Thursday, June 30, 2011

Errant Thought Roundup 33

I love, I love, I hate, I hate,
I like, I wish, for goodness sake...
I hope, I hope, I pray, I pray,
I will, I won't, and for today...

I love learning.
I love courage.
I hate Philadelphia traffic. Actually, "hate" isn't a strong enough word. Philadelphia traffic is the reason I was a half hour late picking up my kiddo on Tuesday. It took me 1.5 hours to go 15.3 miles (or roughly 10 miles an hour). If Philadelphia traffic were a person, I would punch it in the stomach repeatedly.
I hate that I have brought work home three nights in a row and then refused to actually do it. I just want to be "at home" when I'm at home...ya know?
I like that although I *love* sleep (like, in a seven-deadly-sins kind of way), I'm learning to live on less. I know I need it, but I have a lot going on - if I can squeeze another hour's worth of "stuff" into my day, I'm a happy gal...sleep schmeep.
I wish I could magically resolve my weaknesses without effort. If y'all figure out how to do that, please pass it my way.
For goodness sake, do something awesome. Right now. I'm blogging and watching SYTYCD. As far as I'm concerned, that counts.
I hope that my family gets to relax on our 4 day weekend...and that we get to hang out with the fabulous "B" family.
I hope I do a project this weekend. Don't worry...I count that as relaxing.
I pray for my friends...even the ones who don't believe in prayer. I know it works because that prayer Sadie prayed for me last Thursday was answered in less than 24 hours. It was amazing.
I pray that I'm doing "life" slowly enough. I really like it...I don't want to turn around and be 85. (I mean, some day I want to be 85...I just want it to *feel* like 55 years from now instead of 5).
I will probably tell you my entire life story if you ask. I'm such an over-sharer. I'll also listen to your life story, but odds are you keep your cards closer to the vest than I do. People can read me like a book...I might as well be as open as one and not try to fight nature, right?
I won't make up religious rules for myself (or allow anyone else to do it for me). How self-righteous is that? I can only say that now because I used to do it ("oh m' that secular music?"). Don't follow the rules, follow Jesus.
And for much do you love my new lamp?
I got a pair of them...Thank you, TJMaxx, for saving me 50% on things I wasn't even intending to purchase.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

30 Before 30 - Lord of the Flies

20 down, 10 to go! TWENTY! My arm is super sore from patting myself on the back for getting this far - you might have to take over the back patting for a while. Go ahead...I'll wait.

Before we get to my extremely abridged synopsis of Lord of the Flies, please take a moment to enjoy this visual representation of me finally not giving up on a goal:

{sigh} ...isn't it beautiful? (especially the third row...middle photo, of course!)

Ok - that's enough. Back to business.

Lord of the Flies is yet another book I was supposed to have read when I was in high school. Did I just sleep through those four years? I remember exactly three things about this book from when I was 17:

1. boys on an island
2. a conch was really important
3. a character named "Piggy"

That's it - and somehow I made great grades in English.

I really liked this book. I don't remember liking it in high school (clearly). The book is about a group of boys aged 6-12 years old who are stranded on an island after a plane crash. They initially build a (very adult-like) society with rules and regs and everyone is assigned with jobs to do, etc. to keep them all going.

The book ends up being a microcosm of human nature and the various shapes that our personalities take at the base of our character. As improbable of a story as it is, I was totally sucked in. Of course "likelihood-of-this-actually-happening" wasn't the point of the story - the point was to contrast a few key pieces of human nature by showing the reader what might happen in a situation where people were forced into primitiveness.

According to Wikipedia (because we all know Wikipedia is the bomb and because I couldn't say it better), the major themes of the story are:
1. Rules/Civility/Security vs. Power/Anarchy/Every-man-for-himself
2. Rational Response vs. Emotional Response
3. Morality vs. Immorality

There's a lot of allegory in the book, but I don't even know what that means, so I won't get into it here. Just kidding...all the relationships between the boys are symbolic - if you want to know why, you should read it.

Everything turns out ok in the's not a "happy" ending, but it is an appropriate ending, and I did breathe a big fat sigh of relief on the last 3 pages. I wanted to jump into the last chapter and scream some sense into the heads of some (obviously hormonal) kiddos. That's how I know I liked this book.

It's a really fast read - if you are at ALL interested in either the improbable plot or the underlying themes, you should pick it up.

Next book: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse


Pillow Mattress Tutorial

Several friends have sent me some amazing project ideas - they're all in a file and at some point I'll get to them (I swear!). Two days ago, however, my friend Tatiana posted this on my Facebook wall:

She found it on pinterest and thought I would like it. Welllll....she was right. Not only do I like it, but I could see an immediate need for one (why is it that you don't know you need something until you see it?). Since the one in the photo above is somewhere in England right now retailing for approximately $145 plus know the rest, right? I'm super cheap.

