Tag Archives: playtime

An Afternoon at LUSH

IMG 0758This afternoon, Gracen and I had the absolute pleasure of attending a launch event at the Robson Street location of Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

When we first got the invite, I was really excited for two reasons.  First off, because I’ve been a longtime Lush fan and seeing, touching, and trying a brand new product before the general public is always fun, and second, because the event was munchkin-friendly and Gracen was more than welcome to come along! 

IMG 0732When we arrived, the Lush team was extremely helpful, sweet, and friendly.  They helped us find a spot to park our stroller,  offered us all kinds of delicious treats and beverages, and invited Gracen to play with the newest Lush innovation, ‘Fun’.   Of course she had already spotted the play table on the way in and was more than ready to sink her little hands into the mouldable material.

IMG 0735IMG 0745IMG 0744IMG 0737As she played, I learned all about Fun.  What it is basically, is a mouldable {delicious smelling} soap that can be used in four different ways.  First off (and most importantly ☺), it can be played with.  It has a texture between play dough and plastercine and can easily be cut, shaped, and rolled.  The best part is that since it’s a soap, clean up is a breeze – both when it comes to cleaning your table and cleaning your kid.  When used in the bathroom, it can be rubbed and used as a soap (we’ve already used it at the sink for washing hands and in the bathtub as a body bar), lathered and used as a shampoo, or placed under some running water as a bubble bath. So cool, right?  I’m pretty sure some pre-bath time “play dough” sessions are in our very near future…

IMG 0742IMG 0731After playing with Fun for a good, long time, Miss G decided it would be a good time to have her face painted.  Having seen {and immediately fallen in love with} a stack of pumpkin-shaped soap on the way by, a little jack-o-lantern on her cheek it was.

IMG 0750IMG 0757With a freshly-painted cheek, it was off to explore the rest of the store.  There were all kinds of goodies out and Gracen very happily chose a bag of popcorn to munch on while I helped myself to a little bag of goodies at the candy bar.  We explored the products, learning about them and trying them out along the way, which was a lot of fun.  These were two of our favourites.  I really loved the slightly shimmery Bubblebeard bubble wand because it made incredible bubbles with just small swishes in a bowlful of water, and Grae really loved the Calacas shower jelly, mostly because it was really fun to poke and squish.

IMG 0751IMG 0738We stopped to see a few other things, mingle with some other mamas and kiddos, and snack on our goodies, but more than anything, Grae wanted to get back to the Fun table to play.

IMG 0756IMG 0746IMG 0753IMG 0755Before heading home for dinner, bath, and bed time, we got to watch a fresh batch of Fun being made, and then play with it immediately afterwards.  When fresh made like this, Fun is still pretty soft and sticky compared to the finished product, but Gracen didn’t mind one bit.  It made for a great mess and lots of fun swishing it all of in a bowl of warm water afterwards.

IMG 0759To top off a fun-filled afternoon, Lush very generously sent us home with a bag full of goodies that Grae immediately called her ‘present’ and insisted on carrying on her own despite the fact that it was heavy and bulky.

IMG 0762When we got home and opened it, she was thrilled to find several rolls of Fun inside, but even more thrilled to see a Jacko bath fizzer.  We chopped him up to spread the excitement up over a few nights, and before long, our pumpkin pie scented little lady was tucked into bed.

Lush’s multipurpose, mouldable FUN soap is available nationwide on November 1st, 2012.  It comes in five colours and scents (yellow – marzipan, green – citrus burst, blue – lavender and chamomile, red – fruity orange and mandarin, and pink – ice cream), is 100% vegan, and will be available for for $6.95 each.  

In addition, a portion of the sales of FUN will go into the newly created FunD, which will help bring fun back to children living in Fukushima, Japan, an area severely affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.
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Egg Carton Button Sorting

Egg Carton Button SortingMatching is HUGE in our house right now.  Coordinating is simply not good enough for Miss G anymore.  Everything. must. match.  To the point where she will pick a treat (organic fruit leather) with a blue package while grocery shopping because she is wearing blue pants, cutting her carrots requires an orange knife, and wearing white socks isn’t happening if there is no other white in the outfit.  So when I came across an empty egg carton during my usual nap time house cleaning, I decided to use it to put together a little matching game rather than recycling it.

