Busy Bags

School is back and that means “Tot School” is in session.  This year our “Tot School” is going to look VERY different as Little Miss A now attends Kindergarden 2-3 days a week!

We are also gradually progressing away from “Tot” activities and transitiong into preschool activities like reading and writing! 

One of the most important parts of our Tot school are “Busy Bags”

Busy Bags are;

  • A 5-10 minute activity, contained in a bag.
  • Designed to be independent and self directed. (Once introduced, the child should be able to do the activity with minimal parental assistance)
  • Contain a variety of skills including fine motor,  numeracy concepts, letters, colours, anything! 
  • Inexpensive – Using every day home items or cheap craft items.
  • Hands On – Hands must be kept busy! 
  • Rotated after a week-forntnight.

Each week we put out 5 Busy Bags.  Now that Little Miss A is only home 5 days a fortnight I am planning on keeping them out for a fortnight.  

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#1 – “Cupcake Counting”

  • - Write numbers on the end of oversized paddle pop sticks
  • - child places the right number of cupcake pegs on the stick! 

I love using pegs because they are great for fine motor!  They help to develop grip and control strengthening little finger muscles. 

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#2 “Love Maths” -

  • Place the love hearts in size order! Biggest to smallest, smallest to biggest
  • The random hearts are for matching, patterning, sequencing, sorting! Possibilities are endless! Can they sort them by colour/pattern? Sort by size?
  • Make a size pattern (big, small, small) Make a colour pattern? (Pink, purple) 

This one is especially for Valentines Day coming up! I often like to theme the activities depending on special days, seasons, holidays.

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#3 “Peg My Name”

  • Make a laminated card with your child’s name on it.
  • We “beautified” it by adding her name onto a pony picture
  • Write the letters of their name onto some pegs. One letter on each peg! Don’t forget to use a capital letter for the first letter and lowercase for the rest! -
  • Now they select the right letter peg and add it to the corresponding letter on the card!

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 7.50.23 AM#4 “Learning Letters” – I bought this great little book from Kmart for $2!

  • I tore out the pages and laminated them, making them reusable!
  • I only place 3-5 cards in the bag with a whiteboard marker.
  • I only put the cards in, once we have gone over the letter one on one*
  • Once she has written in the card she wipes it off with a baby wipe!

*As part of our tot school we are focusing on 3 letters a week.  Once we have completed a few introductory activities on this letter, I put the corresponding card into the busy bag.

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  • I have had these laminated colour cards from my classroom for years!
  • Little Miss A lives to line them up, match them and add the same colour button! Easy!

I create the bags each Sunday and place them on top of our toy rotation trolley in a little basket.  

 

I collected the little clear pencil cases from various cheap shops! Once the activity is finished for the fortnight I place it into a clear snap lock bag and into a large storage container ready for in a few months to place out again!

Little Miss A (and sometimes even Master O) are free to grab a bag and complete an activity ANYTIME they want to.  There are also times I “madate” they play with a busy bag.  During Master O’s homework time or when they need a little quiet and calm time or in a month or two when Mummy is feeding the baby! I don’t “prescribe” an amount of time they play with the activity as generally it is just until they finish the activity which is usually 5-10 minutes.  Somedays like Monday’s she wants to do all the bags at once and by the end of fortnight she is showing little interest in ANY of them.

We love busy bags, as they give us a quick, educational, answer to “What can I play Mum?” as well as ensuring that some of the time during the week is devoted to play based  activities that cover a variety of educational concepts. 

As we change our activities around I will be sure to share them with you! 

Creating a Morning Routine

Our mornings are BUSY!  Thank goodness we are early risers as we have so much to get done before we leave for school in the morning!  Add to that, the fact that we will have two children, at two different locations in opposite directions!  Thankfully we are easing into the routine with Little Miss A only attending Kindy on a 5 day fortnight roster. 

WE have always had a before school routine, but whilst Master O was little, I still had to assist him with each task so i didnt think there was a need for any charts or printed reminders.  Last year however, his uniform became simpler for him to do and he became more independent so i found myself sending him upstairs to get ready by himself. 

