Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Craft Idea

This craft is something that began with an idea that my grandmother in New Hampshire used to put out each year at Thanksgiving. She would always make up little cups filled with candies and nuts and each person would have their own to pick on either while waiting for dinner to be served, or later in the day. My aunt continued the tradition when she took over hosting Thanksgiving, and I always thought it was a nice idea.

This year, I decided to take that idea and make it into a little craft that would help keep my girl busy while I was doing last minute prep work for our company! We took plastic cups (left over from a birthday party) and we drew "feathers" on colored construction paper and cut those out. Now, the paper is colored, but my girl wanted to add her own flair, so she also colored her own feathers. We gathered a few of the colored feathers together and taped them on the outside of the cups on one side, so that they looked like turkey feathers. Then we took one red "feather" and folded that in half, and taped it to the outside of the opposite side of the cup from the tail. I drew on little eyes to look like a turkey face. Then my girl wrote out each one of our names on a cup and we filled them with goodies that everyone likes -- M&M's (regular and peanut butter), Hershey's Kisses, candy corn, pecans, raisins, etc. We also did "special orders" -- for example, my brother-in-law is not a big nut fan, but he does like peanuts, so we replaced his pecans with peanuts. And since the 2 littlest girls were too little for us to give nuts and candy to, my sweet girl suggested that we make their cups with Goldfish crackers, Cheerios, and Gerber Puffs.
We had a good time making these and everyone enjoyed them. This is a very versatile craft - you can either make paper feathers, or use real craft feathers if you have them, or another cute idea is to trace your child's hands on construction paper and put 2 of their hands together to make the turkey's tail feather. Another fun thing would be to use googly eyes instead of drawing the eyes on -- always popular with kids!

This can also be adapted for other holidays or occasions. Try tracing your child's hands on brown paper (construction, paper grocery bag, lunch bags...) and tape 2, slightly separated, on one side of the cup, and then cut out a brown diamond shape, fold that in half and tape it to the front of the cup (similar to the picture above with the red turkey face). Put eyes on that and glue a red paper circle or even a red pom-pom on the tip (below the eyes) and voila, you have a Rudolph cup! I'll have to try this one at Christmas and I'll post a picture to show you how it turned out.

You could even take this idea and use it as an alternative to goodie bags at your child's birthday party or a craft that the kids make at a party -- everyone makes their own cup and then they fill it with their favorite goodies.

Use your imagination (and your child's) and you can come up with all sorts of ideas for this fun and inexpensive craft -- enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving Recap

I realize that we are rapidly approaching Christmas, but before we get to that, I just wanted to tell you about the wonderful Thanksgiving we spent at home this year, with my husband's brother and his family. As I mentioned before the holiday, we had a big change in plans and did not spend Thanksgiving in our traditional manner, but we were excited to share it with some of my husband's family for the first time in over 14 years! Just as I had done as a child growing up, my girls had a fantastic time playing all weekend long with their cousins -- there were projects and songs and dances and dress up and even some imaginary monster hunting! This picture shows my two sweet girls on Thanksgiving, and my adorable nephew and niece to their right. My oldest daughter is turning 7 in January, and her cousin will be 4 the week before her birthday. They get along amazingly well for the age difference and the fact that one is a boy and one is a girl. When they are together, they (with not much interference from their parents) manage to find the toys and games that they both enjoy and play those together, not to mention that they both have great imaginations and make up adventures to share.

And the two little ones are only 1 month apart as far as birthdays, however their due dates were 1 day apart originally! My sister-in-law had her daughter early, and as apparently is the case for my children, my daughter came late. It is so much fun to watch these two grow and learn and interact with each other. They are getting to the point where they are more than just curious about the other one, and they are starting to play a little bit together. They are so cute when they try to give hugs or kisses!

We took the kids to the Strong Museum and to The Sandbox Indoor Playground which were both big hits with the kids and the adults. My husband and his brother also took the two older kids to a hockey game (hockey is huge in our family) and my sister-in-law Jess and I stayed home, put the two little ones to bed, and enjoyed a girls evening of appetizers, wine and girl talk! It was a fun night for all! Oh, and we celebrated Thanksgiving, too! We had a leisurely day of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (big tradition in my family, and Jess' father and brother have worked on the parade for years -- both work in television), munching on this and that, cooking a great meal -- which shockingly for me, all came out at the same time! -- and of course, eating. For the meal itself, we incorporated a few of my family's traditional dishes, Jess made a yummy sweet potato dish, and we tried to have a little something for everyone.
We enjoyed our holiday and as always, enjoyed having the chance to spend time with family - whether we were out visiting museums or home playing "Go Fish" with the kids, it makes the day special when you can spend it with people you love!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Patience may be a virtue, but it's not one of mine!

