Monthly Archives: May 2011

I’m So Glad I Hadn’t Cleaned the Bathroom…

It’s spring, and that means one thing is guaranteed at my house.

Muddy children.

Luckily, they clean up pretty easy.  And so do bathrooms.  🙂

Want to have some fun with the mud with your kiddos?  Here’s 10 ways to play with it…

  1. Make mud pies.
  2. Paint with it on the driveway or sidewalk.
  3. Squish your toes in it.
  4. Make seed bombs.
  5. Make mud sculptures, marbles, etc. and let them dry in the sun.
  6. Make mud art.
  7. Drive toy trucks and cars through it.
  8. Write in it with sticks or your fingers.
  9. Jump in it.  Watch out!
  10. Totally make a mess in it.  Yes, grown ups too.  🙂

Oh and clean up?  That’s what sprinklers and water balloons are for!

Happy Friday!



Filed under happy stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I hope you and your family stayed safe from the recent storms. 

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

1.  Make some flower petal potions.  The Imagination Tree has instructions for making their lovely Rose Petal Fairy Perfume.  Just don’t be surprised if it smells less than lovely after a few days if all the petals aren’t removed in a timely fashion.  I speak from years of experience finding forgotten potions in my house!  🙂

2.  Bake a white sheet cake and decorate with clean paintbrushes and fruit juice paint.  (To make fruit juice paint, either use a little bit of frozen 100% fruit concentrate that’s been thawed or put a small amount of frozen fruits like blueberries or strawberries in a dish and microwave them for about 30 seconds.  The resulting juice at the bottom of the dish will be vividly colored.)

3.  Play baseball, basketball or catch with water balloons.

4.  Try some snap painting!  Irrisistible Ideas for Play Based Learning has this fun tutorial that I want to try with my kiddos (outside!) sometime soon.

5.  Make some easy stilts.  Use a can opener to poke holes on either side of two large coffee cans (upside down).  Thread rope through to make handles for the kids to hold on to as they walk.

6.  Start a bug collection.  Dead bugs only.  🙂

7.  Make an obstacle course in the back yard.  Good props include boards, rope, tires, tall cardboard boxes (open both ends to make tunnels), wading pools, hula hoops and sprinklers.

8.  Put chalkboard contact paper on lower kitchen cabinets and turn the kitchen into an art gallery for the kids.  Peel it off when you’re sick of it.

9.  Make a mess in the mud.  Find some dirt, get it wet, and stomp, smush and play together in it.  Wiggle your toes in it.  Write your name in it.  Stir it with sticks.  Put it in pie tins.  Get dirty.  I guarantee it’ll be one of the best times you’ll have all week.

Photo by Annalee Bayer

10. Do something for your kids that they’d swear they’ve outgrown, but would secretly love.  Make some treat they relished when they were little, bring out a beloved family book or movie, sing them “their” songs and pull them onto your lap for just a little bit.  We never really outgrow the need to be babied at least once in a while.


And with that, chickadees, I’m off to bake some goodies and play outside with my sweeties.

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

A Little Madness

“You’re only given a little madness.

You mustn’t lose it.”

– Robin Williams

It has been a kind of wonderful week here. 

There’s been the usual messes and meltdowns and stresses


I seem to finally be done with “morning” (all the time) sickness


and while a new set of pains has replaced them,

I am getting my energy back

and spring is just too wonderful

to waste

not feeling pretty fabulously happy

(especially when the sun comes out).

I am now about 21 weeks along

and feeling lots of pokes and wiggles. 

Victoria is working on getting belly pictures. 

In the meantime,

here’s a few pictures of happy madness here lately…

Happy weekend!


Filed under happy stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I hope you and your family had a fabulous weekend.  We got together with friends who met us in a nearby town and swam at their motel pool, talked, played and hiked at two gorgeous sites.  I kept up pretty well for an old pregnant lady, and the kids had a blast. 

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

1.  Make poetry shells.  Gather up a bunch of pistachio shells, smooth rocks  or other natural objects and use a magic marker to write words on them.  Make sure to use adjectives, nouns and verbs.  For example…. I, you, we, love, wet, dogs, jumped, lick, stars…. the more words you make the more variety you can get in your poem.  Drop the rocks in a bucket, shake, and grab a handful to arrange into each line.  Make sure to add some funny words!

