Fun In The Snow

I admit that sometimes I dream of just moving to Costa Rica forever.

minnesota-winter

The beach, the surf, the peaceful and somewhat slower way of life appeals to my body and my mind.

 

And sometimes when the winters get long in Minnesota I think about some of the places I’ve lived that didn’t have our weather extremes..

deep-snow

…Los Angeles…

…Medford, Oregon…

…Amsterdam…

..and I listen to people tell us how crazy we are to live where it plummets to 30 below zero and it snows from October until May.

snow-day-fun

But then we have those perfect winter days – with fresh snow and temperatures above zero.

IMG_3125

And my kids cannot wait to get outside to create and play.

 

And while we love skating and skiing and sledding – and other snow fun activities – it’s just the going out and playing in the snow that reminds us as to why we stay in Minnesota.

 

They don’t need a sandbox or a ball or a park.

IMG_3194

Just piles of snow to make forts, mountains, snowmen and fun.

panda-hat

It might take us 30 minutes to get outfitted to go out.

snow-running

And maybe their mittens are still drying on the radiators.

panda-in-snow

But nothing feels as good as the cold on their sweet pink cheeks as they play in the clean, fresh air.

panda-hats

And then enjoy an after play celebrate with hot chocolate…as we dream about the snow angels that we still need to make this year before all of the snow melts away.

 

Do you love the snow?

Share

Why We Have An American Girl Doll Collection

I posted this picture on Facebook immediately after Christmas. The girls had just opened American Girl Dolls #10 and #11(and I admitted having dolls #12 and #13 already purchased still in boxes ready for the next holiday).

And the comments came as expected..

“That’s not a doll collection, that’s a mortgage payment!”

“Call me next time before you buy so I can buy stock in Mattel!”

“I don’t see dolls, I see dollar signs.”

“That’s a crazy amount of money sitting there!”

And then the simple…

“WHOA!”

and

“$$$$$$$$$”

and a few

“Adopt me!”

“Can I be your child in my next life?”

and

“Don’t show this to my girls as they will want every single one of those!”

 

And to all of those comments I say “No kidding! I completely agree!” I think I look kind of crazy….

We seem to have an addiction and a love for American Girl Dolls.  Are they expensive? Yes. But are they worth it? Very much so.

 

And with three daughters and now six years of buying dolls – well 11, and soon 13 dolls doesn’t seem all that crazy to me.

 

You want to know why? It is the only gift my girls ask for each year – for their birthdays or Christmas. They ask for a doll or some clothing or accessories…and that is it. They are the only gifts they find under the tree each year and the only store they ask to visit at the mall.

 

And if I have an almost eight year old and a newly 10 year old and they don’t ask for nor do they own – iPods, iPhones, iPads, phones, TVs, gaming devices, iTouches, DS’s, laptops, computers, or any electronic device AT ALL – but they ask for dolls to play with…well they are going to get dolls. And they want dolls that come with books and stories and they sit and read with their dolls…are you kidding. This is beautiful.

I played with dolls until seventh grade and I can only hope the same for my kids. The longer they love imaginative play how amazing for them, right? Let them be little girls and have positive messages to carry them into their tween and teen years.

 

Even if it means that their dolls have a better wardrobe than I do.

 

It’s worth it. Every dime I spend at American Girl is worth it.

 

And if it’s the only gift they ever ask for and ever get – well it doesn’t seem like that much money to me.

My Living Room Is Now American Girl Doll Land

But it doesn’t really matter what I think. Or what you think.

 

It’s what they think – and watching them play with their dolls and watching them tuck them into bed each night, well…..

 

I think another visit to the American Girl Doll store is in order.

 

Because I have this three year old who is still going to be playing dolls for at least another 10 years. And I guess she will look a little crazy-spoiled with 13 dolls in her sole possession once her sisters leave for college. But she’s my baby…..so I’m hoping it all seems quite normal.

Share

Bumpidoodle Giveaway

Okay – I’m going to start this post asking you to raise your hand if your child loves stuffed animals? I swear every time we leave this house a stuffed animal fairy somehow takes hold of one of my children and ‘blesses’ them with some magical power to make me buy them another stuffed animal because OMG it is just so cute!  I think this happens as I completely understand their need because I too as a child, was a collector of Stuffis Animalis. And when I graduated from college and bought a house, my mom showed up at my doorstep and delivered boxes and boxes of my beloved stuffed animals and just maybe I still have them all because OMG they are so cute.

What I love now though is that stuffed animals are so much cooler and seemingly smarter because they are not only squishy, huggy cute but they can be functional. This new found functionality of a stuffed animal makes parents very happy while their children delight even more in playing with their new friends.

