Thursday, 30 April 2015

52 Weeks: Week 17

Week 17: Ikea Assembly Team


Recently we've been trying to work out whether or not we want to stay in our current apartment for another year or try and find somewhere a little bigger to live. We needed to give an answer to our landlord soon so I've been looking around at what else is available in our area. After doing a little research on Craigslist we came to the conclusion that moving our family of five to something bigger (but just as nice and convenient) than our current two bedroom apartment was just going to be too expensive. So, we've decided that we'll be staying in our current apartment for another year.

Now that we know we'll be staying put for a little longer I want to do a little decorating and rearranging. I've been feeling inspired to do so since I received my copy of the Design Mom book which is a great resource for designing a practical and kid friendly, yet beautiful home. You can get a copy here on Amazon. Oh, and you can see me with Gabrielle from Design Mom at the book launch here on Instagram!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Twelve Months Old

The last year has just flown by so fast. It feels so surreal to think that just over a year ago I was pregnant and now here we are with this little person who fills our days and keeps me on my toes. She's no longer a baby. She's a toddler. A little girl. And an independent one at that.


Mathilde has grown up so much in the past month. She is so much more confident with her physical abilities. She hardly crawls any more, opting to run most of the time - with her arms in the air to catch herself when she inevitably trips. She dances, she claps, she plays pat-a-cake, she throws balls, she chases birds, and she loves doing flips - with a little assistance from Mummy. She climbs higher, faster and on more items than a month ago. The playground has become Mathilde's favorite place and she tries out every piece of play equipment that she can reach. This girl has no fear and barely stays still for the slightest moment.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

52 Weeks: Week 16

Week 16: Rubber Band Helicopter Outtakes

Ok, so I'm a little behind with this one.

The past week was taken over with preparations for Mathilde's birthday party and everything else was pushed to the side. When I looked back through my photos to share something for my 52 week project last Wednesday I realised that I didn't have any photos from the week that I hadn't already shared. And then because I didn't have any new photos to share (and because I was busy with party prep) I kind of forgot to post at all. Oops!

So, to catch up I'm going to share some outtakes from the Rubber Band Helicopter post that I shared last week. In that post I shared photos of the Ava and Lola's helicopters successfully flying, but as you can probably imagine, there were just as many crashes as there were successful flights!

First up, here's a successful flight - or at least a successful flight for Ava. Lola didn't let go of hers until after I'd stopped taking photos on burst mode! As you can see, Ava was pretty excited when her helicopter successfully flew.


Monday, 27 April 2015

Mathilde's First Birthday Party

Can you believe it? My little baby is not a baby anymore.

On Friday Mathilde turned one year old. Overnight she seems so much more grown up already, but I'm sure that's all in my head! I'll have her twelve month update coming soon but for now I wanted to share her birthday party with you.


On Saturday we celebrated Mathilde's birthday with a circus themed party with friends up on our roof deck. I had been a little worried that we'd have to move the party into our apartment as the forecast was showing rain for Saturday, but luckily it all came Friday night and was gone by morning. It was still a little cool up on the roof but the sun was shining and the kids had a ball.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Rubber Band Helicopters



Summer vacation is fast approaching. There are only seven weeks of school left, and you can bet that my kids are already counting down! With such a long break over Summer I'm always on the look out for activities to keep the kids busy. We're lucky to live in an area with so many fun places to take the kids, but as much fun as it is to be out and about all the time, it's just not all that practical. I need days at home getting work done and on those days it doesn't take long before the kids start with the dreaded "I'm bored". It's like the at-home version of "Are we there yet?". For those days, I like to have an arsenal of fun and relatively easy activities ready for the kids. Activities that they can work on on their own - or with minimal help from me.

Ava has been taking part in an after-school engineering club recently and is really into tinkering at the moment. She jumps at the chance to get creative with popsicle sticks and rubber bands so this rubber band helicopter project inspired by Camp Galileo science curriculum was right up her alley. Lola is always keen to copy her big sister so she was just as excited as Ava.


The girls had a lot of fun making and flying (or attempting to fly!) their helicopters. It's a relatively easy project and Ava was able to do most of it on her own. I like that this project melds creativity and science together. The girls were intrigued by how the helicopters work and were keen to try out a few different techniques to see what would happen.

Here's a look at how to make rubber band helicopters...

What you'll need (for each helicopter):
1 x popsicle stick
1 x 6" hook nose propeller (available here)
1 x large paper clip
1 x rubber band
Card stock
Tape
Scissors
Pencils, markers, crayons or whatever you'd like to decorate your helicopter with


First up you'll need to draw the body of your helicopter on the card stock. A size of 1.5" by 7" is recommended. Ava decided to copy the shape of the helicopter in the instructions from Galileo. She then colored it and added details including a window and doors. Lola decided she wanted to make a butterfly rather than a helicopter. I drew and cut out a butterfly shape for Lola and she added bright colored spots.


