Monthly Archives: July 2013

Moving Fun for Miss G

Simple Ways to Keep Kids Happily Engaged During a Move | Mama Papa BubbaIn order to get through our move, Miss G spent a lot of time playing independently, which is difficult when the majority of your things are packed and life as you know it is being turned upside-down in front of your eyes.  In order to make things a little bit easier for her, each day that we spent packing, I’d set out a couple of very simple invitations to play with whatever was around at the time.  I have to say, she handled the situation very well and even created a few fun activities of her own.  Here’s some of what our little lady did last week…

BubblesAdd a few taped-together straws to some homemade bubble solution!

Sink playThere are endless possibilities when it comes to sink play.  See some of our favourites here.

Box fortsFlip a large box on its side, add a pillow and blanket, and you’ve got a cozy little space to curl up in.  Miss G also brought markers and chalk inside of hers and decorated the walls.

Pool noodle blocksSlice up a pool noodle and you’ve got fun, inexpensive, and *silent* building blocks.  See some other ways to use them here.

Straw beadsChop up some straws, find a piece of string, and you’ve got an engaging beading station.

Drawing on butcher paperA large piece of brown paper taped onto the ground is the perfect canvas for all sorts of artwork.

Fresh mint playIf you’ve got some fresh herbs growing in the yard, this is a breeze to set up.  Add some scissors, bowls, and water, and scented ‘soup’ will be rolling out of the herb kitchen in no time.

BathsWho says you have to be dirty to have a bath?  Pop your babe in the bathtub and you can get all kinds of work done in the bathroom.

Peek a booA cardboard box + tissue paper = ridiculous amounts of fun.

Cloud dough8 parts white flour, 1 part oil (baby oil and vegetable oil both work great), and a whole lot of fun

Popcorn shopAll that’s needed is a bowl of popcorn and some paper bags!  {See more here.}

Play dough and silicon mouldsWhether it’s  with play dough (in this case gingerbread play dough), coloured rice, water beads, or another sensory material, silicon moulds are always a huge hit in our house.

Packing peanutsPacking peanuts in a bin… That’s all.  Gracen created this sensory bin, then took off her dress and dove in. 

StickersStickers and a big piece of brown paper.  Simple fun.

PhotoSimple matching games made with dot stickers.  We’ve done this forever with doodles, shapes, numbers, and letters and Miss G never gets enough.

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iPhoneography // Moving On…

IMG 2714Only 5 days to pack and a ton to do.

IMG 2650A going away gift. We have the very sweetest friends.

IMG 2639Progress…

IMG 2638All of the toys, books, games, and puzzles Gracen will have in Kuwait are in these two bins.

IMG 27282 a.m. and finally feeling good enough about the progress made to go to sleep before picking up the moving truck the next morning.

IMG 2733Loading day.

IMG 2739Nearly finished.

IMG 2738A sad final dinner in her 2nd home… A towel as a picnic blanket, a bento box for a plate, a spoon borrowed from the downstairs tenants, not a vegetable in sight.

PhotoFarewell, little house.

IMG 2756Halfway through the 6 hour drive back to the Okanagan.

IMG 2761An hour away from our destination and dinner is served…  In a car seat.  Sardined between bins.

 

Whew!  What a week it’s been.  I’ve got to say that moving is probably one of my least favourite things to do ever.  Several Christmases ago, my brother and I sat down with a pen and paper and listed off all of the houses we’ve lived in in our lifetimes and if I’m correct, this move will be my 52nd.  Oy.  I must say, it does get easier…  Moving frequently has caused me to really think about what I hang onto and in most cases, if I haven’t used something within the last few months, I’ll happily give it away, recycle it, or get rid of it rather than moving it just so it can collect dust somewhere new.  That being said, moving with a toddler {and only 5 days to pack an entire house} is not, in any way, easy.  Gracen was wonderful through it all, but it was definitely tough.  Between trying to be an engaged parent, keeping up with making healthy, homemade meals, attending final play dates and outings, and packing everything into boxes while a curious little somebody wants to take everything out, I felt spread thin to  say the least.  Sleep was even less plentiful than normal, which means patience was too. Buuuuuut, thanks to a lot of help from Brad’s parents in the final two days, we did it.  We packed everything up into a moving truck {and two vehicles}, scrubbed down the house, handed over our keys, and said goodbye to the little old house that has been our home for the last two years {since we arrived home from our first stint in Kuwait}.  Now we’re in the Okanagan for the next few weeks until our big, BIG move and I’m happy to report that we should be able to get the bulk of our stuff sorted/stored/put away this morning.  Here’s to a little bit of downtime before our next adventure begins!

