Friday, June 14, 2013

summer schedule

It always blew me away when I lived in Arizona how early kids finish the school year, though it makes sense since the summer is nearly uninhabitable. At least, the kids have a month of decent weather. I've been reading all my West Coast friends talking about summertime schedules and fun trips. Here on the East Coast, my baby girl is still in school until the 20th of June. It seems to drag on and on, but it has given me time to prepare for having her here all day. I just cannot wait for her to be home all day. Thor and I have so much fun with her. We miss her when she's in school, and next year she is in her first full day class. (gulp.)

Thomas Harry and I are going to be staring at each other for eight hours, constantly contradicting one another.

"Mama, me eat popsicle."
"No, my love, it is 8am."
"Yes, Mama."
"No, love."
"Uh, no."

This is what we currently do for the two point five hours she is gone to Kindergarten. Obviously, we will be looking for some activities during the day. I'm thinking one of those classes with mixed sports at a little gym or something. Library series of storytime. Maybe music class. But I'll worry about that as we get closer to September, and Bea being gone all day settles in my bones and heart. (gulp again).

For now, I am anticipating the summer will be filled with fun and laughter and water and all kinds of artsy things. This year, our family is taking our first vacation without any other extended family members. I know it sounds funny, but because Sam's family is scattered all over, and his mother lives an airplane ride away, we always schedule our vacations to visit his family. I adore my in-laws, and my family of origin too. But this year, we just wanted it to be the four of us for a week, particularly because Sam has been working, come August, 60 hour weeks for an entire year. We have missed him terribly. We have never just gone on vacation to a place we both selected alone with our children and dog. It is strange to think about that, but it just never happened. We rented a lodge in the Adirondacks in Upstate New York. CAN. NOT. WAIT. It is actually a totally electricity-free place. There is a propane generator for hot water and cooking, but otherwise, no technology. No television. No phones. Just hiking, fishing, canoeing, spinning yarns, is like a dream vacation to me. I am bringing my guitar, per my husband's request, for nightly entertainment, along with games and crystals. So cool.

Beatrice is signed up for a few camps--soccer, yoga, and swimming. Thomas is also in baby yoga, hopefully. I also decided--to keep us on track with school and writing/reading for Bea--to create a schedule for each day so the kids don't lie around all day waiting for something to happen. I also can busy myself quite easily for ten hours with art, writing, reading and forgetting to leave the house.
I hate what I wrote about bedtime. Ignore it.

I tried to give us some prompts through the day, rather than think of it as a carved-in-stone schedule. I also created each day to be a theme of the day--Make It Monday, Take a Trip Tuesday, Wind Down Wednesday, Thinking Thursday, and Fun Friday. I pulled so much of this stuff from Pinterest, I can hardly take credit for any of it. But the idea of the theme of the day is to have a focus for each day. I also amassed some books/journals for our days. The kids each have an art journal, and now a writing journal. Bea is writing like a fiend, and I want to continue her obsession with writing stories. And to do that, I factored in time every day to write and journal. I pulled together some of my meditation and prayer books for children to have a meditation time daily. I also grabbed a cool book to teach little kids Spanish, since I currently only sing to them in Spanish. And another book of cool Science Experiments for kids aged 2-6--PERFECT.

One of the things I absolutely love is this book called the Nature Book. This book is for kids, and it is designed to get them to pay attention to the seasons and the way nature changes throughout the year. We have gone through phases where we use it every day. I put it in our schedule so we get back in the habit of it.

The Daily Theme thing is centered around the daily activity between 9a-12p. So Make It Monday says, "Craft. Art. Paint. Build. Create. Design. Sculpt. Draw. Make a Recipe. Sew. Sketch. Sing. If we can't make it, let's read about art, poetry or music." Take A Trip Tuesday says, "Zoo. Movie. Aquarium. Museum. National Park. Hike. Outing. Beach. Train. If we can't take a trip, let's draw a picture about somewhere else." Wind Down Wednesday is our errand day so it says, "Look at the clouds. Run errands. Laundry. Play at Home.Giggle. Let's make errands fun. You make the list, and you look for things." Thinking Thursday says, "Library. Research. Science experiments. Science museums. If we can't do science, let's read about scientists." Fun Friday says, "Play dates. Rollerskating. Biking. Visiting friends. Find a craft. Fly a kite. Have a picnic. PIck out of the jar. We can make any and everyday fun!"