If you'd like to pay $145 for it, you can get it here. If you'd like to make it yourself for a sliver of the cost, please see below:

First, I went to IKEA - here's my entire twin size duvet cover and five pillows.
The duvet cover was $9.99 and the pillows were $0.99 each (yes, you read that correctly). Total cost of this project? $14.94!! Who just saved 90%? I keep telling Eric I'm saving money, and he keeps asking me, "by buying things??" This is what marriage is all about, friends.

Step 1:
Measure. I eyeballed everything - I didn't even pull my tape measure out on this project. I liken this to my grandmother rationing ingredients at dinner...I don't know if she even owned measuring cups, but somehow the food was always delicious.

Here's how I measured:
Yep..."four pillows long" looks about right.

Step 2:
Cut the duvet cover to the desired width. Again, I eyeballed it based on the size of the pillows:
I ended up cutting the duvet cover exactly in half. Do you know what that means? I'll tell you what that means: it means that I have another pillow mattress just waiting for me to make it (it's probably going to wait a while).

Step 3:
Cut the top half of the duvet cover lengthwise so that the bottom edge sticks out a few inches further - like so:
The longer edge will fold under to make a pocket (so that you can't see the pillows when they're in the cover).

Step 4:
Hem all raw edges.
This was the longest step and it probably took 15 minutes.

Step 5:
Make the pocket. Fold the long edge (from step 3) inside under the short edge. I turned the entire cover inside out, folded the long edge, and then sewed up the sides width-wise (made about a 3" stitch at the top and the bottom of the cover).
Once I turned it right-side-in, the pocket was tucked neatly under the short side so that you couldn't see it. The widths of the long side and the short side match now (so I guess they aren't exactly "long" and "short" anymore).

Step 6:
Divide the cover into quarters by sewing three lines across the width.
This will make the "pillow cases."

Step 7:
Insert pillows:
Et Voila...a Pillow Mattress!

Here it is in it's new home, the "Princess Fort"

And here it is being used by the princess herself:

Really easy project - time commitment is about 45 minutes, and the pillows and cover are washable!

Happy sewing!

PS - here are the products used in the "Princess Fort." Enjoy!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

On the way home from preschool today...

Me: I had kind of a rough day today. Can I talk to you about it?

Sadie: Sure!

Me: Well, a lady hurt my feelings and it made me sad.

Sadie (with sad eyes): AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! We should put that bad lady in jail.

Me: Yeah, I can’t really put her in jail.

Sadie: But the police will do it. Do not invite her to our house, ok Mommy?

Me: I wasn’t planning to, don’t worry…I was just sad because she wasn’t very nice. I think she’s unhappy.

Sadie: Mommy, I’ll tell you something: If you can NOT invite her to our house, then we can go get some ice cream tonight, ok?

{Insert 10 minutes of continued conversation about ice cream and the “bad lady” and her probable state of unhappiness}

Sadie: Well…maybe we can pray for her to be happy.

Me: I think that’s a great idea. We’re supposed to do that. Are you going to pray?

Sadie: Sure! {closes eyes, folds hands} “Jesus, I pray that you would make that bad lady’s heart happy so that she would never be mean to my mommy again. Her heart will be happy and then she’ll be nice. Amen.”

The way I see it, I have learned two lessons tonight:
1. I was in need of an attitude adjustment that was graciously supplied to me by a four year old.
2. The girl knows how to bargain for some ice cream.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Make it Last #2 (A Cinderella Pajama Fairy Tale)

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wanted to wear her Cinderella pajamas to bed. When that 4T-sized little girl tried to fit into her 3T pajamas, though, she discovered that they no longer fit!

"Mommy! I'm TOO BIG for these!" she said with exasperation. "Take them off," said Mommy, "I can fix them."

With a quick snip of the long sleeves and pants, the 3T pajamas became a set of 4T summer shorty pajamas. No sewing required because the knit won't ravel.

"Tell me how awesome Mommy is," Mommy asked modestly. "AWESOME!" shouted the little girl as she slipped into her comfy new summer PJ's.

And she slept happily ever after.

The moral of the story: Never underestimate the power of a mommy with a nice set of fabric scissors. Oh...and don't spend money on new clothes until you wear the bejeepers out of the old ones.


30 Before 30 - The Grapes of Wrath

19 books down, 11 to go! I am getting ready to start my twentieth book!! WOOHOO! I have 13 months and 11 books to go - I love being this close to the finish line!

I really liked The Grapes of Wrath (sorry Courtney! I'll probably love East of Eden more!) It's not that the book was a particularly light-hearted read (and you know I always want the protagonist to win), it's that it painted such a picture of a particular piece of history. I can see why it was so controversial. It did have a lot of socialist theory embedded (or overt, as it were) throughout, but despite my politics, I thought it was a beautiful novel. I also don't think that it exaggerated very much (though I never lived through the dust bowl, so who am I to determine the accuracy of the content?).

