|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on September 17, 2013 at 7:40 AM||comments (0)|
I was searching for some fun activities to do with Little L on weekends and stumbled across edible playdough. Considering it seems to end up in his mouth often enough perhaps I should make him some that’s safe to eat! Here are a few recipes I found …
Easy Edible Playdough
· 1 packet cake mix
· 250 grams softened butter
· 3 tablespoons water
· Food colouring (optional)
Mix cake mix and butter in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
Peanut Butter Playdough
· 1 cup peanut butter
· 1 cup milk powder
· 1/2 cup sugar
· Food colouring (optional)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until desired consistency is achieved. Wrap firmly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
· 1 cup cooking chocolate
· 1/4 cup glucose syrup
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Stir the chocolate until smooth. Add the glucose syrup and stir until combined. The chocolate will stiffen almost immediately, but keep going and it will combine and become easier. Place into a ziplock/sandwich bag and refrigerate until firm. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
* Always remember to be aware of the children that will be playing with these types of doughs and that their parents are fully informed of the ingrediants in case there is an allergy involved.
Do you have any recipes for edible fun to share with the rest of the Little Hands community?
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on September 17, 2013 at 7:30 AM||comments (0)|
Date with a Date Loaf
That was cheesy I know but I’m a cheesy kinda gal haha
I have become addicted to Medjool dates recently and was thinking about what I could cook with them. I found this recipe on bestrecipes.com and it was so easy I had to give it a try. This is a great afternoon tea cake with a little added butter (cause butter makes it better right) You could add walnuts and/or coffee but I liked the plain best, although my husband voted for coffee. All I did was add a shot of coffee and top it up with boiling water in the first step.
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 ¾ cups SR flour
1 tsp bicarb
2 tsp vanilla essence
Combine dates, butter, sugar and add boiling water, stirring until the butter is completely melted.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well
Bake in a well greased loaf tin, 170C for 45-50 minutes.
Enjoy with your favorite tea or coffee!
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on September 17, 2013 at 7:15 AM||comments (0)|
Eating Out with Kids
I am the first to admit I occasionally miss being able to do whatever I want.
Want to spend all day wandering around the shops? Sure.
Want to sleep in? No problem.
Want to go out to dinner? Sure let’s do it. .
Not so much any more….
Living away from family means that spontaneity and “kid free” time are a rarity in our home. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still get to sample all the Hunter Valley has to offer. Since Little L was born he has been dragged around to restaurants, cafes, wineries, shops, markets, the occasional art gallery and plenty of other places where having a child present adds a new angle to the experience.
The way my coffee sometimes starts and finishes depending on Little L!
Does it always go to plan? Not normally.
Do I sometimes have to scoff my drink and food or just leave it behind? Yes.
Is ABC iView on my iPhone a god send??… sure is!
But getting out with Little L is good for my sanity and helps him learn that different places call for different behaviours. Although we still haven’t mastered the art of the “inside voice”…..
Tips for eating out with kids
· Most cafes or restaurants cater to children in some way or another. However, some are more kid friendly than others. Do your homework on places around you that have kids menu’s, provide colouring pens or even have “kids eat free” deals. Those places are targeting families – take advantage of it!
· Some days of the week are better. Mid-week most places are quieter so if your little one gets a little loud then this can be a less stressful than risking a full meltdown in a packed venue.
· Think about the timing of meal. If you are going out for dinner or lunch with your little one in tow maybe get them to take a nap or pick a time that isn’t prime time for tired temper tantrums. Minimise the risk! We took advantage of Little L’s bedtime when he was a baby and would take him out to dinner sound asleep in the pram.
· Be prepared. I always head out with cars, books and anything else I think I might need to keep Little L occupied. Of course the iPhone is always the back up if nothing is working. I also pack snacks. Seems strange going to a café and packing snacks but you never know how long it’s going to take to get the food, so for me it’s paid off to have a stash of food for him to munch through. Might lead to some food wastage but the almost silence whilst he eats is the pay off!
· Talk to your children before you head out and explain what is expected and acceptable so that they are aware of what is going to happen. Since Little L is still only a toddler this doesn’t always have great effect however he’s starting to understand what’s coming when I tell him we are going out for a coffee. However he now associates coffee with him getting a milkshake so that may have back fired a little. I’ve had to resort to spelling coffee now as well as shake….
