Monthly Archives: April 2009

An Open Letter to Jack on his 6th Birthday

Dear Jack,

Happy birthday, my sweet boy!

I can’t believe you’re 6 years old already.  What a wonderful six years it has been.

You are such a sweet and special boy.  There are so many reasons I love you but here are a few.

  • You get wild and crazy and talk gibberish and run around like a crazed monkey.
  • When you are trying to be especially sweet or well mannered, you talk with a British accent.
  • You still love to snuggle with your mama.
  • You love animals.
  • You are patient with your troublesome little brother and crazy-making big sisters and even like them a lot of the time.
  • You make darling drawings.
  • You love books.
  • You’re not above doing "girl stuff" if it’s fun.
  • You’re generous.
  • You love to cook, do crafts and play games.
  • You ask to "do kindergarten."
  • Your favorite color is green and you love being outside.
  • You collect metal pieces to build your Alicia-bot (the full size robot mama you are building to take over my other jobs so you can have more time with me).
  • You make me smile.
  • You are dramatic, entertaining and funny.
  • You are very smart.
  • You try to do the right thing.
  • You have a good heart.

I love you with all my heart, my sweetie pie.  Please always let me ruffle your hair and give you kisses every once in a while even though you’re too old for it now. 

You bring us all so much happiness and so many smiles.  Thank you so much for being my little big boy.

I love you!

Love, Mama

 

Happy 6th Birthday, Sweetie!
I hope you had a wonderful day!
 

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Today’s a Good Day to…..

…go on a walk with your favorite super hero, fairy princess…
 

even the kid who is too old to dress up anymore.  :)

I ask you, how could anyone not have a good day with companions dressed like this?!
 

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Toilet Paper Tube Stars

I love these whimsical stars from Her Cup Overfloweth. 
All you need are toilet paper tubes, some paint, glitter and glue,
plus clothespins to hold them together while they dry.
She got the idea from
HGTV
but I think hers are prettier!
(And easier for little ones to do!)
They’d look wonderful hanging in a window or from the ceiling of a child’s room.

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The Importance of Ick

I have come to the conclusion that my children’s lives are just too rosy.  No wait — hear me out.  This is deep.  ;)

Today their fabulous father called from running errands to say that he was going to pick Jack and Victoria up in 3 minutes and take them to a nearby state park.  I gave them the news and they promptly… complained. 

It was too cold outside.  They didn’t want to.  It sounded boring.  Did they have to?

I suggested they could take their cameras and do photo challenges, and then pick their favorite pictures to put up on a family Flickr page (sound familiar?).  I said we could do themes for each day, like taking pictures of things that started with the letter C or from weird angles or finding beauty where others wouldn’t think to look.

I got whines from one and scowls from the other.

At that point I went into ranting mother mode, I’m afraid to say.  I asked them if they had any idea how many children would love to "have" to go to a state park and play.  I reminded them that they could be in school doing algebra!  I informed them that they were spoiled by too much fun and didn’t know how good they had it.

They ended up going, and I’m pretty sure Victoria really did like the idea of the photography assignment because she grabbed her camera up pretty quickly despite her scowls.  When she came home, she even proudly showed me some pictures she took of deer she encountered in the woods.  Jack came home all smiles, too, and Daryl told me that they frequently grumble about going anywhere and then they have a blast once they’re there. 

But I still think there’s something to the fact that we need to have the bad to appreciate the good. 

We need to get sick sometimes to appreciate feeling good again.
We need to have gray days to appreciate the sunny.
We need a little sadness to appreciate the happy times.
We need chores.  We need drudgery.  We even need failure sometimes and loss.

My kids have all that, of course.  I’m just beginning to think they need a bit more!

Last night, the kids were bickering.  I was busy wasting time on the computer and ignored it at first, and then I called out to them to dial it back.  They kept at it and I finally had enough. 

I hollered out that Jack and Anna needed to clean with me for 15 minutes and I set the kitchen timer.  Any whining or acting obnoxious about it and I’d add 5 minutes, I informed them.  They dutifully (if not happily) followed me and I set to work giving them tasks to do.

