February 2, 2011

Princess and Dragon Day

Last week, we had a couple of crazy days. The kids have hit the age of three with full force, with lots of drama and big emotions. Two years old was such a fun age. And this age is amazing, too, it's just challenging at moments, and sometimes exhausting. They're either loving something with their whole being, or it's the end of the world!!!! And sometimes the difference between the two moods can be as little as giving them the wrong color plate!

After a couple days where we did too much, I decided to have a day when we just stayed at home, and didn't do much of anything (sounds like I was all proactive about this, but in reality, I felt like I had been run over by a bulldozer). But I stumbled on someone's blog that included a printable castle coloring page. I helped them color, and then glued the pictures to the sides of a cereal box and cut out a little moat on each side.

They went crazy over it. I pulled out their favorite little finger puppets. They played with it for most of the morning, then decided to dress up as a princess and dragon for most of the rest of the day.

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And by the end of the day, I felt like I was a knight in shining armor, saving our family's sanity one cereal box at a time.

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Posted by Tim and Jo at 3:17 PM | Comments (2)

December 21, 2010

DPP 12/21: More gingerbread

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Posted by Tim and Jo at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2010

12/16 DPP: Christmas Crafties II

Had some friends over today for craft time. Chatted with mommy friends, watched little ones running around, snuggled some really littles.

It's a little hard to see, but Elanor decided to trace the lines on the snowflake.


Posted by Tim and Jo at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2010

DPP 12/8: Christmas crafties

Found these at our local dollar store--bags of little Christmas-themed foam stickers, and larger trains to stick them on. Both kids love stickers, and Ian is obsessed with trains, so we had a lot of fun making them and hanging them on the tree. If any of you have 2-4 year olds, this was a great craft. Limited mess, and they had lots of fun manipulating the stickers. They stickers also nice for homemade cards.

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Actually--for the sake of keeping it real--Ian took the stickers off of his train, and took all of the stickers for a ride on the nutcracker express. But Elanor was kind enough to finish his off as well.

Posted by Tim and Jo at 8:31 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2010

Pumpkins by our punkins

Okay, that's probably the cheesiest blog title I've ever used. But I was so proud of these faces that they drew at the library story hour yesterday.

Elanor's--the bottom one--comes complete with "eyes, happy mouf, nose and g'asses!"


Posted by Tim and Jo at 1:11 PM | Comments (2)

October 15, 2010

Fairy blossoms

Blowing bubbles on a dewy morning by our garden...

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Posted by Tim and Jo at 2:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2010

Homemade finger paints OR how to feel like a heroically creative mommy in three easy steps

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I'm excited because this was easy, fun for the kids (they had a blast for a long time), and comparatively unmessy. To be completely honest, I have more the ideals of being a creative mom than the actual motivation to make it happen, so if its too involved or messy, it probably won't happen. (If you want some real inspiration, check out the crafty ideas on my bud's blog, she has all kinds of ideas, and also follows several fun crafty mama blogs)

The kids were running out of inks for their stamp pad (their aunt gave them some Christmas stamps for Christmas, and they love it), so I decided to poke around and see if I could find homemade ink for stamp pads. Found a recipe for finger paints instead, and decided to experiment. Lots of fun paint recipes here, I used cornstarch recipe #2

I thought it would be a really involved process, but it was uber easy, just some cold water, cornstarch and sugar mixed together, all simmered together until thick (it started to turn clear just at the time it thickened, about 10-12 minutes into it), and then a little dishwashing liquid and food colors (used leftovers from Easter) added at the end. (The recipe calls for a drop of food coloring, but it needed a bit more than that, and the colors were still on the pastel side.). It didn't have that funky chemical smell I remember from finger painting growing up, it was rather nice knowing what all I put into it..

I put it right into little containers from Ikea. Actually, I just gave them a bit at a time on the lids, and saved the leftovers in the containers for another day.

And the fun began!

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It was thick enough that it wasn't *all* that messy. Even when finger painting turned into face painting.

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Posted by Tim and Jo at 11:51 AM | Comments (4)

June 21, 2010

This Land is Your Land...

I'm really excited. Some of you know that several years ago, I had the opportunity to be involved with the Voices Across Time project at the University of Pittsburgh. Voices Across Time is a fabulous curriculum that was designed to help elementary through high school teachers to incorporate music into other subjects that they are teaching, particularly, American history. There are lots of free materials online related to that at the website, lesson plans (looks like they're temporarily down), song texts, links, all kinds of wonderful things.

