Monday, November 28, 2011

tub paint

This one did not leave my husband very happy as we now have some lovely rainbow grout but nothing I'm sure a little bleach won't fix up for us.. S however had a blast using the bath tub paint we created using shaving cream and food coloring in an egg tray. Simple and fun- though another caution I would suggest doing it without water in the tub because it gets a bit slippery, pre-bath and no standing in the tub!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

giving thanks

There is quite obviously nothing greater to be thankful for in this lifetime than love, loved ones, time with loved ones, and the health and happiness of loved ones. I am eternally grateful to the love of my life who made me his wife and the mother of his kids,to my parents who I appreciate and respect on so many new levels through my own journey through motherhood, and obviously my little loves who keep me on my toes and show me the world through new eyes daily and have let love unfold boundlessly and overflow from my heart. Being a mother is simply the most amazing, wonderful, mind-blowing, life changing experience I have ever had (and continue to have). I am so thankful for all the friends and family who support and encourage me and all of us on a daily basis. I am so blessed.
We were very fortunate to spend this thanksgiving with my grandmother, the kids' Nonna, who is 98 and going strong. Amazing. Thank you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


S and I had a lot of fun making this really simple recipe for flubber, a slimy gooey and shiny dough. It is similar to the "gak" that she uses at school but not as stretchy or as slimy.. I think it is the ingredient ratio that makes the subtle differences.. Fun and fascinating! When we were through we put it in a plastic sandwich bag for safe keeping and that has been where it has stayed since as it is quite fun to squeeze and squish it within the bag! FYI borax should not be handled by the kids.
Mixture 1:
1 ½ cups warm water
2 cups Elmer’s Glue
Food coloring

Mixture 2:
3 tsp. Borax
1 cup Warm Water

Stir mixture 1 together in 1 bowl.
Mixture 2 in another bowl.
Make sure both are mixed well.
Pour mixture 1 into mixture 2.

There is no need to stir the mixture but you can if you want because it is the chemical reaction that actually makes the flubber. When it is in a glob work it for 2-3 minutes. Initially it feels wet but it eventually dries up to the final product.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

getting in the groove~

It has been an absurdly long hiatus and I have no excuses other than just a general "trying to find our rhythm" with preschool, weeks of visitors, two sets of stitches, an over seas vacation, and an officially busy and always on the go toddler.. Add to that a lack of synchronized napping (or napping in general some days) and things have felt hectic and busy and bustling which can be fine at times but lately it has turned more into that sort of consuming and out of control busy.. excuses, excuses..
As I write this I am thinking about the fact that S has been having some "focusing" issues the past few weeks- boundary testing, struggling to cooperate, etc- and we have been working really hard to manage her behavior and identify the root of the problem. I am realizing as I write this just how much we all seem to be craving a routine of some sort. Daily, weekly, general, informal.. it seems like we all need to get a better grip on things.
Maybe if I can be more disciplined and structured I can help her do the same with herself? I don't know how much of this will prove to be a solution but I can share with you three simple parts of the approach we are taking;
1)Structured up and down time. It is easy to make a schedule of activities and responsibilities but hard some times to do the opposite. We are trying to work in some "go with the flow" time each day (ironic to schedule it I know..)and some quiet time to ourselves. We tend to be social and lately overly social. Every time we go somewhere S asks "who is coming with us?"- I think it is really important to just be with ourselves too.
2)A timer. I personally always do better with goals and deadlines on the horizon and I don't know why a three year old would be any different! It has helped keep us on track for things like meal time, cleanup time, getting dressed.. It helps her feel directed and contained and helps us remember to set concrete limitations and expectations rather than letting things drag out until we are feeling frustrated and then reacting with anger..
3)One on one time. This is an easy one to address, but also an easy one to let slip by. We are making it formal by scheduling a sitter one day a week so I can have a turn alone with each child and not just to run errands or play with friends but to do something just the two of us.
And for myself-
1)I am trying to put a deadline of three new posts on here a week.
2)I am trying to be mindful of my health & fitness because it really influences my stress levels and self esteem. (I signed up for a 5k in a few weeks and have some great new recipes to share)
3)I am trying to remember to just "be". Be myself, be an positive example, be loving, be patient, be honest, be kind, be proud, be mindful, be good, and be whatever I am with full intention and mindfulness.
A work in progress progresses....Thoughts or suggestions?

Friday, September 23, 2011

to infinity....

and beyond!
Yesterday we took a trip out to get S her halloween costume.. this year she is going to be Buzz Lightyear (no shock to those that know her..) and after wearing it along with an ear to ear smile all evening we decided she needed a rocketship to go with it! A few cardboard boxes, duct tape, streamers, and fabric straps and we are ready to blast off!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

how to sell a sandwich

We tend to be creatures of habit in this house when it comes to mealtime, if it aint broke don't fix it, right? I found a really cute piece on "sandwich art" so decided to surprise S with one of her favorite charecters for lunch.
Can you name this face?

I'm not offended if you can't, it is a bit rough, but S loved it! That is my attempt at Winnie the Pooh. The extra two minutes it took was well worth the excitement and the giggles I got as I watched her talk to her sandwich!

