Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Do You Remember Paper Dolls?

Paper dolls 1This past weekend, girl child and I did something so fun! Do you remember paper dolls? Did you ever play with them? I sure did and I had hours of fun making up stories, changing outfits and having fashion shows! Oh, the memories! And the idea just hit me to see if I could show girl child the fun of paper dolls.

Paper dolls 2Now since this was a very last minute idea and paper dolls aren’t readily available on shelves, we had to improvise! So I found a picture of a front-facing Barbie doll online and then hunted for dresses that would fit on the doll. Once we got those all printed, I started girl child on cutting out the dresses. I cut the doll out and then traced her onto a thick piece of cardboard. I cut the outline out and then glued the doll onto the cardboard so she was stable enough to stand upright without bending over!

Girl child was enamored with the dresses we found online. Most were from the seventies, eighties and we even found a few from the roaring twenties! Time just flew by as girl child concentrated on the outlines of each dress. She even made her own tabs on the few dresses we found that didn’t have them.

Paper dolls 4We found a beautiful wedding gown, which instantly got girl child’s attention. It was kind of a complicated dress to cut out because of the bouquet but it was worth the effort. She was pleased as punch that she was able to have a wedding gown doll! And I was pleased that she wanted to keep all of her paper doll stuff safe when she asked for a ziploc bag. In fact, girl child was so happy with these paper dolls. She went back the next day to continue cutting out her dresses and trying them on her Barbie doll figure.

Even though we are in a high-tech, fast-paced world, paper dolls are such a fun and slower way to enjoy time with your little girl.

I will say that cutting out the doll, the cardboard behind the doll and all the clothes might be a bit much. So let me suggest a little purchase instead. Now, if you decide to buy these, I’ll get a little payment but I still think these would be great for some paper doll fun! It’s called Fancy Nancy’s Perfectly Posh Paper Doll Book and it’s only $4.00!

Whichever way you go, be sure to introduce your daughter to paper dolls. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in an imaginary world!

Children, Family

She’s kidding right? I’m sure she’s kidding…

Each one of our kids have wild imaginations. And wildly different imaginations. Girl child is all over creativity and storylines, fairytales and fashion. Boy child is an engineer at heart…he’s methodical and precise. He designs and invents things, and his attention to detail on his drawings is something to behold. And then there’s baby girl. Now she has a great imagination as well…she lines up her stuffed animals for class, she prepares dinners in her kitchen to serve at her restaurant and she’s the only child to have an imaginary friend.

Baby girl’s friend’s name is Sweetie and she’s a puppy dog. Now this puppy dog shouldn’t be confused with her stuffed animals who are dogs: Belle, Puppy, Frankie, Spots, etc. Sweetie is a dog we have never met. And she doesn’t live with us. She lives at baby girl’s “other house”. We’ve heard about Sweetie for awhile and baby girl has big plans for her playdates withSweetie when she comes over. We’ve heard about Sweetie’s likes and dislikes. We’ve heard about the time Sweetie was sick, when she was injured and when she ran away.

Lots of exciting stories surrounding Sweetie.

But a few months ago, Baby girl said something to us that kind of caught us off guard.

“Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to my home with Sweetie.”

Um…excuse me, what?

“Yes, I’m leaving. But I’ll come back and visit you.”

Now, most of me thinks this is part of her elaborate imagination at work so I leave it. But then she mentioned it again later. And again even later.

“Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to my home with Sweetie.”

So I ask her where her home is. “It’s about ten minutes away.” Of course it is…she can’t tell time. I ask her what her home looks like. “It’s all brown with big windows and a door and there are no stairs.” (For the record, not at all what our house looks like) I ask what Sweetie looks like. “All black with a few white spots on her front.” So I ask her why she’s leaving her family. “Because Sweetie needs me.”

This is interesting and just a teeny bit concerning. I ask why Sweetie can’t live with us. “Because Sweetie likes it at my other house.”

So I try to call her bluff. I mean, how in the world can she say she’s leaving us for a fake dog!