Let me tell you, distraction is the art of 6 year old boys.  I found myself constantly reminding him of what he had to next, what had he done already, and generally being a yelling, nagging mother.  Not pretty.  So this year I am determined to change things.  Little Miss A is less distracted and a real busy bee who loves to be in the midst of everything.   She is extremely independent, determined and self sufficient and always has been!  She even toilet trained herself!  This also means she knows what she likes and what she doesn’t which will be very interesting when this year, with a uniform, there will be less flexibility in what she wears or how she does her hair.  Tantrums they are a coming.  Be afraid, be very afraid.

This year, I don’t have time for chaos!  With a new baby arriving there will be many morning when I am stuck feeding, changing, dressing, settling a baby and My Pigeon Pair will need to get themselves organised the best they can!  We need a routine and a CHART!!!! 

We need an illustrated, MORNING ROUTINE CHART and it needs to be;

  • Visual (especially for little Miss A as she is a pre-reader)
  • Timed (for Master O as he needs very specific timeframes)
  • Can track progress (what have you done already?)
  • Easy to reach and read.
  • Simple

I have made a MILLION routine charts in time but always for Preppies in a classroom!  Visual routines are of particular benefit to any child that likes routine and structure (which quite frankly is all children) but particularly children with ASD. 

How to create your own routine chart.

  1. MAKE A LIST. Firstly I wrote out what order I needed each thing done in the morning.  This may be different for each family depending on circumstances.  We have a two story house, with living areas downstairs and bedrooms upstairs. So we tend to group activities together depending on wether they are performed upstairs or downstairs.
  2. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?  I then gave each activity a time reference (how long it should take to complete) 
  3. DON’T BE LATE. Then I worked backwards from the time we need to leave the house.  This varies each day as it depends on whether we need to do two drop offs or if their are before school activities.  The earliest we need to leave is 7.30 so I worked from their.  If on other mornings we have extra time, BONUS! 

I then made a simple 3 column table in Word.  One column for Master O (with clock faces) a middle column for the activity in written form and the last column for visual reminders for Little Miss A.

Add your routine and print!

SIMPLE!!!!!

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I then printed out the routine and attached it to a clipboard. 

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Whats a hook without a little washi!

Using a 3M hook (that of course I had to washi tape) I attached it to the wall just inside their bedroom.

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Easily accessible right inside their bedroom door.

 I used a coloured peg for each child attached to the outside of the clipboard.  As they complete each activity, they move the peg to the next one, to help remind them of what they have already done and what they need to do next!

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A closer look at our routine!  The arrows are to symbolise, go upstairs or go downstairs.

This is a very simple routine and we only just started using it yesterday, as we wean ourselves out of holiday mode and into back to school mode! 

Would this routine work for you?  Would you like me to make it available to you?

DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND! It’s yours to print for free!

[download id=”13″]

This a free printable and I am more than happy for you to share the love with a friend!

This printable is not to be sold in any way. 

100 Kids Healthy Lunch Ideas

Ever feel like after a few weeks into the school year, suddenly your enthusiasm for making lunches wanes?  I start off, full of good intentions and enthusiasm and after a week or two I am back to vegemite sandwiches and a yoghurt.  With two lunches to make this year, and a picky eater, I decided to make a list of ideas for their bento style lunch boxes, to offer variety, inspire me and to hopefully introduce some new items into their food repotoire!

I have written before about how I plan the kids lunches.  Using our lunchbox planner, I I make sure they have a variety of Protein, Calcium, Grains and Fruit and Veg.  I have used this same format to record my ideas in a table.  

Every school has it’s own food requirements and restrictions especially when it comes to nuts, eggs and dairy so check your schools handbook before packing lunch. 

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 I am printing this out, laminating it and attaching it to the inside of my pantry.

You could even use a whiteboard marker to cross of foods they have had that week or to highlight some form each list that you know will be a winner! 

Simply Download and Print [download id=”12″]

Feel free to share the lunchbox love with your friends! 

