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“I like my noggin.

It holds things like the old sheep jumping the fence.”

~ the Little Person (who has been fascinated with the old sheep character in Charlotte’s Web and has created all kinds of back and side stories for her)

And here are some links as delicious food for playful thoughts:

“How to…Invent a Recipe with Kids” by Rachelle on TinkerLab

“10 Simple Ways to Raise Creative Kids” by Rachelle (of TinkerLab) on Kiwi Crate

“Tell a Better Story – Storytelling made Simple” by  Melissa Taylor on Imagination Soup

“How to Pretend” by  Kim Rowe  on Little Stories

Birthday Traditions

In our home, by this year’s 5th birthday, we’ve managed to solidify (by which I mean do at least 2 times!) a few traditions, including…

…waking up to a birthday muffin and getting to eat it in bed.

…a treasure hunt for birthday presents. I really love this tradition because it spaces out the presents and she stops to play or read or explore each gift.

Treasure Hunt Clues

Found one!

A camera from Grandpa! LP loves it!

…cake or sweet treat of your heart’s desire for dessert (this year was sour cream chocolate cake with strawberry-cream cheese frosting and red sprinkles on top)

AND this year, I finally got around to making a felt birthday banner to hang up for all of our birthday celebrations…not exactly what I pictured, but certainly good-enough for my improvised crafting sensibility.

Puppy Party 2

Another year, another puppy party… we celebrated LP’s 5th birthday yesterday!  Tomorrow is the actual day and we’ll have family celebrations and also her long awaited trip to the toy store to buy a gumball. (About 2 years ago, I randomly answered that she could have a gumball from the machine there when she was 5 and she has remembered that and reminded me of it often!). This year the party was expanded from just dog friends to include a couple of kid friends too which is a lovely sign of social growth.

We set up a dog house door to her room:

(These days LP’s dog name is “Skits” a la Martha Speaks books/tv show)

and puppy crowns for kid friends (the dog friends were “bring your own ears”):

The 20 “bones” were ready to be hidden for “find the bone” game in our yard:

The dog books were ready for story time:

With dog music playing on the ipod, we were ready.  4 kids, 3 dogs and 7 big people partied it up puppy style.  A gift of a hula hoop gave the kids some new dog games to play (none of the dogs were into it).  It was a lovely mix of free play with LP’s toys and organized “puppy” activities of finding the felt bones hidden around the yards, a low key version of  “puppy says” (a la Simon says), singing the one dog song I learned on the ukelele (“I Wanna Be a Dog”) and (my favorite) acting out a made-up story about a teeny, green dog named Chicken Chicken Chicken who went exploring underground to find a treasure of delicious bones.

And of course, ice cream with dog bone sugar cookies:

At the end of the day, LP was one tired, happy pup….and so was her mama.

“Let go of what you think your child should be interested in and what you think they should be doing or learning.”

~ Kate Fairlie in “Let Go and Let Them Learn” on Childhood101

And other wonderful playful food for thought from around the web:

“Toddlers to tweens: relearning how to play”  by Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor online

“Kids need adventure. Parents need to to teach them how” by Stuart on The Family Adventure Project

“Why Children’s Theater Matters” by Danielle Wood on education.com

“This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids” on Colossal Art & Design

On the Road: Puppets

LP and I just came home from a whirlwind trip to Boston for a family event.  We had 5 fun and family-packed days.  One of the many delights for us was 2 nights in a hotel (oh the pool!) which meant more hangout time with cousins (and for me with my siblings).

The second night, my 7-year-old niece and LP were at loose ends, so we three girls went to our room to make some puppets.  Those of you who have read my blog for awhile know that I don’t leave home without blue painters tape and you can see how useful it was for this make-it-up craft.

We took turns drawing faces (mostly dogs, of course) and then carefully ripped them out and taped them onto construction paper tubes (another travel essential).  The tubes were various sizes and fit either over a few fingers or a whole hand depending on the size of the puppeteers hands.  LP also asked for a bone puppet for the dogs so I made that one for her.  It was fun to have time with my crafty niece and experience her creativity in action (I love that one of her dog puppets “Woof” has his name written on his forehead).

Much to LP’s disappointment, there wasn’t time to gather all the cousins together for a puppet show before bedtime.  However, the puppets packed up easily for the next leg of our journey and when we were finished playing, they were recycled.

Creating Traditions

My good friend, Wendy, and her family have a tradition of doing something different to mark every night of Chanukah. From family craft projects to volunteering to having  a party to baking banana bread and distributing it to the homeless to learning something new as a family (like rock climbing), I love the idea of making every night (or day) special AND creating traditions that aren’t about presents or about trying to make Chanukah into Christmas.

Every year, I ask Wendy for the list of what they do, but this and that happens and I haven’t acted on it until this year.  I know that we’ll develop what we do as time goes by  and LP grows.  I love the sense of anticipation that happens around traditions…I’m already looking forward to next year’s lantern walk.

In thinking about what traditions I want to create for our family, I’ve focused on the theme of light…both literal (candles), cosmic (star watching) and metaphoric through our actions (giving to others).

This year we are:

*having a family Chanukah party on the first night with latkes, playing music and a few presents

*craft & cooking projects on the second night (soft dreidl decorated with fabric markers and a dreidl cake of LP’s own recipe)

*lantern walk around the neighborhood on the third night (we made the lanterns by gluing tissue paper on glass jars and putting tea lights in them, specific instructions here at SteadyMom)

*Shabbat, dreidl playing, singing  and a few presents on the fourth night

*star watching picnic on the fifth night

*Making gifts for others on the sixth night (not sure what we’ll be making yet)

*put on a show together on the seventh night (and hopefully visiting a nursing home during the day)

*more music making and a few more presents on the eighth night

It is important to me that LP be able to enjoy Chanukah, have traditions to share with friends and also be able to share her friends’ Christmas traditions without envy. My parents gave me that gift growing up. I always loved Chanukah and how we celebrated AND it was comfortable and fun sharing in my friends’ Christmas traditions. We are living that sharing tradition this year as we had our annual Chanukah open house (pre-Chanukah this year because of the timing) and will attend a Christmas party on Christmas day.

Happy Holidays everyone!  May you spend these days sharing light with those you love!

The past month has been one of improvised baking and concocting.  I’ll be writing a couple of posts about engaging and supporting a little person’s interest, so consider this one a teaser.

Below is the recipe for a “Show” ~ the first concoction that LP created about a month ago.  She made it while I was making dinner (homemade pizza) so most of the ingredients are what I was using (except for the goldfish!).

LP’s recipe (as dictated by the girl):

Start with a lot of goldfish.

Add just two whole mushrooms and a lot oil and a lot of wheat germ becasue the oil and the wheat germ taste good and they’ll make it taste good.

Add lots of garlic, cutted garlic.

The cheese makes the Show taste a little like popcorn.

Add pizza dough and pineapple.

Flour’s the last ingredient. It makes the show taste powdery.

Some shows get spinach in them.

Bake for very long. The long should be 20 minutes.

We eat the show when it comes out of the oven. It’s a cheer you up show!

(The recipe was dictated to me over dinner. As you can see, there are a few ingredients – pasta, celery, olives) that didn’t make it into the formal recipe.  And yes….she did eat some of it!)