“Ok, well, I’ll help you pack in the morning. I hate to see you go and I’ve really enjoyed having you live with us. We’ll be so sad when you go, but I guess since Sweetie needs you, you have to go.”

I see the thought work its way through baby girl’s brain. She’s starting to realize what leaving to go to her other home will mean. I see these wheels spinning so I drive it home.

“I guess we’ll give your bed and toys to another little child who can use these things since we won’t need them anymore.”

And then I see the crocodile tears welling up in baby girl’s eyes. uh-oh…too far. Reel it back in. Quickly.

“Of course…if you would like to stay with us, that would make us so happy because we don’t want you to go. How about you stay with us and Sweetie can come stay with you. She can even sleep in your bed with you so she won’t be scared. how does that sound?”

Suddenly a huge grin appears on baby girl’s face and she is relieved. “Yes, yes, yes!!! Sweetie will love to live here!” I tell her that her other home will be great when she’s grown up because she’ll have a place to live that’ll still be close to Momma and Daddy. This is the best idea in the whole world and baby girl is once again happy and off to something else.

So, yeah, baby girl’s imagination? We need to watch out for the colossal stories coming out of that brain or I’ll end up with a hole in my roof to fit the imaginary dragon she befriends!


Children, Family

This is gonna be awesome!

35e3ad13-fc53-4b67-9bf0-688f5e047981-jpgSo baby girl is in that phase where she’s really into imaginary play. On any given day, we’ll catch her in the middle of a well-thought out plot of a class picnic where one of the friends is new and another somehow gets injured and then all the other friends console the injured friend while baby girl performs surgery.

And she talks and talks and talks all through this imaginary play.

Recently, she was assembling her class into order for a story that she was going to read them (she cannot read…this is irrelevant). Bless them, girl child and boy child even accommodate her imagination by “dropping off” their own animals for school. They even go through a good-bye sequence to preserve the authenticity of baby girl’s school.

Once all animals are in their seats and in order, she begins handing out things? I really don’t know what the purpose is or what those objects are in her world. Maybe it’s a snack, maybe it’s a pair of scissors. Again, not relevant.

So as she delves into her story, which she tells with surprising accuracy, the opportunity to be a fly on the wall presents itself and when that happens we try to take advantage because it’s only a matter of time before she says something either adorable or hysterical.

On this particular occasion, as she was passing out the things to her class, she was mentioning reminders like being quiet because the story was going to start and staying in the line. And then, we distinctly heard her whisper to herself:

“Oh, this is going to be awesome!”

And I’m pretty sure it was awesome. At least all the animals in her class thought so!

Children, Family

It’s OK if they’re bored…

I keep telling myself…”it’s OK if they’re bored”.

fullsizerender-jpgAnd then, I want to fix it for them. And that annoys me. About me. No one fixed my boredom as a kid and because of that I can think of solutions on my own, I have a sense of the laws of physics, I can imagine and daydream, and I can create things out of other things…

For some reason, parents now feel the need to entertain our children? And I’m completely guilty here. Why in the name of Mike do my kids need a schedule of fun things to do on a Saturday afternoon?? Seriously.

So I tried something this past weekend and I’m not gonna lie…it nearly killed me. I told the kids to play in the backyard and I had this plan. [Side bar: I am a fixer, I am a solution maker, I am a smidgen OCD and I like things to be in order…clean, neat, etc.] I nearly died from biting my tongue, but here’s what I did:


Just take a moment and let that sink in…I. did. nothing.

At all.

Well, I did do something…I took my little crochet project outside and sat my tail down on the deck and worked on it. Oh, yes I did.

So…queue the bickering and whining…

“I’m bored!”

“Mommy!!!! She won’t let me have the {insert object here}!!!”

For your reference, I’ve prepared a table of questions/ concerns from the children and my response so as to provide a clear and concise method to my Saturday afternoon childcare methodology and it is as follows:


And let me tell you what happened…they built a see-saw out of a piece of landscaping edging we had stacked in the backyard. They had a game of rock em’ sock em’ with each other (blow-up shirts they put on so they can bang into each other without hurting each other). Then they helped each other climb a “tree” (bush). They collected “rare” gems (random rocks) and sorted them by their preciousness. And they identified bugs and made beautiful homes for them. They even chased the dog…when was the last time you saw kids chasing a dog?