· Be prepared to leave. If your child is not behaving and continues to do so despite warnings then don’t just threaten to leave – do it. This is very annoying and not a satisfying experience for anyone but helps to teach your child that there is a right way and wrong way to act in that situation.
Eating out at a restaurant can be a positive experience for both you and your child. We all want to be able to enjoy a meal out or a drink without being paranoid about how our children are behaving ans without wondering if they are bothering other people. With a little planning and practice eating out with kids can be an enjoyable (and even relaxing) experience. And the more you do it the more relaxed everybody gets about it – even mum!
Do you have any great tips for eating out with kids to share with the Little Hands community?
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on July 8, 2013 at 4:30 AM||comments (0)|
Recently there has been a lot of media attention on breakfast drinks and how they are not the best choice for you children’s breakfast.
But as our days become busier and busier and work becomes more demanding, it can sometimes be quite challenging to get breakfast ticked off in the morning. Especially a nutritious one.
Here are three really quick breaky options for your kids which are packed full of nutrition to keep them going during the day. I promise they will take less than 5 minutes for you, or them, to make.
Rolled oats are one of the best packaged breakfast cereals going around as they are low in sugar, low in sodium but super high in fibre and a good source of protein. When I surveyed over 10 regular breakfast cereals, plain porridge topped the list nutritionally.
To help you little ones appreciate it a little more, try some stewed fruit on top or some grated apples and cinnamon. You could also stir through some plain greek yoghurt and a tinned peach (natural juice) to make it super creamy and delicious.
To make it quicker, you could also try the ‘quick’ versions of the rolled oats which are basically the oats broken down so the gluten inside gelatinises quicker with the milk and heat. And if you are in a rush, make it, pack it up and let your child eat it at school or at preschool.
2. Yoghurt cups
I adore yoghurt for all age groups, but even more so for kiddies as it is high in calcium for growing bones and a good source of protein. Choose the plain, natural or Greek yoghurts for lower levels of sugar. If you do want sweetened yoghurt, aim for one with less than 6grams of sugar per serve.
If your little one is under 2 years, stick to full fat products as well.
To make the yoghurt a little more fun, layer then up in a cup with cereals, fruit, nuts and other morsels of yumminess. If it is a transparent glass it will look very pretty and possibly a bit dessert like!
You can also pack this up for them to eat at preschool or school as well if you are in a rush.
3. Gourmet toast
I use the word gourmet as plain old toast isn’t really the best choice for a kid, even worse if it is a low fibre choice like plain white bread.
Use a yummy wholegrain bread and add ricotta, banana and honey; add peanut butter and grated apple; add cream cheese and vegemite or par boil an egg and mush it on top with some vegemite too.
The aim is to get some protein and fibre into their bellies to keep them full and sustaining their energy throughout the morning.
Mandy is a local nutritionist in Newcastle who is starting some preschooler cooking classes in term 3. Check out her website at Little People Nutrition for more information.
She has also just published a free e book which you can download off her website as well. 14 healthy kid’s recipes that the kids can make these school holidays!
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on July 8, 2013 at 4:00 AM||comments (0)|
Tips for Flying with Children
A flight home from Brisbane recently during the feral hour of 5pm – 6pm confirmed that I needed to start planning for our trip overseas. We are heading to visit family in Europe but have to survive the flight with Little L first.
I get bored on long distance flights. The novelty is there at first with the movies, on tap assistance from the air hostess, strangely enough - the food (wondering what you’ll get) and I love being unable to be contacted! But then after a few hours I get a bit irritated. I don’t want to sit down, but equally getting up is a challenge. I get sick of the movies. I want to sleep but can’t. As an adult I can control this frustration and make sure I follow the normal rules of etiquette. Little L however, does not play by these rules. So I’m foreseeing a few trying moments; for me, for Little L, his Dad and probably those around us!
To get through with our sanity intact I need to do some planning. With that in mind I’ve been researching some tips on taking a toddler on a long haul flight.
For anyone else thinking of embarking on flight with kids, here is what I’ve found:
Remember how much longer it takes you to achieve anything with kids. Apply the same formula to travel plans. Smile sweetly and helplessly at everyone and you may get help jumping queues. Ask if your flight is full when checking in. Some attendants will offer you the option of seating next to a vacant seat.
