Maybe it's because we just had a perfect weekend and Friday evening seems a long way away, or because I miss living in one room with my whole little family, or because I go back to my part-time job tomorrow, but I have the urge to get away again... I was looking for ideas and came across this article in Wonderland. The author gets away from it all with her husband and kids by spending the night at a local hotel. That sounds like so much fun! No driving stress, no major packing. Just grab a few diapers, some pjs, a bathing suit for the pool and get ready for some breakfast in bed and togetherness. If, like me, you need a little fix between family vacations, this may be the ideal getaway.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
All through the school year I coveted the light box at Sabrina's Reggio-inspired preschool. The children used it in all kinds of creative ways--they placed glass stones and transparent blocks on it to create art, they put their hands and feet on it to see the light shine through, they used it to look at x-rays of animals, and they put paper on it to draw over the glowing surface. The light box is one of the staples of the Reggio Emilia classroom, and it will soon have a place in our home as I've ordered a small one for us. I cannot wait to see what fun ideas it inspires!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Did you see that awesome moon last night? My husband and I were in the backyard when the moon peeked out from behind the trees. Wow! We couldn't resist getting Sabrina out of bed for it... "A big moon, Mommy and Daddy," she said. Patrick took photos and Sabrina saw the moon's face for the first time--it looked like a surprised baby to her. Well worth the 30 minutes it took to get her back into bed! For those who missed it, the moon will be "big" for the next few days...
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Marisa Haedike, Family Love
modern mom has a great article on modeling a good marriage for your children. I really like author Gregory Keer's (aka familymanonline) advice on adopting behaviors that teach children what a loving, trusting, strong relationship looks like. According to Keer, the key ingredients to showing kids what it means to have a good marriage are constructive disagreement, love and affection, lots of communication, alone time, and playfullness. This is good advice, period, whether you have children or not. My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary, so love and marriage are top of mind for us these days!
Friday, July 27, 2007
Yesterday evening we made a fruit bowl collage. We used construction paper to cut out a a bowl as well as different fruits. Sabrina selected the color for the background and bowl as well as which fruits we should put into the bowl. I did all the cutting and she did all the gluing. She also asked for glitter glue (one of her favorite materials these days!) and decorated the fruit and bowl with it, a great idea that adds a lot to the finished piece. As soon as we were done Sabrina wanted to do another one, but it was getting late so I promised we'd do a vegetable platter today, which we did. I know that with kids' art it's all about process and not product, but when the final result looks this great I get pretty excited!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The Phillips Collection
Ever since becoming a mom I appreciate even more living near the nation's capital where we can take advantage of all the free Smithsonian museums. It makes it possible to pop in for short visits often or leave without a second thought if Sabrina is not into the exhibit we came to see.
My favorite museum in DC is The Phillips Collection, which, wouldn't you know it, is not free. But for Christmas my husband got me a family membership so, in addition to supporting this awesome museum, we are able to go as often as we want and also get invitations to special events.
This morning Sabrina and I went to see Lyrical Color, an exhibit highlighting the Washington Color School. I was sure Sabrina would enjoy the bold colors and graphic patterns, and I was right. She got very inspired and kept saying she "wanted to do that" pointing at the huge canvases of multicolored stripes and dots. But as much as she liked it, 30 minutes is pretty much her limit for looking at art, after which we needed to visit the museum cafe and gift shop, where we got some postcards so we can make our own paintings inspired by what we saw. Half an hour was definitely not enough time for me to take it all in, but I know we can return this weekend for another quick look. I am definitely asking for the same gift this Christmas.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I love this collaboration of 26 photographers.
Inspired by mid-century danish wood toys. From Binth.
Adorable, just like everything else from The Small Object.
Great colors from saucylittleone's etsy shop.
This gorgeous print won the 2005 American Institute of Graphic Arts typography award.
There's something cool about these classic classroom charts. And they cost just $1.98!
Digital images from calobee's etsy shop.
I can't believe someone went out and found the alphabet in butterflies' wings, but someone did! I would cut away the black surrounding before framing this.
In the mean time, check out Martha Stewart's Good Things for Kids special parties issue, on newsstands now... I picked up a copy yesterday. It seems to be mostly ideas I've seen in the sadly defunct Kids and on the website, but it's nice to have all the ideas together. The pictures are lovely, and it could be fun to go through it with Sabrina and have her pick out a theme for her next birthday.
