Friday, October 30, 2009

a sampling of fall and Halloween crafts

Here in my house we do crafts of some kind several times a week. The kids adore crafting and making a mess and the results are always cuter than cute. Even when they're supposed to be spooooooky. I have been terrible about documenting the process of our crafts. I have three toddlers with whom I need to be "all hands on deck" or they'd end up creating a disaster along with their cute little craft. Hence, it leaves me without a hand to photograph the actual making of our crafts. Before I sent the finished works of art home today with the kids I took a photo of their creations. All of these crafts were easy enough for a two year old to do with some assistance and the preschoolers can do them independently given step by step directions.

At the back are the toliet paper tube Frankensteins. This is an idea I got from the site No Time for Flash Cards. A wonderful site for crafts and books and songs. this craft requires a toliet paper tube, two gogglely eyes, two golf tees, scissors, green paint and black marker or crayon. First the kids colored the top 1/3 of the tube black. Next they painted the bottom portion green. The older kids fringed the green guys hair themselves but I did it for the little ones. Then have them draw a line for a mouth with little slashes going through it for the stitches. Glue on the eyes and let them push the tees through each side. So's scary. :)

I have one little fabric decoupage pumpkin in the back as well (the others were already sent home). These were very messy to do but the kids enjoyed mucking about in the glue. We used styrafoam pumpkims from the craft store as our base. You will also need glue (lots), orange fabric snipped into small pieces, and a paint brush and small plate. I poured a good amount of glue onto the plate and had the kids paint portions of the pumpkin a little bit at a time. They should then cover the gluey pumpkim with pieces of fabric. We found that once a small area was done, it was best to paint over the fabric with more glue to paste down the edges. Continue doing this until the pumpkin is completely covered with fabric. These looked really cute grouped together.

The cheesecloth ghosts are simple and fast but require an overnight drying time. Some of the kids had yet to put eyes on theirs. For the ghosts you will need cheesecloth (cut into pieces that will fit over your form), stiffy or liquid starch, black felt, a metal bowl and something to form your ghost around. I used a soda can with a ball of foil on top. This ghost is so easy and they are so much fun. You can even hang them by sewing some fishing line through the top. Here go the attention because it really is that quick. Pour the stiffy in the bowl. Take one piece of cheese cloth at a time and dip it into the stiffy in the bowl. Mix it and slosh it around till it's good and wet. Squeeze it out and then open it back up. Drape the damp, not dripping!, cheesecloth over your form. We used two pieces of cheesecloth for each ghost. And that is it. Let it dry overnight. The next day cut two eyes out of the felt and glue them onto your ghost. I love how these guys look all together. Ours were small but you could make these whatever size you'd like. It'd be real cute to have them all different sizes.

And the little gummy pumpkims are adorablely yummy. The gummy pumpkins are made with orange gummy fruit slices. Each pumpkin uses 9 orange slices. You'll also need plastic wrap, a half cup measuring cup, and some green tape. Line the measuring cup with a piece of plastic wrap. You want it to be good size as you'll be wrapping it around the finished pumpkin. Next begin standing the orange slices in the measuring cup with the rounded edge touching the sides of the measuring cup. Continue placing them into the cup until you can't squeeze in another. Then place one more right in the center. Pull the plastic wrap around the candy and out of the measuring cup. Twist it and wrap a piece of tape around. Cut off any excess plastic wrap. These are fun to bring to a party or as party favors.

Monday, October 26, 2009

king of the parking garage

What? You want to play here? Hey...I was here first. You're just going to have to play around me. If you dare.

Nice try...but I am faster than lightning "slowpoke" mcqueen and laugh as I bat him right off the ramp. You want to try again?

I can stealth attack from below too. Not only am I fluffy and cute but I am fiendishly clever. No car shall escape my paws of death.

HA!!! Once again, I successfully fought off all foolish attempts to drive me from my throne. I remain king of the parking garage and woe to you who think otherwise. For those fools, I have nothing but disdain. Now leave me to my nap underlings.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

a prayer

This week Arthur on PBS is airing an episode that features a character who gets sick with cancer. cancer is what took our beloved Cosmo from us. My kids know he was sick with cancer and watching this episode of Arthur has dredged up some questions about life, death, being sick, God, Heaven and all that fun stuff you just want to talk about at seven in the morning; you know, in between making lunches, brushing hair, signing permission slips and packing backpacks. All this talk seems to have Sam tapping into his spiritual side. Last night after I got the kids to bed and was picking up I found a piece of paper on which he had written this prayer.

everyone is with cats
always with us

God is very special
very special

He loves everyone

All the dogs that enter God's kingdom will never suffer again.
We love them.


all peace, everywhere.

