Monthly Archives: June 2010

A Little of Everything

First off, thanks for all your fabulous comments yesterday on my mothering post!  Every one of them meant so much.  :)

Today was a pretty fabulous day.  It was filled with strawberry picking, playing with friends at the park, sitting in the shade on the lawn swing watching the kids play, gardening, talking, tree climbing, homemade strawberry sorbets and lots of other good stuff.

There weren’t exactly bluebirds circling our heads (though a grackle did dive bomb me in the back yard as I was hanging laundry!), but the kids were pretty much happy and nobody stripped down, scaled cars, shouted at me or alarmed the neighbors.  A success in my book.

Now on to other things…

If you’ve been alarmed about the recent news stories concerning lead found in juice boxes, Z Recommends has another side of the story you might want to read.

Yes, there is probably lead in your child’s box of juice. There is also lead in your honey, your salad dressing, your teething biscuits, your store-bought chocolate chip cookies, your pickles, your lettuce, your spinach, and your sweet potatoes (fresh). There is lead in many of the things you – and your children – eat on a regular basis. That’s because there is lead in pesticides, in the air, in the soil… almost everywhere…

It’s good information that puts it all in perspective.

If you’re like us and have an abundance of strawberries (say 55 pounds!) this page of strawberry recipes might come in handy.

I highly recommend making strawberry sorbet with some of it, though.  My easy way is to blend fresh strawberries in the blender with a little water and sugar to taste, and then freeze it in the ice cream maker.  It’s that easy!  Victoria says she likes it even better than ice cream.  You can put the mixture in popsicle molds too.

We also made some jam and syrup but most of it we just froze for later.  If you’re new to freezing berries, the best way to do it is to wash and hull them and then spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a freezer until they’re just frozen (1 to 2 hours) and then put them in gallon bags (squeeze out all the excess air to protect them from freezer burn).  Flash freezing them first means they’ll be individual berries and not a solid lump of strawberry ice when you want to pull some out later.  :)

Lastly, Here’s some sweet little paper dolls of all sorts to print out next time you need a little rainy day fun.

And with that, chickadees, I’m off to read “The House of Dies Drear” to a very impatient night owl.

Kiss your kiddos, count your blessings, and don’t forget to take care of you!

Happy Thursday!

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It’s Hard Work, This Mothering Business

I’ve been feeling rather raw lately.  My “good mama” hat has felt knocked from my head a few too many times and I’ve been filled with self doubt.

Several hundred times per day, three-year-old Alex tells me “Me MAD at you, Mama!”.

Seven-year-old Jack goes back and forth between being sweetly crazy about me to shouting that he hates me.

Ten-year-old Annalee has taken several nights this week to inform me of how unfair her life is, that I don’t spend enough time with her and that I’m a promise breaker and a liar.

And twelve-year-old Victoria… well, she reads this blog and gets annoyed if I talk about her, so let’s just say I do not feel like her favorite person in the universe.

I’m tired.

I’ve spent 12+ years singing lullabies, doing crafts, reading stories, playing games, taking walks, cuddling and doing everything in my power to make some pretty marvelous childhoods for these four little blessings.  And I know I’ve done well and they’re good kids and that they’re happy even when they’re yelling at me or acting petulant.

But this week… this week I’m feeling weary.

Last night, Jack fell asleep on the couch.  I covered him with a blanket and went and found a ball point pen, then wrote “Mama loves you!” on his palm.  This morning, he marched into my room and angrily showed me his hand.  “Look what someone wrote on me while I was sleeping!”.  When I explained that I had done it to be sweet, he asked for help in scrubbing it off.

Last weekend, Alex stripped off all of his clothes, climbed on top of our van and joyfully shook his business at a passing neighbor.

Several days before that, two well dressed women banged on my front door as I was cooking dinner to ask “Are those your children?”.  I looked out the door to see Jack holding a screaming, half-dressed Alex and trying to pull him off of my car (Alex dearly loves to scale cars).  I resisted the urge to say no and go back inside.

Sigh.

It’s pretty much minute-by-minute chaos around here lately.  There is puddle stomping, sidewalk painting and strawberry picking, yes, but then there is also sibling battles, tattling and wailing.

