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Archive for the category “Raising kids wih Creativity”

Nursing school & kids

It’s been awhile since I posted but today I had a moment of realization that I felt the need to share.

Since June of 2014 I have been attending nursing school. I will be graduating in August (yay…happy dance).  While I love school, it has taken me away from my kids. There have been times when I have doubted whether going back to school was the right decision for our family and the kids. That being said, it had made me a better mom because I am doing something that makes me feel happy. I feel much more calm and focused.

Anyway, my son, who just turned four, has had the most difficult time with the changes in our life. I have been a stay at home mom since he was born and he is used to me always being around. It has been a huge growing up year for him and it probably needed to happen but it has been painful.  To help ease his separation anxiety I have been leaving him drawings on the mornings I don’t see him.

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He never really said much about it and I wasn’t sure it was even doing much until today. I had to get up extra early and be at clinical by 6 am. I was super tired from trying to finish up a paper that was due today and even tried opening up the microwave thinking it was the refrigerator… so I forgot to draw him a picture. When I got home tonight he gave me a big hug and told me he was sad this morning because I hadn’t left him a picture.  It broke my heart, but it also let me know that even though he wasn’t saying anything, it was making a difference. I learned a big lesson that the little things matter. I guarantee that I will make a point to never forget another drawing.

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ABCs

I used to be on such a good posting schedule, and now, since I still haven’t figured out my photo software, I have lost track of what days I was posting. Oh well, I suppose it is more organic this way.

In one of my previous posts I discussed my love of reading and the library. My son and I go to the library at least once a week if not more. This last time we were there we picked out a few new books for him to check out, one of which was an ABC book. Most of them he hasn’t been interested in, but this one was all about food. He loves it, but it makes him hungry. When he was a few months old I started an ABC book for him using fruits and vegetables. Since we have to return the book soon, I have been trying to finish the one I started. I think I will see what it will cost me to have it printed and bound at Kinko’s (now FedEx), but I’m kinda leaning towards Shutterfly or possibly Costco. We’ll see.

Here’s a sample of what I’ve put together.  The formatting still needs some work as well as some of the color schemes, but you get the idea =)

A
B
C
D

Computer Success and Play-Do!

Success!  I finally called Olympus and they sent me a new program which works splendidly.  It has a lot more editing power so it’s going to take me a bit to figure out, but I am so happy to have a way to get my pictures onto the computer now.  Phew.

So…here is the post that I was planning on posting when this whole mess began.

Once again our weather has turned cooler. Not that I’m complaining, but a little warmer weather would be nice. However, I have great hopes for after school starts. It always seems to warm up to torment the kids as they head back their classrooms. This weather though is very nice for our workers who are replacing our siding, so I can’t complain. They work better in cooler weather. What it doesn’t help is my routine with my son. Normally we spend a great deal of time in the gardens playing in the dirt and yanking out weeds. With the construction that’s just not possible. We’ve gone to the park, the library, and the grocery store which is all part of our normal morning routine. It is the after-nap hours, before my husband gets home, that the construction wreaks havoc with. So today, I had a brilliant idea…Play do! I posted a recipe for homemade play do in a previous post and today we made it. It was messy, gloriously fun and kept my son occupied for a good hour or more. At first he tried to eat it, but eventually he understood that it was to play with. We had a pencil, and a plastic utensil set to make our creations. Here is what he (I only did he hair) came up with.

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I think if he might have a future in sculpting.

Happy Playing!

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

I ventured out with another mom last week for a trip to OMSI. I remember field trips to OMSI when I was a kid and I always loved it. Of course, I’ve always been a science geek.

The museum is huge with lots of different exhibits, a planetarium, and huge circular theater. The theater is an experience, but if you get motion sickness, it can be a bit much.  While most of the museum caters to older kids and adults, they have a large area for kids five and under. It allows the kids to learn while playing and help explore all things science. It’s a great way for kids to let loose, experiment and have fun all within a fairly contained area. We had a blast and now that our son is walking full-time, we’ll definitely go back.