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So Long…

Screen Shot 2013 07 31 at 9 26 20 PM

Today we finished packing and cleaning and said goodbye to our home in Vancouver.  I’d been so focused on accomplishing all of the tasks on my to do list that I hadn’t taken the time to think about about how much I’ll miss our little old house – the one in which our baby girl learned to walk, where she learned to talk, where she said so long to diapers, where she graduated to a big girl bed, and so many other important things…  It all hit me when she walked into her empty bedroom for the final time, called out, “Goodbye, room!”, and then leaned into the wall with big open arms and gave it a kiss.  Ugh. Tears.

They snuck up on me again as I took this final photo of her on our front porch, ringing the doorbell as she always does, just one last time.

So long, little house in East Vancouver.  Big changes are ahead…

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Joy Amongst the Chaos

Thank goodness for tiny moments of joy amongst the chaos.

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{3 Ingredient} Apple Fig Fruit Leather

Apple Fig Fruit Leather | Mama Papa BubbaAmidst our packing frenzy, the figs on our lovely backyard fig tree have decided that now is the time to become perfectly ripe.  This poses a problem for a few different reasons…. 1) The tree is big and old and produces a TON of fruit,  2) I’m the only one in our family that truly enjoys fresh figs, 3) Keeping up with the daily picking of the fruit is time consuming, and 4) If I don’t keep up with the picking, our backyard becomes a sticky mess filled with wasps.

In an effort to avoid a waspy sticky mess of a backyard, I’ve been giving away boxes of figs to almost every person I’ve been in contact with, I’ve been adding 3 or 4 to our green smoothie each morning, and I’ve been eating them fresh as my nightly treat, but that just wasn’t enough.  I needed a way to use up a ton of figs all at once, and preferably it would be something that the other members of my family would enjoy too.  Enter fruit leather…

IMG 0516Gracen loves fruit leather, and though it can be a little intimidating if you’ve never made it before, it’s truly one of  the easiest, most forgiving things to make.  And no special equipment is needed!  If you have some fruit, an oven, a baking pan, and some parchment paper, you can easily make your own fruit leather at home.

IMG 0515I’ve made several batches of this stuff already, and it’s getting eaten up like nobody’s business!  Plus I’ve changed my method a little bit and it’s now even easier for me to make my own fruit leather.  Here’s how to do it…

 

Apple Fig Fruit Leather

  • 10 ripe figs, washed
  • 2 apples, cored and peeled
  • 1 cup of water (fresh-squeezed apple or orange juice works too!)

Preheat oven to 125 degrees (or lowest setting) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (paper should cover all edges of the pan).

Place all ingredients in a covered pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer fruit {still covered} for about 30 minutes, or until super soft.

Pour everything into a food processor or good blender and purée until smooth.  

Pour fruit mixture out onto parchment-lined baking sheet and use the back of a spatula to spread the fruit purée out so it covers the entire base of the pan. Gently shake the pan make the purée as even as possible.

Pop into the oven for approximately 8 hours (I put ours in just before going to bed).  You want to remove the fruit leather from the oven when it’s still sticky to the touch, but not at all wet.  You may find that part of your fruit leather will be done earlier than the rest.  In this case,  you’ll need to remove the fruit leather from the oven, cut off the finished part, and return the still wet to the touch part to the oven for another hour or two.

When finished, simply remove the large sheet of fruit leather from the baking sheet, cut of the excess parchment paper around the edges, and cut directly through both the remaining parchment and fruit leather to create strips.  Roll strips and secure with baker’s twine or washi tape.  Store in an air-tight container or jar.

