Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Heartbeat!

Most of you know that we got some very surprising news in early February that we were expecting.

I had been doing my best to see myself as pregnant but not necessarily as having a baby, because with my history of miscarriage (and my age) I knew there was a high chance of something going wrong.

That said, nothing seems to have gone wrong so far!  And yesterday, all four kids got to join their daddy and me at the doctor’s office and listen to the heartbeat.


There may have been just a few happy tears.

This baby thing might just be happening after all.  🙂

Which means we might have five children next fall. Five! Yowza!

This week, my horrible morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness seems to finally be coming under control, so I’ll try to post a bit more regularly again!

I’m also going to try to get the living room in order, start all my seeds, do more crafts, clean off the window seat and try a fabulous sounding healthy chocolate truffle recipe, but in all honesty I really don’t care! As long as I can keep us in healthy food, cuddle with my kiddos and not be too violently ill, I’m calling it good. 🙂

Fingers crossed…



Filed under This and that

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I’m off with the kids for a play date out of town, so I’d best be quick today.  I’m swiping some of these from an old post in 2009!

Here’s a few ways to add a little magic to the days this week….

1. Ask the kids to help make a spring wreath for the front door from found materials. The base can be an old wreath, a wire coat hanger bent into a circle, bound branches or even a cardboard O cut from a pizza box. They can wrap, glue, wire or otherwise attach whatever they like– strips of rags, ribbons, bits of nature, toys, artificial flowers, ornaments, you name it. If it is too fragile to hang outside, display it somewhere inside. Stress that it doesn’t matter how it looks! The fun is in creating it (though I’m sure it will look fabulous because it’s made by them!).

You don’t have to help if they don’t need it, but be present. It’s often our contributions (in terms of commoditities like laughter and company) that make the difference between a magical memory and “just a craft.”

2. Get out paint pens or permanent markers and let them decorate an old pair of shoes.

3. Start a “mom and me” (or dad or grandma and me!) scrapbook. Find or make a blank book (you can use printer paper in a binder or folder, hole punch some paper and a cardstock cover and tie it with ribbon or make a more elaborate book with instructions like these). Do some pages every week together about the two of you. For instance, write notes to each other (be sure to date them!) or find a picture of yourself at your child’s age and make side by side pages comparing yourselves. At age 8, what were each of your favorite books, hobbies, colors, friends, wishes?

4. Tell the kids that for dessert today, they’re not allowed to use their hands! Have a camera handy.

5. Set a big goal to do something together that your child loves. One day my girls and I decided to see if we could read 30 picture books. You could also challenge yourselves to finish a puzzle with a whole lot of pieces, hike to the top of a really high hill or even make 20 pictures to cheer up loved ones.

6. Find a park you’ve never been to and go play together.

7. Find something junky in the house and let your child alter it. One of the advantages of having old, unloveable furniture or belongings is that you have nothing to lose with this sort of project! 🙂 Let her use paint pens on the old wooden chair in the basement or permanent markers on the inside of a beat up dresser (make sure they don’t come off on clothes though!). I once took a gold paint pen to a really boring computer monitor and covered it with swirls and polka dots. You can even designate an old T-shirt for altering.

8. Plan a zany garden with the kids.  Plant a scratch and sniff garden, grow something to wear… I love these ten unique gardening ideas for kids from Code Name Mama!

9. Put the kids in charge of “dressing” the table for dinner. When I was in college, I was a banquet server and we had an entire room of props to use for this sort of thing, from lanterns to leis to mirror rounds to bandanas. Ask the kids to get as fancy as they like (tablecloth, beautiful centerpiece, folded napkins, candles…) or as original as they like (frisbees for chargers under plates, wacky centerpiece, chopsticks for eating and soup bowls for drinks…). If you have multiple kids, you might want to alternate days and even assign themes sometimes (beach, Japanese, hoedown, space…).

10. Go puddle stomping!

Photos by Victoria Bayer

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

Starting the Day with a Giggle

Have you seen this video yet?  Even if you have, it’s worth watching again.  The kids and I laughed so hard at this little guy’s expression!  I dare you not to smile when you watch.  🙂

Happy Thursday!


Filed under happy stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

Here’s a few ways to make some magical memories with your kids this week…

1.  Ask the kids if they’d like to do a fundraiser for Japan.  The boys in one family donated their age in dollars and challenged their friends and family members to do the same.  Kids can also start a penny drive with their classrooms, organize a bake sale through church or clubs or even start a lemonade or hot cocoa stand in the front yard (careful, some communities get a little crazy about permits even for children these days).  Kids can even go on a hunt through the house for loose change to give and then choose which charity to donate it to (here’s a list of organizations that are helping).

2.  Celebrate Pi Day today (3-14).  Here’s some crafts, songs and other fun ideas.  Here’s even more, with links, info and pie recipes.

Want an easy way to remember the first 7 digits?  Just think of “How I wish I could calculate pi…” (the number of letters in each word corresponds to the first numbers in pi: 3.141592).

3.  Go puddle stomping.  No puddles?  Go in search of some or find something that needs a good washing and make some.

4.  Do you have any trees that need spring trimming?  Try to find some and them make fairy looms.  Head over to Moment to Moment for the wonderful tutorial.

5.  String tiny Christmas lights above the dining room table or around the kitchen and eat supper to the twinkling lights.