I also added daily chores for the kids and daily chores for me, since I am constantly behind on my cleaning. Le sigh.
For each kid, I pulled together a basket with their journals, a workbook (Bridge from K to 1st for Bea, and for Thomas a Brain Quest Pre-K) to work on a page a day, Taro Gomi coloring books, watercolor paints, activity fun book, journals, crayons, smocks, and colored pencils.

I am keeping their baskets centrally located, so they will go in them throughout the day.
 I also pulled together a Mama basket with a dry erase table top easel, Teach Them Spanish, Science book, Science experiment cards, Mindful Movements by Thich Nhat Hahn, Kid's Nature book, two additional kid's meditation books, the daily prayer and affirmation book, a bin with pens, pencils and markers for only Mami, and a jar of activities to do when they are bored.
I have to admit that one of my favorite things to do is hit Container Store for our organizing. Love these baskets.

Activity jar. You can add to it when you do something fun that you think, let's do that again some time (but not always.)
In the activity jar, I wrote out fun little things I think the kids would love to do. Here is my list, if anyone is interested. My idea is that when the kids mope around, or on Friday when we have Fun Friday, the kids pull one of these out of the jar and we go do it!

  • Let's make a blanket tent
  • Let's pull out our watercolors and paint outside
  • Let's bake a batch of cookies
  • Make Japanese Heart Cut-outs
  • Let's knock down some dominoes
  • let's go for a hike.
  • Let's pick some flowers
  • Let's play dress-up
  • Let's have a tea party
  • YOGA
  • Let's write a letter
  • Let's make a self-portrait
  • Hopscotch
  • Let's Dance to Hare Krishna music
  • Pick a Recipe
  • Let's have a water fight
  • Let's go for a scavenger hunt
  • Let's take a bath
  • Let's go to the pet store
  • Let's do sidewalk chalk
  • Let's go to the playground
  • Let's do a cool photoshoot
  • Let's make paper airplanes
  • Let's paint our faces
  • Let's make a book
  • Pick an animal, and let's find out everything we can about it.
  • Let's go to a craft store and get inspired
  • Let's play with stamps
  • Let's play doctor
  • Let's draw each other

Most of what I pulled together was from different sources on Pinterest and the internet, as well as things we just love to do, or I'd like to see happen, this summer.  I'd love to know your parenting summer ideas. Link up here if you want.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

doodles, angels, parties, oh MY!

Okay. It's been a long while since I have written on this blog. My fall was intensely busy, and I was dealing with some really difficult health issues that sapped my energy and creative fire. When I got my mojo back, it was suddenly December, and January I spent a month and a half in massage therapy school, though I have withdrawn since then. I have been doing all kinds of crafty/artsy things, but just haven't been on the computer much at all. Most of my computer time is via my phone, so it basically only doing things like Scrabb.le and posting pictures on Fac.ebook. Though I am still doodling all my to-do lists with pencil drawings, and that sometimes feels like enough.

So, since SEPTEMBER of 2012, holy crap! I cannot post all of what I have been working on, but I'll post some. I began doing more angel and ascended master paintings, even painting twelve small angel paintings for an angel class for my lovely friend Christine, who is an incredible channel and jewelry maker, taught. That work included twelve angel bookmarks customized with her information on the back. I loved doing that work, and hope to do more of it. Having a laminator is so much fun.

I just love moving into this realm with my artwork, doing intuitive and meditation artwork. My friend Mary just started a group on Facebook for intuitive artists called Sacred Artists, and I am so glad to connect with women like that. In that realm, I did my Reiki Level I training, and doing medicine work for people.Creating medicine bundle, doing my intuitive healing work and tarot readings.  In May, I'm doing the Munay-ki rites. All of this work feels like the place where my soul sings. Healing and spiritual work. It is finally all coming together, and then with my artwork. It is the complete package for me. I should write about some of that work here.

Onto some of the bigger crafty things I did in the last month. My kids both had birthdays, and I had parties for each of them. I was determined to keep them separate this year, since they are the same week, and my tendency is to throw it all together and only have to clean up once.

Thomas, though, asked for a truck cake. It was the only thing he asked for for his birthday.

I made the truck out of two sheet cakes, and a pan of brownies for the wheels. I went to one of those large craft stores and bought some cake decorator's icing, but then did the final layer with the new Cool Whip icing, which my children want to bathe in. I filled the back with the rest of the brownies cut up to look like sod, or rocks or something that trucks carry. Maybe it is the Panamanian in me, but it very much looks like a low rider to me. And I couldn't stop singing Low Rider the entire party. The lights are jelly beans, and the rest is achieved with icing and silver glittery cake decoration. It was terribly fun to make this cake.

