Monthly Archives: January 2011

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

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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.  🙂

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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!



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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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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  I hope you and your family had a fabulous New Year’s.  We had a messy, wonderful time.

I want to say a quick thank you to Jennifer and Melissa for adding to our ornament collection last week.  I’ll be making a donation in honor of Zev this week and I am so grateful to all of you who helped decorate our tree!

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

1.  Get an old, light colored tablecloth (or an old sheet) and spread it out on the table or floor.  Take some washable markers and make a town on it, complete with streets, railroad tracks, parking lots, stores, houses, parks and zoos.  Add some fun elements like an amusement park if you like too!  Then get out the little people, matchbox cars, toy animals and anything else you can use and set up a little village to play with.  When you’re finished, fold it up for next time or wash it to start over!

2.  For a sweet eco version of the tablecloth idea, make a forest or park instead.  Draw a winding river, mountains, paths, lakes and other natural features together.  Then put out an assortment of natural materials like river rocks, crystals, acorns, sticks, pine cones and pine branches, and let the kids make a natural wonderland.

3. Play the Activity Mom’s Beware of Crocodiles Game.

4.  Got an old record player?  Put a paper plate on it and turn it on, then let the kids use crayons or markers to draw on it as it goes around.  If you’re really brave, drizzle paint.  When each masterpiece is finished, put a sticker in the middle over the hole.  You can also cut pizza boxes and other bits from the recycling bin for the canvases.

5.  Make colorful ice sculptures.  Not Just Cute shows you how!

6. Play the gratitude letter game to pass time driving or waiting together.  Pick a letter and then go back and forth naming things you’re grateful for that start with that letter.  Teens and adults can have a minimum number of syllables (like words of 3 or more syllables) to keep it challenging with younger players.  The words can be anything at all that you’re glad to have in your life, from artichokes to Aunt Julie.

7.  Make aromatherapy sensory bottles.  Clean out old spice bottles and insert a cotton ball with a few drops of essential oil on it.  Snap on the lid with the holes and then screw on the top.  Some good scents are peppermint, lavender, lemon, vanilla and even eucalyptus for when the kids have colds!

8.  Make a winter wreath for the door together.  Use an old wreath, grapevines, a wire coat hanger bent into an O, a wreath form or whatever else strikes your fancy as a base, and then gather up materials to make it together.  It can use fabric, feathers, branches, ribbons, anything!  Don’t stop creating till it makes you smile, then proudly hang it.

9. Start a thank you book for each child.  Each day write down one thing for your child that you’re thankful for.  It can be tangible things like helping a sibling with homework or sentimental things like having such a contagious laugh.  Keep them in their rooms so they can read them at the end of each day.

10. Keep up the New Year fun.  Did your kids get a kick out of tossing confetti on New Year’s Eve?  Love making resolutions?  Have a blast with noisemakers or party hats?  Use some of those things one more time, just for the fun of it.


Happy Monday!


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