Monthly Archives: April 2010

We Now Commence Craziness

The next few days are going to be a wee bit hectic around here.

Thursday we’re driving out of town to go buy a new (to us) van.

Friday we’re driving both vans the 2 1/2 hours home and celebrating Jack’s 7th birthday with a party in the park.

Saturday we’re celebrating Victoria’s 12th birthday with a party at a different park.

Sunday we have a day off.

Monday we’re celebrating Alex’s third birthday. Yeah, probably at a park!

Tuesday, I am really going to rest.  :)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a whole lot of packing, planning, prepping, driving and baking to do…

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Beauty in Parking Lots

Victoria has a new (to her) camera and has been itching to go to a greenhouse with it.  The other day she saw one in the parking lot of the grocery store and she ducked in for 10 minutes of snapping while I picked up goodies for lunch.

My sweetie came back a few minutes later with a memory card full of fabulous photos.  She gave me permission to share some here…

Aren’t they wonderful?

She has a photograph in this month’s issue of New Moon Girls magazine, too.

If you haven’t introduced your kids to photography, I highly recommend it.  Even inexpensive digital cameras can do some pretty amazing things these days.   Jack and Anna also love to take photographs, and I love to see their pictures when we download them later.

Victoria  has decided that she wants to be a freelance photographer and children’s book editor (and adopt 8 daughters and live on a farm near the ocean!).  I think she’s off to a good start.  :)

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  Looking to make some fun and easy memories with your little (or big) ones this week?  Here’s a few ideas…..

1.  Go walking in the rain.  Or drizzle, if your rain dance doesn’t work.  ;)

2.  Visit the humane society and volunteer to brush cats, exercise kittens and take dogs for walks.  They’re generally happy to have extra help and the animals love the attention.

3.  Decide on a totally silly word or saying to say when you answer the phone.  A friend of ours absentmindedly answered the phone recently with “Three!” and the kids and I found it so hilarious we vowed to do the same.  Hint:  caller ID makes this much easier to do without too much harm or embarrassment.

4.  Go off the beaten path, literally, and explore somewhere you’ve never been before.

5.  Play an old fashioned game with your kids like marbles, hopscotch or jacks.

6.  Grab a pack of colorful sidewalk chalk and head out to make the world more cheerful.  Have the kids leave happy faces, sweet notes, rainbows, silly cat faces, flowers, goofy aliens, you name it, in various places just to make people smile.

7.  Play mud tag.

8.  Get a DVD of a favorite TV series from your childhood from Netflix or the library and watch it with your kids.  Prepare to feel old and cheesy.  ;)

9.  Plant a row of sunflowers and see if you can get them to grow taller than the kids.  Even better, see if you can get them to grow taller than you!

10. Make a bean teepee for the kids.  This year we really must finally get to this project!

Have a magical week!

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Craft Sampling: Pop Bottle Paint Prints

I saw this craft all over the internet this month and something about it appealed to me.

The idea is simple enough — use a plastic pop bottle to stamp flowers in paint.  The bottom makes the flower and the lid makes the center.

I had the kids bring the paints out to the picnic table, grabbed some pop bottles from the recycling bin, assembled some paper and gathered all of the kids (plus an extra adorable toddler, courtesy of the neighbors).

And… it was a bit of a bust.

We are an art-loving family and crafts tend to go for hours, but this one just didn’t do it.

Annalee made one picture and announced she was going to bicycle to a friend’s house.  Jack did two and asked if he could be done.  Asked if he could be done!!!!  Now THAT’s a first at our house.

Even Victoria only made 2 or 3 before moving on to other activities.

And our neighbor’s tot… she only wanted to watch.

Only Alex spent more than a few minutes on it, and that was because I let him make glorious messes mixing paint colors on his paper plate with the bottom of his bottle.

Some elderly neighbors stopped by to check out our craft and they thought it looked darling.  I had thought it looked darling too, but it shows what grown-ups know.

I usually know better, but I was sucked in by those cute little flower prints.

I think the main reasons it was such a dud here were that:

1.  There was no real room for personal creativity. It is the classic “Here’s what you do and here’s what you do it with and here’s how it should look” craft.

2.  There was little sensory pleasure to it.

Part of the fun of art for little ones is tactile. Sometimes that means literally getting their hands into gloopy, slippery, silky, squishy or otherwise fun stuff. Sometimes it’s sensory in another way though.  There is something very satisfying in pounding a golf tee into a block of styrofoam or a leftover Halloween pumpkin.  There is an inherent fun factor in squeezing beeswax and clay and homemade playdough and mud balls.  There is a fantastic smoosh and thwack when we stamp with sponges and other squishy things…

But pop bottles are hard.  They don’t squish or thwack or give or slide or anything really.  Even I noticed it as I tried my hand.  There was no FUN to it.

Perhaps we’re craft snobs.  Maybe we’re spoiled.  Maybe we were just particularly scatterbrained and hard to please that day.  But it’s a craft I’m checking off my list.

