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Posts in Family Activities Category


How to Cultivate Meaningful Experiences with Kids

Posted by Patience on January 23, 2009 at 10:09 AM in Family ActivitiesPatience
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It's been brought to my attention that my life appears to be, well, dreamy, chock full of meaningful art moments and conversation. There's something you should know my friends. The truth is for every dreamy moment there are 3 in which someone is complaining, crying, arguing and I wonder why I even suggested such a project in the first place. Remember this?

So here are the tips I've learned in squeezing out the moments in life and cultivating opportunities for connection.

1. Let your children lead. Projects always go better when the kids decide what and how we are going to do something. Ownership makes everyone responsible and creates space for everyone to contribute.

2. Start with a question. Ask your kids what they think about a particular topic or how they can approach a task. You can offer options after to guide the process.
Ex. I have a problem, can you guys help me? What do you think we should do about...?
How should we celebrate...?

3. Let it be. If everyone has a horrible time on your kindness mission, or they fight over color choices for your group art project, it's okay. Not every experience will be perfect or lovely. These are opportunities to navigate group dynamics, personal growth, or just be in a family funk together. Don't give up, keep trying.

4.Leave some space. Some of the best moments just happen on their own. It's the beauty of letting life unfold before you.

What are your tricks for creating family togetherness or meaningful moments? Tell us dear ones in the comments.


The Thankfulness Tree

Posted by Patience on November 25, 2008 at 6:19 AM in Family ActivitiesPatience
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I always feel like Thanksgiving somehow gets lost in the shuffle between Halloween and Christmas. It's the less glamorous holiday but it continues to be my most favorite.
My sisters and I have to call each other a minimum of 684 times preparing for the day and that's if we are spending it together. Lord only knows the number if we are not.

It is a tradition to talk excessively about what time to put the turkey in and how it is never ready on time anyway. Who cares about the turkey, it's all about the side dishes. The recipes no longer exist on a 3x5 card, you must track down my mother or a younger sister with a better memory. These are the things that make a holiday.

As the years go by, I find myself marking experiences that bring us together in my own little family. Sometimes they are carefully crafted and others just spontaneously happen, some make their way into memory boxes and other just live in our thoughts.
I saw the idea of making a Thankfulness tree around the web the last few days and
thought it might be fun to make with the kids.

Of course, any project with hopes of success should start with a snack.
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And then there is the token be-careful-with-the-scissors warning.
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The boys cut out the leaves while I cut out the tree.
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Here are the leaves, we wrote what we are thankful for on them.
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This is my very nobby tree.
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A few things we are thankful for: Legos, little sisters, the blackberry (papa's choice), pizza, facebook...
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Our not finished tree, we thought we might take it with us on Thanksgiving day so everybody can add to it.
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Who knows, it might be the next treasured tradition?

What are your Thanksgiving family traditions? Any new ones you are working on cultivating or do you prefer the kind that unfold on their own? do share...


Fall fun for the little ones

Posted by Kristen on October 9, 2008 at 7:00 AM in Family ActivitiesKristen
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250px-Pumpkins.jpgIt's my favorite time of year. The air is getting crisp(er), the leaves are starting to change and the humidity seems to finally be gone. Having spent the better number of my years in a climate void of autumn, I find myself going a little overboard. Maybe everyone in the family isn't interested in taking that 3 hour drive to see the fall foliage, but no one will be complaining when we finally get there. Here are some other ideas for fall fun.

  • Take the kids on a corn maze adventure. I remember when a corn maze was a corn maze. You started out at one end and hoped for the best. Now the corn mazes can go for acres and some even have scavenger hunts on the way. One local farm has a hay maze that is better suited for smaller children. Whatever the size of the corn maze, you are sure to have stories to tell by the time you find your way out.
  • Go apple picking. It seems like I am addicted to apple picking since you have been subjected to three posts related to apples. What can I say? The kids LOVE to go apple picking. Fruit for snacks and endless recipes to try. Pies, applesauce, tarts, cakes. You name it. Apples rock.
  • Pick your own pumpkin and gourds. We never seem to get around to the carving but it is so much fun to have the house decorated with different sizes of pumpkins and crazy curly gourds. Sure the kids may think they are balls and you spend every day "reminding" them not to throw the pumpkins, but the fun factor will always win.
  • Simmer up some mulling spices to make your house smell like fall. High end gourmet stores sell some divine mulling spices but this is where I confess to doctoring up regular old apple cider with cinnamon sticks, cloves and a little nutmeg. Simmering the concoction on the stove for even just an hour can leave my whole house smelling delicious.

