That Blasted Sun! (Yay for Art in the Morning)


Over the past week I have discovered a magic idea that allows me an extra 10-20mins of time to finish up whatever project I’m working on before the kids wake up. Arts and crafts.

I generally wake up at about 5:45am to work on my own personal projects or to occasionally workout if I don’t plan on sneaking that in during naptime. But as the sun has started to rise earlier so has Char. Even with blackout blinds enough light still seeps into her room and she immediately wants to get up and start the morning. This has really cut into my morning. She has gotten out of bed and come to find me as early as 6:15am. That is not cool.

The first thing we tried is this:


Claessens’ Kids Kid’Sleep Moon Nightlight.

This is one of those clocks that lights up when it’s time for the kids to get out of bed and wake up. It’s worked great and I love it already. Charlotte will more often than not stay in her room quietly until the clock wakes up. Occasionally she will call for me and think the thing is broken when she’s getting impatient, but that’s only been once or twice. I also love that this one has a weekday setting and a weekend setting, so I can set it a little later on the weekend and hopefully get her body in the habit of sleeping a little longer….eventually anyways.

But sometimes I still need or want a few extra minutes. Enter arts and crafts set ups. For instance yesterday morning I wanted to finish loading the dishwasher and got out a blank piece of paper some stickers and crayons. Char happily decorated her page for about 15mins while finished. This morning I set out some watercolors and she got all excited and ran down to start painting. I think it eases her into the morning and gives us both more quiet time. I also love that we don’t instantly have to jump into pretend play and my brain can finish waking up and getting into mom mode. The last added bonus is that I don’t instantly turn on a cartoon in order to allow my brain to finish waking up. So far both of these things have been a win win.



Breaking the Baking Rules

      So, I have a strange rule about baking, it’s just for myself and most people probably wouldn’t get it. I never bake pumpkin recipes until the fall. Come September I am bouncing up and down in the kitchen ready to make every pumpkin recipe I can think of. I kind of have a thing about fall. Really I’m in love with fall, everything about it. That being said I love to celebrate the season by baking…a lot. It kind of kicks of the whole holiday baking season for me.

      Back to breaking the rules. This morning Char and I decided to baking pumpkin muffins. I could resist. A few days ago we were grocery shopping and they had a display of canned pumpkin….not sure why. Apparently our local public library librarians are now stocking the baking aisle along with the children’s section. (I’ve ranted before about my library constantly displaying holiday books all year long). Anyways, the smell in the house was so delicious and the muffins were fantastic. Of course now all I want is for cooler weather, falling leaves, and my favorite season. Unfortunantly it’s only spring, I’ve got a long way to go. Oh well….lessoned learned. We adapted this recipe, pumpkin muffin. I found in on pinterest.

They were simply wonderful. Here is what we did:

Pumpkin Muffins (adapted from The Best Pumpkin Muffins @Today’s Mama)

1 cup whole wheat flour*

¾ cup all purpose flour*

1Tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon (I always add a smidge more)*

¼ tsp allspice

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

1 cup packed brown sugar (we used dark brown, that’s what we had)

1 cup canned pumpkin

¼ cup vanilla Almond Milk unsweetened*

¼ cup milk*

½ unsweetened applesauce*

On Top

We sprinkled quick cooking oats and cinnamon and sugar

(* changes made)

Oven preheat: 400

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, spices

Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl: Pumpkin, oil, sugar, milk

You can stop the recipe here and refrigerate the wet ingredients until morning, or keep going.

Stir wet ingredients into dry, stir until just combined. Spray regular muffin tin with non-stick spray. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop the batter generously into the tins (should be about 2/3 full.)  Sprinkle tops of muffins with chopped pecans (if using.) Bake in a 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.

You can serve the muffins at this point, or dip the top of each warm muffin into the melted butter and then into the cinnamon sugar for a delicious topping.

We cooked ours for exactly 18 mins and they were perfect.



The Hovering Parent

    “If a 10-year-old lit a fire at an American playground, someone would call the police and the kid would be taken for counseling. At the Land, spontaneous fires are a frequent occurrence.”-Rosin This is my favorite quote from the article The Overprotected Kid by Hanna Rosin. My bestfriend recently sent it to me to read and I instantly loved the idea of this kind of playground for children.

       The article discusses a unique kind of playground created by Lady Marjory Allen of Hurtwood. She wanted to create places for kids to play that had things the could move around and build with. Everyday could be an entirely different park. “The Land is a playground that takes up nearly an acre at the far end of a quiet housing development in North Wales. It’s only two years old but has no marks of newness and could just as well have been here for decades. The ground is muddy in spots and, at one end, slopes down steeply to a creek where a big, faded plastic boat that most people would have thrown away is wedged into the bank. The center of the playground is dominated by a high pile of tires that is growing ever smaller as a redheaded girl and her friend roll them down the hill and into the creek.”-Rosin. Follow the link if not to read the full article but to at least see the pictures of these places.