2.  Help the kids hide love-you notes for a loved one (daddy, grandma, etc.).  Fill them with messages to make the recipient laugh or feel good, such as limericks, 5 reasons you’re the best grandpa, and so on.  Try to leave some where it will take a few days and some that will pop up in dull places, such as in the car or briefcase.

3.  Take the whole family out for a starry drive.  Park by a lake or just in an empty lot away from city lights.  Lay a blanket down or pull out some lawn chairs and just sit as a family and watch the stars.  See if you can see any shooting stars.  Point out the constellations to your kids.  Talk about what you thought when you looked at the stars when you were a child.

4. Make puzzles for breakfast.  Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of toast, pancakes or french toast.  Let kids match the shapes to the pieces with the holes and fit back in.

5.  Have the kids make up funny fortunes and put them in homemade fortune cookies or leave them in unexpected places like cereal boxes.

6.  Go down memory lane.  Take the kids to the hospital where they were born, the school you went to, or the park where daddy proposed.  Tell them the stories of those far-off times.

7.  Start a wish tradition.  My mom always saved the tip of her pie for the last bite and made a wish on it.  You can also wish on stars, dandelion fluff, pennies in fountains, or just something you make up.  See if your family can invent some neat new ones.

8.  Dress the kids up with some whimsy (with painted faces, wearing fairy wings, in ball gowns, etc.) and go someplace fun.

9.  Dance in the rain.

10. Celebrate an unexpected anniversary.  Search through baby books, letters or old e-mails and find something neat that happened on this date.  Surprise your little one with a cake to celebrate the 4 year anniversary of her first word.  Start writing notes on your calendars of all the milestones your family goes through, then keep them on a master calendar.  How fun it would be in a few years to be able to look at this date in your family’s history and see that 6 years ago you moved into your house, 3 years ago the baby crawled for the first time, and last year this was the day your son cooked his first meal.


And with that, my dears, I’m off to make green smoothies and get really, really dirty in the garden. 

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical

More Research Shows Preschoolers Learn Best Through Play and Exploration (and a Few Fun Links)

As if we needed more studies to show that preschoolers don’t need formal education, two new studies have shown that little ones are better at learning and solving problems when they are not instructed about it first.  In Slate’s Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School, researcher Alison Gopnik cites the studies and how they surprised the scientists:

As so often happens in science, two studies from different labs, using different techniques, have simultaneously produced strikingly similar results. They provide scientific support for the intuitions many teachers have had all along: Direct instruction really can limit young children’s learning.

The author concludes the article with something most of us know already:

Knowing this, it’s more important than ever to give children’s remarkable, spontaneous learning abilities free rein. That means a rich, stable, and safe world, with affectionate and supportive grown-ups, and lots of opportunities for exploration and play. Not school for babies. 

Want to play with your kiddos today?  Here’s some sites with some fun inspiration…

  • Meyamo has a wonderful PDF page showing how to make a dozen gorgeous colors of natural paint with powdered sugar, a bit of boiling water and fruits and vegetables like spinach, carrots, raspberries, coffee and lemons.
  • Twenty-five different blogs took part in Tinkerbox’s Cardboard Box Challenge and I love some of the things they came up with, like the way Teach Preschool’s little carpenter not only used parts of boxes to make walls of a little house but he even made planks of floors.  Then there’s the splat paint box, the marble run, the castle, the loom…
  • I love The Artful Parent’s Spray Painted Canvas Patio Walls!  We do something similar with an old sheet all summer (yes, that’s the same sheet over the years in the pictures!).  We hang it on the clothesline and attack it with paint, spray bottles of colored water, you name it, and then just wash it and use it for our table cover when we do messy crafts inside.  I love the way it constantly changes depending on the latest art adventures, with some designs lasting forever through the new.

Happy Wednesday!


