Silly Photo Shoots!

Here’s a fun and easy way to make a little magic with your kiddos. 

Have a zany photo shoot! 

We’ve done many of these over the years and it always leads to smiles.

There are some free apps that let you get pretty creative, too.  :) 

wacky photo shoots

Happy Wednesday!

 

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Is It a Bad Thing to Want to Give Our Kids a Magical Childhood?

Last week, a blog post went viral about why parents should stop trying to give their kids a magical childhood. 

One of my friends shared it on her Facebook wall and yesterday a speaker at a sustainability conference even recommended it, saying that parents today spend too much time “on those things like Pinterest” and “working so hard to make their children’s live magical.”

“They’re just making their own lives harder,” she scoffed, “trying to make everything perfect.”

Then she said it’s because we mothers are addicted to stress.

Yes, it turns out we secretly like stress and so the quest to make childhood fun is some deep, psychological quest to make ourselves unhappy.

Or something like that.  I had a really hard time understanding the logic in any of it.

These people seem to completely miss the point about what makes a childhood magical, and why some of us make an effort to try to do it.

A magical childhood isn’t about elaborate homemade cakes or catalog-worthy decorating ideas.  It’s not about spending hours on Pinterest in some feverish quest to find enough fantastic things to do for our children.

It’s also not about doing things for and to our children.

It’s about doing things with our children.  And giving them a life where they can make their own magic, too.

A magical childhood is filled with things like stories, hugs, picnics for breakfast in the back yard, knock-knock jokes in lunch boxes, lazy Saturdays, I love you notes in sock drawers and a dozen kisses “just because.”

A magical childhood is about silliness and songs and spontaneity and at least occasional opportunities to make a glorious mess in the mud.

A magical childhood is filled with memories of little things that are big things to children — fireflies, campfires, snowball fights, shoulder rides, time with people who make them feel special and snuggling in bed with a big pile of wonderful library books.

A magical childhood is about being there with our kids on a regular basis and taking the time to talk to them, listen to them, and do something that makes them smile.

It can involve crafts and activities.  It can involve any number of things you can find on Pinterest (and for the record, why is it the new “in” thing to gang up on moms who craft or like Pinterest?).  It can also involve just getting out in nature together or shooting hoops at the park or sitting in the back yard and talking after supper.

Childhood is hard.  Adulthood is hard.  Life in general is hard.

We all need a little magic. 

Yes, kids can make their own magic.  They are very capable of turning our living rooms into giant forts, creating elaborate fantasy worlds in the bushes in the backyard, and enthusiastically jumping like crazy in giant puddles.

But the thing that those misguided people don’t realize is that when we work to make childhood magical, we benefit too.

We strengthen our connection with our kids.

We show our kids that we love them like crazy.

We strengthen them for the hard times they will face in life.

And….

We get to play and craft and splash and make messes again, too.

We add some joy to our own days.

We make parenthood magical too.

silly

I have parented these children through toddlerhood (five times!), surgeries, cancer, the deaths of friends and family, tween angst, teen depression, bullies and more.  Do you think I could have survived intact without working to make it magical for all of us?

There is a picture book that I read to my kids at bedtime sometimes that sums up a magical childhood to me.  It’s called My Mama Had a Dancing Heart and it’s about a little girl and her mother through the seasons spending time together cutting out paper snowflakes, playing in fall leaves, dancing in the rain and so on.

The last line is, “My mama had a dancing heart, and she shared that heart with me.”

That’s the kind of mom I have always tried to be.  And I frankly think it’s nonsense for anyone to suggest that’s a bad thing.

Those people can go on scoffing at those of us who strive to give our kids a magical childhood.

If that’s the worst thing they can say about me, I think I’m doing okay.  :)

dancing

 

 

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Plastic Bag Flowers, Revisited

A few days ago, I got a comment on a new post asking how I made some plastic bag flowers back in 2010.  I didn’t even remember making plastic bag flowers, but a quick blog search showed this post where I linked to a fabulous blog with instructions.

It turns out that the original blog is down, but thanks to the amazing Wayback Machine, you can still read the post and get the directions here.  I also found the original author’s current blog, which has some neat community art projects to check out.  For instance, this is an art installation called “the tent” that community members created out of scrap fabric from a nearby factory.

And this amazing community art installation is created out of recycled plastic bags, just like those flowers.  Isn’t it amazing?

Now I’m wishing we had plastic bags in colors other than boring white, and looking at all of our recycling with new eyes again.  :)

Fun stuff!

 

 

 

 

 

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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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