So when I was contacted by Bumpidoodle to review a Floor Friend I kind of got way too excited over it because OMG cute!

[Read more...]

Share

We’ve Found a New Favorite Toy With Pony Royale

This post is sponsored by Pony Royale. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 

I admit that our home is slightly overflowing with princesses, dolls, dress-up clothes, horses and ponies of all kinds, little people of many sorts, and accessories and shoes that would make Imelda Marcos proud.

 

We have so many lands of make-believe that it would take you a lifetime to travel to them, and if you think I’ve dressed up in a pink tutu and helped played out one of the great tragedies, love stories, operas or musicals of the ‘play pony kind’ – well you might be right.(But believe me there is no photographic evidence).

 

So when two Princess Ponies from Pony Royale arrived at our door a few weeks ago..well it was all bets are off for playing with anything else for nearly a week and these new additions to our home(thank goodness they aren’t real ponies with real pony poop)have become a favorite, and one of them still holds the place of honor on Esther’s bedside table each night.

[Read more...]

Share

Kids in Their Natural State…

I always hated zoos before I had kids.  Seeing animals in a small enclosure out of their natural environment. It made me sad. Watching the tiger walk the same path 532 times a day in a sad circle.  The monkeys swinging on the fake trees.  The giraffes standing on the cement slabs.

 

I’d tell myself that they were saved and they were safe here and there was a reason they were here. But it didn’t matter – it still looked unnatural.

 

I’ve managed to overlook some of that since having kids. Kids don’t really see the environment. They see the stripes of their coats and their ability to swing and their unusually long legs. They watch the mama’s carry the baby animals and nurse them with love.  I watch my kids watch the animals and it seems quite natural.

 

I love how kids don’t notice the bad.   Things are truly only bad for them if someone teaches them that it is bad.  They are a beautiful natural open slate of goodness. They see only the most beautiful stripes.

I clean my house for playdates.  The playdates where the kids are just dropped off at the curb. The six and eight year olds come in and for some reason I want my floor scrubbed and toilets bleached. I push away the clutter and papers and dirty dishes and just life.

 

I’ve never had kids before – I didn’t realize they don’t see that. Or if they do – they don’t care.  Kids want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a treat of hot chocolate. They want a friend’s mom who let’s them spread crafts all over the dining room table, and to play the music loud and have a dance party. A dance party around the mess of life perhaps.  A life in it’s natural state.

 

And sometimes I remember. I remember the best friend I had who didn’t have the cleanest house. And while I knew that and kind of noticed that it was different from my house – it never bothered me because her mom would brush my hair into the most amazing styles and make the best tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. And I remember the laughter in their house. Laughter in it’s most natural state.

 

My kids attend a very diverse school – diverse in every way possible. Not one kid in that school is the same – whether my race, religion, economic status, the clothing they wear, the language they speak, the home that they live in.  This school is a blend of our inner city living and it’s beautiful and completely in it’s natural state of where we live.

 

And my kids attend birthday parties in apartment buildings and at grandmother’s houses and also at nice houses on the boulevard.  They go to playdates in neighborhoods that we may not consider the best and sometimes they play right here down the block.

 

And while my kids see the difference and I want them to love and appreciate the beautiful differences of people – they don’t see where they live is any different from how we live. They see their good friend with a parent or grandparent who makes them a peanut butter sandwich with maybe a juice box and who let’s them watch a movie or sits and lovingly paints their nails.   They only see their friend.  Their friend in a completely, natural and beautiful way.

 

I need to think like a kid again as it would save me tons of cleaning hours and I’d probably laugh a lot more.

 

Wouldn’t that be the perfect natural environment to share.

Share

Wordful Wednesday – The Joneses

I kind of love when kids are too young to understand the relationship of things.

Like what money can buy. No one is rich or poor. No one has a better car or a bigger house.

But now they get it – the “rich” people behind us. The homeless men at the freeway exits. The kids in the class that cannot afford to bring in their own notebooks. The kids eating free hot lunch every day. The kids with the latest and coolest tennis shoes.

So I explain it all – but it still doesn’t make sense to them completely – grasping this need for money to buy things, and that you need to earn that money – the bank doesn’t just give it to you. (damn)

And by the way – this story has absolutely nothing to do with these pictures. My child is just so damn cute, you needed to see her again, oui? Don’t fight with me. It’s my blog.