Monday, September 12, 2011

bonjour elephant~

One of my summer projects has been at last concluded and nailed to the wall so I can at last share it with you!
When I was designing H's nursery I thought about making one entire wall a world map.. What a great way to both decorate and educate right?! However when it came time to put it all together I became a bit concerned it would be too overwhelming and opted instead for a giant map print of 5'x7' to hang opposite his crib and above his changing table/book shelf combination. It looked really lovely and was a great accent untill he discovered it mid diaper change one day. Because of the large size I hadn't framed it and that was likely my mistake but really, that would cost a fortune! From that day on it became H's mission to slowly rip the edge of the print and eventually he tore one large piece right out of Antartica and the Atlantic and the map was no more.
Since then I have been dissapointed and trying to think of what to replace it with but having a tough time deciding as I really did like the map but what made it interesting was the size and that obviously wouldn't work there..
At last I decided to cut up the map and piece together a new picture from the pieces. Origianally I had a patterned background but wasn't completely sold so I actually recut the pieces (a bit larger this time) and placed them on a simple whit backing. I was thrilled with the results and hopefully created something that can work on his room for many years to come!

how far we've come

This week S will be starting her new preschool and I can't help but reflect on how far we have come in the past year!
This time last year S was about to begin her "Two's" class at a school that I could already tell was a bad fit for us (always ALWAYS listen to your gut!) and I was not only a nervous wreck but 9 months pregnant. I was worried, she was worried, we were both anxious, tearful yet eager.. I worried about how she would make friends, how she might be received by her peers and teachers, what would happen if she got hurt or scared and I wasn't there to comfort her, what if she got lost, or forgotten..
I was sleepless and it didn't help that she was too. She cried any time I said (with a forced smile and way too much enthusiasm) "this is where you will go play with your friends and mommy will come right back and get you when you are done!"- in fact she welled up any time we passed the school which is almost next door so often. And we barely made it through the year. We almost didn't. She was anxious every day, she had night terrors, she cried every single day before school and that was on the good days. We were planning on pulling her out at winter break (due to the advice of our friends, families, pediatrician, child development experts..) but they switched her to a new class and lo and behold she met a wonderful little friend who got her through the rest of the year and she did okay. She never once wanted to go to school but did at least look forward to playing with her friend.
This week, this year, is different. Her new school is already a perfect match and it hasn't even begun yet. The kids had orientation in May and have spent the whole summer doing weekly play dates so by now parents and kids are all familiar, comfortable, friends. The teacher even came for a home visit and S was so excited to show her some of her favorite things (no way- the teacher has a buzz light year doll at her house too?! cool!!).. To top it off I will be in the classroom as a parent volunteer every six weeks or so (as will all of the other parents) and we are both thrilled at that chance to share the experience together.
We smile and wave every time we drive by and she chats endlessly about all the fun she will have there with all of her friends. And I know she will. We are both going into this confident. And comforted. And relaxed, eager, and genuinely enthusiastic.
I know how much we have grown over the last year, how much time and experience has changed each of us. I know it might be rocky the first few days, I expect a few tears from either or both of us, but I also know this will be good. Very good. Today at a play date with two of her future classmates the kids got a bit carried away with the paint, this my child who a year ago would freak out if she had a drip of paint on her fingers and make me stand by with a wash cloth to wipe her clean as she went..

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

owl hands

I have spent the past several weeks scouring the web, books, and magazines for some new crafts/projects/activities to try with the kids.. Among my very long list (which I can not wait to delve into) are quite a few really sweet handprint projects. Up until recently S wouldn't tolerate messy hands so this is all quite exciting for me!
Since I am a sucker for owls the first hand print activity we tried was this owl print. I cut the body shape out of construction paper, we used stickers for the eyes, the handprints made the wings and then S painted the really cute legs.. Love it! Might have been better with some color control but we were happy enough!

Monday, September 5, 2011

so long to summer

As you might have noticed I took the bulk of August off from writing in..
Well, here we are now officially past labor day and there is definitely a hint of fall in the air and I for one am completely psyched. I am looking forward to cooler days and breaking out our fall clothes, and even more so I look forward to getting back into a routine. I am looking forward to making this blog part of my weekly routine along with our new school schedule, my much needed fitness routine, a babysitter one evening a week, and who knows what else!
I feel like I am on it and excited anticipating everything coming up.. So many fun projects to do with the kids, great fall activities to try, we have scheduled our first ever "crafty girls night out", and there is also H's first birthday party which is already in the works! And I look forward to sharing all of it with you!
It was a wonderful summer but I happily bid farewell and welcome to fall.. xoxo

Sunday, August 14, 2011

picture pages

I am running a bit behind on this but I just completed and ordered miss S's 2-3 year photo book. I had been making these books every 6 months but figure once the kids hit 2 we can slow down and do one a year. Not only is this one mammoth photo book but it is just as dear and darling to me as the very first one I made for her (and every one there after)..
I compile all our best photos (several hundred) into a "folder" and then stick them into shutterfly. From there it is a total piece of cake with their storyboard and editing tools- they even have a new feature where they organize them onto the page for you in groupings by date, then you can go ahead and shuffle them around to your liking but really it saves so much time it is fantastic. The best part for me is going through all the pictures, remembering all the moments, and adding little captions for all the great things we never want to forget- this year includes everything from first haircut, first day of preschool, falling in love with buzz lightyear, meeting the "real" Dora in Spain, and becoming a big sister.
I swear working on it has put a smile on my face for days. I can't wait until the bound copies arrive, one for us to thumb through together and the other which gets tucked away in a closet for her to have when she grows up- which is happening way too fast. Now- time to get to work on the 6-12 month book for H!

