You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


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Pierres d’Hauterive

The Pierre d’Hauterive is actually a very special local yellow limestone which was first used for construction by the romans who inhabited the area 2000 years ago. Most of the older buildings in the area are build with this stone and it helps define what is Neuchâtel. Do check out the photos of the stone around town on our local newspapers’ site here. We also came across it during our trip to the Latènium museum where it was carved into gargoyles.

gargoyles horizontal

Our Pierres (rocks) are more Cailloux (pebbles) d’Hauterive and not really limestone but as we collected them in Hauterive on our walk the other day its not exactly an untruth.

I’ve been meaning to give a use to our pebbles as they have been cluttering up the side in our kitchen for a while now so we got some paint out and set up the table for some crafts.

Firstly I asked E to arrange her pebbles into sized order. This was a tricky exercise at times, with them all being different shapes, so we got out the scales to help. I am slowly teaching E her numbers on the basis that she will learn them if I show her the character and explain often enough. She can do very basic maths  – addition and subtraction up to 4 for tasks such as: “if you eat three more broccoli florets you can have one yoghurt” her response being “But Mummy I already eat two so I just eat one more.” Someday soon I  am going to have to start teaching her seriously but for now she is only two and it can wait.

Once we had our pebbles in order we started to paint them in sequence. The sequence of colours also helped us to tell if they were in the right order once we mixed them up again.

Stone sorting and colours

Confident in her sorting abilities we moved on to some more number recognition. I wrote numbers on the end of some craft sticks and then on each of our stone and asked E to match the stones to the numbers on the sticks. This one is still a work in progress and I keep it out for her to muck around with at the moment so she can familiarise herself further with the numbers.

number sorting

I have seen some fabulous number activities this week by the way on Teaching my Tot including a number hunt which I will have to try out too.

Hope you are having a good week and thanks for reading.


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Potato Monsters

We have been gardening again!

I normally get my vegetables from local suppliers and they come in brown paper bags meaning they last longer but for some reason I had to go to the supermarket for a change and ended up with a bag of sprouted spuds. It seemed a shame to simply compost them especially as they had rather beautiful furry purple shoots. So after some close examination we decided to do some gardening.

sprouting

E was initially a little afraid of the almost caterpillaresque sprouts but after having a feel of the little hairs she felt more at ease.

We put some potatoes into jam jars filled with water on the windowsill and some into some soil outside.

The indoor ones quickly grew fine roots and started producing leaf shoots. A couple in jars, however, just rotted and the outdoor ones have been very slow probably because it has been very dry recently. We will try and update you on our outdoor success another time.

Potato to monster

E has loved watching them grow over the past 7 weeks as you could see changes every day.

Soon we had some rather crazy green potatoes which my Hubby termed my “potato monsters”.

I decided to make them truly monsters by using permanent marker to draw mouths, fangs and noses on white electrical tape. These I then cut out ready for E to stick onto our potatoes. We also had a selection of googly eyes which I decorated with the markers to give extra variety.

E decided some monsters would be really scary while other would be more friendly. Some potatoes had eyes for noses while others had 3 eyes and no nose.

The tape was sticky enough to be able to try numerous combinations of monster features and here are a selection of some of our creations.

monsters

Have fun decorating vegetables!


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Walking, Running and Painting

I think I have a case of Springtime writers’ block. As the days get longer and brighter I just want to make the most of the sunshine and be out and about lest it disappears again (as here everyone is convinced it will).

This weekend I was dog sitting so we have been exploring the forests of Neuchâtel while walking him a few times a day. I found a Pro Natura walk which starts by the top of the Pertuis du Sault (you walk up the steps and carry on straight).

pronatura

It was less trod than many of the paths but you could follow a vague sort of route through the trees. Along the way there were little signs with facts about animals such as the legless lizards you can sometimes spot. There were also a few little constructions by the forest authority such as a drinking spot by a fountain for the birds and local deer and a rockery for smaller wildlife to shelter in.

SENTIER DU TEMPS

I also actually did the reverse Sentier du Temps (that I was telling you about) on Friday. I wouldn’t recommend the uphill version for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s hard work!
  2. It’s much harder to follow the route uphill as you can’t see the markers very well.

It was a good workout and it’s got to have helped my running legs. Speaking of running I started my official training this weekend with a 5km run in the forest.

