Tag Archives: Activities for toddlers in marinas

We’re going on a stick hunt

On our stick hunt

As you may know, we have started a little tradition of making Christmas decorations for family and friends. But this year due to everything that has been going on (travel, work etc) Orbit and I haven’t had the lead up time we’ve had in previous years. It was already December and I had no idea what to Christmas decorations make and we had very little time left to make them.

I was searching the internet for ideas when an answer arrived in my inbox. I was saved by Picklebums, a fantastic parenting/activities website for kids of all ages. That week’s newsletter had a list of Christmas decorations to make at home – woo hoo! Scrolling through the list, the stick reindeer stood out as the perfect decoration for this year.

For the last six months or so (maybe longer), Orbit has been obsessed with sticks. You can imagine my disgust when he would walk around with a stick in his mouth like a dog. I have lost count of the number of sticks I have found on Medina or in the car. But on the positive side, Orbit does draw some pretty cool sand pictures with the sticks when we are at the beach.

One of Orbit’s sand drawings

Orbit’s grandparents made the connection with the sticks – he was copying the character Spot from the movie, The Good Dinosaur! With the connection made, I have been able to manage Orbit’s behaviour beyond just saying (also read yelling) “take the stick out of your mouth!”. Thank goodness for grand parents!

So embracing Orbit’s obsession with sticks (he no longer puts them in his mouth), the decision to make stick reindeer was pretty easy.

The next day was gorgeous and wan’t meant to be too hot, so I decided to turn collecting the sticks for the reindeer into an adventure. We packed our bag (including a picnic) and went on an a stick hunt.

Orbit and I had lots of fun wondering around the bush looking for appropriate sticks, we even made up a song based on, “We’re going on a bear hunt” …

The stick reindeer production line

We’re going on a stick hunt , We’re going to find a forked one, What a beautiful day, We’re not scared!

Yeah, Bush! Brown scrubby bush, We can’t go over it, We can’t go under it, We’ll have to go through it

Look crunch, Look crunch, Look crunch

What’s that?

One small close fork, Two rough breakable ends, Two matching friends

It’s our stick!

Quick, put it in the bag

Orbit and a stick reindeer

With sticks collected and bellies full of morning tea, we headed off to the local haberdashery to cool down the air conditioning and buy some buttons, glue and eyes. Back on Medina, after some lunch and a nap (stick hunts are very exhausting), Orbit and I got the stick reindeer production into operation. I snapped the sticks to the right size and Orbit decided which buttons to go on each. They were really quick to make and all I had to do was use the hot glue gun. Once the glue was dry, Orbit then decided who was getting each reindeer and we packaged them up ready for their delivery.

The next day our reindeers stared to slowly make their way to loved ones houses and boats, just in time for Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you and your family from the Skipper, Orbit and myself. We hope you have lots of amazing adventures over the holidays, no matter how big or small they are. Oh, and apologies for the ear worm!

Riding around on my balance bike honey …

When Medina is in the marina, there are some rare days when we don’t have anywhere to be. Since I returning to work I really appreciate these days. But it also took a change of mindset to realise that there are many adventures in the marina, many more than I initially thought.

Working out how to ride a balance bike

Working out how to ride a balance bike

Looking through Orbit’s eyes, each time we hop of Medina is an adventure, even if we have walked the same path many, many times before. It never ceases to amaze me (and equally frustrate me), how Orbit can get so much enjoyment just walking from Medina to the car or vice versa. Each time we do the journey, he sees something new (a new boat, or fish fos example) or has to check on something he noticed on the last trip (“oh wow, the hole is still in the concrete“, mum says with feigned enthusiasm).

So staying in the marina and going to a walk is an adventure for Orbit – which is great on those days when we don’t have to jump in the car and go out into the land-based world beyond the marina gates.

The Skipper and I bought Orbit a balance bike for Christmas last year. The balance bike has opened up a whole new world for Orbit when exploring the marina. Just learning how to ride the balance bike has presented a wonderful challenge for him to work out. Once he gets the hang of it, he loves the freedom of being able to travel further and faster, to get to places with less effort and explore further.