And we are back!

We have been so busy traveling and gallivanting I've not been keeping up with any of my tech-related activities-- but here we are halfway through August and now anticipating getting back into a routine with fall and preschool etc- so I am at last happy to be back to blogging. We have a few projects to update you with on here and many more in the pipeline, really I can't wait! I've been collecting long lists of ideas for activities with the little ones and one fun surprise I've found along the way is that I have also compiled a huge list of things to make and do myself. Could it be in my mindful parenting I'm getting in touch with my inner artist again? The one I thought was lost in a pile of shoes over the past ten years? I always thought doing something creative for a living would be so satisfying but the truth is after designing shoes so long I soon felt like I didn't know how to design or create anything else. At times this bothered but frankly I was so busy working I couldn't give it much thought. So here it is, coming back to me. Unsolicited, but very very welcome. And exciting. Next up; I think I need to make a monthly craft challenge for myself. Maybe even a craft girls night? Perfect excuse to get together with friends and sink my hands into something fun. Any takers?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mommy & me

Today was the last day of this semester of ballet for S. This was a big deal for us because this class has been the first glimpse into the future for us, as it has been her very first drop off class. I was quite surprised to learn that three year old children for the most part no longer have activities where the parent is invited to attend. Our old ballet class had the parents all sit along the wall-out of the way but still in reaching distance so the children could come back and forth if they felt shy or overwhelmed.. Not this class. Not any that I have found in our immediate area for her age group. Unfortunately our old class was a good 30 minutes away which became ridiculous, especially now that H has more of a schedule going so we needed to switch centers and this class had three advantages; it is close by, it has the shortest class available, and she knew somebody else in the class.
So- I have learned that my confident social child becomes a completely different person when put in this situation.
We already went through the whole separation phase when she started her two's program (the longest yet shortest 5 hours a week possible) last year but this is different. This is a quick transition. School was something we could prep her for, we toured the grounds, interviewed, discussed, and when she was miserable the teachers had the chance to comfort her and transition her into the process slowly and gently. Of coarse it still wasn't slow or gentle enough for either of our likings but still.. At the very least there was free play (no problem), snack time (easy), and the playground (jackpot!). This class though is a 7 session, 45 minute, 1 instructor, 1 room, 10 student, in and out. As most classes will now be. Not a lot of time to warm up to the process..
So our journey went something like this;
Week 1- I dropped her off, kids go downstairs parents wait upstairs, she clambered on down with the girls in her class. Ta-da! Too easy!
Yes, it was.. Five minutes later she was back up the stairs not willing to go down again without me. So while H was handed off to another mother in the waiting room I clambered down the stairs and sat on the bottom step, the only grown up in the room other than the teacher, with her little face burrowed in my lap and scrambling limbs clinging to me as if I was a life raft.
Week 2- armed with a sitter in tow for H, I walked down stairs with S and eventually peeled her off my lap and felt victorious as she stood on the wood floor ten feet from the other girls and followed along for a good 15 minutes.
Week 3- daddy had H, I outsmarted her this time by refusing to sit thus she stood beside me until she took her place ten feet from the girls but wait- at last joined in right along side them for 5-10 minutes.
Week 4- H at home again, and again I refused to sit, and at last she joined in with the girls- timid but somewhat there she was at the ballet bar, in the circle, and she almost participated a good 75% of the class. she still would not acknowledge the teacher or the other children but still, I was beside myself.
Week 5- big mistake but we missed class because we were in England
Week 6- refer back to week 2, and that is the optimistic version. Maybe more like refer back to week 1. I was so frustrated and disappointed. Couldn't she remember how easy and fun it was the last time we were in the room?! Enough! Get off my lap, don't lay on the floor, get your finger out of your mouth- please. Wondering to myself why are we bothering?? What will the other kids think of this jellyfish like child throwing a fit in the corner? What will the parents think of me? Will anyone want to play with her after seeing her like this? Exhausting for both of us.
Week 7- And that brings us to today. Today was different. Today I was not the only mother in the room. There was another mother who joined her child in class, and when I say joined, she joined. She stood in circle time. She did first position, second, clapped, stretched, pointed, skipped.. she did everything and with no shame. Why had I not thought of this? Was I too self concerned, afraid of looking like an awkward giant clambering around the room? Embarrassed for S to have her mother prancing around like a maniac? This was a completely different approach than I had thought of before but at this point, why not? So I grabbed S's little hand and I danced, and I skipped, and I stood at the ballet bar in a perfect little line. And so did S. By the last ten minutes of class she reached out and held another little girls hand to be dancing partners, not mine. She skipped, she danced, she laughed.. she participated. She didn't even look back at me.
The class ended with me sitting in a chair at the base of the stairs and S in line with all the other little girls waiting to get her sticker for a job well done.
Victory. Pride. Relief.
And I'm talking for her, not just me.
Having a very sensitive child can be challenging at times, for both of us. I'm sure it's no walk in the park to have to feel the way S does at times. It is exhausting, confusing, embarrassing, overwhelming..
This was a big mindful moment for me. A little support, compassion, patience and empathy can go a really long way. I need to remember that and reflect that both in parenting and in my life in general.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Challenge day 30 ..

