Category Archives: Ways to make today magical

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  And happy Labor Day to those in the states, as well!

Here are a few ways to make a little magic with the kiddos this week…..

1.  Go splash in the rain together — or in the puddles after the rain is over.  My 14 year-old Anna took 2 year-old Fiona outside to dance in the rain yesterday and before long she was joined by her big sister Victoria and then Dad and then 11 year-old Jack.  They had a blast before they finally came back in, soaking wet but grinning ear to ear.

Dancing in the rain

2.   Have a cleaning party with the kids.  Dress up in fabulous play dress-up clothes (party hats and/or tiaras are a must!), blast some happy music, grab some fun treats and clean like crazy together.  Set a timer for every 15 minutes to take a break and enjoy some treats together, and concentrate on being as wild and wacky as possible as you clean.  Who says cleaning has to be dull?!

3.  Take part in the Spore Project!  This fun art project involves simply making mushrooms from paper lunch bags to decorate a bit of land someplace.  The creators explain:

The SPORE Project is an awareness program to support creativity and art education by constructing and planting mushrooms made from paper lunch bags.  

Ten of thousands of paper bag mushrooms have been constructed and planted by hundreds of individuals, students and organizations around the world.

As of may 2011, paper bag mushrooms have been planted in every continent of the world.. including Antarctica!

Take part in the Spore Project!

You can learn more on the Spore Project website or their fun Facebook page.

4.  Make colored ice blocks for the bath.  Here’s how we do it.

5.  Go graffiti spotting.  My Anna is a huge graffiti fan and she loves to go places to photograph particularly well done work.  Trains and urban areas are where we’ve found the best stuff.  (This one was a memorial for a young man who died.)

 6.  Make up some batches of play dough with natural dyes.  It’s great fun to experiment to make your own colors.  Here’s our recipe.

7.  Sit down with your kids and make up lists of 10 or 20 things you each love about special people in your lives.  You can write the lists for kids who aren’t writing yet, but keep it in their words and have them add some decorations.  Then mail them out or take a picture to email to each loved one.

8.  Head out with a permanent marker and alter some leaves.  Leave them discreetly in nature where observant passers-by will happen upon them and get a smile.  :)

alter leaves

9.  Set up some art supplies outside and let the kids make a glorious, artistic mess.

10. Have you microwaved a bar of Ivory soap with the kids yet?  Take it one step further and make colorful soap clouds!  Here’s how we do it, along with the science behind the fun.

And with that, chickadees, I’m getting back to work.  I have lots of updates to share, but they’ll have to wait till slightly later.  I have a broken oven, a (mildly) flooded basement, a recovering boy and the messiest house this side of the Mississippi to deal with. 

I’ll be back soon, but in the meantime — have a magical week!

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

Sorry for my long absence.  This has been a busy bunch of months for us, with lots of doctor visits and tests for me, along with lots of fun and activities for our whole family.

Some of our biggest news is that 16 year old Victoria has started at a public arts school in the Twin Cities, and will be living in their dorms during the school year.  We dropped her off yesterday, with more than a few tears on my part.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for her and I know they’ll take wonderful care of her (the staff and student body are amazing!) but we already miss her like crazy.  I keep telling her she can quit and come home and we’ll all go on vacation, but she’s not taking me up on it.  ;)

10 Ways to Make the Day MagicalShe will be concentrating on media arts (photography and film making), with her academic classes in the mornings and arts classes all afternoon.

In the meantime, we still have four kids at home to make a little magic with, and I’m working on finding ways to make the day magical long distance too.

Here are a few ways to make some memories this week….

1.  Drape some blankets over a clothesline, tree, tent poles or other props in the back yard and make some impromptu forts.  Stock the insides with some fun books, games, snacks, a flashlight, whatever, and see what fun the kids dream up to have in their new fun space.

2.  Waste a box of birthday candles on repeated wishes.  You join in too!

3.  Make up a batch of homemade playdough (white) and then hide different colors inside.  Poke a hole in the middle and add a little bit of food coloring (we like the paste food coloring sold for cake decorating because it’s so intense and comes in lots of colors).  Encourage kids to knead their balls of playdough and watch as they discover there’s more to it than it first appeared!  You can also do color mixing this way (make yellow and add blue to the center of one and red to another, for instance).

4.  Write something random and silly halfway down the toilet paper roll and then roll it back up again.

5.  Get together with friends and take wacky photos around town.

6.  Make a vision board for the new school year together.  Gather up a bunch of old magazines, sheets of posterboard and scissors and glue.  Have your children cut out words and pictures that represent things they want for the new year, then glue them onto the board.  Encourage them to be optimistic and to dream big!