I’m PREGNANT – Week 25

In the busyness of the festive season I must admit there are days that I forget that I am pregnant!  I always wish I had of chronicled my previous pregnancies a bit better and this blog is the perfect place to do just that!

Those first twelve weeks passed so slowly as I struggled to keep it a secret from our extended family and friends and from my readers of course.  Since then, it has flown!

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13.5 Week Baby Bump

 

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24.5 Week Baby Bump

THE BUMP

and to think in that first photo I felt HUGE!

There is no denying that you seem to “pop” a lot earlier with the 3rd Baby!

THE MORNING SICKNESS! 

I am still feeling pretty horrid and vomiting most nights but the constant nausea has subsided.  I was not sick at all with Master O and nauseas for the whole 9 months with Little Miss A, but that is nothing compared to this pregnancy!  I am surviving without  medication and making the most of the time that I do feel well.

BABY NAMES

We are not finding out the gender but I have a strong feeling it’s a boy!  This does not help the fact that we have no idea on boys names!!!!  It is so hard when you love your own children’s names so much, to find a name that matches the style of their names.  Add into the equation that  your friends have great taste in baby names AND you are a school teacher…. many names I once loved are now vetoed!   We like traditional, classic but not overly common names for boys and that is hard! 

 THE NURSERY

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Since painting the nursery, all progress has come to a standstill.  The grey is not staying.  I now need to convince hubby to either repaint the wall the same colour as the other walls or put up wall paper.  Problem is I am having a ridiculously hard time making any decisions! The cot, change table and drawers are up and we have cleared out whatever non baby items we were hoarding in this room, but we still have so much to do! Next on the list is  finding the instruction book for the bassinet!  We googled one  but it appears the frame of our bassinet is different.  Hubby used that as a great reason to do without the bassinet and just put the baby straight into the cot, but I just can’t do it! I dont care what anyone says, but trying to prepare a neutral toned nursery is ridiculously hard.  I keep spotting gender specific cute decor and wish I could start buying bits and pieces.  Trying to focus on how much I love that delivery room surprise is only helping slightly.

As fast as time flows I still have more than 3.5 months to go! Thank goodness as it will take us that long to get organised! 

So did you find out the sex of your babies?

Got any baby name suggestions? 

Preparing Your Child For School – What is Kindy?

This weekend Little Miss A attended Kindy orientation!  KINDY!  So some background

What is Kindergarten? 

1. In Australia we have a “NATIONAL Curriculum” yet we still don’t all use the same language when it comes to the names of school years.  Kindy in one state called be Preschool/Kinder/Preparatory in another.

2. In Queensland, Kindergarten is the first year of “non compulsory schooling”  In their Kindy year children must turn 4 before 30 June.  This is similar to Preschool in NSW.  Kindergarten has seen some massive reforms thanks to the Queensland Government and as a result Kindy’s (as they are usually known) are popping up everywhere!  When Master O started Kindy we had one fairly local Kindy (still not within our suburb) and now we have about 5! 

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Master O at his Kindy Orientation. He was all about outside play and the Obstacle Course!

3.  Enrolment.  Gaining a position in a Kindy is competitive.  The new local Kindy’s are struggling with waiting lists as everyone clammers for the limited positions.  Most Kindergartens will only offer between 40 and 50 places a year.  Get in EARLY!!!  Unlike the “State/Public” schooling system no Kindy HAS to offer you a place.  It is first in best dressed.   Your child must turn 4 before the 30 June during their Kindy year.  Please tell me who changed this instead of using the calendar year and I will hunt them down!  I have two children who would have been the oldest in their class who are now close to being the youngest! The following year (after Kindergarten) children start Prep which is the first year of compulsory schooling.

4. Kindergarden is generally attended on a part time basis.  You do not HAVE to send your child to Kindergarden but it is great preparation for school.  As a heads up I have not had a child in my Prep class for the past 6 years that has NOT gone to Kindergarden. 

All registered Kindy Programs in Qld have this tick of approval.

All registered Kindy Programs in Qld have this tick of approval.

