Monthly Archives: June 2009

Tiny: Worry Dolls!

I have been meaning to get back into doing Unplug Your Kids projects with the kids and this week’s theme could not have been more timely– TINY.

Just today my package came from the Greater Good store, which is tied to sites like The Rainforest Site and The Hunger Site.  Included in the package were four pouches of tiny worry dolls, one for each of the kids.

These teeny tiny little handmade dolls are based on an old Mayan tradition of giving your worries to a doll and tucking it under your pillow at night.  The doll is supposed to take away your worries while you sleep.

I got two sets of regular worry dolls and two sets of cat dolls (which are fully dressed with arms, legs and whiskers!).  They’re made through fair trade labor that helps women support their families in Guatemala, are super affordable ($1.95 per set of 6 in a little drawstring bag) and a small portion of proceeds goes to whichever charity site you enter through (mine was through The Literacy Site that time).  Every one is unique and they’re really sweet.

All four of my kids happily played with their worry dolls tonight.  They had such fun!  The boys lined them up and Jack put on a play with his.  Anna started developing a family story for hers and Victoria thanked me about 6 times and told me how much she loved them.  🙂

Children are so drawn to tiny things and I have to admit that even I really enjoy these itty bitty people (and felines!).  I love the way every one of them is dressed differently and how easy it is to want to start making up stories for them.

The only bad thing is that Victoria likes hers so much that she keeps worrying (ahem) about losing them!  😉



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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

1.  Stage an art show.  Collect favorite art projects and hang them in the garage or living room with small tags underneath noting the title, artist and price.  Hand out fake money and allow people to purchase favorite works.  If you like, think up a theme or medium (yarn and paint, watercolors, Japanese inspired…) and create masterpieces together for a special show at the end of the week.

2.  Have a watermelon seed spitting contest.

3.  Start a love box.  Find a fun, small box and put a treat inside.  Leave it on someone’s pillow, at their seat at the dinner table or in a lunch box.  The person has to put something in it and pass it on to another family member.  Ideas for treats– a chocolate, a tiny toy, a poem, a drawing, a love letter, a fresh flower, a list of things you love about the person, a coupon for a back rub…  (adapted from a tip at

4.  Throw a theme potluck– everyone must bring a dishthat starts with A, has exactly 3 ingredients or is a certain color, for example.  If you don’t want to have to clean, stage it at a park.

5.  Wash the car together.

6.  Make iced tea or lemonade with rose petals or mint scattered in each cup.  Make sure to use clean, untreated leaves and petals.  You can call it fairy tea, summer tea or let the kids dream up a good name for it.  If you like, add food coloring or bright juice concentrates to jazz up the color.  You can even use food coloring to make different colored ice cubes or freeze whole strawberries to drop in.

7.  Have a water balloon fight.

8. During the night, decorate the living room with streamers and a big sign that says "Happy ________ Day!" (marmot day, random day, I love you day, blueberry day…)  Make up traditions for the day together– you must wear purple, it’s traditional to eat ice cream for breakfast, whatever.

9.  Have a kiddie parade.  Grab some friends or neighbors, dress everybody up and give each child a baton, drum, tambourine or flag.  March down the sidewalk or through a park.  If you like, pull a wagon with extra props and invite other kids to join in as you go.

10. Perform a random act of kindness together.

Have a magical week!

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Hi Beautiful!

Here’s a little tip for when you’re signing up for newsletters and online subscriptions.  If it asks for your first name, have a little fun!  I have one site that sends me updates that begin "My Queen…".   Another greets me with "Hi Sexy!".    🙂

Not only is this a very nice way to have strange businesses address you, but it protects your privacy and can bring a little smile when you’re looking through your email!

This is a great tip to teach children, too.  It further protects their privacy and safeguards their identities, and they can get a kick out of being addressed with names like Cutie Pie, Your Highness, Superkid and such.

Happy Sunday!

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Fun on the Road

Stuck in a car together and looking for ways to keep the kids happy?  Whether you’re headed cross country or are just looking for ways to make a trip the grocery store more fun, here’s some activities and ideas that work for us.  Some of these also workgreat IN the grocery store to keep the kids happy too!

    • Play alphabet games.  For instance there’s the biography one where you go through the alphabet making up identities to match each letter: "A my name is Anna, I’m from Arkansas and I like arguing…".

