Monthly Archives: April 2011

At Least Life’s Interesting

Oh my.

What a night it’s been!

We have been preparing for our annual birthday marathon.  Jack turns 8 tomorrow, Victoria turns 13 on Sunday, and Alex turns 4 on Tuesday.  Yes, three birthdays over four days!

We all went shopping this afternoon for party and cake supplies, then we assembled the goody pots for the boys’ birthday party tomorrow.  We filled little planters with seed packets, colored sidewalk chalk, mini bubbles and homemade flower pens (the type that stores use so you won’t walk off with them, with giant flowers attached to ballpoint pens) that we made together.

Then I slathered henna on my hair to touch up my blond roots, covered it with my traditional cheetah print shower cap and a child’s light blue knit hat that said “angel” over it (you need to keep the henna warm and a silly looking child’s hat works as well as anything!) and sat down to write an article while Daddy watched a movie downstairs with the kids…

And then the power went out.

Within a minute, four kiddos were up the stairs and piled on our bed in the pitch dark.  Three of them were in various states of panic and one thought it was really fun.  😉 

We sat together on the bed and made glow designs with my iPod (thank goodness for technology sometimes!) until it finally came back about 20 minutes later.

I took that as a cue to get the cakes in while we still had power, and Jack helped me make two cakes and get them in the oven.

In the meantime, I was still dealing with terrible nausea and stomach pains (the “morning” sickness is holding strong well into the second trimester!) so I jumped in a hot bath for a half hour while the cakes cooked….

Until the terrible wailing.

Poor Alex had been running down the hallway and had stepped on a piece of a tea set pitcher that had broken and scattered.  Blood was everywhere. Victoria helped me strip him and put him in the bath with me, which instantly turned red.  One look at the gash between his toes and I hollered to Daryl that we needed to take him to the E.R.

Daryl rushed us to the hospital, which is only a couple of minutes away.  I ran in through the rain, with my bathrobed boy in my arms, wearing a housedress paired with lime green crocs, complete with my cheetah print shower cap and angel knit cap on top of my head.

I am fairly sure that nobody has ever looked more ridiculous upon entering an emergency room anywhere.

Everything turned out well.  We were swarmed by nurses who doted on Alex and he charmed the pants off of them (he told one that her shirt was pretty and he liked it because it was covered with hearts and “hearts mean love.”).

The doctor was able to use superglue on the gash instead of stitches, so fixing Alex up was quick and painless.  We even got to meet a giant, mellow toad on our way out of the hospital at the end of it all.

Alex happily told his adventures to his siblings when we got home, and I tried to rescue some very odd shaped cakes (cooking half time and then again later does interesting things to cakes, it turns out!).

Tomorrow, we’re heading 2 hours away for an outdoor birthday party for both boys.  Friends are meeting us from all directions. 

It’s supposed to rain.

Oh well.

At least life’s interesting!



Filed under the little stuff

Yarn Bombing!

Dollar Store Crafts just blogged about the neatest project I’ve heard in a while!  Did you know that International Yarn Bombing Day is coming up on June 11?

Me neither!

I’ve seen photos of a few trees and lamp posts that have been adorned with crocheted and knitted artwork, but apparently there’s a whole movement for this creative outdoor adornment.

Here’s some fun photos from Streetcolor’s Blog.

Here’s some fabulous ones from the Yarnbombing Flickr group.

And here’s some helpful and inspirational links from Dollar Store Crafts.

Of course, if you didn’t have the gumption to yarnbomb a public space, you could also do it on a tree in your own front yard for a similarly sweet sight.

I wonder if we can all learn to knit or crochet by June….


Filed under happy stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I hope you had a wonderful Easter (for those who celebrate).  Easter is a tricky holiday for me because it has always been one of my favorite holidays with my children but my mother died on Easter Sunday.  That has gotten easier with time, and now it’s a day filled with happy family moments and just a little sadness and introspection.  Mostly, I think about the last email my mother sent me, which was about her own happy Easter memories.  It’s a good reminder to cherish the time we have with loved ones.

The pregnancy is still going well.  I am somewhere around 16 weeks along (the dates vary by a couple of weeks, depending on how we calculate it) and the morning sickness is getting a little less intense.  It’s still pretty rough though, and it makes me really appreciate my husband and kids.  They are a great support team!

We have three kids’ birthdays in the next week!  Jack will turn 8 on April 30, then the next day Victoria will turn 13 on May Day.  We have one day off and then Alex turns 4 on May 3.

I have a lot of cakes to bake!

Thank goodness this next baby will be born in September.  🙂

Poor Anna shares a January birthday with me, so she’ll be a helper for all the birthday madness.