7.  Make fizzy cupcakes.  Bake and frost cupcakes and then sprinkle them with Pop Rocks.  We usually avoid junky stuff like that but every once in a while it’s pretty fun to have really crazy treats.

8.  Challenge the kids to make each other laugh as much as possible.  Try for all out belly laughs, snorts and the type of giggles where you can’t catch your breath.  If you can, catch it on tape to make you all laugh all over again later.

9.  Go on a joking spree!  Write out corny jokes on small pieces of paper and leave them for folks to find– on counters, in bathroom stalls, you name it.

10. Throw a dinner party just for your family.  Put out the good china and some delicious appetizers, set the table grandly and dress the part.  Put on some music, light some candles and take your time enjoying your own company together.

And with that, I’m off to tend to an injured boy, snuggle with a small girl, hang out with some bigger kids, figure out lunch, work on a family video message for a certain teenager and clean like crazy.  Or at least a bit of that…  We’ll see how it goes!

Have a magical week!

 

 

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Sunday!

Sorry to have been gone for so long.  I’ve been doing a little of this….

And a little of this (three kids with birthdays in one week!)…

(That’s not actually our cake at all, just a picture that a friend posted on my wall for my lego-loving boy!)

And a little of this…

It turns out that I am severely anemic and need to have weekly IV iron treatments for a month to try to get my levels up to par.

Tomorrow is dose number two (please let the veins be easier this time!) so I figured I’d get this week’s list out early. 

And I am totally cheating by lifting today’s list from May 2011!  There are benefits to having yapped at you all for so long now!  :)

So without further ado, here’s a few ways to sneak in a little magic with our kiddos this week…….

1.  Make poetry shells.  Gather up a bunch of pistachio shells, smooth rocks  or other natural objects and use a magic marker to write words on them.  Make sure to use adjectives, nouns and verbs.  For example…. I, you, we, love, wet, dogs, jumped, lick, stars…. the more words you make the more variety you can get in your poem.  Drop the rocks in a bucket, shake, and grab a handful to arrange into each line.  Make sure to add some funny words!

Make poetry shells

2.  Help the kids hide love-you notes for a loved one (daddy, grandma, etc.).  Fill them with messages to make the recipient laugh or feel good, such as limericks, 5 reasons you’re the best grandpa, and so on.  Try to leave some where it will take a few days and some that will pop up in dull places, such as in the car or briefcase.

3.  Take the whole family out for a starry drive.  Park by a lake or just in an empty lot away from city lights.  Lay a blanket down or pull out some lawn chairs and just sit as a family and watch the stars.  See if you can see any shooting stars.  Point out the constellations to your kids.  Talk about what you thought when you looked at the stars when you were a child.

4. Make puzzles for breakfast.  Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of toast, pancakes or french toast.  Let kids match the shapes to the pieces with the holes and fit back in.

5.  Have the kids make up funny fortunes and put them in homemade fortune cookies or leave them in unexpected places like cereal boxes.

6.  Go down memory lane.  Take the kids to the hospital where they were born, the school you went to, or the park where daddy proposed.  Tell them the stories of those far-off times.

7.  Start a wish tradition.  My mom always saved the tip of her pie for the last bite and made a wish on it.  Victoria always does this in honor of her grandma, even though they never met.  You can also wish on stars, dandelion fluff, pennies in fountains, or just something you make up.  See if your family can invent some neat new ones.

8.  Dress the kids up with some whimsy (with painted faces, wearing fairy wings, in ball gowns, etc.) and go someplace fun.

9.  Dance in the rain.

10. Celebrate an unexpected anniversary.  Search through baby books, letters or old e-mails and find something neat that happened on this date.  Surprise your little one with a cake to celebrate the 4 year anniversary of her first word.  Start writing notes on your calendars of all the milestones your family goes through, then keep them on a master calendar.  How fun it would be in a few years to be able to look at this date in your family’s history and see that 6 years ago you moved into your house, 3 years ago the baby crawled for the first time, and last year this was the day your son cooked his first meal.

And with that, my dears, I’m off to do the oh-so-magical task of more laundry!

Have a wonderful week.

 

 

 

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Happy Grief Bacon Day!

We’re having a different sort of holiday today.  We’re celebrating our first annual Kummerspeck (or “Grief Bacon“) Day.

The idea came to me a few days ago.  We’ve all been really fighting the blues in our family.  Winter has been long, cold, snowy and oppressive this year.  The kids have been cooped up and cranky.  I’ve been cooped up and cranky.  We’re all irritable and there’s still more waiting before things are really going to be green and warm.

Victoria had told me about a German word that literally translates to “grief bacon” that describes the weight gained from emotional eating, such as after a loved one dies or during a period of depression.   It was featured in Mental Floss’s  15 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent.

We’ve talked about that natural instinct to hole up in the house with food as comfort and how it’s definitely not healthy as a general practice but how it really does seem to help when things are really feeling miserable, like after the death of pets and loved ones.

So yesterday I suggested to Daryl that we toss out my typical health-crazed ways and proclaim today a Grief Bacon Day (vegetarian members of our family can call it Grief Popsicle Day).  :)  He was on board, so we told the kids we were going to all go to the grocery store together and load up on comfort foods that we’d all pick out together and spend the whole day together as a family watching movies, eating junk food and just indulging ourselves in a way we usually don’t.

We spent the morning cleaning together to prepare (who wants to party in a messy house?) and then spread the table with the first round of indulgences.  Jack had picked out frozen fruit so he made us dixie cup fruit sorbets to balance out the chips, dip and other junky items that others picked.  Gluten free pizza, french fries, banana popsicles, 7-up and other goodies followed. 

There’s lots more to come, including more foods and fun non-food items like puzzles and bubbles, marshmallow and toothpicks for building, more movies and crafts. 

Some days you just have to loosen your own rules and look at the big picture.  A full-out, junky family day was just what the doctor ordered.  The mood in our house has done a 180 (and the house looks better too!).

And now, I’m off to watch some more explosions and add to my stomach ache. 

Happy Kummerspeck  Day!

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10 Ways We’ve Made the Day Magical Lately

Happy Monday!  I’m just popping in for a quick post this time.  I’m fighting the blues and swamped with things I should be doing, and I thought it might be good to focus on the magical moments around here lately.  These are only ones that I happen to capture on my iPod, which really made me realize I need to start taking more pictures again!

I highly recommend making your own little list up, either on your own blog of for your own records.  It’s a nice way to remind ourselves of the happy stuff.  :)

10 random ways we’ve made a little magic here lately….

1.  Went to the children’s museum.  Multiple times!  I love our annual membership, especially when it’s particularly cold, dreary or boring out.  :)

2.  Helped out at a maple syrup tapping event.  Our family takes part in maple syrup tapping at a local nature camp every year and it’s so much fun (and so tasty — there’s a fabulous all-you-can-eat breakfast feast with real maple syrup from their trees).  My hubby ran the sales table this year and during quiet times he played the dulcimer and taught some other folks to play, and even did an impromptu jam session with some other musicians he struck up a conversation with.  The kids got to play with old friends and we left with full bellies and good memories.

3.  Hugged some trees.  You know we love yarn bombing and it was fun to find these yarn bombed trees.  It’s our goal to do some yarn bombing in our own back yard at some point.

4.  Harvested some walnuts.  You can’t live near Walnut Grove and not gather walnuts, right?  We do a lot of foraging for wild edibles in season, and the kids helped gather tons of walnuts last fall that are now dry enough to start cracking and cooking with.  Alex is particularly fond of helping since it involves hitting things with a hammer.  ;)  He also loves to gather the walnuts all autumn, and personally collects bags and bags to bring to Daddy.  Here’s the instructions for harvesting the dried walnuts, courtesy of my hubby, if you ever want to give it a try.

5.  Did blow painting.  Just make up some liquid watercolors (here’s the recipe we use to make wet or dry watercolors) or mix some food coloring with a bit of water, put it in dropper bottles or tiny dishes with eyedroppers, drop it on paper (watercolor paper and other heavy papers work best) and let the kids blow it around with straws.  Be sure to wear craft clothes and protect surfaces, since it can get a little messy.

6.  Visited an art museum with friends.  Since our friends had connections, we even got a private tour!  This particular museum has free admission for all teenagers, courtesy of a grant, and is free after 5 p.m.  Many museums offer similar deals if they’re not free all the time.

7.  Made recycled treasures.  Check out the awesome knight’s garb that Jack made for Alex!  It comes complete with armor, shield, sword and helmet.  :)

8.  Went to the zoo.  Even my big kids love a day at the zoo!

A red panda being trained, photo courtesy Toria Bayer

Lovely tiger, photo courtesy Anna Bayer

9.  Went snow-shoeing.  Daryl took Toria and Alex to a park event in a nearby town to take part in a naturalist program where they got to snowshoe through a state park.  They loved it, but I’m hoping not to get a chance to snowshoe again for a long, long time!  We got more snow today but it’s melting and I’m really hoping for nothing but mud and grass for a while.  :)

10.  Tickled and wrestled and played.  And a whole lot of silliness and fun.  (Sorry the pictures are such terrible quality!  They are bad photos but good memories.)  :)

And with that, I’m off to make some more fun with my kiddos and drag myself out of the blues.  I have to say, that helped a bit!

Focus on what you want more of, chickies.  :)

I’ll be back soon, even to post something boring!  It’s my new goal! 

Happy Monday!

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day, too, for that matter.  Happy everything!

Here’s a few ways to make a little magic today or sometime this week with your kiddos……….

1.  Do some rainy day art with food coloring and cardstock.  If you can’t get some rain, let the kids fake it with a squirt bottle or puddle splashing nearby.  Little Page Turners has the instructions and tips.

2.  Do some spring nature studies.  Call some worms underground, start garden plants from kitchen scraps, test your soil’s pH with vinegar or otherwise work a little science into the season.  Here are links to those and other fun spring nature study activities.

3.  Create a family mural.  I am in love with this idea and this art from the amazing Kirsten Rickert.  Visit her blog for the full post and instructions (and lots more wonderful inspiration!).

4.  Wait for a wonderfully windy day and blow bubbles like crazy.  Here’s a picture of us from a few years ago.  It’s also fun to do this on a grassy expanse by evening traffic.  We’ve always delighted at the expressions on passing motorists stuck in traffic when deluged with bubbles being blown by happy children.  :)

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

5.  Do freeze dancing to Irish music (or any fun music).  You can do this in honor of St. Patrick’s Day today or you can use any theme you like.  Put on a CD (or find some good songs on you-tube) and have the kids all dance wildy.  Every time you hit pause, they have to freeze in place.

6.  Paint some walking sticks.  Head into nature and find some big, suitable sticks, bring them home and make them beautiful.  They can jazz up the yard in between nature hikes.

7.  Sit together and do gratitude mandelas.  This lovely one is via Pinterest but I couldn’t find the original artist.  If you know, please let me know so I can give proper credit.

8.  Make grapevine wreaths and crowns.  Here are the simple instructions, courtesy of myself and Victoria a few years back.

9.  Go for a walk in the rain.  Mist counts.  After the rain counts.  Just wearing a fun raincoat on an overcast day counts.  :)

10.  Only clean the green things today.  Go through the house together and put away anything green, scrub anything green and otherwise just give a little love to all things green.  If you like, do red tomorrow, black the next day and so on.

And for a little Muppet fun this St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a version of Danny Boy that always makes me grin.

And with that, I’m off to the wilds of South Dakota with any number of small and large children for the day.

Have a magical week!

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I hope all is wonderful in your little corner of the world.  We’ve been busy despite the cold winter here.  I’ve found that with five kids now, there really isn’t such a thing as down time! 

I do like winter more and more these days for its forced slowing-down of life, though.  This is the time of year we read the most library books, play the most games at the dining room table, watch the most movies and follow the most rabbit trails to find new hobbies, skills and passions.

That’s not to say I won’t be thrilled when spring comes!  My seed catalogs have me especially impatient for the return of green, and I can’t wait to be able to once again spend the whole day outside with the kids.  But in the meantime, we might as well have fun with what we’ve got!

Here’s a few ways to make a little magic with your kiddos this week, no matter what the weather is in your little corner of the world.

1.  Give your child a Valentine straw rocket!  E for Explore has the free printable and directions.

2.  Do a wacky photo shoot of your child.

3.  Start a pride jar.  Every time you’re proud of your child, write the reason on a slip of paper and put it in a pretty jar. Encourage the kids to peek in their jars!

4.  Gather some fruits and veggies and make some edible art.  I have lots of inspiration on my Cooking With Kids board on Pinterest.

10 Ways to Make Today Magical5.  Try circus tricks together.  See if you can juggle, balance a ball on your nose, walk a “tightrope” on the floor, clown around and so on.

6.  Paint some snowballs.

7.  Make an edible gingerbread house for the birds and squirrels.  Get together some graham crackers, nutbutter and a variety of bird seeds, fresh or dried fruits, and nuts.  Help the kids assemble like a regular house with peanut butter as the “glue” and decorate with the seeds, fruits and nuts.  Take a picture of your masterpiece and then leave it where it’s visible from inside so you can watch to see who visits.

8.  Cut out dozens of construction paper hearts and write a reason you love each other on each one.  Cover the windows or a door with them all, or hang them from the ceiling on lengths of yarn or ribbon.

9.  Do some Pinterest-inspired arts and crafts.  Find a fun project, tutorial or bit of inspiration and sit down together to give it a try.

10. Play the gratitude game at dinner.  Go through the alphabet taking turns naming one thing you’re grateful for in life for each letter.  Anything counts, from artichokes to Aunt Julie.  :)

And with that, I’m off again.  I’ll try to pop in more often this week. 

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

Have a magical week! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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