Everyone be happy,

Be happy!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

an easy craft to celebrate the fall

The month is October with leaves falling down.
What once were all yellow, are scarlet and brown.

This lovely autumn windsock could not be any easier to make. It does require some adult assembly at the very end. What you'll need is a foam sheet about 8 1/2" by 17" in red, orange, yellow or brown. Some fabric loose leaves and one swag of autumn leaves. You will also need glue, a stapler, duct tape and a hole punch. The fabric leaves and swag can be purchased at a crafts store.

Before you begin you will want to cut the swag into three equalish pieces. Okay, now you can start. First have your child glue the loose leaves all over the foam sheet. Once that dries flip it over. Have your child use a small piece of duct tape to tape the end of one of the swag pieces to the foam sheet. Then she can tape the remaining two pieces. The last step is for the grownups. Wrap the sheet around into a cylinder and slightly overlap the ends. Staple it a few times where the ends overlap and it's done. I also punched some holes in the top so we could hang it up.

This is way more than the sum of it's parts and I was amazed at how pretty it looks. Easy enough for toddlers to do too.

No richer person you'll ever see, I have a Dad who plays with me

One of my favorite photos of all time. Joe may not take charge of the hair brushing, making sure they've got on clean underwear, or cleaning their fingernails; but regardless, the kids will always think of him as an involved Dad. He never fails to answer "sure!" when asked "Daddy, will you play with me?" He plays Barbies, tag, action figures, board name it, he will play. He even has come up with some unique games of his own...Wilbur before bedtime, OH-We-OH out in the yard and number stories in the car. I don't often get pictures of these play moments and I'm oh so glad I got such a wonderful shot of Katie and Joe playing chase.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mommy's morning helper

Our weekday mornings tend to be a little hectic. If you have kids, there's no doubt in my mind, that your's are too. I've read numerous articles in all the parenting magazines on how to make the morning an easy effortless ride. I have no idea why I've never really made an attempt to put any of the wonderful ideas contained within those articles into practice. Maybe I liked yelling and getting all crazy in the morning. This year though, I finally stopped reading about how to make a difference and did something about it.

I bought us one of these dry erase boards...this one is set up for chores but I use it for the list of morning "jobs" rather than a chore chart. I wrote in all the little things that the kids need to do each morning before the bus comes and assigned each child his/her own color of star. When they've completed one of the jobs, they move a star into the square in the appropriate day colomn. All the squares need to be filled by eight a.m. Voila! That was it. I didn't invent this. I've read about countless variations of this idea over the years. And can I just tell you how much easier our mornings have become? They are delightful! No longer am I hollering at Sam to get dressed, eat breakfast, put your underwear in the hamper!!! No longer do I wonder whose plate is still sitting on the table. No longer do I need to ask if their library book is in their bags on library day. No longer do I need to say "go brush your teeth" ten trillion times each morning. All it takes now is an occasional "Did you check the list?" and it all gets done! It's like magic! Teresa is an especially big fan of the list and rarely do I need to direct a "did you check the list?" to her but even Sam, my pokey "I want to go back to bed" guy has responded really well to this. Although, in true Sam fashion, he has tried to get around the system by moving his stars into every square in the column before doing any of it. He realized that didn't pay off when he had to race to get dressed as the bus waited out front.

I honestly don't know why I waited so many years to try anything to make my mornings easier. But I am soooooooo happy I stopped whining about my horrible mornings and actually did something to make them less hectic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

how do you feel?

Katie hasn't been feeling all that well lately. She's congested and feverish and out of sorts. Saturday morning was the first morning she woke up without a fever. She came dragging out of the bedroom, her hair all touseled and her eyes still droopy with sleep. I felt her forehead with my hand to check her temperature and asked "How do you feel?" Katie took her own little hand and patted down her forehead, then her cheeks, her neck, her arms, her tummy, legs and finally her toes and feet. "Mumma," she said, "All of me feels pretty good!"