Enjoy!

 

See our other homemade fruit leather recipes here: 

Berry Banana // Apple Pear Carrot

 

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Steveston, Pajo’s, & a First

IMG 2667

If there’s one thing we’ve been doing more of this month, it’s definitely eating out.  Normally, we eat out very rarely, but with our days filled with packing, sorting, organizing, and keeping little hands busy so they’re not digging in already packed boxes, we’ve been giving ourselves a break lately and eating some of our meals out.  Not only does mean that I don’t have to cook and that Brad doesn’t have to do dishes, but it also gives us all a much needed break from being indoors.IMG 0467

Tonight, Brad suggested that we head down to Steveston for fish and chips, which I thought was brilliant.  I’ve been meaning to take Miss G down to the oceanfront village forever and just haven’t gotten around to it, and with the weather as beautiful as it was today, it was the perfect place to enjoy some evening sunshine.IMG 0471

We arrived in Steveston, found parking, and headed straight to Pajo’s, which is pretty much an institution when it comes to fish and chips in the Lower Mainland.
IMG 0481

Miss G and I scouted out a table while Brad headed off to order our dinner, and before long, he returned with this…  2 large halibut and chip orders with fresh lemon and tatar sauce.  To say that it was delicious would be an understatement.  It was so good in fact, that I ate more than I should have, even though Grae and I shared and then gave a good portion of our food to Brad to eat.
IMG 0482Now if you know about our food philosophy when it come to feeding Miss G, you know that fried food like this isn’t something that happens usually.  But, with Pajo’s sourcing their ingredients locally {and my moving exhaustion}, we decided to make an exception just for tonight.  In fact, we even let her taste her very first french fry (*gasp!*)

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She of course loved it, so we let her choose two more, and that was it.  (Years ago I heard some crazy stat like ‘60% of North American kids’ first vegetable is french fries’ and whether it’s true or not, I think it may have scarred me for life.)IMG 0493Afterwards, we enjoyed a lovely walk along the boardwalk and checked out many of the fishing boats selling fresh seafood.

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It was the perfect way to end another busy day, and I can already say that I can’t wait to do it again next summer.IMG 0488

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Simple Straw Bead Necklaces

Simple Straw Bead Necklaces | Mama Papa BubbaAs the chaos continues, so do the super simple, created-on-a-whim activities for Miss G.  Because the days are passing by so quickly and we still have a ridiculous amount of stuff to be done before the big move, I’ve basically been throwing together activities with whatever is nearby at the moment, and hoping that they’ll keep Gracen happily engaged for a good long time so that Brad and I can throw some more stuff into boxes (sad, but true).

IMG 2567Today, as I was sorting through our big catchall closet, I came across the bubble tea straws we used for Grae’s beloved bubble tea shop we did recently.  I knew I had seen yarn on a shelf somewhere, so I created a really basic beading station for the little lady to enjoy.

IMG 2568Using some big scissors, I chopped up the straws to form beads.  They leapt up from my scissors as they were cut and Gracen thought it was quite funny.  Her job was to collect all of the beads and pop them into this bowl.

IMG 2569Because the straws are so large, Brad created a cardboard stopper at the end of a piece of yarn instead of a giant knot.  This can be done as he did it (by feeding the yarn through a small hole and knotting it on the other side), or it can be done by wrapping the yarn through a couple of slits made in the cardboard square.

IMG 2570Though we actually have several large, unsharp sewing needles from Grae’s ‘sewing kit‘, I had seen this creative alternative on Happy Hooligans, and decided to give it a shot.

IMG 2572Grae started beading right away.  The beauty of this activity is that not only is it simple and fun, but it also is great for fine motor skill development and hand-eye coordination.  Plus it lends itself very easily to patterning if your child decides to take it that way (Miss G did not).

IMG 2576Grae worked on this project for a good long time and finally finished off a giant, brightly-coloured  necklace that she was very proud of.  

I realize that not everyone keeps bubble tea straws on hand, but this same activity would work great with regular small straws (just use a dull knitting needle instead of the straw needle, or put a bit of masking tape on the needle end of the yarn), or better yet – if you’re a Slurpee-loving family, wash out those big Slurpee straws and repurpose them for this project.

