Mum's Net


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

a little bit of art for little people

'...and remember you mustn't eat it' - said my daughter to herself while opening a paint pot.

I couldn't wait for that moment, when Odessa is ready to grab the brush and make her first paintings. 
I saw us together painting and drawing and everything in my dream was easy, beautiful... and clean.

Unfortunately the reality tends to be different...
The thing about toddlers is that they are a bit clumsy, the word 'experiment' has no limits and they like to do things they are not allowed to do. Anyone who would like to see an example should come to my home and see the frescos pasted over our walls that my little girl has managed to create...

I think it's important to give them the right 'tools' (i.e., age appropriate), tools which they would find interesting to use without damaging the space around them, or themselves. Yes I do believe in freedom, in being creative, and I love my daughter experimenting, but I also do like my home, and I don't want have her attempts of drawing rabbits heads all over my sitting room floor.

First of all I would like recommend the Early Learning centre and their basic range for arts and crafts. They are decent quality products and ELC stock all the basic items your child would need to start their adventure in art.  Everything is on sale now and is fairly inexpensive.

These are few items I bought for Odessa and found very useful:
1. Easy painters by ELC (at the moment on sale - two pounds for set of five bottles!!).  They are great for painting without making much mess... a very simple idea - bottles with paint with a little sponge in the end - you just need press on paper and it paints. I Like them because I can leave her with them by herself without worrying there is going be red paint all over carpets. 

2.  Non spill paint pots (ELC and again only two pounds for set of six). Of course you need to buy paint to put it inside which costs around 50p at the moment... they are a brilliant idea, I  came across them in my local one o'clock club and many toddlers really enjoy using them. Basically children dip their brush in pots, but the design of them prevents the paint from spilling out, you can twist the lid to close the pot so the paint doesn't dry.

ELC also stock some lovely sets of sponges, rolling pins, art starter kits, crayons (I would advise buying several types kind of crayons in different shapes so you can see which one are the best for your child). There are many other nice products on sale at ELC, so check their website (art and creativity section).

I buy paper in our local £1 shop where they do A3 and A2 pads. A  pound is a great price for such a big format (which I think is the best for little ones as it can cover a desk so they can't draw on it).

Of course Djeco does beautiful art and craft products (some of them deserve a separate post) - but this time I would like to recommend the stamps they do...I got Odessa the one with geometric shapes (as I noticed she is very interested in shapes and pointing them out all the time). For example she was was pointing at the roof of a house we passed by telling me "it's a triangle"). I wanted to show her how she can incorporate this observation into her own pictures. So her djeco stamps contain plain pictures and you create detail using the different stamps (for example, triangles as cats ears, circles for eyes etc.).
Djeco also sells very pretty stencils which little children often like. 

My last suggestion would be or parents to experiment themselves  and come up with their own idea of what could be used a painting tool.
The lady at Odessa's art class once gave them little cars to dip into paint and then got them to 'drive' all over the paper... 

On Odessa's last birthday party kids picked apples from the garden and painted them rather than the paper I prepared for them. There are plenty of possibilities: stamps from potatoes or you can colour leaves or sea shells... my daughter likes when I paint the sea so she can 'fill' it with little fish.

Odessa did try to eat her paint despite her own very clear suggestions (see above), judging from her facial expression the paint did not taste as she expected and let's hope she has learnt from that experience...

Monday, 23 January 2012


Odessa hasn't seen Tim much recently as he has been working non-stop for last two weeks. Unfortunately he needs to be back at work this evening (Saturday) so there is no time for a family trip this weekend.  Instead we took him out for a breakfast to our local café, "Mel's"  on Garrett lane - which I recommend to all local mums. It's a very  pleasant space with many tables and good quality food (they do their own baked beans!). When I choose a local place for us to eat, I usually just go for simple places I like, rather than limit myself only to "family" venues. I do refuse to eat next to a  soft play area too... it's just not very charming is it? As long as there is enough room, fresh vegetables on the menu and people who are not child haters, well  that's family friendly enough for me.

We have been taking Odessa with us when we go out to eat or just to have a coffee since she was a newborn, and I think it's a great social experience for small children... it's always good to remember to involve your child in the whole process of choosing food, explaining what's happening (today daddy is not cooking,  but a lovely man in the restaurant is).  Also remind them to be polite and say thank you to the waitress and maybe even encourage them to order their own food. 
Sometimes you just need to go out from the home, especially when you are a full-time mum and your life is focused around the household.  I remember when we were living in the countryside,  where there was not much to do and I didn't know many people;  going out with Odessa to a nearby café and talking to local people there was 'life saving' for me. The change of scenery did us good too.

Anyway, our lazy Saturdays in the café usually starts with buying The Guardian in a newsagents and a children's magazine for Odessa (it's a little family tradition).  And than we read our newspapers, eat, talk, plan holidays discuss all the family matters... it's also Tim's and Odessa's time together when they can make up all the time they didn't see each other... and she usually has got lots to tell him...