Here is a recipe for home-made play dough from the OMSI website:

From OMSI website

The Ingredients


1 cup salt
2 cups flour
3 tbs cream of tarter
2 tbs oil
2 cups water
Food coloring or liquid watercolor (a few drops)
Glitter (optional)


The Steps


  • Mix the dry ingredients into a large bowl, stir well. DO NOT ADD GLITTER YET!
  • Mix the water, oil, and food coloring in a separate bowl.
  • Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while stirring
  • Stir until you get a smooth consistency
  • Cook in microwave on high for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove the crusty playdough from around the edge of the bowl with a fork
  • Let dough cool, and stir dough for about one minute, breaking up the lumps
  • Return to microwave and cook for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove the crusty playdough from around the edge of the bowl with a fork.
  • Let cool, and knead dough for about one minute, breaking up the lumps
  • Cook until dough is no longer sticky, about one minute
  • Spread out on cookie sheet or tray to aid the cooling process
  • Knead in the glitter and have fun!

Notes About Safety


DO NOT PUT GLITTER IN THE MICROWAVE!

Be very careful, the dough will be extremely hot after cooking, and cooking times vary depending on the microwave.

Who Needs Toys?

Is it parents or kids who want all the toys?

My parents came over last night and brought a canister filled with old cookie cutters (the plastic kind). We used them as kids to make Christmas decorations and cookies. Anyway, my son got a hold of that container and spent the next 45 minutes opening and closing the container. He would remove the cookie cutters, replace them, then put the lid on, ask us to help him open the container and repeat.

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He did this for longer than he’s played with any of his toys. I wonder what would happen if I removed most (because I can’t justify removing all of them) toys? I wonder what he would create.

Wood toys

There is something about wood toys that I like. Maybe it’s because everything seems to be made in China these days. Needless to say, I think one of the best companies on the market is .  They always have some of the most creative toys along with tips on ways to interactively play with your child. They are brilliant. Recently a friend of mine said that they were having a sale on Melissa and Doug food at Craft Warehouse. First off, not only can you buy Melissa and Doug at Craft Warehouse, but I also spied it at Michael’s and Joanne Fabric! Secondly, my friend picked me up this food set, which is the one I had been coveting before my son was born.

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Love it!

I am so excited to unwrap this and get playing!

Finger Puppet

I belong to a small group of mom’s that get together every other Monday.  It’s a great group and the kids get along so well together.  We try to have one “activity” and this week was my turn hosting.  Since all the kids are young (the oldest is 20 months) it’s difficult to find something that they all can do and have fun with.  We’re not really at the coloring, building, digging, pay attention for long stretches of time stage yet, so it’s pretty challenging.  In lieu of having the kids do the crafting, I decided to make something that they could play with later.  After browsing around online I settled on knitting finger puppets  (as seen in Knitty).

The eyes and mouth were very difficult for me, but at least they have a face.  We tried to corral the boys to read Peter Rabbit with the puppets, but mostly they just wanted to run around and climb the stairs.  Boys (sigh).  Once they get older I’m sure it will be more fascinating.

If you do have an older child, this could be a really great way for them to get engaged with books and identifying animals.  I made an elephant as well, but have yet to put eyes on him.  The ears of the bear were giving me some trouble so I have yet to figure that out.  Either way, their very quick to work up and don’t require a lot of yarn (I just used stash yarn).  If you’re looking for something quick and easy to knit, these fit the bill.

10 ways to increase creative thinking in your children

Photo Credit: Laffy4k at Flickr
Found on Abundance Tapestry (http://www.abundancetapestry.com/)

After my rant yesterday (Imagination required?) on children’s toys and their marketing I feel much better.  Since I’m clearly not crazy about these toys that do everything but dance, I decided to put together a list of activities that I feel boost imagination.  Most are not new ideas, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded.  All require some level of engagement, at least at first.  However, I have found that once the brain is stimulated, my son is less bored and able to entertain himself.

Without further ado….

1) Books.  You can learn everything from your ABCs,vocabulary, sentence structure, mental imagery and so many more things just by reading.  What’s not to love?

2) Crayons, markers, paint: A classic way to helping your child tap into his/her creative side.  You can even make a book together complete with illustrations.

3) Cooking (if old enough):  We will definitely be doing this in the future because I feel it has all kinds of side benefits.  Not only are they more likely to eat their dinner because they helped  make it, but it helps make them feel included in the family decisions.  My plan is to give start by giving him one night a week where he gets to pick (out of two options) what to cook and then we’ll do it together (me doing all the chopping and dangerous stuff).  Also, in the long run, not only will you eventually get a night or two of not having to do the cooking, but you’ll teach your child a valuable life lesson.

4) Have a dance party: When I was a kid I could occupy myself for hours with the radio.  It’s a great way for kids to burn off energy and get creative with their bodies.  With Childhood obesity being such a huge problem, this is a great solution to get your kid moving and it’s not weather dependent.