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She’s MY Sunshine

I don’t know which I love more – the song or the fact that she has a little burp and continues right on with her singing. ☺

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Fresh Mint Sensory Play

Fresh Mint Sensory Play | Mama Papa BubbaThe last few days have been hectic.  With only 5 days to pack up our entire house and prepare for our first of two upcoming moves, Brad and I have been working at full steam sorting through things, preparing boxes of items we’ll need for August, boxes that will go straight to Kuwait, and boxes that will go into storage until we return home to Canada in a few years.  Sort of sadly, that leaves our little lady to play independently almost all day long most days.  As a result, I’ve been pulling together all kinds of random, super simple activities with whichever everyday materials are nearby at the moment.  Luckily for me, this morning as I popped on the internet for a brief moment, there was a discussion on different ways to use fresh mint going on in one of the awesome blogger networks I belong to (if you’re not already one of the 68 000 people that follow our Pinterest board, you certainly should be!)  We have loads of mint growing in our backyard, so I took a bunch of the suggestions, mashed them together and created this fresh mint soup station for Miss G to explore.

IMG 0428To start out, I set out a big bunch of fresh mint, a pair of Gracen’s scissors, and few plastic bowls and spoons.  Grae began smelling and cutting and ripping the mint and the amazing scent of fresh mint filled our house.  She dished out bowls of ‘salad’ and delivered them to us as we worked.

IMG 0438Before long, I sensed that something would have to be added to the mix in order to keep Grae engaged in her play, so I grabbed a small container of green glitter and a jug filled with water and a couple drops of green food colouring and quietly added them to the bin.  (Slowly adding elements to sensory bins as play progresses is one of my favourite tips for keeping munchkins engaged in their play.)

IMG 0430In no time at all, bowls of sparkly green soup were rolling out of Gracen’s fresh mint kitchen.

IMG 0437Looks delicious, right?

IMG 0454This was such a simple set-up, but Grae enjoyed it so much that I just tidied it up to make it look inviting again, and I’m leaving it out overnight for Miss G to enjoy again tomorrow. We’ll see how the mint lasts!

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A {Pretend Play} Popcorn Shop

Pretend Play Popcorn Shop | Mama Papa BubbaOur makeshift puppet theatre got LOTs of play and it was {well past} time to switch things up in our little Ikea SKYLTA Market Stand.  Because we’re amidst our 5 days dedicated to packing our entire house, it had to be something super quick and easy to set-up, but highly engaging in order to keep Miss G happily {and independently} playing for as long as possible.

IMG 0406To get things started, I made a little ‘Popcorn Shop’ sign that took less than a minute to make, and popped it into the structure’s sign slot.

IMG 0407Then Grae and I made a big bowl of plain stove-top popcorn (in coconut oil of course) and she grabbed a measuring cup to act as her scoop while I grabbed an old salt shaker that works terribly (it barely lets anything out, and in this case that’s perfect) and put a little sea salt inside.

IMG 0409While I’ve seen really cute old-fashioned popcorn bags at our local dollar store, I’m a big fan of using what you have on hand if you can, so I grabbed some paper bags I’d used at a recent craft market and quickly wrote ‘POPCORN’ across the front of each one.  Together we decided that the small white ones would be the shop’s personal size and the bigger brown ones would be family-sized.  

IMG 0412After retrieving an apron, Miss G opened her popcorn shop for business.

IMG 0405She took orders, asking us about our size and salt preferences, and carefully scooped popcorn into bags.  When an order was ready, she’d deliver it to us wherever we were working in the house, then check back in a few minutes later to see if we needed a free refill… Now that’s what I call service!

IMG 0404Our popcorn shop was a total hit with Grae and my guess is that she’d continue dishing out bags of popcorn as long as I’d continue filling the bowl.  

This inexpensive cardboard contraption has brought us a ton of fun already and I fully plan to take advantage of it for the last few weeks before we move.  ☺

To see the other ways we’ve used our cardboard market stand, click here.

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