Try to stick to a routine
It might sound impossible but apparently kids do sleep on planes! They also need to play, eat, drink and go to the toilet. Try to keep to a similar schedule as home. For example if you eat lunch followed by a story and nap, then do the same on the plane.
Pack a lot of snacks
Snacks can be a life saver. Small treats like sultanas, soft lollies and tiny teddies all take a long time to eat which is an added bonus. If travelling with a baby, pack all their favourite foods and don't rely on the airline food to be a winner with your baby. Ask for food/bottles to be heated up well in advance of when you need them because cabin crew don't have access to a microwave and will need to use hot water to heat.
Take advantage of the space during layovers
If you have a layover use this time for playtime. Let them run around the airport; let them stretch their legs and get a little crazy. Most major airports have designated kids play zones so research your stop over before you get there.
Offer ‘presents’ to open during the flight
I love the tv in the back of the chair but in reality not all kids will happily watch movies for several hours. Having a small present to unwrap each hour or so provides excitement when your little one is about ready to crack it. Think small – matchbox cars, crayons, stickers, stacking cups, little dolls, puzzles and travel sized books. Even old toys that have been at the bottom of the toy box for months.
Bring medicine (and plenty of it!)
Hopefully everyone is well when you take off however you never know what could happen on the plane. Pack Nurofen or Panadol just in case your little one gets an ear ache or stuffed nose from the high elevation. Think about something for your kids to suck on during take-off and landing – drinks, lollies and anything that requires sucking.
We are still in nappies so this is a good one I hadn’t thought about. Airplane bathrooms are small. You need to be prepared before entering with a smelly baby. Pack a small bag with one nappy, travel wipes, a nappy sack and rash cream and store it in the pocket in front of you. You can re-stock after the baby is changed.
Face facts – it won’t be like flying on your own. Your main aim is to get through it!
This was my favourite but of advice – hopefully I can follow it. Ignore rude people and don't stress about annoying others with your screaming child or children. You're trying your best, and you're never going to see these people again, so who cares?
Have you got any other tips for flying with kids to share with the Little Hands community?
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on July 8, 2013 at 3:50 AM||comments (0)|
A Winter Warmer - Ricotta Lasagne
Well, now that the weather has turned at night, a chill is in the air, uggies and flannelette sheets are coming out, warming meals are in order and our favourite by far is my lasagna.
I have been making this for so many years I no longer have the recipe and I make it by memory (one of the only ones I can, as my memory is shot!) I am yet to make a béchamel sauce as I have always made my lasagna with ricotta, it feels healthier and we prefer it that way.
It’s a good meal to make when you have a few people for dinner or you need to make some extra to freeze. The recipe changes all the time, adding whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, adding frozen vege if necessary, adding chilli for those who like it or roasting eggplant and capsicum if I have time. It’s a great way to add vegetables to the meal, use what you have in the fridge and add spice when you need to.
Tin of chopped for tomato or jar of pasta sauce
Grated carrot, zucchini, onion
Chopped mushroom, eggplant, capsicum
Lasagna sheets (fresh are best)
Large tub of ricotta (500g)
Handful of grated cheese
1. Preheat your oven 180C
2. Start cooking your mince, adding your vegetables and tomatoes once browned. Cook through
3. Mix ricotta, most of the cheese and the egg together
4. Start layering your lasagna. Lasagna sheet, mince, ricotta, lasagna, mince ricotta etc leaving enough ricotta to add to the very top
5. Over the last sheet of lasagna add the last of the ricotta, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cover with foil
6. Cook for 40 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes to brown
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on May 20, 2013 at 9:45 AM||comments (0)|
A boating Adventure
I’m sure there are many people out there that grew up on the water. Whether it was the beach, water skiing, wakeboarding, sailing or even going to the pool over summer, I don’t know how our parents coped with the idea of us just heading out there into the blue, but I was pretty hesitant. I was in for a pleasant surprise.
We were lucky enough this week, to be invited to go sailing in Pittwater on a family members yacht. A time-share yacht, how cool is that!
My husband and I had had a discussion earlier in the week about how the kids would be on the boat, safety etc and realized we were over thinking things. We had the safety gear, we can both swim confidently and my husband has been on sailboats for 15 years. As long as the weather held we were in! (pun not intended) We agreed that if the sun was shining, the wind was 10 knots or less we would take the kids and have an adventure.