5. Kindergartens are run by either The Creche and Kindergarten Association (C & K) (Probably the most common and the type Master O attended) Within some daycare centres and most recently by Private or Catholic Schools (The type Little Miss A will attend.) All Kindergardens in QLD are run by 4 year university qualified teachers (Thanks QLD government!) and although they have the same curriculum guidelines each “institution” will vary in their structure and expectations.  Some will require uniforms, booklists, backpacks and include specialist lessons such as a language or music.  Others will be completely play based and require nothing more than a hat and some lunch.  Of course this means that fees will vary too!  But all Kindergarten Fees in Queensland are partially covered by the Government!  

Little Miss at Kindy Orientation.  All about the books and inside play! So different!

Little Miss at Kindy Orientation. All about the books and inside play! So different!

So Little Miss A is now enrolled, has a confirmed place and this weekend attended her Kindy Orientation!  She has met her teachers, wandered her classroom and started to become familiar with the routines and peers.  It is all happening!

Later this week, Preparing Your Child For School – How to choose a Kindy/School!

and then..my favourite part!  

The Practicalities

Uniforms, booklists, name labels, lunch boxes, notes and HAIR ACCESSORIES! 

Stay tuned! 

For more info about Kindy in QLD you can check out The Queensland Governments KINDY PAGE.

The Catch Up

School holidays have not only resulted in an unusually chaotic house but a very quiet blog.  Our days have been filled with play dates, beach visits, the movies and quite frankly a whole lot of just staying home.  After the most horrendous last school term, which truly seemed like an endless void of bad news and morning sickness, we needed it.  We needed some quiet time.  

BABY #3

Baby #3 at 15 weeks

Baby #3 at 15 weeks

 I am now 17 Weeks pregnant and although the extreme morning sickness has subsided it unfortunately reminds me at the most inappropriate times that it is not gone for good.  Think a whole plane flight to Sydney with two small children and a mother who can’t stop vomitting! This pregnancy has hitter me for six.  My blood pressure has plummeted resulting in some quite embarrassing dizziness and feinting spells.  Each day that I feel well I tend to run around and try and get everything done that I have missed in the previous days! The blessing in it all is that we have a perfectly healthy baby who loves to run away from the sonographer. Being pregnant for a third time is so different from the other times.  This is the first time I have not worked whilst being pregnant, we are struggling to find time to talk about baby names and the nursery is in an absolute state of disarray. Fingers crossed we get our act together soon!

Master O

Just before his teeth fell out!

Just before his teeth fell out!

Has thorughly enjoyed school holidays!  He now has less than 7 weeks of school left!  How is that possible?  They finish school the last week of November!  

He is excited about going to swimming lessons at school this term, as well as a school excursion to the Museum.  Yesterday I watched him perform with the other Year One students in a “Music Morning”.   I can confidently say that his new school is no longer the “new” school.  He really has just settled in and found his place.  The school continues to impress me daily!  From the amazing teachers, small class sizes, individualised attention, the school spirit, the way the older students look after the younger students and most of all the MANNERS!.  We are hearing constantly from our boy “Ladies first, After you, Can I help you with that”

 After swimming this week he came home to tell me all about “Big Al” “Who’s name is actually Allan, Mummy!”  “He finally taught me how to keep swimming and breathe at the same time!” This Year 12 Sport and Recreation student had a genuine interest in helping these boys learn to swim.  Talk about establishing positive teenage role models!  

Master O is also begging me to start the Christmas Countdown! I dont know what I would have done without him the last few months.  He has been my messenger, looked after his sister, grabbed me buckets and ice packs, passed me the sick bags and been my right hand man!  He loves to be told he is the man of the house when Daddy is at work!

Little Miss A

She sat on this little stool, nice and quietly, in The Sydney Botanic Gardens and watched her brother play cricket!

She sat on this little stool, nice and quietly, in The Sydney Botanic Gardens and watched her brother play cricket!

