Monthly Archives: September 2010

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Hello from Nebraska! We’re down at Magical Mama Tiffany’s for one more day but I’m popping in for a Monday list of some fun ways to make some fun this week…

1. Leave squirrel treats. Gather up some fallen nuts or splurge on some bulk peanuts and leave little platters of them for the squirrels. Hide someplace and watch them come to spirit them away. Wanna make it really fun? Make them work for it. Squirrels are brilliant at getting to even the trickiest of treats. Some families have even rigged up obstacle courses for their furry visitors.

2. Start a family poem. Put up a large piece of paper on a door and put a pen nearby. Ask every family member to add a word every time he or she passes. It can be silly or serious. Save the finished poems in an album or scrapbook.

3. Do a fall photo shoot in a park or back yard. Bring props (football, teddy bear, pumpkin…) and costume changes. Ask someone to take a picture of you with the kids, too.

4. Let the kids pick out several yards of clearance fabric in glamorous, funky and fun patterns. Help them make their own scarves, doll clothes, dress up clothes, throw pillows and more. Iron on fusible tape instead of sewing seams, if you like (you do this part for younger kids, obviously). If you’re short on money, let them use old clothes or sheets instead and decorate with permanent markers.

5. For October, use a white crayon to write a different little message or fun activity on each square in the calendar. Each day, let your child color the square with a marker to reveal the secret message.

6. Help the kids make child-size scarecrows for the front yard, one for each child. Make them as wacky and personal as possible.

7. Hold a spelling bee and history quiz to help kids study their homework. Have the kids use the dictionary to look up words to try to stump mom or dad too.

8. Bake bread together and eat it while it’s still hot. Make extra dough and use it to make crescent rolls and other fun rolls for supper.

9. Have a paper airplane derby. You’ll find free patterns for simple to fancy planes, helicopters, rockets, frisbees and more here.

10. Do a family cookbook makeover. Take a lousy cookbook and assign this challenge– kids must pick a recipe from it and change 3 items in the ingredients to form a new family recipe. Write over the recipe with a funky colored pen (each family member gets her own color) to make changes. Try to make the recipes as different from the original as possible, and tastier. After tasting the final creation, the family rates the recipe and writes that in next to the entry.

And with that, I’m off to drink some more tea and hang out with some marvelous people. See you soon!



Filed under Ways to make today magical

The Payoff

It’s not always easy to be a parent, and it’s really not always easy to try to be a good one…

  • At 3 a.m. when you have finally gotten to sleep and your child comes and wakes you because she’s had a nightmare (for the fifth time this week)…
  • When your four year-old has a meltdown at the state capitol and you have legislators from a dozen states giving you the skunk eye as you patiently sit and discuss the unfairness of life on the steps…
  • As your child goes through some stage that everybody has advice about and you patiently wait even longer for it to pass, having faith (almost completely) that eventually she’ll be able to pee alone or talk to strangers or sleep in her own room or whatever it is that is her personal quirk…

It’s super easy to be a great parent during the light of day when you’re well rested, everything is going perfectly and your kids are being fabulous.  That’s cake.

But the tough days and nights are where the payoff lies.

Those are the times when we don’t know if we really have it in us, but somehow we do, and later they come back to make it all worthwhile.

I am getting to that phase in life where I am gaining wisdom and wrinkles.  I’ve made it through phases that I thought would never end, to the point where now I almost forget that once they made me crazy.

I am lucky enough to still have little children but also lucky enough to have big ones.  Every day I see the payoff… the fears that have been resolved, the needs that have been filled and gone away, the phases that ran their course and the happy, healthy kids who have remained.

It’s sometimes bittersweet for me to have my little girls growing up so fast.  I’m not all together ready to be done with fairy wings and princess gowns.  Like it or not, I have preteens and am inches away from a full-fledged teenager.

But I am loving more and more the adventure of having big kids.

