Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Party

Duckie, Darkmirror's girlfriend joined us for our annual royal icing and food colouring cookie decorating party. Darkmirror hid from the camera but he was at the head of the table.

Wild Thing hard at work.

I LOVE Nature Girl's spotted pony! I think it's a hint.

Wild Thing took the Jackson Pollock approach.

Not being Christian has its advantages in the Winter Holidays. We get to take part in all the fun festive things, but no one is holding us to Christmas themes. so we have spotted ponies, airplanes, stegosauruses, hearts, doggie bones, cheshire cats, and amorphorous blob cookies! Red and green, pshaw - go dayglo or go home!
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Goofy Brother Love

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Rocket Man!

This boy needs a haircut...
It's time he stopped growing upwards too.
This boy got a haircut right after this picture was taken.

This is Darkmirror's rocket. There is a whole saga about it. Get him to tell you. We all enjoy smelling the engine it smells like an old shotgun shell. Mmmmmm shotgun shell smell.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

A new blog and a new blog roll unfolding for the New Year is a new blog by a dear friend about her family's days dealing with Parkinson's disease. It will, I'm absolutely positive, be filled with love and laughter, compassion and grace. Because that defines Claire.

I'm finding life is too full to do several different blogs so mine will all come under one banner in January.

Wild Thing is going to be an Elf this Christmas

He's been working really hard on learning to read and write everyone's names so he won't need any help handing out the presents! Yesterday I found him this hat at the Buck or Two store on Main Street, he's delighted!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tree Trimming!

My fondest Christmas memory from my childhood was as a teen dragging a Charlie Brown Tree over to my friend's apartment and decorating it entirely with things from the kitchen and the recycling (well there wasn't recycling back then...but we recycled!) There were origami birds all over it, tin lids punched with a nail and a hammer, popcorn strings, and lots of paper chains. We didn't even have a pail to put the poor thing in, it was sitting on it's little scrap X and we wrapped that in a pretty scarf (we hippies wore a lot of shawl sized indian cotton scarves in the 80's) There weren't any lights on the tree, but we had candles on the steamer trunk we used as a coffee table, bits of metal and cellophane on the tree caught the light and twinkled.

We made mulled cider from a can of apple juice and some ground cinnamon and cloves.

There was marmite on toast and left over popcorn as a meal.

It was fabulous. It captured everything good about the season of Yuletide. It was all about community, and beating back that infernal darkness we northerners suffer through. We could see the light beyond the solstice and the cold didn't matter because we had each other for company.

That's what a tree trimming party is all about to me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Kids Can't wait til we can build them bedstees!

Nature Girl was put to work making me wrapping paper yesterday


Tomorrow I'll set Wild Thing up during Sprout's nap so he can do apple print paper.

Nature Girl made crayons for her younger siblings and friends!

These are a really good way to use up old crayon stubs...or masses of crayons that you can't stand going through the laundry, being stolen by toddlers to draw on the wall, eaten by the dog who is on a diet...ahem. Auntie Zoom gave them like a hundred crayons this past year! It's okay, I still love you :-) Next year give them a puppy though :-)

Get children to peel the crayons

Break them up into bits

Make little piles of the colours you want to combine. We did the rainbow, and then greys and silver mixed and earth colours and then wild crazy scribble cookie mixtures.
Put them into an icecube tray (ours are from Ikea, they're silicone)
Put in the oven on a tray at 200 degrees until they melt.
Take them out and let them cool.
Once cool cold pop them out.

We experimented with freezing them, but with shapes they'll break (poor little broken hearts!) if you pop them out when they are cold.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When I get stressed out I become telephone phobic.

If you want to contact me the best way is email right now.

12 days until our house offer expires...arrrgghh!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wild Thing totally enjoyed this!

I found it on a new blog I just found and will now slavishly

Monday, December 7, 2009

My friend Rebecca posted this today and it is amazing advice....

"Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth." --Katherine Mansfield

My dear blogger friend Krista asked me to be a guest blogger and answer the question "What Inspires You?" I wasn't at all sure what I was going to write, I knew I wanted to talk about parenting inspirations and the role models my sisters were to me. I was surprised by how it turned out and sent Krista an apology along with my post. Then I was still nervous about linking to it here. As it turned out my friend Rebecca was wrestling with the exact same things right now and her strength and love and compassion supports me to do the same.

What Inspires me

Then please read this

Healing isn't about forgiving and forgetting. There can't really be forgiveness without acknowledgement. What exists in that unspoken silence is a fear of rejection masquerading as compassion. "I understand why because..."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Putting my Money where my Mouth Is

I won a giveaway! I won a gift certificate to Imagine Childhood on Soulemama's blog ! I'm so excited!

So what am I getting during this week we've been concentrating so fully on decluttering and simplifying?

Field Guide posters that we've been drooling over for months for the empty walls of the playroom

Crayon Rocks which I've been drooling over for months for the art supplies

a Nature Exploration Fundana with all sots of info on it for Nature Walks
Bird call whistles we've been looking for months also for Nature Walks

A Firestarter for our beach bonfires and camping

And one book which we had to return to the library and I was planning on ordering because Wild Thing mentions it every day, it's about a boy and his chicken- All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant and Nikki McClure.


We'd buy tons more if I could afford the shipping and taxes at the border. Snowshoes and a kicksled and mushing kit, nature kits, beautiful Artemis natural pigment crayons and watercolours. I'm telling you, this is my absolute favorite toystore on the planet.