We carried the theme through with a cement truck pinata filled with...wait for it, bouncy balls and gummy bears. Truck bunting and mustache drinky straws. It was a lot of fun for Thor and his cousins.

The next party, a week later, was for Beezus' sixth birthday. She wanted a flower fairy tea party. A few years ago, I bought a whole used tea set--eight settings--at a thrift shop for twelve buck. And we have kept it and played with it often. So, it was a two hour party, seven girls were invited, making it eight girls all together, and I asked my nephews to be waiters, and they were AMAZING! I could not believe how into it they got, walking around with appetizers, and serving the girls. I want them at every party.

The tea set, and my beautiful birthday girl.

So, first, our decorations...I still had paper flowers from Beezus' four year old birthday party. I added to them this year with some other cheap paper flower decorations. I think the most expensive thing I bought was the flower garland for our pillars into the dining room.

The entrance to the dining area with flower garland, the hanging paper flower puffs and paper butterflies.

I was really looking for paper flowers, though I almost bought fake silk flowers at Michaels, because I was getting desperate, so I saw these at Home Goods for $15. It was worth it. I know I will reuse them again and again. You can see all the puffed out flowers, and butterflies everywhere.

I bought these little packages of
flowers, birds, and bees
and decorated my willow.
I set the time of the party for 2-4p, so I wouldn't have to serve a meal and could just do fruit and sweets for the girls. I had a small cake that was going to be the "wish cake. I had been buying cheap tea cups for months when I ran across them at thrift shops. I baked the cupcakes directly into them, not sure if they would burst, or work. They worked. So, mental note for all of you--you can bake in tea cups! Frosted them with pink with candy flowers. My inner girly girl came out in spades here. It was so much fun. You can kind of see, but I baked the rest in flower cupcake holders, and they are so so cute.

I put strawberries on toothpicks and my nephews walked them to the girls, asking them if they wanted a berry.

I could not resist a picture of my nephews. They came dressed in white shirt, black pants, and my sister sewed them bow ties and aprons. They also made her stop and get them mustaches. My nephew Max kept talking with an Italian accent,  "No, I'ma aMario, only anaked." Which apparently is a punchline to a joke I do not know.

We also had petit fours and fruit tarts. I made the mini-fruit tarts, but not the petit fours.

So, the party was very DIY, but I thought I would share the hows, because it was very easy and looked hard. So, first I set the kids' playroom to be a dress-up area. I had a rack of princess dresses, which we have had for years. My sister in law gave Bea a flower girl dress from her daughter, then yard sale princess dresses. We had hand-me-down gloves from my grandmother, and little princess shoes, and wings, crowns...all of it. But we had the whole room be just for dress-up. Six year olds close the door to change, so that worked out well.

Then my sister and I painted faces. I have decorated these sheets with ways to paint faces, and the girls look through them and pick a design. Bea loves rainbows! And I love painting faces.

At the same time, in the main room, I bought these color-in crowns. So the table worked on crowns, while two girls at a time got their faces painted! You can see my sister painting faces in the back room, and my nephews passing out food the entire time.

To transition the girls, after all faces were painted, we had them do a parade around the yard, either with a flower, or an instrument, and their crowns. I set the table for the tea party.

Then it was tea party time.

Afterward we played freeze dance, musical chairs, egg drop races, and then just danced to a lot of Call Me Maybe.

For the bags to take home, we had fun creating them. Beezus and I bought these one dollar wooden pencil holders. We painted them. I painted the names on them. I used to work (one of my many many strange jobs) at one of those places that has just personalized gifts for children. So, I have spent many hours painting things on boxes and acrylic containers. So, in the bag was the personalized wooden box, two pencils, a small notepad, crayons shaped like teacup and tea pot, and a homemade cotton candy lollipop.

I did this post, because people always ask me what I did, how much work I put in, how much I spent...I thought it was a fun, creative project to do with my daughter. The time it took was spread over two months, and because of that, it did not feel overwhelming. Plus, most everything was done on the cheap. The girls had a great time, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I still haven't taken down all the flowers, because it is too cool to live in this flowersplosion.

Coming up, I am going to write more about my garden this year, and other home projects. Some of my intuitive work and crystal healing work, if anyone is interested. I miss blogging here, and will be back. Love you all.