Monthly Archives: January 2011

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I’m a bit under the weather so I’m going to get right to things!

Here’s a few ways to make some magical days this week…

1.  Clean out some bottles from ketchup, syrup and other food items from the recycling bin and let the kids use them for their drinks at dinner.

2.  Then fill those bottles or some others with colored water and decorate the snowbanks!

3.  Then take some of that colored water (make it bright!) and bottles, and grab some white t-shirts.  Hang them up outside or in the shower and have the kids squirt designs on them.  Let them dry and then they can wear their creations.  When you wash them, most of it will fade so you’ll just have to do it again!

4.  Start watching a TV series or favorite movie series with one or more of your children (my girls and I have started having 80’s movie nights), and make a special time to watch it together.  Make some treats, turn down the lights and make it a special time together.

5.  Take some pipe cleaners and have the kids string all different types of cereal on them for the birds.  Hang them where you can see them from the windows and see which cereal the birds like best!

6.  Raid the recycling bin again and also gather natural materials, and make all sorts of little boats together.  Next bath time, let your child float her own regatta.

7.  Here’s one for your mamas in summer time right now!  Scroll down to see what happens to these little decorated bottles when the child unscrews the cap!

8.  Find a good radio station (you can listen to ones from around the world online!) and dance like fools together.

9. Make neon mashed potatoes.  Whip up a batch and then divide it in half.  Mix a bit of beet juice in one (a little goes a long way — you won’t taste it and it will make it a lovely bright pink!) and some sprinkles of turmeric in the other (for bright yellow-gold).  Put the two bowls out at supper and let the kids mix and match colors.

10. Stuff a duvet cover with pillows and make a crash pad for the rec room or basement.  Kids can safely jump from the couch or other high(ish) place onto a padded landing spot.  (Thanks to the book “The Out of Sync Child Has Fun” for this and billions of other fun ideas!)

And with that, chickadees, I’m off to gargle with some salt water and make up a crazy grated onion-honey concoction someone swears will cure me.

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



Filed under Ways to make today magical

What Are Your Favorite Picture Books?

One of my favorite parts of motherhood is getting to enjoy picture books with my children.  I’ve been collecting good ones since before I had kids, and have far too many now but just can’t stop.

Here are some of my all-time favorites.

Do’s and Don’ts, by Todd Parr (totally silly and colorful fun!)

Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney (this book sums up my biggest goal in life)

There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, by Mercer Mayer

But Not the Hippopotamus, by Sandra Boynton (and just about anything else by Boynton!)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst

More, More, More! Said the Baby, by Vera B. Williams

Kiss the Cow, by Phyllis Root

Please, Baby, Please, by Spike and Tonya Lee

Big Momma Makes the World, by Phyllis Root

The Napping House, by Audrey Wood

Weird Parents, also by Audrey Wood

I could go on, but there’s a start!

What are favorites at your house?


Filed under Book Recommendations

Finger Knit a Flower!

Do you or your kids finger knit?  I’ve never tried but this video makes it look so easy I think we might do this tomorrow!  Some commenters say this is finger crocheting instead, but no matter what you call it, it’s certainly pretty!

You tube has lots more videos showing how to get started too.

Have fun!


Filed under crafts

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

What a week it was last week!  Anna turned 11, our water heater self destructed (and did its best to flood the basement), Daryl and I got sick, the blog got accidentally suspended, Jack got food poisoning (he’s fine), I injured my leg, and we went out of town to spend time with friends from various directions and sent Victoria back with some of them for a week.

I’m hoping this week is a little calmer!

I’m also hoping to spend some extra special time with the three kids that will be home this week.

So let’s get on with it!  🙂

Here’s some ways to make the days magical this week…

1.  Check out a big pile of this year’s award winning children’s books from the library.  The ALA announced the winners for the 2010 Caldecott, Newbery, Theodor Seuss Geisel Awards and many more, for books of all types and ages recently and it’s a great way to find some new treasures.  Here’s the list.

2.  Make up a silly family anthem and sing it together (videotape it if possible!).

3.  Let your child decorate the inside of something — a garbage can, a desk drawer, a cupboard, a space in the closet… the hidden art will only show when you peek inside.  If you like, cover it with shelf paper first (then it’s removable and it can be done again and again!).

4.  Make up some letters and artwork to send to your children’s favorite celebrities together.  If you’re lucky, they might get some neat replies!

5.  Make a watercolor mobile to hang over the dinner table. I can’t remember where I saw the idea, but the kids traced cookie cutters onto watercolor paper, cut them out, painted them, and glued loops of white thread between two at a time with glue sticks.  We love it!

6.  Have a shopping spree at a thrift store.  Give each child $5 to use on toys, art supplies, knick knacks, dress up clothes, whatever.  We especially like looking in the kitchen supply areas for tools to use with playdough and in the sandbox, and checking for fancy clothes like prom dresses.  My kids also love to get crystal goblets and other nifty glasses to use at supper time.