What can I say about this child.  She is my constant companion and is absolutely hilarious!  She laughs at everything and everyone, especially her brother.  She dances or skips, instead of walks.  She sings all day making up her own songs.  Is slowly breaking through her shyness and on Saturday she goes to Kindy Orientation!!!! yep KINDY!  I dont know how that crept up on me and I am currently consoling myself by buying cute hair accessories to go with her uniform instead of moping in my misery that my baby girl wont be at home at with me everyday.  She “says” she is excited to go.  But I know that “separation anxiety” is going to a problem for us in the beginning. 

CHRISTMAS

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I dont think I have ever been this excited about Christmas.  I am one of those nutty people scouring the Big W aisles for any signs of Christmas Accessories! I am dying to decorate the house and of course for the ELF TO ARRIVE!!!!  I am working on the most MASSIVE SERIES of Elf Posts!!!!

We have had some extremely last minute changes to our Christmas plans!  My sister is due to have her first baby the day before Christmas so we are trying to find a way we can travel the 1300kms t be with family, that is both cheap and sanity saving! Two days in the car, 6 months pregnant with two children may just be the straw that breaks the camels back but flying at the time of year will cost us thousands!!! Any ideas?  

So that’s us and our life and where we are right now.  With Christmas and summer holidays holiday’s viewable on the horizon, life is good.  In fact, I don’t know if life gets much better than this.  

 

 

Baby Talk

Now that we got the big anouncment out of the way….let’s talk baby!

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We announced our news to our family at 9 weeks!  We wouldn’t normally wait that long but this time (for the first time!) we had the opportunity to tell them in person! It was a long 5 weeks of secret keeping and felt oh so good to finally spill the beans.

Spilling the beans.  We printed off the picture above and put it in a card and envelope.  As Mum gave some presents to the kids (as she always does when she visits) I gave her the envelope saying we had a present for her too!  Of course their were squeals, hugs and lots of questions and instantly my brother and father were in on the secret too!

We were all together as a family for my sisters wedding, but I didnt want to steal her limelight so we told them to keep it a secret from my sister and our extended family until after the wedding.  Except someone forgot to tell Master O that!  Literally minutes later Mum had taken “my Pigeon Pair” for a walk when they ran into ALL of our extended family! Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Friends of COusins, Great Grandparents EVERYONE.  Of course in his excitement what does he say….

MY MUMMY’s HAVING A BABY!!!! 

Note to self do not tell an overly sociable 6 year old anything you need to be kept a secret!  Poor thing!  In saying that he managed to keep it a secret form his much loved teacher until yesterday!  Can’t believe he didn’t let it slip.

Of course once the news it out…….THE QUESTIONS BEGIN!

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So for you all here is the low down!

When are you due?  The end of March but I am guessing the beginning of April because “My Pigeon Pair” were both born a week late.

Will you find out what you are having? NO!!!!  Despite it going against my Type A personality this is one of those surprises I love!  After all that pain I love that moment of surprise! This does however pose some serious shopping issues!  

Have you been sick?  YES!  I was slightly sick with Master O, very sick with Little Miss A and this time it has been the worst sickness of my life!  All day, EVERY day, from week 5 to now.  Vomitting, nausea, exhaustion and a general feeling of YUCK!  I have lost whole days to bed.  I literally could not function.  Not move, drive, or some days even talk!  Thankfully at the height of the sickness, I called on some advice form my lovely bloggy friend Leanne from Organising The Four of Us who also had extreme morning sickness!  The Maxolon just wasnt working for me and she recommended another drug called Zofran.  That stuff is like liquid gold.  Not only because it is ridiculously expensive, but because I was actually able to move into a vertical position for the first time in days.  I thankfully avoided any hospital visits, but have lost a bit of weight that I am sure will come back rapidly now that I am feeling better! 

Is it twins?  No I just seem to be showing much earlier this time.  I take it that happens when it’s baby number 3!  Just one little heartbeat in there!

Did I miss anything?  

What was the most interesting question you were asked when you were pregnant? 