.. being brought to you on day 90 or something!
So the biggest lesson I have learned here was not exactly a news flash to me but; it takes me three times longer to do ANYTHING than it should.. Given I also get more done every day than I would have in a week pre-children but that is another story.. Anyhow- this might not have been exactly my 30th challenge but it will though be the 30th I will share in this format...
You see; proudly I have managed to incorporate creativity and quality time into our daily routine for well over 30 days now, however I've not yet managed to work in time to report it! Really though my point in this whole exercise was to become more mindful, engaged, interactive, and creative with my children on a daily basis. That I have decidedly accomplished.
I was bowled over when S picked up an object the other day (left over packaging) and enthusiastically cheered "I can save this so we can do a project with it?! Maybe we can make.." and so it begins.
In fact we have gotten a ton of that lately; designing, decorating, planning, imagining.. While I know some of that is a natural stage for a newly three year old child I can't help but feel pride and reward in the knowledge that some of the enthusiasm is a direct result of this time we have purposefully spent together.
It really pleases me to the core to see her unfold in this way. As I say that I must give a disclaimer and say that this isn't about making her a certain type of person really, or making her more like me. I mean she doesn't need to be an artist and for all I know she won't be even remotely interested in the arts- (disappointing but possible and okay) but I do want to give her (both of my children) the tools to "do". This level of problem solving, focus, dreaming, and imagining that she uses today in these creations and explorations could help her someday engineer mechanics, formulate chemical compounds, or piece together a life saving operation. Who knows?! And at the very least it could give her some really great memories from childhood, and a model for mothering she would be proud to repeat. Right?
Right. "30 days to a new you.."

Anyhow- I have a big back log of projects and activities that will make their way to you, but for now here is our 30th challenge. This challenge we did together with friends, what better way to create? Our very crafty friend suggested we make a "yarn bowl"- something I have always wanted to try (really I swear) and it was a lot of fun. More fun for the mommies than for the kids- who decided they didn't like getting all gluey.. They did however enjoy squeezing the glue into a big bin together, and then they did watch eagerly as we dipped strands of yarn and dribbled them over the ball.
From there on out the process was a bit tedious for them and eventually they wandered off to play but we mothers finished up and both found the process to be very soothing.

S was very curious two days later when the bowl was dry and the time came to peel it off the ball. She was suddenly quite the helper in fact! She was absolutely intrigued to see what had formed from the two simple elements: glue and yarn. As was I. And even more so eager to see what sort of things this bowl could hold..

The end result was beautiful and inspiring!! I can't wait to try another version where I play with color, and then maybe some different shapes and dimensions! So exciting.. And maybe H won't mind getting his hands all gluey when he gets older and he can work along side mom. I might actually go back and add more to this specific bowl, why not? And what better way to wrap up the 30 day challenge than with a work in progress?

Challenge 29

This is such an old standby I can't believe we had not done this sooner!
Had I known how simple this would be to execute I would have certainly added it to our repertoire a long time ago..
We dyed macaroni by adding food coloring (10 drops) to vinegar (2 tsp) in a plastic Ziploc bag, pouring in our dried noodles, shaking it up for five minutes, and then spooning the noodles onto paper towels to dry for half hour (turning once halfway through). Easy!

We chose neon coloring in hopes of achieving pink noodles -obviously- but after a few tries we resigned to having a bright juicy red instead. Our palette ended up being red, turquoise, purple, and chartreuse- plus a sort of mauve from the failed pink. I have to say the colors did come out so vibrantly we were very pleased!
Really nice jewel tones..

S enjoyed making patterns with the noodles even more than stringing them but after setting out several patterns she did at last decide on one to keep for her and an extra one to string for daddy.

The left over noodles were poured into a container and made a perfect shaker for H. I think we will eventually get around to gluing some into artwork and perhaps even fashion a few Christmas ornaments out of the rest. For now, lovely & glamorous jewelry will have to do!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Challenge day 28

This post is way late making it's way to you! Before we left for England we did a multi part activity- we put together a cut paper collage as an homage to Mr.Eric Carle's birthday (June 25th).
Day one we painted a butcher sheet of paper with roller paints. Silly easy messy fun, we always love working on large scale projects so we really spread out and went to town..
Day two I cut all sorts of shapes out from the paper using the different patches of color. I then gave S a stack of the cut shapes and let her use her imagination and lay them into pictures on two sheets of white paper. I was very impressed by how one picture she put together was so literal and really became a storyboard for us while the other picture was so figurative, much more of a play on shape and color. When she at last liked where everything was placed we came back at it with the glue stick.
Day three was a bit of a bonus inspired by the storyboard she created.. when it was at last all dry we added some details with crayon and marker. Finishing touches really.. Such fun!
I need to get the kids out to the Eric Carle museum this summer, it is on our list to do- especially as "the hungry caterpillar" was S's school play this year. She was an amazing strawberry if I do say so myself...