Luckily, there’s still several thousand left on my list to try tomorrow.  :)

Any suggestions?  I’m always open to trying several thousand and one!

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Wise Words

“Discipline isn’t just about winning or losing.
Every power struggle offers you the opportunity
to connect with your child or disconnect.
The relationship you will have with your child
when he’s an adolescent
lies in the words and actions you use today.
Ultimately your real power is in that emotional bond.”

–Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Kids, Parents and Power Struggles


I had this long story from today that I was going to share on this theme, but I think Ms. Kurcinka said it well and I have to get up early for a 1900’s era birthday party.  Sometimes less is more!

Happy Saturday!

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Plastic Bag Flowers!

Look at these adorable oversized flowers made from plastic bags!  I’m actually wishing we had more plastic bags so we could make up a bunch.  :)  Head over to Growing Up Creative to find out how to make your own!

Edited to add:  The blog seems to have gone down but thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can still find the instructions here.

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Happiness Is…

Art with the neighbors…

Picnics in the back yard…

Digital cameras…

Ten year old gourmet cooks…

Zany photo shoots…

Daddy time…

Playing in so much mud that the tub looks like this after Mama hoses you off…

What’s making you happy these days?

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You Are Beautiful

Have you been to this fascinating site?  For four years, these folks have been spreading this message around the world.  You can even get your own You Are Beautiful stickers for a SASE or download the slogan.

Check out the installations around the world and all of the ways they’ve spread their message.  What a fun project to do with the kids!

Here’s some pics from our own photo shoot with the slogan…

Happy Wednesday!

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A Few Good Things…

… that have caught my attention lately:

  • Here’s a super simple, inexpensive spray you can make to clean fruits and veggies at home:

Susan Sumner, a food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, developed a solution that is an effective disinfecting procedure to clean those conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables. It is non-toxic and inexpensive, and can also be used to sanitize your kitchen counters and food preparation surfaces such as wooden cutting boards. She simply uses white vinegar (or cider vinegar) and 3% hydrogen peroxide (the same as found at the drugstore). Put each solution into 2 spray bottles. Spray your produce (or work surface) with the vinegar and follow with the hydrogen peroxide. Then rinse the produce under running water or wipe the surface with a clean, wet sponge.

(source)

  • Yahoo’s Healthy Living section has this simple chart of 9 food ingredients to avoid, what they do and why they’re bad.  This is great info if you’re unclear why brominated vegetable oil is added to soda anyway or you want something concrete to convince your mother-in-law that yes, food coloring really does cause hyperactivity and other problems for lots of children and there’s a reason to stop filling your kids up with red Kool-aid and Skittles.  ;)
  • I’m really enjoying the Let the Children Play blog from a preschool teacher in Australia.  Much of the focus is on how to make outdoor spaces good for children, especially related to nature and the senses.
  • Likewise, I’m loving irresistible ideas for play based learning, also from an Australian preschool and also focused on outdoor play spaces for children.

(photo by irresistible ideas for play based learning)

Any neat blogs or sites or ideas on your radar this week?

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Ten Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  It’s that time of the week again.  Here’s another list of things to do with your kiddos to make some memories.

1.  Go on a neighborhood treasure hunt.

2.  Wake up an hour early and go for a breakfast picnic together before work and school.  It doesn’t have to be anyplace fancy– up on the roof, in the stairwell, in the back yard or any place different.

3.  Get out the hula hoops and see how long you can each keep them going.  I can’t believe how much harder it is for me now than when I was a kid!  It’s silly fun and you get a good workout too.

4.  Give your children corners of the yard for their own gardens.  They can plant easy seeds or purchased plants or even transplant plants from other parts of the yard.  Even weeds can be treasured in a child’s garden!

5.  Make up customized CD’s with songs with your children’s names in the titles, sentimental songs from when they were little and other sweet memories.

6.  Make up some task treasures. Paint or write numbers on small round rocks or dragon’s tears.  Write up a list of little tasks that correspond to each number.  They can be educational (spell your name, say the 4 times tables), home related (sweep the stairs, wipe the counter), family related (tell me something good that happened today, say something nice about another family member) or silly (cluck like a chicken, spin in circles till you fall down).  Add one special one for a treat your kids will really covet (an hour of doing anything you want with mom or dad, movie night, etc.).  Kids can take turns drawing treasures and completing the assignments, and can do as many as they like to try to nab the prize one.  My kids love even the chores, just because of the novelty of picking them out of a jar.  :)  Change the master list as often as you like.

7.  Have a tea party.  Invite dolls and teddy bears if the kiddos like.  Don’t forget to wear hats!

8.  Leave your child a list of things you love about her on her pillow.

9.  Go puddle stomping.  No puddles?  Hose down something that needs some spring cleaning and create your own.

10. Get out the face paints (or use makeup) and do clown faces on the kids.  Then go on a walk and see how many smiles you get!

Have a magical week!  Don’t forget to take care of you!

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