    • Get books on tape.  Your library carries oodles of these, from storybooks read aloud to little song and rhyme collections.  They’re fantastic.
    • Silly counting:  Daryl dreamed this one up.  Have your child slowly count.  As she is counting, start asking questions to get funny answers.  For instance… 1, 2, 3, "How many noses do you have?" …4 "You have 4 noses?!" 5, 6… "How old is your mother?" 7… "7 years old?  Wow she’s young!" 8, 9, 10… "How many cats can you fit in your mouth?" 10….  This makes little ones howl with laughter if you do it silly enough.

    • Play children’s music.  Victoria says it’s important that children sing it too.  No matter how cool adults are, she always prefers to sing along with other kids.

    • If you’re brave enough, give them washable window markers (Crayola makes some) and a wet wipe, and let them decorate their windows as they ride.  Truth be told, we use regular washable markers on windows too.

    • Bring a ziplock bag of colorform shapes.  These are the little peel and stick people, pets, shapes, etc.  They cling to windows so kids can create scene after scene.

    • Lend the kids a digital camera and ask them to take pictures as you go.  This is a huge treat for our kids during trips and some of the photos have been really wonderful.
    • Balance things on your head.  Give the kids something like a beanie baby to balance on their heads and challenge them to see how long they can hold it there.  Our girls sat for an amazing amount of time quietly concentrating on doing this.

    • Put older kids in charge of keeping "the log."  We’ve had this tradition on trips since before we had children.  We keep track of times, mileage, sights seen, weather, stops, you name it.  The goofy entries make us laugh years later.  Each night, read the day’s log together.

    • Make up a treasure hunt list.  Write down 20 things to seeon the trip and have the child cross them out as he spots them.  Younger kids can do this with picture lists.  Examples of things to list– tractor, semi truck, billboard with a person on it, motorcycle, green house, dog, deer crossing sign, mailbox…

    • Bring paper and crayons so the kids can do art.  A cookie sheet makes a good lap tray since crayons can’t roll off.

    • Print out activity pages from online and keep them in a folder just for car trips.

    • Bring the magna doodle
    • Sing songs together.
    • Play "would you rather."  This game occupied a car full of kids ages 4 to 14 for hours in Maine a couple of years ago.  Ask the kids to make choices like would you rather take a trip to the moon or the bottom of the ocean, never eat ice cream again or never have chocolate, live in a zoo or a shopping mall, be a surgeon or a painter…

This site has printable bingo cards, games, coloring pages, you name it:
this site goes with the book Carschooling.  You can sign up for a newsletter, mailing lists, etc.

What are your favorite ways to stay busy in car rides? 

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What to do if Your Child has Superpowers

"You may have heard that it could happen at any time. One moment your child might be playing with a toy truck and the next moment he or she is levitating a few feet above the ground. Or your baby might suddenly transform into an ice sculpture. Or – and I have heard this worry expressed by more than one parent – your child might become orange and rock-like, even though he was nowhere near any cosmic rays…"

Magical Mama Claire shared this tongue in cheek article that made me giggle.

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A Walk in the Moonlight

Tonight was not the easiest of nights.  Daryl and the girls had "media night" for the play they are in.  They have practice every weeknight and tonight they left early in full costume to rehearse act one and meet the press.  As with the rest of June, I was on my own with two little boys (one of whom can drive me to distraction!).

It was a long night.  Alex found the litter box and the scoop and left a trail down the hallway carpet and all the way down the stairs.  He dumped things out.  He wrote on Daddy’s new recliner with blue marker.  He accidentally scratched Jack.  He threw fits.

There are some nights when it takes all you’ve got to make it to bedtime, and tonight was one of those nights.

I got him cleaned up, the recliner cleaned up, the hallway and stairs cleaned up, and got him acting better and asleep.  I even got a bunch of enthusiastic toddler hugs and kisses before he dropped.  The rest of the house was trashed but it was a success in my book.

When the girls came home, we ended up having an impromptu music history lesson when I had Victoria look up "We are the World" on you-tube and talked about how Michael Jackson shaped his generation.  Then I was still wired from the evening and asked Anna if she wanted to go for a walk.

My kids love taking late night walks.  I’m not sure what it is about walking with Mama under the stars, but it has always been a treat to my kids.