6.  Use blankets, bedsheets, scarves and silks to transform the living room into an island, forest or other magical place.  Then make up a story together of what adventures await you.  Dress the kids up if they like, too!

7.  Make some geode eggsSuite 101 has the fun (and educational) tutorial on how to make these sparkling treasures.

8.  Take part in the Red Swing Project.  The whimsical project anonymously hangs red swings in under-utilized public places.  They’ve installed the swings all over the world and say, “ one swing can turn a vacant lot into a park.”  Head to the website to see pictures and to find their DIY information.

9.  Go fly kites together.  No kites?  Make some!  Find instructions here and here.  Or make koi kites to hang in the wind, instructions courtesy of the Toymaker.

10. Serve foods that can be used for edible creations during dinner.  Mashed potatoes are good for volcanoes and gravy makes great lava.  Asparagus spears make great bamboo forests and broccoli florets are classic trees and bushes.  Involve the kids in brainstorming about other fun and healthy props to cook up!  Take pictures before they gobble them up.

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

Art Dolls!

I am currently quite under the weather, thanks to the roughly walnut-sized being in my mid-section who (according to my nifty week-by-week pregnancy app) last week celebrated the milestone of losing his or her tail.

Since morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness is generally regarded as a very good sign, I’m quite happy to feel so miserable.

Just the same, I’m less than productive these days.  And oh my goodness, is that an understatement!

So I’m swiping this craft from the Magical Childhood web site, where I posted it several years ago.

We have made many more art dolls since this post and it’s continued to be a fabulous way to get creative and to use up art supplies and odds and ends from the recycling bins.

I’m thinking I need to get out a big box of supplies and set things up for a new batch tomorrow, as a matter of fact…


Art Dolls

I learned about art dolls recently and decided to try making some with the kids today. I gathered a bunch of materials and showed them some Flickr pictures of a lot of different styles and them let them loose. They loved making them!

Our ground rules were

  • There were no rules on what the dolls looked like–people, animals, no arms, 8 arms, anything goes.
  • They could use any broken objects they could find, items they owned, or craft items that I put in the big bowl for the project. Otherwise they had to ask permission before using stuff.
  • They had to finish one doll before making another.

There were basically no rules, though, which was part of the fun. 🙂

Here are some pictures of a few of the finished creations…

Jack (who is morally opposed to looking normal in a photograph):
Jack's Doll

Anna's Doll

And Victoria with two of hers:
Victoria's Doll

Victoria's Doll

They had so much fun and are still creating!

Happy Friday!


Filed under crafts

Listening to Trees

Photo by Naturenet


Here’s a wonderful idea by Joseph Cornell, author of Sharing Nature With Children:

If you listen carefully with a stethoscope, you can hear the “heartbeat” of a tree. Find a thin-barked tree more than 6 inches in diameter and place your stethoscope against its trunk. Be very quiet. Move the stethoscope around until you can hear the crackling, gurgling sound of sap flowing up to the branches.


Filed under activities

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

Time for another list of ways to make a little magic this week…

1.  Cover something fun with chalkboard paint — a globe, the side of an old dresser, a door, old blocks, a wooden puzzle, you name it.

2.  Let each child pick out something brand new to try at the grocery store.  Look in the international foods and produce section for particularly fun and unique items.

3.  Make an old fashioned treat like pulled taffy, rock candy or honey candy.  Here’s a few recipes from old-time cookbooks that sound tasty and easy.  If you have a favorite candy recipe, please leave a link in the comments!

4.  Spend an afternoon in a museum you’ve never visited.  If you have a membership to a local museum you may be able to get into out of town museums for free with reciprocal agreements.  Many art, science and history museums have free or low cost fees or offer special times when admission is free.

5.  Play a different board game or family game together every night this week.

6.  Print out the free template for these adorable curled paper flowers from Billie Monster and decorate a wall with whimsical patterned flowers.

7.  Fill a shaker bottle (such as an old bottle from parmesan cheese or herbs) with baking soda and let the kids shake designs all over the carpet.  If you like, make up some stencils to shake pretty white designs or spell words.  Make a big powdery mess, and then vacuum it all up to freshen the carpet!

8.  If you live in the right climate for it, go tap maple trees.  Many parks, nature centers and other sites will take groups around and teach them how to tap trees.  We go to a camp that lets the kids help drill holes, collect bags and taste the crystal clear sap.  They even get to do a taste test between real and artificial maple syrups!

9.  Get a big box from an appliance store and make a sweet cardboard cat fort like Pink and Green Mama’s or some other fantastic play space.

10. Gather up some crepe paper streamers and tape floor length strips to the ceiling of your child’s bedroom or playroom to form a little secret room.  Or for the super cheap and easy version– use toilet paper.  🙂

And with that, I’m off to play catch-up with a million and one things I’d rather not be doing — or to go play with my kiddos and peruse seed catalogs some more.  We’ll see which one wins out!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

We’re Back!

We’re back from our road trip to Florida.

It’s a bit of culture shock to be back in snowy Minnesota.

I had kind of hoped it would have magically turned a little spring-like while we were gone, but no such luck!

Lucky for us, we got so much sand, sun and smiles that it should carry us through for a long time.

Here’s a few pics…

And a few more…

I’ll be back tomorrow with something fun to share.

For now, I’m still very very tired (something about the combination of first trimester and four children!) and have a date with a nice soft bed.  🙂


Filed under This and that