Category Archives: Ickle things

Fairy Garden

We have a resident fairy at our place: Lucy Rosebud. She comes and goes via a fairy door placed high on a bookshelf in Ickle’s room. Sometimes, she leaves little notes and gifts. And once, Ickle woke to find a heart traced in green glitter on the bedroom floor. Glitter is fairy dust, after all.

But the magic is not confined to inside. We also have a fairy garden conceived and constructed by Ickle with a box of trinkets she was given by her cousin.

Before work got underway, though, we decided we needed a few extra pieces to complete the collection. Hence an excursion to Wyee Nursery, where we enjoyed a coffee and babyccino and fed the fish before checking out their extensive range of fairy ornaments.

Clutching a couple of miniature unicorns, two pinwheels and a bag of pink pebbles (glow-in-the-dark ones, no less), we returned home. Ickle arranged everything until it was a perfect fairy paradise.

And she gave Mivvy a special preview later that day.[Note: this tree-dwelling fairy is not Lucy Rosebud, but may be one of her friends.]

Pavement Graffiti

20161105_164847As you know, Ickle and Mivvy love art. I’ve written about their various creations on many occasions, and most recently here.

But I haven’t written about their passion for pavement graffiti before. Some afternoons, the little maestros take their chalks and artistic talents outside to decorate the best canvas ever. The alley between our house and next door is a welcome retreat from the sun and the perfect spot for creative activity. Sometimes the boys-next-door join in too and the mummies hang out by the rubbish bins while a rainbow of colour appears at our feet.

This weekend, Ickle and Mivvy were the only artists in residence, but this didn’t stop them from having a lot of fun.20161105_165131Hello! Anyone next door? Hello! Hello!

20161105_164813Ickle was exploring forms: parallel lines and circles in various colours. And making trails with her chalk as ants scuttled across the concrete.20161105_164946Mivvy drew a puddle of water in yellow, but was actually more interested in wandering up and down the alley.

There’s no trace of their artwork now – the recent rain has washed the chalkboard clean. Don’t you just love the transient nature of pavement graffiti?

Smiley Faces

p1040174Ickle and Mivvy love creating works of art, especially with chalk, paint and texta.* Although yoghurt is their current medium of choice at meal times.

Mivvy’s pictures are still experimental scribbles, but Ickle’s have come to life this year. I’m not sure when this happened exactly. But just after she turned four, I suddenly started noticing little details in her artwork. First, faces with eyes, noses, smiley mouths and hair. Then bodies, sometimes with arms and legs attached. And, occasionally, wearing clothes.

Over the last couple of months, Ickle has developed a keen interest in rainbows and flowers. I put this down to her inherent girliness. But, as I recently read here, it has more to do with these shapes being “fairly simple things to draw”. And also the praise the little artists receive when others recognise what they have drawn or painted. What a beauuuutiful rainbow, Ickle! What lovely flowers – I can almost smell them! Ah. An incentive to draw more. And more of them.

Here is a selection of my favourites from Ickle’s growing art portfolio. In no particular order. Titles are the artist’s own.two-peopleTwo Peoplebig-schoolBig Schoollittle-girlA Facelittle-girl-3Another Facepainted-rainbowA Rainbow

*A texta (Australia) is a felt-tip pen.

Bridge Climb

20151122_091324-001Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a must-do on most tourist bucket lists. And it’s easy to see why. Exploring this iconic structure close-up, and enjoying the magnificent views over the water and city, is a unique experience.

Perhaps lesser known is the footbridge that spans the Pacific Highway at Lake Munmorah on the Central Coast. This concrete and metal structure links a residential suburb with some of the main schools in our area. To my mind, it’s an ugly example of modern urban architecture. But for Ickle, it has been an object of real fascination for months.

We have driven under it hundreds of times, but that is not where she wants to be. “Mummy, can we walk over the bridge, please?” has been a regular refrain on car journeys. So, this weekend, we did. Just the two of us en route to the local shopping centre.20151122_091056-001We stopped in the grubby little car park where I imagine parents battle for spots at school drop-off and pick-up times. Out hopped my little pink fairy, very excited about the prospect of an impromptu bridge climb. And looking more than slightly incongruous against its dreary greyness, as she scampered up the concrete slope.Bridge Climb1At the top, we peered down to the road below – no harbour vistas here – and admired the passing traffic, before descending to the other side. By this stage, Ickle was beside herself and wanted to run all the way up and over again. Slightly alarming despite the railings and extensive safety grille, so I attempted to slow her to a walk. Alongside me. Back to our starting point.