When we go on a biking adventure, I get Mungo Jerry’s “Push Bike” song in my head. But instead of lyric being push bike, I replace it with balance bike. It doesn’t have the same flow in the song (being two syllables instead of one) but I can’t seem to get it out of my head!

Incidental learning - counting

Incidental learning – counting

Learning to ride a bike isn’t an essential skill for living on a sailing boat, but it is a skill that we would like Orbit to have. We figure one day, hopefully not in the too distant future, bikes will be our preferred method of travel when on land.

There are also plenty of incidental learnings while riding around the marina. Who would have thought we could use hardstand numbers to learn how to count or boat names for the alphabet? To work on Orbit’s language skills when we run into people and stop for chat. To learn about nature, the flowers, birds, lizards (real live lizards are a real fascination). To gain road sense, to look out for cars and pedestrians in a relatively safe environment.

There are many adventures we can have outside the marina, but to be honest, there are some pretty cool ones to inside the marina too, and the best bit is that they are for free!

When it’s hot, we make water cakes

It’s definitely summer in Moreton Bay. Some days, it’s hot, just too hot to leave Medina. If we have something scheduled we grin, remind ourselves how lucky we to live on a sailing boat and get on the with the day (lucky our car has air conditioning!). But if we don’t have to be anywhere, it’s nice just to sit, enjoy and be as still as possible … while trying to keep cool.

Orbit's two favourite things - water and cars

Orbit’s two favourite things – water and cars

Living in a marina has its advantages and frustrations. One of the frustrating things, is being surrounded by water but not being able to jump in to keep cool. We could jump in, if we really really wanted too, but the thought of bull sharks, jelly fish, things from boats – mentionable like antifoul paint, diesel, oil etc and unmentionables (which shall remain unmentionable) don’t really encourage us to jump in – no matter how hot it is. A part of me envies the divers who are working on boats in marinas on hot days – but they have wet suits and devices to scare the sharks away …

The Skipper and I choose Medina’s berth because it’s more likely to get the prevailing winds, keeping things cooler in summer. We also have a shade cover over the foredeck and a bimini covering the cockpit (with a waterproof cover over that) to create shade on the decks which in turn helps to keep below decks cooler. We also have fans throughout but, somedays even with the breeze, the shade and the fans, it’s hot.

So how do we keep Orbit cool? It’s simple, we just add water. A bucket full of fresh potable water and toys is all he needs, the the games and entertainment flow from there. 

Making water cakes

Making water cakes

Orbit and I made up the game of making ‘water cakes’ a few weeks ago. We made it up from the things we had at hand on Medina, no purchases required (it was too hot to leave to go to the shops anyway!). I am sure many others have variations to this game as it keeps toddlers entertained for quite a while.

So to make water cakes, we get a bucket full of water, a container to full with water and different size and colour measuring cups. Orbit then says how many cups of water are going in the cake (good for learning how to count) and starts to fill the container. As he fills he container with water, he uses different coloured cups (good for learning colours).  So a recipe might be, 3 blue cups, 4 red cups, 2 yellow cups etc. I have found this to be a great game to also talk about when something is full, empty, etc. Once the container is full, either Orbit or I tip it on his head.

A warning with this game – you may get a few containers of water on your own head too – the temptation to do to me as I do to Orbit is irresistible. But hey, on a hot day – who cares, it keeps us both cool!

Fancy Pants Christmas Decorations – “made by Orbit”

Last year the Skipper and I decided to start a new family tradition of making fancy pants Christmas decorations. So quite a few weeks ago, I put on my thinking cap on and tried to come up with some concepts. I was keen for the decorations to be as “made by Orbit” as possible, so the concept would have to be age for Orbit. I also wanted to make Christmas decorations for Orbit’s grandparents and our ‘marina family’, so not only did they have to be Christmas tree friendly, but they had to be boat friendly too.