When God was handing out patience, I must have been too busy to wait in line... This is an area that I fall extremely short in, and I am afraid that my 6 year old is going to follow suit if I don't intervene soon!

It is a never-ending cycle in our house -- our oldest daughter wants something NOW and she is bring impatient, and that makes my husband and I lose OUR patience, and it just gets us nowhere.

Last week, there was something that she urgently needed (like dessert, or something life-threateningly important like that...) and of course, I was in the middle of something and could not attend to her need immediately. And in response to her impatience, I said in a bit of a tone, "Mommy needs just 2 minutes of patience!" And as I said it, I thought, "Hmm, let me try something!" So I set the kitchen timer for 2 minutes. And at the end of the 2 minutes, I had finished what I needed to do, and I was ready to help with her emergency (getting a bowl of ice cream).

Shockingly, that seemed to work for both of us! So, the next day a similar situation came up and I handled it with the same approach -- I gauged how much time I needed to get what I was doing done, and then I said, "Ok, Mommy needs 5 minutes of patience, please." (In a much nicer tone this time!) And to my surprise, before I could even set the timer, my girl said, "Ok, set the buzzer, please!" Unbelievable!

We have been doing this for a week now, and I have found that a) I have maintained my patience amazingly well, and b) we have gotten through some of our least favorite tasks with less crabbiness. I have also been using it for unpleasant things that we have to do -- like brush my daughter's hair! She hates it, and screams and yells no matter how gently I do it. I've tried threats ("We're going to go and get your hair cut shorter than Daddy's!") and psychology ("Hmm, if your head is really that sensitive, maybe we should go see the doctor to see what the problem is?") and nothing works very well. But, this morning I tried the 2 minutes of patience, and she pouted, but asked me to do the timer, and we got through it. I even made a little game out of it to keep her mind off of the hair brushing, and I would say, "One minute left! 30 seconds left!" And then we did a countdown from 10 seconds until the timer went off.

This can also work when you are out in public, away from the timer -- I used it at the store the other day, and she said, "There's no buzzer!" and I said that I would be the buzzer and I went along for about 2 minutes and then said, "Bzzz! Time's up!"

The important thing is to stick with the time limit -- set an amount of time that you can get what you need done, and then when the timer goes off (or, before it goes off, if you are ready early) make sure you take care of what your child wants you to do, or in the case of the hair brushing, if you say 2 minutes, you'd better be finished in 2 minutes!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love getting together with family in a relaxed, cozy atmosphere where we can just enjoy each other's company and of course, a great meal. My mother's family has always spent Thanksgiving together. Long before I was born, Mom's family (in New Hampshire) would gather the entire family together to celebrate Thanksgiving -- there were so many relatives that they would hold the celebration at the church, which was large enough to accommodate everyone. I believe the last one of those Thanksgivings was either the year before, or the year after, I was born.

But, growing up I remember traveling by plane or by car to spend every Thanksgiving in New Hampshire (except the year my cousin Matt was born! We went to my aunt's in Connecticut) at my grandparents' house. I loved those Thanksgivings -- my Nana's wonderful cooking, all of the relatives crammed into the dining room and kitchen, hearing stories from "the good ol' days", and playing with my cousins. I was always SO excited to go to New Hampshire for Thanksgiving, and most of the family came out and stayed at my grandparents' house, so no one was on a schedule -- we just had Weds. night to Sun. morning to spend time with each other. That is still one of my favorite things -- having the whole family together in one place for a long weekend, whether it's my mother's family or my husband's family -- the more the merrier!

We've carried on that tradition for Thanksgiving, losing some of our guests -- my grandparents both passed away, my cousin Todd moved to Florida -- and we've moved from NH to Connecticut, back to NH when my aunt and uncle built at place up there. Life gets busy and it's hard to keep those traditions going, but we do our best! My husband's job makes it difficult to get away at Thanksgiving, so last year Mom's family came out to our house, which was great! My cousin even came up from Florida and brought a new addition -- his fiancee (now wife)! This year we had to stay home again, but we are celebrating with my brother-in-law and his family from Long Island -- this will be the first Thanksgiving that we have spent with my husband's family in at least 14 years! We are very excited to have them come out for the long weekend, and my daughter is already beside herself with excitement about having her cousins here to play all weekend!