And the fun is not over yet. Next time, she has announced, we are doing it twice.

Treasure Basket

P1030250Little treasures love treasure baskets.

When Ickle was about 10 months old, the lovely Auntie P. came to stay. “Why don’t you put together a treasure basket for her?” she suggested. The idea is simple: you gather a range of household and natural objects and put them in a basket. Then you sit baby down with the collection and observe from a distance. She decides which object to play with, and what she wants to do with it. It’s all about sensory exploration and developing an understanding of the properties of objects.*P1030205Baby Mivvy has had a treasure basket for a couple of months now. A few times a week when things are quiet, I sit her down on the floor with it and watch as she picks out the various objects of interest to her. On one occasion, she was fascinated by a short length of red ribbon, running it through her fingers and then popping it in her mouth; on another, she turned a circular handbag mirror around and around in her hands. Recently, she has started banging objects together and throwing them down. She certainly loves this type of play. And it keeps her occupied and interested for anything up to 45 minutes, which I find amazing for a little person.P1030217P1030229I try to refresh the treasures from time to time to provide new stimulation. Last week, I added a painted wooden soldier to the basket and Mivvy squealed when she realised that here was something *new* to play with. And the possibilities are endless: themed baskets, for example, by colour or type, or group treasure basket sessions with other littlies. Hmmm, now that could be a fun idea for a first birthday party!P1030247*Heuristic play is the official term. Google it to find out more.


Finger Food Baby

P1030132-001Mivvy is a Finger Food Baby. I started her on solids at around 6 months and, for a while, I didn’t think she was into it very much, and perhaps she wasn’t. I tried to tempt her with different cereals, and homemade fruit and vegetable purées. On occasion, she would cautiously dip her head towards the spoon and take a little taste, but, more often than not, I would spend mealtimes trying to chase her as she ducked and dived. Even distractions, or the tried-and-tested train technique I remember from my childhood, “here comes the train, chugga, chugga, choo, choo,” failed to do the trick.

Then one evening she reached out for the roasted root veg everyone else was eating, and wolfed it down. What a revelation! I realised that the problem wasn’t the food, but the spoon…and me. Mivvy wanted to feed herself.*

So, suddenly and rather unexpectedly, I found myself in the scary world of baby led weaning. Out went the beautifully-staggered purée approach I had followed with Ickle, and in came a range of foods baby could pick up, hold and munch on. Just simple stuff to start off with: toast fingers with all sorts of toppings, pieces of soft fruit, a variety of steamed veggies. Then branching out a little bit more with cheese sticks (the stringy ones you can pull apart), rice cakes, Cheerios, and more.

And now, finally, we are on real food, people. Over the last couple of weeks, Mivvy has sampled French Toast, Tuna Pasta Salad, Chicken and Apple Balls, Fruity Ice Pops, and Zucchini Fritters, amongst others. Oh, and some delicious, bready Raspberry Oat Bars that Ickle and I rustled up for a breakfast treat.P1030118Not everything was an instant hit with little miss, and a lot ended up on the floor, but Mivvy’s “mmm” of enjoyment when her food hits the spot makes it all worthwhile. There’s no stopping this baby now.P1030150* Apparently self-feeding in babies can be an early sign of a strongly independent nature. Ha! I wonder where Mivvy got that from?

Pretty Pegs

P1030038-001There are days when I find it a challenge just to clear away the breakfast things. Baby Mivvy generally has a nap around 9 am, and I like to use part of that time to blitz a few bits and pieces. On some occasions, Ickle is more than happy to help out; on others, she definitely wants to play instead. “Mummy, let’s have a party in my princess palace”, “Mummy, I know, let’s play shops”, “Mummy, I’m going to hide.” You get the picture.


This particular morning, the kitchen looked like a bomb site with dirty dishes stacked up near the sink, pans and knifes in the draining rack, and a whole dishwasher to unload. And Ickle wanted to play. Obviously. With her mummy. Only then, my funky retro peg tin caught my eye. “I know,” I said. “How about you sort the pegs into different colours?” And it worked. Ickle sat down on the kitchen floor, tipped up the tin, and carefully preceded to make several piles of pegs. When she had finished, she looked up. “I know,” she said. “How about I make a rainbow?”P1030043-001By which stage, I was free to assist her (the kitchen always looks worse than it is). And we sat down and created a beautiful jagged rainbow together. With pegs.P1030033


Yes to Dominoes


Woolworths, the Australian supermarket behemoth, has devised myriad ways to get the buy-in from shoppers large and small in the last couple of years. We’ve had three instalments of Aussie Animal cards, complete with collectors’ albums and sound readers, Jamie Oliver’s garden stickers and now, the latest craze, Disney Pixar Dominoes.