Monday, July 23, 2007
We finally made some time to play around on the poisson rouge website. It was recommended to me by a Good + Happy Day reader, and I was very excited because it seems to be made especially for toddlers and is beautifully designed. Also, I love that the verbal parts of poisson rouge can be done in English, French or Spanish. However, I had not had a chance to see if Sabrina enjoyed it as well. I'm happy to say it's gotten her seal of approval... I had to tear her away from it for her nap! The experience is like entering a virtual toyroom full of the most surprising and creative toys. Some of the toys require experimenting and help from a parent to discover how they work... but it's all part of the fun. Sabrina's favorites seemed to be the paints (no surprise there!) and numbers blocks. Enjoy!
A while ago Sabrina painted a plate from a craft kit she got for her birthday, and yesterday morning when I asked her what kind of art she felt like working on she said she wanted to paint a plate. Well, we didn't have a plate to paint or the right paints, but I hate stifling her creative impulse due to lack of materials. I gave her one of our big white plates from Pottery Barn, a bunch of paintbrushes and watercolors that I pre-moistened. I didn't give her water because I figured it would make the paint too runny. She had as much fun as she had had with the "real" plate and did not give it a second thought when I washed off her design to let her paint on the same plate again and again. I, on the other hand, was a little sad that her work was going down the drain!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
My first tag! It comes from Veronique whose wonderful blog Little Elephants is one of the inspirations for Good + Happy Day. I'm to share seven random things about myself. Here they are:
- I am half Spanish, half Polish. My husband is half Irish, half Austrian. Our children have blood from all over Europe running through their veins. When they are a little older we will take some time off to do a mini grand tour of all our countries.
- I consider writing my passion, went to graduate school for creative writing and am always working on a novel (I have two unpublished ones and a third in the works), but in recent years I have discovered that about half the time I love painting more than writing.
- Since Sabrina was born I have read 55 books (not counting children’s books), watched 49 movies on DVD and seen one movie on the big screen.
- I work part-time doing public relations for an organization that promotes adoption. I love my job and on most days feel that I’m having my cake and eating it too.
- My husband and I will celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary soon, and like we’ve done for a few years now, instead of exchanging gifts we’re going to buy a work of art (I would love one of Rex Ray's pieces this time, but not sure yet).
- I’m a morning person and secretly love getting up at 5 am to feed the baby. Afterwards I stay up and do all kinds of things, or, if I need extra rest, I go back to bed and fall into the deepest, most peaceful sleep ever. Either way, it’s bliss!
- Every year I give up TV for Lent and it stays turned off way past Easter, usually until about June. I’ve never watched The Sopranos, American Idol, Project Runway, 24 or many of the other shows everyone talks about. I’m not really anti-TV… I did watch all of Sex and the City and have probably seen every episode of Law & Order ever produced. But watching television is just one of those things that fell to the bottom of my list after becoming a mom.
two straight lines
scissors paper glue
This past week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina was Cassandra's first time away from home and our first vacation as a family of four. The first vacation with a new child is both a huge accomplishment (we're so on top of it we can actually travel) and a really nice break (we're so on top of it we need a break from our great routine). I like to take that first vacation not too long after the baby is born and think of it as a family honeymoon--a time to get away alone, build that sense of clan and strengthen the parent team as we experience everything together in a new and strange land.
I thought I'd come back with a whole list of creative ideas for keeping a toddler busy and inspired on the road as well as lots of tips for traveling with an infant. But instead I come with a few insights:
- There's a reason collecting seashells is part of every memory of a beach vacation... no matter your age or how many times you've done it before, it's magical to find treasures along the beach. Same goes for all the beach traditions: taking a walk along the shore at dawn or dusk, eating ice cream on the pier, making sandcastles. It's great to try new things, but let's not ignore the oldies but goodies, especially when children are involved.. for them, it's all new.
- Part of the fun of visiting places is finding little things to bring back. So instead of bringing Sabrina's favorite toys and books with us, we found unique toys and books on site. We got coloring and picture books about the beach, some paper airplanes and a little flip book about the first flight at the Wright Brothers memorial, a kite, and beach toys. During the trip these purchases delighted her and now that we're back they are nice reminders of our vacation.
- It's fun to change the rules on vacation. Instead of eating breakfast and lunch, we slept in and had brunch every day. We had ice cream for snack almost every afternoon. We ate in bed a few times. We skipped naps and had really really late naps. We went to bed late. Against all the advice in parenting books, we let the baby fall asleep while nursing. We've been home less than 24 hours and everyone seems to have fallen back into their good and healthy habits... no harm done.
- Memories are more than photos. Instead of trying to capture this trip in photos, I really made an effort to take what Mimi Doe calls"mental snapshots." I resisted the urge to scramble for the camera ten times an hour to capture magical moments and instead took a deep breath and enjoyed being in those moments, capturing their magic in my memory forever. Still, I am grateful that my husband took some pics!
