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Super Sisters

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Jen, Kristen, and Patience

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October 2009 Archives


How to Make a Buddy the Dinosaur Costume of Dinosaur Train Fame

Posted by Kristen on October 19, 2009 at 10:00 AM
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We have a little excitement here at PBS Supersisters. Did you know that PBS Parents has all the instructions for making your very own Buddy the T-Rex costume with some help from the creators of Buddy?

Can you believe I'm trying to make one? The title of this post is a lie. What it should say is "What Not To Do When Making a Buddy Costume." But I was trying to stay lure you in with positivity.

Despite how excited you are about sewing, do not sew the inseam of Buddy's legs closed.
This seems like a no-brainer and you will be unpleasantly surprised at how long it takes you to rip the seams out with a pair of kid scissors because no one put "seam ripper" on the list of items needed. Even more annoying? That you did it to both the front AND the back.

Do not become overwhelmed by the thought that the costume was designed by the brilliant minds at Jim Henson Creature Shop. As Derek watched me cut out the pattern, he pulled out the old, "WHERE did you get this idea" and I was all "it's a costume from the people at Jim Henson" and he was all "you mean the people that brought us Kermit the Frog" and I was all "(insert inappropriate words) no pressure here now, Babe. Thanks."

Don't be afraid to ask for help from a person who may or may not know how to sew. I called Susie Sunshine. "Can you help me with some sewing questions?" She said, "I know nothing about sewing." Me: "But you make wrap around skirts!" She said, "Okay, what?" Me: "Aren't you supposed to pin the pattern to the fabric or something before you cut it out? The directions don't say. Probably because it's the equivalent to "Breathe in" for the sewing world." Her: "Yes. Wow, I was helpful." Me: "Yes, you were."

Wanting to impress is a powerful motivator. PBS asked which one of us wanted to do this. I jumped in and offered because 1) my kids worship at the altar of Dinosaur Train, 2) I have a new sewing machine for sewing labels in my clothes for work and 3) I'm insane. How hard could it possibly be? I mean, I made those kickin' throw pillows for my apartment back in 1999 and how about those awesome place mats I made in the third grade? And maybe I just want to impress the girl who can take a cloth napkin and a paper clip and make it into an award-winning costume. So far the directions have been pretty easy to understand and thank God for pictures. It helps when you erroneously sew Buddy's inseam closed. See above.

Make this costume at night and under all circumstances, don't tell your children you are doing it. They will find out soon enough. I really don't need to explain this, do I?

Not only am I making a Buddy costume for Nate, I am also going to be able to give away the one MADE BY THE PEOPLE AT JIM HENSON (the one worn by the cute little dinosaur you see here). Oh, yeah. So come back on Thursday to enter for your chance to win that one. And to see a picture of mine, which will hopefully be done by then or I'm going to get fired.


Supersisters Weekend Roundup

Posted by Jen on October 17, 2009 at 7:00 AM
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Fall is late to arrive in the Northeast, but we're still hopeful for cooler weather and the changing of colors. Here are three links to help you get through the days--whether your task is little ones who are bored or big ones who need help staying on track.

Fall with Little Ones. Fun activities and ways to make the most of what's available even if your children are still in arms and need your direction so much.
Helping School-Aged Children with School. Listen in as the Mentor Mom offers sage advice on how to handle that one in your house who needs a little love and attention to stay on track with school.
A Family Dinner to Remember. Single mom Meg Casey fills in the gaps by creating a rich ritual of love and connection that can be shared with kids no matter what the holiday season.


Manners (or a Lack Thereof)

Posted by Kristen on October 15, 2009 at 6:58 AM in Manners
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masonback.JPGYesterday we went on a walk to the gate at the end of our road. Harrison came with us so it was me and the four boys. I was enjoying the cool weather by not wearing a coat in 53 degree weather. Believe me, it sounded like a good idea at the time. Even wearing a toaster oven baby on my back, I was over the spontaneous diversions off the road about 1/3 of the way into our journey and I could no longer feel my fingers.

Ethan: Look!!! It's our neighbor!!!

He and Harrison raced off on their scooters down the middle of the road screaming "HELLO" to eighty-year-old Annie who was slowly pushing her walker seat in front of her. She turned around to stare at the craziness. I called the boys back the 1/4 mile to me.