Simplicity Parenting Does Not Detail ANY Must Have Toys

Instead he details the must have experiences children need in play:

Trial and Error
Purpose and Industry
Social Interaction
Art and Music

I have always had my "the only 10 toys children need" in mind as my marketing focus:

dressing up
building up
nature table

I'd already decided not to sell "sets" because I don't want to imply that there are a necessary number of anything big. I'd already decided to include patterns and instructions for making with anything (playropes are easy for older kids or parents to make themselves - it's just finger knitting) I sell.

I'm actually thinking of contacting Payne to see if I can have permission to reprint his thoughts on what is necessary instead of telling people their kids need these specific 10 toys. When I talk to people it's easy to make it clear that if you can say YES to the kids using the household linen closet and tables and chairs and couch cushions then you don't need to buy any building up toys. If you don't feel comfortable letting them use the couch or diningroom table or their bunkbeds as the basis for a fort then some sort of playstands, building cloths, clips and playropes are a good investment, but they aren't necessary by any means.

In fact I think that is the 10th element missing from his list - PERMISSION. He does talk about this, but it isn't concisely on the list. If you can give children permission to play with things already in their household environment that are not designated as toys then they need even fewer actual toys.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm reading a GREAT Parenting Book - Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

The full title is Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids.

Before he gets to the four pillars supporting this concept he talks about kids in such an amazing respectful way. He talks about how we're all quirky, and when you take quirky and add in stress you get a disorder. Quirks can become our strengths though.

He talks about working with kids in refugee camps who are suffering post traumatic stress disorders and compares them to the sort of things he's seeing now in western culture. It is the same thing. Childhood is a slow unfolding process of growing into our potential. Our culture hates anything slow - we hyper accelerate everything. He says there is an undeclared war on childhood going on and it is leading to a form of disorder characterized by constant stress.

He talks about the emotional highs and lows kids ride out in their work at becoming the people they will be in life. He compares the volatile highs to physical fevers - illnesses that strengthen our immune systems. He calls these emotional fevers "soul fevers" and urges us to approach them in exactly the same ways we instinctively deal with our children's physical fevers.

Then he looks at four things we can work on to make the environment more conducive to reducing the stress on children. This is about simplifying all our lives. The home environment (starting with reducing their mountains of toys, clothes, books), Rhythm and rituals that structure the day and provide a predictable flow, scheduling time when children are in complete control of how they spend their time - real unstructured play time, and finally scaling back on access to media and adult concerns - no television advertising, no tv news, no dinner time discussions of global warming.

To be honest, I felt pretty virtuous when I started reading this book because he was saying things I already believe. But the deeper I go into the book the more and more he challenges me to question assumptions I have about how to raise a happy healthy child.

I read about the average child having 150 toys and knew MY kids didn't fall into that camp! When he talked about the types of toys that make kids anxious, stifled their creativity I didn't have those types of toys, I winced a bit about the NUMBER of toys - the " if one wooden car is good 3 must be good cubed!" comment - and vowed to do a cull on the blocks and wooden cars...then he tackled the leaning tower of books many children have. Uh oh... my children have...I am a bookaholic and I tend to see having lots of books as a sign of intellectual wealth. I'm enriching their lives with stories. But Childhood isn't about enrichment, it's about unfolding. Children need repetition, its why they want the same story read every day for a week. So why have them confront a shelf with 200 choices? Why not carefully choose books that meet them where they are developmentally and only have their favorites out in view? Pack the rest away. If they look at 4 books every day for a month what can we learn from those books, what can we learn about our child? What deep need are those books feeding?

Payne says "Stories are healing, stories are powerful, and are at their most potent when we have fewer of them"

So I went and looked at the stacks of books throughout our house and the way they get treated at times, and which ones they pulled out over and over and how things went when they couldn't find that special book in the cluttered shelves. I thought about how the kids smiled and pulled out their one or two favourite books from my seasonal collections which are small and come out only when the season is upon us. I saw that joy and compared it to the anxious screeching I get at bedtime when Nature Girl needs to finish ONE MORE PAGE of a book that is in a pil of 8 other half read books. Payne talks a lot about ADD btw. I was teaching my kids a book MATERIALISM and the number of books they had to paw through to find their favourites diminished the importance of those special books, and it is making them anxious. So I'm packing up most of the books. I'm paying strict attention to what are the favorites. I'm going to work on getting Nature Girl to finish one book before she starts the next. I'm going to pay attention to which of Wild Things books get pulled out again and again and treat them with the honour they deserve.

Payne encourages you to tackle what seems manageable forst, for most people it is the home environment. So I started there. I skipped over routines and making time for unstructured play because Routine is where I need the most help and I've got unstructured time down pat. I went onto media and adult concerns and sheilding kids from them.

I am totally onboard with no television. I do not want corporations determining what my family sees and hears - I don't want the ego of the corporation telling stories to my kids, instilling their values in them. When he talks about building resilency in children to face the hard realities of our world we need to make sure they feel safe. The world is beautiful. Before you say anything to your children ask yourself three questions:

Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?

If you can't answer yes to all three, hold that thought. You shouldn't be sharing it with young children. They have all the time in the world - in their teens when the world needs to be black and white and they need to challenge everything - to learn about and understand global warming.

Wild Thing loves chickens with a tender passion that literally brings tears to my eyes. He does not need to know anything about factory farming to understand how wonderful it will be to raise our own chickens and collect their eggs each day.

I'm still processing this, and I haven't finished reading the book yet, but it is one of the most profound parenting books I've ever read (and I've read too many!)

I'd love to talk about what he has to say about toys but I'll save that for another day. He's reconfiguring how I want to approach marketing my own toys.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I am very excited about one of Wild Things Christmas Gifts

Papa Pan just picked up his copy at the Box of Delights bookstore.

I can already hear the mad giggling when he opens it.

Not only is this a BEAUTIFUL ENCHANTING bound for CLASSIC status book. It is LOCAL!