Monday, March 26, 2012

Toddler Activities for a Rainy Day

Well after a beautiful day on Saturday, it looks like we're expecting some early April showers this week out here in here's some ideas for INDOOR activities to keep the boredom bug at bay.

MIXING COLORS (idea found at The Hippie Housewife)
 When I first saw this idea, I liked that is was a clean and mess free to teach your kids about primary and secondary colors. I pulled up a few short clips on YouTube about primary and secondary colors to help my kids understand what they were. Then we headed to the table and I gave them each a ziplock bag with the primary colors, plus white (so we could make pink).


We tape the edges down with painters tape and then they started mixing the colors together with their fingers. I gave them mini rolling pins as well, just for fun.

After they'd mixed their colors and we had talked about the new colors they made, my girlies wanted to DECORATE their bags. I have no idea why they have a Sharpie--must have been the closest marker lying around and I conceded this one time. Living on the edge...
When they were done, we pulled off the tape and hung their artwork in our art display frames.
This game was resurrected from my files recently to help my three year old learn her numbers and start some simply math problems with my four year old. When I made it for St. Patrick's Day last year, we reviewed colors with my younger daughter and numbers with my oldest. There's a lot of variations to this game.
I cut out ten shamrocks (you could do shapes, flowers, EGGS for Easter, etc.) and numbered them. Then I put a piece of tape on the back of each one and stuck it all over one of the girls. Mine love it when you put one on their forehead or their tushie (sp?).
I ask the other, non-decorated child, to put the numbers in order for me. I ask them to look for the number one and once they find it (usually the other kid helps out a little bit, unless it's in a spot on their body that they can't see), they race to a wall and tape it up. We do this until they've found all ten numbers.

With my four year old, I asked her to find the number you get when you add 1 + 1 and other simple math problems. This is always fun and it can easily entertain two kids at once, even if they're at different learning levels.

WINDOW PLAY (Are these not the most non-creative titles?? Made them up myself.)
If you have a large window that is NOT close to any upholstery or any kind of fabric, this is a great and simple activity to entertain your kids. We have a white board that has lost it's excitement over the years, so when I gave my four year old a dry erase marker and told her to practice writing her numbers on the WINDOW, that sounded a lot more fun.
Regular dry erase markers leave a vicious stain, so do use with caution, although there is a washable brand by Crayola that you can find at Walmart or Target. I was so happy to find them.
P.S. This activity is a great way to introduce an easy CHORE for your toddler or preschoolers to do around the house. Give them a wipe or wet rag and ask them to wash the window when they're done.
And the classic peanut butter and bird seed activity! This is a favorite around our house and birds will come flying. Plus you get to sneak some peanut butter along the way...


Spring is just around the corner. I'm so excited!
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy St. Patty's Day....a few days ago.

So I have a good excuse for running a little behind these days right? Our little Edison is getting lots of love and kisses around here and we're surviving because both my husband and I have AMAZING moms. Mine came for five days and stocked our fridge and freezer full of great meals and kept my house clean (and woke up with my girls while I slept in, etc, etc...). I had a minor meltdown (partly due to lack of sleep) on the day she left, but my mother-in-law quickly stepped in and has taken my three girls overnight for two nights in a row, so I can go to bed early and get some SLEEP. 
I love moms.

 One of our little neighborhood friends (age 8 or so) told my oldest that on St. Patrick's Day a leprechaun brings you a magic wand that can transport you anywhere and even dress you up in a sparkly princess dress, etc. Needless to say, it was a harsh lesson in fantasy vs. reality for my four year old who expected such magic on Saturday morning. However, my mom went out shopping during nap times and with a little bit of creativity, we pulled off a pretty great PAR-TAY.

We made cupcakes and my mom made MY FAVORITE meal, chicken parmesan. The girls got St. Patty's Day t-shirts and went on a mini "hunt" in their rooms for a treasure, which happened to be glow-stick wands my mom found at Old Navy. I wrote mini-notes from our leprechaun (whom Hazel refers to as "Basil") and left them on their dinner plates. The notes mentioned the power of IMAGINATION that really makes a magic wand work.

 The girls are closing their eyes for their "surprise drinks," green-tinted Shirley Temples (my favorite childhood drink).
Beat that, magic wand story.
 I quickly changed out of my pj's for the first time since Edison was born for this picture, so appreciate that. I love that David is trying to make Ellie do a goofy face and Edison is doing one all on his own.