Here's my little "if-you-ain't-gonna-read-the-book-at-least-read-this" synopsis:

The book is about a family who is pushed off their land in Oklahoma by the bank. Crops had failed, so there was no money for bills. Armed with $40, they headed west to California because the "handbills" said that there was a lot of work and good money. The journey is rough, and several people die along the way to California, but the core of the family makes it intact. After they get there, they realize that thousands of people have seen the same handbills and that only hundreds of workers are needed. When the supply of workers outweighs the demand for them, the wages go down. In other words, if there are 10 men clamoring for one job, the proprietor can pay pretty much whatever he wants. It is a cycle of not having enough, taking a job for *just* enough to purchase dough to fry for dinner, and then going out the next day and doing it again. Everyone is on the brink of starvation and their poverty makes them detestable to the native Californians. They are marginalized and forced to live in camps (because they can't afford housing).

The entire book focuses on the plight of these farmers...the ones who migrated to California during the thirties. John Steinbeck paints a picture of poor people helping other poor people - stretching what they've got so that they can share with others. He also paints a picture of what it looks like for the unfairly impoverished to become outcast. The dust bowl was a natural phenomenon that lasted for 6 years - just enough time for every farmer's storehouses to be depleted. If they didn't have crops, they didn't have money. If they didn't have money, the bank forced them away from their land. Once they were on the road, they spent all the money they had staying alive. When they were looking for jobs, so were thousands of other qualified men and women. When they didn't get a job, they starved. When they got a job, they almost starved.

Despite its grim plot, the book does offer some hope in the form of the farmers all learning to work together to demand fair wages. It never materializes, but at different points throughout the book, you have a strong sense that "everything is going to be ok."

Best summary quote:
"How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him - he has known a fear beyond every other."

So basically, it was a really good book, but it was hard to swallow at times. I'm glad I read it - I'm actually anxious to read another Steinbeck book...should have put one on the list instead of two by Leo Tolstoy. :)

Next Book: Lord of the Flies by William Golding (I picked this one because I completely pretended to read it in high's to actually reading it the second time around).


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day to My Daddy

My Daddy and me - 1985

He shed tears over only three things (that I know of) in the whole time I was growing up: 1) when he talked about God; 2) when his mother died; 3) each and every time my brother and I did something he was proud of.

My dad taught me what it means to feel protected. He would have fought someone on my behalf at any moment. And he would have won.

He taught me that money isn't really that important. As long as you have enough to sustain you, you have everything you need. My Daddy says, "You'll never be happy with what you get unless you can be happy with what you've got." I remember that sometimes when feel the pangs of jealousy creeping in. We don't have a lot, but what we have, I'm truly thankful for. It's not bad to be successful, but it is bad to put your security in "things." I can honestly say that my dad is the only person I know who doesn't EVER measure a person up by the "stuff" he has been able to accumulate. Heaven knows I certainly do it (despite my best efforts not to).

He taught me that sometimes it's better to stay at home and be with your family. My Daddy was *such* a family man. We wanted to go out with friends, but he wanted to stay home and play board games and watch Nick at Nite. He was right. We always had more fun at home.

He taught me that you support your kids whether you like their path or not. I was a cheerleader and a dancer. My dad couldn't have cared less about those two things, but he was at every game (even the ones that were 3 hours away), and he was at every recital. He went to all of my brother's games, and he played with us in the back yard every time we asked.

He taught me how to hold my cards close to the vest (I don't do it, but I do know how to do it). My dad is shrewd. He perceives things that you don't see him perceiving, and he takes a hundred mental notes before he acts. He can solve a Rubik's Cube within minutes (still amazes me). He's a thinker and a logician, and he has taught me a lot about being observant in your circumstances.

My Daddy taught me the basics of pretty much everything from tying my shoes to shooting a bow and arrow...and a gun. Every girl should know how to shoot a gun.

My Daddy taught me modesty. Sort of silently, actually. He couldn't even sit in the same room with me when there was a tampon commercial on TV - he would get up and walk out of the room. If it had to do with unmentionable stuff, the message was crystal clear: Please keep it to yourself. :) Still makes me laugh.

My dad taught me what it means to feel cherished. He wasn't hugged much when he was little (by his own admission), though his parents certainly loved him. Somehow, though, he taught himself how to hug and cuddle and say "I love you" at every opportunity. From taking naps on his chest when I was a baby to snuggling on the sofa every morning because our house was FREEZING when I got out of my warm bed, I never had to question whether or not he loved me - he just does.

