Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Memory Game

Here's a fun activity to make with your kids this coming week in preparation for Thanksgiving. I did this one with my two year old for our activity time and she loved it. Here's what you need:

2 sheets white card stock
self adhesive laminating sheets

 With a marker, divide one of the sheets of construction paper into ten squares. Ask your little one to draw pictures of what they're most grateful for, providing help where needed. My two-year old can draw circles and not much more, so I had her draw the "heads" for mom, dad, Hazel and Jesus. Luckily she was grateful for a few other circular things such as cookies, icecream, and movies (dvds) so that worked out well.
We did our best with the house and TV.
I made a copy of her pictures on the second sheet of card stock and used the self-adhesive laminating sheets to laminate both sheets. Then I cut out the individual squares and we were ready to play!

The game of "memory" has always been a favorite of hers, but it was extra special to have her own pictures on the cards.
Happy week of Thanksgiving! 
My hubby comes home from Africa in TWO DAYS.
Two days...

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

I found this activity in the November Family Fun magazine and it was perfect for my little four year old who recently has had an obsession with lanterns. It didn't require too many materials and was simple enough for my two year old to join in as well.

Homemade Lanterns:
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glass jar
yellow and red tissue paper
elmer's glue
modge podge (optional)
sponge brush
electric candle
Step One: Cut a good amount of 1x1 inch squares out of your tissue paper.
Step Two: Glue your pieces onto the outside of the jar, mixing the yellow and red (or orange). This is pretty doable for a younger child since it doesn't have to be very neat. I put the glue on the jar and told my two year old to put the squares on the glue.
Step Three: I didn't have modge podge on hand since I did this at my in-laws, so I mixed half glue, half water to make my own decoupage. I showed my girls how to spread it over the top of the tissue squares to seal them.
Step Four: Place your electric candle (found mine at JoAnne's) in the inside of the jar and there's your lantern! We have our on my mother-in-law's dinner table and turn them on during dinner. I think the magazine suggested putting a pipe cleaner over the top for a handle and securing the sides with electrical tape, but it didn't sound strong enough for me so we've just kept ours in one place.
Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week?
Here's some activities from last year...
Turkey "SNOODS" Game

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Racing Turkeys

Turkey Greeting Cards
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall activities for toddlers: Homemade Scarecrow

Homemade Scarecrow 
So one of our very favorite books this fall has been The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. My two year old loves this story and has memorized the sounds that each part of the scarecrow makes as it follows the old lady back to her house. It may seem a little Halloweenish, but it still fits the fall season since it's about the making of a scarecrow.

During one of my activities with just Charlotte (two year old), I pulled out the parts of the scarecrow so that she could hold them up as we made the sounds (the pants go "wiggle, wiggle" and the shirt goes, "shake, shake..."). I grabbed whatever was closest, so I ended up with Hazel's shirt, Charlotte's pants and a pair of my husband's boots! We have everything here but the gloves. As we read the story, we put each piece in its place to make the scarecrow that the old lady sees out her window in the end of the story.

On Saturday we're making fall "lanterns" since my four year old has been so fascinated with them lately. Thanksgiving is coming so quickly, I almost can't believe it. I think we'll do another Gratitude Turkey like we did last year, but use the feathers as a countdown to Thanksgiving day...We're all about the countdowns in our house. We made a paper chain to count down the days until Dad gets home (eleven to go!) and it seems to help the girls wrap their minds around TIME.

I'm grateful for the responses to my last post about patience. I've been thinking a LOT lately about what kind of mother I want to be and how it's a CONSTANT work in progress to learn how to maintain my cool and be the eye of the storm. I truly believe that EVERY mother feels overwhelmed in her own way and has those moments where she "loses it" and has to regroup and start over again. And of course we don't share those experiences with one another very often because they aren't our finest moments. 

But doesn't it help to know you're not alone?

Whenever I'm having a difficult day, it really helps to know that there are thousands of other mothers out there going through a similar battle. At my last Power of Moms retreat, they kept repeating to us, "You can do this. You can do this." April even had a t-shirt that had that phrase printed on the front backwards so that you could read it when you looked in the mirror. 

You CAN do this.
On Tuesday I had to take all three girls to vote for our local representatives here in Ogden. It was around 5pm which is of course the worst time to bring my children into public but I had no choice. I balanced Ellie in my arms as she reached for all the buttons in my kiosk while the other two played tag behind me and grew increasingly louder. I managed to keep my cool and whisper gentle but urgent reminders to "please be quiet" and "be obedient." I cast my ballot and the four of us made our back to the car with Charlotte complaining that she never got to see the "boat" (I realized the entire time she thought I was "boating," not "voting"). As we crossed the street, I had the older two hold on to my jean pockets while I carried Ellie and the diaper bag, the keys in hand. A car came to a stop to let us cross and I saw that the driver was smiling widely at me and my little chickens clinging to me. And for some reason I felt really content in that moment because although I was so anxious to be done with this difficult errand, I was grateful to be surrounded (literally) by these healthy happy kids who for the time being, were all mine.

It's really hard, it is. But those quick and simple moments of complete fulfillment really do make up for the hours of hard work, endurance and "growing experiences" that make up the rest of motherhood. I know one day I'll be an old lady who sees a little two year old and aches for those chubby cheeks pressed up close to mine and the warmth of her hand in mine.