My daughters and I are taking part in some college courses given by international students at a local college.  Victoria and I are learning German, while Anna, Victoria and I are all learning Spanish.

There is something magical about sitting in a college class with my daughters on either side of me.

My once-shy Annalee, who hid behind my skirts when she was two, now is the first to answer some questions about how to conjugate a verb in a college Spanish class.

And Victoria, who changes on a minute by minute basis, has mostly decided that I am awfully fabulous to be around and wants me to come with her everywhere.  (Okay, sometimes I’m still absolutely terrible, but I’m happy to at least mostly rock!)

So I’m here to say hang in there… to those of you in the early years that try so hard to exhaust you, to those of you who have been plugging away with your good mama hats on and wonder if it matters at all, to those of you being told by all sides advice that goes against your heart… hang in there.

I’m not naive enough to think that the hard days are behind me.  Boy oh boy do I have a lot of crazy-making mama moments in store for me, I know.  But it is so nice to have come through enough to realize that I seem to be at least going in the right direction.

Here’s to the hard work of parenting, and to the little people we’ve created who are worth it.

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
~Frederick Douglass

Nothing you do for a child is ever wasted.
~Garrison Keillor


Filed under the big stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  It’s the start of a whole new week and lots more chances to make some magic with our kiddos.  Here’s a few ideas for how to do it…

1.  Take part in the Shoot-Along Challenge at Giver’s Log.  Take a picture at your house at the exact same time each day for a week and capture the real essence of your days together.

2.  Find a really old cookbook and make a meal fit for an old fashioned family (the menu below is from an old train dining car!).  Some of the intriguing recipes we’ve found include Porridge, Lone Ranger Sandwiches, Creamed Chicken in Potato Nests and Jumbo Prunes with Cream.  Some sounded more tempting than others!

3.  Get out the good china and have a fabulous, fancy meal.  Even mac and cheese and a salad is fabulous and fancy on good china!

4.  Print out some positive printables.  There’s lunch box cards, you are loved cards, posters and more.

5.  Hide Easter eggs all over the  house with random little notes, trinkets and prizes in them.  Don’t tell anybody — just wait for them to be discovered.

6.  Make crab-apple cider.

7.  Secretly write letters to three of your child’s favorite stars (singers, actors, whatever) and ask for autographed photos.  Hopefully at least one will write back!

8.  Get inspired by A Dress a Day and remake some tacky old dresses into something funky and fabulous.

9.  Make homemade puffy paint.

10. Eat lunch or supper with all sorts of weird props– eat off lids and frisbees, use ladles and tongs to eat with, serve soup from a tea pot, drink from clean ketchup containers…  Get creative!

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

On Sisters…

My sister taught me everything I really need to know, and she was only in sixth grade at the time.
– Linda Sunshine

A sister smiles when one tells one’s stories – for she knows where the decoration has been added.
-Chris Montaigne

A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.
– Marion C. Garretty

Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.
-Author Unknown

Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life.
– Charles M. Schulz

You can kid the world. But not your sister.
– Charlotte Gray

Sisters never quite forgive each other for what happened when they were five.
-Pam Brown

Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.
– Margaret Mead

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On Brothers

A brother is a friend given by Nature.


We are not only our brother’s keeper; in countless large and small ways, we are our brother’s maker.

~Bonaro Overstreet

Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.

~Marc Brown

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Ten Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  Here’s a few ways to have a bit of fun with your sweeties this week….

1.  Take some stale bread and feed the ducks, seagulls, pigeons or whatever feathered creatures you have in your neighborhood.

2.  Tour someplace interesting.

3.  Make monster feet.

4.  Head to a beach, river bank or even a parking lot and hunt for agates, fossils, shells or other goodies.

5.  Find beauty someplace simple, like this dad did with his two daughters when they photographed sidewalk cracks.

6.  Find a lake, stream or puddle and a pile of rocks and let your little one throw rocks to his heart’s content.  Sure, it sounds pretty simple to us grown ups, but this is magical stuff indeed to your average small child.  🙂

7.  Play a game outside someplace fun — in a tree, on a big rock, in a tent, on a blanket in the park, in the back yard after dark or some such.