Enough yapping!  I’m snatching this list of ways to make the day magical from an April 2002 issue of the Magical Childhood newsletter.  It is handy to have yapped at you all for so many years!  I’ve also included a few tidbits from other newsletters of that month.

So on with the list…

1.  Put on grungy clothes and go for a grubby walk.  Plan to stomp in every mud puddle and utilize every opportunity to get messy!

2.  Go for a drive together.  Take off and just cruise down some fantasy drive to look at the rich houses or find a scenic route in the country.  Slow down and just talk.

3.  Go through the house with a grocery bag and fill it with junk you can get rid of– clothes, makeup, utensils, broken crayons, whatever.  Then dump it out in a messy spot and help the kids take it apart, use it for crafts, cut it up, make creations or whatever else they can dream up.

4.  Invent a card game or board game together.

5. Make up a personalized word search, crossword puzzle or other word games.  You can include their pets, their friends’ names, interests, funny memories, whatever you like.  Crossword puzzles are tough but fun to make up using graph paper, especially if you’re stuck waiting for things and just keep it with you.

6.  Check out an old favorite movie from the library (free!) and pop some popcorn. If you like, add a family twist to it– like each family member has a phrase, image or word to watch for.  When yours come up you pick from a stack of cards made up with silly tasks (do 5 jumping jacks, cluck like a chicken, give your mom a kiss…).

7.  Make a game of supper.  Make some small finger foods like mini muffins, some baby carrots, peas colored pasta, etc. Then make cards up for those too and take turns– Eat something green, pass a carrot to the person on your left, eat as many peas as your age… If you’re out of that food, you have to “draw”…. improvise and laugh your way through supper!

8.  Make up May baskets to leave on doorsteps on May Day.  Include homemade crafts, pictures, treats or flowers with a happy note.  On Mayday (May 1), help the kids get up early and leave their treasures for favorite neighbors.

9.  Gather up old buttons, silk flowers, big earrings, ribbons and other notions.  Help your kids sew them onto sneakers, hats, backpacks or old jackets to personalize them.  You can get permanent fabric glue to make it even easier.

10. Start researching your family tree with them.  They’ll love finding out neat things about their ancestors and so will you!  Start by just interviewing relatives, especially older ones.  Not only will you all learn something about your heritage, but your loved ones will love to share their stories with a new generation.


“Discipline isn’t just about winning or losing.
Every power struggle offers you the opportunity
to connect with your child or disconnect.
The relationship you will have with your child
when he’s an adolescent
lies in the words and actions you use today.
Ultimately your real power is in that emotional bond.”

–Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Kids, Parents and Power Struggles


Magical Mama Laura shared this neat idea…

Ivory soap carves easily with a spoon into a boat.  Add a scrap piece of paper for a sail (triangle or rectangle) and a coffee stirrer mast and you have a sailboat.  An old shower curtain can be sprayed with water  to make the ocean.  Just remind the kids not to wipe their eyes after holding the boats.


Kids Gardening is absolutely filled with great ideas.  The Parents’ Primer and Teacher pages are especially fun.


And with that, chickadees, I’m off again.

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


Filed under Ways to make today magical


Victoria went out into the back yard the other day with her camera to see what fun things she could find.

She happened to find this little guy in one of our raised garden beds.

She said he kept ducking down to hide from her but within a few seconds he’d pop back up to see if she was gone yet.

It was quite a stretch for him to try to make his way out!

But after a bit of scrambling, he finally managed!

Here’s to encounters with creatures great and small.  🙂

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it!

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Filed under happy stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

Can another week have flown by already?  Wow, April is zooming by here.   Here’s a few ways to make the day magical this week…

1.  Dye some eggs.  Every year, my mother-in-law gives out plates of various goodies and dyed eggs to friends and family, and she always leaves the egg dyeing for our kids.  They absolutely love tackling the cartons of eggs and experimenting with various dyeing techniques.  Crayon resist (drawing pictures with a white crayon before dipping) and rubber band designs (wrapping lots of rubber bands around, dyeing, and then removing them to dip in a new color) are two favorite methods here.  If your family doesn’t eat eggs, try printing some out and decorating them with crayons, pencils and paint.

2.  Freeze several colors of bright juice (such as grape, orange and cherry-apple) in ice cube trays.  When frozen, give each child a clear glass and let them fill it with whatever combination of colors and flavors they like.  Pour in some lemonade or 7-up and they can have a colorful, tasty drink.  Encourage them to wait a few minutes before drinking it down, since the more the cubes melt, the more the flavor will change to their own creations.

3.  Head to a state park.  Most state parks are facing budget cuts and can use the support right now, and they’re so underappreciated.  If you go during the week, you’re likely to have the place mostly to yourself (and the wildlife).  Hike, explore, climb, play and enjoy the changing of the seasons up close.  The spring peepers were singing when we went last week!

