Have you been to Mouille Point lately?

For Heritage Day we decided to get out with the kids. With the weather being pleasant we wandered down to Mouille Point Light House to see what new facilities were around. And we were happy with what we found there.

There is a wonderful new Jungle Gym in the open commons near the promenade. Plenty room to climb and the facilities seem to have been well built with lots of kids in mind. It is a large and sturdy construction with two slides, a hoard of fireman’s poles, climbing ramps, climbing holes, suspended bridges, tyres to peek through – you name it!

Zoe is nearly three so some of the climbing items were a little hard, but she went up them nonetheless with a push and shove every now and then to get her where she wanted to be.

There was a huge See-saw in use by kids with daddy’s doing the obligatory up and down. Swings placed around a giant arc with mom’s pushing to their kids delight. A very happy atmosphere. It is nice to know that there are areas around Cape Town that are open to the public without any fees or obligations were kids can still be kids.

Then of course our eldest was attracted by the Blue train that does circuits along a track in the area. It is run by Rotary and costs R10 for three circuits of the track. A little squashed for dad – but each time she came around Zoe was waving and laughing like a banshee. The price is not bad for a little bit of fun. I am happy to say that the whole area seems very well maintained.

Going over the bridge into the area inside the Train track, there are jumping castles free for use, there are tables positioned in the shade for picnics. If you wish to host a kiddies party there, Rotary has posted contact details. But for a family outing the environment was great.

Inside the area there are a number of activities, including a Climbing wall (kids size!), some items to climb through, on and over. For Beatles fans there was a Yellow submarine to captain too! Our one year old preferred to mosey around in and out of cement shapes that were around the area, following her more daring sister at a distance. I saw a number of families in and around the area and I have to say for the volume of people, the area did not seem overcrowded at all.

So if you are looking for somewhere to go – why not spend a little time near Mouille Point? It is right next to the Green Point Gardens – another expedition all of its own!

Easy Crawley Creatures .. for kids

My daughter has been dying to paint lately – and piles and piles of painted paper seemed a little of a waste. So we decided to create our own jungle creatures. All it took some empty toilet rolls, paint, googley eyes and some pipe cleaners. The pipe cleaners, googley eyes and some ‘pom poms’ come in a pack for R15.99 at Crazy store. For little ones crazy also sells smocks in a 3 pack for R19.99.

One day one we painted some toilet rolls (weather has been wet so we needed time for them to dry). We painted dots and stripes and wild colours so we could be creative with animals later. At 2, Zoe is not dedicated to painting one colour – so different ones were extra fun for her.

Day two was inserting pipe cleaners in small cuts into the rolls. I cut the pipe cleaners shorter to make sure you can make more animals and to keep them in proportion. I added tails and wings to some rolls to make bees and other jungle creatures. Pom poms were added on top or inside the roll (at my daughters whim). I used simple glue on the balls for eyes.

And one, two, three we have some jungle creatures. I am thinking of converting them into a bit of a mobile for her room.

Kiddies Parties – Indoors

With the onset of winter, some of us moms are faced with the challenge of how to make sure kids have fun at the party – in spite of the weather.

I have found a few ideas from another mom’s blog that I thought I would share. But of course, let me know if you have any other ideas that work for you!

Let’s Explore suggests some activity tables:
1. Playdough – A low table with homemade colored playdough, plastic cookie cutters, and mini rolling pins is always a hit with the little ones. A few plastic animals or toy cars are fun to toss on the table, too.
2. Matching Game – Set-out a store-bought memory game or make your own using clip art that relates to your party theme. Using photos of the party guests would make a fun matching game, too!
3. Collaborative Coloring – Cover a whole table or the lower half of a wall with paper. Set-out buckets of crayons and stickers. Instead of coloring on paper, place a large cardboard box in an open-area.
4. Beanbag Toss – This can be as simple or fancy as you want. Buckets, dish tubs, hula hoops, and laundry baskets make excellent targets. Hanging hula hoops are really fun to toss things through!
5. Sensory Table – Fill a large plastic container with colored rice, a variety of beans, or water (with supervision, please). Add scoops, spoons, funnels, play dishes, and other fun tools for exploring.
6. Beach Balls – Lightweight and colorful, beach balls are great for throwing, rolling, and carrying around. Send them home with your little guests as party favors.

My own thoughts may be that the balls can be left outdoors! (Yes, I sound like such a sensible mom). But having seen some great craft tables done by my sister-in-law it never hurts to have a back-up when the weather is so unreliable!

But I think the most important thing when arranging a kids-party is that you actually stop to enjoy the moment! Your kids only have a birthday once a year so don’t spend the whole day arranging and not enjoying.

Treasure Hunt for Rainy Days

Teddy Bear's Picnic for the Girls

So how do we think of new and exciting things to do on rainy days? Well how about a scavenger hunt with a purpose?

The idea started for Easter when I created a photo clue hunt for my daughter for her Easter Eggs. I took photos of all sorts of toys/places in our house where we hid some eggs. We printed the photos on paper and gave it to Zoe as clues. She can’t read so the photos worked brilliantly.

