Mommy bear … EST 1992

It was 25 years ago ….

I was a single teenage mom navigating my way in an adult world, trying deseperatly to soak up enough knowledge to raise this beautiful little girl who had turned my world upside down.

I was 19 years old in this photo. Tammi was 20 months old. It was Christmas eve.

My father and stepmother were drunk.

I had popped enough popcorn for an entire army and my sister, step brother, little girl and I strung the popcorn for the Christmas tree.

We coloured in and made Christmas cards.

That year her big gift was a baby doll from Santa. She got some plastic high heels from me and I wrapped a story book and wrote ” with love daddy “.

Daddy never knew… he was too busy enjoying his youth and avoiding his responsibilities.

I worked 2 full time jobs and waitressed or did promotions after hours to support my child. I was a youth leader, taught Sunday school each Sunday and served as a volunteer at a soup kitchen once a week.

On Sundays (my only day off) we caught a bus and went to flea markets, museums, a park or to feed the pigeons.

Each night we read beautiful stories from the library and every day I felt I was faking this parenting gig. I was clueless and lost. Overwealmed and not sure what it was a good mom did.

So, I did the only thing I knew how to do ….

I became the mother I wished I’d had and I loved my child .

Mom’s there is never a right time to have a child. No one , not even a parenting expert , has all the answers. We all feel like we’ve failed our children but the truth is your child just needs you ….. exactly as you are ❤

Advertisements

A note to moms

(Artist unknown)

Dear moms

How many of you can relate to this image ?

Some days we need a hundred arms to just get through the day and in those moments it can be hard to connect and enjoy the kids or love your husband without wishing he was helping more.

On those days it can be hard to remember to take time for ourselves and to take time for our pre-mamma activities.

On those days it is the most important that you stop.

The housework will wait. The chores are not going anywhere. You can’t dissapoint anyone more than you will yourself.

On those days …STOP!!!!!!

Take time to play with the Kids, cuddle the baby longer, insist on a dinner date or snuggle on the couch with your husband, meet a friend for coffee or do something you love.

You can’t live on empty.

Happy children have happy mammas ❤

13 Free play ideas for Toddlers

Toddlers learn best through play.

The activities below will keep your toddler busy as well as teach them vital skills.

I’ve personally used each idea either in a class or with my own kids.

  • Ribbons in a bottle

Take an empty bottle with a wide lid . Stuff with ribbon. Help your child to push the ribbon in and pull it out.

  • Pom pom play
  • For this you need a bowl of pom Poms and some tweezers. Use the tweezers to transfer the pom Poms into and out of the bowl.

    • Colander pipe cleaners

    Take several coloured pipe cleaners and a colander. Turn the colander upside down and have your toddler stick the pipe cleaners in using the colander like a peg board.

    • Corn kernel sensory box

    This is great for if you have a child learning about the farm or food theme. Place popcorn into a shallow box. Insert farm animals, farmer and a tractor into the kernels covering them.

    Give your child spoons, a funnel, an empty container and a jug to play with.

    Let them discover the animals and scoop out the kernels. Teach them to pour the kernels into the container and how they pass through the funnel.

    • Cardboard box

    This is self explanatory, give your child a box and let their imaginations go wild.

    • Rip tissue paper

    This is fantastic for fine motor skills. You can start with soft papers like serviettes, tissue paper and work up to white paper, old magazines and wrapping paper.

    • Fabric scraps

    Give your child a box of fabric scraps.

    On a huge piece of paper trace around their body. Let them glue on the fabric scraps to make clothing.

    • Jars and lids

    Take several jars with lids. Unscrew all the lids. Muddle them up and have your child match the right lid to the container and screw it on.

  • Pots and pans orchestra
  • Hold your ears with this one. Give the kids some old pots and wooden spoons let them make music.

    • Transfer water

    This is especially fun in the bathroom but a bowl of water outside will also work.

    Fill a container and have your child transfer water from it to another container.

    You can use a variety of different items like spoons, cups, jugs, buckets, ect.

