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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

making magic...

My sister and her family are staying with us for a few weeks. They sold their house, which is perfectly located right around the corner from us, and are moving way too far away. They wanted their biggest boy to be able to finish out his kindergarten school year, though, so for now, they are here.

And we are loving it. And we are Not Talking About the move. There were tears today when we saw the moving truck parked at their house. Evan's. (And mine.)

But for now, they are here! And with them is their big girl, Olivia, who is the most art-loving child I have ever known. I have been giddy with anticipation over their arrival because I couldn't WAIT to have SOMEone in this house who would be a willing participant in my art projects.

For today's project, we made some amazing printed paper with just three ingredients: shaving cream, food coloring, and.....Magic! As we were setting up, Olivia suggested that I read the instructions. "Oh, don't worry," I said, "I know how to do this." (I'd actually never done this before. Fingers crossed for project success!)

First, squirt some shaving cream onto a baking pan (raised sides on the pan contains the mess).

Next, drip some food coloring drops onto the shaving cream...

Then, using a chopstick, or some similar tool, swirl your colors around.

Now it's time for the magic. Find your secret stash (mine was behind my ear, Evan's was in this hand, Olivia's was in her brain) and sprinkle it on the shaving cream and colors. Olivia was concerned about this step. "What if I don't really have magic?"  "You do," I assured her. "But what if it doesn't work?" "Well, if the paper looks magically beautiful when we're done, then your magic works!" (At this point, I was really hoping that the project would work...I'd never done it before and now I'd just gone and bet Olivia's magic on this project that didn't even come with instructions.)

Place a piece of card stock on the shaving cream and press lightly. Then, peel it off...

(The leftover shaving cream in the pan looks pretty magical....)

For the last step, we used spatulas....if you have a squeegee, that would probably be better. Take your spatula and scrape the shaving cream off of the paper...




Lesson Learned:
This was a Fabulous project. Evan loved it....and....get ready for this....after we finished with the paper-printing....he PLAYED WITH SHAVING CREAM. This is huge. A first. A Huge First. I'm so proud of my big boy.

And my little boy...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

super duper mega bubbles

You know what's fun?
Put the kids in the tub...
...add some bubbles....

...and turn on the jets....

Lesson Learned:
Bathtime is over, the kids are in bed, and the house is quiet.
But the bubbles are still in the tub.

sun catchers/"stained glass"

Here's another great idea from The Artful Parent....

Start with some contact paper, sticky side up, attached to a table or window, and some tissue paper or other materials. Because this was our first attempt, we kept it simple. 

Have your little one cut or tear the tissue paper into small-ish pieces and apply them to the contact paper. Let your kiddo decide how much "color" is enough...blank spaces are welcome. Overlapping paper is great!

Max had trouble with the concept of "little pieces," so I helped him tear bits before giving him the contact paper.

Evan did great with the tearing....but, always the Tool Man, decided a hammer would do the job of applying the tissue paper to the contact paper nicely. 

Whatever gets him to the Art Table, that's my motto these days. You want to wear a toolbelt? Use a hammer to create your art? Sure!

When your artist is satisfied with his creation, put another piece of contact paper on top and trim the edges as you like. Then, hang it up in a sunny spot!

Lesson Learned:
These would be so easy to customize for each holiday...hearts...Easter eggs....American flags...jack-o-lanterns....fall leaves....Christmas Trees....etc. I am definitely coming back to this one.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

preschool diaries: el fin

As I was walking into school on Tuesday to pick up Evan, his teacher, on car-pick-up duty, waved me over. "He fell on the playground," she started...[Uh-oh. Evan does not do well with injuries that require attention.]... "and needed a Band-Aid." [And he completely melts down at the mere mention of Band-Aids.] I could only imagine what that scene could have looked like.

She assured me that it was a superficial injury, but one that produced blood, and so required attention. I knew that it killed his day. (And killed the progress we had made towards wearing shorts consistently...blood and bandages on his knee? Damn.)  She confirmed that it did, in fact, ruin his day. She said that it took him a really long time to recover and that even once he did, he hung out right next to her until the very end. I was thankful for the head's up....so I could be extra lovey and sympathetic when I saw him. I was also grateful for the warning as to what my afternoon was likely to look like.

