Entries from January 2016

letterbox flower bouquet

“Have you said thank you?” is the line I often find myself saying to my seven year old when she receives a gift or she’s leaving a party or a play date.  She’s a well mannered child and does remember to say thank you most of the time but I still remind her just in case.  It’s our job as parents not only to teach our kids good manners but more importantly to lead by example.   I’m sure most of us are polite and always remember to thank our friends and family for the obvious things like gifts, their hospitality and their help. But what about the little things?

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beautiful blue kids rooms

White, soft pastels and light greys are some of the most popular colours for kids rooms and nurseries.  It’s not hard to see why – I mean who doesn’t love those colours and they’re easy to decorate with.  But if you’re after something a bit more unique, more striking or more daring, there is no better colour than blue – lots of it in deep, dark and bold shades (we’re not talking hints of blue or baby blue here!).  I’ve noticed a growing trend in blue kids rooms, bedrooms, living rooms, hallways and even kitchens and I’m so drawn to it.  There is something so cool and calming about this colour even in it’s darkest shade and so it’s ideal for any age, any gender and any space.

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best nature books for kids

Are your kids in to myths and facts?   My seven year old is obsessed with them so we have recently made up a dinner table game called ‘myth or fact?’.  We each take a turn to come up with a statement and the others have to guess whether it’s a myth or a fact.  The statement can be about anything, any subject, any topic – the challenge lies in coming up with facts that sound like myths and vice versa.  It’s really fun seeing what Anya will say as she sometimes comes up with things that neither Richard or I are sure whether it’s a myth or a fact.   And other times her statements are so random, they are hilarious! She gets some of her info from one of her current favourite books –  The Amazing Human Body Detectives  – that I wrote about last year.

bug detective book

That book was such a hit in our home and yours (so many readers emailed me to say they had bought it and their kids loved it too) that when I discovered the other book in this series I had to get it for Anya and of course share it with you.  Called Bug Detective: Amazing facts, myths and quirks of nature – this Bug Detective book is packed with interesting facts and myths about bugs, insects and minibeasts.  Did you know that worms don’t have lungs or that ladybirds have poisonous knees?  Or if you weighed all the ants in the world, they would weigh more than humans (wow, that I did not know!).  All the info is presented in a fun and engaging way with great illustrations. There is a lot of info on each page but it’s broken up in to bite sized chunks making it easy for kids to read and understand.

bug detective book maggie li

The Bug Detective book also comes with a magnifying glass so kids can search for the extra, often tiny, details on some of the pages – making it even more fun to read.  I highly recommend it especially for inquisitive kids who will devour this book and spend hours buried in it!  If you’re in the US, you can find the book here and in the UK find it here.

giving your child choices

I recently read an article (I can’t remember where) that talked about raising happy kids. All of us want happy kids, right?  One of the things the article mentioned was the importance of giving your child choices, especially younger kids (say under 10) who have little or no control over their lives.  This point really stood out for me.  Kids really don’t have much control over their lives, do they?  They are told what to eat and when, at school everything is structured and decided for them, they attend extra curricular activities that perhaps parents choose for them. They are told what time to go to bed, what time to get up, when to shower, when to do homework and the list goes on.  While some of this stuff has to be decided for them (if I left mine to decide when to shower, it would be never!) I’ve realised it is possible to give them more control.

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Indian style vegetarian chili rajma

One of my healthy eating food goals for this year is to eat more vegetarian meals each week.  We are usually fairly healthy only eating fresh food cooked from scratch but realised that we could cut down on eating meat.  One of my favourite go to dishes is this Indian style vegetarian chili called Rajma (it’s vegan too) made with red kidney beans. Bags of flavour and warmth, this dish is traditionally served with just rice – it really needs nothing else.  But if you feel like it you can make a side dish of some spiced veggies.  I’ve grown up on this dish and it was always a favourite.  I’ve even got my fussy eater to eat it so it not only makes a an easy and delicious mid-week family meal but also a very healthy one as kidney beans are so good for you as are many of the spices (like turmeric and cumin) in this dish.  