He taught me how to spend meaningful moments with my child(ren). Being in the same room doesn't count (although at least it's something). What counts is actually devoting attention to your kids. Reading a book with them, playing a game with them, showing up when they need you, championing their individual strengths, hugging them when they do well...and when they don't, working with them on projects. My daddy was "in the moment" with us.

Happy Father's Day to my Daddy - the most influential man in my life from the moment I was born.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Errant Thought Roundup 32 - GUEST POST

Tomorrow is a very special day, my friends. Tomorrow is Sarah L's 17th birthday. Birthdays are a big deal in my world, so I am excited that she's guest posting tonight, and I'm ESPECIALLY excited that this is her second birthday post! (She guest posted on her birthday last year too!)

Sarah has an awesome blog called Stringing the Little Things. She inspires me more than I will ever inspire her.

Do you know any 17 year olds? Do you remember being a 17 year old? I can practically guarantee that when you were 17, you didn't have a head like Sarah's on your shoulders...

A special message just for Sarah:
You are destined for greatness. Truly, you are special. I don't know how you feel about advice...sometimes the best advice is to ignore advice, but alas, it's all I have to give. Here are three tiny pieces of wisdom that I wish someone had given me when I was 17...I could have done some serious damage with these: 1) Don't let anyone stifle your spirit. It's never worth it to let someone squelch the best part of you -- even for a minute. 2) Treat every interaction as an opportunity, and 3) Try (though it will be difficult) to always surround yourself with people who are wiser than you (or wiser than you think you are).

Have the HAPPIEST birthday ever, and thank you for another lovely post, my dear.


I love, I love, I hate, I hate
I like, I wish, for goodness sake...
I hope, I hope, I pray, I pray
I will, I won't, and for today...

I love summer. So so so so much. The long days, the hot weather that warrants sun dresses, shorts, and tank tops. The lazy days, popsicles, pools, watermelon, tan lines, etc. The lack of school work is fantastic, and it makes fall seem even more unappealing! The vacations and mission trips and vacation bible schools are calling my name. It’s perfect.

I love
to dance. It’s probably the only thing that has kept me sane in the past six-ish months. It’s my release, and the studio is my home. The people there are my family, and I know they have my back whenever I need them. Recital day is better than Christmas for me. I absolutely love it, with all of my heart, always and forever!

I hate goodbyes. I’m not good at them. And thinking of the goodbyes that next year will bring makes me sad. But, it also makes me want to live every single second of the coming year to the fullest. At least then, we’ll have some awesome memories to go out with!

I hate that so many people are hurting right now. I know a lot of people that have lost someone, or been through a really hard time this year. And it breaks my heart. I wish I could heal it all, but I know it’s for a reason and that there’s a plan in place. I’ll just be here for them and do what I can.

I like celebrating random holidays. Life is full of far too many ordinary days. Why not celebrate when you are given the opportunity to?! Make each day a day worth remembering.

I wish on stars. It worked in The Princess and the Frog, right? Who knows, maybe it’ll work for me too. After all, I think that stars will always hold some magic.

For goodness sake people really don’t care what it is you’re doing in 30-minute intervals. Please don’t update your status this often, especially not with meaningless things. I’m really sorry, but people probably don’t care if you’re eating a bagel while walking your dog. Especially not if you do it Every. Single. Day.

I hope
to become a better photographer one day. It’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s so cool to be able to borrow a moment, and keep it just the way you remembered in between the borders of a frame!
I hope I’m good at whatever God has for me to be one day. Be it a mom, a teacher, an astronaut, who knows! I just hope that I’m obedient, and that I follow after Him with all of my heart!

I pray for wisdom in the tons of decisions that are coming up rather quickly. I pray that I do well in my classes in my final year of high school, and I pray that I choose wisely when I choose where I am going to attend college!

I pray with gratitude for the many people who have influenced my life in the past year. I’ve formed a lot of new relationships, some with people I never imagined I would be close to! Those relationships are ones I will treasure forever!

I will continue to write down ‘pocket moments’ in my journal. Pocket moments are those moments that you want to keep in your ‘pocket’ of memories forever. They are the moments you can pull out when life gets tough, and they remind you that it will get better, or maybe just serve as a little bit of an air-bag to the blows that life deals sometimes. I keep lists of compliments, conversations, funny memories, inside jokes, awards I’ve won, days I don’t want to forget, etc. I definitely recommend starting a pocket moment book if you don’t have one!

I won’t be growing up any time soon. Growing older? Sure, not much I can do about that one. But growing up? Nah, not for me! I love being a kid too much! I mean, coloring books, playdoh, model magic, finger painting, and princesses! Yep, I’m good!

And for today… I’m going to continue to ‘string the little things’, and make those count for more than the bad stuff. I’m going to savor the every day moments that help make life worth living. I’m going to try to make every moment count, because every moment is worth it!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Seven Years of Awesome

In honor of our 7th wedding anniversary, I have decided to enlighten you on ten (of the million) reasons I decided to keep Eric forever. It didn't take long...within a month, we both knew we were going to be married one day. Convincing the rest of the world was a little tough, but try telling two starry-eyed teenagers that they're wrong about love. In light of that, I think you should know...