Sure enough, my little buddy was on the verge of losing it when his eyes caught me in the doorway. His lip was quivery and I knew he was fighting the tears behind his sunglasses. After five quiet minutes in the car, he burst into tears.

But it had nothing to do with the boo-boo.

"I'm just [sniff] so sad [sniff, snort] to leave my teachers!" [sniff, snort, SOB] "I'm just going to miss them sooooooooooooo MUCH!"

Now, as a mommy, I was broken. My baby. My so sad baby.

But, as a former teacher, I was just a little bit (a lot) elated.

He LOVES his teachers! HE LOVES SCHOOL!

Tears and sadness over the end of the school year are GOOD THINGS! (Sad, but sweet and good.)

I was driving, so I couldn't just scoop him up and hug him, but I tried to assure him of the goodness:
"I'm so sorry that you're sad, honey, but you're sad for a good reason: Feeling like you're going to miss someone when you won't see them means that that person is very special to you. You love Mrs. D and Mrs. G, and that's a really good feeling."

It didn't really help, but I kept going.

"When I miss someone, I feel sad at first, but then I can just remember all of the fun things we did together, and that makes he happier."

Still sobbing.

"When I was a teacher, I used to feel very sad at the end of the school year. I knew that I would miss all of my kindergarten students very much. But then I'd think about how much fun they were going to have in FIRST grade!"

Getting quieter....

"After the summer, you're going to 4-year old preschool...with games, activities, and projects that are made just for 4-year old kids. Your teachers are going to have new 3-year old kids in their class next year. But you're ready for the next class! Your brain is too big for 3-year old preschool!"


"Baby? Are you okay?"

"Are we going to the beach?"

"We'll go later in the summer, hon, not right now."

"I'm going to miss my teachers when I'm at the beach!"

Oh, boy.

The crying lasted about an hour after we got home. I think it was a combination of the boo boo and the realization that the school year was rapidly coming to a close. He wasn't hysterical, just quiet crying on the couch and then through lunch. We were able to keep distracted through the afternoon and evening, but I was seriously dreading the approaching Last Day of School.

Which was today.

We had a great morning....really laid back and relaxed with two cheerful little helpers working together to get out the door on time. He had presents to bring to his teachers, which helped his mood, I think, and also the promise of a cookies-and-lemonade End of the Year Party after school, which definitely helped. But, just to sweeten the deal even further....we talked a LOT about our super special Last Day of School Dinner at Red Robin.

There were some whimpers and quivery lips on the way to school, and some watery eyes while he hugged his teachers goodbye for the last time this afternoon, but all in all, it was a good day. A Happy Day.

And then he came home and was a complete pest all afternoon to poor little Maxwell. And he didn't say two words to us during dinner because he stared, open-mouthed at the never-before-seen Cartoon Network that was airing on every television in the restaurant. And then he popped one of the two balloons they got and refused to share the other one with Max.

But, whatever.

He had a great last day of school, is excited to start his new school in the fall, and we have both learned that we can survive a few hours spent apart from one another. And even, that it's good for us.

Lesson Learned:
As much as I loved and learned from this first preschool experience that Evan (and I) had....I am so excited for summer vacation. As good as it is to have time apart to grow, I'm craving more time together, without a schedule, to just play and have fun. We have a list (ha! big surprise, right?!) of must-do things for the summer and another list of if-we-get-around-to-it things, and I can't wait to start checking things off....with Both of my boys.

First Day of School

Last Day of School

Saturday, May 21, 2011

a new vocabulary

I was in sixth grade. One of the girls in my class approached a group of about six of us on our way to the cafeteria and told us about a game we were going to play at lunch. She was going to tell a bunch of nonsense jokes and we were all supposed to laugh hysterically. The game was to see if The Target, another girl in our class, would laugh, too. The theory was that this girl was such a follower of our Super Coolness that she would laugh, too, even though she couldn't possibly Get the jokes. And the game would prove, unnecessarily, that we were cool and funny and The Target was a Loser. Unnecessarily, I say, because our 11-year old minds had already been made up about this girl.