The concept for a rainy day is the same: find some household things you will need for a lounge picnic (theme depends on your kids) and send them in search of items for the picnic.
* Blankets
* Pillows
* Laundry basket for the picnic basket
* a few items of clothing to dress up
* Plates/cups
* Munchies
* Themed collectibles (torches, blankets, hats)

Bunny Clue for Easter Hunt

Clues:
This can be done as images (for the toddlers that can’t read), short word clues for the older kids or a treasure map of sorts of your house with clues on the map. Younger scavengers may need daddy to go with or an older sibling to get them into the understanding of the process, whipping up excitement when they find an item.

Themes:
High Tea/Party Picnic: clothing items can be a party dress or mommy’s high heels. Munchies can include cupcakes.
Survival Picnic: Hunt items can include torches, bows and arrrows, magnifying glass or sleeping bags. Munchies can be things like sour worms and other ‘bug like’ sweets
Campfire picnic: Situate alongside your indoor braai and time it for dinner. Buy marshmallows and the like for the braai time. Items for your picnic can be camping chairs, kiddies tent, sleeping bags.
Basically you can let your imagination run wild – what do your kids love?
Ask them what else they think they need for the adventure.

The hunt need not take up space – high tea can be at the dining room table or a campsite on your lounge floor. Move over the coffee table and let them get into the swing of things.

Treasure Hunt for Young Pirates

When they finally have all the scavenger items collected you can reveal your indoor picnic for them. Use this as an opportunity not to ‘keep them busy’ but to spend some good creative bonding time letting their imaginations run wild as you see how your kids climb into characters and thrive!

Let us know what other hunts you can think of to keep the kids occupied and excited!

5 Easy Easter Crafts

Here are some easy ideas for keeping the kids busy over the Easter Holidays. Some are easier than others. But all practical and tried.

1. Thread Easter Eggs
This is a remarkably simple project I have discovered in various forms. Check out Amazing Moms craft. You need small balloons, coloured thread, starch or fabric stiffener and scissors.

2. Easter Eggs Craft Suncatchers
This is a stunning and simple craft for decorating a sliding glass door or bedroom window that I found on Capture the Details.
You will need: crayons in pretty colors, a crayon sharpener (usually built in to the larger crayon boxes), wax paper, invisible thread, a small hole punch, an iron and old towels

3. Easter Eggs Magnets
For those that don’t like cooking or baking or trying to colour eggs, this is a lovely way for kids to experiment with patterns, and just a chance to be wonderfully creative. I found the idea on No Time for Flashcards. You will need some coloured foam or cardboard sheets, possibly 2 colors but use as many as you have or want, some glue, a few colors of glitter glue , scissors and magnetic tape. I think the possibilities are endless on this one with crayon, paint, glitter – maybe some stickers for the smaller kids. Working with the kids, will also allow parents to give a message of the real meaning of Easter.

4. Recycled Easter Bunny BasketThis could be a nice preparation in lead up to Easter. Make them create their own container for an egg on Easter morning. You will need a recycled plastic container, white cardstock paper, cotton ball, scissors, markers, glue.

Opportunity to be creative with bunnies, chicks and perhaps some other characters the kids can identify with. Different sizes, coloured containers could create quite an Easter family for the kids. Perhaps used as placecards if you are sharing an Easter meal with your family. Makes and Takes is a great website with lots of practical ideas.

5. Easter Matching Game
This is a lot simpler than the rest. You basically need to print out a PDF and cut up the blocks for your kids to play a matching games with eggs, bunnies and chicks. Something different – and of course – very cost effective!!! Click here for the printable page.

And make sure that amongst all this wonderful activity you remember to take some time for yourself!

Easy cooking with kids

So my mission was to find something easy to bake for dessert when my lemon meringue failed. My husband suggested I make the Ina Paarmans Chocolate Brownies that we had in the cupboard. So my 2 year old daughter Zoe and I donned the aprons and prepared the brownies. What easy baking!

You simply mix oil, melted butter and eggs with the mixer, add milk, beat again. Add ingredients from box and fold in. Zoe liked the folding in. Unlike the measuring cups where she wanted ingredients everywhere BUT in the bowl the mixing was fun! Even the noise from my mixer did not put her off staring into the bowl.

You pour ingredients into your pan, cook for 35 minutes and allow to cool. I added some icing sugar on top.

And my friends loved the brownies.

Reflecting on it. Had Zoe been maybe two years older I could have measured the ingredients out and just told her what to do (well if we exclude the oven). But it was truly that simple. And I think the simplicity is key – her attention span ran out when I put them in the oven and she went off to play somewhere else.

For another truly easy recipe try the Cheesecake or maybe some chocolate Easter Eggs for your kids. All in the name of fun and creativity in our kitchen!

Kids Jumping Into Life

Jumping from early on

What is it about Jumping that has kids fascinated. My daughter walks through the door of her aunts house on a tuesday and right through to the back yard. She has two favourite pit-stops. The trampoline or the sand pit. But of late – the trampoline seems to be favourite. Come Mommy, Come Daddy, Come Granny, Come Pompom, Come (aunty) Gayle. The story is the same – the poor supervisor is the one who resists least.