Times change, but there is something so warm and comforting about familiar traditions -- even if you have to adapt them a little along the way. We are unable to spend Thanksgiving with our New England relatives, but we're happy to share some of our traditions with our Long Island relatives this year!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Night Terrors

As I've mentioned before, my older daughter has a few sleep issues -- some probably were caused by overprotective, nervous, first time parents. But a large sleep issue that she had (hopefully in the past tense now!) was something called Night Terrors. The name alone is frightening enough, and when you have a child that suffers from this, the whole experience is extremely unnerving, to say the least.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, night terrors are most common in children between the ages of 4 and 12 and affect 1 to 4% of all children. For our daughter, they seemed to start right at the age of 3 and ended (for the most part, we hope!) at the age of 5. From what we have read, and what our doctor told us, a night terror is a frightening dream that usually happens during deep sleep and is accompanied by crying, yelling, screaming, etc. When the child / adult (it does occur rarely in adults -- we know of two people that have them as adults) wakes up after the night terror, they have no memory of the dream or of what they were doing during the "episode."

In our daughter's case, they would not only involve her crying hysterically and yelling at the top of her lungs, but often she would be kicking or hitting (us quite frequently, in the beginning) and in many instances, she would be hopping around on her bed, seemingly wide awake - eyes open - almost as though she were having a temper tantrum. And eventually, she would "go back to sleep" (although in actuality she was asleep the entire time) and in the morning she would have no recollection of what had occurred during the night. In some severe cases, she would actually sleep walk, which was very frightening to us. We put a gate at the top of our staircase, for fear that she would fall down the stairs in the middle of the night.

When the night terrors first began, we had no idea what was going on, and we would take turns going into her room to try to get her back to sleep. Both of us would be losing patience, thinking that she was awake and refusing to go back to bed. She would talk (yell) and some of the things she said sounded like they made sense -- she wasn't speaking gibberish -- and that supported our idea that she was awake. As this went on, we did some research on the internet and we spoke with our doctor, and we all came to the conclusion that these were night terrors. There is really not a lot that can be done, the most important thing is to keep the child safe. My husband and I would get around her (especially when she was hopping around her bed) and we would put our arms out, like a big circle, enclosing her but not touching her. In our experience it is extremely difficult to wake someone up during a night terror. We did on several occasions try an "old wives tale" that we read about on the internet, and that was to put her feet in cool water. Someone on an NT support website mentioned dunking their child's feet in the toilet out of desperation one night -- we just ran some cool water over her feet in the sink. It seemed to calm her down a little bit.

We also started to pay more attention to what we determined to be "triggers." We made sure that she was on a strict schedule -- we had been pretty lax about this early on -- some kids get cranky if they don't get to sleep on time. Ours would often have a night terror -- that will get you to stick with a schedule! Another thing seemed to be if she had a really active, overstimulating day. I vividly remember her having night terrors when we were out of town, staying at my brother-in-law's house -- we were in the living room, trying to watch "Desperate Housewives" and our daughter started screaming. My husband and I went in and did our "safety circle" around her, as she hopped around on the guest bed. My brother-in-law had NO idea what was going on, but my sister-in-law and I had discussed it before, so she was explaining it to him. It's hard for people that have never experienced this to understand -- he couldn't understand why she didn't just go to sleep. We realized that even though we had gotten her to bed at her usual time that night, she had been playing all day with her cousins, was super excited to be visiting the family, and it was just a little too much for her.

It has been such a relief to get through nearly 2 years without a night terror. We still keep her on a strict bedtime schedule, for the most part, and we have been very good with her sister's schedule. They say that night terrors run in families -- we are certainly hoping that is not the case in ours!

For anyone who would like more information on night terrors, there are a multitude of sites on the internet, one that I found informative is And certainly, contact your physician or pediatrician. Night terrors are extremely stressful to deal with, but you can get through them!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lunch and a Show!

Today I was treated to a lovely surprise by my 6 year old daughter. She surprised me with lunch (a bologna & mustard sandwich -- much better than her first attempt today, which was a mustard and mayonnaise sandwich... -- and a Tootsie Pop for dessert) and a play that she put on while I ate my lunch.

