"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Don't Want to Build Any More Snowmen

I haven't felt like an especially awesome mommy lately. I mean, I'm handling all of the daily business well....kids are clean, well-fed, at school on time (weather permitting), busy, but not too busy, and happy...and I'm keeping my cool, staying patient, taking our time, for the most part...but I lately I've felt like I'm just going through the motions.

But I know why. And the problem is two-fold:

1. It's really freaking cold outside. All the time. We need to get outside to play. And...
2. You guys. Frozen. Yes, the movie.

I loved the movie. I still probably do, it's just hard to know since I can't escape it for one single moment of any day. It's like if you had to eat ice cream for every meal of every day, you'd probably eventually stop loving it. You might like it again once you've been given a chance to miss it....maybe.

Like Elsa, who banished herself to her ice palace of isolation, I, too just want to Let It Go. But what I really want to scream off a balcony into the breaking dawn of a new day is "I DON'T WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME ANYMORE, MAX!"

You guys. Before 8 am this morning, we had played three different games. The rules were as follows:

1. Third Grade: "I'm Anna and you're Elsa, Mommy. And Molly can be Olaf. And I'm about to go to third grade and you tell me that you're going to miss me." And then we "princess-danced" while singing "For the First Time in Forever." Max carried his "school bag" on his shoulder while he danced.

2. Clock-Tower: We pretended we were those little people who come out of cuckoo clocks and dance with each other and bow and stuff. But Max was Anna and I was Elsa and Molly was Olaf and, instead of cuckooing, the clock "chimed" Frozen music, which we sang.

3. Townhomes at the Beach: Anna and Elsa go to the beach. It's a cold beach so Olaf can come, too.

I, obviously, couldn't take any more after that, so we went to Target.

The endless Frozen pretend-play continued this afternoon until I finally remembered how to effectively and happily break the cycle....

Sensory Play.

It works every time. And it's effective against so many different kinds of negative cycles we find ourselves in...boredom, cabin fever, grumpiness, I'm-not-sharing-with-him-ness, and yes, even when you've OD'd on Frozen.

It works for us because we can all play together...but no one has to talk in a Princess Voice. I mean, anyone can if they want to, but if you don't want to, you're not breaking the rules of Max's Game. Plus, there's something about sensory play...it's calming, it's centering, it helps me reconnect with the parts of mommy-hood that I love, but that can become lost in the daily grind. I try to have a sensory bin or two constantly filled and ready to use...we rotate through some favorites (pasta, rice, lentils + beans, water beads, Gak (? the borax and glue mixture), and, of course play dough and cloud dough)....but we're always looking for new ideas, so shout 'em out!

***

Here's our quick and easy playdough recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp. oil
food coloring

Mix in a microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Knead until cool and smooth. (You can knead fine glitter into it, too.)

This week, we had a picnic. Max, Molly, and I made the guests...Max provided the fare.


Molly made the little blue guy on the right in front of her. I helped her stick the top to the bottom so it wouldn't fall off, but she did the rest! She's awesome at play dough. And everything.

***
And our cloud dough has been a huge hit....


We fancied it up for Valentine's Day with heart-shaped cupcake cups from Wilton.



I don't usually measure out precise amounts, but it's roughly a 1:8 ratio of oil to flour. I just dump flour in a bowl and add baby oil until the dough holds it's shape when squeezed.

Molly doesn't squeeze it so much as scoop it.


And smear it...



...and want to live in it...


Super fun and super sensory (it smells amazing, too, when you use baby oil), but also super messy. I've recently been hearing lots about Kinetic Sand, which is apparently similar but much cleaner, so I think we may have to check that out. (Although, sorry Kinetic Sand, but no one's buying your "2% magic" ingredient.  I'm pretty sure we all know that it's really called Polydimethyl siloxane. I mean, puh-lease.)

Lesson Learned:
After a quick breather, with us all engaged, together but independently, in Sensory Play, I'll be ready for more singing and dancing and freezing and unfreezing and Let It Go-ing and For the First Time in Forever-ing.

But, sorry. Still no Snowmen.
Because, for real...can we start the countdown to spring?

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