Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What you don't see

I thought this article by Tiffany Gee Lewis was worth sharing:

What you don't see, when we all march into church on Sunday morning, is the chaos of the morning that happened just 10 minutes earlier.

What you don't see, when you look at my four little boys in their suits, is that the 7-year-old is wearing Dad's socks because we couldn't find his. And they go all the way up to his knees.

What you don't see, when I pull out the lovely quiet book I made a few years back, is that below it, in my church bag, are five baggies of smashed raisins because I haven't cleaned out the bag for months.

When you enter my house, with its shining entryway, you don't see the three loads of laundry dumped on my bed. Or the dirty pots I stashed in the oven. And you will never see the interior of my minivan, not until I find the time to vacuum it out.

When you admire the hand-sewn pajamas I made for all the kids, we don't talk about the three nights I got no sleep to make those.

If you look on my blog, you will see pictures of homemade chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles. You won't see my confession to popping in a frozen pizza THREE times last week for dinner.

Or the night we ate Cheerios for dinner, dry, because we were out of milk. There is a zoom on my camera for a reason. There is a delete button for a reason.

I don't think we're all playing a part. We naturally want to put our best selves forward, so that is what other people see. They don't see what's going on behind the scenes. I like to think that good parenting is like a duck on the water. What you see is the gentle, almost effortless gliding, not the furious paddling that happens underneath.

I keep a mental list of about ten people I want to stalk by camera, from morning to night, to see how they do it all. Are they up at 4 a.m.? Can they survive on three hours of sleep? Do they have a housekeeper? Because I drop balls just as fast as I can grab them. My intentions are of pure gold, but they come out as tinkling brass, at best.

I started a blog last fall. I dragged my feet into it for many reasons. One of the main reasons I hesitated was I didn't want to be another contributor to the cyberspace guiltosphere out there. Especially where mothers are concerned, do we need one more reason to feel guilty?

Because from the looks of things, other families are happier, their houses are cleaner, their marriages are better, their clothes are more stylish and their craftiness is even more crafty. Their lives are perfectly lovely, while my kids are running around screaming in their diapers.

My worst fears were confirmed last week when I got an e-mail from a friend who asked, "How do you do it all? Your column, your blog, all the things you do with your children? You're amazing!"

I looked around at my house, at the six bins of winter clothes waiting to be transported to the garage, at the sewing projects stacked against the wall, at the state of the toothpaste crusted to the sink ... I let things go, a lot of things.

A spanking-clean house is not a high priority for me. I'm a big believer in mud and its importance in a child's life. The time I take to write is time away from scrubbing that bathroom sink. I would rather read with my kids than shop at the mall, so I am certainly not up-to-date on the latest styles. I've been listening to the same music for 20 years because I can't seem to keep up with the latest music scene. And I require a lot of sleep.

We all have priorities. For some, it is keeping a spotless house, and they are good at it. For others, it is writing, or exercising, or serving others. And yes, there are some who seem to do it all, the Benjamin Franklins of the world. I tell myself I don't have to be them. And also, Benjamin Franklin was not much of a family man. Even he let things go.

What we don't see, when we look at each other on Sunday, or on blogs, or in our shiny kitchens, is that we all have different talents and unique situations. I tell my kids all the time: Life is not a race. The only person you are competing against is yourself.

What we forget to see, when admiring others, is our own personal finish line.

Find article here.
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Activity Time in Arizona

My good friend Jesika sent me some pictures of her and her daughter, Bree, and their success with activity time. They've recently moved back to the states from Costa Rica and have been searching for a home in Arizona. Their things have been in storage for five months, but Jesika decided to pull together what she had and voila!

A craft box!

"I Spy"oscopes!

Activity time will always be successful with a bit of creativity.

Thanks to Jesika and Bree for sharing!
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How to Plan your Activity Time at Home

I was thinking about how Activity Time got started in our house and realized that it became "official" with the introduction of three things:

1. a song
One day my 2 yr old was distracted and wiggly,
so I made up a song to help her be interested in me and the activity for that day.

Goes like this:
Activity time, activity time
Activity time, activity time
I love my activity tiiiiiiiiiiime.
(we try to shake our entire body really fast during that last note.)
The tune is nothing special and as you can tell, neither are the words.
Make up your own! Have fun with it and you'll notice that it gives your kids
something familiar and fun to look forward to.

2. a craft box
We call ours the "fancy nancy bucket" because my daughter is a big fan of the fancy stuff.
Call it what you like: craft box, busy bucket, crafty can, etc.
It holds the activity time staples (that are kid friendly):
markers, glue, glitter, stickers, ribbon, string, beads, stencils, erasers, etc.