Love these kids.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A baby boy

Our baby boy was born this beautiful morning.
He weighs 8 lbs on the dot and is healthy and adorable. 

We named him Edison.
We are smitten with him already.

The Phipps
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thoughts from my workshop

I recently directed a workshop for the Power of Moms about "Taking Care of the 'Me' in the Mom." We had a great time and had some wonderful discussions about our basic human needs as women. I wanted to share some highlights and reference a few of the articles on the Power of Mom's website that I used in my workshop for those of you who couldn't attend:

"Mommy is a Person" is an article written by the co-founder of Power of Moms, April Perry, and the one article I recommend the most. She says that we, as mothers, need to remember three important tips to make sure we're taking care of ourselves:

1. Deep down, we need to think of ourselves as people. "We know that if we really want to have the stamina, enthusiasm, and patience to raise great children, we need to take care of ourselves first."

2. All people get to do certain things: Use the restroom, take a shower, exercise, read, think, snuggle with their spouse,'s okay to make time to do these things without feelings guilty!

3. Your goal is to be better than "sane." WHAT DO YOU NEED TO THRIVE? (I love that last question. Still trying to nail down a solid answer for that one...)

We discussed the "Five Facets" of our well-being: mental, spiritual, physical, social, and emotional. We spent a lot of time on our social well-being, since that has been on my mind and apparently on the minds of the mothers present at my workshop. Here's some interesting facts that I pulled from my current read Depression is Contagious:

-According to the World Health Organization, depression is currently the fourth greatest cause of human suffering and disability around the world. Women experience depression at nearly twice the rate of men in the U.S.

-"Science is confirming what we have probably always known in our hearts: We are built to be in positive, meaningful relationships with others in order to feel good.... "People who enjoy close friendships and the support of others are happier and more productive. They also suffer fewer illnesses and, on average, live longer."

-"How people develop their best selves is largely, though not entirely, achieved in the context of positive relationships with other people.... Your mood and outlook are powerfully influenced by your relationships with others."

-Yet knowing this, "large studies of the prevalence of various disorders in the general population show rates of depression nearly four times higher than a generation ago and nearly ten times as high as two generations ago..." In a world where the population is rising, we are becoming more and more isolated as individuals.

Now, I have a LOT to say on the topic of "depression"--which I use as a loose term that covers both mild and severe cases--but for now I'll keep it simple:

I faced my first battle with depression shortly after my second child was born and it literally knocked me off my feet. As I battled with the decision to start taking an anti-depressant or not, I had an "awakening" to the prevalence of depression one day in a Chick-fil-a restaurant. I was in my sweats with no make-up and a pony-tail and needless to say, not feeling so hot. As my kids ran wild in the play area, I found myself eavesdropping on the conversation between a group of young mothers at the table next to me. One was describing the side-effects of her new anti-depressant that she switched to after she had a new baby. The woman sitting next to her started describing the anti-depressant she uses and they all chimed in, each one having their own experience with medication for depression.

Suddenly I realized how common this issue is, especially amongst women--especially amongst moms! Ever since, I have been on a mission to learn as much as I can about the roots of this issue and how I can find my own personal formula to "depression-proof" my life. As I said, I will share more of my personal experience (and formula) later, but I do know that relationships are a HUGE part of the cure. Our relationships with our spouses, our families, our children and EACH OTHER.

I can't say it enough. I believe that mothers need strong friendships almost as much as they need food and sleep. It's just that important. We need to visit one another, share our triumphs and our failures, laugh about the potty accidents in the middle of Target and eat SUGAR together as friends. It's too easy to isolate ourselves and assume everyone else is better. It's too easy to compare ourselves and judge one another and put each other down.  

We don't need to compete, we need to connect.

(Some of my best friends for over a decade now...)

Here's few more links:
*We talked about the need for NAPS (just 20 minutes a day could make a huge difference in your productivity!) and how to sneak them into your daily routine.
*We talked about making time for exercise and eating well AND the importance of accepting our bodies.
*We learned about Thought Replacement Therapy and how much our thoughts affect our behavior.
*We were reminded of the need to avoid the "compare snare" and to be our own kind of mother.

I hope you can benefit from this! I have a terrible head cold and my head is feeling "fuzzy" (name that movie?). I sure hope I didn't ramble, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. Love all you mothers.
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