Friday, July 15, 2011

"I'll be your velcro"

I haven't posted in a while mainly because if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all- While that isn't entirely true it is not that far off. We have been in the midst of the terrible 3's (there is such a thing!?) and for the first time a bit of sibling adjustment issues, plus the usual teething, sleep, jetlag issues.. And that is just on the kids end! None the less it can all be utterly exhausting and challenging at times. We have done a ton of wonderful projects which I will get around to sharing with you, plus had a really great and for the most part tantrum free trip to England, and we have had some really nice moments. But it gets hard when your "moments" are being overshadowed by hours and days all of which are being navigated through a cloud of sleepy haze.
I don't want to be a big moaner, I mean we are so blessed and so lucky in millions of ways and I am ever thankful and well aware. I do however want to be honest and not feel like I need to be miss sunshine all the time, I mean hell- parenting is hard and a ton of responsibility and it never quits. It doesn't exactly feel rewarding when this little being you put all of your time and energy into kicks you or spits at you, or lays on a sidewalk screaming that you are not nice (because you wont let her run into traffic, how cruel).. In fact it makes you feel like a bit of a failure. I know the behavior is more about her learning her self and her boundaries and expressing this confusion as she goes from independent to dependant and back and forth etc- than it is about me. But it really is hard to put all of your self and existence and efforts into trying to raise these beings into good people and then have it more or less blow up in your face.
Deep breath. And again, and again. I peek in at my children sleeping (if and when they sleep) and I know inside it is all worth it and I would not trade this job for any in the entire world. I would give anything for their well being. And it will all be worth it. And I repeat this to myself again and again..
Driving around running errands today after a wonderful(despite among other things S touching a no touch despite my 50 warnings and shattering a piece of hand crafted pottery which I was promptly charged for) morning in the company of a dear friend of ours, my song of the summer "velcro" by Bell X1 came on the radio. As I sang along with the windows open and not a cloud in the sky I glanced in the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse of H sleeping sweetly in his car seat and S rocking out and singing along like the cutest thing on two feet.
"I'll be your tongue.
You'll be my groove.
I'll be your positive.
You'll be my negative.
I'll be your tongue.
You'll be my groove.
I'll drive the get away.
And you bring the glue.
I'll be your velcro."

These kids and my husband, my family, they are my velcro. They hold me together. They complete me. They compliment my every feature and fill my every gap and round out my every flaw. And I am honored and fortunate to do the same to them. I am whole but they make me a full picture. That is so much bigger and stronger and more pertinent than anything. That in itself is my energy. It pulls me through and makes me a better person. A better friend, a better daughter, sister, and individual. So yeah, times aren't the most fun right now, we are in a bit of a rough patch. But I can be the soft and fuzzy to balance out the scratchy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Challenge day 27

The beans. We have always kept tins of beans around since S was little (littler I should say) for fun tactile activities. This goes back to the scooping and pouring but is easier to clean up and makes fun noises when they kaplunk into the tin- not to mention it feels great and relaxing to run your hands through the dried beans.. Very zen.. Anyhow- today I pulled out a tray for tiny ice cubes and S work that pincer grasp delicately plucking beans into each little hole. Eventually she scooped, poured, dumped, etc but again loved every minutes of the beans..

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Challenge day 26

What better way to spend a hot summer day than in an inflatable pool? We decided to step it up a notch and bring put some scrubbing sponges and dish soap so S could clean. Did I mention she LOVES doing the dishes? She dragged in a ton of mucky sand toys and spent a good 45 minutes washing as washing, squirting the soap, squeezing the sponge. Fantastic fun! Next time maybe we will round up vehicles for a car wash or maybe baby dolls for bath time?

Challenge day 25

This was a fun little scavenger hunt to begin with- we made "plastic bag art" that I saw on tinkerlab- not the longest activity on the list but S was excited. We stuffed a small plastic sandwich bag with all sorts of small treasures; stickers, sequins, decorative papers, colorful yarn.. Then we sandwiched it between tin foil and I took an iron to it and Ta-da! We had a neat little collage.. The bonus, S had never seen an iron before (or at least a real one!) and got to learn what it was and what you do with it! Sort of.. Maybe I should have quickly done a shirt or something so she really got it but hey.. There is always next time.....

Monday, June 27, 2011

Challenge day 24

This project had an end result that was definitely more Me than S or H for that matter but we had a lot of fun working on this together I swear! I've been yearning to organize our book shelves by spine color (no really that is just the kind of person I am and I am okay with it..) so S and I sorted through all of the books in our three sets of shelves and grouped them by color. This was actually a really fun and unusual sorting game for her, plus she got really into looking at all the covers and asking me what the different books were about.. We went with the colors in our living area for our main focal case (red, cream, and black) and then left the shelves in the other rooms for the blues, greens, yellows, oranges and pinks. There was only a tiny little stack left over as multi-colored so we stuck those all together too. I would love to do this with the kids' books too but I think they have too many soft covers for it to work well.. Such a fun game and oh so tranquil on the shelf!