In the end, Anna earned an extra 5 minutes and Jack kept going after the timer beeped.  He told me it was fun.  By the time the 20 minuteswas up, Anna was glad to be able to go back upstairs and was in a surprisingly better mood.  She thanked me for helping her cheer up (!!!!) and asked if they could all play again.  I said they only could if they could get along, and they agreed.  There wasn’t any more squabbling that night.  And my downstairs looked much nicer!  :)

Now I don’t want to give the impression my children are ungrateful brats, because they’re really pretty nice little people.  They thank me for making dinner and help out around the house and clean up ditches and make people lots of presents.  They care about people and animals.  They take care of their little brother.  They do chores and give to charity.

But I think perhaps there’s been a little too much free time and fun stuff, and a little too little rotten stuff to suffer through!  I think our mothers and grandmothers may have been on to something when they said that stuff builds character.  If nothing else, it builds gratitude when it all stops!

So during the next few weeks I’m going to do a little experiment.  We’re going to have more workbook pages and family cleaning sprees.  We’re going to have more assigned chores and … whatever else that counts as drudgery that we do around here.  I’m not that fluent in drudgery.  You can tell by the state of my kitchen.

We’ll still make sunbutter beards and play soccer and go to parks and do art together.  We have three birthdays this week so there can’t be too much drudgery this week anyway.  But I’ll add in a little more of the icky stuff on the off days.

It’s in the interest of science
and happy childhoods
and a cleaner kitchen.  ;)

So where do you stand on the icky stuff?  Can life be too good?  Or have I gone to the dark side? 

Weigh in!

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

1.  Get out your pastry bag and a fancy tip, and let the kids pipe themselves some fancy lunches.  For example, make mashed potatoes and some veggies.  Let them pipe the potatoes into a fabulous pattern and use the veggies as accents.  They can also write out their names or make pretty designs.

2.  Fly kites together.  Better yet, help the kids make their own.  Here’s a site with some basic plans, here’s a super easy kite you can even make with coffee stirrers and plastic bags, and here’s an amazing international site for older kids or families who really get into kite making together.  They have over 1,500 kite plans!

3.  Play party games like Charades or Pictionary together.

4.  Give each other crazy makeovers.  Don’t forget to take pictures!

5.  Go on a photo walk.  Bring a camera for each of you and take pictures of anything that strikes you as photo worthy.  When you get home, compare pics and start a Flickr page for your best family shots.

6.  Transform the kids’ old shoes into gilded shoe planters.

7.  Tell the kids that laughing is good for people and set a family goal of laughing for a certain length of time, like 10 minutes straight.  Ask them to do whatever it takes to keep laughing and help keep everybody else laughing! 

8.  Play commercial challenge.  At every commercial a different person gets to be the exercise instructor and everybody has to do all the exercises she calls out (the instructor too!).  Encourage silliness, like doing jumping jacks while counting in pig latin or dancing like baby chicks.

9.  Go for an after-dinner walk, just the two of you.  Talk about what it was like when you were a kid and ask questions about what’s new in his life.

10. Let your kids use markers on a box of bandaids to make them personalized.  (Thanks Victoria!)


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Make a Peanut Butter Beard!

Okay, this is just silliness, but it could be a fun way to inject a little bit of fun in a boring afternoon!  This page tells how to make a peanut butter beard with mini marshmallows.  :)   
We have a peanut allergy here so we’d use sunbutter (a wonderful safe alternative made from sunflower seeds that is also very tasty!).  I was thinking of using coconut instead of marshmallows and maybe chocolate chips but you could use lots of fun foods. The kids could plan their own beards and it could make for a great (messy) photo of the finished faces.

If you do this with your kiddos, please share pics!  :)

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More Fun Tween Ideas!

Magical Mama Lonni wrote in to share a billion (okay, very slightly less) more fun things to do with your tween.  She’s raising some really fabulous tweens and teens herself and I love her list.  So here, lifted straight from the comments are her great suggestions….

