Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Activity Books for All Ages

I have been researching traditions, rituals and family activities for years to get ideas for my own family. I have been looking for the past several months specifically for books on activities to do with toddlers as I have one in my home now. From time to time I plan to review the books I've read both as a reminder to myself and to help others in choosing books for their families. I have quite a few books that will need to be returned to the library tomorrow and before returning them, I'm making notes on what I like about each.

In this post, I'm focusing on the activity books I found that are either for all ages or for older children. There are a lot of activities in these that toddlers are simply not ready for yet.
  1. Creative Family Projects, Games & Activities: Exciting and Practical Activities You Can Do Together by Cynthia MacGregor - I really liked all the ideas for family memory and tradition projects in this book. Some of the ideas, like the time capsule, have pretty detailed lists of things to do. Other ideas are just suggestion to build on. If you're a scrapbooker, she does not concern herself very much with whether her suggestions are photo-safe or acid-free, which I was surprised by since the purpose of the book is keeping and preserving memories. There are so many fun ideas for family togetherness and teaching children lessons without their realizing it. This book may be out of print, but Cynthia MacGregor has several books with this theme.
  2. The Crafty Art Book by Jane Bull - This book has some seriously cool craft ideas for ages 6 and up (under 9 or so will need an adult's help for many of these). Actually, the instructions for cross-stitching, knitting and doll-making are simple and clear and I plan to use them myself. I've used the box-making craft in the children's program I used to run at a bookstore. This is great for rainy-day activities as long as you have your rainy-day craft closet stocked.

Ok. I don't want to overwhelm this post, so I'll talk more about other books in another post.

Soule Mama at Simple Mom

I have been reading Amanda Soule's blog at http://www.soulemama.typepad.com/ for several months now. I recommended to the Louisville Free Public Library to buy a copy of her new book The Creative Family and they have now purchased four. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it's on my to-purchase list, and I hope to pick it up from the library tomorrow. Amanda writes about living a creative life with children and encouraging creativity in children. I really like the way she portrays her life as simple and calm and joyful. It's all about looking on the brightside.

I was excited to see that Amanda did an interview yesterday on simplemom.net. It's an interesting interview, all about the things I mentioned and also how to do those things and still maintain your life. Simple Mom is also giving away copies of Amanda's book The Creative Family! Check out the blog to read the interview and register to win:


My favorite thing to play as a child was "house." As in "you be the daddy (or baby) and I'll be the mommy." Usually, I was playing with one of my brothers who would be a baby or the daddy. Sometimes I'd play with a friend and we would each have our own "house" (the landing on the stairs or a branch on a tree, whatever) and we'd be two mommies who hung out during the day. There would be elaborate scenarios developed. And always a few dolls.

I had three little brothers and they all took turns being my dolls over the years. I would dress them up until they fought me off. I loved on them and took care of them. My youngest brother coincided somewhat with my outgrowing of playing with dolls. I guess I took care of him so much that I got used to playing with a live doll.

Dolls have always fascinated me though. I liked the way they smelled, the snuggly nature of the cloth body, the element of real-life play that they gave me. Even though I stopped playing with them years ago, I kept many of the ones I had growing up and have continued to collect them. I believe that holding onto this element of my childhood has allowed me to stay in contact with myself as a child. I hope that this will help me relate to my own child even more as she grows.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I have been listening to Stacy Julian (of Big Picture Scrapbooking) talk about the merits of sprinkles for a few years. Last fall I started picking up seasonal sprinkles when they were on clearance, thinking that they don't go bad and Abigail would be ready for them by the next time that season rolled around. Abigail is 18 months old now, and is still very small. Usually she's a great eater, but like all kids she has days that she refuses everything. This morning was starting out to be one of those days, and she has to be weighed this week which is creating some anxiety for me. After offering her a few things, I got the bright idea to add pink sprinkles to her yogurt. She ate it all and ask for more. Then she ate all of her grits - with pink sprinkles. Then she ate pudding with pink sprinkles. Then she ate very well the rest of the day. Pink sprinkles saved mealtimes for me today. And made this day a lot more fun.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Current Favorite Summer Find

My baby girl is just a tiny thing. She'll be 18 months old on Sunday, but she's very small for her age, so she just looks so little. She loves ice cream, but I don't want to just hand her a bowl to feed herself, like she insists on with everything else that goes in her mouth. I love to have an ice cream cone on the front porch myself, but I didn't want toddler mouth all over mine, either. So I was SO excited to find a box of Kids Cones at Target. They're a little smaller than the cone part of a regular sized cone (minus the cake part at the top). They're the perfect size for her tiny hand, and the perfect serving size for her tiny tummy. It's a Fun Mama pick!

Having More Fun

I'm taking the Have More Fun class from Stacy Julian on Big Picture Scrapbooking. Including the Library of Memories class that I audited this year (I took it last year so got to take it again free this year), this is my 3rd back to back Big Picture class. (I took The Baker's Dozen in June.) Since I took Library of Memories last year, my philosophy of scrapbooking had changed quite a bit. I'd gotten away from doing so much artsy-type scrapbooking. I'd become more concerned with getting pages done and getting my stories and photos on the page. I did pages (and completed journaling) on topics I'd wanted to cover in my scrapbooks before but had never gotten around to doing. After this year's class, that happened more and more. With Baker's Dozen, I started using more product on my pages because it was fun to do. I'd gotten into a habit of putting a torn piece of patterned paper on cardstock with some photos and journaling and being done with it.

Well, with the Have More Fun class, I'm seeing quite a shift in my scrapbooking. I'm using paper that I bought eight years ago when I first started scrapbooking. You know, the paper that you buy thinking it's perfect and then get it home and realize that never in a million years would you use it. Or the stickers that you get in a goody bag at a crop that just aren't your style. I'm using them. I'm usually a 12x12 scrapper, and I'm even doing a majority of 8 1/2 x 11 pages. Last night, I used those old stickers and made borders on approximately 20 pages while hubby and I watched Smallville on dvd. It was easy and quick and today I added photos and journaling and I've got completed pages. I didn't complete all 20 yet, but I've done quite a few. I've been pulling photos out of my 2003 and 2004 photo storage binders (see Photo Freedom by Stacy Julian for an explanation) and scrapping photos that I was starting to wonder if I'd ever really scrapbook.

I'm not sure what it is about the Have More Fun class that's causing this. It's not an assignment to use up your 8 year old stash that you're not sure you EVER liked. But there's something about the off-the-wall things that I'm being asked to do in this class that is causing my brain to make some associations. Like "It doesn't have to be perfect." I've been saying this for years, yet I still freak out over photo placement and cutting photos and what product will be perfect with these photos. I'm suddenly so excited about scrapbooking.

And isn't that the point? If you aren't excited about scrapbooking, then you might as well not do it. If you want to preserve memories for you children, then keep a journal and put your photos in photo albums (nothing wrong with that - it's next in Have More Fun). Scrapbooking is a hobby, and it shouldn't be stressful! Let's see if I can remember that.

My First Post

This is my first post, so it's kind of a test post. I just want to make sure this works. I plan to write about being a fun mama, which is one of my life goals.