3. Activity Time closet
Choose a space that is big enough to grow into as you collect more and more stuff.
Keep it within reach of your toddler (if you dare)
so they can help find the supplies for your activity that day.
It's nice to be able to tell them to get some crayons and paper by themselves when
you're busy with dinner (or watching Oprah) or whatever.

Don't have an activity time closet? Get one!
(FYI, mine only looks this organized when I know I'm taking a picture...)

Get started today!
(Send me pics of what you come up with.)
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How to Teach your Preschooler their Numbers

I've been working on numbers with my 2 1/2 yr. old lately. She's been able to count for a while, but recognizing the numbers themselves is a new challenge. It's like teaching her a new alphabet. SO, we're trying a combination of pictures and rhymes to help her recognize numbers one thru ten.
First I had her decorate and draw pictures on the numbers
to see what she thought of when she saw them.
( I used paper plates because I was originally going to make a matching game.
Paper will do just fine!)

I combined what I learned from her and my own thoughts to make these pictures and coordinating rhymes:
1. When I point my finger at the sun,
it looks just like the number ONE.

2. When a big snake hisses at you,
his body makes the number TWO.

3. Two eyes that see
make the number THREE.

4. A fish that swims on the ocean floor
looks just like the number four.

5. Bees in a hive
make the number FIVE.

6. The little boy who's sick
gets tucked into bed with the number SIX.

7. Up in heaven
you'll find the number SEVEN.

8. The snowman who is so great
look just like the number EIGHT.

9. The tall tall vine
grows on the number NINE.


10. A stick and a hen
make the number ten.

So there's an idea for you. So far we've had some success; the rhyming helps even though my daughter will still say, "A stick and a hen, make the number....five." Hm.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Homemade Play Dough

There are several recipes for homemade play dough out there; here's one that I liked. It's a "uncooked" type of play dough which makes it quick and easy.
It comes from Trish Kuffner's The Preschooler's Busy Book.


1 cup cold water
1 cup salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
Tempera paint or food coloring
3 cups flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
Your toddler will of course be more than willing to help mix the dough with his/her hands.


If your dough starts to get crusty or fall apart, just add more water.
(this is my daughter's snowman)

And this is her castle.

We didn't add any coloring because I didn't have the energy that day to clean up
more than I had to! We'll have to try again with some more flare next time.

Any good play dough recipes?

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day Activities for Preschoolers

Perhaps you've seen a homemade bouquet of paper flowers which make a nice gift. This time I tried making them out of fabric and after a bit of experimentation, we got it to work.

fabric (2 or 3 that match per flower)
pipe cleaners


I cut my fabric to 6" by 8" or so. You can layer the widths for more depth.
Fold your fabric lengthwise in a fan-like pattern and tie with pipe cleaner in the center.


Pull your fabric apart to create your flower.
The fabric doesn't stay put as well as tissue paper, so I stapled the top and bottom
(you could use a needle and thread if you and your toddler have the patience!).

I tied on more pipe cleaners to the centers of the flowers to create a long stem.
You could also put a safety pin on the back and make a corsage.


Have fun!
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

hug in a card

This is a great idea for a Mother's Day card!

construction paper
crayons or markers
stickers, glitter, or other decor

(credit for this idea goes to the Treehouse Children's Museum)









More to come!
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Monday, May 3, 2010

stay tuned

Please check out my "Hypoglycemic Rages" link above for the latest story.
Also, stay tuned for some "Mother's Day" activities that will be posted tomorrow!
Happy Monday.
(that's a joke.)
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Toddler Activities: Paper Bag Kites

This idea came from Trish Kuffner's The Preschooler's Busy Book,
a great reference book for activity time.
I invited my friend and her 2 1/2 year old over to join us,
which made this activity even more fun.

Large paper bag
hole punch
paper ring reinforcements
markers, stickers, or sticky felt
stapler, glue, or tape
crepe paper streamers

First, we pulled out our Fancy Nancy box and started decorating.
I'm in love with my sticky felt. We had our girls pick two animals for each side of the kite and then cut them out of the sticky felt, the girls adding their finishing touch.
You can help your toddler write their name or the name of the animal they choose, or you could put letters all over for an alphabet kite. You could do the same with numbers.
We cut five strips of crepe paper and taped them onto the bottom of the bag
(the top of your kite) as streamers.

Punch a hole into each corner of your paper bag and place a paper ring reinforcement over each side of the hole for added strength. Cut two three-foot lengths of string and tie each end to a hole to create two loops. Cut out another three-foot length of string and tie it through the two loops, making a handle.

Even if it's not the windiest day, you can have fun running down the sidewalk with these colorful kites trailing behind.

Have fun and remember to send me pictures of your own creations so I can share your ideas!
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