Once Ava's helicopter was colored she carefully cut it out.


We then moved on to the propeller. To start with you'll need to insert the popsicle stick into the end of the propeller. Easy!


Take the paper clip and pull the inside loop out so that the paperclip almost forms a right angle. Place the end of the popsicle stick against the outer loop of the paper clip and wrap a piece of tape around to hold it in place. The popsicle stick should be sitting between the two parts of the paper clip.


To attach the propeller to the helicopter (or butterfly) lay your cut out shape face down and securely tape the popsicle stick down. Make sure that it is positioned with enough clearance so that the propeller blade will not hit the card as it spins.


Take the rubber band and hook it through the loop on the propeller. Stretch the rubber band and loop the other end through the free end of the paper clip. You may need to adjust the paper clip by bending it further out to ensure that the rubber band is held a little taut. If there's too much slack in the rubber band the helicopter will most likely not fly.


Now your helicopter is ready to prepare for its first flight.. 

Holding the popsicle stick in one hand, use the other to spin the propeller in a clockwise fashion. This will twist the rubber band. You'll need to make sure that the rubber band is very twisted before it will be able to fly. The rubber band will look like it is double knotted the whole way down. 


Time to launch your helicopter!

This part takes a little practice. Hold the popsicle stick in one hand and the propeller in the other. When you're ready to launch, let go of the propeller which will start to spin. Wait a few seconds and then let go of the popsicle stick. It took Ava and Lola a few goes to work this out. Ava kept throwing her helicopter down to begin with and Lola kept waiting too long to let go of the bottom. They finally got there though and their helicopter and butterfly flew - even if it was only for the briefest time!


It was pretty windy when the girls took their helicopter and butterfly for a test fly so they found themselves ducking for cover quite a few times. Sometimes they didn't duck in time - like in the picture below!


This is such a fun activity and there are so many possibilities for modifications. Ava is intrigued to find out how a helicopter with two propellers would fly. Would it fly twice as high? Maybe it would crash twice as fast. And what about other shapes? The girls are keen to make bird shaped and people shaped helicopters. Would these shapes work? Well, there's only one way to find out! I love that this simple project has left the girls thinking about other possibilities and using their imaginations to explore how things work. 

You can find downloadable instructions for rubber band helicopters plus other fun projects including spoon catapults and illuminated cards on the Galileo webpage.

Little Hiccups readers can save $30 when you sign up for Camp Galileo, Galileo Summer Quest or Summer Camps @ The Tech. Simply enter the promotional code 2015GALILEOCAMPSF. Limited to one use per family. Not valid in combination with additional offers or for previous purchases. Offer valid through 5/31.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Cal Day 2015

This Saturday was Cal Day, UC Berkeley's annual open day.


We spent a good part of the day enjoying the sunshine, watching dance performances and a pep rally, pretending to drive police vehicles, trying our hand at playing instruments, meeting animals, and getting creative with a little tinkering. As always, it was super busy and there was so much going on that it was impossible to see the whole campus, so we stuck to the things that the girls had enjoyed in previous years.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Jelly Belly Factory

During Ava and Lola's recent Spring Break we took a few short trips to places around the Bay Area that we hadn't been before. One such place that we'd been wanting to visit for a years was the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield.


As you can probably imagine, we weren't the only people visiting a candy factory during Spring Break the week before Easter! In fact, it was super busy and we lined up for well over an hour before it was our turn to take the tour. Luckily the Jelly Belly Visitor Center has plenty for kids to see and do while one lucky parent gets to stand in the line. So while Kim held our place in the slow moving line I took the girls to see giant inflatable jelly beans, squish pennies, taste test jelly beans, view jelly bean art, and peruse the goodies on offer in the gift store.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

52 Weeks: Week 15

Week 15: Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day

Yesterday was Ben & Jerry's annual Free Cone Day. The girls and I headed to our local store for an icy after dinner treat. We arrived an hour before the promotion ended and as you can imagine there was a pretty long line. The line became even longer as we approached 8pm and the end of the promotion. I guess everyone loves free ice cream!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Cherry Blossom Festival 2015

Yesterday we headed to San Francisco's Japantown neighborhood for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Although, from the pictures below you may think we were actually at a Hello Kitty and Pocky festival!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

52 Weeks: Week 14

Week 14: Doing the dishes

This post is sponsored by Boon. All opinions are my own.