This was a great activity that kept her quite entertained this afternoon (wish I could take credit, but she thought it up on her own!) -- she spent a great deal of time making drawings and cutting them out, and then she used them as puppets and put on a puppet show! She had been reading one of her "My First Little House" books, which are short stories taken from the real Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but these have full-color illustrations and are great for new readers.

While reading the Christmas book today, she got the idea to make "puppets" of all of the characters in the book -- Ma, Pa, Laura, Mary, Baby Carrie, Jack the bulldog, along with Uncle Peter, Aunt Eliza, and the cousins -- and then she made up some other puppet props -- the Little House in Wisconsin (Big Woods and all), snow, etc. Then she sat in a chair in our living room and used the back of it as her puppet stage. She opened up the book and read that as a narration, and held up the puppets to illustrate her story -- it was quite creative and very entertaining!

I give her full credit for coming up with this idea, but I thought I'd pass it along as a great idea that anyone could use for entertaining their kids -- pick a favorite easy-read book, give the kids some art supplies and let them make their own puppets. When they are finished, you can help them to put on their own puppet show!

Hi-Tech Babies

It's crazy to me how far we have come with technology over the years. And I myself, have come leaps and bounds since between the birth of my first daughter, and my second daughter. Nearly 7 years ago, when I had my first daughter, I would take roll upon roll of pictures of her on our good old, "regular film" camera. Then I would get pictures printed at the store and I would have doubles made, and I would decide who I was going to share the doubles with -- some to my parents, mailing some out to my husband's family. Or, I would go back to the store (after seeing which pictures came out best) and bring my negatives and have reprints made to share with the family. Whew! It was a lot of work, and frankly a lot of money.

Not to mention how SLOW the whole process was! Most of the time, I would wait until we went out of town to see relatives to share pictures with them -- bringing albums for them to look through and copies for them to keep.

Fast forward to our second daughter! We have moved into this century with a great digital camera, that I just love! It takes wonderful pictures, and best of all, I can see what I took on the display and instantly know if I need to try and capture that moment again or not. Nothing was more irritating than thinking you are getting a great shot, and then finding out once the pictures are printed, that someone blinked, or my flash didn't go off, etc.

Another great thing about the digital age, is that now, I upload my pictures to my computer and can review what I have and print only what I want. I personally like to use Kodak Gallery. I can upload my pictures to Kodak Gallery and I can order prints online -- I get to pick the pictures I want, the sizes that I want, and the quantities -- if I don't want doubles of every picture, I don't have to buy them. I can also create a photo album that I can e-mail out to friends and family members. This is great, because not only am I able to share pictures faster than ever, but they can pick and choose pictures that they like, and order them online.

My newest find, is a website called Babies Online which is a site where you can register -- for free! -- and you can very easily create a webpage for your child. This is another great way to share info and pictures with family and friends. I created a page for my youngest daughter ( and after doing so, she is eligible to be entered into their monthly photo contests (she's in the November "Masquerade" themed contest, running this week - check her out!), which is kind of a fun little bonus of having the webpage.

It's amazing to me how easy technology has made it to keep in touch with our loved ones. I can't imagine what we'll be able to do when my girls hit their teen years!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Little More Attention, Please!

Adding to my overall feeling of exhaustion lately, is my oldest daughter’s recent requirement of a larger than usual amount of attention. She has been really wonderful with the addition of our youngest daughter, last summer. She has been a fantastic older sister, and showers the baby with love and affection. She delights in playing with her little sister and prides herself on being able to make her laugh until her belly shakes (which was even making some of the shoppers in our grocery store laugh the other day!).

When we were making the decision to have our second child, my husband and I tried to put a lot of thought into how this was going to affect our first child, as she had been an "only child" for the first almost 5 years of her life. But, in the end, we decided that another child would be as much of a gift for our first daughter, as it would be for us. Preparing for the baby to arrive, we were very thoughtful and careful about making our daughter an important part of the pregnancy -- she went with us to ultrasounds, she picked out a gift for the new baby, and she even helped her daddy paint the baby's room!

This concern and thoughfulness carried on through the birth of our new daughter and the early months of adjusting to the new addition to the family. Our girl was the first one we called from the hospital, and she was the first one to get to see and hold her new baby sister. She came back up and spent several hours with us at the hospital, and even came up on our last day so that she could help to bring her sister home from the hospital. We signed her up for some activities like, swimming and dance class, so that she would have some special, exciting things to do, and she was thrilled to be the "star" and have her own dance recital that we all attended.

Our girl seemed to adjust to the change wonderfully -- don't get me wrong, there were some "I want to be the baby again" moments, but really, she was remarkable!

Fast forward to the present... We are all used to having our nearly 16-month toddling around us, and we have all slipped back into the hustle and bustle of every day life with two working parents and kids and a house to care for. Needless to say, lately we have been noticing our older daughter practically doing cartwheels in the living room to get everyone's attention -- ours, our family, friends, you name it. And there have been some REALLY moody behaviors as well. I liken them to "Sybil" or "Invasion of the Body Snatchers..." We have been nearly at our wit's end, trying to figure out what happened to our darling girl (who can still be darling, when that personality is in control!), and finally we have come to the conclusion that it is a belated cry for attention. We realized that we had stopped worrying so much about whether she was adjusting to having another little one in the house, and we weren't making enough of an effort to give her a little more attention to help balance out the big change in her life.
So, now we are trying to be more aware of when she may be feeling "pushed aside" and we are trying to take a little more time out of our schedules to focus in just on her. Of course, this isn't always possible, or convenient, but we have found that when we are able to give her a little more attention, it helps tremendously with reigning in the other personalities! ;)
Every day with your kids is another day to learn -- I think no matter how much you may feel like you are an expert at parenting (and believe me, I am not -- just feeling more comfortable some days!), your kids can always come up with something new for you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Autumn & Winter Preparations

As my dear friend Chrissy (she's a huge fan, too!) knows, some of my all-time favorite books are the Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have 2 sets of the books, along with a number of the "My First Little House" versions, which are great for introducing little ones to Laura's stories. My 6 year old and I have been reading those for several years now, and soon she'll be on to the originals, I'm sure. Anyway, one of my favorite things to read about in the books, is how the family prepares for winter. Pa is out hunting for food for the winter, Ma is harvesting food from her garden and storing it away in the attic -- the whole family is stocking the home to keep themselves warm and well fed through the winter months. Every time I read those passages I imagine a warm, cozy, home full of love.

Our house has also been buzzing with preparations for winter and holiday season, but in our own, modern way! The Sunday before Halloween, our family went out to one of our favorite places -- Brown's Berry Patch -- and enjoyed a sunny, but brisk fall day. We went out and picked our pumpkins -- 4, one for each of us, although our 6 year old had to narrow it down from about 10... We went on a hay ride (pretty sure it was a tractor pulling us, and not a horse... quite different from the Little House days!), enjoyed seeing the animals in the barn and all of the great scarecrows -- everything from Blue (from Blue's Clues) to Harry Potter -- you name it! They have a great Barnyard Adventure, with a huge slide that you get to by climbing a rope "wall", a corn maze, the new jumping pillow, and more. Lots of fun for kids! We also picked up cider and apples -- stocking up for apple crisps and homemade pies!

My older daughter decided to paint her pumpkin this year, so that it would last longer, but I carved two of them and toasted pumpkin seeds -- my girl LOVED scooping out the "goop" as she called it, to get to the seeds -- another fall favorite! I'm not baking all day like Ma did, but I've got the cinnamon-scented candles burning at a frequent pace, which adds to the coziness of the house. Last year when we went out "pumpkin-picking" we stopped at one country store along the way and there was a table with candles being sold at a discounted price -- my daughter told my stepmother (Gramby & Grandpa were with us) "Don't let my mom see those! She's got a drawer full at home!" I go through them quickly this time of year though...

We're also getting the house ready with decorations for the upcoming holiday season. My girl and her grandpa made a lovely fall spray with some evergreens, pine cones, acorns, burning bush leaves, etc. that they glued together for a decorative fall project. And of course, our scarecrow (made by my daughter at Brown's a couple of years ago) is sitting on the front steps, ready to greet visitors.

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their two little ones who will be coming out from Long Island to join us for Thanksgiving for the first time this year. Nothing makes a home feel cozier than having loved ones come to visit!

My family and I are looking forward to a great holiday season, and a cozy winter all snug in our "little house."

I'm Back!

I'd like to apologize to both ;) of my readers for not posting for so long! It has been a hectic week around here and to be honest, I've been feeling quite tired and frankly, a little uninspired for new postings.

But I'm back and ready to try and make up for lost time!