Treasure basket make 'Frozen' ribbon ring

Encourage a young children's love of movement with this simple craft. 
Here we make ours frozen with blue and white ribbon. The end result is great for frozen make believe and sensory play alike.
All you need:
3* 4ft stands of ribbon (hemmed or burnt to avoid fraying) 
1 unfinished wooden ring measuring at least 2" in diameter

The rest is pretty simple, thread fthe ribbon half way through the ring.  Then fasten securely to the wooden ring.  Double knot to reduce the risk of the ribbon unfastening and presenting a choking hazard.

Alternatively you can use shorter lengths of ribbon (2ft is good) to make a teething ring for babies and toddlers.

Visit our store to find our craft kits for the teething ring (£1.95 including postage) or the dancing ribbon ring (only £3.45 delivered).Share your photos of this craft via our forum below. Did you add any extras that we should try?

A new direction

I've been taking some down time from my blog to try and focus on what goals we have as a family. I'm not sure currently how this blog fits into our future. I've enjoyed the creative output, but running a blog is a full time job.

Get good summer 2014

CLARINAS CONTEMPLATIONS
I have mixed feelings on blog link ups.  As a fledgling Blogger they often provide much needed traffic from your target audience,  but I do sometimes wonder how engaged that audience is.  The best link ups(I believe) are the ones with a shared subject matter or goal. Where you begin to get involved in other people's stories, and every week you become more engaged and your network of blogging contacts extends. I often link up with #savouringtheseason because I love embracing the changes in nature in our play activities, so I was upset when I heard this semi regular link up was closing down for the summer. Luckily its being replaced by The Get Good Challenge. Which I'm really excited about.

Flying with babies and toddlers - a tried and tested guide

Going abroad for the first time with your  baby or toddler can be a daunting prospect especially when that trip involves air travel. Make your summer simpler and pack prepared. Here's our definitive list of must pack items for traveling with small children without clogging up your hand luggage.

Boycotting supermarkets and shopping local

We've been living without supermarkets for two months now. A decision made out of pure frustration at the lack of sustainability,  accountability and customer service provided in them. Waitrose has been voted Supermarket of the year by Which! For it's ethical practices, but frankly it's no where near as ethical as it's clever labeling would have you believe.

Baby friendly day out at Riverbourne Community Farm

Baby friendly days out don't get much better than a visit to a Farm.Last Sunday was open Farm day. It was a national event where local farms of all sizes opened their gates for the general public. We chose Riverbourne community Farm in Laverstoke. This post is featured on this week's Country Kids link up.
We've been to Riverbourne before.  They are a community farm and so are often running events with local families in mind.

Why professionals love treasure baskets

Growing numbers of nurseries, preschools and childminders are abandoning plastic toys in favour of heuristic play,as a recent article on a early years industry website reports. Elinor Goldscheild first defined learning through real world play back in the 80s, and the practice of creating heuristic treasure baskets for young children to explore has been growing in popularity ever since. The benefits of exploring a large variety of textures and experimenting with real/ natural objects are now widely recognised, that the practice has gone beyond Montessori and into the mainstream. Sure start centres nationwide have heavily invested in professionally produced treasure kits, just like the early year providers in the article

Seaside Treasure Basket

Visiting the beach with a small child is such an amazing experience, their natural curiosity and love of unusual textures really gets indulged. Froggy really enjoys the variety of things to touch (and invariably taste) just waiting for him to explore.

The cool thing about embracing heuristic play, is that you become a professional curator of treasure baskets. You go on a nature walk and come back with a new treasure, ready to be added into the rotation of fabulous things that really are so much better than conventional toys .

Making dandelion balm

It's about time we stopped yanking these simply yellow flowers out of are gardens and disposing of them. This week I found they have so much more to offer than fodder for the compost heap.

Dandelions are making a come back.  Not that they ever went away.  These fabulous "weeds" flower nearly 10 months of the year and require no cultivation assistance from us gardeners.
Restaurant's  up and down the country are starting to use the flowers, leaves and roots in their recipes.
If (like me) you aren't quite brave enough to use your dandelions for food, then taking advantage of its know medicinal benefits could be the way to go.
This so called lawn pest, is actually packed full of vitamins and minerals. Its been documented as a cure of joint pain and warts since the 10th century. Making it idea for turning into a balm for gardeners.

Allotments with young children



Dreaming of signing up for your own allotment but daunted by the thought of taking it on in tandem with parenting a young child? So were we, but since getting our plot we haven't looked back.  Apparently getting started is the hardest part. New allotments (like ours) are often a bit of a jungle, which could be daunting to a novice. Here's 10 steps we found made getting our allotment going easier.