IMG 0032I had everything else I needed on hand…  Acrylic paints in primary colours, plus white and black, a paintbrush, an old rag, and some water.

IMG 0033IMG 0035I simply painted each egg spot by swirling the paint up from the base to the top edge.

IMG 0037I made sure to include the basic rainbow colours, plus black, white, and grey, and of course aqua because, well… it’s the best colour ever.

IMG 0039Afterwards, I gave the inside of the lid a quick coat of white paint.

IMG 0043Now if I’m being honest, Gracen awoke from her nap before the paint was fully dry and she was so excited to play her new game that we took it to the bathroom and used the blowdryer on it.  

When it was fully dry, I poured a bunch of buttons in the lid, removed the clear ones, and asked, “Do you want to play?”

IMG 0048With a prompt “Yes!” and zero direction, she got busy matching the buttons to the colours painted in the cups.

IMG 0049Grae loves playing and the nice thing about this little game is that when she’s finished, she just closes it up and everything is contained and ready for next time.

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Remnants of a Messy Play Date

Gracen had a wonderful time with her friends at her birthday party and has talked about having friends over to play every day since.  So with my little lady’s wishes tugging at my heartstrings and our beautiful Vancouver weather continuing into September, I decided to host our first ever {outdoor} messy play date.  

It’s been something Gracen’s been anticipating all week, and yesterday, she helped me pick out and put together our snacks, sensory bins, and art stations, and today we had four of her little friends over to play in the backyard.  It was morning of ‘treats’, friends, hugs, and getting dirty, which suited Gracen just perfectly.  

Though I tried to take photos during the play date, attempting to drink a hot coffee, engage and supervise a handful of one and two year olds, and visit with fellow mommies at the same time ended up being quite a lot on its own.  Afterwards, however, once all of our friends had departed and Miss G was tucked in her crib for her nap, I couldn’t help but smile at the piles of mess all around me.  Mostly eaten snacks, well played with sensory bins, almost empty juice cups, dried up paint, and little white plaster footprints across our backyard pad… All signs filled bellies, happy babies, and old-fashioned messy play.  

Play date snacksIMG 9611IMG 9615IMG 9617IMG 9619IMG 9621Sand

IMG 9624IMG 9625Apple stamping
IMG 9631


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iPhoneography // Strong Start

Strong start 1

After a particularly crazy registration day, filled with chaos, confusion, and papers carelessly strewn about the table and floor, I must admit I was a little nervous about our first day of Grae’s Strong Start Program today…  The good news?  Today was much calmer.  The people were fewer, the atmosphere was friendlier, and there was plenty of fun to be had. 

Strong start 2

As part of our effort to use our car less and spend more time walking and biking, Grae and I walked to the school first thing this morning, parked our stroller outside (despite the secretary’s warning), and headed into the classroom.  Gracen very excitedly put her things in a cubby and jumped into playing right away.  Puzzles, paint, play dough, dolls, blocks, books, and games filled the class and begged for her attention.  She slowly made her way around the room, playing at each station for a good long time before tidying up and moving on. After free play time, we all went to the gym, where Grae worked up an appetite throwing and chasing balls.  We returned to the room to find a small snack set out at each table spot (each family contributes fruit for the snack) and Grae was extremely pleased to see the strawberries she had chosen especially for the occasion out and ready for her friends to eat.  She happily gobbled up her fruit while visiting with friends, and then it was off to the carpet for circle time. 

Strong start 3After a great morning, circle time was the only part of the class that was a little too much.  Though the teacher has a great repertoire of songs and action poems and stories to share with the kids, it’s difficult to have the kids quiet and engaged when the adults in the room are not demonstrating good listening skills themselves.  I must admit, the mix of visiting, cell phone talking, and toy playing all happening while the teacher was trying to run a fun, but structured carpet time for the kiddos made my teacher skin crawl a little.  We stuck it out for most of it, but near the end (after nearly 3 hours at school), Gracen was reaching her limit and it was becoming increasingly difficult to explain why she couldn’t have toys to play with although many others did.  Rather than dragging it out longer than necessary, we very quietly dismissed ourselves before the end of class, as did a couple of other parents and tots.