5) Make music: It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive.  Just open your cupboards and get out your pans, lids, spoons and bang away.  You can even get Tupperware containers and fill them with beans, rice, whatever makes noise, to make maracas.

6) Build something:  as I mentioned in my previous post we build and attack castles using the jumbo blocks.  The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way for kids to experiment.

7) Soft toys/ stuffed animals:  For the really young babies, make sure that you are supervising at all times.  However, building stories using these toys are great for inspiring imagination early.  My son has bugs that crinkle and squeak.  We used to create stories around them and have the bugs give him flying kisses.  Now we’re onto larger stuffed animals like dogs and bears.  He gets the giggles when the doggie pants and barks at him.

8) Let them choose their clothes:  I know, sometimes it’s hard when they want to wear things that clearly don’t go together, but as long a they don’t mind, why should we?  I think it’s never to early to start.  Right now I give my son two options every morning and ask him which top and which bottoms he wants to wear.  It’s adorable the way he evaluates each option and then lays his hand over which one he wants.  I think it gives him a sense of empowerment and there is certainly less fuss.

9) Tap into your creative side:  If you’re inspired your more likely to be able to inspire.  I know it’s difficult when most people work and the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day, but parenting is hard work.  I feel so lucky to be able to be home with my son and have the time to spend with him.  I guarantee  a little goes a long way, so even an hour is worth it.

10) Have play dates:  Not only does it take a lot of the pressure off of you, but kids learn so much from other kids.  My son is the youngest of our play group and I know that he has learned a lot already by observing what the bigger kids do.  It’s also nice to be able to have some adult interaction.  I knew I needed to start finding a group when my son started getting really interested in other kids and I started talking to my husband in simple sentences as if he was a child.  oops.

One last thought, it’s never too late to start cultivating imagination.  It will help in school and in life, and I think most everybody wants to see their children succeed.

Imagination Required?

This is a two part post because each topic is separate, but yet they feed off the other.

Part I:

The activity center:

ImageI highly dislike these types of toys.  In a world of smart phones, high speed Internet, cable TV, this is just one more flashy thing, that keeps your child “occupied”.  I feel these are more for the parents than the child.  So what don’t I like about them?  For starters, It doesn’t teach your child as much as you do when you talk and interact with them.  Secondly, it doesn’t require imagination or creativity.  When did blocks and stuffed animals get replaced with a hunk of plastic adorned with flashing lights and music?  I’m not against all of these new age toys, I just believe in moderation with a good dose of parental involvement.  We have two ‘electronic type’ toys, one specifically designed to help with balance and walking.  But, his favorite toys are the most simple: blocks, balls, and pots and pans.

Here’s what we do many times a day.  I build a castle while narrating a story

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and he tears it down

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We’re working on him helping to build the castle, but either way, this is much more fun than sitting or standing around a bunch of flashing lights.

So what was the fuse that lit this match?  On to part II.

Babies R US: 

After being told that we had to visit Babies R Us and register when I was pregnant, I went and hated it.  Not only was it overwhelming, but I had done my research and earmarked a few brands that I wanted to look at in person only to find out that they didn’t carry them in the store.  Not only do they not have them in the store, but they are allowed to only carry certain brands (their online selection is much more varied).  I haven’t been back since, until yesterday, and was reminded why.  I feel that they push brands and products by making it seem that your child will not survive without this list of stuff.  I always seem to end up questioning my parental choices and thinking, “maybe he needs this?”  So far, my child has thrived with out half the stuff on their list.

Furthermore, I feel that they are not giving the consumer enough of the big picture to make choices about what they want for their child.  It’s seems like brainwashing.  Have we become so busy that we fail to research all our options?  Take diapers for example.  I wanted to use cloth diapers because I believe it’s more kind to the environment.  There is one tiny rack, hidden and almost impossible to find, dedicated to cloth diapers and covers when really there are so many options.  I understand that this practice is not mainstream, but what if these options were prominently displayed and the sales people were more educated on all the choices?  With all the information, would you choose differently?  Fortunately for me, where I live there are plenty of baby stores that cater towards this way of thinking.  They carry a variety of environmentally conscious brands as well as mainstream. Not only that, but I find that they tend to carry many more toys that require imagination.

Between the few choices of creatively inspiring toys and the lack of options, Babies R Us, I don’t for foresee us having much of an amicable relationship in the future.

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