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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Can you live a creative life if you aren't crafty?

I've joked that I have ADD of Craft.

What I mean is that I may WANT to knit, crochet, paint, sculpt, sew, or whatever-it-is-the-other-cool-moms-are-doing, but I can't.

No, really, I can't.

Let's take crocheting as an example, although I could replace that word with "knitting", "rug-hooking" or even "cross stitching": I decide to give it a go and buy all the supplies: the hooks, the yarn, the how-to book. I sit down and start to crochet. I get pretty good at making a long, skinny snake. But, after 10 minutes, I get hungry. I get thirsty. I want to check Twitter. My back hurts. My foot falls asleep. I get hungry again.

Guess where my crochet stuff is now? On a shelf, collecting dust.

My newest desire is a sewing machine. I could make so many cool things if only I had a sewing machine!

But, I know better.

I know I'll make a couple of dolls for the kids, maybe even sew something useful, like a curtain. And then I'll get distracted, bored, stabbed by the needle. It'll go from being fun and interesting to a chore in the blink of an eye.

Why is this?

I can sit with a book for hours and read, read, read. But drag me to a store to look at yarn or, god forbid, fabric, and I'll weep like a hungry two year old. I still remember being dragged to a craft store with my mother and wanting to lie down on the dirty floor and take a nap while her and my sister oohed and ahhed over sequins or buttons.

But, I still want my kids to be surrounded by creativity despite my shortcomings.

So I'll pour my heart into creating themed birthday parties. We will celebrate holidays that aren't ours by religion or ethnicity. My natural tendency to abandon ship kicks in right around the time the holiday or party is over, so it's a win-win for us all.

This weekend, for instance, we'll celebrate Purim even though we aren't Jewish. I'll read the story of Esther to them, I'll make Robin's Hamentaschen and the kids' can dress up in their old Halloween costumes.

In a couple of weeks, I'll throw my newly 7-year-old a Rock Star party and will go all out with crafts and games. I'll have fun planning it, but will be so glad when it's over.

But, no matter what I chose to do, you can be assured it won't involve a knitting needle or shiny new sewing machine.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Art Show

Belly, 9:




Jilly, almost 7:




and D, 5, the one that doesn't like "art":



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Monday, February 22, 2010

Sleeping on the job

I've had a cat for most of my adult life, and one of the benefits of cats is that they keep mice away. Even when I lived in a little house in the woods, I had no mice because my cat would play with them to death whenever one dared peek his little head out into Zack's territory.

I still have a cat. But, Cally is almost 19, deaf and has lost all sense of smell or "mouse instinct".

How do I know this? Well, I now apparently have mice.

Mice who steal the cat's dry food out of her bowl and store it somewhere for a rainy day.

Let me repeat that: they steal cat food from her bowl. The bowl that is approximately four inches from her head which rests on her cute little cat bed.

I bet the first mouse to take the risk of being so close to a cat was pretty timid, but now, they are probably super bold, dancing up to her as she sleeps and sticking out their little mousey tongues.


I can't even tell her how pathetic this all is. She won't hear me.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The isle of misfit toys

So, I just got in from New York, and boy are my legs tired!

Ba-dum-bump. . .

But, seriously, my legs ARE tired after walking approximately 1,023,784 steps in two days trying to see all that is new and interesting at this year's Toy Fair for the most fabulous Cool Mom Picks.

Rest assured, kiddos, there are loads and loads of cool things coming your way in the near future, although there are probably more toys that you should truly hope go away really, really fast.

I visibly flinched everytime someone picked up a bubble-gum pink toy and said, This is our girls' toy! Especially if it would be an equally cool toy for boys if only it wasn't being produced in day-glo pink (I'd personally like to make it "cool" for boys to embrace pink, but I think I'd be fighting an uphill battle on this one.)

There were plastic dolls dressed like ladies-of-the-night. I'm not kidding.

There was an electronic toy that walked, talked and rolled its eyes. But most amazing? If it fell over, it was able to pick itself up so the kids wouldn't have to lean over and pick it up. Because, we all know our kids need to move LESS.

I overheard one vendor saying how she's glad that her piece of electronics isn't considered a "toy" (even though it is clearly for kids) because it means she can skip all that pesky safety testing necessary for children's toys.

I overheard another two vendors complaining about the safety testing they have to do, and how they plan to do only what is minimally required by Wal-Mart.

But, the absolute loser moment for me at Toy Fair? It was seeing a ride-on three-wheeler bike for girls. But instead of leaving it as just a ride-on toy, it was branded with stickers all over it. Whose names were on those stickers? Oh, just Danica Patrick and her sponsor, Go Daddy. Because isn't that just perfect for your little 5-year-old?



Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm all out of love

It all started with the stack of Valentine's Day cards that we made for the Veterans Hospital in town.

Then, I signed up our family for the 2010 Homeschool Valentine Exchange. We sent ten families these (from Family Fun):

Yes, those are glow sticks. I hope they get to where they're going without cracking-and-glowing inside the envelopes. "Here kids! A plastic stick!"

While we were at it, one of my favorite bloggers asked if we wanted to exchange cards this year, and so our glowsticks are probably now stuck in Canadian customs while bomb-sniffing dogs circle the envelope.

But, with all of those cards going out by the 5th of February, it seemed we had SO MUCH TIME to finish all the other cards.

All 131 of them.

First were the 20 for D's preschool class. He wrote each child's name on the envelope and his name on the back of flying saucers. We put his little martian head on the front, and the words "You're Out Of This World" on sticky labels so he could just peel-and-stick his sentiment. I called in my free labor (daughters) to help me cut and glue his little martian head (yes, I suck at any kind of "photoshopping").