4.  Make personalized mini-pizzas for supper.  Hand out pitas (or english muffins) for the bases and put out bowls with pizza sauce (spaghetti sauce or jazzed up tomato sauce work well) and toppings like shredded cheese, black olives, green and red peppers, sliced mushrooms, pineapple chunks, chopped onions, parmesan and so on.  Adventurous or older kids might also appreciate chopped artichoke hearts, feta cheese, spinach and other exotic toppings (Victoria and I love those!).  Kids can also make designs or smiley faces with their toppings.  Bake the mini-pizzas on a preheated pizza stone or cookie sheet at 425 for just a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and just starting to bubble.

5.  Make up some paper bag nature journals to take on nature walks.  Kids can sketch things they find and slip treasures into the pocket.

6.  See if the kids want to do some workbook pages to earn free books from Scholastic.

7.  Look up you-tube videos of songs that were hits when you were a child or teenager and watch them together.  My girls and I had a blast watching ’80’s videos together the other night.  Anna especially likes “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (the literal version is pretty funny!) and Victoria’s favorite is Aha’s “Take on Me.”  I made sure to play some of the corniest with the craziest fashions too!

8.  Create some movable magic in the yard.  Find or make a few colorful, whimsical outdoor decorations (brightly painted rocks with cute creatures work well!) and put them someplace obvious with your kids.  Then move them to someplace a little surprising and hidden.  Casually let them know that the garden whimsy has been relocated and see if they can spot the new niches.  Make it a game to move them whenever you’re outside, so the kids know to always be on the lookout.  We’ve been doing this with some ceramic mushrooms for years and the kids love looking for them (and helping to hide them for the others).

9.  Bring homemade goodies to a fire station or police station.

10. Make a fabulous double swing like this one.  I love it for so  many reasons!  If you have the extra funds, you could certainly just buy this one, but this could also be a really wonderful project for kids to do with Mom or Dad (and then enjoy with them!).  Thanks to Magical Mama Lonni for sending me the link!

And with that, chickadees, I’m off to make some crafts with my kiddos.  We’re allegedly taking part in Screen Free Week here and so we’ve got to really double up on the fun to keep all four kids happy.  I think kool-aid playdough, colored salt glitter and some sort of messy painting is first on the list, with rocket balloons coming later. 

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

No Scowling!

I love this picture that Victoria took!

She calls it “No Scowling” even though it was really meant as a notice about not skateboarding.

photo by Victoria Bayer

I think I may print it and frame it as a little reminder for all of us!   🙂


Filed under happy stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I hope you and your kiddos have been having a magical month.  I was quite sick for all of March and am finally beginning to get a little better.  I think the April weather is playing a part.  How sick can you stay when the grass is finally green and there are puddles to stomp?  🙂

Everything is progressing well with the pregnancy.  We got to see our little jumping bean on an ultrasound a couple of weeks ago.  It was too soon to tell gender, but he or she is the bounciest little thing we’d ever seen!  The kids were in stitches watching.  There was bouncing, arm waving and there may have even been a somersault.

I was so hoping to get to do the little girl thing again (I still have little boys to play with but my little girls are so grown up now!) but after seeing just how much energy this little one has, we all strongly suspect it’s a boy.  Not that we don’t have energetic girls in this family, but the boys have always been record breakers.  😉

I’m going to try to get much better about posting during the week this week.  We’ll see how it goes!  In the meantime, here’s a few ways to add a little magic to the week…

1.  See if you can get chickadees to eat out of your hands.  This one takes a lot of patience but what a treat it would be to accomplish!

2.  It’s that time of year again!  Make up some seed bombs of lovely wildflowers and toss them into empty lots and other unloved spaces in need of some prettying up.

3.  Make a list of your favorite children’s books from your own childhood and go on a search for them at the library.  Read them to your kids and see if they adopt any of your favorites.

4.  Send your child a postcard telling him how much you love him.

5. Hold a carnival in the back yard.  Rig up some easy contests (knock over pop bottles with bean bags, toss the ball into the bucket and so on) and gather extra toys or stuffed animals that can be passed on.  Invite friends and ask them to contribute their own games and prizes too.

6.  Make up some bathtub puffy paint.  Chalk in my Pocket tells you how.

7.  Pick up some kind of wacky or exotic (to you!) international snack food from the grocery store.  Daddy is in charge of this activity at our house, as my stomach is just not made for octopus flavored potato chips or grass jelly drink — and I am one of those nutrition snobs who says “Ew, have you read the ingredient list?”. 😉

8. Make a garden sculpture.  Scavenge around in the garage or basement for assorted odd parts that nobody wants.  Add some wire, electrical tape or anything else you fancy to hold your parts together and have the kids create something wild and wonderful.  If the kids like, they can spray paint the final masterpiece.