Life jackets were a must and we only had Wahoo vests, which were not appropriate. A friend has kids exactly the same size as mine and had the life vests to fit. According to the maritime.nsw.gov.au website, there are three types of jackets that are suitable. Type 1 (Level 150) will keep your head above water, are the highest buoyancy and will generally be high visibility, good for open water and sailing type activities. Type 2 (Level 50) wont necessarily keep your head above water but are made of high visibility material and are quite comfortable to wear. Lastly Type 3 (Level 50 S) have the same buoyancy and comfort as type 2 but are not required to be high visibility, more your wakeboarding type jacket.
My kids, having never really been on a boat before, were required by us to wear their life jackets the whole time and because the life jackets fit so well they were really comfortable and had no problems moving around easily.
With three adults and two children we were confident that should any problems occur there were enough of us to cope. If the kids were older we would have done a bit more of a safety talk, including things like how to call for help and assist others in need of help. Being a bit younger they were given our usual safety run down. Do what you’re told at all times, don’t go near the edge and do what you’re told at all times.
We motored the boat out of the marina, got out into more open water and tried putting some sails up. The wind was not co-operating so most of the time we were under engine. This did not preclude us from having a most excellent adventure.
We spotted a lot of jellyfish, were amazed at the houses along the waters edge, watched birds fishing and Oli and dad even went for a swim (crazy characters!) We watched the Aqua plane buzz around, fishing boats do their thing and kept an eye out for dolphins while Will watched for whales. Luckily this was a bit of a pipe dream on his behalf.
The kids were so much more comfortable walking around the boat than I could have hoped for. They were confident and secure the whole time. They played “house” downstairs, had a go at the wheel and easily walked up to the front of the boat, enjoying the cool breeze and warm sun on offer.
We ended up spending just under 5 hours out on the boat, the kids learnt a lot about safety, water, wind, fishing, islands and navigation. They had so much fun and we would not hesitate to take them back for another trip.
While I’m obviously not the expert on kids in the water, my kids do regular swimming lessons, we consulted the website below before we went out and had every confidence in our captains abilities.
I think my tips for the time we spent on the water with kids would be to prepare by having the appropriate safety gear, checking the weather and having a good working knowledge of water safety. I took plenty of food to keep them occupied and also some colouring in books and toys, which we didn’t get a chance to use because they were having so much fun. And lastly, if you are confident they will be confident.
For more information on preparing children for boating Bec recommends you check out this link:
Has anyone else ventured out with kids on a boating adventure?
How did you prepare and what are your top tips?
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on May 20, 2013 at 9:10 AM||comments (7)|
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on May 6, 2013 at 4:45 AM||comments (2)|
As many of you know, I - along with many of you, have been crying out for a preschool sports program for the Maitland area for some time now.
I am so excited that Helen and John Mortimer of Sporty Kids in Newcastle heard our call and have now brought their wonderful program to Rutherford, Maitland and East Maitland!
Talking to John at the Maitland open day really reiterated for me not only the benefits of such a program for young children, but also my confidence in the Sporty Kids team being a great choice for my kids.
“We not only focus on developing skills, but also on building confidence, independence, team work & enjoyment. We also we strongly promote parent involvement by watching and cheering on their sporty Kid from the sideline. I love watching a kid do well and then look around and get the thumbs up from a parent just so that they know you’re engaged in them too, because it means so much to them!”
Helen and John are parents themselves and take turns coaching and taking their own little boy to his soccer games so they understand the drive of a parent wanting to give their little one the best start physically, mentally and socially that we can.
John shared “I was turned off soccer as a young bloke with a very nasty coach. I loved playing of a weekend, but I then refused to train. But I’ve always had a love for the sport itself and that’s why we emphasize on the encouragement, the high-5's and the ‘well dones’- to me these are so important for the kids, along with the parents support.”.
And encouragement there was! Watching the coaches engaging the kids at the open day was really heart warming to watch. These guys know kids! Watching coach Shannon hamming it up lunging to catch the soccer ball being kicked with more enthusiasm than power had my little boy in stitches. Throughout the 45 mins the kids stayed focussed and attentive and the smiles hardly left their faces. They even had my 2 & 3 year olds standing in a straight line and waiting their turn, believe me I was impressed!