We followed one of the Parcours Mesurés up at Champ-Monsieur marked out for those looking to “test their fitness” so it required very little thinking which was great for a first attempt. There is an 8km one up there too which we thought we’d test next week but try to pave ourselves better.

Ok, it wasn’t very speedy today (5km in 30 mins) but I think in 6 weeks we should be much better. It’s getting very exciting.

IMG_0079

I also spotted a Parcours Mesurés up in the forest of Peseux. It seems to start by the football club so I’m going to have a look and see if it is worth a go.

In other news we have been building a house. Well, a cardboard Wendy House for the kids. The only problem is that the paint I chose (following consultation with the paint shop) is not really suitable for the kids to go near. I attempted to let E help me but she still has paint stuck to her forehead so I’m trying to find moments when I’m alone to do it.

painting houses

Our house is starting to look pretty good and the kids love it but E has maybe become too house proud as I caught her trying to scrub her cardboard floor clean with a damp towel earlier. She found it hard to understand that cardboard, like paper, doesn’t like water.

I will of course post the finished results once we get there but renovations are hard work and E is a fussy client.

Hope you enjoyed your weekends.


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Springtime and butterflies

“The sun has got his hat on. Hip hip hip hooray!” It’s going to be a Grand Bleu this weekend which basically means the blue skies are here to stay for a bit.

We had to stay in for a maintenance man yesterday but following on from our outing to Papiliorama E and I decided to design and make our own butterflies.

It was a fairly simple procedure cutting some wings out of coloured paper and some antennae from out of the leftover cardboard from our sheep pen. All we then required was some old toilet roll tubes, googly eyes, a pen, some paint and glue.

painting

Appropriately enough we designed our wings to be butterfly prints. I showed E how to do this and then left her to it. I love watching her playing with the paint. Once you let go and stop interfering she really experiments and often with beautiful results. We did both sides of the paper as we noticed at that the butterflies we had seen often had very complicated designs (if not very different) on both sides of their wings. In between waiting for the wings to dry we painted the bodies and the antennae.

Once everything was dry we stuck it all together with some glue and E drew some rather worried looking faces on them.

butterflies

Then we took out butterflies out for their first flight. It was pretty windy in the garden with the nice weather system blowing in so we took refuge by a tree and the hedge.

Playing with Butterflies3

I do apologise for the state of our garden but we still haven’t managed to really do anything with it since we moved and M was born. It was a busy year last year and you have to prioritise. I look forward to getting stuck in this spring though.

It was still a bit chilly with the cold wind so we didn’t stay out too long and instead ended up decorating the house with our little butterfly friends.

E is very proud of all her creations and I’m not sure where I’m going to start storing all of them soon but it’s always nice to have a follow up activity after an outing. Oh and the big news is that she can now say “butterfly” rather than “bufferlie”.

Enjoy your Fridays! Its the weekend 🙂

Butterfly hedge


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(Fresh) Air

We made it out despite the sickness and actually discovered something really fun in the process.

Blatantly when a doctor says go get rechecked in two days’ time they know there is going to be something up. I can only assume it is because they are so hesitant to give out antibiotics nowadays that that is why they did not give them to E on Sunday. She only had a mild ear infection (2/5 according to the doc) but M (who fell ill a few days earlier) was up at the top of the scale. He is now looking really chirpy after the right medication while E has been looking paler and really down. Today I got confirmation that my poorly little girl was now a 5/5.

After some antibiotics and more ibuprofen I asked E what she would like to do? Her response was to go “see Daddy for lunch pleEease”. How could I refuse? We packed up the troop and headed off to Manor for lunch.

While we were having our lunch I noticed that today was the day for one of their children’s activity afternoons. Most Wednesday’s from 2pm until 4pm the Centre Manor Marin organises something for all parents who are stuck for an activity for their kids (in Neuchâtel there is no school on Wednesday Afternoons). Today the event was entitled “Viens créer ton mini jardin” (Come create your mini garden). I thought that sounds like fun so we drove around Marin a couple of times so that M had a little nap and would be bearable and then headed back in time for the session that was just starting.

The lovely ladies (animatrice) running the event explained how we were going to paint plant pots and then get to plant a selection of spring flowers in them. The children were shown how to hold their plant pot upside down on one hand while painting it with the other (well, that didn’t really work) and how to use one paintbrush per colour and that they would have to take turns for each colour. I was suprised at how well the later worked. Each child went mad with their one colour until they got bored and then waited patiently to swap with someone else. There was a range of ages from another 2 1/2 year old to a couple of 12 year old girls but they all interacted well together the older ones helping the younger ones.

painting

This is probably very Swiss and trusting but a lot the mothers left their children to play under the guidance of the animatrice going to get on with their shopping and checking in from time to time but myself and the mother of the other 2 year old stuck around to help (not that the kids wanted it).