Filed under the big stuff

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I’m up early, thanks to a spring thunderstorm and hailstorm.  I am apparently a softie as a plant mama, as I immediately worried about the fate of our new plants in the garden.  The fact that Victoria has a freshly painted dresser and drawers outside in the storm isn’t so great either!  I’m sure it will have extra character now.  😉

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

1.  Check out The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions from your local library.  This fantastic out-of-print book is responsible for the wonderful Wacky Watercolors that we’ve been making for years, though I only recently found out that the recipe originated there.  You’ll also find recipes for spray sidewalk chalk, puffy paint and tons more.  See if you can try a different concoction each day of the week with your kiddos.

2.  Play hide and seek with your kids.

3.  Tape paper to the bottom of the kitchen table and let the kids paint or color it from below, like Michelangelo with the Sistine Chapel.  Tell them that it took him four years on his back to finish that project!

4. Or teach the kids (even little ones!) how to paint simple impressionist flowers like Monet.

5.  Sit and tell your kids about what it was like when they were babies and when they were born.  We had this conversation in the car the other day and I shared little tidbits with each child about my first thoughts when they were born, neat things about each of them and so on.  For instance, I told Anna how her hair was so soft that I kept petting her new little head, told Victoria how her daddy held her for the first time and said to me, “Let’s have eight more,” and told Jack how I kept him in my arms nonstop in the hospital as I dealt with scary complications from his birth and how he made everything okay.  I didn’t realize how much it meant to the kids until the next day in the car when Jack piped up from the back seat, “Tell me some more about when I was born” and the others joined in.  They loved the stories!

6.  Put up a tent in the back yard and play games in it.  If you like, have supper inside or even camp out if the weather cooperates.

7.  Get a pack of rocket balloons (they’re about a dollar) and head to a wide open space to shoot them off again and again.  Be sure to gather up all the balloons and any popped pieces afterwards to keep wildlife safe.

8.  Pick somebody to do secret nice things for.  Dedicate this week to making that person smile and feel special from afar.

9.  Make some goodies with edible flowers.  I’ve been writing a series about these fun and tasty treats and so far I’ve written up…

Along with these that I wrote a year ago…

Old Fashioned Sweet Violet Syrup (naturally colored!) from French Tart on

10. Set a goal for yourselves, either individually or as a family.  It can be wacky or serious or just plain fun (try a new flavor of ice cream every night this week, hula hoop for 20 minutes straight, write a poem a day, make 10 strangers smile per day…).


And with that, my dears, I’m off to glare at my house until it cleans itself.  Or soak in the bath while things are still quiet.  I haven’t decided really! 

Kiss your babies, 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 a little late on this week’s list, since we’re right smack in the middle of birthday season.  Jack turned 8 on Saturday, Victoria turned 13 yesterday, and Alex turns 4 tomorrow.  The birthdays are going well though, and I’m beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel!

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

1.  Make up a couple dozen fortunes and stash them in cereal boxes, snacks, the cookie jar, etc.  Make some especially silly (Beware of odd rabbits today.  You will have a monkey on your head….) and some sappy (Your mama loves you more than peanut butter cups.  I’m proud of you…).  Slip some in drawers and leave some for your sweetie, too.

2.  Use face paints to transform your kids into fairies and other mystical creatures.  Here’s some sweet inspiration or you can just wing like we do.

3.  Get inspired by the Land Art for Kids pool at Flickr and head out to make your own with your kiddos.  Be sure to take pictures!

photo by Little*A

4.  Dig around for old costume jewelry that you can take apart and hang it from the lights and in the windows.  If you have any glass prisms, hang them to catch the light and scatter rainbows in the morning.  Drape old pearls and beads in surprising places.

5.  Make a back yard obstacle course.

6.  Pack a simple picnic and go someplace peaceful or whimsical to enjoy it.

7. Go art jumping!  Be sure to send the pictures in to the blog too! 

8.  Make a new outgoing message for your answering machine or voice mail together.  Make it especially sweet, sappy or silly.

9.  Try to hold your dinner conversation in pig latin.

10. Make a fun portable hammock with a sheet and two grown ups
holding the corners.  Swing your favorite little person in the middle of it.


And with that, my dears, I’m off to pretend I know what’s for dinner and set about making it.

Have a magical week!


Filed under Ways to make today magical