My good friend Tiffany called today to give me a pep talk.  She told me all the things I already know but needed to hear — that my kids will look back at their childhoods and appreciate them, that I’m doing a good job — and that I need more chocolate.  ;)

And as I am writing this, Jack just appeared under my window gathering rose petals and asking me to come down and join him.  He has apparently forgiven me for the hand graffiti and has decided this is one of the times I’m fabulous.

It will be a few days before I get my mama groove back, and I guess that’s okay.  In the meantime, I was especially nice to myself today.  I asked Daryl to watch the boys and took a rare afternoon nap.  I chatted on the phone for an hour.  I’m off to spend some time with Jack now, but after that I have definite plans that involve hot baths, good books, bad TV and bowls of ice cream.

Some days there’s more screaming than usual.  Some days we aren’t so appreciated.  I’m comforted by the fact that those days pass, and the hard work does pay off even when you think it was wasted.  Some little boy brings you a drawing of your favorite garden spot and asks if you’ll spend some time with him, and you realize you didn’t do such a bad job after all.

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  I hope you folks are having less rain and dreariness than we are, or that you’ve at least had lots of cookie baking and puddle stomping to make up for it.  We have more rain coming so this week’s list may have some wet activities included!

So let’s get on with it.  Here’s a few ways to add some magic to the days this week….

1.  Start an “I love you” journal together on the inside of your cupboard doors.  Cover them with contact paper for easy removal (and for keepsakes).  Take turns leaving notes to each other, artwork, recording special moments, etc.  Make sure little ones understand which places are okay for this special graffiti.

2. Make a blanket fort on the clothesline.


3. Make paper boats and sail them in puddles or the kiddie pool.

4.  Or fill the kiddie pool with something else like bubble solution for giant bubbles, oobleck or water and colored oil.

5.  Meet some friends at a science museum.

6.  Mail your child a postcard telling her how much you love her.

7.  Write a song together and record it yourselves singing it.

8.  Make homemade lemonade.  Find a way to make it unique to your family.  For instance, we put a handful of mint leaves in when making a sugar syrup for ours (one cup sugar, one cup water, simmer till the sugar dissolves and the mint is fragrant, then combine with 4 cups of water and 1 to 1 1/2 cups lemon juice, to taste) and garnished with mint.  Also consider using frozen berries for ice cubes, adding a couple of scoops of a bright juice concentrate or serving with ice cubes that have edible flowers (without pesticides!) inside.

9.  Sketch your child as he sleeps.  Let go of any criticism about your artistic abilities and just enjoy the process of really studying your child and capturing a moment.

10. Go rock hunting for smooth stones and use paint or permanent markers to write inspirational words like “courage,” “strength,” “love” or “laugh” on them — or even just silly faces and symbols.  Put one in your pocket on days you need it, and let the kids do the same.

Have a wonderful week!

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How to Make a Rose Petal Crown

Today’s craft comes courtesy of Annalee, who created this lovely rose petal crown as a gift for a friend.

She says that all you have to do is gather some fallen rose petals (or other flower petals) from the ground and then gather a handful of stiff, long grass (the type that’s going to seed and looks like wheat on top).

Poke the stiff end of the grass through the rose petals and spread them loosely, weaving several strands of grass.  Loop them around in a circle and tie the ends or fasten or tuck them.  That’s it!

Here’s a shot of the crown from above, showing how it was fastened.  Anna used pliant clover stems to wrap around the grass ends and tie them in knots.

Isn’t it lovely?  It would be a perfect accessory for a fairy party — or just an afternoon in the back yard!

Happy Sunday!

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It’s National Get Outdoors Day!

Happy Saturday!  It’s now officially National Get Outdoors Day!  Head here if you want some ideas of where to go (there’s sites all over with fun stuff planned) or what to do.

We’re going to Devil’s Gulch in South Dakota with some friends.  Supposedly, Jesse James jumped it in a famous getaway.  I’m not sure about that but it’s supposed to be pretty too!  :)

What are your plans?  Back yards count!

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Moose Kids Love Sprinklers Too!

