Tag Archives: magical moments

Garden Potions!


Here’s a sweet way to make a little magic in the back yard this summer.

My Alex had been having fun making “potions” with rain water, grass clippings and such, and he asked me to help him find new ingredients.  I decided to make it a little extra magical and went and got a pitcher of tap water and a can from the recycling.  I secretly dropped a few drops of green food coloring in the bottom of the can, and then made a show of filling the “empty” can with some grass clippings from the yard.

I gave him the pitcher and told him that I’d put magic grass in the can.  Then I had him pour some water into the can and pour the can into a bucket.  Of course, the water in the can instantly turned bright green when it mixed with the food coloring at the bottom, and Alex and Fiona watched in amazement as the magically green water poured into the bucket.  🙂

I also asked the kids to find 8 yellow dandelions for a second can (that I’d already secretly sprinkled with some yellow food coloring), and we used spent lilac blossoms for a third can that had some blue. 

I also gave them a jar of fairy dust (Florida sand from a vacation) to sprinkle in.

Lastly, I had them gather dandelion puffs so they could blow wishes into their concoctions.

I gave them lots of buckets to pour into, so they could also have fun with color mixing.

Alex is old enough that he easily figured the secret out, but he had fun pretending anyway.  Little Fiona just had fun gathering the ingredients and pouring and pouring.

They happily played for an hour with their potions.  It was an easy, nearly free, absolutely magical way to have some back yard fun.  We’ll definitely be doing more of it!

I also picked up an old spice rack with little glass bottles at a thrift store, and I’m going to assemble a whole magic potion rack for them to use sometime soon in their outdoor play kitchen.  I’ll try to post pictures and update how that goes!


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Is It a Bad Thing to Want to Give Our Kids a Magical Childhood?

Last week, a blog post went viral about why parents should stop trying to give their kids a magical childhood. 

One of my friends shared it on her Facebook wall and yesterday a speaker at a sustainability conference even recommended it, saying that parents today spend too much time “on those things like Pinterest” and “working so hard to make their children’s live magical.”

“They’re just making their own lives harder,” she scoffed, “trying to make everything perfect.”

Then she said it’s because we mothers are addicted to stress.

Yes, it turns out we secretly like stress and so the quest to make childhood fun is some deep, psychological quest to make ourselves unhappy.

Or something like that.  I had a really hard time understanding the logic in any of it.

These people seem to completely miss the point about what makes a childhood magical, and why some of us make an effort to try to do it.

A magical childhood isn’t about elaborate homemade cakes or catalog-worthy decorating ideas.  It’s not about spending hours on Pinterest in some feverish quest to find enough fantastic things to do for our children.

It’s also not about doing things for and to our children.

It’s about doing things with our children.  And giving them a life where they can make their own magic, too.

A magical childhood is filled with things like stories, hugs, picnics for breakfast in the back yard, knock-knock jokes in lunch boxes, lazy Saturdays, I love you notes in sock drawers and a dozen kisses “just because.”

A magical childhood is about silliness and songs and spontaneity and at least occasional opportunities to make a glorious mess in the mud.

A magical childhood is filled with memories of little things that are big things to children — fireflies, campfires, snowball fights, shoulder rides, time with people who make them feel special and snuggling in bed with a big pile of wonderful library books.

A magical childhood is about being there with our kids on a regular basis and taking the time to talk to them, listen to them, and do something that makes them smile.

It can involve crafts and activities.  It can involve any number of things you can find on Pinterest (and for the record, why is it the new “in” thing to gang up on moms who craft or like Pinterest?).  It can also involve just getting out in nature together or shooting hoops at the park or sitting in the back yard and talking after supper.

Childhood is hard.  Adulthood is hard.  Life in general is hard.

We all need a little magic. 

Yes, kids can make their own magic.  They are very capable of turning our living rooms into giant forts, creating elaborate fantasy worlds in the bushes in the backyard, and enthusiastically jumping like crazy in giant puddles.

But the thing that those misguided people don’t realize is that when we work to make childhood magical, we benefit too.

We strengthen our connection with our kids.

We show our kids that we love them like crazy.

We strengthen them for the hard times they will face in life.


We get to play and craft and splash and make messes again, too.

We add some joy to our own days.

We make parenthood magical too.


I have parented these children through toddlerhood (five times!), surgeries, cancer, the deaths of friends and family, tween angst, teen depression, bullies and more.  Do you think I could have survived intact without working to make it magical for all of us?

There is a picture book that I read to my kids at bedtime sometimes that sums up a magical childhood to me.  It’s called My Mama Had a Dancing Heart and it’s about a little girl and her mother through the seasons spending time together cutting out paper snowflakes, playing in fall leaves, dancing in the rain and so on.

The last line is, “My mama had a dancing heart, and she shared that heart with me.”

That’s the kind of mom I have always tried to be.  And I frankly think it’s nonsense for anyone to suggest that’s a bad thing.

Those people can go on scoffing at those of us who strive to give our kids a magical childhood.

If that’s the worst thing they can say about me, I think I’m doing okay.  🙂





Filed under the big stuff

Lions and Tigers and Bears Can’t Compare

You can take a small boy to the zoo and show him tigers and rhinos and black bears and emus…

But if he finds out that a peacock will come this close when you’ve accidentally dropped two Cheerios…

Nothing else can possibly compare!

Zoos are fabulous, but I love that kids can often be just as enchanted feeding some treats to some pigeons, squirrels or ducks at the park.  🙂

Happy Wednesday!


Filed under happy stuff

A Visit to Antarctica

Okay, it wasn’t really Antarctica, but it sure seemed like it!

Sometimes you need a little sunshine, a change of scenery and a delightful child or two to put your insides right again.

