Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Big boy chairs for the dining table

I know that Mr Sociable is a bit old to still be using a booster-chair at the table. But it's so convenient! He can reach the table easily, it has sides so he doesn't wobble around in his chair and it just clips onto one of our regular dining chairs. He loves eating out - when he gets to use a "grown-up chair" and, every now and then, he asks me when he can stop using a booster chair at home.

Yesterday, some friends gave us a couple of wooden bar chairs that they no longer needed. I decided to cut the legs to the right height for Mr Sociable to use at the table. 

Mr Fun & I did this project together today while Mr Sociable was at Prep. Mr Fun was "helping" me to saw the legs using a ruler. He looked so cute! I measured the seat height of his current chair/booster combination and measured the new chair to work out how much I would need to cut off. I measured and marked the right spot on each leg (15cm from the bottom), the sawed it off. Thankfully the metal legs already had little plastic plugs in the end of them, so I was able to use them again (ensuring that the legs wouldn't scratch the floorboards). 

The full-size bar-chair on the left, the cut-down chair on the right.

Mr Sociable thought it was very funny to try and look
silly in every photo I took. But here he is, eating dinner. 

Mr Fun really liked sitting in this chair too (and was able to climb
on/off by himself). I think I will need to cut the other chair too!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

My shirt/his shirt: Wordless Wednesday

This was my shirt. I really liked it. But it was a bit too close-fitting...

So here it is again. Resized into a retro-style slim-fit t-shirt for Mr Sociable:

You may remember I made a shirt for Mr Fun using the same pattern from Made by Rae. 

My Little Drummer Boys

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Winter holiday by the beach: Wordless Wednesday

Franky and Mr Fun grew facial hair (Mr Fun stuck his on with snot....).

We went to the beach.

The boys played with mud crabs.

We climbed lots of trees!

We toasted marshmallows.

I took Mr Sociable to visit a holiday house that I used to stay in with my family many years ago.

Mr Fun got sick, so he listened to lots of stories...

and watched In The Night Garden

Franky and Mr Sociable played "police" with walkie talkies

We went to parks.

Mr Fun spent a long time playing with Mummy's balloon ball.

We had lots of fun!

My Little Drummer Boys

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Learning to Ride a Bike

Recently, Mr Sociable has perfected riding his "big boy" bike without training wheels. We started teaching him on holidays at Easter, but haven't done a lot of practice since then. This holidays, we spent a couple of days practising and he perfected the skill really quickly. I guess he was "ready" this time. He is pretty pleased with himself and we have had some great bike-riding adventures this school holidays.

Carss Park, Sydney NSW
So, here is a list of what worked for us:

1. Lower the seat
We lowered the seat so that Mr Sociable could easily put his feet on the floor to steady himself if he got wobbly.

2. Use a bike with a handle
Mr Sociable's bike came with a removable parent handle. In the early days of learning to ride, the handle made it heaps easier (both when he first learned to ride with training wheels and when he learned to ride without them). We forgot to take the handle to the caravan park at Easter, and we ended up using a tent pole instead when Franky's back got sore.

Mr Sociable on his 3rd birthday, riding his bike for the first time
Of course, you don't have to use a handle, but it is hard on your back!

Franky's back was pretty sore by the end of this holiday!
3. Tip the training wheels back
When we first started teaching him to ride without training wheels, we removed one training wheel completely. But we found that he just leant to the other side, rather than learning to balance. An "older" mum in the caravan park suggested leaving both training wheels on but just tipping them back a bit so they weren't on the ground all the time. This worked really well - the training wheels were there when he wobbled to one side, but they weren't in use when he was balancing well. We gave him lots of praise when he was able to balance without the training wheels touching the ground (you could tell when they touched the ground because they were pretty noisy!). As he got more confident, we tipped the training wheels further and further up, until they weren't being used at all (and we finally removed them).

One training wheel on - see how he leaned to the right?
4. Find a flat place to practise
I read that you should find a quiet, distraction-free place to practise - and I agree, it's much easier to practise when you don't have to worry about crashing into other kids. However, Mr Sociable needed a lot of encouragement when he first started learning so we did find it helpful to have other people around to show off to encourage him. We found a flat circuit was great for riding around and around without stopping (eg an empty carpark or large driveway).

Practising on the driveway at the holiday house
5. Lots and lots of praise
Mr Sociable needed lots of encouragement to keep trying. He has a tendency to give up on activities that don't come easily to him - so I was determined that he would work at this until he succeeded. It helped having other adults around for extra encouragement.

Campbelltown Bicycle Education Centre, Sydney NSW
Kendall Cottage Rotary Park, Ulladulla NSW

Have you taught a little person to ride a bike? What tips do you have to share?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Carrot and coconut cake (a holiday baking experiment)

We have just returned from a holiday down the coast. I will post some photos of our adventures later this week. Today, I wanted to share a cake that I cooked. I made up the recipe, based on my basic fruit muffin recipe. It was so yum that I cooked it again (also, I measured the ingredients second time around, so that I could record it).

2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
2 cups grated carrot
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I think the first cake I made had a little more coconut than this, which was nice too)
3/4 milk
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Grease and line a ring pan.

Ask a willing assistant to grate the carrot (this is Mr Sociable's favourite job!).

Combine ingredients in a bowl. The mixture is quite thick. 

Scoop the mixture into the prepare ring pan. Cook at 180˚C until brown on top & cooked through* - insert a skewer to check (it should come out clean).

* The oven in the holiday house was very slow (it took over an hour to cook). I think in a fan-forced oven, it would take about 40 mins at 160˚C.
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