I like your ideas and it got me wracking my brain. Look out, I feel like a chapter long comment is about to happen. ;o)

Hmmmm, you could…

-go clam shell picking at the river

-go pop can collecting (they aren’t worth much now but it’s a good excuse to go walking together.) You could do trash too of course.

-make cool projects using the sewing machine (bags, water bottle carrier, curtains, pajama pants, funky cloth table napkins or place mats, pillows, clothes for Webkinz, a quilt using t-shirt fronts…)

-build stilts out of lumber (most places will cut your lumber for youso you just have to screw/nail it together once you get home.)

-have a campfire in the yard, toast grilled cheese sandwiches and marshmallows on the fire, or just sit around it eating ice cream (just ’cause most people don’t think of that!) and talking. Harmonicas are optional. ;o)

-collect a hoard of video tape cases from a video store (these days they’ll give them away) and set up giant domino paths thru your house. Fun to watch them all fall and see if your design worked!

-wander around a furniture store. The massage chairs and lift chairs are such fun and always give us the giggles. One time we just hung out in their home theater area for an hour or so. No one said a thing to us. :o)

-play around with make-up and hair-dos. Ooooo! Get an updo at a salon then go out for dessert to show off. Someone said you can get this done cheap at the Cosmetology Training school.

-go pretend car shopping, just seeing what different cars are like inside, features, prices, gas mileage (could even test drive a new car).

-nose around in places you don’t normally shop like farm, sporting goods, hardware, home decorating, antiques, plant nursery, or fishing/bait stores. There’s always something new and interesting to find and talk about…yup, *even* at an appliance store.

-go fishing

-rent a paddle boat at the lake (around here it’s only $5/hour)

-take your bikes to the BMX track

-go to a skateboard park

-play mini-golf or get your frustrations out on the driving range (you can buy a golf club for about $1 at the thrift store)

-go on a creative photo shoot, seeing what interesting cars, buildings, signs, people, nature things, shapes, shadows, etc. you can find. Taking weird close-ups and odd angles, etc. Take pics of each other in unusual locations like trains tracks and doorways of old buildings and pics of each other doing every day things that you never think to photograph like pushing a grocery cart, paying for your food at McDonalds, or getting your mail.

-go out for appetizers

-go to a business that sells manufactured homes and ask if they mind if you go look thru all of them (my kids love this!)

-go to a camper dealer and check out their camper inventory (they’ve gotten amazingly nice!)

-go bowling (check at the college because you can usually bowl there cheaper than at the reg. alleys)

-for a few quarters you can play together at the arcade at a bowling alley (who doesn’t like skeet ball and air hockey?)

-try out some new baking ideas. We just bought fondant and a big set of bakers food coloring the other day. There’s a bunch of ways to be creative with fondant and it’s more fun if someone creates with you! Also look up cake pops on Bakerella or Pioneer Woman’s blog.  They’re adorable and a great way to play with food!

Dig around in books like "The Daring Book for Girls", "The Big Book of Girl Stuff", and "How to Be the Best at Everything". There are boy versions of these books too that are really worth looking at also, even for girls. Also those "Would You Rather…" books have some bizarre and hilarious choices and equal a good time together.

You know where I live, but do you know there’s a cheap theater here and you can go to a movie for $3/person? Their movies have just been thru the other theaters so are still pretty fresh. As a special treat now and then it’s kinda fun to go see something on the big screen and this makes it affordable.

Phew, now I’m tired. I hope there’s at least one new idea here you can use sometime. :o)

Um, yeah!  You’re a rock star, Lonni!  Will you be my mother?! 

(Harumph!  Victoria wants to know the same thing– disloyal child!)

Thanks for all the great ideas!  I think the giggling lunatic behind me and I will have some fun with lots of these.   ;)

And is it bad that I’m happy to have my giggling lunatic back? 

Happy weekend everybody!

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Fairy Crowns & Weaving Plastic Baskets

I love these whimsical crowns from Mommy Blessings!  They’re inexpensive, easy and adorable.  Head on over to her delightful blog for the instructions andlots of other neat crafts.