9.  Go hunting for hats with character.  Hit thrift shops, ask friends and relatives or search the attic for fun hats that the kids can adopt to suit their moods.  Anna has a black velvet cap that looks perfect on her, my friend Tiffany rocks her pink cowboy hat and we think this “Greek fisherman hat” particularly suits Victoria.

10.  Write a song together and record yourselves singing it.

I started this post early in the morning but had to take off with the family for a dentist appointment two hours away.  Fast forward to the evening and Monday is nearly over, but luckily there’s still most of the week to make some magic.

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



Filed under Ways to make today magical

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet lately.  We went off to the wilds of Nebraska to visit Magical Mama Tiffany and her family for a week, and the kids and I have been battling various illnesses and ailments (on top of that pesky morning sickness).  I think we’re finally over the worst of it, though (at last!).

Here’s a few ways to add a little magic to life this week…

1.  Make a basket for the birds.  Nest building season is coming.  Help the kids gather lots of great nesting supplies from the house and put them outside in a basket for the birds to choose from.  Wool, fabric scraps, very short pieces of yarn, fur, feathers, moss, hair and other soft, biodegradable materials are all good choices.  Put the basket where you can see it from a window and see who takes off with the treasures!

2.  Make your own bath crayons!  Kiboomu has a recipe that sounds incredibly simple.  We’re going to give them a try!  (Note that the link is now dead, but a lovely reader has given the directions in the comments!)


3.  It’s National Poetry Month!  Celebrate by gathering a bunch of poetry books and reading aloud to the kids each day that you can this month.  I have fond memories of my mother reading all sorts of poetry to me at bedtime, from silly (like “Daddy Fell Into the Pond”) to romantically tragic (like “The Highwayman”).  Any poems by A.A. Milne are keepers and Shel Silverstein is a modern favorite of many.  I especially love collections of poems old and new for children.


4.  Make some family flags.  Use an old sheet or other piece of light fabric and cut a rectangle for each family member.  Dole out paints, markers, trim or whatever you have on hand and let each family member design a colorful flag to hang in the yard (or inside, if you don’t have a yard).  Flag poles can be made of thin branches, skinny dowels, etc.  If you use washable paint or markers and the rain cleans your flags, just make them again!

5.  Serve dinner on the nice china.  Decorate the table, dim the lights and make it special.  If you like, start a collection of mismatched china from local thrift stores to use for your new everyday dishes.  Plates are often as low as a dollar (or less!)  and kids can help pick out patterns they love.

6.  Spend some time at a local nature center.  Kids can bird watch, get up close with various types of animals, do projects, walk trails, learn some new things, get some fresh air and otherwise enjoy nature.  Many are also free!

7.  Make some fun mobiles with odds and ends.  Hand out some fishing line, yarn or string and then help the kids assemble a mobile of their liking.  Kids can use natural materials like driftwood, pine cones, feathers and shells.  They can make paper ones by painting hearts, stars or other shapes and then gluing two shapes together.  They can also make colorful ones with parts of broken toys, painted items from the recycling bin, you name it.

8.  Make some colorful ankle bells for your kiddos.  Mini-eco tells you how.

9.  Get a big bag of gorgeous marbles or dragon tears and hide them all over the yard.  Let the kids know you’ve done it, and all season they can hunt for treasures.  They can use vintage wine glasses (another name for cheap ones from the thrift store!), tea cups, glass jars, baskets, mini boxes, homemade pouches or other containers to keep and display their pretties. Periodically restock them when they get low.

10. Hang a baby sling from ceiling hooks to make a fantastic hammock chair.  I love this idea from The Curriculum is Not Compulsory! I love those socks too!


And with that, chickadees, I’m off to play in the dirt of my garden.  Or perhaps cough a whole bunch, throw up a bit and hold my belly and moan.  Probably all of the above!  😉

Count your blessings, hug your kiddos and don’t forget to take care of you!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

Who Knew Packing Tape Could Be So Magical?

I love the blog Playscapes.  It delivers all sorts of whimsical play ideas to my inbox from around the world.

Last week, our family got to discover a playscape ourselves.

This fantastic play area at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota.

It’s made entirely of packing tape!  Ten miles of it!

The kids tossed off their shoes and happily bounced, ran, slid, explored and played in it.

If I hadn’t been battling quite so much morning sickness that day, I totally would have joined them.

The TapeScape has its own Facebook page and you can read about its creation here.

What fun!

Now I’m daydreaming about what we could do with some PVC pipes and packing tape in the backyard…..  😉


Filed under happy stuff