Breastfeeding and weight gain

I featured in a recent Daily Mail feature titled 'the great myth of breastfeeding and weight loss'. Let's get one thing straight breastfeeding DIDN'T make me  gain weight.
Bad diet and a sedentary daytime routine breastfeeding SAHM of a younger nursling led to my weight gain.

Keeping chickens with young children

Hurrah! We finally have livestock. Today we introduced chickens to the pub garden. I'm very excited as I feel this is a huge step towards becoming self sufficient. 
I've been thinking for a while about the connection between Attachment parenting and teaching your children respect for the planet and animals.Our lives are no longer cohesive with eating mass produced meat. But we don't feel like going vegan is for us either. After proving I could care for a kitchen garden -it was a natural progression to introduce chickens to our lives.

Beyond the sling- Mayim Bialik

Attachment parenting guru Mayim Bialik's Beyond the sling is the first book of my 50 book challenge
Beyond the sling, is an autobiographical account of Bialiks experience in attachment parenting. Not just a genius in her role in tv's big bang theory, Bialik has a phd in neuroscience which she feels reinforces her understanding of attachment parenting.

50 books a year- #challengeaccepted

Since having Froggy I've found it harder to escape into a good book. I read daily, to Frog, and on article after article on my smartphone. But I only pick up books lately to extract information on the amount of wet nappies appropriate for one day, or how to create a seasons garden, but never for pleasure.
Michael Goves recent proclamation that the gcse english needs reform, because he dislikes of mice and men, has reminded me that I cannot trust the state to inspire a love of reading in my child. I want my son to grow up knowing that reading (especially books from other cultures than ones own) is an important part of self development. 
Health visitors may think issuing your baby a stack of spin off board books at ages 8 months and again at four are enough to do this. I'm not so convinced. I'm pretty sure the path to my son enjoying reading starts with seeing me enjoying reading.
So, concluding I need to read more, I'm using a Michael Gove recommendation to fight a Michael Gove idiocy. In the hope that in some parellel universe this trickery may destroy him completely. 
Back in 2011 Gove suggested children ought to read 50 books a year. Well challenge accepted.

If any of you would like to join my 50 book challenge please link up your reading list -  I will need plenty of title suggestions!

Books I've read so far
1. Beyond the sling
2. The Help
3. River Cottage Cookbook
4. Modern Self Sufficiency

Heuristic play ideas- farm activity tray

Keeping play areas interesting is nearly a full time job with an eight month old.His natural curiosity has inspired me to develop his heuristic play into themed areas to explore.Hoping to engage his interest, and remember a week of not one but two farm visits. I've been inspired to create this exploring station.

Life with a new born- a retro blog

I didn't intend to be an attachment parenting fanatic. Being that type of parent meant you were sacrificing your own personal time and space whilst creating a parenting dynamic without boundaries.
Before I held my son in my arms, I was frustrated. I was fighting the transformation that is becoming a mum. I hated my bump, my stretchmarks. I hated the rules. I hated the lack of sleep. I mostly hated waiting.I just wanted to go into labour and claim my life back. Pop the champers and start dressing like a human being again. Then something changed. My labour took two days. 24 hours of that was spent in active labour. I changed over the course of that day. I gave birth in water and with my mum present. Two things I'd written off as being for hippies previously. And when I held my son, my view on attachment changed too.

Relactation- a candid guest parenting blog


Musings of a mama of two is this weeks guest blogger. This inspiring woman is mama to two under two, with just 11 months age gap between them. Here in this post she talks about her efforts to relactate for her first baby.

Four weeks after my boy was born, my best friend gave birth to her tiny, impatient baby girl. Initially she expressed and her baby girl was tube fed all the goodness then moved on to feeding her on the breast.
I was so proud of her, but on the other hand I was so incredibly jealous.
I had been thinking about finding a way to feed Gremlin again, but I was apprehensive. Seeing this tiny new life and knowing she was being breastfed stirred up my feelings of failure and upset.
So I went searching for a way to try and feed my boy myself again. I searched the Internet and came across re lactation.
This is re-establishing your milk supply and getting the baby back on the breast.
Did you know that even of you have never been pregnant before you can induce lactation? Many women have done so with adoptive children.

There are essentially two steps in re lactation / inducing lactation:
- teaching or re teaching baby to suckle at the breast
and
-re-establishing / establishing your milk supply.

Most would say it's easier to get baby back on the breast first and by stimulating the nipple through the baby suckling, your body will know to start making the milk.

Unless of course your baby has gotten lazy through using the bottle where he doesn't have to work to get his milk. So this is where pumping or hand expressing comes into play. Your body works like a factory; the more milk that is removed from the breast, the more your breasts will make.
This is why you are advised to breastfeed on demand because your baby will tell your body how much he/she needs. I also used a natural supplement called fenugreek, which encourages your body to make milk.I spoke to my health visitor about trying to get Gremlin back on the breast, she was extremely supportive and pointed me in the direction of my local breastfeeding support group.
I got hold of the number of one of the breastfeeding peer supporters who ran the group. This is a mother who has or is breastfeeding that has trained to help advise other mums.