So our fucking lovely, new and rich neighbors had an $11,000 “swing set” professionally assembled in their backyard and my kids have MAJOR swing set envy. “Mom, why can’t we have that swing set” “Mom, we need that swing set” “Mom, they must be really rich to have a swing set like that” “Mom, can you ask them how much it costs and where they got it” “Mom, do you think they would just let us play over there because it is HUGE?”  These poor children stand at the fence with drool dripping down their chins.

So I explain that we need a new car, roof, braces, gas, FOOD more than we need a “swing set” in the backyard…our 8 year old one is just fine. Really.

So far I am not very convincing.  Thank goodness for playgrounds nearby.

More wordless/wordful Wednesday and beautiful pictures at Project AliciaSevenClownCircus and Parenting for Dummies

Share

Cheerios, Hula Hoops and Ladybug Picnics…

I could not help but think of my childhood this weekend.  I remember being a very little girl, eating a very early breakfast and watching the Royal Wedding.

And even watching that real princess, I knew I just wanted something simple, quiet and easy in life.  My memories are simple and happy. Uncomplicated.

Family

Play

Laughter

Music

Love

This weekend made me realize that my girls do not need a prince on a white horse or a castle or a diamond tiara to make them happy.

They need to know they are loved, nourishment for their body and soul, the ability to run around in the backyard, to learn how to hula hoop..

..and most importantly the confidence to wear a tiara for 4 days straight because they know they are already a princess.

Share

Wordful Wednesday – Chalk Interpretations..

The sidewalk chalk emerged last week.   All down the block there are toddler scribbles, preschool stick figures, grade school rainbows, flowers and hopscotch games.

You cannot help but hop yourself down the sidewalks as you fully digest this first sign of Spring.

The girls and I spent the afternoon drawing suns and rainbows, making our names in multi-colored bubble letters and creating elaborate flower gardens.  Eloise’s hopscotch game went down by 4 houses and numbered to 65.  Astrid licked the purple chalk a few times.

We walked down the block to join our neighbors in the craft and came across this drawing by one of them.

A girl running with a handgun.

It stopped me in my tracks.

Now I don’t have a toy gun policy but we don’t own any for them to play with. Not on purpose, they’ve never made that request.  We do have squirt guns I guess. I frankly have never thought about it.  I also am not naive and if you don’t buy them guns – their guns are made from sticks, toothbrushes and fingers.  I grew up in the 70′s when cowboys and Indians and cops and robbers was in it’s prime.  My brother made me play.  He had toy guns. I’m okay with it.  I am also related to many hunters that I love dearly. I believe my husband also may belong to the NRA, but we have a don’t ask don’t tell policy.

And if this picture was of a great bear hunter with a rifle or an old West cowboy it probably wouldn’t have bothered me – but a modern day girl with a handgun and a sinister look – I disapproved.

Where were the rainbows, the sunshine, the flowers, the kittens, the butterflies?  Where was  foursquare, the hopscotch, the tic-tac-toe.  Why do young children feel compelled to draw pictures of gun-toting bad girls?  Why do they even know?

So weigh in readers – no wrong or right answers.  Am I a rainbow smoking overprotective prude?  Do you see nothing wrong with this?  Not looking for an intense debate, I just am curious as I was just so shocked and sad and needed to explore my feelings, ahem. Maybe it is really no big deal?

Oh motherhood, how hard you are.

More wordless/wordful Wednesday and beautiful pictures at SevenClownCircus and Parenting for Dummies…

Share

Wordless Wednesday – Gals and Dolls…

Eloise has been going through a bit of an identity crisis the last year.  She is still really a young girl – but is struggling to be cool and old.

She has 2 little sisters though who like little girl play – the dolls, the tea parties, coloring,  and dress-up.  Our home is one big pink parade of girl power.
Photobucket
But Eloise spends her time either reading or glued to my arm, reading my emails over my shoulder, asking me how to sew a seam, what is the right temperature to cook chicken, but still somehow finds something else to do when I propose folding laundry, cleaning toilets, or loading the dishwasher as a fun togetherness activity.

She hasn’t touched her dolls in nearly a year.  At 8 this seems so young to me. I am sure I played with dolls until almost middle school.  Her best friends play with their dolls a lot – but all of her bestest friends are only girls, with only brothers to play with.  Maybe their dolls are like their sisters to them?  Eloise probably doesn’t need anymore girls in her life.
Photobucket
So when I bought a Bamboletta doll for Esther and then found one for Astrid..I thought they would be the perfect Valentine’s present…and proceeded to look for something more mature for Eloise, like a spatula or in her dreams, a phone – NOT.  Until one day a Bamboletta came for sale named Eloise and I had to have her.  Through hell, high water, the Internet superhighway, Al Gore, a dear friend, and probably with a little prayer from Oprah – I managed to get this doll for Eloise. And hide her in my closest for over a month.
Photobucket
On the eve of Valentine’s Day when the girls opened their dolls, I fretted that Eloise would hate her and think of her as a baby gift and toss her aside.