So why should you enrol your child in Sporty Kids?
It’s hard to describe the feeling of pride that washes over you when you watch your baby (or in my case, babies) take to the group without their Mum constantly rounding them up and putting them back. To see them laughing and interacting with other children and the grin on their face when they master a new skill, it’s like ticking another milestone of the list. Happiness, confidence and good health - there’s not much more this mother could ask for and I believe that preschool sports programs such as Sporty Kids are the perfect foundation for this path in life.
Here are my reasons for choosing this program for my kids:
Developing Physical Skills:
We often focus on mental development and take for granted the development of balance, eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. The immediate encouragement of simple physical successes can be extremely rewarding and beneficial to young children.
Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle:
Exercise helps build strong bones and muscles, and it helps kids sleep well at night and stay alert during the day. Developing ‘healthy habits’ early in a child’s life can help right through to the hormonal changes and social influences of adolescence. It has also been proven that active children are more likely to become fit adults. This is something that I struggle with each day as an adult and so I hope to make health and fitness an everyday, normal part of my children’s lives.
Making Sport Fun:
Sporty Kids ensures that a child’s first sports experiences are positive and exposes them to many sports options. Children are more likely to be confident in themselves and ready to advance as they join their first organised team, or even as they choose up sides on the playground.
Understanding The Concept of Teamwork:
Team work is a phrase that our kids will hear all their life. And what is Teamwork essentially but sharing and working fairly with others?
Yet in many instances, such as that with my own children, children have been home only with Mum and Dad, possibly their siblings, and do not quite comprehend the concept of sharing, socialising and making friends.
Sporty Kids provides a non-competitive environment that encourages fun and excitement, and working together as a team.
There are still places available this term if you have not yet enrolled your child in Sporty kids in either Maitland or Newcastle and although the term has already started, you will not pay for any lessons you have missed out on.
Please contact Helen and John via their Facebook page here, or website here for more information or to view the program timetable and register online today.
And if you are unsure if Sporty Kids in the class for you, ask about their offer of a one off FREE trial and 'try before you buy'!
The decision to enrol your child in Sporty Kids is not one you’ll regret.
There is no better feeling than knowing you are giving your child the best start to a healthy life possible!
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 19, 2013 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
Who doesn’t love a trip to the circus?
My boys were very excited, we had seen Cirque du Soleil last year with just Will so he knew what to expect. Oli is excited for anything, god love him. While this is no Cirque du Soleil, the performers do a great job.
While you wait to enter you can have your face painted, well the kids can, but Oli chose the tiger face. Will isn’t a face painting kid so opted out of this one. This is a nice little free touch that gets the kids involved and a little more excited about it all.
As we entered with our VIP tickets, a man, wielding broccoli like a torch, escorted us to our seats. He then broke off a stalk and handed one each to the boys, which they promptly ate. They are nothing if not keen for food!
It was fairly warm in the tent but a breeze came through every now and then making it a bit more bearable. Oli’s tiger face didn’t last long, it got a bit sweaty and smeared across his forehead (and my clothes….) but my goodness it was cute while it lasted!
The one hour show included an amazing amount of performances, with juggling, the trapeze, the tissue (a super big ribbon hanging from the ceiling), the gymnastic style balancing of some lady bugs, an aerial ring and the hula hoops. Different people performed some of these twice, so there was plenty to watch and the Circus Rep I spoke to told me they have far more acts than they can possibly fit in a show so each show is slightly different. This means the performers are fresh and excited each time too!
My favorite was the tissue, Serena was so very strong and graceful and it’s pretty special to see everyday people do these amazing things. The mostly local performers are part time, they have other jobs and one is even a Captain Starlight, which is why some of the income from the Circus goes to the Starlight Foundation. Very worthy and considering they are an unfunded circus, their only income is from our tickets. Very dedicated people.
The kids loved the ladybugs and the hula hoop man, who, without giving anything away, was very tricky and was talked about in the car all the way home.
The performers did well at interacting with the audience, the ring master was funny, clever and also succinct, not too much carry on which suits the younger audience.
Our crowd was small but as the first show in the run this is expected and hopefully everyone will have a look see, because if we don’t support our local artists, they don’t thrive!