Friday, June 24, 2011


What is the significance behind the expression "uncle"? Not the brother-of-your-parent type but when two people are wrestling and one is ready to give up, "say uncle.." anyhow- that is the sort of week I am having. And it is coming at me from a number of angles. For one thing, having two kids is like so totally no big deal compared to one, UNTIL the second one starts crawling. Um, yeah, not so easy anymore. The second one is climbing and crawling and pulling and chasing anything not meant for babies such as the dog, the dogs food, any small choking hazard, anything his sister would freak if he touched. And she is freaking. She also has finished school for the summer. I so did not think this would be a big deal, "she only goes for all of 5 hours a week if even, we will be busy and outside and active and having adventures..." but nope it hasn't quite worked like that. It has either been too hot or too cold or too wet 95% of the time so we are completely limited in what we can do each day and she is getting really good at testing boundaries, trying on different personalities or asserting her authority. Maybe she is bored, or antsy, or restless perhaps? Maybe I am too. The thing is I am tired. Very tired. I no longer sit still for five minutes yet feel completely sedentary as working out is impossible. I feel like I look 4 months pregnant or like the baby should be 4 weeks old or something.. not good. Really. And She is no longer napping. Or at least most days and when she does nap she is up all into the night, like 10:00 or later. I certainly can't stay up until 10pm!! Because I am tired. And even if I could stay up until 10pm I have a long list of ten million things that I need to get done; laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, work as in the thing that pays me, laundry, and that doesn't touch on the stuff like showering or reorganizing the summer clothes or all that stuff. None of which can be done now that I am constantly pulling the baby out of harm's way or talking S down from the kitchen table.
Maybe we were spoiled with S as we never really had to remove breakables or worry too much. Maybe it was just easier because there was more attention to focus on her? Just during the course of typing this I have removed him from the outlets, cables, dvd, etc 15 times? At least? Maybe there was less laundry to be done? Less people to schedule sleep and down time around? The thing is I wouldn't trade it for the world and when I have it I totally feel like I have it. But this week I don't feel like I have it. So it brings me to the point where I am ready to say "uncle". I guess this has been building because we did recently make the decision to have our cleaning people in weekly as opposed to bi-weekly. Which is a help and I do consider it fortunate we have the means to do so but now there is this thing called "cleaning for the cleaners" that happens just that much more frequently. When do I have time to make sure everything is off the floor and tables and counters and sofa cushions aren't strewn around the room and shoes aren't in the planters? After 10pm.. So being that we have no family anywhere near us (3 hour drive or 5 hour flight) I feel like I need to call in some backup. But that gets complicated- who, what, how much, and then of coarse how much ($)?
There is part of me that knows it is important to practice separation from the kids. For them to learn other adults are safe and that I always come back. So maybe we get our occasional sitter more often? The thing is there is another part of me that doesn't want to give up that much time with them. It all goes so fastas it is, they are only little for such a short while and they are so very preciouse to me not to mention impressionable. Can I really find someone we can share that with? Plus the whole would you really rather cook and clean while the kids are at the playground or pool with a sitter? Um, no. So do we get an occasional "house keeper"? This for some reason is a hard concept for me. I don't want to do our laundry why would somebody else? I mean I enjoy cooking, I don't mind grocery shopping, I know where everything is meant to go when tidying the house and I'm pretty particular about how it should be. I know what the kids like to eat and how I like things prepared and maybe really it just comes down to the fact that I am a bit of a control freak? Likely. Maybe what I really need is an extra set of arms or eyes or who knows. All I know is that it is all about balance and this bike feels like it is missing a wheel. So obviously I need to work on letting go and pulling in help. Not quite sure where to go other than there right now. Thoughts?

*an unrelated side-note- as I realize I am naming this post "uncle", last night the kids great-great uncle passed away. He was a gentleman, a shoemaker, and leaves lasting impressions on both the footwear industry and our hearts. Rest in peace Uncle Nathan.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

challenge day 23

I have this total need for infusing different ends of the spectrum into the lives of my children now that we live in this urban-suburbia. For some reason if they grew up completely country or completely city it would feel alright and authentic to me but straddling somewhere in between worries me so I am always looking for ways of rounding off their existence.. When a friend invited us strawberry picking I was beyond enthused at the opportunity. Unfortunately the heat mixed with a baby who only wants to crawl and eat everything he can touch made it a little less glamorous than it could have been but it was still pretty great. I think this is an activity that would be better in cool weather or at least 1 adult per 1 kid but anyhow-- S picked and ate and picked and ate and we came home with tons of bright fresh yummy strawberries! I knew we would never get through them all before they spoiled so we decided to use the bulk of them to make some strawberry jam. It was so much easier than I ever would have guessed. We used H's baby food mill to mash them up, added Sugar & lemon juice, boiled, and since we were only making one jar to use right away that was it! S as always loved the pouring and mixing (and sneaking some snacking in) and I think was utterly surprised and impressed that we really truly made jam. This was a first for me and I am now completely sold- so ready to run out and get all the canning supplies they make! (the consumer that I am..)
Really it was so simple and exciting to show S and myself and we look forward to lots of picking and canning in the future..