The Top 10 Reasons I Fell in Love with Eric at the Tender Age of 18:
10. He's was so darn handy! I found out he could change the oil in a car, and I was hooked. I also found out the first month that we were married that he is an expert garbage disposal repairman as well. Since I met him, he has been the fixer of all things broken.

9. He loved and respected his mama. You can tell how a man (boy?) will treat his wife by how he treats his mama (take note, fellas).

8. He refused to gossip. He's never (ever) involved in "drama," and he certainly isn't going to repeat anything that was never any of his business to start with. He doesn't even want to hear it, much less perpetuate it.

7. He protected me. Several times.

6. He was smarter than me. I knew I couldn't love someone who didn't challenge me intellectually. I have never ( ever) beaten him at Trivial Pursuit. He's an amazing strategist, a history fiend, and an authority on every random sports statistic you've never heard of. He's definitely smarter than I am...and I'm pretty stinkin' smart.

5. He never noticed another girl. I'm pretty sure you remember how 18 year old girls dressed in 2001. A hundred girls could go by, but he only had eyes for one.

4. His grammar and spelling were AMAZING. He used ellipses correctly. There are only three dots, people - not 87. He could spell the word "definitely" without using a single "A." He knew the difference between they're, their, and there. He was a breath of fresh grammatical air. It was a beautiful thing.

3. He tamed my wild streak. I had one for a couple of months (I swear). Some of you were privvy to it, some experienced it first hand (so sorry...truly), and others had no idea ('til now, I guess). Eric pulled me from the grips of it before "college" set in. I suppose I should thank him for my good grades too, huh?

2. He was ambitious. When we were 18, I would have sworn to the world that he was going to be the President of the United States. He has always made it so easy for me to believe in him.

1. His value system mirrored my own. It was love at first philosophical discussion. I'm not sure how you could plan to have a "forever" relationship with someone who didn't agree with your core values and beliefs.

(please note the text on the shirt)

And since you're still here, you might as well know...

The Top 10 Reasons Why I am Still in Love with My Husband:
10. He gets me. When no one else in the world "gets" me, my husband does. It's an amazing feeling to know you have an ally in everything you face...even the "silly" stuff.

9. He puts up with my antics. I can be exasperating at times with my many Lucy-like situations, but he takes it in stride (and with a smile), and laughs at me with me when I'm having one of my "moments."

8. He doesn't try to decorate. He doesn't care what furniture we own, he doesn't care what I hang on the walls (as long as I'm the one doing the hanging, of course), he doesn't care what our linens look like. He doesn't even TRY to give me opinions unless I ask for them. It's so awesome to live with a man like that.

7. He would fight for his wife and his daughter. He loves us fiercely. He is the single most amazing father I've ever met, and he (daily) makes me thankful that I ended up with him instead of any one of the billions of other men in the world.

6. He likes to get dirty. Face up under a car suits him just fine. He's going to need a garage when he becomes an optometrist...clean finger nails will drive him crazy.

5. He despises laziness. He's industrious and active, and he goes stir crazy when we're in the house on a Saturday past 11am. It frustrates me sometimes when I need a lazy day, but I have to admit, it's kind of awesome to have a husband who wants to interact with his family and who clearly values hard work.

4. We laugh together. He's hilarious with his one-liners that he just comes up with out of thin air. I don't expect them, and then I find myself suddenly in hysterics. We laugh a lot at our house.

3. There is no one on the face of the planet I respect more than my husband. He is wise. Every team has a coach, and he's ours. If we disagree, I am smart enough to defer the decision to him. He earned that position and he is completely gracious in it.

2. He is my best friend. He makes me laugh, he holds me when I cry, he calms me when I'm scared, he celebrates with me when I'm joyful, and he generally surrounds me with a feeling of complete love and security.

1. He loves my God. I've watched him develop from a spiritually immature 18 year old kid to a man who serves the needs of his family with a constant eye toward pleasing God. Regardless of what you believe, that is a treasure to me.


Marriage isn't easy for anyone. People can be easy to love, but marriage takes effort and takes a lot of conceding your will (in sheer defiance of human nature). Life isn't easy either. Heaven knows it hasn't been up until this point anyway. I think it's better that way. It's better when life has a few bumps in the road. I think overcoming the obstacles with with my husband is the greatest part of our adventure because one day, when we've made it through the worst of our trials, we'll sit back in our little house of love and realize that we're still holding hands.