Kristen: Boys. That is rude to yell "HELLO" from a million miles away.
Ethan: Well, what are we supposed to do?
Kristen: You need to wait until you are near her so she doesn't have to strain to hear you. You should get off your scooter when you get close to her and say, "Hello. How are you today?"
Ethan: Oh.
Harrison: We can do that, Miss Kristen.

They rode off again and there was in incident involving someone nearly taking Annie off her feet but they followed my instructions for the most part. I really don't think they mean to act like savages. I caught up to them about three minutes later as they were showing Annie their complicated scooter moves that made her gasp in horror. I suddenly envisioned having to call 911 because she had a heart attack.

Kristen: They are a little crazy. I'm sorry.
Annie: Three boys. God bless you. And they don't look anything like you. But they are very well-behaved.

No. No, they don't. And yes, they are. Sometimes.


Heading On Out

Posted by Jen on October 14, 2009 at 7:00 AM
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In April of 2007, Madeleine and Carter made their first international trip to South Africa where they swam with penguins, walked with elephants and did their very best to have the time of their lives.

On Friday, they'll return to Africa, where they'll help kids their age learn how to use the Internet in a brand new tech lab at Shepherd's Junior School in Arusha, Tanzania. I'm excited to have them with me on the next trip for Picture HOPE and trust this will be an experience to remember.

I'm mindful that this is a challenging trip for children and that I have to keep their age and stage in mind when I ask them to try new things and entertain new perspectives. Here's what I'm reading to get me ready. I hope you find what you need here, too.

My Eight Year Old
How to Love an Eleven Year Girl Old
How To Help Kids Manage Anxiety
Traveling with Kids Around the World


Family Rules

Posted by Patience on October 13, 2009 at 7:36 AM in Parenting tips
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virginia bliss2

There are pretty much only two rules in our house. Well, there might be a few more but they are pretty minor. You must be kind and grateful. If you aren't doing those two things, it will send you to some place of talking to figuring out why. Let's be honest, maybe a long lecture or the occasional raise-your-voice kind of moment.

This subject got me to thinking. What are the rules in your house? Those spoken or unspoken, the things you really want your kids to take with them beyond the walls of your house and into adulthood.

Tell us what your family rules are in the comments. My nosy self wants to know.

Also, check out Jen's guide to passing down your values to your kids.


The Power of Affection

Posted by Jen on October 10, 2009 at 10:07 AM
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he loves his girl

This weekend spend some time fostering connection with your kids by sitting still, listening and reaching out your hands in kindness and compassion. After a hard week of intense parenting, I know that's what's on my agenda. It always makes all the difference in the world.

More links to follow
showing affection to babies and toddlers
reaching out to difficult children


A Small Victory For The Clean-Up Queen

Posted by Patience on October 9, 2009 at 4:58 AM in Parenting tipsTalking with kids
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clean-up sadness.jpg

I'll admit it, I put off helping her cleaning her room. There are moments when my tricks work but often times this dear girl requires me to be even more creative still. The only problem being that I had no creativity in my heart this particular day. I just needed her to do what I asked. Just do it.

I feverishly picked up toys while she laid on her bed, her forearm to her head, crying dramatically. "I just don't wanna clean up my room, I can't do it, I just can't do it."
She looked like a queen that had just been asked to clean the stables, with a toothbrush.

"I know you don't, but we must, I'll help you." I replied with little emotion in my voice.
I gave her a very clear and easy task, there was more wailing. I explained we will need to pack up some toys and put them away if she is unwilling to pick them up. Logical consequence, still no dice, just more drama.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I'm not cleaning my room." she wailed. I wanted to laugh but instead told her it was okay because there was still more to do and she had another chance. She said she needed a break and laid down once again. The room was almost done at this point, after almost 45 minutes, what felt like a very long 45 minutes. All was picked up except for a large pile of dirty clothes in the corner of the room. Out of no where, she got up and started picking up the clothes and carrying them to the hamper. I stood in shock while she came back for another trip until the pile was gone.

"Mom, will you take my picture?" she said while she stood next to the hamper.
"Yes, I would love to." I snapped a few shots and sighed.
clean-up recovery.jpg

"I'll get these too mom." She picked up the laundry in the bathroom.
"Thank you." I said.