Monday, June 20, 2011


I have been a bit preoccupied for the past few weeks working on a special project and at last today I can share it with you! For S's birthday she received a few handmade goods that absolutely blew us away with the amount of time, thought, talent, and love put into them. One of her dearest friends who happens to be the daughter of one of my dearest friends had her birthday this week so we were inspired to put something together for her ourselves. The mother has often commented that her bedroom isn't quite done so we picked up an IKEA Latt table and set about customizing it. Like S this little girl is half English and half American. She recently moved from London and her parents are huge travelers so we took that as inspiration in our design. S helped pick some fabulous printed papers and we collaged them into flags to decoupage onto the seats of the chairs, then we added some paint, some decorative trim and finished the table top with a reproduction of a vintage map. We were so pleased with the results and so happy to give it as a gift this weekend! In fact S has decided she wants the same set in her room so that will be our next venture...

Friday, June 17, 2011

challenge day 22

I was blown away by how much S enjoyed this activity! It was so simple it seemed too good to be true but we spent easily an hour and a half doing "water painting" outside. No really- a jar of water and a paint brush and that was it! It probably helped that S has been watching me do some furniture painting lately (stay tuned..) so she was quite enthusiastic to have a go at it herself. She started by painting her toy lawnmower, then moved on to the patio stones, the wood singset, and even at one point her brother. She LOVED this and it was a nice relaxing way to spend a hot afternoon. Wonderful!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

challenge day 21

This was a very messy project that didn't quite turn out as I had hoped it would but still was entertaining and exciting enough for S. We saw a great feature on "rainbow in a jar" where you color salt with chalk and then layer it in a jar. It worked but ours was not nearly as brilliant & vibrant as the images we had seen.. maybe the wrong choiced of salt or chalk? Not sure.. S didn't know the difference and was quite pleased though!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

challenge day 20

This was such fun!! Tonight after dinner S and I did the very simple age old crayon rubbings but we put an interesting spin on it that really made this a sweet little project! When I think of crayon rubbings I always remember doing them with leaves and other naturey things but we did a little hunt around the house for a bunch of flat objects. It was really cute to see what S picked up around the house, she has a very good concept of "flat"- We started by laying a few out and doing a normal rubbing, but then I would have her close her eyes and rearrange the objects so it would be a surprise as they appeared on the paper and she would have to guess which shape was what. After a few goes at it she tried it on me which was cute as well. It was surprisingly lengthy and she was really excited to go show the boys the end result to see if they could tell what any of the shapes were. Again this will surely be revisited. I really enjoyed the time with her, and I'm really glad we are doing this "challenge".. I can't believe we are already on day 18, makes me glad we dragged it out a bit as we'd be almost done and I have such a long list of things to do with her! I'm having the kind of night where I want to wake her up and tell her how sweet and cute and wonderful she is but obviously I won't but sitting back at the end of a long nap-free day and watching her intrigue and enthusiasm at this put such a big smile on my face.. I wish I could bottle this moments.

challenge day 19

For our challenge 18 we made glitter glue for painting- she has been loving these squeeze tubes essentially of sticky glitter but this was made with white glue, water, and a fine powdery glitter so it was best used with a paint brush and came out really soft and sparkly. I mixed up 2 colors as little miss S had a buddy over and they sat at our play table with a butcher roll of paper and went to town.. She didn't seem that thrilled by it but later when we brought it back out at while I was making dinner she got much more into it, so maybe it was the sharing factor or the distraction of having a playmate? Not sure. The real fun of this would be painting objects and we were too tired to go there this time but I was thinking we should try gathering shells or white rocks or something and paint them..

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

challenge day 18

Our 17th challenge involved a trip to IKEA- always fun and exciting as long as it's not a weekend or holiday or after 5pm-
IKEA is a really easy place to love/hate for a laundry list of reasons but today it was all love as we stocked up on some pretty serious art supplies and other stuff for some great projects going forward (stay tuned, I'm psyched!)including a new easel for a whopping $14- seriously! Add in the paper roll and an additional paper roll holder for our mega playroom, some paints, brushes, etc. We got out of there with a cart full as always but I swear it was all much needed, really. Or not. Anyhow I digress, but we came home and set up our easel- there was NO assembly which was a bonus- and S went to town drawing, painting, then was thrilled to use the whiteboard on back. The only thing we didn't get to was the chalkboard mainly because I want to keep chalk limited to our playroom and the easel is for upstairs and outside. The one bummer was the paints we purchased were not washable, huge irritation and I thanked my lucky stars we had done this portion of the adventure outside or I would have been in real trouble! I chucked them out and called it a $3.00 loss and S didn't even notice.. I will say I was immediately impressed by the different shapes and scale her drawings and paintings took on, she really branched out from her usual. It was very exciting for me as an artist to see versatility in her as we usually have a lot of repetition. Easily one of the most worthwhile ways of spending $20 in a long time!