- The road part of a road trip is part of the pleasure. I've always loved going for long drives with my husband, and now that we have children find that driving is the one part of the vacation that is just for the two of us (well, almost). The children usually sleep a lot in the car and we can talk uninterrupted for hours. Some of our best plans and ideas first emerged during road trips and, even with lots of stops for nursing, this drive was no exception.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
You can substitute the plums for apricots, peaches or nectarines. I've also used frozen blueberries or raspberries (about 2/3 of a bag) and even though the fruit sunk to the bottom of the cake it was still delicious.
- 4 eggs
- 10 soup spoons of sugar
- 10 soup spoons of flour
- 1 soup spoon of baking powder
- 1 stick of butter
- 12 medium plums (we like the dark purple ones, but any will work)
- Beat 4 eggs with a hand whisk
- Mix in 10 soup spoons of sugar
- Mix in 1 stick of melted butter
- Mix in 10 soup spoons of flour
- Mix in 1 soup spoon of baking powder
- Pour batter into a 9 x 11 baking pan
- Cut plums in half and pit, then cut each half into 3 or 4 wedge-shaped slices
- Put plum slices on batter in rows, pushing each slice in a tiny bit
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center dry
- After taking the cake out sprinkle a little bit of sugar over the fruit for added sparkle and sweetness
I am not one for adorning my little ones with trinkets--Sabrina does a good job of doing that all by herself with Mardi Gras beads--but nonchalant mom is tempting me with the most beautiful children's jewelry ever. These necklaces by designer Margaret Solow are so delicate and pretty; they look like little candies to me. They're made of nylon string and semiprecious stones and look great on both girls and boys. Wish they had them for adults!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Here are a few stories that did do it for us. Many of these show a strong bond between siblings but also address and resolve some of the more difficult aspects of sibling relationships:
Big Sister, Little Sister by LeUyen Pham. About the things that make big and little sisters different and special but that also bring them together.
Adventures of Patty and the Big Red Bus by Meghan Mccarthy. Two sisters drive a big red bus on a big adventure.
Dear Baby: Letters from Your Big Brother by Sarah Sullivan. A little boy writes to his unborn sister and competes with his friend about who has the most wonderful new sibling.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers. All the nice things about babies and why they are so special to us. This book has been a favorite of Sabrina's forever, and came in very handy to talk about why Baby Cassandra is wonderful.
Big Sister and Little Sister by Charlotte Zolotow. About a little sister who runs away only to find out exactly how much she is loved, especially by her big sister.
We Have a Baby by Cathryn Falwell. Parents explain to a sibling what it means to have a baby. This book is one of the few I've come across that show a baby nursing.
And, saving the best for last, I came across this book by accident and had to order it: My New Baby And Me: A First Year Record Book For Big Brothers And Big Sisters put out by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It's similar to the first year books for parents, but all from a sibling's perspective. Lots of charming pictures and nice questions and activities (for example, drawing the baby, tracing the baby's foot and their own, listing baby's likes and dislikes) that really get young children thinking about the new baby and taking pride in their sibling and their changing family. The book arrived in the mail yesterday and we've been browsing it and talking about the different questions and what kinds of pictures we'll paste in. Sabrina is very excited, though not as much as me--hours of engagement, a keepsake and a way to bring the girls closer, all in one, it's what a good + happy day is all about.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Our first stop was Mother's Macaroons, an adorable little bakery and coffeeshop within walking distance of our home. We each selected a treat (guess who had the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and star sprinkles!) and drink (we both had chocolate milk) and spent a nice hour just sitting in a quiet corner chatting about our upcoming plans, books we've read, catching up on things that happened yesterday and who said what when. No whining, no tantrums, no demands or interruptions... just what you would expect from a date with a girlfriend you've been missing.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
*Doing baby massages
*Practicing using the peekaboo sling that I never got the hang of with Sabrina
*Reading some picture books with bright colors and simple messages
*Looking at our black and white books
*Learning what pitch of voice gets the brightest smiles
*Playing the "Body Parts" game: we stroke a body part and say its name--"Cassandra's nose, Cassandra's chin"--from head to toes and back
*Making up sweet and silly songs about Cassandra
*Introducing little rattles and small toys
*Modeling for lots of photos
Monday, July 9, 2007
We just signed up for Get Caught Reading, our library's awesome summer reading program for preschoolers. I knew they had a variety of reading programs, but had no idea there was one for pre-readers. Sabrina loves going to the library and over the last few years we've discovered some wonderful new classics, revisited old ones and fallen in love with several book characters such as Olivia, D.W., and Madeline.