So what do you do to get into the autumn feeling?


Preparing for Baby: Books and Blessings pt. 2

Posted by Patience on September 12, 2008 at 7:00 AM in Family ActivitiesPatience
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Blessings: part 2

After our last family togetherness activity to prepare for the arrival of our baby, we chose something a little different this time around.

My friend Melissa gave me this great idea after reading a book on how other cultures prepare and celebrate birth. The idea was to hang flags with hopes, wishes and blessings for a new baby. It is thought that these blessings would be the first thing a baby sees after he or she is born. I can hardly think of a better way to be introduced to your new family and the world.

I let the kids pick the color of paper and asked them to write or draw one thing they wanted or hoped for our new baby. Here's what they came up with:

Josiah: I hope you like what you see.
Jack: I wish you have the power to be strong.
Lucy: I wish this picture for you.
Me: I wish you feel happy and loved.
Jorge: I hope you feel loved in the deep way everyone else does in our family.

jack flag.jpg

This little activity helped us think of our baby as a real person who we already love and have yet to meet. By offering our wishes and blessings, we can start to imagine her here.

If the idea of having the baby isn't producing much excitement at your house, you can turn the exchange on it's side and ask the kids-

What do you wish for yourself when our baby comes?

Everyone in the family can participate, it might expose some needs you haven't discovered yet.
Even with all the family prep, everyone will still find their own way and in their own time. Somehow we all come back to each other in the end. I'm learning it's what family is all about.

Here are a few more ideas for inviting kids to prepare for baby:

1. Cook together- Invite the kids into the kitchen to make some frozen meals for postpartum nights when cooking sounds like a hopeless task. Let the kids pick the desserts to have with each planned meal.

2. Get a code word- Decide on a code word that kids can use when they are feeling left out or need some extra attention. Talk about the demands of a tiny baby and how you will navigate everyone's needs. Ask kids for input on problem solving in different scenarios.

3. Make something sacred- Pick an activity you can do together that kids can count on no matter what. If reading before bed is your thing, pick a new book and commit to being there for that one activity.
Try to stick to a regular time if possible but make a prior "escape" plan with your child if baby crisis trumps the moment. Let your child decide when your alternative plan should take place.

Now can someone remind me of these ideas in 3 weeks when I'm pulling my hair out with an infant and 3 kids?


Summer Slackin'

Posted by Patience on August 14, 2008 at 12:06 AM in Family ActivitiesPatience
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"I have an idea, an idea Mom!" Lucy says in her sleep. Even in her sleep this kid is hatching a plan. She is nestled in the crook of my arm and I wait a little longer to hear more of the sleep talking brilliance but it isn't long before she is snoring again.

The only problem is now I can't sleep and ideas are running through my head.
The mental chatter starts...All I can think about is how I've been running a frat house all summer. Kids up until all hours, eating by hunger instead of clocks, more junk, more t.v. and video games, less reading, you get the idea. I'm a total slacker summer mother. The suggested reading list is still on the refrigerator held up by a kid creation Christmas magnet. There are no checks in the tiny boxes.

I am the redemptive mother variety, some of my best ideas flow from guilt and procrastination. I used to judge myself for such traits, now I believe they should be celebrated.

So after brushing up on my Back-to-School knowledge, I decided to make an attempt to revive any potential creative juices left in my children's brains. My almost 10 year old niece was very excited to help. Since we didn't read the suggested books why not just write our own instead?

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Bookmaking 101

1. We cut simple white computer paper into different sizes.
2. We then cut bright card stock about a ½ inch around the white squares.
3. Then we sewed them together using all those fancy stitches no one ever uses on their sewing machines. Anyone that can sew a straight line can make these. (kids included)
No sewing machine? Try stapling or hole punching and using ribbon to bind together.

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The books were way fun for the kids to help create and fantastic for inspiring budding authors. These can be great for introducing tiny flip books, story books, illustration books or just handy journals.
A bundle of handmade books is also a great gift for your new teacher to keep in her writing center. Don't you feel like the mother of the year now? Summer slackerness be gone.

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