She left to play, the storm passing as quickly as it came. Some days it isn't pretty, but it is a victory, no matter how small.

Having meltdowns at your house too? Got a drama mama like me? Check out this guide to help tackle the stickier moments of parenting.


PBS Photo Factory

Posted by Kristen on October 8, 2009 at 11:50 AM
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Have you done this yet? You are only limited by the amount of ink that is in your printer. And the amount of time you want to give up your computer to an over zealous four-year-old who thinks he should have photos with all of his favorite PBS characters.

Personally I don't approve of Curious George standing up in the boat OR the fact that he's not wearing his life vest, but those options are not yet available in the PBS Photo Factory. Check it out!!


How to Play with Kids

Posted by Jen on October 7, 2009 at 9:00 AM in Jenplay
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Have you seen the caterpillar book? from andrea scher on Vimeo.

My friend Andrea recently posted this adorable video with her son Ben & her husband Matt playing together. I loved it for a hundred reasons--the best being it's such a great example of how to really play with kids. Knowing how to play with kids is one of those things that is supposed to be an obvious skill--I mean, what's to it, right? You sit, you laugh, you play. But as any parent who has wearied of the knock-knock joke will tell you, it's not always automatic, it's not always easy and it's not always fun.

Here are three tricks you can try to fake yourself out if play doesn't come easy to you.

Set the timer. By putting yourself on the timer, you take yourself off the clock and give yourself permission to not get a single thing done. For you list-makers out there, this approach also lets you thinking of your playtime as something on your to-do list that you can check off later.

Do nothing. This is the answer to all that ails you if you are play challenged and feel at a loss when faced with playtime with a three year old. Go where that child is, lie down on the floor and do nothing. Go ahead, close your eyes if you want to. Take a snooze. I promise within ten seconds that three year old figure out exactly what to do with you while you lie there and wait.

Follow his lead.
What's so brilliant about the video above is that Ben (the three year old) is completely in charge of the play. He bangs on the piano and Matt matches both his intensity and his mood. Kids are constantly being asked to follow along, so nothing thrills them more than when during their playtime you as the parent reveal that you're willing to take a turn at not being in charge.

What are your secrets to playtime with your kids that doesn't leave you bored or distracted?


Tony DiTerlizzi and Encouraging Young Artists

Posted by Patience on October 6, 2009 at 8:10 AM in Encouraging Young Artists
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I believe there is an artist in all of us, some very tiny and others huge. Many times we just can't figure out what our medium is. Childhood is perfect time to cultivate and explore this part of each human.Tony DiTerlizzi, illustrator and the co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles took some time to talk to me about his own path to becoming an artist and best selling author.

His words about what role the adults in his life played in his journey really stuck with me as I have a little boy at home drawing monsters and aliens. So this weekend found us all around a table just drawing together. Jack picked up Ed Emberley's Halloween Book at the school library. We took turns drawing skeletons and scary stuff while Lucy drew self-portraits.

Here are some ideas if you are encouraging young artists in your house:

1. Use the real stuff. Wander the aisles in a real art store. They usually have a kid version of a little bit higher quality materials which are often times easier to work with and produce a different kind of art. It is more expensive but you don't have to buy a lot. It makes art feel special too.
If this feels like a stretch for your finances, delve into the world of creating recyled art, it's endless and great for the earth.

2. Practice, practice, practice. Have art materials everywhere. Keep journals and pencils/pastels in a kit for the car or your purse. Tiny balls of wax or clay in a take along bag or even a travel watercolor kit. Art can be done anywhere and at times when you need little hands to be busy.
Turn off the televsion, throw on some music, and leave materials on a table. Don't say a word. Let kids find and create on their own.

3. Have your own art show. Collect the pieces of work your child has created and hold your own art show. Send out invitations, create a gallery feel in your house displaying their art. Serve lemonade and cookies. Invite adults and children to share in the work and artist your child is.

4. Claim the artist. Refer to your child as an artist. Ask questions about why and how they create what they do. Help create space and environments in which they can work. You don't have to evaluate their art, try encouraging their effort and intent. Like everything else in childhood, it is about process and is always better when it is a form of play.

What other ways do you encourage the artist in your house? Tell us in the comments.

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