But something miraculous happened, Eloise’s eyes sparkled and she hugged this doll close and said “this is the doll I’ve been waiting my whole life for!” and this doll hasn’t been put down since.
Photobucket
I knew my little girl was still in there somewhere.

*******

Do your girls still play with dolls? Or your boys with trucks?  At what age did they stop?  I truthfully am not ready for the video games, i-pads, computer time…etc.  They have their whole life for that stuff or the new stuff that comes along.  Can’t they just really play for a little longer? Please?

Linking up this week to Wordful Wednesday at Seven Clown Circus and Parenting by Dummies, and Sweet Shot Tuesday.

Share

First Snow…

I could never get used to the Winters when I lived in Southern California.  I always felt something was missing.  The anticipation was gone for the seasons to change, never having the warm feeling of bundling up in a new coat, how strange Santa looked next to that palm tree, that people would put cotton batting on their lawns to imitate snow, or being told a gazillion times that I could always drive to the snow if I wanted it.
Photobucket
I anticipate Winter with delight. I love the cold, the snow, the layers.

I love the way my kids run downstairs when they see the first snow of the season – and how morning cartoons and breakfast are forgotten as they rush to get their 20 pounds of gear on to go play in it.  How they trample the new, beautiful fresh snow in minutes – making snow bears, igloos, tunnels and snowballs.
Photobucket
I love when they come in – faces pink, eyes happy and beg for a huge cup of cocoa with marshmallows.  I watch them as they wrap their hands around the warm cups and drink in the happiness.
Photobucket
I love bundling up the baby for her first time in the snow – how it takes 20 minutes and she is crying before she even gets outside.  How her little legs cannot walk in the stiff boots or over the new snowy terrain.  How she cannot use her hands in the over-sized mittens, and the snow is cold on her face.
Photobucket
And she stands there and cries in frustration and thinks her sisters must be crazy to like this stuff.
Photobucket
But I tell her by next year, she will love it so much, she won’t want to come in when I call.

Share

All Grown Up?

For 3 straight days she has played with Squinkies.
Photobucket
She makes up games. Take them out of their bubbles. Puts them back in.

She attaches them to the bracelet and then does it again.

She counts them.  She organizes them by type.
Photobucket
They have conversations.  They jump off ledges.

But during this time, she tells me stuff.  She asks me stuff.

“Mom, when I turn 8 can I have my own room?  When I turn 8 can I have my own space?  Where can I read where it is quiet?  Are you ever going to clean out the office so I can have a desk in there too?  I want a place for my papers, for my stuff.  Do I always have to share my space, my stuff?”
Photobucket
And I hear her and get it.  She is the oldest and she wants to make a place for herself. She is starting to want some privacy.  A place of her own. Not to share everything with her sisters.  Some independence. Some extras goodies that come with have the status of eldest. I get it.

But it is hard to take her seriously when she is playing with Squinkies.
Photobucket
7 is a funny age.

Linking up today with Sweet Shot Tuesday and Tuesdays unwrapped.
Sweet Shot Daytuesdays unwrapped at cats

Share

Which Witch are you?

I was slightly concerned about Eloise.

She is my realist. My pragmatic child. She has spent her 7 years letting us know what is and what isn’t.  Her little sister would pick up a spoon and say “it’s my hairbrush!” and Eloise would say “it is just a spoon, don’t be silly!”

Games of make-believe seemed trivial and silly to her.  Dress-up was wasteful and boring.  Playing house and school was crazy talk and useless.  She would read, play board games and color.  Play on the playground – using equipment as it was intended to do, and spent her time keeping her imaginative little sister in line.

She questions Santa and asks too many questions to prove he is a fraud.  She knows.  She knows when you are making up stories and books that seem completely ludicrous drive her mad.  She has no interest in Disney as she knows they are not real princesses – just ladies dressed up, so what is the point really?

But this summer, I signed her up for an acting class. A theatre class.  For 2 weeks she immersed herself into this play.  She became her part- she was the water.  She made her costume. She built the sets.  SHE LOVED IT. Every moment of it.  She talked about it, bragged about, and I have never seen her so excited about anything in a long time.  She was the water – not Eloise – and she totally believed in this made up scene.