Other than the circle time being a little disappointing, the only other thing I found a bit surprising was how little English was spoken throughout the morning.  Not a terrible thing… I think it’s great that Grae is exposed to different languages, and living in the Middle East for four years certainly got me used to situations like these where I have no idea what people are saying around me…  Yet it definitely makes it harder to connect with other parents and it is a little surprising in a program that {I think} is intended to prepare children for what will eventually become their public school education. Oh, well… I think it’s still going to be a great experience for Miss G, English or not.  

Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good morning.  Better than expected actually.  Gracen had a great time and left with a couple of new art projects in hand and a couple of new friends to come back to next week.


 Photos edited with Instagram. Find me under jkossowan.

For more information on Strong Start BC programs, as well as a complete list of SS programs offered around the province, visit here. 
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Sensory Jars for Toddlers

Sensory JarsWhile Miss G and I have put together and enjoyed all kinds of sensory bins, we’ve never actually made sensory jars or bottles of any sort.  Although I wasn’t sure that Grae would like them as much her usual sensory bins due to their more ‘hands off’ nature, I decided we’d whip up a few today and give them a try.

Sensory Jar MaterialsIn order to make the most of them, I knew I wanted Gracen to be involved in the putting the sensory jars together.  I gathered up a bunch of materials while she napped and set them out as a little surprise for when she woke (we also ended up using some shampoo on a whim during the activity).  Since I had the time and the paint on hand, I chose to give our jar lids a quick coat of silver spray, but it isn’t necessary.

IMG 8622IMG 8623When Grae woke up, she was excited to started.  She pretty much led the way, and I just made sure we had some water and one of the thicker liquids (baby oil, cooking oil, or bubble bath) in each jar.  One thing was for certain – there needed to be glitter in every jar.  No exceptions there.  The other thing I found interesting was that Miss G automatically colour coordinated the glitter with the coloured water (hmmm… wonder where she gets these things from??)

This part of the activity was really fun.  It reminded me of when I was little and mixing up potions and concoctions in the kitchen seemed like the best thing in the whole world. (It kind of still felt like that… Maybe some things never change?)

Here are Grae’s creations:

Layers(The blue one is the exact same combination as this one, but with blue water and glitter.)

Layers 2Layers 3

IMG 8634When Grae declared her jars done, I ran a thick strip of hot glue around the inside of each of the lids, then quickly screwed them on as tight as I could. Once they’d cooled, I tried my darndest to unscrew one of the lids, and couldn’t, so I decided they were good to go.

IMG 8651We were headed out into the backyard to splash in the pool, so along the sensory jars came.  Gracen really liked shaking them up and watching “the sparkles dance”.  

IMG 8637Here’s a look at the jars just after shaking them.  Photos don’t do them justice, but they’re quite mesmerizing actually… calming even, so I can see why parents who use time outs would find these to be a helpful time out ‘tool’.

While sensory jars may not bring about as much play as sensory bins do (for Miss G at least), they’re a great addition to our collection of sensory goodies and will be finding a Grae-friendly spot in our house as soon as she’s had a few good days with them in her bedroom.

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Magnet Fishing

As we were playing with Gracen’s ever-growing magnet collection this morning, a little game we’ve not yet tried popped into mind… Magnet fishing!  

IMG 6819It was a breeze to set up. We gathered up a few materials we had around the house – a bowl, magnets, scissors, embroidery floss (any string would do), a large paperclip, and a piece of drift wood from Gracen’s beach sensory bin (a twig, chop stick, or popsicle stick could easily be used instead) –  and created a pond of magnet “fish” and a fishing rod.

IMG 6821These alphabet magnets, made by Gracen’s Auntie Roz, worked well because they were very strong but still light enough to be picked up by the paperclip.  The only problem was that they were so strong that with a small bump of the bowl, they’d all cling together, making it hard to catch a “fish”.  We did try her Melissa and Doug wooden alphabet magnets, but because of their weight and weaker magnets, they couldn’t be picked up by the paperclip.  Ultimately, something in between the two would have been perfect (I’m thinking the plastic letter magnets may be the way to go).

IMG 6826WIth our fishing rod built and our pond freshly-stocked with fish, we were ready to go.

IMG 6828Caught one!

IMG 6838After she’d fished standing up for a while, she decided to try fishing while sitting down.  Looping the line around the rod a couple of times made this a much more manageable task.