When I was involved in the program, I automatically thought of homeschoolers. The flexibility of homeschooling allows for some really wonderful exploration of ideas across disciplines, and this curriculum really encourages that kind of exploration. To this point, however, I don't think that the curriculum has been used by homeschoolers.

This year, some women from the homeschool group that I'm involved with through teaching piano suggested that we plan a summer camp involving several disciplines. We have three teachers, one of my best friends, Jennifer, who is brilliantly creative and experience in the area of drama--and another one of my dear friends, Ruth, who has taught art for many years.

We put our heads together and found a great theme to pull all three creative areas together. The camp is titled, "This Land is Your Land: Exploring American History through Tall Tales, Folk Songs, and Art." We have a facebook page on it, if you want more information.

We've put together some really fun ideas for the camp--we're going to have the opportunity both to introduce children to the basics of each art form (the elements of a song, basic stage direction, the elements of drawing and other artistic media), as well as to explore American history through these forms--acting out tall tales (such as John Henry and Johnny Appleseed), singing American songs (such as "Skip to My Lou," Stephen Foster's "O! Susanna," and Woody Guthrie's, "This Land is Your Land"), and exploring American developments in art (such as American primitivism).

It's going to be fun, lots of games and activities, and an art exhibit and performance at the end of the week. I'm pretty excited because I think this may be the first time that elements from Voices Across Time has been used with homeschoolers, and I really think that it fits well. And just the idea of bringing these three artforms together is very exciting for me.

This is a pilot program (if we get a good response, we would love to do it every summer), so we've kept our rates extremely low to encourage as many children as possible to participate. We actually do have some slots left, so if there are any people out there who are still interested (or know others who are interested in the Atlanta area--you don't have to be a homeschooler to participate either!), please contact us.

Posted by Tim and Jo at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2010

"Ministry of the Real" OR "Our Kids' First Fling with Jackson Pollock"

Some of my dear friends have been batting around this concept--the ministry of the real--and it's really caught my attention. Especially in bloggy-land, it can be easy to try to construct a pristine and serene world, one that may be detached from the somewhat messy nature of real life. And the concept is that giving people glimpses of your chaos rather than a picture-perfect reality can be comforting and encouraging.

So, in honor of the concept, and for the sake of having something to show at opportune moments when our kids are teenagers, here's some drama from a couple weeks ago.

I thought the kids were sleeping--or at least having quiet time in their room. I heard some suspicious noises, so I went upstairs. On the stairs, I was hit with a strong chemical smell.

They had gotten out of the room, into our office, climbed on top of our desk, grabbed a container of markers, climbed back down, climbed on top of our guest bed. And colored a mural from a window, across a corner, nearly across an entire wall, and across the side of our bookcase. There were about 20 markers open on their bed, so it's probably good that I came up when I did. I caught it when there was just red and black, with subtle green accents, and occasional swipes of yellow highlighter.

Amazingly enough, I was completely calm, even when they grinned up at me. I quietly told them that "we only color on paper" and moved them to the other room so that I could clean it up.


And then we tried to clean it up for about four days. This picture is after about three days of cleaning. Let me just tell you now: with something as substantial as this, especially if it involves Sharpies, save yourself some time and money, ignore folk remedies, and move right to the Kilz and get a place like Lowes to match the paint. It only took an afternoon to repaint it.

And voila! (it's exactly the same color, though I think the lighting is different)


Now we have a secular catechism that's recited regularly in our house:
Q: What do we color on?
A: We color on paper.

Q: Shall we color on anything else?
A: No, we shalt not color on anything else. Neither the walls, nor the floors, nor our faces, nor our mommy, nor our daddy, nor our books, nor the bedspreads, nor our toys, nor anything else that is not paper.

Okay, kidding on the last Q & A. For now...

Posted by Tim and Jo at 5:20 PM | Comments (5)

October 8, 2009


I'm guessing that's the acronym for the new stage of life I'm entering, part-time-work-out-of-the-home-wife-mother-teacher-and-scholar.