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creating an art space for kids

Do you have an organised art space for your kids?  When my 7 year old wants to get creative, which is nearly every day, I have to fetch art supplies from all over the place.  I have some lying in boxes, some in her room, some in the living room – it goes on. I sometimes end up putting her off creating because I am busy getting dinner ready and don’t have the time to get the supplies together. And in all honesty, sometimes I just can’t face tidying and putting everything away in 5 different places.  I’ve often thought how much easier it would be if her art supplies were all in one place and easy for her to access and put away herself.

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Ganesha's sweet tooth

What are your six and seven year olds reading at the moment?   Have they started enjoying chapter books or do they still love their picture books too?  My seven year old is starting to enjoy chapter books, but she still loves her picture books.  After finishing a chapter book I notice she always goes back to picking up a handful of her picture books and none more often than this one.

best picture books for 5 year olds

I think Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth is one of her favourite picture books which I realised I hadn’t shared here. Once you see the book, it’s not hard to see why kids would love it so much.  The story is simple and sweet. Ganesha is just like any other kid except he has the head of an elephant and he rides around on a little magical mouse.  And like most kids, he loves sweets.  When his sweet tooth gets the better of him, he is unable to resist a super jumbo jawbreaker laddoo (an Indian sweet).  As he bites in to it his tusk breaks off. With the help of a wise poet and his mouse friend, Ganesha learns that what seems broken at first can be quite useful after all. Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth is loosely based on a classic Indian tale but the author has reinvented the story in to something funny, sweet and engaging for kids.

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth

While it’s a sweet story, it’s the illustrations that really stand out.  The pages are bursting with colour and the illustrations are so detailed making the characters come to life.  It’s hard not to fall for this book, no matter what age but I think it’s a must have picture book for 4-7 year olds.  What are your kids reading at the moment?  I’m always looking out for unusual and interesting kids books so I would love to know in the comments.

UK readers can find Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth here but if you’re in the US, find it here.

how to get fussy eaters to eat

I’ve had a fussy/picky/tricky (pick a word) eater since the day she was born.  The first clue she gave us was the on the day she was born.  She wouldn’t drink her milk or barely had a few drops.  I was actually kept in hospital an extra two days as they were concerned about her lack of appetite. Then came weaning – probably the most difficult phase we’ve been through yet.  It took nearly 1.5 years to wean her – that is truth.  Fast forward seven years and lots of creative, sometimes downright crazy tricks and methods used by me and things have improved.  While I’m no expert on how to get fussy eaters to eat, I think I’ve learned a thing or two.  I would still call her a fussy eater but at least she eats far better than she used to.

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online fitness for moms and babies

That post baby slump is one I remember all to well.  After a difficult birth, not only was I feeling low but my clothes didn’t fit, breastfeeding wasn’t going well and I felt isolated – to name just a few things.  What you are led to believe (pre-baby) should be the happiest time of your life was anything but.   Thankfully things have changed – there is a lot more open talk about what really happens after you give birth and how you may feel.  Still not nearly enough but far more than there was even a short seven years ago when I gave birth.  In the end it took me close to a year to start feeling ‘normal’ and two years to shed the baby weight. At the time I wondered what was wrong with me but now I know that this is perfectly normal.

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Djeco craft kit coloured sand

December is a month where we accumulate far too much.  Anya has her birthday and then a couple of weeks later it’s Christmas.  Apart from giving stuff to charity, I also don’t let Anya open all her presents at once.  Do you do the same or am I the only mean mama?  I seriously don’t think any kid can really appreciate 10-15 presents in one go or even 5.  So she is allowed to open the wrapping but not the gift itself. I keep them away and come a rainy day in January/February when it’s too cold or wet, she always has something to do.  Last week on one such day she opened this beautiful coloured sand Djeco craft kit and she was hooked for hours.

Continue Reading "A beautiful Djeco craft kit for a rainy day"

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