7.  Give your little one a piece of bread, an eye dropper, and a couple of small bowls of bright juice or juice concentrate (such as cranberry, orange or grape).  Show him how to squeeze the eye dropper in the juice to collect it and then squeeze it again over the bread to drop it.  The bread soaks up the colors (and mess) nicely and if he likes he can eat it when he’s done making art!

8.  Go on a nature photography walk together.

(Photos by Victoria Bayer, age 12)

9.  Get a huge pile of dominoes and make domino runs together.  See how long and complicated you can make them, and then zip them all down!

10. Have a winter picnic in the snow.

And with that, my friends, I’m off to make some green smoothies and smooch some children.

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

You’re What Makes It a Magical Childhood

Some of you may be aware that WordPress inexplicably suspended this blog last night.

I logged in to approve a comment and was met with an angry red statement that said my blog had violated the terms of service and I was not wanted!  (Really, it said something to the effect of “we don’t want your kind” or something!)

I was more than a bit shocked, worried, stressed, you name it.

A little while later, Annalee brought me this paper she’d made up for me…

And at bedtime, she brought me this…

Bless her heart, she made me smile.

(Prepare for deep, corny thoughts)

A Magical Childhood isn’t this blog or the main web site or anything that can be suspended, deleted or destroyed.

It’s all of you who join me in looking for ways to make some memories with our kiddos (even on the days we want to throw shoes at the wall).

It’s those of you who told me you wrote WordPress angry letters protesting what they’d done.

It’s little girls who dream up ways to make the day magical in magic marker.

Thanks for being on this journey with me, wherever it’s hosted.

And thank you, Annalee, for making my day a little more magical.  🙂

Oh, and this morning I woke up to this form letter in my inbox:


A mistake was made in the system which we have corrected. The blog is back just as you left it.

We are really sorry for that happening and the inconvenience it caused you.

So there you have it.  All’s back to normal.

I’ve been writing A Magical Childhood since Anna was a baby in my arms.

Back then I had two little girls.  Now I have two boys and two girls, one of whom is nearly a teenager.

I’ve yapped at you all from Themestream, the Magical Childhood web site, newsletters, Live Journal and WordPress.  I may move this blog to the Magical Childhood site just to keep it safe from this sort of thing ever happening again.  Of course, then I need to commit some time to updating the poor thing!

It’s not that easy to get rid of me.  😉


Filed under This and that

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  And a Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day too.  🙂

I’m a little behind on things so let’s get to some ways to make some memories this week, shall we?

1. Eat lunch under the table.  If you like, invite the kids to tape up some artwork on the “roof”!

2.  Go tour a college together.  Roam through the classroom buildings, library, student union and such and talk about what your child would like to do someday.  There is something impressive and otherworldly about universities, especially to kids.  Be sure to wander the art building and get inspired by the art on display for home projects too!

3. Home for the day?  Give each other glamorous or over-the-top makeup jobs.  The boys can too, if they like.  Think Captain Jack!

4.  Get inspired by Katherine Marie Photography and do one of a zillion snow projects.  No snow required for lots of them!

5.  Start a new weekly dinner tradition.  For instance, every time you sit down to dinner together this week, start the meal with something you’re proud of and something lucky that happened today, or everybody wear hats or costume jewelry.  Involve the kids in dreaming up each week’s tradition.

6.  Enough with winter!  Use pages from ruined books to make a beautiful spring-like butterfly wreath like this one from Alisa Burke.

7.  Paint polka dot designs on your children’s toenails.

8.  Try your hands at making some darling painted penguins like these from Craftberry Bush.  Can you guess what they’re made of?

9.  Make mix-and-match pancakes for dinner.  Make up a big batch of batter and set out bowls of add-ins like blueberries, coconut, chopped banana and chocolate chips.  Let the kids add their ingredients and then cook them up!  Make them small, just in case some combinations leave a little to be desired.  😉

10.  Set the camera on timer  and take a bunch of pictures of yourselves, photo-booth style.

And with that, I’m off to fill some bellies, read some books and tackle eighty-five loads of laundry.

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

My Dream House Elements

I currently live in my dream house because:

a)  We own it outright, and

b)  It has walls, heat, running water and room outside to garden and play.

I’m not awfully picky. 😉 Just (a) would have had me happy.


If I were going to design my dream house, here’s some things it would have in it…

  • A fireman’s pole from every floor
  • Swings in the children’s rooms
  • Room for a piano
  • Windows everywhere
  • Woods in the back yard
  • Lots of places to climb (inside and out)
  • A dining room table big enough for twelve (minimum)
  • An art room with built in easels, a drain in the floor and a hose for quick cleaning
  • A hot tub
  • A play room with a built-in trampoline
  • And a slide like this to get downstairs:

But not just for the kids to use!

(See more of this house at Dezeen.)

Honestly, I do love my house.  I love that it came to us so old and bedraggled, because it gave us free reign to do whatever we liked.