       This type of playground, where kids can build and create, where they play without adults watching and hovering, is so foreign that all I can picture is a bunch of homeless kids in a junkyard. But think about it, what kid wouldn’t love this kind of park? No matter what toys we buy or what new gadgets are created for children, they have an instinct to be able to create and use their imaginations to make anything we anything for the purpose of play. I don’t know how many random empty boxes we have strewn around the house because I can’t bare to throw them away since Char plays with them daily, using them as something new everytime. It drive my husband crazy because to him it will always be trash. I recently made a small doll bed for her mini Kit Doll and before I had a chance to tediously sew a linen set for the doll bed, Char simply took a few scrap pieces of fabric, folded one up for a pillow and used the others for a sheet and blanket. She was thrilled and I would have thrown the scraps out and measure and sewed matching pieces to fit the bed. I can only imagine the endless play she and a couple friends could have with a small pile of tires in the backyard. Now, onto unsupervised kids…

       I can remember taking the girls to the park recently and there was a group of unsupervised kids ranging from age 5-12. Most of them were cussing, several of them were jumping off parts of the playground that were way too high trying to jump into the middle of the swirly slide. I sat shaking my head wondering where there parents were and if they knew how much their kids cussed.

      Fast forward to a few days ago and Char has started using the word “damn it” often and correctly. Not because of the playground kids…unfortunately because of me and her Papa. We can’t get mad at her because we say it by mistake all the time, and it made me realize that’s probably where those kids got the words they were using.

      Back to the kids at the park, after reading this article I can see that I so easily slip into the overprotective culture of parents wanting to save their children, fearing for their safety and their innocence at every moment. I cringed at my kids hearing this language from these roughion elementary kid thugs. And yet they’ve heard it at home and in the car before. I try not to be one of those people but I clearly still am, at least a little bit. I panicked when Char started watching the kids jump from the high part of the playground, sure she would immediately try it and fall to her death. She didn’t try it but did ask what they were doing….I wanted to  say “being dangerous, naughty little kids.” But I didn’t and instead just said “they’re playing a game I think.” Adding quietly “they’re big kids”.

     I know I let Char have more freedom than some parents and adults in our current overprotective society and that makes me feel better. There is a wall on the way home from the playground that I always let Char climb on when we are walking home. The ledge she walks is a little wider than a balance beam and at its tallest point she is over my head, but even as my stomach knots up in fear that she will fall, I want her to grow up brave and strong. I don’t want her to constantly fear new things. Her grandma freaked and told her not to climb it the first time she came with us to the park. I know it is risky, and I certainly never want to take Char to the hospital for a broken arm, I would be horrified and would probably never forgive myself but I figure I’m right there by her side and watching, I could probably catch her or at least break her fall, and a few years from now she’d being doing it without me if she were with other kids going to the park, this way at least she’ll be a pro at it and I wont have to worry as much when she’s on her own. Or at least that’s what I tell myself….

       I have started reading Working in the Reggio Way to better understand this type of education and I have found that the philosophy behind it is similar, the idea that kids should be trusted more, and given the chance to grow and mature. Very much like the Montessori theory, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” – Maria Montessori. I try my best to follow these ideals and let Char and Goo try to be independent and do things on their own. Does Ivy spill water from a big girl cup? Most of the time. But is it going to ruin the rug or the kitchen floor? No. Is Char covered with bumps and bruises? Sure, but she likes playing and I like that she generally with get right back up and try something again. And I have noticed that when other adults are around to get scared and worried or tells her “I told you that would happen” when she does get hurt, she often doesn’t want to try something again and gets closed off, shy and very quiet. She is already timid by nature and so I feel it is even more important to praise her and encourage her when she does want to climb a wall or try to get water from the fridge on her own. It’s not like I’m giving her a pocket knife and sending her out into the desert to have an adventure…that’s next year. 

Changing it up this week. Library Book List

I thought I’d switch things up and make a list of the books we got at the library this past week instead of a bedtime reading list. We’ve really been reading a lot of the same books over and over the past couple weeks and it’s getting hard to find ones that are new that I can include in the bedtime list. We’ve been lucky enough to go to the library quite often ever since Char was a toddler. The one thing, and I think I have complained about this before, that I can’t stand is that they will display holiday books from random holidays all year long. And of course kids are going to pick the books they see up on top of the shelf first. So low and behold we got Broom are for Flying! By Michael Rex. Both girls actually really like this book and it’s a nice simple Halloween book, but it drives me insane to read holiday books that aren’t for holidays coming up. I guess I’m kind of weird and like the excitement of reading those books only during the corresponding season. One of our other books this trip was Amelia Bedelia’s first field trip. I love Ameilia Bedelia and grew up reading the original books when she was an adult. I think they are so cute and they crack kids up. I’m sure it drives some people crazy how daft Amelia is, but kids enjoy it. “It’s for the kids” right? Chicks and Salsa is another book that Charlotte loved about farm animals who stop eating their normal food and began making Mexican food by taking things from the farm. It’s a fun book. We like books about food because some day I hope that will make Charlotte more interested in trying new foods….I know, wishful thinking. The last book this time was My First Angels by Tomie dePaola. Char has always loved Tomie dePaola books and we have many and we borrow even more at the library. It seems Goo is destined to enjoy Tomie dePaola books just as much. We read this one several times in a row at all times throughout the day.