    • Stack cups

    Let your child stack plastic cups or Tupperware in your kitchen the same way they stack blocks.

    • Toothpicks and meat trays

    Draw a simple picture on a meat tray and let your toddler prick all around it to make the pattern.

    Most importantly have fun and always stop an activity if your toddler has lost interest.

    What to do with your baby scans

    I remember the excitement I felt at each one of my first scans.

    That first glimpse of your baby…their first photo.

    I also remember how mostly these images were carelessly forgotten in a photo album.

    With bear we had a scan every month and I have a beautiful collection of his growth both on DVD and in a special handmade album.

    I also remember wanting to try include papa in this specialness and Nelia from www.givethanks.co.za made him this very special card from Hamish.

    But what do you honestly do with all those scan images other than keep them in an album?

    I’ve rounded up a list of custom items that can be made to display your babys beautiful scan photos.

    Most of these items can be ordered from your local printer.

    The keyring can be made by editing a scan image on the computer to make it smaller and printing it. You can purchase keyrings that allow you to slip a image in from a craft shop.

    This would make a special thank you gift at the baby shower. I used a photo of bears scan as Thank you cards for my baby shower guests.

    The decoupage heart can also be made by using modge podge to paint over a scan photo onto a heart blank. I love this idea to use on a Christmas tree or as a special ornament for grandparents.

    The jewellery is stunning and there are many online traders. Just some advise I ordered several photo jewellery sets and the supplier did not look at the jewellery quality so I ended up with a necklace with missing gems.

    Ask what the return policy is and always inspect your jewellery for flaws immediately after receiving it.

    So mom is sick …

    Three weeks ago bear came down with a bad chest . He was cutting a back molar and it naturally affected his ears, nose, throat and chest.

    Papas fell ill a few days later, followed by the boys and Kiki who was off school for a week with tonsillitis.

    Somewhere between that I felt a sniffle, stifled a cold and managed to mom away any illness .

    Or so I thought.

    Last Monday we went for supper to celebrate papas birthday at a fabulous Greek restaurant.

    I decided to try a Greek starter of vine leaves and rice as I’d never eaten them before…yum.

    Next I tucked into a salty pork kebab, pita, chips and a Greek salad. It was so much food that I only ended up eating the salad and one kebab while picking in the other items.

    Feeling bloated I surmised the food was too rich for me .

    A few hours after getting back home the tell tale signs of gastro hit me with a slam to the stomach and I staggered to the bathroom doubled over in cramps.

    Putting it down to a case of food poisoning ( hoping it wasn’t Listeriosis) I was confident I’d feel fine the next day.

    Well by Wednesday I was no better. In fact I was ten times worse.

    I couldn’t stand without losing my breathe. Any walking left me breathless with racing heart palpitations and sweating as if I’d just run a 10km race.

    Yesterday I no longer needed to move to enjoy the pounding of my heart. What felt like constant panic attacks and chest pains attacked me. I was breathless , lightheaded and began to feel like I was losing every inch of energy from my body.

    Weak, sore and panicking myself into a sence of hypercondria I turned to Dr Google …

    According to Google I was indeed suffering from a HEART ATTACK!

    Yes, panic set in very quickly and I booked a Drs appointment for this afternoon.

    Quite ready to see myself hooked up to ECG machines I was actually petrified to go to the DR.

    If I didn’t feel so bad I actually would have cancelled…

    The Dr did a quick check and pronounced that my heart is taking strain fighting off the infections ( Yes, remember I mentioned I had a bit of a flu but I mommed through it before catching this strain of gastro)

    All sounded good on my chest, no heart failure yet and my blood pressure was behaving so I walked away with a 5 day course of antibiotics and the need to return if my heart palpitations don’t leave by Monday.

    Two things have stuck out for me with this…

    1. How moms always carry on regardless. We don’t often take our own illness as serious as we do our families. Resting is not an option as we have so many people relying on us and so we often forget to look after ourselves properly.