Happy 7th Anniversary to the greatest gift of my lifetime.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dance Recital 2011

Sadie's first ever dance recital was quite an experience. As a "backstage mom," I had to wear a gray shirt and a lanyard, and I wasn't able to see any of the dances (except Sadie's, of course). My sole responsibility was keeping 14 three-to-four year olds wrangled for long enough to get through the entire recital. Here's a quick photo journal

My precious girl at dress rehearsal:

Lined up before going on stage to dance (she did awesome)!

Sadie's class lined up for a photo shoot. My child is the one sobbing. I have no idea why.

(Back: Lucia, Bella, Sadie, Sarah, Alexis, Bailey, Maddy)
(Front: Maggie, Melina, Briana, Avery, Kaitlyn, Lily, Nyla)

Sadie getting her flowers after recital:

Hugs with Grandma and Grandpa:

Hugs with Mommy and Daddy:

Our little ballerina:

Except for the crying-for-no-good-reason part, it was a fabulous day for dance :)


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

101 Amazingly Awesome Things to do with Your Preschooler

Sometimes my mommy brain needs a little creative prodding (does yours?). I want to do fun things with Sadie, but when I'm dry on ideas, we pop in a DVD. Don't judge do it too. I recently went looking for a list of good activities that met some or all of the following criteria:

- rainy day activities
- sunny day activities
- activities that teach a life skill
- activities that teach basic kindergarten readiness
- activities that are free (or nearly free)
- activities that require interaction
- activities that spark curiosity

I found a few good ideas, but mostly, I saw a lot of "go outside and play" or "stay inside and play" type suggestions. While those are indeed excellent suggestions, I decided to make my own list so that other mommies who are potentially struggling with the "what should I do with my kid today" rut will have a few fresh ideas!

Here's a handy-dandy list of 101 Amazingly Awesome Things to do with Your Preschooler. (ok, a few of them aren't amazingly awesome, but 97 of them are.)

1. Pick dandelions and sort them by blossom size - they get "flowers" and you get free weeding! Put them in a little glass of water on the dining room table.

2. Cook spaghetti together. Let your child pour in the sauce, pour water (from a pitcher) into the pot, and break the noodles.

3. Paint on a canvas.

4. Open a blank document and let them type words that you spell for them (or their name) on your computer.

5. Lie outside on a blanket and point out shapes in the clouds.

6. Take a plastic baggie on a nature walk, and ask your child to find ten different things. Lay out the collection of found nature objects and compare their shapes, colors, textures, and smells.

7. Make sidewalk chalk art. Teach your child how to play hopscotch!

8. Dye eggs. (Who says you have to wait for Easter?)

9. Play "I Spy" with letters of the alphabet and/or household objects ("I spy something that starts with the letter 'W'" or "I spy something that plugs in,")

10. Sort something by color together (clothes, toys, books, etc).

11. Go to a hardware store and pick out a bunch of paint chip strips. Cut out the squares and glue pairs of them back-to-back on a length of string to make a paint chip garland (the string should be between the back-to-back paint chip pieces when you glue them together).

12. Play "Follow the leader."

13. Look at old photos and point out friends and family members. Talk about how they are different now.

14. Eat a spoonful of peanut butter. Or Nutella. Or something else that should probably be forbidden to be eaten by the spoonful. Pretend it's an extra special amazing treat and you're only giving it to them because you're the best mom (or dad) ever.

15. Move the living room furniture, put blankets and pillows on the floor, pop popcorn, and watch a movie.

16. Have a family game night...stack up games like Candy Land, Guess Who?, and Chutes and Ladders, and play until bed time.

17. Teach your child how to use your camera (or get them one of their own), and let them take a picture of you. Print it, frame it, and put it in their room.

18. Put on jeans and long-sleeve shirts and roll down a hill together.

19. Tell a story about when they were a baby.

20. Tell a story about when YOU were a baby.

21. Pull up blades of grass and sort them from smallest to tallest. Practice whistling through grass.

22. Teach them how to taste honeysuckle.

23. Sort jewelry by color, then re-sort by type.

24. Line up the stuffed animals on the sofa in the living room, give your kiddo a microphone (or a hairbrush, or a magic wand), and let them perform their favorite song.

25. Throw a sheet over the dining room table and make a fort underneath.

26. Match socks. Use the leftover ones to make sock puppets.

27. Have a conversation with them that aims at teaching them something. Talk about the function of the dishwasher as you unload it ("What do you think this does with the dishes?") or about why the ice in their drink melts when you pour them a glass of water ("Do you think the ice will stay in there forever? Will it melt? Why?")

28. Make music out of kitchen utensils.

29. Ask your child what their favorite animal is, what they think it eats, where they think it lives, etc. Then let them help you figure out what letter their animal starts with, ask them to help you find that letter encyclopedia, and look it up ( in a book.). Show them a picture of their animal and read them some interesting information.