I got hold of this friendly, bubbly lady on the phone and told her what had happened so far and that I was desperate to feed my boy again,  even if it was only partially and I combine fed him. Luckily the group had a supplementing nursing system
that I could borrow, she also invited me to come along to the group for support.
My plan was to offer the breast as often as possible and to do lots of skin to skin to encourage the natural rooting reflex. I thought if I could get my boy to latch on with the supplementer he would get instant satisfaction which would encourage him to suckle and in turn tell my body to make milk!
The plan was to then slow down the flow of milk from the supplementer until he learnt that he had to work a little to get milk straight from the breast.
I also tried using a nipple shield so it felt more like a bottle because he wasn't interested without it. As you can imagine it was a little tricky trying to juggle a hungry baby, a nipple shield and the tube taped to my boob. It was confusing for my little Gremlin and he didn't understand what I wanted from him. 
I got him on a few times and he had a few feeds, I even got a small milk supply back through pumping as often as I could. But it wasn't getting any easier to put him on, he began to get agitated when I got in position to feed.
My ABM advisef me to try and take the bottle away completely and offer a cup if he refused the breast so that he would only associate suckling with the breast to get milk. We also tried baby led latch or the breast crawl. This is where you lie back and place baby on your chest between your breasts and do skin to skin. The baby will then naturally look for the nipple and try to latch on.

Gremlin was young enough that this natural instinct hadn't completely gone yet. He tried his best and managed to get on once or twice but soon got frustrated. The reaction to getting ready to feed steadily got worse, he started arching his back and screaming like he did before. It felt like I was being rejected again, I can't explain how much that hurt. For him to push himself away from me, I was failing again.

I went to the support group and broke down while I was talking to one of the peer supporters, she said there was a lady who had helped her early on in her breastfeeding journey. If I wanted to give it one last go. So I rang her and she came to see me at my home. We discussed how long I had been trying to get my boy feeding again which was about a month and a half by this point. She said I could carry on trying, but it was such a slim chance of getting him back on now because he hadn't made enough progress in the time we had been trying. There was also a chance of him associating the stress of him not wanting to feed with cuddling up to me. I couldn't let that happen, If I couldn't feed him I needed to be able to snuggle up to him.I made the decision to stop.
I felt that I had failed again. In the month and a half that we had been trying it had been a roller coaster of emotions.
I had been scared of not being able to re lactate, of being a bad mother for not being able to feed him twice. I was frustrated on a daily basis, with the supplementer, the nipple shield, with myself and sometimes although I'm ashamed to admit, Gremlin.
I know it wasn't his fault and that he didn't understand what I wanted from him, and honestly a few times I got a bit agitated with him.
Which I feel so guilty about. On the other hand when it went well and he latched on and fed with the shield and supplementer I was so excited. He was getting the formula and some milk from me and that was an amazing feeling of accomplishment.
For those 10-15 minutes of a feed, I was doing it , I was feeding my baby, even with a little help.
Now at 19 months old, I still get a little upset when I think or talk about it. I still feel like I failed twice at breastfeeding, and I put a lot of blame on the lack of support in the beginning from health care professionals.

I just wish I had the same support then as I do now while breastfeeding my baby girl, 9 months and still going strong!

Mama disclaimer! This has not been meant as medical advice, it is only my personal breastfeeding journey with my son. If you ever have a problem please find a local support group.

Musing mama's experience has inspired her to train in breastfeeding support.

To find help locally speak to the la leche league uk

Baby Friendly Day Out: Bashley Manor nr Christchurch

Looking for a great FREE activity with the kids? This baby friendlly day out is just the thing.
Me and froggy love road testing baby days out and after we found this place we couldn't wait to share it with you and the other fun loving parents at The country kids link up.
Bashley Manor Tea rooms is located outside of Christchurch next door to the famous Sammy Miller motorbike museum.

Making liquid Bay handsoap




It all started with my bay tree, a 12 foot stern and shady addition to my tiny garden. 
Now I like an addition of Bay to my cooking. I also love the fact we have a free supply of the stuff to use as we want.  But in reality it produces more than one family could ever use,  but when it flowered I was desperate to find a use for the pretty flowers.  I was slightly disappointed to see that these flowers  aren't widely used.

Baby friendly day out -Beaulieu Abbey

Today we've really been making the most of the fabulous weather at Beaulieu.
It's such a fab day out that it really does merit a post for each different area, so that's what I intend to do as part of my baby friendly day out series. This post is on the abbey itself which was a brilliant choice of outing for a sunny day.
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