    2. Heart attacks are very real. It’s also not something only for old people and many times a body will warn you before a heart attack happens.

    We should all know The signs of heart attack in women as they differ to men.

    Bears first toys & fun ideas to stimulate your baby at home

    These were Little bears first toys.

    Mammas you do not need expensive items to entertain baby.

    The wooden bunnies were made by my friend Karolien at www.momsdirectory.co.za and I painted them using nail polish . I used them to help him focus and do tracking with his eyes.

    The plastic containers, I would put beans, ect in to make different sounds. I shook these for him to hear.

    We placed all the items into the gift bag as storage and pointed out the bright items on the bag to bear as we spoke during the day.

    The washing machine I made from an old mug box by cutting a hole in the centre and drawing on the details. I would place various tactile materials inside for him to pull out.

    The finger puppet fitted over bears hand and I would place it on his hand or foot for body awareness and to get him to grasp at it and cross the midline.

    Those first 1000 days are the most important and one of my peeves at having worked in several daycares, is how the school owners feel babies do not need as much stimulation as older children .

    Today I’m sharing just a few of the items bear and i did together in his early months …

    Shaving cream

    This is one of my all time favourite go to sensory activities and even my age 4/5 year old class enjoyed writing and playing in the shaving cream.

    You can colour the shaving cream with a dash of food colouring .

    Best of all if you spray into a cupcake tray , put a different colour into each cup, mix and leave in the fridge till bath time you have awesome bath paints. My older bears loved these.

    Little bears reaction to the shaving cream was delightful. He was 4 months old here and loved mooooshing the cream over the tray.

    And …no mess!

    Just dump in bath 😛

    For bath fun I love the www.acornkids.co.za bath foam which is the same as coloured shaving cream. Too much fun in a can.

    Serviettes

    Items as simple as a serviettes can keep babies entertained and are great for tactile discovery.

    Just watch how quick those little hands can get to the mouth …

    Bubble wrap

    Another one of my favourites.

    Little bear squished it in his chubby fingers, walked on it, rolled on it, crawled on it and I sat him in it, in his pool.

    Obviously never leave baby alone with plastic of any kind. And watch items near babies mouth.

    Crawling tunnels

    One of our favourite items when little bear was crawling was his www.melissaanddoug.com tunnel.

    When my other bears were babies my budget didn’t allow for such fancy items and we made tunnels from empty boxes, chairs lined up and under beds.

    Crawling obstacles were placed within reach to encourage movement and develop those gross motor skills.

    Baking

    Baking is one of the activities little bear and I enjoy together.

    You can bake from young.

    Even at just a few months he enjoyed tasting the dough, squishing it in his fingers and slamming rollers and cutters onto the dough.

    As he’s gotten older he now helps add ingreadience to a bowl, place decorations on and has more control over the roller and cutters.

    How cute is his chef hat from Theresa at www.magoo.co.za ?

    Sand

    Oh how much fun was Little bears first sandy day at the beach?

    Sand is a wonderful medium to explore.

    As I was stuck inside with a broken leg for most of bears early months we used kinetic sand from www.acornkids.co.za on a tray to play with often.

    Garden sand is his favourite and he loves the feel of squishy mud between his fingers as he drags his bulldozers through it.

    We’ve tried to build sand castles on the beach but up until now my OCD builds the castle and bears Toddler curiosity crushes it 😂

    Did you know preschools steralise their sandpit sand with coarse salt. It keeps it free of worms and fleas.

    If you have pets always keep your sandpit covered.

    Water

    Water play can be just as exciting to explore as sand and again you don’t need any expensive water tables.

    A large container with a bit of water, a small blow up pool or a plastic shell will do.

    You could even put baby in the bath.

    Boats, bath toys and kitchen odds make the best experimenting tools.

    You can colour the water with a drop of food colouring or use www.acornkids.co.za angel powder.

    A bit of bubble bath, shower gel or shampoo makes amazing bubbles.