I was feeling pretty horrible the other day because of the recent child abuse tragedy. I wrote articles and researched more than I felt I could bear and then I hist post for the last time of the afternoon and asked the kids who wanted to go on a walk with me.

Two fabulous girls said yes and off we went.

Anna brought a walking stick that she collected at Lake Superior last fall. During the whole trip, she kept a running dialog about its magical properties and an imaginary world she made up as we went.

It drove Victoria crazy.

Finally, we got to the end of the world. Or the end of the street, anyway, which ends in a cornfield. It also happens to be where the snowplows have pushed all the nearby snow, creating a pretty cool place!

Anna used her trusty stick to climb the side of it and triumphantly surveyed her domain.

Victoria is never one to take the easy way, so she decided to run up the side of it.

There was a lot of falling down.

She even got this close.  It’s very hard to grab onto snow!

Then finally, triumph!

Sort of.

Once the girls were finally on solid ground, they talked me into climbing up and joining them.  What another world it was!  The girls raced and ran and explored and we had a blast.

(See how the girls are standing right on top of the snow?  It is actually pretty deep but they are light on their feet and didn’t usually sink in, unlike their mama! Note to self:  eat less chocolate!)

Then we climbed back over and slid down into the real world again.  Even me.

I believe we have to do all we can to make the world a better place.  But I also believe we have to play and imagine and take time out to go explore Antarctica sometimes.

I also believe in lots of hot cocoa.


Filed under happy stuff

Camping Out

As I type, these girls…

are camping out here…

Isn’t it beautiful?

They’re at a friend’s camping birthday party.

My girls have already called twice to check in.  I’ve been told it’s gotten very cold now that it’s dark but they’re still gung-ho.  Luckily we’re close by to come pick them up if they decide to come home to warm beds.

But sometimes when you’re with good friends, warm beds are overrated.  🙂

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The Bad, the Good and the Magical

Today was one of those days.  Good grief.  I made up a giant list of things to accomplish around the house (cleaning jobs, laundry, paperwork, homeschooling, fun with each child, exercise, baking…).  I started at 7 in the morning and by 5 my house was messier than it was to begin with and the kids had about driven me to drink.

(Actually, since I had a glass of wine with dinner I suppose you could say they did drive me to drink!  And lest that sound like some sort of fancy dinner, I should mention that dinner was frozen pizza and grandma’s green beans — and the wine came with a screw cap.)

Some of the more memorable moments…

  • Alex took a black marker to Daddy’s new chair, the wall, the couch, the storage cubes, several toys and himself.  Thank goodness it was washable and came out of everything that mattered.
  • Jack spat on Anna.
  • Alex chased Jack around with a badminton racket and whacked him whenever he got close enough.
  • Victoria and Anna fought like cats and dogs.
  • A girl called Anna a freak for having sprayed pink hairspray in her hair.
  • Alex turned off the router and inadvertently disabled and reset it, leaving the house without internet and Daryl on the phone with tech support for 20 minutes to get it back — for the second time this week.
  • There was seemingly endless bickering, complaining, tattling, squabbling and general unhappiness.
  • My living room looked like it had been ransacked by the DEA and several savage dogs.  It still does.
  • I shouted more times than I can count at the whole lot of them, hubby included.

I ended up stomping off upstairs for an hour while Daddy took over.  He made dinner and I soaked in a bath and surfed the internet until I felt up to mothering again.

But despite the never-ending mayhem, there was some good today.  It took a while to be able to see it, but there was plenty….

  • I managed to get almost completely caught up on laundry, which I think last happened in March of 1999.
  • I played with the kids and they happily used their new workbooks that a friend gave us.
  • I got the back porch cleaner than it’s been in years.
  • I didn’t have to make dinner.
  • I got lots of that list done, even if it didn’t seem like it.
  • I made two loaves of bread and shared some with a very appreciative neighbor.
  • The kids and I got to meet and love on a very happy Springer Spaniel puppy.
  • Alex said a few new words and gave a lot of hugs.
  • Anna and I made each other over (I told her to make a list of 5 things she’d like to do with me today and I’d pick one) and she loved it.
  • Jack made some new friends.
  • Victoria made cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
  • And that girl was nothing but jealous.  Anna rocked pink hair.  🙂

And then there was the magical.  We all piled into the van and drove out to a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, where we leaned on the van and watched the Perseid meteor showers.  It was hours before the peak period (which is around 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.) but without the moon up yet it was easier to see the sky.  We saw about a dozen between us all, and one beautiful one that lit up the sky.

If you haven’t peeked at the wonders going on up there yet (and you’re on this side of the world), I really recommend it!  It’s magical stuff.  It sort of puts things in perspective!

Here’s to maddening kids, cheap wine, washable markers, pink hair spray, endless laundry, homemade bread, messes and meteors.  The good and the bad and the magical… it’s a package deal. 

And while it may not always seem like it, it’s a pretty great package.

Happy Thursday!

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Making Hospital Stays a Little Easier (Part Two)

Thanks to Candy for writing in with more ideas about ways to pass the time when little ones are in the hospital or home sick.  She shared:

My 4yo nephew just spent some time in a double hip spica cast and one thing that helped him was putting his favorite doll in similar bandages (iv bandaids, cast, ect.) and give him a little doctor kit. That way he could care for someone and feel in control for a change. Another thing are those little travel watercolor kits that are made for adults with a water brush (a brush that has the water right in the barrel, no need for messy spillable cups). The pigments are bright and satisfying and the cleanup is perfect for a hospital setting.

Great ideas!  We have some of those watercolor pen brushes and they would be perfect.  I also love the idea of giving kids their own little patients to care for.  Thanks Candy!  I hope your nephew is doing much better too.


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