30. Go to a park that has a playground and give them a quest ("Let's pretend that play structure is a ship!")

31. Go to a park without a playground. Take a ball or a bike.

32. Blow bubbles and try to catch them on the wand as they fall without making them pop.

33. Let your child cut the letters of their name out of a magazine with safety scissors and paste the letters (in order) onto paper.

34. Let your child cut out "things they love" in a magazine with safety scissors and use them to make a collage. Parenting magazines and magazines specifically for kids are great for this!

35. Have a tickle fight.

36. Have a pillow fight.

37. Roll your kids up in blankets and pretend they're cocoons. See who can get out of their cocoon first and turn into a butterfly.

38. Put on relaxing music and do some yoga together...or pretend to do some yoga together. They'll never know the difference.

39. Play with play dough.

40. Spell words and play word games with magnetic letters ("Which one spells 'Daddy?' Is this word 'cat' or 'bat?'").

41. Go outside and spin in circles until you get dizzy and fall's fun to watch kids walk after this.

42. Make a sensory box out of dry rice or beans and a shallow plastic container with a lid. Use funnels, measuring cups, and other containers to play in the box.

43. Spray shaving cream on a cookie sheet and write, draw, and sculpt with it.

44. Put six clear glasses on a table. Put a half cup of water in three of them - one with several drops of red food coloring, one with blue food coloring, and one with yellow food coloring. Use the empty three glasses to figure out what colors red+blue, blue+yellow, and yellow+red make when they are mixed together.

45. Shine a flashlight onto the wall in a dark room and make shadow puppets.

46. Let your kid pick out (or make) thank you notes and then USE them.

47. Show your child how to read the numbers on the digital clock on the cable box or the microwave (super helpful with keeping morning routines on track!).

48. Cut shapes out of construction paper, and then give your child school glue and dictate a sequence to them ("first, glue the big yellow square in the middle of the page, now glue the red circle to the top of the square, and now put the three little blue triangles inside the square"). Praise them for their ability to follow directions well. Praise yourself for reinforcing shapes, colors, patience, fine motor skills, and following directions all in the same activity.

49. Make letter shapes with your bodies.

50. Introduce your kid to classical music while riding in the car (You know...the station is always something like 89.7 or'll find it). Ask them questions about the music, ("Do you hear the violin? The flute is making this sound [insert your best flute imitation here]").

51. Commission a piece of artwork. ("Can you draw a picture of our family with your crayons?"). Once it's done, find somewhere prominent to hang it in your house.

52. Take a trip to the library for story time or to pick out books. Explain how libraries work.

53. Look up free activities in your area (things like "Touch a Truck" where kids can meet firemen and construction workers, or town park nights, or seasonal festivals).

54. Go to a baseball a hot dog.

55. Have your child pick out seeds for something (a vegetable, a flower, etc.). Help them plant it, take care of it, and watch it grow. If it's a veggie, reap and eat it!

56. Skype with a friend, a grandparent, or someone else who is far away.

57. Go to an antique store and peruse. Point out things that "used to be" to your kid...they'll be amazed that there was ever a world where rotary phones existed (and cellular phones didn't).

58. Play hide and seek or indoor flashlight tag.

59. Make bean bags (or rice bags) for a bean bag toss game. Use a hula hoop, bucket, or bowl for the goal.

60. Take a bucket of water and a paintbrush outside. Paint sidewalk art with water.

61. Make an easy indoor scavenger hunt ("Find a coaster, a bracelet, a crayon, and a sock!")

62. Make an easy outdoor scavenger hunt ("Find a pine cone, a flower, a rock, and a leaf!")

63. Go to a Lowe's or Home Depot kids' DIY clinic. (Click on the links for more info).

64. Hang a prism in the window and watch the rainbows.

65. Throw a pile of pillows blankets, and stuffed animals onto the floor and jump into them (the rainy day version of jumping into a pile of leaves).

66. Create a series of physical challenges ("first do a somersault, then do four jumping jacks, next crawl to that tree, and then run to the fence.")

67. Play charades using props.

68. Go to the farmers market. Make sure your kid will never embarrass you by not knowing what a potato looks like before it turns into French fries. ("that vegetable is an eggplant - see how shiny and purple it is? Is it bigger or smaller than the yellow squash? Which vegetable should we take home tonight to cook for dinner? Will you help me make it?")

69. Picnic in a park...or in your back yard. Let your child help you make sandwiches and pack juice boxes and count grapes as you put them into plastic baggies.

70. Get various (safe) items from around your house (a favorite stuffed animal, the remote control, a book, a crayon), blindfold your child, and then let them try to guess what the thing is just by touching it. Take turns!

71. Make a beaded necklace out of a piece of string (or jewelry elastic) and some beads.

72. "Tight Rope Walk" on the curb (safely please).