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

first walk to nursery

Lunch before first day at nursery ( still happy)... 

...and then the walk, she took the rabbit and the owl with her and in her little bag she had water and two bananas.
I didn't like the nursery I'm not sure will she come back there...but walking there was great -we were both very happy and proud...singing silly songs and looking for the cats in gardens we passed by. One of those moments I want to remember about. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012


'What does the flower do?' - Odessa asked me today... I said "It's growing." (it's the best I could come with).

It has been a beautiful day... the sun was shinning, the birds were singing in the garden so loud I couldn't hear my own thoughts, Odessa was calm and quite - observing the world around her with those huge eyes... and for a moment everything seemed to be perfect. 

in search for a new rabbit

It was our mission yesterday to find another rabbit, I shouldn't be doing it really as the rabbits are taking over our house but she likes them so much, and I like making her happy. Also she was home sick for last five days so I thought it would be nice to do something just for pleasure... so I took her to Fara kids (our local charity shop) and this is what we have found:

My favourite - 'The Snowman' book, she saw the animation this Christmas and has just seen the theatrical version, so I was thinking to buy her the book as well... and there it was, waiting for me, for 80p

'Little Bear's Numbers' - for 60p. Great as she loves counting now.

A Djeco puzzle for three pounds. They cost around ten pounds new. Odessa is not really into princesses or fairies, I don't think she actually knows the word princess... but she is into puzzles which makes me happy, as they good for so many reasons. She has completed this one without any help within 10 minutes and I think she deserves a bit of praise as it is above her age group so -  Well done Odessa!     

 A hat from Gap for £4.50. Very warm, covers the ears perfectly with fantastic pompoms! 

And, of course, let's not forget about the RABBIT! It's not a very pretty rabbit I have to say although Odessa would disagree with me on that... anyway I promised to buy one and they didn't have anything better. £2.50 for an ugly rabbit I will just have to live it..

Friday, 13 January 2012

99p plus postage

'Parcel is coming!'- Odessa screamed when our post arrived.
Every single time she sees a parcel she thinks it's for her and to be honest, usually it is! On occasions when it's something for me or her father you should see her disappointed face when she opens the box and there is a computer cable inside...
Anyway this time she was lucky and this parcel had something for her...  to wear. It's not as great as a new puzzle for example but will do...
Before I continue this story I have to admit to something which is very clear for everyone who know me a little bit - I like dress my daughter nicely, it's important to me. And by nicely I don't mean her looking like a cupcake. I like simple, classical clothes with a bit of character - like her fur waistcoat (which she chose herself and wears all the time). I also tend stay away from pink. 
I value good design in anything really - clothes, toys, furniture, etc...
On the other hand my budget is limited and like I mentioned in my previous posts I prefer spend bigger sum of money on experiences such as music classes for Odessa, theatre or travelling rather than buying new items. And that's where ebay comes in very handy. Where else I would buy a Stella Mcartney dress for 5.99 (which is one of my biggest ebay achievements) I have been buying clothes on Ebay and other products for Odessa since she was a newborn and I would highly recommend it for people with the patience (there are lots of children's items on their website - you need spend time filtering them). 

My advice would be: 

1.Go for brands you know and like - my favourite ones for children clothes are: Zara for calm classical styles and Monsoon for great quality and beautiful dresses. I also like Next, Gap, Cath Kidston, Vertbaudet, H&M, Fat Face for jumpers, JoJo Maman Bebe for waterproof clothes.     

2. Check in the description what the clothes are made of (as you can't touch them to see how they feel). 100 per cent cotton is the best bet or wool for winter.

3. Make sure the condition is 'very good' or 'like new'.

4. Check the postage - some people are very cheeky with what they charge.

5. Pay only with Paypal.

The dress which came today is from Next and cost me 99p on Ebay I like it because of it's pretty collar.

When Odessa saw it she looked at me with those huge eyes and asked 'where is the rabbit mummy?' and the look she gives me I know very well - it's the kind of look which melts the biggest cynics like myself - I started feeling guilty stright away and thinking... oh no, I'm so sorry... I'm going buy you the biggest the most beautiful rabbit in the world just don't look at me like that... But then I pull myself together, look back at her and said 'The rabbit is here darling, hiding under the little heart on your new dress'. Ha! How clever was that :). What I learnt while being a parent is that sometimes rather than using psychological manoeuvres and tactics it's better to use your imagination, children respond well to it.

Anyway she accepted the explanation , requested to put dress on and everyone lived happy ever after... well at least until the next potential, rabbit related drama. 



Few portraits I took of Odessa on Wednesday. She has got a cold so we have been at home most of the time this week. We also both mentally preparing ourselves for TUESDAY - Odessa first day at nursery.
And she already has said she is not going...


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

the little things that matter

In the kitchen preparing lunch.
( Odessa's favourite activity of the day: snapping the ends of asparagus and counting pasta shells)