Have you seen this adorable video of a mama moose and her twins playing in a family’s sprinkler?  What fun!  :)

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On Boys

Boys are such amazing creatures!  I am constantly amused, aggravated and enchanted by my wild,  sweet, crazy male offsprings.  Here, I present you with some favorite quotes about boys, illustrated by seven year old Jack in photos from the past week or two.

A man can never quite understand a boy, even when he has been a boy.
- By Gilbert K Chesterton

Sons are the anchors of a mother’s life.
- Sophocles

A fairly bright boy is far more intelligent and far better company than the average adult.
- By John B S Haldane

The sweetest roamer is a boy’s young heart.

- George Edward Woodberry

Of all wild beasts, the most difficult to manage.
- By Plato , on Boys

One of the best things in the world to be is a boy; it requires no experience, but needs some practice to be a good one.

-Charles Dudley Warner

There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.
- By Mark Twain

A boy is a magical creature–you can lock him out of your workshop, but you can’t lock him out of your heart.
- By Allan Beck

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Six Nifties

Here’s some of what’s been filling up my browser windows lately…


1. Meet Me At Mike’s has started a fun little envelope project that anybody (child or adult) can take part in.  Send in a pretty little decorated envelope with something small inside (Artist Trading Cards, a photo, candy wrappers, ribbon, anything!) and at the end of the project one name will be drawn from all those who contributed to get ALL of the loot.  The envelopes will also be displayed in their window in Australia, so this would be fun even without the chance to get some pretty fantastic crafting supplies and doo-dads!

2.  Organic Gal has compiled a really thorough list of “Fakers and Not Fakers” – companies that claim to be natural or organic and may or may not be as healthy as they seem.

3. Now that you know which brands to look for, get some of them free at Saffron Rouge (more info here).  I got my order in today and it was a great way to try some heavenly smelling, safe bath products for nearly free!

4.  Magical Mama Pamela recommended these darling little sea creatures you can make from free patterns at Futuregirl’s blog.  They look adorable!

5. I’m in love with lots on this post from Little Eco Footprints.  I’ve been wanting to grow mushrooms with the kids for quite a while and didn’t know there was such an economic way to do it (though I don’t know how hard it would be to find a mushroom farm close enough to us) and also love the looks of her mushroom rissoles.  They look like the insides of stuffed mushrooms.  Mmmm!  :)

6.  Happy To Be Called Mommy has published a tutorial on how to make homemade Wiki sticks.  What fun!  One of the commenters noted that one of the ingredients may not be good for little ones so perhaps a little experimentation is in order with beeswax or other more natural ingredients.  They look beautiful and those with a great yarn stash could make some gorgeous ones!

And with that, I’m off to find free German resources for a 12-year-old bent on learning the language.  Tschuss!

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Welcome to a wonderful new week!  Here’s a few ways to make some memories with your kiddos sometime soon…

1. Have a glow-in-the-dark treasure hunt after dark.

2.  Take a horse drawn carriage ride.  We went two weekends in a row because we happened upon them, once at a winery and once at a historic event.  At $5 and $3 each, it was worth the cost for a really wonderful experience.

3.  Record a new wacky or sweet greeting on the answering machine together.  Keep it short but fun!

4. Make nature pendants.  (Jack made a billion of these plus bookmarks the other day and loved it, though you can’t tell by this look on his face!)


5.  Call some local museums and find out when they have free days to visit (many are free all the time!). Spend an afternoon just dawdling and enjoying yourself there.

6.  After dark, head outside together and howl at the moon.

7.  Make fresh fruit sorbets in the ice cream maker.  No ice cream maker?  Make it in a bag!

8.  Make some toad houses.


9.   Have a breakfast picnic in the park.

10. Run in the sprinkler together.  Yes, you too!

And with that, I’m off to shovel through the clutter in the living room… Or curl up with my Cooking Light magazine.  I haven’t decided which yet!

Have a magical week!

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Driveway Graffiti

I love this idea from No Time for Flashcards!  Brilliant!  We’ve mixed up sidewalk paint before and it hasn’t been the biggest hit with any of us, but using balls with it?  I love the sounds of it!

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