And at that neat blog I found a link to this wonderful recycling craft at The Lucky Ladybird where she teaches you how to weave unwanted plastic shopping bags into baskets.  She says they’re sturdy, flexible and waterproof.  They’re also really great looking!  She says she plans to use hers for a laundry basket but these would be wonderful for holding recycling, toys and so much more.

Now if only the few bags I had weren’t all white…..  :)

Ah well!

Happy Friday!


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Fun With Your Tween!

Yesterday I wrote about Victoria changing as she nears 11.  I loved reading the comments it generated, here and in emails.  It seems I’m not alone!

I did a little research to see what to expect the next couple of years and found a good article here that talked about typical changes and why they occur.  I’m a little more likely to let some things slide after reading it.  

Here’s a snip… 

Perhaps most significantly, the brain undergoes a major transformation that reduces a child’s ability to control her behavior and makes it harder for her to "read" both emotions and social situations. It’s not surprising, then, that your child feels strange, wonders who she is, becomes more prone to confusion and exasperation, and starts to "lose it" — even before the actual teenage years arrive.


The article is full of info.  It’s a good read!

But I also thought that I should come up with a new list of fun stuff to do with my unpredictable but still fabulous tween. 

Here’s some ideas I came up with. 

  • Go out for dessert
  • Shop garage sales for cool wardrobe additions
  • Hike, bike or otherwise get outside and exercise
  • Help her redecorate her room
  • Play cards
  • Watch chick flicks
  • Play soccer or shoot hoops
  • Take her to an art exhibit opening
  • Go boating
  • Go to the beach
  • Take more family camping trips
  • Arrange for her to have more fun activities with friends and just be there to yap about it when she comes home.  :)

What’s on your list?


 

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All Grown Up

Victoria is breaking my heart lately.  She doesn’t mean to.  She’s just developed this awful idea that she’s not little anymore.

          
 

My baby.  My first baby.  That little girl who used to hold my finger and say hup, hup, hup as she toddled along.  The adorable pipsqueak who used to bang sticks together and loudly sing "This old man."  The little girl who loved rainbow prints and everything purple. 

     

     
 

My silly, funny, charming kid says she’s not a kid anymore now that she’s almost eleven. 

She says she doesn’t even love purple anymore — she doesn’t want to be in a rut.

She’s become quiet and serious and moody.  She sometimes even disapproves of silliness, which is a big problem if you’re my kid.   Silly is what I do!  I am the queen of "make yourself look like an idiot at the grocery store to make your toddler happy" kind of stuff.  I am not serious or grown up.  I’m not ready for this.  :)

The other day we were having a deep conversation about sibling rivalry and I said something about all of the kids competing for resources in the family, both tangible and not.  That led to a discussion of what tangible meant (oh yeah, that’s what I do too, make everything a teachable moment!) and a list of intangible resources the kids might want.  "Like mama time" I said.  

"Oh," she replied, "I don’t need mama time any more."

I gasped and told her she’d ripped my heart out and she could now view it on the floor.  I think I put my hand to my forehead and made a small weeping sound too, but it was all wasted.  She rolled her eyes at me.

She doesn’t need mama time anymore?  Sob.

She took it back, but I know in a way it’s true.  She’s such a different person than she was even 6 months ago.  She’s changing and I have to embrace that and stand back when needed and find new ways to spend time with her when she needs that.

I’m sure we’ll form a wonderful new relationship in this older, more mature phase of her life.  I already love what a young woman she’s becoming and I know she’ll be a fantastic teenager.

So yes, I’ll stop being quite so silly in public.  I’ll help her shop for training bras and feed her new interest in fashion.  I’ll take her out for dessert for mama time instead of running through the sprinkler with her.  I’ll give her space and fall in love with this new version of herself that she’s creating.

Just the same, I told her not to rush this growing up business.  I plan to tempt her all summer with water balloons, sheet painting, rain dancing and other irresistible childhood goodies.  Resistance is futile. 

She’ll always be my little girl. 

     

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