I'm still processing the changes this is making in our family, but overall, it's a really good situation. As I alluded to in another post, I'm teaching piano lessons in Atlanta two days a week (technically, a day and a half, but throw in some commuting time, and it makes for a couple of days, though I'm with the kids for good portions of each day). It's busy, but I really enjoy teaching. I still feel called towards scholarship, but part of that call I sense inside myself is a call towards teaching, the sharing of music and ideas, and the building of relationships that happens through this. So, that's where I am for now. I'm still looking for adjunct teaching, and I have some pots on the boiler (a few encyclopedia articles, and I haven't made a public announcement yet, but I'm seriously pursuing turning my dissertation into a book. There. I said it.).

It's nice, though, that the kids get to spend time with grandma and grandpa on one of the days, and I play with them in between lessons. And on the other day, they spend a day with my in-law-in-law's, who have twins (nearly grown up now!) themselves, and love kids. So, after a couple of bumpy weeks, the kids are pretty happy about the arrangements. Love the extra attention they're getting, and the time with their family.

There are definitely some adjustments to make. To avoid an extra round-trip, I've been spending the night at my parent's house one night each week. Elanor isn't too sure about this, she's always had a habit of processing her stress through night-time wakings, and I'm a little tired out by single night-time parenting (yes, I'm spoiled rotten by Tim usually, who is a fabulous night-time parent, and gets up with them at least as much as I do, if not more). This week was better, but we're still working through it.

There's also cooking. I've been pulling out some of my simplifying tips from the eating like an immigrant series, and making at least one enormous pot of food (usually a crockpot meal) over the weekend. We eat it on Monday, Tim eats it for lunches and Tuesday night dinner, and we might even have it for dinner on Wednesday night. So, I'm trying to keep it interesting and well-balanced enough to eat for a few days. I think I should get a couple of meals going, and start working them in and out of the freezer to keep things more varied.

And there's parenting in the car. I have about four hours in the car with the kids. I would love tips from you on how to use this time intentionally. I have some children's catechism/Bible songs CDs that we listen to, a Pete Seeger CD set (that unfortunately has met with some mixed reviews from the kids--"nonono," tears, "off," and "button"--as in push the off button. They're finally warming up to it), and occasionally some of my music (Bob Dylan and so forth), if they'll let me listen to it (little critics!). We sing in the car, songs like "Old MacDonald" and "The Wheels on the Bus," though Old MacDonald was a matter of debate yesterday--"yie-yie-yo" and "no-yie-yie-yo" were the two positions vehemently taken in the debate. I was a strictly neutral party.

They repeat their ABC's after me. And I have a bag of books and toys that I distribute judiciously throughout the trip. And snacks. But it's a looooooooong drive. I do want to take advantage of the time we have together, though, so I would love any suggestions that you might have to help the time pass.

Posted by Tim and Jo at 4:55 PM | Comments (3)

September 1, 2009

Toddler playtime: stickers and coloring

I've been feeling a little uninspired as far as finding creative activities to use with the twins (21 months now!). A few friends on facebook and on a mommy forum have given me some great ideas. Anyways, since they shared with us, I thought I'd pass along some things that are working for us (in case I'm not the only mom of toddlers who feels uncreative).

The other day, I piled us all into the car to go to a play group, but it was raining and was cancelled. Since we were all in the car anyways, I braved going to the dollar store by myself. I think that qualifies as "creative play-time" in itself--as in creatively getting the kids to put all the dolls back on the shelf before the manager saw us. Kidding (sort of)! And I discovered that the dollar store *is* a great place to get lots of stickers for cheap.

So, for the past few days, sticker-time has been a part of our daily routine. I still have drafts of my dissertation to use up, so I cut the paper in half to fit on their high chairs. When they're coloring, I use a bit of blue painter's tape/masking tape (it's easily removable) to tape down the paper so it's not sliding around, but that doesn't seem as necessary for stickers.

They love stickers! And I can really see that they use their fine motor skills to pick them up and place them on the page.

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I'm trying to use it for word practice, too. I'll ask, "Who wants a bug sticker?" And give it to the baby who says "bug." And then I'll ask them to find a sticker on their page--"Where is your car?"

Or I'll ask them what sticker they want, and they'll either point or make the sound. Did you know that sea horses say "neigh"?

I do something similar with crayons to help teach them their colors--they can name quite a number of colors with prompts ("purple" sounds like "burble." And "blue" sounds like "bleu," like little french babies, so cute!). They like coloring, but they also like collecting piles of crayons, and putting them "back" in the box.

I've even been letting them try their hands at multimedia artwork (haha) by letting them color their pages after they've put their stickers down.


Posted by Tim and Jo at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)