IMG 6837Caught another.

IMG 6840Gracen thought this activity was a lot of fun.  As she pulled the magnets out of the pond, she’d remove them from the paperclip, announce their colour (older kids could do colours and letters), and add them to her caught pile (often giving herself an enthusiastic clap afterwards). She enjoyed it so much, in fact, that she insisted that it stay in her room until her Papa returned home from work so she could show him.  And that’s exactly what she did.  
Sometimes simple fun is the best kind.
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Saturday Snapshots

After a quick torrential downpour and a whole family nap (amazing!) the sun decided to grace us with its presence.  After a string of rainy days, we wasted no time heading out into the backyard to soak up a little dose of vitamin D.   We gathered up some sidewalk chalk, bubbles, our cloud dough sensory bin, a water sensory bin, a tricycle and a bicycle, multiple blankets, and homemade popsicles and enjoyed a laid-back afternoon outdoors, just the three of us.  Here are a few snapshots…IMG 4068IMG 4114Cloud dough sensory boxIMG 4072Blowin bubbles and water funIMG 4078Popsicles and tricyclesIMG 4093HopscotchIMG 4127Sidewalk art

Water play

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Chocolate Playdough

Everybody loves play dough, but chocolate play dough?!  Now that’s what I’m talking about.  I actually meant to make this with Miss G over Easter weekend, but we were so busy hunting for eggs and spending our days outdoors, that we didn’t get around to it.  So this morning we whipped out our ingredients and got busy in the kitchen.  And I’m so glad we did.  This play dough is so much fun.  Not to mention that it smells delicious and is easy to make.  Here’s what we did…

IMG 0321First, Grae helped me gather our ingredients – all-purpose flour, salt, cocoa, cream of tartar, oil, and boiling water (which is safely stored on a counter on the opposite side of the kitchen).

IMG 0322We decided to use our mixer this time around, but you could just as easily use a bowl, wooden spoon, and some elbow grease instead.  Start off by adding your flour to the bowl.

IMG 0326Then dump in the salt.  Close your eyes while doing so for an added challenge.

IMG 0328Next up -the magic ingredient…  Cocoa!

IMG 0332Then add a little bit of cream of tartar….

IMG 0338And mix it all together.

IMG 0341When your dry ingredients are fully blended, add some oil.

IMG 0348Then mix again.

IMG 0350Now for the ‘mommy only’ job…  Slowly pour your boiling water into the mixture.

IMG 0353Then mix until everything is well blended and the dough begins to come together.

IMG 0355At this point, the dough might appear to be a little goopy, but resist the urge to add flour just yet.  Stop your machine and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, making sure to incorporate any loose flour.

IMG 0358Now give it one more quick mix.

IMG 0363Dump the dough out onto the counter and pat everything together into a nice ball.

IMG 0366Voila!  You’re ready to have some fun!

IMG 0371Mmmmmm…  Smells so good too!

IMG 0373For some added fun, we took out a box of chocolates we’ve had around since Christmas, dumped the contents, and made some yummy play dough chocolates of our own.

Here’s the recipe (which I originally found here):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsps cream of tartar
  • 2 cups of boiling water

Combine all of the dry ingredients. Add in the oil and mix well.  Then stir in the boiling water until fully combined.  Dump out the dough on a clean surface and knead if needed.  Enjoy!

The original recipe gives you the option of adding 4 drops of glycerine for added stretch and shine.  We didn’t have any on hand, but I would definitely give it a try next time around.  The dough is plenty soft as is, but not quite as stretchy as our purple “cooked” play dough is.
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Grae Time

IMG 9078One of Gracen’s new things is booting her babies out of their bassinet and claiming the space as her own (luckily it doesn’t really rock).  Today she climbed in there with her cup of nuts, had a good 10 minutes of ‘Grae time’, and when she had polished off her entire snack, called me for some help with getting out.  What a little monkey we have!

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Spring Sunshine

We spent our morning in the house, and by the time the afternoon rolled around, we were more than ready to get out and enjoy the sunshine.  We brought along some bubbles, some sidewalk chalk, and my camera and headed out into the front yard. Sometimes a little sunshine is just what you need.
IMG 8473IMG 8478IMG 8483IMG 8490IMG 8493IMG 8519IMG 8529

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