anything positive to the story. I’ve seen my parents do it, and while I was of the firm opinion that I would never forget a weight, a height, a date of a first word, first whatever, the truth is, you do. Then you have a second (or subsequent ) child, and somehow, amazingly, you forget.

So when Aviya recently started shouting Mine! for… almost everything…., I was suddenly concerned. When did my sweet little genteel baby become so possessive? What did I do wrong. Were we missing out on something fundamental to her development? Aren’t second children supposed to be better at sharing than their older siblings… oh, wait…. that’s right – Ameli did  go through something like this. In fact, Ameli was 23 months old when we met our current friendship group, and the first few months of our meetings, I thought they must think me a horrible mother because all my child does is grab, and shove and say MINE! 

Then, Ameli being six months older than most of the rest of her group, six months later I started noticing the rest of them had entered this phase and I felt such relief! My child wasn’t turning into a psychopathic monster after all! And then… then I forgot all about it. What is that about?

Anyway. Armed with the wisdom of two and a half years later, and faced with a 23-month old there are a few things I’ve learned along the way, and partly to remind myself and partly to help those of you who are facing this for the n-th time 1 here are a few things to remember about children and sharing and a few gentle ways to help them through this developmental phase:

1) Don’t Force It

Think of children in terms of your best friend. How would s/he feel if you took their Kindle/iPhone/iPad and made them share it with the guy/girl you met in the coffee shop this morning? Your child feels the same about that doll/car/stick/leaf.  It’s worse about things they have a real attachment to, but anything that is your child’s sudden favourite is really important to them.

Instead: Offer an alternative. If it’s something your child really doesn’t want to share, ask them if you can keep it safe until they are alone again. If you’re asking, accept that the answer may be no. Remember that you can’t teach ‘don’t snatch’ by snatching it away from them.

capture2) Don’t guilt them

If you don’t want to share, Johnny/Sue won’t want to play with you‘ sounds a whole lot like ‘If you won’t sleep with him, people will say you’re seriously lame and uncool‘ to me. Not the words, obviously, but the sentiment. I don’t want to teach my child that to be socially accepted she has to willing to do whatever is asked of her.  (By the way, there’s a difference between that, and saying ‘if you hit your friends, they won’t want to play with you’. That one is simply true, and logical and pretty much applies in adulthood too. Unless you’re in a boxing club.)

And the truth is, it’s often less about the children than our embarrassment about what people must think.

3) Adjust your expectation

Gosh – I’ve uttered those words to my husband so many times. She’s t-w-o. (not even). Don’t expect six year old behaviour from her. Understand that this is a phase and that it will pass. Your goal isn’t actually – shouldn’t be, anyway – to make her share everything. Your goal is to help her understand why we want to share some things with some people.

Cornell University 2 did a very interesting study on preschoolers and sharing, where children were divided into three groups – one group had to share stickers with a puppet, the next were given a choice between keeping stickers and throwing them away, and the third group had to choose between sharing with the puppet or keeping their sticker.

Interestingly, the children who were given the choice of sharing the sticker or keeping it for themselves, when presented with a new puppet and more stickers to share were the ones who shared the most. Read the full study on toddlers and sharing here. It’s really interesting reading.

In light of my recent amazing introduction to decent tools for positive parentinghere are the steps we take when Aviya either melts down because her big sister dared look in the direction of something that’s hers:

capture21) Empathise

“I can see you feel angry/hurt/upset/frightened”

2) Options

“Here are your options: we can put the toy away, or your sister can play with xyz for two minutes while you watch, or you can swap toys and play with each other’s special toys, or you can go play with your own toy somewhere else.” The problem with giving options is that you have to be able to follow through – “should we go home and you can play with your toy alone” given as an option, means you have to be willing to go home right away.  Don’t offer it if it’s not an option, and an immediate viability – “share or she won’t share her toy with you later” means nothing to a two year old with no real concept of the passage of time. 

3) Highlight the benefit of positive behaviour, without being punitive

There’s a definite difference between “look how sad your friend is because you wont share” and “you shared and your friend is really happy”. The one is guilty manipulation and the other is pointing out the consequence of a behaviour.

If they choose not to share, divert attention to the other child for a minute. “Aviya really doesn’t want to share her special toy at the moment. Why don’t we let her play with it for now and you can show me your special toy?” Chances are the introduction of something else that someone else wants might just provide the motivation for the first child to share their toy after all.

Does this take longer than just snatching the toy from your child and giving it to the other child – something I’ve sadly been guilty of! Of course it does. Are the long term effects worth it? Of course.

There’s nothing wrong with a child having a sense of ownership over their items, and I find especially with second child, so many of their things once belonged to an older sibling, that having things specifically ear marked as theirs is very valuable. And after all, if they care about something, they’ll care for it, and we really do want them to have that sense of ownership so that they will learn to care for their things too.

Remember that modelling is really important to children. They will do as they see us do. (And if you want to read them a story about sharing, Mine! is a great place to start.)

And most importantly, it is a phase. It will pass. What matters isn’t what is and isn’t shared, but how their relationship with the other person – especially in the case of a sibling – is affected going forward. 

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  1. that about the sum total of what I remember about mathematics from school days – ‘nth’ term is a formula with ‘n’ in it which enables you to find any term of a sequence
  2.  Psychological Science October 2013vol. 24 no. 10 1971-1979 http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/10/1971