Anna was still in her prairie girl costume, bonnet and all.  We held hands and walked around the neighborhood, talking.  I told her how I held her in my lap when she was a baby on the front lawn in the moonlight and made her promises.  She walked me to the magical cornfield and told me to make a wish for the fairies.  She also told me how so-and-so texted her boyfriend at rehearsal about the bench the kids were using.  She said she felt lucky she got to take late night walks with me.  I told her sappy memories and gave her hugs.

When we got back, I asked her to send Victoria out.  I’m glad Victoria is not too old to take late night walks with her mama.  I showed her my bulletproof roses that the neighbor thought were "brambles" and mowed down for years.  They grew in full shade on the north side of the house for years before we moved in and loved them into full bloom.  I told her how our back yard used to be nothing but grass, and how we bought 5 tiny lilac trees and 2 dogwoods to line the back and now they’re twice as tall as we are.  The gardens, the climbing tree, the raspberries, the roses taller than the garage… it’s all new since the house became ours and now it seems like it’s been there forever.

We went walking off down the side streets and I told her how we went walking on a night like this when she was a baby with my friend Jen and her daughter, Lizzie, and how we stopped in the moonlight for me to bend down and talk to her in the stroller.  I was being sappy and adoring her, and Lizzie turned to her mother and said in her most reverent five year-old voice, "That’s love."

I told her again about how many miscarriages I had before we had her, and how Daddy and I used to fight over who got to hold her.  I told her how much we loved her and how proud we’ve been every day of her life.

When we got home, Jack snuggled up in my lap while we watched late night TV and he fell asleep while I stroked his hair.  We never got to the books I meant to read tonight or the art project I kept wanting to do.  I hope the snuggling and the extra orange juice popsicles made up for it a little.

It’s the end of the night now, and it’s miserably hot inside.  We don’t have central air, just a window unit downstairs.  I’m hot and tired and there’s still more mess to clean up in the morning.  Tomorrow, Alex will wake in a fantastic mood and commence trying to drive us all crazy again. 

It was a trying night.  There were messes and tears and mayhem.  There’s no denying it.  But what I’m taking to bed with me tonight is the kisses, the snuggling, walking hand in hand with my daughters and making wishes by magical cornfields.

The rest will still drive me to distraction, but I still think it’s worth it.  🙂

Goodnight all.  Happy Friday!

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Homemade Rubber Stamp Ink

Magical mama Susan shared this great craft recipe many moons ago…

Powdered Clothes Dye (any color) like Rit ( I used tempura powdered paint )
1/4 Teaspoon rubbing Alcohol
5 Tablespoons Glycerin

Mix dye with alcohol to the consistency of thin cream. Add glycerin. Stir until well blended. This makes enough to replenish a stamp pad several times. Pour ink over stamp pad. I made a stamp pad with a sponge and a plastic container.

Cut shapes with potatoes and the kids stamp away.

Notes from Alicia:
You can get glycerine in the pharmacy section of most stores.
You can often find dye packages at thrift stores and garage sales.
I’m not sure how much of the dye you use.  I’m assuming a small amount, since you add it to the alcohol and it’s a tiny bit of alcohol.  One package of dye would last for eons in that case!
Thanks again, Susan!

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Note to Self

This week I should….

  • Run through the grass with Victoria
  • Splash in more puddles with the kids
  • Read more books to Jack
  • Lead a big, messy art project
  • Snuggle more with Anna
  • Make more granola bars
  • Wear bright red lipstick
  • Go on a late night walk with one of the kids
  • Be sillier
  • Savor Alex’s toddlerhood
  • Spin in circles with the kids until we’re dizzy
  • Play frisbee
  • Cut myself some slack

How about you?  What’s on your list?  Make sure it’s largely fun!

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Watermelon Lemonade!

Here’s what I want to make next time we have extra watermelon on our hands!

I stumbled onto a recipe for watermelon lemonade on a blog and it sounded delicious.  It was a bit big, long and complicated so I went googling!  Most of the recipes I found called for astounding amounts of watermelon (15 cups!) and containers of lemonade concentrate.  I am not only cheap (and lazy!) but also a bit of a natural freak, so I like things to be as "from scratch" as possible.  I went looking and this one from fit the bill!

Watermelon Lemonade Recipe

The mild flavour of the watermelon blends nicely with the tart lemon juice. This unusual lemonade recipe will quench your thirst and keep you refreshed all afternoon long.