The old door to Victoria’s room was so banged up, blackboard paint and magenta trim was perfect for it.

The weathered, painted stairs called out for words stenciled on them like Hope and Dream and Imagine.

(Speaking of imagining, I can’t find the lovely picture of the girls on the stairs that I was going to put here so you’ll have to imagine it!)

And what’s the harm in letting the children paint the inside of the cupboard doors when they’re so old and tacky to begin with?  🙂

But just the same, it is fun to dream sometimes.

Join in!

What would be in your dream house, especially for playing?


Filed under happy stuff

Big Brother, Little Brother

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

My son Jack has a black eye this week, courtesy of his little brother.

I’d like to say that Alex didn’t mean to do it, but he did.

Alex (3) was mad and threw his new remote control truck at Jack (7) and hit him smack under the eye.

Jack wailed, but didn’t retaliate.  No matter how his little brother torments him, it’s not his way to ever purposely hurt Alex back.

(Although perhaps in a bit of karma, Alex tripped while jumping on our bed today and fell right onto a metal bed rail and got his own shiner of sorts.)

Such is the life with boys.

My girls were active, loud, chaotic and crazy-making, but nothing like these boys.

They hurl themselves through life and through our small house.

They shriek.

They chase.

They make enough noise to raise the dead.

At dinner time, they sit side by side and crack each other up all during dinner.

They are loud, silly, messy and totally unacceptable dinner companions to their older sisters (and often to their parents).

When we separate them, though, they sob as if they’re being sent to opposite sides of the earth.  Please, they beg, let us be together!

Last week, we stayed at a hotel to celebrate my birthday and spent a lot of time in the pool.

The older kids took turns carrying Alex around and holding out their arms for him to leap into.  I loved the sight of how they all took care of him.

But it especially made me smile to see my “baby” Jack carrying Alex around, looking after him so carefully.

These boys make me crazy on an hourly basis.

They break things.

They mess up things.

They jump and shout and leap and swordfight and smash and crash and bash.

But if you ask Alex who his best friend is, he’ll tell you, “My brother Jack.”

At the end of the day, one of the best gifts I could possibly give my boys is that kind of love and connection with each other.

Brotherhood in the best sense.

Of course, one of the best gifts they could give me would be a wee bit less bashing.  😉

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


Filed under the big stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Apologies for my long absence!  I had a wonderful time celebrating my birthday with my family and then I pulled something in my neck and have been rather miserable for a few days.

So let’s get to some ways to add some magic to the days this week then, shall we?  🙂

1.  Make up some mashed potatoes with supper and put out pastry bags with all different tips.  Let the kids pipe all sorts of fabulous designs on their plates and eat them up!

2.  Get some prom dresses and other fabulous get-ups from friends, family and thrift stores, and wear them around the house!  What’s more magical than wearing this sort of thing to do some watercolor painting?  (Cost: $4 during a half-off evening at a thrift store!)

3.  Put some really healthy juices in well-cleaned squirt guns (or squirt toys) and let the kids drink from them.  If the juices are stain-producing, do it in the bathtub.

4.  Try a sport you’ve never tried together — skiing, roller blading, ice skating, climbing, skijoring, whatever.

5.  Print out this cute little Yeti calendar for January from Curiosity Group and then collect the other 11 as the year goes on!

6.  Grab a wall calendar and your kids, and come up with a “word for the week” to write in each Sunday throughout the year.  Then aim to do things to reflect that word during that week.  You don’t have to have ideas in mind when you pick your words, just write them down!  Possibilities — blue, cats, hug, spaghetti, hats, swordfish, thankful… Then improvise about what to do to celebrate your word that week — crafts, meals, outfits, nice deeds, books to read together — be creative!

7.  Give the kids chocolate chips to use for homework helpers.

8.  Use items in the recycling bin to make robots, aliens, jewelry, hats, towns, blocks or other play items.  Give the kids a challenge and materials, and see what they come up with.

9.  Make some winter stepping stones.  My Shtub shows you how (but asks not to use her pictures so you have to go peek yourself).  Aren’t they gorgeous???

10. Get out a pile of stained, ruined, unloved clothing and a pile of permanent markers.  You can guess what comes next.  🙂


Ornament updatetwo more families sent ornaments last week (thank you so much!!!), for a total of 16 families who sent ornaments.  I sent a $30 donation to the Princess Zev Foundation today as a thank you.  Thank you so much to all of the families who helped replace our lost ornaments with such treasures! I can’t tell you how special the ornaments have been to all of us and how we treasure them.

And with that, my dearies, I’m off to read some books to some marvelous small people and perhaps sneak some chocolate.

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

Off for a Bit!

I’m off for a few days to the big city of Mankato with my family to celebrate my birthday!  (Those who have read the sweet “Betsy and Tacy” books or the “Little House” books might recognize the name of the town. )

We’ll be spending time with grandparents and friends, and enjoying the “big city” until Thursday.  I’ll see you then!

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Filed under This and that