She will jump as long as anyone is willing to stand with her (and often cries when she has to get off). The reason she needs to be supervised, is that she is two and seems to lack all common sense. But she knows she loves jumping.

But Why?

At two the jumping skills are being refined, from one foot jumping to two foot jumping. There are plenty of published benefits, but an article I found on the web give a few insights to why it is beneficial for kids to learn to jump.

* Have an effect on academic success – By helping a child learn to control movement of the body, it can help a child learn. Because a trampoline teaches muscle control and coordination, many children see an improvement academically when regular use of a trampoline occurs.

*Improve self esteem – A child gains confidence as he masters new skills on the trampoline. This can translate into a better self image that may help improve academic success.

*Teach persistence – It often takes many tries to master a skill on the trampoline, but because it is so much fun a child will often persist. This can teach the important lesson that doing something right is worth the effort.

I like the idea of play being educational but I guess our kids know better than we do that playing is learning. And sometimes my bright little spark knows better than I do what is good for her.

Jumping bunny – I love you!

For something else fun for kids visit our Tea for Two blog

Home Made Easter Eggs

I know some of us are more challenged than others in the Kitchen. But with Easter coming up we need to get creative!

Found this great link from Ideas Magazine for making your own Easter Eggs with your kids. My memories from childhood are still sweet – home made eggs where you keep running to the fridge to turn. And of course – a stockpile of choccies in the fridge to nibble on!

Give it a try and let us know how it works out for you!

For more nibbles from our kitchen try out the easy to make Cheesecake

Winter Outing in Cape Town – Two Oceans Aquarium

We all sit with the trouble of keeping our kids entertained during Cape Town winters. It is cold and wet – and our kids get ‘cabin fever’ at home. Two Oceans Aquarium has the answer to keep things in budget!

My husband and I bought season tickets (one year) two weeks ago when we went to the Aquarium. The reason for this is that at R96 an adult, each expedition can cost R200 before you even look to see what your kids cost. A new season ticket costs R207 (renewal is R189) and kids under 13 season tickets are R99 (renewal R90). So for a once off fee, you can cover an expedition any time over the next year when your kids are bored!

My kids are lucky enough at present to be free (under 3) so it was just the expense for the adults. So any Sunday afternoon we can pop into town and see the sharks and Ping-pings (penguins). The area with the penguins and frogs etc has been done up since the last time I visited so I can see that they are constantly looking at improving the experience. My only question is – what happened to that big old turtle that swam in the BIG tank. I missed him!

For more information on Two Oceans Season Tickets or general entry tickets visit their website. It is more affordable to go online to buy the tickets – but you can do so at the Aquarium as well. It does not take long – you fill in the form and when you are finished with your little trip around the Aquarium you collect your new membership cards.

I think it is wonderful to get our children out of the house and to experience nature. Zoe was delighted – she got to touch the starfish. Since my little one is quite timid around animals the fact that she has touched starfish and wild birds lately is a wonderful feat for me!

So if you have not been to the Aquarium in a while or your kids are taking an interest in National Geographics programmes on wild life – maybe an outing is not an idea to be scoffed at!

Eagle Encounters at Spier

On a mild sunny day like today I have found the perfect escape for the family. We packed a picnic and went off to Spier planning to visit the Cheetah Programme and the Eagle Encounters.

For only R30 (adults and kids over 3), there is definitely FULL value for money. We were let into the Raptor area where all birds are easily accessible (they are in open enclosures secured to their stands) where the children (short and small) can also see the birds.

Firstly you can stroke the Owls they have at the entrance, with staff carefully overseeing the kids. The owls are peaceful and fully willing to be stroked (their magic spot is behind their neck apparently). Then they have an amazing selection of eagles. The most I have EVER seen in a group. Fish Eagle, Black Eagle, Marshall Eagles – you name in. All in pretty close viewing area (but not too close for kids to get into trouble). The enclosures are clean and tidy. The staff are accessible.

They have other raptors including Cape Vulture, Secretary bird, an array of Owls, Kites. Just a really good representation of birds that our Creator blessed us with.

What struck me is the size of the Eagles. Wow. And of course – what made my Mom’s heart glad was the call of the Fish Eagle. It hits a chord in your soul.

In my opinion, well worth the investment to see the birds.

The Cheetah programme is only worthwhile if you intend to have an ‘encounter’ with one of them. This costs R110 per person. We did not have this available. And I think our two year old is a LOT too young for such an experience. You can enter the area for R5 adult (weekends) but there is very little to see if you are not going to go into the cages for the encounter.

Spier does not encourage what they call “Private” picnics, prefering you to utilize their deli. We however had our own Woolies combo of delights packed and had a lovely enjoyable picnic under the wispy leaves. Relaxing. Good for the soul.

If you are interested Eagle Encounters has a facebook page. I see they have a special deal on 1 April for a free ‘encounter’ added into your entrance ticket.

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