Goodbye “My Pigeon Pair”

As you may have noticed this little blog is currently going through one big transformation.  “My Pigeon Pair” just wasn’t the right name for it anymore…..because

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 3.02.38 PMWE ARE HAVING A BABY!

Our “Pigeon Pair” are going to welcome a new sibling in March next year!

This little blog and our little family are growing!

I can’t wait to share this journey with our loyal flock.

So did you guess it???  

 

Sleeping Like A Baby

I have never been blessed with great sleepers.  I have counted how many hours of sleep I will get before I go to bed, I have dreaded night fall as I know what is to come and I have played the bed hop as we shuffle between restless sleepers.   

The benefit of surviving many sleep deprived days and nights is that we have learnt a thing or two about what should have been doing.  We have tried just about everything and through sheer grit and determination come up with three pearls of wisdom, well at least something that is now working for us!

1.  Allow Wind Down Time.  No TV, Technology or noisy games just before going to bed.  This is a quiet time in our house of playing with soft toys, reading and exploring books or simply chatting together.  This time starts at 6.30pm in our house. 

2. Routine.  I had a hard time getting these kids into a bedtime routine but once it was established it has been a god send.  At 7pm it’s time for Toilet, Teeth and Stories in Bed.  This starts preparing them for whats to come. SLEEP!  There is nothing worse than giving children no warning or time to prepare for what is coming next!

3. Set a Bedtime.  Children LOVE structure.  They love to know what to expect and many struggle when their are no clear boundaries.  We have a 7.30pm bedtime.  This goes for both children.  They  have had time to wind down, the routine has begun and by now they are ready to say goodnight. We have tried having two separate bedtimes but it didnt work.  Master O is tired after a long day at school and Little Miss A still has a daytime nap so they both show signs of tiredness from 7pm, by 7.30 its lights out, no chatting, sweet dreams.

Of course we are a “normal” family so sometimes routine makes way for visitors, holidays, a late night movie and this routine goes out the window.  Its usually then we realise how much we love our routine!

Whilst  all of this works for our children it is sometimes the adults who need the most help! I too am trying to “Switch Off” before calling it a night and am in an addictive relationship with my memory foam mattress (seriously it has changed my life!) and dont even get me started about how I always need three pillows!  All these years of broken sleep have made me value a good nights sleep more than gold!

So what helps you or your children get a good nights sleep? 

The Fairy Door

Fairy doors are what childhood dreams are made of.   A doorway into a magical world of wishes and dreams only created with childhood imagination.  I have been longing for our own fairy door and when Master O lost his first tooth I knew it was the perfect opportunity to introduce the concept into our family.

What is a Fairy Door?

This is one in the divine home of Sharnel Dollar

Fairy Doors are a stickable and removable minature wooden door, with architrave, doorknocker, doorknob and coloured door.  

How does it work?

The door arrives complete with miniature bottle of fairy dust, blu tac like putty and instructions. You simply attach it to any place in your home.  Walls, bookcases or bedside tables make great places for A Fairy Door.

What could you use it for?

So far we have use it as a place for the Tooth Fairy to enter and exit from.  

but we also plan on using it for…..

  • Our Elf on The Shelf to leave clues at.
  • Santa
  • The Easter Bunny to hop on through.
  • Fairy for Birthday Treat Delivery
  • Fairy for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Deliveries
  • Special treats for well behaved children!

Colours and Accessories.

The Fairy Door comes in a multitude of colours!  We went with Red as it is unisex and will be perfect for our Christmas elf On The Shelf Tradition.  

You can also buy accessories such as grass mats, toadstools/mushrooms, furniture, glitter, stick on butterflies anything that you can use to create an enchanted doorspace. 

Where to purchase?

We bought ours from Elle J Kids Boutique, online.  With quick delivery and accessories available it was an easy, speedy option for us! 

BEST OF ALL……

YOU CAN WIN A FAIRY DOOR PACK!!!

Enter Via Rafflecopter below to be in the running for a

Fairy Door Prize Pack

from Elle J including

A Red Fairy Door

A Red Mushroom Set

A Grass Mat

A Fairy Footprints Stencil

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