73. Taste and smell the spices on the spice rack (only use a speck if tasting...a little goes a long way). Ask questions about the spices ("Which one smelled sweeter: the cinnamon, or the garlic powder?")

74. Cut out and decorate a mask using the cardboard from the inside of an empty box of cereal. Tie it around their face with string or elastic.

75. Limbo with a broomstick.

76. Play indoor Marco Polo - crawl on the floor instead of swimming.

77. Find your town on a map or a globe. ("Where does Grandma live? Where was Daddy born?")

78. Play high/low. ("What is the best thing that happened to you today? What's the worst? What is the best part about being a big brother? What's the worst part?"). Encourage conversation that stems from these questions.

79. Build a bird feeder together. Cover a pine cone with peanut butter, roll it in bird seed, hang it from a tree, and watch for birds.

80. Tell your child five reasons why you think they're the best kid ever.

81. Point out things in your house that are in the shape of a circle, square, rectangle, triangle, etc. ("How many circle shapes do you see on the ceiling? What is the shape of this pillow? Let's put all of the square pillows in this pile and all of the rectangle pillows in this one!")

82. Turn off the TV.

83. Play big band music and dance around the living room.

84. Let your child pick out a new toy that they want, and then tell them that they have to earn the money to get it. Encourage them to do chores or help them take a photo of an old toy and put it up for sale on Craig's List or Ebay. Once the item is sold, help them take it to the post office and ship it. Make sure you remind them along the way what their "goal toy" is so that they'll remember why they're doing all this work.

85. Pretend to be statues. Tell your child to stand really still and see if you can get them to move without touching them/tickling them, etc. Take turns!

86. Go to a pet store and look at the dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, parakeets, goldfish, lizards, and hamsters. Talk about all the different types of animals that can be pets. Ask to hold them. Which ones are soft? Which ones are friendly? Which ones are the easiest to take care of?

87. Practice fine motor skills like buttoning, zipping, tying, buckling, fastening, and snapping. Cut up old clothes and put the fine motor pieces into a storage container to keep on hand so that your child can play/practice.

88. Put on old clothes, go outside with your child, and tell them to get as dirty as don't want to see a speck of clean on them when they're done playing.

89. Pretend you're just meeting your child and practice shaking hands. Please teach them to grasp firmly and make eye contact. It's never too early to learn, and they'll feel grown up while they're practicing.

90. Play the rhyming game. Think of a word and then take turns thinking of rhyming words...even if they're made up words, they still count! Read a Dr. Seuss book for ideas...

91. Ask your child to put together a donation box of old toys, and then take it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army (or your favorite donation center), and let your child give the box away themselves. Explain the significance of donating, and walk around the store...maybe you'll find something awesome!

92. Pick out three piggy banks for your child. Paint them, decorate them, or just purchase and use pre-decorated ones. Tell them that one is for saving, one is for spending, and one is for giving. Give your child a stack of quarters, dimes, and nickels, and let them figure out how to split their stash among their banks. Define "saving," "spending," and "giving."

93. Make patterns. Use a stash of buttons, silverware, legos, or anything you can find that has multiple matching pieces. Start laying out a pattern (i.e., yellow button, blue button, blue button, yellow button, blue button, blue button), and let your child try to finish the pattern once you've gotten it started.

94. Make a paper target by tracing circles onto paper in a variety of sizes (use plates, cups, and bowls for an easy pattern), and hang it on the refrigerator. Toss plain magnets at it and see who can get closest to the bulls eye.

95. Bake cookies from scratch.

96. Visit a local petting zoo.

97. Lie outside in the grass, close your eyes, and talk about what you hear instead of what you see (birds? wind? cars?).

98. Put on gloves, grab a trash bag, and pick up litter around your neighborhood (keep a close eye on kids for this one).

99. Build a terrarium together.

100. Host a neighborhood park night - let your child help you with the flyers, bring a case of juice boxes, and let the playground equipment do the rest of the work.

101. Create a treasure map and go on a treasure hunt. Make sure the treasure is worth the quest! Bonus for dressing up like pirates.


If you have more suggestions - please let me know! Maybe I can do an updated list at some point! :)


Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Ever Sleepover!

Sadie and Madison BOTH had their very first ever sleepover this our house :)

Before we met up with Madison and her Mommy, Sadie and I got to hang out outside the Please Touch Museum for a few minutes...

My kid is hilarious...

The girlies at the Please Touch Museum:

Pint Sized Grocery Store:

Carousel Sadie:

Carousel Madison:

Matching Aprons!

Princess Tea Party:

Art Project (you expected it, didn't you?)

We made Madison an "M" like Sadie's "S"

Matching Pajamas (Thanks Madison!)

Eric and I are exhausted, but the girls had fun - Madison was the perfect guest, and Sadie was an absolutely fabulous hostess...can't wait to do it again! :)


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