Weekending

Hiking, parks, backyard play, very few errands, less housecleaning and no dance created a very fun and spontaneous weekend.  During our hike on Sunday, D said she didn’t want to go to school because she always wanted it to be the weekend.  I really can’t begrudge her statement because it was a great weekend – spent out of doors enjoying the warm weather and springtime beauty.

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Does anyone play Chutes & Ladders anymore?

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I love this sign by BarnOwlPrimitives.com

Every day when I pick up my daughter from school, I inevitably dodge a parent who is rushing down the hallway with their reluctant child in tow, barking at them, “We have to go, we’re going to be late for fill in the blank practice.” The other day a mother of three rhetorically asked her children, “Why are we always late to everything?”  Well, it’s obvious…isn’t it?

Now, as a working mother, I’m very familiar with, “Honey, we need to go now or we’re going to be late,” repeated more than a few times in elevated frustration each time – I get it, I am the parent of a lolly gagger.  Let me take that back, I’m the parent of a four year old.  That’s what they do.  And I only have one.  But now, there’s this heightened need to cram schedules with multiple activities…for whatever reasons. And in the circles with which I’m most familiar, these are on top of a full day of preschool which is already dictated by a strict schedule.  Have I missed something? I did start motherhood a little later than many, but what happened to free time?  When did, “Do you want to go to the park or have a tea party this afternoon?” get replaced with, “Don’t forget, we have t-ball team photos tonight followed by hockey practice.”?  These are four year olds! To rush a demographic that is intrinsically slower and, as a result, more curious, imaginative, observant and mindful is a shame. This age is precious, and it’s a blink of an eye. Balance is necessary…for everyone.

I believe involvement is necessary. I believe challenges are necessary. I believe life is meant to be experienced. Overscheduling, however, has no place in my life or my child’s.  It gets in the way of creativity, play and, well, childhood. And to the well-intentioned mother of three with the crazed eyes, I would answer you with this, “Maybe your kids don’t care that they’re late. Maybe they just want to go get ice cream and pretend their mint chocolate breath can stop an entire herd of fiery dragons.” And they should, they’re four.  Give them some space; give them some simplicity.

Tell me, is the overscheduling a phenomenon in the U.S. or does it stretch to other westernized countries?  What do you think of extra-curriculars for young children?

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Simple Moment

{simple moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. Inspired by soulemama.com.

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An Egg-ceptional Arrangement

Years ago, when we were newly engaged and living in our condo, I was feeling a bit nostalgic and decided to make our very own Easter egg tree – similar to the one I had growing up.  I bought ribbons, hot glue and paints and made a day of it at our kitchen table.  Some were hand-painted, some were just dyed and decorated with ribbon.  I thought they turned out lovely and I felt quite proud of displaying this little tradition in my very own home.  They decorated our dining room table during the Easter season for the next couple years, then…mysteriously, the eggs disappeared.  I have no idea where they went, if they got tossed in the move to our house, or if they are tucked away in the abyss known as our attic.  Given the time and energy it took to complete those eggs, I tried other, less taxing ideas like the yarn eggs a couple years ago, but nothing came close to replacing those originals.

Now, with a creative 4.5 year old in tow, I thought this year might just be the year to reinvent this project.  I mean, the only thing better than the original is the original with an added preschool pizzazz.

_DSC3820Breaking out the original paints (just added water to “freshen” them up a bit), the hot glue gun, ribbons, coloring kit and flower stick-ons courtesy of Gigi’s Christmas craft box, we were ready to get to work.

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STEP 1: I poked and blew out the eggs, drying them off thoroughly with a paper towel.
STEP 2:  D helped dye the eggs with the egg dying kit bought at the grocery.
STEP 3: Once dried, we hand painted the eggs (given their fragility, not one was broken in the process – amazing!).
STEP 4: Once dried, we picked out the flowers and ribbon to be glued on each one; I handled all the gluing (for obvious reasons) and ribbon selection.

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We made quite a team and I loved seeing the excitement on her face when she got to hang the eggs on the tree – a look of well-deserved pride, most certainly.  And I love having this display back again in our home.

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Simple Moment

Homework time at the kitchen table!

The look of concentration, the use of an iPad for picture inspiration, favorite colored pencils – all the tools for a successful monkey portrait that answers the question, “If you could have any pet, what would it be?”

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A Wonder Indeed

This past weekend we took a day trip to the Grand Canyon.  It is a great time of year to visit – weather was beautiful, low crowds and free entry into the park over President’s Day weekend (find out here when the fee free days are scheduled this year).  It was D’s first trip and certainly won’t be the last.  She, too, can appreciate the beauty of this world wonder.

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Handmade Valentine’s Soap

_DSC3629I had no idea how easy it is to make homemade soap until I read a great post over at Gluesticks. I decided to give it a go and make heart shaped soaps for my daughter’s pre-K class Valentine’s party.  The most difficult part for me was choosing the fragrance because it had to work for the young noses of both boys and girls.  After all, I was going against the lollipop grain and having her give out hand soap…yep, I’m that mom.

After some serious sniff-testing, my daughter and I went with the orange and jasmine fragrances.  One of my favorite smells here in Arizona is the orange blossom tree in the spring time – clean, sweet and pure heaven – so that was our inspiration for this project.

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The first batch we made included the two fragrances, poppy seeds for an exfoliant and orange rind for an extra natural scent.  However, I thought it was a little much for 4-year-olds so we wrapped them up and gave those to her teachers and took it down a notch for the kiddos.  The girls received the orange jasmine soap with pink soap colorant swirled on one side with a tooth pick and the boys received the same but with green colorant.  The soaps were packaged in Valentine’s bags with a tag that says (idea came from here):

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Hands
kind hand
helping hands
CLEAN HANDS
caring hands
working hands
sharing hands
giving hands

As a reference, we made 23 bars of soaps total.  Here’s what you need for that quantity:

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Soap Base

You can find 2 lb. blocks of melt and pour soap base at craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. There are several types to choose from. For this project I used 4 lbs. of goat’s milk glycerine soap base.
Scents
Jasmine and Orange essential oils. I purchased the Jasmine oil at Sprouts and the Orange oil at Michael’s.
Coloring
As stated above, I used pink and green soap colorant and swirled it into the soap immediately after it was poured into the mold (note: soap begins to harden quickly once poured).
Add-Ins
The zest of 1 orange and 1 Tbsp poppy seeds for the teacher soaps (made 5 soaps total)

Supplies
Soap mold
I purchased my silicon mold on Amazon for $6.50, but you can find them at craft stores as well. Silicon molds are the easiest to use as the soaps just pop right out without any non-stick spray.
Glass measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Small spatula or large popsicle sticks
Baking Sheet

Cut your soap base into small cubes. I worked with 1 lb. at the time (half the block). Fill a glass measuring cup and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until completely melted.  As a reference, 1 lb. of base filled 6 heart cups about 1/2-3/4 way full.
Add your scent a few drops at a time until your reach the desired potency.
Add your coloring and any add-ins.
Place soap mold on a baking sheet for easy transporting.
Pour soap into molds. Once you’ve poured your soap there may be some air bubbles – lightly spray with rubbing alcohol to remove them.
Let stand for 1 hour until completely set.   Carefully pop out of the mold.
Happy hand washing!

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