Today I want to remember the dirt smudges that line the wall in our stairwell, right at Charlotte's level. I want to remember the pin-dot freckles on Hazel's nose and how proud she is when she helps me with her two sisters or when she creates something new with a crayon and paper (and scissors and tape and string...) I want to remember how amazingly cute Ellie's naked tushie is and that look she gets on her face when she's really listening to you and learning something new. I want to remember Charlotte's cute little legs and her spontaneous kisses on my arm. I love how Hazel has a dimple in her chin just like her Dad and how she loves to tell me everything that she's thinking about, all the time. I want to remember how excited Ellie gets to see Charlotte after nap time and how she jumps up and down and screams with happiness. I want to remember putting my paintbrush down today so that I could do an activity time with my girls and just enjoy them.

I can do this.
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Monday, November 7, 2011


I've seen this picture floating around the blogosphere and I think it's hilariously accurate. I love that she's missing a shoe and has a popsicle stick in her hair. As mentioned in my last post, I'm a single mother for the next two weeks. I know there are many of you out there who do this all the time and to YOU, I tip my hat because it is quite difficult for me to take care of these little ones alone. We have chosen to keep our kids close in age and we're aiming to have a good lot of them, so I do hear people say, "I don't know how you do it." And quite honestly I don't do it alone, that's how I do it. My husband and I have worked out this wonderful agreement where he stops working at 5pm (there are exceptions) and takes over for at least an hour while I retreat to the kitchen to prepare dinner. During this time I am "unavailable" for questions, requests, cries for assistance, diaper changes, etc. This is what saves me. Then we do dinner and bed time together and eventually crash on the couch and pretend we don't hear the shouts for a fourth glass of water coming from upstairs. My husband finishes any work for that day on his computer while I blog, tidy up, or stare at the TV peacefully until we head to bed. It's a good routine and I'm grateful for his help.

I've been trying to stick to our routine to keep things as normal as possible for our family while Dad is gone. I have so many projects I'd like to finish (which now includes painting a set of bunkbeds) but at the same time I have three kids! Today after Joy school, I decided to rake some of the leaves in our back yard into piles for my girls to jump in. Before I could finish, Charlotte said she was cold and wanted to go inside. While I stripped off her sandy clothes (why did we get a sandbox??) and helped her go to the bathroom, Hazel came in and asked me to rake all my piles into ONE big pile and jump in them with her. Then I heard Eloise wake up from her nap upstairs while Charlotte was begging for food. I turned to my sweet four year old and cried, "Sometimes being a mom is really hard! I can't do everything at once!"

There are definitely times when I feel outnumbered. I reach my limit mentally and physically and it takes all my power to maintain my cool in the midst of the storm. I don't want to be a mean mom. I'm betting on the fact that I'm not the only one who feels witchy sometimes, but I hate it when I lose my cool in front of my kids. I'd rather lose it in my closet where I can cry my eyes out while sitting in my laundry basket with my mom on the phone. I've worked really hard to limit the yelling in our house and when I mess up, I always apologize. But there's always room for improvement. Like bedtime, for example. I often hear of other moms talking about their routines and traditions such as a special song they sing to their kids or conversations they have about their highs and lows that day. There are nights where I get to do those things with my kids, but lately I've felt lucky if they get a kiss from me because I'm so DESPERATE for them to be unconscious so I can get a break. Have you ever skipped pages of their story, hoping they won't notice? Or read the story in a monotone and speedy voice because you are too NUMB and tired to care?

Tonight I came up to sleep at my in-laws who live close by. We did baths and stories and then it was bedtime. My two year old, Charlotte, was having a tough time and while my mother-in-law tucked Hazel in, I took Charlotte in my lap and rocked her in a comfy rocking chair. I can't remember the last time I've done that with her--in fact, yes I can. It was when I was about to have Eloise any day and I wanted to soak in every minute with Charlotte as my "baby" before another came along. It felt so good to cuddle with her before bed and talk about her day and what we were going to do tomorrow. That one-on-one doesn't happen every night, but it sure feels good when I can squeeze it in.

And so in conclusion, I'm deciding not to feel guilty about not being the perfect mother who rocks each of her children every night and is patient and calm all the time. I did hear a story from my mom about one of her neighbors who has a couple of small children and a husband that travels often (shoot me). This woman confessed about a day last week when she was overwhelmed and her children were out of control. Her little boy, age 4 or 5, wasn't listening to anything she was asking him to do so she finally took his favorite nerf football and ripped it into pieces. When that got his attention, she said, "How does it feel when someone is doing something that upsets you?!" Of course he was devastated and she felt HORRIBLE and guilty for losing her temper and ripping that football into shreds (she said she even took a bite out of it with her teeth). I found that story so comforting and hilarious because believe it or not, moms are HUMAN! I think those stories need to be passed along more frequently to dispell the idea that every other mom is better than you. (And maybe every mom should have some spare nerf balls on hand to rip into on the hard days.)

 I do my best. And that's enough. My greatest desire is to be a good mom for my children and hopefully that desire will continue to push me in the right direction. And on the bad days, I'll just dig my teeth into that nerf ball and endure to the end.
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