The plastic tiles, stamped with Pixar characters, come individually wrapped in purple plastic sachets – one for every $20 spent in store or online. And only 44 to collect. Only. That’s a pretty tidy sum to pay for a deck, especially when you get a repeat domino! But handy for swapsies.P1020900

For Ickle, a lot of the enjoyment comes from opening the wrappers to discover which new dominoes we have received with our shopping. This weekend, there were squeals of delight as each new tile emerged and was proudly displayed to me. Her favourite character to-date: Hamm, the aptly-named piggy bank from Toy Story.P1020907

We don’t play dominoes as such. Ickle loves to carefully lay the tiles from her growing collection on the floor with the identical ones side by side (so maybe no swapsies for the moment, then). And together we build domino walls and knock them down again, or see how many tiles we can pile up in a single column before they topple.P1020916P1020917

Who knew that dominoes could be so versatile and such fun? Someone at Woolies, obviously. What’s next in store for us though: that’s the question.

Baby Lil

Things have been rather quiet on Icklegen of late, but here in the real world life has been busy. Baby Lil appeared on the scene a little over three weeks ago, just a day after her grandparents, Nana and Bundy, arrived from the UK. Now that’s what I call good timing.IMG_0709

So, it’s welcome again to infant nappies, feeds at all hours of the day and night, and the joy and excitement of seeing a little person grow and develop. Ickle loves her little sis. She is always eager to hold her hand or give her a kiss and a cuddle…or five or six. She is the first to hear Lil cry out when she wakes from a daytime snooze, racing to her side. And I have a special little helper at nappy-change time and companion during feeds.IMG_0717

Juggling two littlies – meeting their needs and keeping them happy – is far from easy, even with several extra, expert, pairs of hands to help out. But, we’re making good progress. And Baby Lil is certainly playing her part: she feeds and naps and then feeds and naps some more, and she’s already been to two of our favourite cafés for lunch (blissfully sleeping in her car seat through both meals). Let’s start as we mean to go on!IMG_0780

Photo credits: all photos in this post were taken by Nana J, talented happy snapper, champion knitter and seamstress, skilled ironer of clothes, and dab hand in the kitchen.

Lovely Lunchbox

P1020339A lunch box doesn’t get much more snazzy than this!

PlanetBox wasn’t just a random choice from the local supermarket; oh no, this is the fruit of a fair few hours’ research on the Internet. I decided late last year that Ickle could do with a more comprehensive solution for taking her snacks to daycare. I happened to be going through an anti-plastic stage at the time, and PlanetBox kept cropping up as an alternative worth a closer look.

It definitely sets out to appeal to the eco market (although let’s forget about the distance it travelled from the US* to get to my front door). Much has been written about the dangers of using plastic containers for food storage; lead, BPAs and phthalates are just some of the nasties that can leach into food and drink, with potentially damaging consequences. So, I figure the less I use plastic, the better.P1020346

Made from stainless steel, PlanetBox strikes me as a modern take on an Indian tiffin carrier crossed perhaps with a thali tray. It comes in three different sizes and configurations. Given Ickle’s propensity for grazing at mealtimes, we opted for the Rover, which has a variety of different sized compartments. The Rover package includes a Big and Small Dipper, two stainless steel containers with silicone rubber seals to prevent sloppy, wet foods from leaking. We also succumbed to a set of magnets for decoration and a bright pink carry bag,. Yup, the full whammy. Well, it was a Christmas present, after all.

I love dreaming up combinations of food to entice Ickle to eat and enjoy her food. Here is yesterday’s effort:


– Rice wrap with avo, red kidney beans and grated cheese (a current favourite)
– Mixed veg: baby corn, carrot sticks and cucumber wedges
– Fruit salad: mandarin, strawberry and blueberry
– Last night’s leftovers: macaroni and peas
– Sweet treat: handful of sultanas

In short, we love our PlanetBox. It’s not without its downsides, of course. First, at $85 (AUD) for the kit (as per pricing on at the time of writing), it doesn’t come cheap (let’s hope it lasts, hey); the seal on our Big Dipper has never stayed in place and I binned it a couple of weeks ago (so no wet, sloppy food in that container, then); last, it’s pretty heavy, so all very well for me to cart to and from daycare, but how will Ickle get on when she starts at pre-school, and needs to carry it with all the other stuff kids need to take with them?P1020349

*PlanetBox is now available in Australia from biome eco stores – presumably they ship them en masse, so guaranteeing a lower carbon footprint per item.