So during this time, she read Bed-Knobs and Broomsticks.  Daily she would update me on the adventures in the book. The mystery, the intrigue, the make-believe. She was spellbound my Miss Price and told me that she knows what she wants to do with her life.  She wants to be a good witch.  She wants to be able to cast spells to make happy wishes come true and to bring all things good to everyone’s life.

A witch?  My practical realist wants to be a witch. How exciting!  So I found her on my computer googling “good witch” and finding spells and chants…and she wrote this down..and told me she must repeat it several times a day to start her witch practice.  You know, before she is able to do any real spells. First she must believe in herself, she said.

And in reading this – I see she found the key.  The key to unlocking my shy, sensitive, worrisome little girl.  I see that becoming a witch just may give her the confidence she needs.  This make-believe of hers is something concrete. Something good.  And a little witchcraft never hurt anybody.

Share

How I know it will be a long Summer…

Photobucket
Granted we had a busy first week of Summer.  Tennis lessons, swimming lessons, baseball, visitors.  By Friday night Eloise said to me “can we just do NOTHING tomorrow, please and not leave the house?”

And 12 hours later it was followed by “I’m bored.”
Photobucket
I took them to the playground today and they sat on a blanket and watched the kids play. Good times.

I have prissy girls.  They play clean, the look clean, their clothes are clean, they eat clean.  They don’t dig holes, play in sand, slide on grass or climb trees. I have never told them not to do this – they just don’t.  And they have been playing inside the house a lot this season.
Photobucket
Today they set-up a toy store and an accessory store and a restaurant and were content to play inside completely ignoring the 80 degrees, sunshine and nice breeze outside of their windows.

Every 1/2 hour or so I say “why don’t you go outside and swing or play ball or run through the sprinkler or go see if Rosie is home?”
Photobucket
And the excuses come.

“There are bees by the swings so we don’t want to swing.”

“The wet grass is weird under our feet, so we don’t want to use the sprinkler anymore.”

“We can’t sit in the grass because there are ants.”

“We can’t basically be outside AT ALL because there are BUGS…BUGS!”

“Let’s not go to the beach this year, because we hate the sand sticking to our skin and it is hard to walk on.”

“I don’t think we should go in the pool anymore because the chlorine hurts our eyes.”

“The playground is boring because there are babies there.  And BUGS.”

“I would rather not help you garden anymore because it is dirt you know and I like wearing my white tank top.”

and my favorite…

“I just painted my nails, so I think I should just take it easy for a few days so I don’t have to redo them.”
Photobucket
I guess we should invest in air conditioning so we can stand to live inside all Summer.
Photobucket
How is your Summer going so far?  Ready for school to start yet?  Want any bug fearing prissy girls? Cheap.

xoxo,t

Share

Ingenuity…

“The process of applying ideas to solve problems or meet challenges.”

Prime Example:
Photobucket
Moving your toys on top of the dining room table so your baby sister cannot reach them, tear down your properly placed people, and generally just piss you off.

Eloise, you have passed the first grade.   Awesome.

xoxo,t

Share

I don’t feel Guilty..AT ALL

School ends in 3 days.

3 days.
Photobucket
I keep trying to keep a positive attitude going into it – but truthfully I am not looking forward to it so much.  I think we all enjoy our structure, our daily predictability’s and our contact with other people besides each other.

I also admit that I hate to play – and that is pretty much what kids what to do all of the time.  And with me?  Why? I am not fun.
Photobucket
So I have put together a bit of a schedule – some swimming lessons, tennis lessons, some t-ball and a week long day camp for both of them.  We have plans to visit the library weekly – Esther is READING and I want to really build on that this Summer.  The girls have their new math workbooks which they are already devouring, and we will plan one weekly special thing we do together – even if it is just going to the pond to feed the ducks.  We have visitors coming and we are planning a trip home to Indiana again.  It should be enough to fill up the Summer.

But I still have work, and laundry, and blogging, and ME time that I need to fit in – and they need to value that too.  And the baby needs to nap and sometimes we are just going to sit at home for 3 hours and find some things to do or do nothing  - like why don’t you both go play in the backyard, or read a book or help me fold clothes and make dinner or play a game together, without me – or how about ride your bikes or throw a ball?  I don’t have to play a board game with you to relieve my guilt. My job is to mother you and prepare you for the world and give you love and confidence to leave me someday.  I seriously do not like being relied upon for entertainment.
Photobucket
Please grant me some serenity that I will make it through, that we will have fun, that we will laugh and just be happy hanging out and enjoying the mundane and not just the scheduled, and that September comes quickly.

xoxo,t

Share