And let me tell you what also happened: Mommy got to crochet on the back deck for a little while. I wasn’t serving my kids.

And even though I got to do something just for me for a little bit, what I was most proud of is the fact that for about two hours I didn’t try to solve my kids’ problems while they were playing outside. They worked it out, figured it out, played it out, rearranged the rules, adjusted the games, added steps…whatever it took to keep “play” moving.

And at the end of two hours, I had three children who had a great dose of fresh air in their lungs, dirt under their nails, exercised imaginations, blossomed creativity and maybe even a little bit of learning. It’s OK if they’re bored.

Best part…all free.

And it’s available in the backyard.


Children, Family

Expectation Versus Reality

img_1150Expectation versus reality…it’s amazing how far apart these two aspects can be. And make it even further in the mind of an imaginative child.

Every time we have a chat with girl child, especially, the reality of an impending activity, celebration, or event becomes an extravagant occasion. We see it coming so we try to pull her out of the clouds, but once she’s there it’s hard to change that mental image. This, of course, leads to mild to moderate disappointment because reality did not mach expectation, depending on how imaginative girl child was.

It can be anything…vacation destination, what are going to the store for, getting a haircut, how the dog doesn’t appreciate her cuddles. There is no limit to her expectations and consequently, no limit to the irreconcilable difference between that expectation and what’s really gonna happen.

Case in point…Groundhog Day. Regular old Groundhog Day. Does this day spark any excitement in you? Does this affect your day (outside of coming across whether the critter saw his shadow)? No…because it’s Groundhog Day.

But in our house? Groundhog Day is a day that should rival a day at the county fair.

Maybe there will be cotton candy? Maybe a ferris wheel…girl child really likes ferris wheels, after all. Maybe there will be a parade. Maybe there will also be candy! Like a goodie bag of candy for all the kids who come to visit the groundhog. A band may play to celebrate. You know what will be really fun? A piñata! Yay! More candy. This will be a great day, indeed!

Guess what…we planned nothing. In fact, that stinkin’ animal saw his shadow before the kids rolled out of their beds. Imagine the head-on collision between expectation and reality that girl child was a victim of that day??

Let the moping of the lost day of celebration and fun begin.

To quote girl child, “Groundhog Day is always the worst day of my life!”

So…at least she takes it well.

Anyone have a youngster like this?





Children, Family

No wi-fi. No problem.

img_1075We are busy. You are busy. That’s just the way it is now and that’s a problem.

Remember as a kid when you just had school during the day? You got off the school bus and the beautiful afternoon air beckoned you to your bike or your roller skates. You peddled to your heart’s content with your friends all over the neighborhood. Only when the tree frogs started croaking, the cool evening air swept across your sweaty face and the street lights came on did you come to terms with the fact that the day is over and it’s time to head inside for the night.

I know we don’t live in that world anymore. It’s sad, though, because that was a great world to live in. Now we long to be connected to the internet, to technology, television, video games, smartphones…

I’m the first to tell you that we pack our days with things to do and stuff to accomplish. We have the prerequisite things our kids participate in for their “social health?” for lack of a better word. We send them to dance, martial arts, kids programs at church. There’s not a day in the week where we have the afternoon and evening free. Most weekends end up belonging to some event we’ve committed to.

But I will tell you there are no better words on the cusp of opportunity that a child can utter than “I’m bored!” because that’s where magic begins.

My first response is to try to find something for the kids to do and that’s a problem. I don’t know why I am triggered to do that because some of the greatest and most productive days in a child’s play life happen when he or she is bored.

Parents…let your children be bored.

I know it’s hard to let them be bored and miserable and pouty. I get that…but stick it out because you’re stronger than they are. And as sure as I breathe in and out, your children will find something to do. Better than that, they will exercise their brains in the most creative ways.