Then there were the 111 cards for today's homeschool Valentine's Day party (that's 37 kids x 3 children).

Thank goodness Belly executed hers almost entirely on her own, using cardstock, an "I think you're sweet" bird stamp, and a lollipop.

Jilly needed a little help, so we made puffy paint and decorated a zillion paper hearts which then were hung from a ribbon. She carefully wrote all 37 names in silver Sharpie after the paint had dried (warning, if you ever do this, your house will smell like shaving cream-glue for days afterward).

I knew D would smother me if I asked him to write his name 37 times, so I "cheated" and pulled out my secret weapon: Avery printable business cards. A few minutes on the computer to insert a photo and a little Valentine message, hit print and Voila!: "homemade" cards that he can shove into 37 bags today.

And, who can forget these little beauties from Cool Mom Picks' Etsy contest? We didn't--the kids have colored these to give to family and other friends who we won't see today.

It seems humorous to me that I once worried that my poor classroom-less homeschooled kids would miss out on all the fun of exchanging Valentine's Day cards.

Now, excuse me, I need to make cupcakes for today's Valentine's Day party. And fight the crowds at Target for a few little treats for my own sweethearts.

The irony? Do you think we've even started these lollipop plants? Of course not. Procrastinator's version, FTW!

FTW: "for the win" for all of you who don't waste your idle time on Twitter.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

From the mouths of over-imaginative babes. . .

At D's preschool, there is a message board outside of the classroom where the teachers place little quotes they hear from the kids. Here is the one from D:


Um, yeah, maybe I drank one too many coffees while pregnant.


Saturday, February 06, 2010

The lollipop plant miracle that mere mortals can perform

This is a reprint from last year, so it may look familiar. For anyone new here (Hi! Welcome!), we hope you'll enjoy reading about our Valentine's plant tradition and maybe make it your own. . .

When Belly was a toddler, an online friend posted a Valentine's tradition that was so easy and flexible that I knew I had to try it out. We are now in our fifth year (this will actually be the sixth), and now the kids expect it. You'd think I'd be better prepared for it each year.

It does involve a bit of deceit, so if you are someone who thinks Santa and his ilk are terrible lies for children to believe, you may want to stop reading now.

OK, here is what you do to make your very own Valentine's Day Lollipop Plant:

1. A few days before Valentine's Day, give you child a small empty flower pot

Procrastinator version*: the night before, take your saddest looking house plant and, without letting the kids see, pull it out of the soil and throw it out into the backyard to serve as compost. Or just use a cup.

2. Let the kids decorate the outside of the pot with stickers, markers, glitter glue.

Procrastinator version*: skip this step; it is almost bedtime!

3. Once the decorations have dried, carefully fill the pot with several inches of fresh potting soil.

Procrastinator version*:
search garage, basement and shed for potting soil, to no avail. Either reuse the soil that was once the life force of the dead plant now lying in your backyard, OR, go into the yard with a spoon and chip off a half-inch of hard dry dirt from the frozen ground.

4. Give your child some tiny cinnamon hearts and have him push some into the dirt. Blow a kiss and water them a little bit.

Procrastinator version*: Oops! No cinnamon hearts? Use anything sprinkly or red and hope your kid is too young to notice the difference.

5. If you have started your plant a few days before Valentine's Day, you can make the plant start to grow over several days. The first night, cut up a few lollipop sticks into various heights. The first night, put the smallest sticks in the dirt so that the plant seems to be 'sprouting'. The next night, replace those sticks with slightly longer sticks. . .keep this up for a few days.

Procrastinator version*: You did not start your plant a few days before Valentine's Day.

6. The night before Valentine's Day (Valentine's Eve?), replace the sticks with several beautiful lollipops. Go to bed and know that you will be woken to the delighted shrieks of "it grew! it grew!"

Procrastinator version*: The night before, sneak out to the local
CVS after the kids have fallen to sleep and buy the last sad bag of lollipops (which are not red, heart shaped or have anything to do with Valentine's Day but beggars can't be choosers). Fall asleep but wake with a jolt at 6am and realize you forgot all about the damn plant. Tiptoe down the stairs, and carefully jam some pops into the dirt. If necessary, shield the plant from view with your body as you do this so your child does not see his mother's lame attempt at creating "magic".


7. Let your beloved eat lollipops before 8am. They will love you for it.


* taken from personal experience

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Friday, February 05, 2010

I'm Aiming Low today!

We're already running late for preschool this morning, but I had to take a moment to give a little "Wheee!" that one of my posts is appearing on Aiming Low today!

"I Love My Type B Kids", which originally ran here in July, is up on this most-awesome parenting website as part of their "Three Day Weekend" series. Please stop by and say hello and check out their other fabulous writers who always start off my day with a laugh and a wink.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Playing hooky

"My legs hurt", Belly complained this morning.

I looked at her skeptically. She had just skipped down the stairs into the kitchen, and only raised the issue of her legs after I reminded her she had dance class tonight.

"Where do they hurt?"

"Here. . .and here. . .and, um. . .here", she said as she pointed to vague area of her legs. Maybe her legs hurt. Maybe she just doesn't feel like going to dance. Maybe she doesn't feel like going anywhere.

I can't say I blame her for wanting to lay low. After too-many-days of go-go-go, I think we've hit a wall. Other than some school work this morning and a bit of laundry, none of us want to go anywhere. Even D waited until 3:30 to get out of his pajamas.

I prodded Belly a bit more and discovered she had a slight misunderstanding with a girl at dance; nothing major, but maybe enough to make her legs "hurt" a bit more. She won't admit it, but I think she just doesn't want to go to class today.

And, since we never, ever randomly skip classes, I think today we will. And give her a "legs" a few extra days to heal.