Image     Image

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Bedtime Reading List Week 6

So, where do you get your books? My sister and I were lucky enough to have parents who saved a huge selection of our childhood books and gave us the chance to go through and pick what we wanted for our kids. I love getting to read Char books I remember from when I was growing up. Goofy the Gardener Makes Up His Mind is one of those books. It brings back cozy feelings whenever we get to read it. There are many more, pretty much anything that looks old in my booklists is a book I used to read with my mom.

Char has also always been in love with Tomi dePaola since she was a baby and we read board books by him. Strega Nona books are by far her favorite and we get one almost every time we see one at the library. Surprisingly we only own one.

Big and Small is a book by Barefoot Books, I really love this company and this books is great. Beautiful colors and illustrations.





Discipline is Getting Complicated

      When Char was little we never had to really spend time disciplining her. We told her not to do something once or twice and she stopped. She was quiet and peaceful when we took her out in public and just sort of went with the flow. Let’s put it this way, we never child proofed the house because she simply didn’t get into trouble. Fast forward two and a half years to the birth of our youngest daughter and they have both changed the game on us completely.

     Goo gets into everything, they have constant power struggles, Char began having tantrum of epic proportion which include screaming and hitting at times. And I have no idea how to handle all of it. I am torn between punishment and loosing it with them and not wanting to break their spirits completely. I try so hard to stay patient and calm but it is so difficult sometimes. For insistence, yesterday both girls woke up very early and Goo hadn’t fallen asleep the night before until 9:30. We decided to take the to the Tucson Festival of Book. It all went great until Char wanted to paint at a booth promoting a local Charter Kindergarten. They had one easel for painting and it was taken up and there were other kids waiting. We told her she couldn’t do it and she got very sad and cranky about it. Soon we found another booth that was letting kids decorate crowns, she kneeled down at the kids table and started to decorate a crown, a large group came up about ten minutes later and we told her to finish up so other could color and decorate too. She suddenly flipped out and started balling and crying that she wasn’t finished. We told her other kids wanted to decorate crowns too and she could finish hers at home. My husband tried to pick her up and she did the boneless child/wet noodle trick where it is absolutely impossible to pick up a child. Anyways he finally got her with much more screaming and we decided to head home, which caused her to flip out even more, so there we are walking around with her screaming and crying on my husbands shoulders at a crowded book festival. I knew she was tired and that this all started because she wanted to paint and couldn’t. I knew she wasn’t just a bratty spoiled child, but I still got so upset and frustrated and pretty much had a temper tantrum of my own on the inside. Once we officially headed home after a meltdown from Goo, we got some lunch and they were both happy as could be. I’m glad we didn’t yell and punish Char, I wanted to so badly, and many parents probably would have, but I always try to pay attention and look at what might really be causing the outburst before I punish and react. And sometimes she does get in trouble and sometimes it helps and sometimes it makes it worse. We’ve had a couple tantrums and power struggles where I loose it as well, and those have lasted 20+ mins before.

    Nobody is perfect at parenting and we all make mistakes. Sometimes tiny ones and sometimes huge ones where we wish we could rewind and take it all back. I always try to admit to Char when I have over reacted. We try to always explain and hope that she understands why she is trouble when she is. I have only ever actually yelled at her twice before, I have definitely used a stern and extremely firm voice before, but she is sensitive and I feel that yelling really leaves emotional scars that wont ever go away. I know it did for me as a child and she and I are the same.

   As for Goo….I will have to change my tactics all together for her. She is a whole other force on nature and will need a completely different style of punishment. That’s the thing about kids, they are all different and they all respond differently to everything in the world. So shouldn’t we try to find a way to reprimand them that fits them. Here’s to lots of deep breaths and lots of counting to 10 to keep my calm and hopefully teach the girls to keep theirs.

Here are a couple books I really have found useful for discipline 


Bedtime Book List Week 5

This week we had an extremely busy week with family. But still managed to get in our normal reading during nap and before bedtime. I think it always helps settle us to sit down and read. This was really important because we had my sister and her son staying with us and the three kids got a bit hyper by the end of the night. Out of Char’s books this week my favorites are definitely Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse and Henry and Pawl and the Round Yellow Ball. I love Henry and Pawl simply because I love the Illustrator. Mary GrandPre is the illustrator for the Harry Potter books I own and I love her work. We have a book of poems that she also Illustrated that we read quite often as well, Plum. I love reading Every Cowgirl because I get to speak with a country accent and Char never makes fun of me or comments. I must secretly like having an accent. My sister got Goo a new book that I think is so cute and Goo loves reading it, Peek a Who. It has such vibrant colors and is so simple. So here’s my list for this week.


EveryCowgirl Henry Pinkalicious UpstairsMouse





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