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.

Have glue gun, will craft

Something happened to my genetic code while I was in utero. Somehow, I ‘m missing a particular bit of DNA that the rest of the family seems to share – I call it the Crafting Gene.  I don’t have it.

My mother paints, sews, mosaics and has recently started scrapbooking. My older sister embroiders with ribbons, knits and sews. My younger sister too can sew, make and bake up a storm. My father is amazing with stained glass. This delicate, fragile art follows on from him having built half our house with his own hands.  My various cousins, aunts, uncles and other assorted relatives can also do crafty things.

I can’t. No sew, no bake, no make….

Cherry topper costume with glue-gunned hat

This is a bit of a disadvantage when your kids are small. Crafting, you see, turns out to be incredibly useful in the mommy stakes. Not only can you share your skills with the children – Making Your Own Entertainment its called – but you also can Help With Activities. From helping out in kindy class (that’s nursery school to the non-Aussies reading this) to making stuff for the props and costumes in ballet class.

In kindy, I was relegated to the Cutting Out Corner, tasked with snipping out shapes while other crafty mothers did Exciting Stuff with fabric, needles and paint. At ballet, too, I was sent to the Cant Help Corner and even had to pay another mummy to sew Megan’s first ballet costume for me.

However, much to my joy, that very same ballet costume provided me with my one and only crafting claim to fame. I learned how to use a glue gun. As part of the costume that I paid someone else to sew, we were asked to make a hat. The hat was the finishing touch to the Cherrytopper costume, and it was not something the other sewing mummy could help with. FYI – Cherrytoppers are the little elf things that make biscuits in a fairytale land. The ballet teacher, sensing my nervousness, introduced me to the hot glue gun.

Hey presto – I could Make Stuff. I stuck all sorts of things onto the basket frame that formed the base of the Cherrytopper hat, and have never looked back. In fact, just last week, the glue gun came out as I had to make a duck costume – preferably with wings.

Erin's duck costume

Glue gun + felt + feathers = duck wings!

No problem for this Nearly Crafty Mum! Got some yellow felt and a packet of yellow feathers from the craft shop, dusted off the glue gun – and within ten minutes flat, Erin had duck wings – and tail feathers to match!

Here are my top glue gun tips:

  1. Its called a hot glue gun for a reason. The hot stuff is at the pointy end and dripping bits can scald.
  2. You can glue almost anything.
  3. You cannot, however, glue the soles of your favourite shoes back on, and nor can you reattach bits of broken Barbie doll furniture
  4. Can’t be used for hemming clothes. Unfortunately.
  5. Switch it off when you’re finished.
  6. Remember where you’ve stored the  spare glue sticks that fit in the gun, as it saves looking for them half way through a duck wing. 
  7. Don’t work on top of your favourite table cloth. Put newspaper down first.
  8. Glue is really sticky
  9. Peeling off the dried glue from your fingers can be fun, provided you remembered tip #1.
  10. Don’t leave anything you don’t want glued anywhere near the glue gun, especially if you forget tip#5.

Do you craft? Just to make me feel better, please share your crafting disasters. I can’t cope with your success stories!

For other fun activities to do at home, read Caryn’s article on Encouraging Creativity.

How do you encourage your child’s creativity?

I was so amazed at the wonderful range of things that can inspire children but I don’t think it should be all up to them. Parents can actively engage to build our kids creativity. Last night my daughter Zoe was dancing (as only she can) to the latest round of American Idols. What struck me was that she was moving around like the contestants – and even had her hand ready as if holding a microphone. As encouragement my hubby gave her a cast off mic from his old video camera.

Television can be a tool of creativity

There are many ways for us to encourage our kids such as art, music or reading. They also suggest limiting other mediums such as electronic toys or television. In one way I understand that electronic toys don’t encourage interaction or imagination but I do think that television has its place. Zoe loves Animal Planet. When they flash adverts for a show she sits there eagerly trying to name the animals as they flash past. While I would love to take her to a zoo over weekends, our access to any reasonable one is limited. But I can tell you that any wild animal show has her hooked for as long as it lasts. More important however, I think is how we use these gadgets and how much they dominate our kids lives. I found a great link that covers using some programmes as a chance to interact and watch with our kids.

Creativity is important in growing our kids minds. The simple things like drawing, painting and playing with clay are always a good way for the toddlers amongst us to express themselves! Another article on this site also gives some nice recipes for everything from home-made finger paint to edible clay.

Please let me know what you have found works really well. Any good ideas or recipes that work with your kids.

Finally for a laugh here is the artist born for the stage!