8.  Combine science and art by making sunscreen paintings.

9.  Go to a gourmet restaurant off-hours and split a decadent appetizer or dessert.

10.  Head outside to someplace beautiful together.

And now, I’m off to find an iron for an art project.  Yes, that’s about the only action my iron sees!

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

Dealing With Icks

We’re back from our fabulous trip to Duluth.  I’m still getting back in the swing of things, but I just saw someone talking online about feeling down because of a nasty mother-in-law and thought I’d dig this up from the old Magical Childhood newsletter archives.

This is for all those magical mamas (and papas and so on) who are dealing with icks out there…


Are friends and relatives down on you for how you parent?

I hear from way too many parents who seem to be surrounded by icks. 

Now we all have to deal with icks in our lives, but some of you poor people seem to have an unfair serving of them.

How do you know if loved ones are icks in your life?

  • If they start most of their sentences with “If I were you….”.
  • If you can’t remember the last time they paid you a compliment.
  • If you get a panic attack when they pull into your drive.
  • If you have been known to clean the oven to get away from them.
  • If their advice makes you feel bad about yourself.
  • If you would choose elective surgery over an evening in their company.

What should you do about icks in your life?

Well, the obvious answers (booby traps, fire extinguishers, hornets…) are too hard to coordinate.  Plus, icks tend to have the sticking power of starved leeches, probably because they’re so used to having people push them over and take off running to get away from them.

So what should you do?  Here are some suggestions.

  • Take up a hobby that will reduce the amount of time you can spend with them.
  • Get caller ID.
  • When they offer unwanted advice about how you parent, look thoughtful and say “That’s interesting, it’s exactly the opposite of what our doctor told me.”
  • Tell them you’ve just been diagnosed with a severe ulcer and have been told to eliminate stress at all costs. Whenever they start to say something you don’t like, grab your stomach and moan.
  • Every time they start to give advice, jump up and suddenly remember something you have to do in the next room. They’re icky, not stupid.  They’ll get it.
  • Compliment them extensively for anything good they do. Icks are dreadfully insecure and are used to everybody thinking they’re heinous (they are, after all).  Therefore, nobody compliments them, even though lots of people may pretend to be their friends.  Find anything real and gush over it.  And be sincere.  Redirection works for your two year old so why not try it on your father in law.
  • Avoid them. I’ve done this for years.  Hey, they don’t pay any cash for having social graces towards icky people.  Why exactly should I play nicely with the old friend who treats me like an idiot?  Why visit the relative who makes me feel bad about myself?  Pfft.  People whom you did not give birth to have to earn the right to your company.
  • Find better people. If you surround yourself with enough neat people you’ll be better equipped to blow off the obnoxious ones.  Even an online group of supportive friends can work wonders to drown out the drone of a lecturing relative.  At the very least you can vent and have somebody say “poor thing” and “they suck” a lot.
  • Remember the most important thing:  You’re great and they’re wrong. 🙂 Any time some ick is prattling on at you about how you should spank your child for not staying at the supper table, or how you’re ruining your baby by holding him, or how your house is too messy or your kid is too shy, then I want you to picture me saying it again. You’re great and they’re wrong.


(Apologies but you’ll have to picture me saying it on a camel, since this seems to be the only recent picture I can find of myself.  But it kind of adds a nice touch, don’t you think?)


Got it?  One more time.  You’re great and they’re wrong.


And I know it’s true, too.  For one thing, the type of person who tells other people what’s wrong with them is always wrong.  It’s science.  A law of nature.  Nice people don’t lecture.  So it’s proof– the minute they open their mouths and find fault you have it.

You’re great and they’re wrong.

And if they’re still too rude to take, you send ’em to me.  😉


Filed under the big stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  We’re off to Duluth this week but before I go here’s a few ways to make some memories this week….