Monday, June 6, 2011

challenge day 17

Our guests were in town a bit over a week and happened to be here for my sister-in-law's birthday- so what better thing to do as a group activity than bake her a cake? Not just any cake would do, so as we love color we thought to make it a rainbow cake! This is something S and I have done before just for kicks after being introduced by our creative friend E- but it was new to the other kids and to their parents which made it more fun.. Each kid picked a color, as did my sister in law, and they each got a turn stirring the individual bowl of colored cake batter then having a turn pouring it in to the cake pan. So fun and a perfect way to celebrate- plus it is so colorful we even got to skip the sugar rush of icing without any of the kids noticing!

challenge day 16

This was an old classic project for me.. I remember very clearly making Letter Pretzels with my mother many times during my childhood. I was really pleased to do this with S and her cousins during their visit! I let each child take turns pouring different ingrediants in and then they each took a turn rolling out the dough. What I hadn't anticipated was getting flour in every crevas of the kitchen but I guess with three kids hopping in and out of seats I should have.. Next time I will need to think through the setup a bit more but they were all quite happy with the end results and chomped into them after dinner!

challenge day 15

This was an absolute and surprising winner! We had two other kids visiting, ages 4 & 6, so we made 3 colors of no-cook salt playdough.. I let each child pick their color and seperated it out so they could each do their own kneading and stirring. They loved it! The best part was that they continued to play with their own little tub of dough for at least an hour! We broke it out several times over the next few days while we were preparing meals etc and still they loved it. Now that the other kids have gone home S is thrilled to have the three pots all to herself!

challenge day 14

Playing catchup with the reporting on our 30 day challenge... We decided to do a multi-day project and try out some paper mache. We had so many balloons left over from S's birthday we decided to use one as the base. S was really unhappy to ruin a balloon and refused to participate at first so my husband gladly took over the task of dipping and sticking the shredded newspaper. Eventually she became curious and then envious and then quite happily involved.. (familiar chain of events in this house!) Our next step will be a second layer of papering, in which we will use white paper so when we go on to step 3 which will be painting it will be easier to see the colors.. Not sure what the finished product will be, perhaps a kitty face? Or bunny? We shall see.....

Friday, June 3, 2011


I have taken a week off, not from my challenge but from writing about it- or more so writing about it on the Internet.. It wasn't originally intentional; we went out of town for memorial day, we have had house guests.. But after a few days of being "unplugged" i started thinking about how so much communication all the time really takes away from my "mindfulness" and in short how distracting it can be. It's not even just the Internet, but email, Facebook, texts.. Its everywhere everyone everything all the time.. So many people text or status update constantantly, like they need to give a play by play of their day from morning to night. Maybe this information being shared makes it more valuable or important? Is it a cure for loneliness or a matter of ego? It seems like what might normally be an inner monologue is now constant public information.
The real problem comes though when people are then expected to know every little thing all the time or they expect you to do the same. It is almost like suddenly all these inane details become so constant and regular privacy is out the window. Boundries are gone, attention is demanded, knowledge becomes expected (you didn't READ I had a meeting today? You had a dinner party last night with so-and-so but not me?) and eventually you feel like you don't want to tune out because you don't want to miss a thing.
There is this level of falsified intimacy created, in this sick form of voyeurism- quantity over quality with just too much information. Why does everyone need to know everything that happens all the time? Where does privacy come into this? Or distance? What is the urgency? What is the vanity about? And more importantly what else could one be doing with the time, energy, thought, and emotion that goes into all of these efforts?
This week my answer to that would be long walks, toes in the sand, cuddles with my kids, baking, creating, and some fantastic conversations. Remember conversations? Good old fashioned phone calls or even better face to face time.. And yes I see the irony in typing this into my iPhone and publishing it to my blog, and I will certainly continue to flood my Facebook friends with too many happy snaps of my kids and eagerly click through my friends photos or my favorite blogs but I promise I will not send you a text about what I'm watching on tv or submit status updates including photos of myself trying on clothes at the mall or what I'm having for dinner (not that I have I swear!).. Really. Everything in moderation. I want to be in the here and now and soak up life and all I can of my loved ones but really- the bigger moments always happen in person not through idle chit chat- so I will be here and now because I don't want to miss a thing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

challenge day 13

It has officially turned to summer here! We have had little to no spring, and last week I went out and purchased two new sweatshirts for S as she has outgrown all of hers due mostly to the fact that cold weather has lasted much longer than it should have. I knew if I did this inevitably warm weather would pour in and I was right! S spent the morning outside doing some truly beautiful side walk chalk with our babysitter as I had to take the baby to his first physical therapy appointment. It was great to see how much time S spent working at the chalk and she was so proud of the results she showed everyone who past by.. When I got home we went over to our friends house who happens to be one of the most creative people I know- painter, fashion designer, all around creator and inspiration.. She gave S her birthday gift, a BEAUTIFUL decoupaged foot stool- and got creative with the wrapping. We all teamed up and fashion miss S a fantastic "paper dress with Rose"- quite stunning! So while there was no specific challenge today I look around at all of the great creations we are surrounded with and feel mission accomplished :)

challenge day 12

Tuesday was "one of those days" in our house. We had a rough day at pre-school, everyone was feeling down, we had 2 grumpy kids and 2 grumpy adults in the house. For the first time I felt like "why are we bothering to do this?!" when I set out a craft- stamps & a giant inkpad requested by S, and then some glue and a little jar of rainbow rice to mix it up.. I think really a lot of my reaction was to the whining and fussiness and maybe the 1/2 a bottle of glue spilled on the floor and ink handprints all over the house. Really I should have mustered up energy to put out something more appropriate and mindful for the type of day we were having but I was drained so I sort of threw out some random things and let her go to town..She enjoyed it and found some calm-though incredibly messy- space. It wasn't so bad but lesson learned, take a deep breath and refocus. If I keep mindful about my own energy and the energy I'm projecting next time hopefully I can help bring that of others.