  • 6 cups watermelon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice


Remove as many seeds as you can from the watermelon flesh. Place watermelon and water in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain liquid into a pitcher, along with sugar and lemon juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled, then serve.

We always get our watermelons from a nearby farm family that sells produce from July through October, and I know it’s a long wait until their fabulous melons are ready.  Mine are about an inch high so I’m hoping the supermarket will run a sale this week.

Oh yes, I’m cheap, lazy, a natural freak AND impatient!  🙂

Happy Tuesday!


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10 Ways to Make the Day Magical

Happy Monday!  Time for a list!  Here’s a few simple ways to make some memories this week with a special focus on summer fun. 

1.  Make ice necklaces!  Freeze some long lengths of yarn in water filled muffin cups.  Have the kids add bits of things to make designs if they like — flower petals, clovers, glitter, etc. — and then freeze till solid.  Next time they’re really hot outside they can wear a necklace to cool down!

2.  Teach the kids to whistle with blades of grass and stage your own backyard grass concert together.

3.  Make pounded flower stationery.  Take some sturdy white paper or cardstock and some medium sized, smooth rocks.  Next, have the kids gather flower petals and leaves of all sorts and colors.  Position your petals and leaves between two sheets of paper and then pound and pound and pound over the petal!  Lift and see what sorts of colors have transferred onto your paper.  You can also use flowers in other ways to stain your paper.  You can rub yellow dandelions right on to stain the paper, and you can dust the pollen from lilies all over.  We have some bright orange lilies that have such intensely colored dust that my kids often end up with orange noses.  🙂  When you’re finished with your stationery, write a letter to a loved one on it and make someone’s day.

4.  Shake a bush. No really, bear with me.  Get a light colored sheet and put it beneath a bush and then have the kids shake it like crazy.  See if any interesting little bugs drop down onto your sheet.  If you like, catch them in a jar with some leaves and study them for a bit before letting them go under their bush again. 

5.  Make squirt gun art.  Give the kids each a piece of poster board and some washable markers and ask them to use lots of colors and make a design all over the posterboard.  They can do lines, colored circles, patterns, whatever.  The more color the better!  Hang them on the clothes line or prop them up in the back yard and give each child a squirt gun filled with water.  Have them squirt their pictures to make the ink run and make new designs, colors and patterns.

6.  Make fruit slushies in a bag!  You may have tried making ice cream in a bag and tossing it with the kids outside (if you haven’t you should!).  Even easier is to make fruit juice slushies.  Simply put a half a cup of fruit juice in a small ziploc bag and seal well (we tape ours with duct tape).  Then fill a gallon size ziploc bag about halfway with crushed ice and about half a cup of rock salt or kosher salt.  Put your juice bag in that one and seal well.  Have the kids toss and jostle the bag outside for about five minutes (they may want to wear mittens– it gets cold!).  Unseal and you’ll have a fruit slushie!

7.  Let the kids camp out in the back yard or living room.  Better yet, join them.  Don’t forget the campfire songs!

8.  Fade some clothes.  Let each child pick a dark or bright colored T-shirt and gather an assortment or rocks or other small, heavy shapes.  Have the kids arrange their shapes on the T-shirts in a sunny place where they can remain undisturbed for a few days.  Have them check their shirts every few days until they have faded enough to make the pattern really visible. 

9.  Go strawberry picking.

10. Invent some garden drinks.  If you grow herbs like mint or lemon verbena (which is such a heavenly scent that I can’t recommend it enough!), invite the kids to pick some, wash it and crush it in the bottom of a glass.  Add ice and drink of choice (carbonated water, 7-up, water, hot water for hot tea…) and honey or sugar to taste.  They can experiment with other edible flowers like roses and violets if you’re sure they have not been treated with pesticides.  Just keep in mind some edible flowers aren’t necessarily sweet!  Nasturtiums, for example, are peppery and perfect for salads but not so nice for an iced drink.  🙂  If you don’t have your own plants, pick up some strawberries, mint and such from the grocery store and invite the kids to use those.  Alternately, just let them use scoops of fruit juice concentrate to make their private cococtions.  I highly recommend investing in some cheap goblets for occasions like these.  Kids feel so marvelously sophisticated when they get to drink from goblets!

And with that,I’m off to bed.  Kiss your babies, count your blessings and don’t forget to take care of you!

Have a magical week!



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