When I was a kid I used to love washing the dishes. I hated drying them, but washing felt like such a grown up thing to do. Plus with all those bubbles it was fun! My brother and I used to fight over who got to wash the dishes. Of course, now washing the dishes is like the worst chore ever. But that's ok because I have a dishwasher. And two little helpers who are desperate to wash the dishes.


Isn't it funny how kids all seem to love cleaning? Ava and Lola always jump at the chance of doing a little sweeping, cleaning mirrors and windows, scrubbing the bath tub, loading the washing machine, unpacking the dishwasher, and cleaning chairs and tables. Tidying up their room and packing away toys is a completely different story, but anything that comes under "cleaning" rather than "tidying" they're all over. Washing the dishes is always at the top of their list of cleaning fun but seeing as most things just go in the dishwasher there's nothing much for them to wash. That said, we do go through an awful lot of sippy cups and cups in our home each day and I could probably halve the frequency that the dishwasher is run if the girls just washed their cups and reused them rather than putting them in the dishwasher after one drink.

So when Boon released their new SUDS bottle washer I knew it would be a perfect addition to our kitchen. The girls can clean their cups thoroughly and reuse them throughout the day without having to fill the sink with soapy water. Perfect. The girls cut down on the number of cups being used, the dishwasher is run less often and they get to help out with one of their favorite cleaning jobs. Plus it's loads of fun to use!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter 2015

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. 

We had a lovely weekend with an Easter party at a friend's home on the Saturday and a day spent at home with Easter eggs, hot cross buns, an egg hunt and rain (yes, rain!) on the Sunday. Ava is back at school today and Kim is back at work after our week long Spring break (lots of posts about our adventures coming soon) but it still feels weird to me that there is no holiday for Easter Monday.


Here's a look at our Easter weekend...

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter in Australia vs Easter in America

Moving from Australia to America isn't really that much of a culture shock, especially when you move to a state like California. Although I'm sure there would probably be more than a little culture shock moving to Texas or a southern state.

For the most part, our life here is pretty similar to our life back home in Australia and the transition was pretty easy. There was no need to learn a new language (unless you include trying to understand the Imperial System and Farenheit!), there was no adjustment to weather conditions that we're not used to, we already knew most of the tv shows, and the cultural customs are generally pretty similar. I say generally because there are certain times of year that I am reminded that there are indeed cultural differences between our two countries. And those times are holidays.

Right now it's Easter weekend which is a pretty big deal back home in Australia. It's the biggest holiday of the year. I mean, it's a four day weekend. Holidays don't come any bigger than that. It doesn't even matter if you're not Christian. A magic rabbit visiting homes to deliver chocolate eggs is about as far removed from the original Easter story as you could possibly get. So, much like Christmas, for most Australians Easter comes with no religious context at all. It's just an extra long weekend to spend with family and eat chocolate. And that's what surprised me most about Easter in America. It's such a non-event here. And when you consider how religious much of the country is (or appears to be from the outside), that seems more than a little strange to me. And to every other Australian or British person I know living here too. But maybe to most Americans it doesn't feel like a non-event. Most Americans I've spoken to about Easter are not aware that Easter is a four day holiday in many countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Just like most of my friends and family back home are unaware that it's not much of a holiday here at all. Unless you've lived in another country and experienced their holidays, how would you know that something celebrated in both places could be celebrated so differently?


So that got me thinking about the differences in how we celebrate Easter in Australia and America and I thought I'd share them with you here. A little expat education!

Macy's Flower Show 2015

Earlier this week we headed into the city to check out the Macy's Flower Show. Each year, to celebrate the arrival of Spring, Macy's hold a flower show in many of their stores around the country. The flower show in San Francisco's Union Square store is always beautiful. This year's theme, Art in Bloom, brings together the worlds of art and floral design.

Friday, 3 April 2015

52 Weeks: Week 13

Week 13: Lemonade Stand

Do you remember the lemonade stand that the girls had with friends a few months back? Ok, it was actually in August so it may be a stretch of the memory. You can see it here. Anyway, since then Ava and Lola have been super keen to have another lemonade stand. Their friend Solly has been keen too. So last week we got together after school to hold a lemonade stand at a local playground.


Thursday, 2 April 2015

April Fool's Day 2015

Did you prank your kids yesterday? Were you fooled by any pranks yourself?

We love a good April Fool's Day prank in our home. The kids knew that I would have something planned but they didn't know what. So it came as quite a surprise when I managed to prank Ava in exactly the same way as last year: the gold old frozen cereal trick! You'd think the fact that I was ready in front of her with a camera as she attempted the first mouthful of Cheerios would be a give away but I guess she was engrossed in her Mindcraft game and didn't notice (hence her headphones).


Lola thought it was hilarious, but little did she know her own breakfast prank was coming...

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