They will be active. They will lift things, drag things, attach things, connect things, tape things, color things, cut things, stack things, run around things, hide under things…the list goes on and on and on.

And they will laugh, they will imagine, they will tell stories…and if you get to be a fly on the wall and listen to this entry into an almost forgotten world, please enjoy it vicariously.

Remember those days when you were bored…they were the best days and you know it.


Children, Family

What’s going on in that little brain?!

img_1413Baby girl’s imagination is exploding lately.

At any point, I can find her chatting blissfully away with her animals in a carefully crafted tea party. Her little mind runs constantly with dialogue between baby dolls, stuffed puppy dogs, a stuffed sting ray and a little pink fuzzy snake…all while she carefully and lovingly prepares her magic appetizers for her guests.

I hear her talk to each guest with unique conversation and I also hear their replies to her inquisitiveness in their own voices, no less. It’s kind of like listening to Christof talk to Sven in the Disney movie, ‘Frozen’. Each animal has it’s own voice and it’s own opinions.

She’s so intentional and genuine in her conversations with her little friends gathered at the little pink tea party rug.

She’s so patient with each one when they don’t quite stand up right or when they fall into her tasty treats she’s placed in front of them.

She enjoys their friendships.

She appreciates her little stuffed friends.

She’s also very specific on how she interacts with her stuffed friends. Some get to come with her on outings, others need to stay behind with the group of friends. Some get sick, some get boo-boos, some get scared and some get lost.

We try not to interrupt her meetings with her little friends…there’s important things happening in those moments. It’s a great opportunity to see what’s going on inside Baby Girl’s mind and heart:

  • How she manages her little friendships
  • How she processes fairness
  • How she consoles and comforts her little friends
  • How she takes pride in her tea party presentations
  • How loyal she is to her friends
  • How freely she invites new stuffed animals into her party of friends

I can’t help but think I’m watching her develop her actions, feelings and coping skills for the friends that await her later in her life.

Everything I’m seeing so far looks good so I owe many thanks to Baby Girl’s stuffed animals!



She stole my wheel!!

IMG_9293Ah, little kid arguments…the epitome of logic and reasoning at it’s finest. And the tactic of out screaming each other to explain why the other child is wrong is probably my favorite part of little kid arguments.

Imagine if you will, a car ride with three young children in tow. Each child has brought a toy or animal along to occupy each child (any possibly to be used in a round of light teasing/ tormenting). Mostly, the ride is uneventful and moderately calm. Consider the time of day and each child’s stamina to maintain their cool; we are talking around 3:00pm after a day of playing outside and walking around a lake at a park. Oh, and we also picked up girl child’s new bike she got for her birthday…which was in January. Don’t judge.

Anyway, lots of energy and tiredness and excitement all rolled up into one SUV. All that said, the kiddos were actually being pretty good. Boy child and baby girl were entertaining each other with their imaginary steering wheels in the imaginary cars they were driving. They were following along the path the actual car was taking…baby girl has the best view out the front windshield as her car seat is in the middle of the back seat.

Boy child has decided that the driving is way too safe, so he begins to violently turn his steering wheel back and forth, while baby girl is becoming visibly upset that he would so carelessly and recklessly drive his imaginary car. The nerve of that boy. As much as baby girl pleads with boy child to be careful and drive right, it only serves to increase his dare devil driving, which in turn further increases baby girl’s apprehension that something bad is going to happen!

So, as limited as she is in her ability to fix this atrocious problem, she proceeds to steal boy child’s wheel…his imaginary wheel. When she did this, he flipped out and started shouting, “Give me my wheel back!!!”. Obviously, baby girl struck a nerve and she was pleased as punch that she was successful in removing this dangerous driver from the imaginary road.

Boy child, however was not happy and no matter how much I told him to imagine his wheel back, he just couldn’t get past the notion that baby girl stole his wheel and she was getting away with it. Needless to say, the rest of the ride home was rather loud and irrational.

So yeah. Logic. It doesn’t live at our house just yet…