    Alternatively if your toddler is older you can give them a hand whisk and get them beating that water to make the bubbles …

    Ball pitt

    A ball pit can be tremendous fun at any age .

    We turned a mini blow up pool into bears first ball pit.

    He would sit and play like that for a few minutes at a time and soon learnt to throw them out .

    Bubbles

    Who doesn’t love bubbles?

    I collected some of Kikis bath bubbles and placed them in a container for little bear to explore. He enjoyed feeling the bubbles on his hands and feet.

    So much fun in a box.

    Balloon play

    This is still one of little bears favourites.

    I started by tying a balloon to his car chair or pram for him to watch.

    As he began to sit and crawl I would blow up several and place them all around him to bop at and try catch.

    Now that he is older we can throw them to him and he kicks them.

    Bring nature inside

    As I mentioned I was stuck with a heavy cast and moonboot for most of little bears early months and so i would often get one of my older bears to find me leaves, flowers, bark, stones, shells and other pieces of nature for bear to explore.

    Sensory pools

    These really can be made with any container large enough for baby to sit in.

    I filled Little bears blow up pool with a variety of different items and hid toys and small things in between for him to discover.

    This one I used packaging pellets but you can use :

    Rice
    Beans

    Foam
    Cut up pool noodles
    Sponges
    Cooked noodles
    Dry noodles
    Leaves

    Paint

    I introduced Little bear to paint at a very young age and it’s one of his go to activities.

    It’s possible to let your child paint from 4/5 month old with help. You guide their hand and then watch as they learn to swipe the paper themselves.

    If you are worried about mess mix a little dish liquid into your finger or poster paints , it helps it wash out faster.

    Or you can make your own paint by mixing either flour or cornflour with a drop of colour and a small bit of Water till you have the consistency you need.

    He has his own style and will paint anything in front of him.

    This box was from his www.buddingminds.co.za kit and he had not finished painting yet so the box was his next project 😂🤣

    Discovery boxes

    I feature my discovery boxes often because I feel it’s important to place a child in an environment that fosters learning and discovery.

    The box is an old train box but you could use a tray, shoe box, cupcake tray or printers tray.

    Chose a theme

    For this box we used a baking theme

    Fill the box with items related to that theme and step back allowing your child to explore and discover each item for as long or short a period as they like.

    This was my saving grace over the December holidays and kept bear busy enough for me to get some work done.

    And always end with lots of mamma hugs and kisses

    Dummy chain dilemma

    I struggled with whether or not to write this post for months.

    Firstly , I naturally deal with a lot of baby brands and the post could negatively affect that.

    Secondly I have always voiced an honest view, this doesn’t always make me popular but it is important for me to keep my blog honest above all else.

    But after reading about a fellow bloggers little boy choking on a bouncy ball I feel I have an obligation to share this post.

    So here is why ….

    I WON’T USE A DUMMY CHAIN!

    Bear was sent a beautiful handcrafted silicone dummy chain similar to the one above, complete with his name and in our favourite colours.

    I fell in love with it.

    I attached it to almost every dummy I could find. It looked so cute.

    Best of all he loved to play with it so it kept him entertained .

    One afternoon he sat playing on the floor with his toys. The dummy chain lay next to him and I was writing a blog post.

    Bear had been sick with his chest and so was prone to coughing here and there.

    Short coughs alerted me , but it didn’t sound out of the ordinary. He sat with his back to me and as I glanced up he looked ok.

    Then I heard the gagging.

    I jumped up and was in front of him in seconds.

    Bear had managed to lodge the elongated metal clip down his throat and even at a year was not knowledgeable enough to pull it out.

    I’ve never pulled something out his mouth so quickly.

    It was the last day a dummy chain has been in our home.

    Mammas, the metal clip is a little larger than a big grape and just as dangerous.

    If he had been playing unsupervised in a cot while I hung the washing I could have missed his distress.

    Please supervise your child at all times when wearing a dummy CHAIN, especially when they old enough to unclip it or to put things in their mouths.