1.  Buy some inexpensive wine glasses for the kids to use at dinner. We bought a four-pack of sturdy, inexpensive wine glasses just for the kids a year ago and it’s amazing how well they have lasted.  It makes the kids feel so fancy at dinner time and they learn to be careful with the breakable glass.  For toddlers, you can also check thrift stores for whimsical mugs or colorful plastic margarita glasses.

2. Do a conga line to leave someplace fun. I learned this one from Magical Mama Tiffany when our kids didn’t want to leave the mall one day.  She had them all line up and hold on to the waist of the person ahead of them and we did the conga all the way out.  Chant conga, conga, con-GA! and kick to alternating sides on the last syllable.  Three-year-old Alex even does a two-person conga line with me to go upstairs to bed.

3.  Host an old fashioned game like horseshoes or croquet on the front lawn and invite friends and neighbors to join in.

4.  Pick out some spring flower bulbs together and plant them to make a beautiful new scene come springtime.

5. Make your own play dough together and dye it naturally. Use beets, turmeric, coffee, crab apples, you name it.  Hint: simmer lots of materials with not much water for the brightest colors.

6.  Share a cup of tea the English way. Brew some tea and add cream (we use vanilla almond milk) and sugar for a delicious sweet treat.

7.  Set up a mall logic scavenger hunt. I love this amazing idea from Toad Haven!  I’m afraid our version would not be nearly as elaborate but I’m so inspired and tickled at the idea.  🙂

8.  Take advantage of the surplus of tomatoes and all the farmers’ markets and make your own salsa together. We do this at least every week this time of year and love to experiment with our recipe (and to gobble it up!).

9.  Take the kids to a thrift store and give them each a small amount of money for a “shopping spree.” Even three dollars can buy a ton of stuff at a thrift store!

10. Invite some fun friends over for a casual dinner party. Let the kids set the table and make it fancy with centerpieces and such.  Put out a spread and enjoy conversation, company, after-dinner games and (if your dinner parties are anything like ours) a lot of noise!

And with that, my dears, I’m off to run around frantically trying to finish packing and forget half of what we’ll need this week.  🙂

Have a fabulous week!  Kiss your kiddos, count your blessings and don’t forget to take care of you.

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Positively Orphaned

It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be an orphaned child, but add an HIV diagnosis to that and things get even gloomier.

Enter Positively Orphaned.  This inspirational blog gives readers opportunities to help these children, from small (children post what they’d love to have, such as roller skates or a guitar) to large (profiles of children who are awaiting adoption).

The site offers a wealth of information like:

  • Grants and funding available for adoptive families
  • HIV medical information
  • Children in need of homes
  • Foster families looking for sponsorship
  • Summer camps for HIV kids
  • Foster and adoption web sites
  • Family blogs of others who have adopted HIV kids
  • Fact sheets
  • Lists of books, films and organizations with more info
  • Health resources
  • A list of HIV orphanages
  • Links to humanitarian organizations
  • Videos
  • Information about supplementing health care costs
  • Sites to sponsor an HIV child
  • Articles and personal stories about adopting HIV orphans

All children deserve a magical childhood.  Thanks to this wonderful blog for helping that happen for more children around the world.


Filed under helping out

Today’s Assignments…

Yes, assignments!  Bet you didn’t know there would be homework when you wandered in!  🙂

Please do at least one of the following:

  1. Get down on the floor to play.
  2. Build something, paint something or otherwise create something.
  3. Give your child at least 10 hugs and/or kisses.
  4. Do something nice for somebody else’s child.
  5. Do something nice for you.
  6. Laugh like a fool.
  7. Frame some of your child’s art and display it where it will make you smile.
  8. Just sit and talk with your child.
  9. Make silly faces at your kids and then play innocent when they look.
  10. Leave a comment with an assignment of your own.

Extra credit if you do more than one!  Do not do all ten.  No perfectionism allowed.  🙂


Filed under goals and notes to self