Even when I'm worried about her, that kid sure can make me laugh.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

one pair

To cut down on dirt getting tracked into the house, I have the kids take their shoes off as soon as they come in the house and put them on the stairs. I only want one pair for each of them on the stairs to keep them less cluttered. Kids being kids, there are more times than not when there are eight, nine, ten pairs of shoes falling down the steps. All it takes is for me to yell "one pair on the stairs guys!" and they will come running to set it all to rights. Katie, however, is having a wee bit of trouble with the whole concept of "one pair."

I adore this face

I took this picture of Katie yesterday. She was not happy with me and was hiding from my camera behind a post. I wish I knew more about photography to consistently get photos I love. I want to know what I did right to get this shot so I can do it again. Anywho...even sad, her beauty stops me in my tracks.

Friday, October 2, 2009

a bad haircut

I took Sam and Katie in to Supercuts to get haircuts the other day. Now this should be a fairly simple thing. Kate just has a little bob...nothing too complicated. Sam, however, makes this should-be-simple task into pure torture. In all fairness, it's not his fault. He has always been ultra-sensitive with anything to do with his hair. Washing and combing it is hard enough but cutting it, is by far the most painful. He says it hurts to touch his hair and head. I have to believe him because he genuinely seems to be in distress and hurting. I think it's tied in with his sensory issues but I'm not qualified to make those assumptions. Or so I've been told.

Anyways...I dread bringing him in for a trim. So I put it off. I put it off until Sam is beginning to resemble a troll doll. It'd be so much easier if I just took him when he only needed a little trim but I don't. I just keep putting it off...and putting it off...and putting it off. Because it's not only a painful experience for's a painful experience for me as well. I never know how to go about telling the stylist about Sam. I don't want to be seen as "that" mother, who makes excuses for her child's bad behaviour. Because I'm not making excuses. I just want her to be more understanding of why he's acting the way he does when he's getting his haircut. I don't want her to get annoyed at him. But it feels wrong somehow, to preface his haircut with "He's going to freak out, screech, duck to get away from your scissors, and frantically brush off every bit of hair that lands on his body. Oh and the cape, gives him the heebie jeebies, can we just go with a towel draped over his back? By the way, he's not acting like that on purpose...he's got sensory processing issues." But I have to say something. Even if it makes me look like an overindulgent mother. I can only imagine what the stylist says when we leave.

These supposed-to-be-simple moments are what really drive home Sam's differences. The stylist that cut Katie's hair came over and took her by the hand and helped her into the seat. She chatted with Kate about her birthday while fastening the cape and spraying her hair with water. Kate looked down or straight ahead or whichever way the stylist directed. She was done in about ten minutes. I was so engrossed in helping Sam calm down and getting him to sit still, I didn't even realize she had finished and was sitting back down with Teresa. With Sam it's a battle from start to finish. The cape, the spray bottle, the scissors, the comb, the buzzers (OH THE HORROR!), the snipped bits of hair. It's all too much for him and he just freaks. I'm ashamed to admit that this bugs the hell out of me. I just want to take him to get his haircut and it always has to be a big effing deal. I'm ashamed to say we left the salon with Sam's hair a mess, because I couldn't take it anymore. I'm ashamed to say I yelled at him. A bit hypocritical that I expect the stylist, someone who doesn't know him and love him, to understand his behaviour, when I, his mother, gets pissed off about the way he's acting? So we leave the salon with me angry and horribly guilty...Sam in tears and feeling like he let me down. And what do I do after we leave the salon with only Teresa and Katie smiling. I drive directly to another salon.

Honestly, Sam's haircut was so bad. I had to have someone fix it but the first stylist was beyond done dealing with Sam. So we marched into another place and I tried once again to tell the stylist what to expect with Sam. This time however she took him and walked waaaaaaayyyyy to the back where I really couldn't see what was going on. I didn't hear any loud wails so I crossed my fingers and prayed he was doing alright. When they emerge from the back of the salon, Sam is red eyed and twitching from all the little hairs down his back. And....he is practically BALD! His hair hasn't been this short since he was about 8 months old. I love my child and think he is gorgeous, full head of hair or not. But truth be told, he can't swing the super short look. His head is too big and his ears stick out. But there's nothing I can do about it now. Sam was glad he was done with the haircutting torture for the day. Heck, with his hair this short, he won't need a cut for good long time. Which, I guess, is a good thing. We both need time to recover.