If someone had questioned my involvement in the "game" that day in sixth grade, I would have brushed it off and said that we were just playing a joke. Just teasing. Was it bullying? Nope. Bullies are tough, mean boys who rough you up on the playground and trade your milk money for a black eye. But I would have been wrong. I regretted my involvement almost immediately, and we never played a game like that again.  I didn't think the girl held a grudge against us for our behavior--she did, after  all, invite us to her birthday party later that year. But if that day is seared so indelibly in my mind and still, 21 years later, I feel remorse about it, just imagine the effect it had on her. And even though we lost touch after sixth grade, I've thought about that girl often. I used to hope that she found better friends than us when she got to middle school. It wouldn't have been hard.

When I was in sixth grade, the stereotypical image of a "bully" didn't match me or my friends. We didn't think that what we were doing was so wrong. We were just joking. Just teasing. And that's where we come to a problem with our vocabulary. It's always the Joker, the Teaser who says that it's all in good fun. Ask The Target, The Victim, and she'll have a different word for it, for sure. The word is Bullying, and it's time we stop making excuses for our behavior and the actions of our children and start calling a spade a spade.

When kids start name-calling, it's not Kids Being Kids or "Playground Politics," it's bullying.

When you pass along an offensive joke on Facebook (whether it's directed at an individual or a group of people), it's not funny...it's cyber-bullying.

When someone makes a hurtful observation about another person in a public and humiliating way, it's not "telling it like it is," it's bullying.

 It's time we start teaching our kids, early and often, that Teasing is Not Okay. I know that some people are going to tell me to lighten up....but I won't. Teasing hurts and you can never know how deeply it can hurt and how long that hurt is going to last. So just don't do it.

Maybe this will create a generation of "soft" kids....kids who can't take a joke. Maybe. But maybe it'll be the first generation that doesn't produce a Ted Kaczynski...or a Timothy McVeigh...or an Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold....or a Seung-Hui Cho...or...a bin Laden?

(Imagine if it were that easy to cure the world....)

So teach your kids to be nice. And funny. I'm all for funny. Being nice and being funny are not mutually exclusive. The funniest jokes are the ones that make everyone laugh--for real.

Lesson Learned:
Imagine all the people, living life in peace.

Friday, May 20, 2011

holiday garlands

I had seen this idea for a super cute and easy heart garland that I knew I wanted to try before next Valentine's Day. (Not very ambitious of me, I know.) It requires a heart-shaped hole-punch, though, (which I don't have and would need to spend $9.99 on, according to Michael's) or lots of cutting. I had scrapped the idea until I saw these on a little shelf at the end of an aisle in Michael's:

And these!

They were 99 cents a bag and then on clearance for 40% off. 
So, they were practically free.

I brought them home, found a needle and thread, and got to garlanding...

Lesson Learned:
So, for under six bucks I have new holiday decorations to pull out next Valentine's Day and Easter.  And I made them myself!

I just hope I remember them NINE MONTHS from now when I actually need them....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

we have sprouts!

....and pests!
(any suggestions?)

And, perhaps most exclamation-point-worthy...
A boy who selects....

...and tastes...

...and considers... 

...and LIKES something GREEN!
"Hey! I DO like this Basil-y stuff."
Lesson Learned: 
Such a cute little vegetable garden.... 

I am loving this.

outdoor art

If you're not reading The Artful Parent, then you should be. I saw this idea a few weeks back and knew it would be a hit with the boys. It was!

We "spray painted" a sheet....Jean, the Artful Parent, used liquid watercolors, I think, on a painter's canvas drop cloth. We used water with food coloring on a lonely old cotton flat sheet that had lost it's fitted partner long ago. 

Mr. Hollywood Considers His Art

The guys mixed some colors...

Then had Drip Races...

And I was pretty happy that we had gone with the food coloring over the paint when Max decided to give himself a green goatee.

It was a beautiful day for outdoor art...

 And as much fun as the Process was...I'm also pretty impressed by the Product...

The boys loved watching their "painting" change as the colors seeped together and dried. It really was a cool, right-before-your-eyes tie-dye effect.

 Lesson Learned:
We'll DEFINITELY be doing this one again. Will the rain erase our canvas and let us start fresh? I'm not sure. Maybe we'll see what a second layer of color looks like....or just buy a lot of sheets.