Sorting the bits and pieces - the lip on the saloon table came in handy!

Sorting the bits and pieces – the lip on the saloon table came in handy!

My initial (and only) concept was to make a Christmas decoration that had an existing decoration at the bottom, with beads threaded on top and finished with a bit of ribbon so it could be tied to various places on a boat or a Christmas tree.

With this ‘broad concept’ in mind, Orbit and I headed off to our local craft store. I was bit worried as we drove to the craft store – would the concept practical and if not, prayed that I would be inspired for a Plan B at the craft store.

In the spirit of making the decorations as “made by Orbit” as possible, I gave him a lot of the decision making about what materials we used. After I selected a range of decorations, beads and ribbons to choose from, Orbit choose the particular ones he wanted or pointed over my shoulder to the ones he wanted. I was surprised by his decisiveness, I think he has inherited my low tolerance for shopping, so was able to make quick decisions.

Using a plastic needle to thread the beads

Using a plastic needle to thread the beads

Back on the boat, the first step was to unpack and sort out purchases. I helped Orbit split each of the decorations, beads and ribbons in individual packets so we could work on one decoration at a time. Again, in the spirit of trying to make them “made by Orbit” as much as possible, I left the decision of which and how many beads went with which decoration and ribbon to him.

After the first decoration was made, we had our process down pat. I was pleasantly surprised that that my concept worked and wrapped that Orbit enjoyed making the decorations.

One of the completed fancy pants Christmas decorations

One of the completed fancy pants Christmas decorations

Once all the decorations were complete, we then laid out all the decorations and I asked him which one he would like to give to his grandparents or members of our marina family. Orbit then decorated bags to deliver the decorations in, adding final element of the “made by Orbit” to the process.

This whole process from heading to the craft store to delivering the decorations took about four weeks. It was a great project for a number of reasons, Orbit could work on each decoration pretty much independently of me (he just needed me to set them up and finish them off); and it involved very little mess (once the initial distribution of materials was complete).

Merry Christmas from my little family to you and your family, hope you have a fantastic time over the Christmas and New Years!

Living above an aquarium

Bream hanging out under Medina

Bream hanging out under Medina

One of the advantages of living on a boat is being surrounded by wildlife. In our case they are usually of the feathered or scaled variety, with an occasional domestic hairy one stopping by to say hello with its human in tow.

At the moment we have a school of bream hanging out in our section of the marina. They are easiest to see in the mornings, so a new part of out daily routine is to give them a feed. It’s also easier to see the bream from the floating walkway that runs alongside Medina than on deck, so Orbit feeds them from there, rather than leaning over the safety rails.

With my confidence in Orbit increasing and risk of him falling in the water decreasing, I am becoming more comfortable doing activities together on the floating walkway next to Medina. Orbit doesn’t wear his harness anymore (when playing on the floating walkway beside Medina) because it was becoming to restrictive and dangerous. This doesn’t mean I leave him unsupervised, he’s always within and arms length or two, and never on his own.

He’s a pretty smart kid, but still prone to moments of silliness – which is when accidents tend to happen. So we only ‘play’ on the walkway when the moments of silliness are less likely to happen and if he start’s being silly we’re back on deck or below.

Feeding the bream

Feeding the bream

Luckily, one of Orbit’s less silly times coincides with when the its easiest to see the bream. So after our breakfast, we give the bream their breakfast. We’re working on tearing the left over bread into small pieces rather than throwing whole pieces into the water, but its a work in progress. The whole adventure only lasts five maybe ten minutes but the amazement and joy it brings both of us lasts a lot longer.

Orbit hasn’t put the connection of feeding the fish and eating fish together yet. Just as he hasn’t put together the connection of watching Banana in Pyjamas and eating bananas or reading about Super Chicken and eating chicken. I am sure we are going to be having that conversation one day, I can hear the question already, “mummy, am I eating my friends?” … maybe I can divert that question to the Skipper …