The program will give a little structure to our bi-weekly excursions to collect books and also introduce Sabrina to elements of literacy beyond reading and being read to. The program requires us to read 10 new books and rate them by choosing from three different puppy faces: happy, indifferent and sad. We also have to work on 20 different literacy activities, earning a sticker each time one is completed. Activities include asking a librarian for a recommendation (done--we were introduced to Rattletrap Car this way), learning a Mother Goose nursery rhyme by heart, attending a story time, and planning an imaginary vacation and reading a book about the place.
Once we've completed the reading and activities log, Sabrina will receive a a stuffed puppy. How excited is she? About as excited as a new stuffed animal and stickers can get her, which is very. I'll share our final book list and some of our experiences with the activities as we do them.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Sabrina went for a walk with her Daddy and returned with all sorts of natural treasures. She's always finding pretty little things during her outings, sometimes returning from walks with entire bouquets of flowers. We usually arrange her finds into a still life and put the flowers in water. But for the most part, the treasures fade or are lost within a few days, and so are a fleeting pleasure.
Today's treasures were such a nice collection that we arranged them and took a good photograph (thank you Mr. Good + Happy Day!). I love this picture. It reminds me of botanical charts, which I've always found beautiful, and really highlights the loveliness of each treasure while capturing the memory of that little walk. I think I'd like to get it blown up and framed for Sabrina's room.
It occurs to me that photography is one art toddlers don't get to experiment with much. Although she may lack the developmental skills to use a good camera, letting Sabrina select and compose subjects for photographs is a good way to get her interested in photography and involved in the creative process. We'll be doing this again!
Friday, July 6, 2007
Today Sabrina and I made the coffee filter butterflies from two straight lines... We loved this project and it was so much fun to do something new with watercolors. Thank you for the inspiration! They came out great and we've taped them to our fireplace surround.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
An Ordinary Mom recently posted Anna Quindlen's inspiring thoughts on what it means to be a parent. These words make me appreciate my young children even more and remind me to savor each moment during this amazing time in my life.
“All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.
“Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, have all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.
“What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations –what they taught me, was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all. Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.
“When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself.
“Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane?
“Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.
“Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, ‘Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame.’ The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, “What did you get wrong?”. (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?
“But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.
“I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
“Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.
“The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.”
These pretty "boxes of inspiration" from scissor paper glue's etsy shop would make a perfect gift for anyone, but especially for one sweet girl I know who loves tiny treasures. The objects could be used to make a collage or just enjoyed on their own. A great project with Sabrina would be to have a treasure hunt and collect items around the house to create boxes such as these. Of course I'm not sure we have this many adorable things just laying around... I love the egg carton as treasure chest!
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
*Decorating our patio with the strings of stars from enchanted learning.
*Making Yankee Doodle hats from craftynoodle for our guests.
*Reading Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer, one of Sabrina's favorite books.
*Watching the local fireworks from our front yard... we have a great view with minimal noise!
Have a wonderful 4th!
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I love this idea from design*sponge for decorating a child's room.
design*sponge says reader Leah shared a great project she had for parents who are renters. She had a good friend who wasn't allowed to paint her home so she made these cute winnie the Pooh characters for her out of foam core and fabric. "I drew the basic shapes of Pooh, Piglet and Tiger on foam core, cut them out with a craft razor, then covered them in graphic print fabric that i felt 'looked' like the three characters. I used spray fabric adhesive to adhere the fabric to the foam core." She'll use 3M sticky tape to stick the characters to the wall. "The project cost me only about $30 bucks since I used fabric remnants."
I think this looks so great, much more original than painting a mural.
This was a quick and easy collage project and lots of fun. It also allowed us to practice those all-important preschool skills: using scissors and a glue stick. We tore pictures of faces out of magazines and cut them up into eyes, noses, hair and mouths. Then Sabrina glued the pieces onto paper making new faces... some funny, some a little scary if you ask me. This time we did collages but I plan to use the remaining pieces to make masks using paper plates and rubber bands to hold the mask over our ears.
Monday, July 2, 2007
- The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. A boy befriends a snowman and during one magical night teaches him about his life.
- The Red Book by Barbara Lehman. Two children across the world from each other enter the same book.
- Flotsam by David Wiesner is this year's Caldecott Winner. A boy discovers magical underwater worlds.
- The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller. A dog sets out in a little boat and lives through 80-pages worth of delightful adventures.
Other wordless books to enjoy:
- You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman
- Zoom by Istvan Banyai
- The Yellow Balloon by Charlotte Dematons
- Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola
- Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman