Mid-Winter Play Date

Did you know private schools now host play dates? OK maybe this info is new just to me?

Over the weekend, my girls and I attended a free bread making class at a local Waldorf school. I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I know about the Waldorf philosophy is that it is child lead. That’s it.

This is by far the most beautiful school room I have ever seen. It is warm, inviting and full of sunshine. Everything is simple and clean. It is like being in someone’s small home. It’s a new school so everything in it is still perfect.

Beautiful sunshine for the winterscape on the window sill.
Beautiful sunshine for the winterscape on the window sill.

Our time began with circle songs before moving to the child sized table to make our bread. The children were encouraged to knead the dough while the teacher sang songs and quietly explained the steps. My kids are still singing, “Pat-a-cake Baker’s Man.” We rolled our dough into a long tube before rolling into the shape of a snail. It was so cute! I never would have thought to do that- the kids loved it!

Little hands patting the dough.
Little hands patting the dough.

After the snails went into the oven we enjoyed a snack with our new friends- warm bread with butter, apples cut into a spiral (almost like a slinky) and tea. Each child had their own perfect sized little pot of mint tea.

Tiny little pots of tea for each child.
Tiny little pots of tea for each child.

Everyone cleaned up their own area at the table and the kids were sent off to play while the moms were left to chat. I have to say that is always my favorite part of play dates.

Every toy in the room is exciting to a small kid, from the wooden doll house with realistic furniture to the excitement of packing a small suite case. There are no hard plastic toys, or anything that requires batteries. My kids especially enjoy the hand crocheted stuffed elephants and felted hats. I enjoy that my kids had a really wonderful time!

Wooden dollhouse.
Wooden dollhouse.

The girls could not wait to dive into their snail breads once we returned home. It was a really fun time spent with friends on a really beautiful sunny day!

Our finished breads.
Our finished breads.

Snow Day at the Beach

Here in the Northeast we are covered in about 30+ inches of snow. It’s safe to say I am over the snow. Every day I look out my window to a sea of white. It hinders my view at every stop sign and I have to tether my kids to the back deck before letting them go play for fear I might loose them. It’s seriously a lot of snow.

Every morning I wake up and think warm thoughts and remember my days at the beach. Ah… my toes in the warm sand and cool drink in my hand. I must be thinking about those days pretty hard because my daughter said to me today, “mommy I want to go to the beach!” I thought you and me both sister!

It is rare that inspiration and money come to me at the same time.  But today was my lucky day. We made a trip to the dollar store to get glass gems I want for another project I am dreaming about (you’ll have to wait for that post). While there I saw some glass sea shapes and I thought, “why not? I’ll figure out some way to use them!” We finished up our shopping trip which included some great bargains on plastic storage boxes.

We arrived home pretty close to dinner time and of course the girls were asking to watch TV. I knew that late in the day I’d never get them to turn it off to come to the dinner table. So, I did some quick thinking and just gave them the box with the glass sea shapes to play with.

Sea glass shapes in a box.
Sea glass shapes in a box.

The gems alone were just enough to keep them occupied while I put dinner together. They were so fascinated by the shapes and the smooth side and the bumpy side. I was so fascinated by no interruptions that I used the time to hunt through their toys to find beach themed items. I let them play until dinner was served and brought the boxes back out after dinner. I asked if they want to help me build a beach in a box. Well, of course!

Here is the little cast of characters we included in the box:

People, animals and things you see at the beach.
People, animals and things you see at the beach.

I tried to include things we might see at the beach.

Then we filled it with “sand.” Since I often use whatever I already have on hand I had to wrack my brain a bit for some sand. Then I remembered I had a bunch of salt left over from our salt dough Christmas ornaments.

Our white sandy beach.
Our white sandy beach.

Ta-da! A white sandy beach!!

This is what it looks like all together:

All our beach items in the box.
All our beach items in the box.

The girls had so much fun with these boxes it was totally quiet for a FULL GLORIOUS HOUR! The only reason they stopped playing is it was time to take a bath and get ready for bed.

I will WARN you- this project wasn’t wet or sticky but will get messy when the salt spills outside the box. And it did. A lot. I’d advise against it if you are not in favor of messes entirely, or superstitious about spilling salt. (I had to fight the urge to throw a pinch over my shoulder while sweeping it all up).

I’m not going to lie and say my favorite part was seeing the joy on my kid’s faces (that was a bonus), or that it won me some rare quiet time. Honestly, my favorite part was that it only cost me $5.05 total ($2.52 each box). And, I felt pretty awesome coming up with this idea on the fly.

So, here’s looking forward to warm sunny days real soon!!

Inside snow

In my previous post I confessed my deep feelings for snow. I really hate spending time in snow. It’s cold. It’s wet and it makes me a whiny mess. But, my kids do find the snow interesting and fun to play with.

Subscribing to my “whatever” philosophy means letting go of the drama and chaos to find a more peaceful existence. I don’t mean Zen like peace- although that would be nice and a bonus if it included wine, but more of an ease to our pace. If you’ve never had to dress two three year olds before, let me share that it can be a pretty dramatic process. One twin is ready to go before the other and starts to get antsy. That’s when the chaos sets in (and the whining). No one likes to sit and wait for help with their boots so they try to put them on without my help, which is a frustrating process when you have little hands. After 20 minutes of whining, kicking and crying (sometimes by me) I’m usually done with the whole process before we’ve even opened the door. Thankfully, Pintrest has a solution! Snow table!

A snow table means I don’t have to put on boots. I don’t have to rummage for hats and mittens and scarves. I don’t have to pretend to have fun when I’m really freezing! I LOVE YOU PINTREST! We usually stay in our jammies and play for as long as the interest holds. I try to throw in extra things to mix with, build with or change the color with to keep it interesting.

I pulled out the water table we had stored in the garage, recycled a left over plastic party table covering and rummaged through the house for some fun things to play in the snow with.

Reused our summer water table for a snow table.
Reused our summer water table for a snow table.

The plastic cover under the table catches all the over flow of snow. I can wrap it up and throw away, or if the mess is small enough wipe it up and I can use the cover again. I have this in the kitchen where the floor is tile so really if it goes passed the cover it’s no big deal.

Ice Legos in the snow.
Ice Legos in the snow.

Next: fill with snow! Now you can be done at the point and just hand the kids a few wooden spoons, or plastic cups. But, this time (since it was our 1 billionth snow day this year) I added in some rainbow colored ice cubes, penguin spoons and little toy polar bears. The girls loved it and I stayed toasty- win/win! My one daughter said, “It’s just like ice Legos!” Suuurre… yeah…that’s exactly what I was going for. *wink*

This busy fun lasted about 30 minutes before it was too cold to handle and both girls discovered their hands were now stained from the food coloring.

Food coloring does rub off on little hands.
Food coloring does rub off on little hands.

Whatever… it was 30 minutes of quiet with my cup of HOT coffee! Well worth the effort and mess!

Talking Heads

Anyone remember those stuffed talking heads from the 90’s? The ones that look like little cartoon heads with tiny arms and legs- you’d hit them and they’d say things like, “yadda, yadda, yadda” and “whaateverrrr!” I remember my brother gave me one because apparently I said, “whatever!” a lot back then. It was my catchphrase before I even knew it was my catchphrase!

I was thinking of this little talking head the other day when I saw picture after picture posted on Facebook of my friends taking their kids out in the snow to play. I felt a little guilty for not taking my little ones out. I hate the snow and cold so much. I hate how long it takes me to get all three of us dressed. Ugh. So, I posted kind of a joke question asking if I was horrible parent for not taking my kids out in the snow. I didn’t really expect anyone to answer the question. I obviously don’t think I’m a horrible parent. I thought I was being funny and sarcastic. There were actually several replies; some agreed the snow is overrated. But, one comment stuck with me. It actually said I was “taking away my kids choice” to have fun.

So here’s how it really went down. Me: “Hey kids look at all that snow!” Kids: “Wow!” Me: (in silent reluctance I ask) “would you like to go outside?” Kids: “No! We want to stay inside where it’s warm!” Me: “Ok then!” I asked, they replied with their choice.  Why would I now spend 20 minutes forcing them into snow pants and boots all the while crying they don’t want to go outside? Whatever. We watched Disney princess movies and ate a popcorn in our jammies. I didn’t post any pics of that. I didn’t want anyone else to feel guilty.

How many times do you feel like other parents opinions and comments make you sway in your own parenting choices? The guilt we feel as parents can be a powerful thing. Having twins I feel like the mommy guilt tag teams me, and it could easily take me down if I let it. So now I’m going to grab on to my trusty catchphrase the next time I feel that guilt well up and think, “whaateverr!” and let it go.

The Day I Became the Whatever Mom

January 31 018

I think it is important to share that I am afflicted with a type “A” personality; which basically means I am very high strung and I want things done my way. I tend to fall apart when things do not go according to plan. And, by fall apart I mean I have a full systems meltdown (which I did when my girls were around two and a half).  I am very lucky I get to stay home with my twins. I do not however have access to family, back up child care and my husband works 98% of each day. So, most days I am out numbered.

Now, let me share with you that having twins as your first born is hard work. There is already a major learning curve to being a first time parent, but you throw in that extra needy little human and things get tough. Whether you have one, two or several, that first year is all about getting your parental bearings. Even with all the curve balls I hit that first year, it was still the easiest so far. Both kids were on the same eating and sleeping schedule. Juggling feeding and bathing two babies alone was difficult, but I managed. By the grace of God they both took two naps a day which gave me approximately three and a half hours to complete my household chores, maybe rest and watch TV. They were in bed by 6 p.m. and I had three more hours to get things done (and drink some wine). Since they were so portable we went for a walk three times a day. Errands were nearly effortless when I only had to pick up their carrier and lock it into the stroller. I was able to get things done, maybe not as perfectly as I could before kids, but my house was orderly, my kids were clean and dinner was on the table every night. I felt like I was THE domestic goddess. My type “A” was happy!

It all changed when my twins started walking. In opposite directions. I could no longer keep them contained and everything they touched was now out of place. They started protesting against diaper changes, wardrobe changes, bath time, car seats, the stroller and what was on the menu. It was exhausting. But, somehow I was determined to continue operating at a level of perfection only I had created. Until one day I landed myself in the ER with my first ever panic attack (a fore mentioned full system melt down). I hated it. I hated feeling like I did not have control. That was the scariest part. After meeting with a neurologist (I was convinced it must be “a tumah”) I realized I needed to make some changes. I needed to let some things go- namely my expectations.

My kids deserve a healthy mom. So, “whatever” became my mantra. I started saying “whatever” to the dishes now and then. I started saying “whatever” to the crumbs on the floor and the splatters of paint on the table after art projects. I even started saying “whatever” to keeping every single thing perfect. I lowered my standards from unattainable perfection to “whatever works.” I’m not going to lie. It was and still is difficult to do. I still get a twinge of “oh man I should be doing THAT!” when I go to other kids parties, or see friends awesome Pintrest projects. I get in a rush to make things bigger and better than I have planned. Then reality sets in that the only extra hands I have are little ones and I call upon my mantra of, “whatever” and I let it go.

I started this blog to give moms permission to do Whatever it takes to get through the day as a parent. You don’t need to keep it all together and make perfect crafts. You don’t need to put perfectly hot meals on the table every single night and hand deliver perfectly folded laundry. So, give yourself permission to leave the dishes in the sink a little longer while you play dress up with the kids. Our little ones actually want to be with us and shower us with kisses for a very short time.

Is your mail piling up? Is the laundry calling your name? Does your neighbor give you funny looks because you feed your kids out of a squishy pouch while driving to school? Repeat after me, Whatever! It works for me!