While we were waiting for the paint to dry the animatrice set up games of charades or grandmother’s footsteps for the children to play. E was a bit to young for these still and asked me to get her a snack so we had our tea slightly early and she sat with her bread roll and piece of chocolate and watched the older children acting out being an elephant or a dog.

flowers

By the time she had finished her tea her pot was dry so we took it over to the queue for getting our flowers. E got to choose what coloured flowers she would like to fill her’s with and the result was very impressive. A very proud little girl left the shopping centre happily clutching onto her creation.

leaving

It was actually a place I could see myself meeting other mothers and making some new friends as towards the end it became a bit of a gathering. I can’t believe it was totally free either. We will definitely be back another afternoon and I can’t wait for M to be able to join in too.


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Tribute to Miss Mayhem

We stumbled across the story of Angie and her daughter Mayhem this week. If you haven’t heard about them let me fill you in.

Mayhem is a little girl who is probably more interested in fashion than the average 4 year old girl. She was never a fan of the princess dresses her mother bought her and preferred instead to steal her Angie’s clothes. Angie had the genius idea of trying to make a dress out of paper for Mayhem on afternoon and they have never stopped since.

When I read their story it rang so many bells for me so I thought lets give it a try. I showed E some of Mayhem and Angie’s dresses and she was instantly drawn to the idea and wanted to make a Minnie Mouse dress. Great I thought and started googling some Minnie Mouse images and set about rummaging in the paper box.

E and I examined the Minnie mouse images together. I found a standard Minnie image and E found one she preferred… Maybe I should have known then how it would turn out.

We initially started with some coloured drawing paper. E found this too uncomfortable so we took out a roll of red crepe paper. I thought lets do the main bit of the dress in red and then I can puff the skirt and add some puff sleeves. E let me do the body of the dress in Red but then she took over directing me as to what she wanted where and what colours. I was told she needed black legs. I thought that maybe she would like a bow on the dress but no only in her hair. Did she want ears like Minnie? “No, I’m Scooby Mummy!” (Scooby is her self adopted nickname). That was me told so I just stayed “mum” and followed her instructions for “black socks”.

I was allowed to add some white dots at the end giving it a more Minniesque twist and E was thrilled with the result and spent the next 30 minutes running around like a mad creature until the dress was totally shredded.
minnie E
behind E

Now E is an impatient 2 year old not a 4 year old and I am nowhere near as gifted as Angie but I am quite pleased with the result. I expect we will attempt it again sometime but not in the near future.

Hats off to Mayhem and Angie!
lipstick


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Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

…gently down the stream. If you see a crocodile don’t forget to scream!

After our trip to the Latènium we decided to build our very own lake barge and have a lesson in colour.

I do not throw out boxes as there is too much fun to be had with them! Luckily I have an under stairs space where I can keep my “junk”. We quite simple repurposed a box and cut it to the shape of the boats we saw in the museum.

I had to secure the flaps and bends with some of the extra cardboard we had cut off the sides using masking tape (which is easy to paint after).

Boat head

I also made sure to keep some of our cut offs to make a pair of oars using a couple of wooden spoons.

oars

You cannot seem to buy normal brown paint in Neuchâtel. The only available browns are oils or fancy acrylics so E had a lesson in colour blending.

The primary colours are Red, Blue and Yellow, in mixing these colours together we can create secondary colours: orange (yellow and red), green (yellow and blue), and purple (red and blue). Tertiary colours in turn are created by mixing secondary and their adjacent primary colours on a colour wheel, for example, blue and purple = blue-purple.

colour wheel

The most basic way to create brown is to mix all the primary colors together. Another method is to mix complimentary colours (the ones directly opposite one another on the wheel) such as blue and orange. We did the latter mixing red and green and lightening it with some yellow.

The boat has had fairly constant use by both kids since its “construction” even if E is a bit frustrated that she can’t actually advance with her oars or even take it on the lake. I think once the weather is better we will have to go out on the lake for a real boating adventure to appease her.

E in a boat

M in a boat

Now back to the birthday madness. Its the party tomorrow and I have a cake to finish!