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.