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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

VALENTINE'S CRAFTS

It may not be the hippest thing, but our family is full of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” fans. One of the interesting things they do is celebrate alternative holidays. In other words, they have a winter festival called Snowflake Day (Christmas/Hanukkah), Dress Up Day (Halloween), and Love Day (St. Valentine’s Day).

So, of course, our son doesn’t call it Valentine’s Day; it’s Love Day. I kind of like it even better. They sing about the different ways that you can say “I love you.” Hadley prefers hugging. Like, everyone. Family, friends, strangers… I know, we’re working on it. 😉

With “Love Day” coming up this weekend, I thought it’d be fun to share some fun crafts from around the blogosphere for you to do with your little loves.

shake-it-up-hearts

via Sunny Day Family

I can’t WAIT to try this one. It’s a great way to repurpose/recycle materials (I’d totally keep and reuse the jar for this particular purpose). I’d also do this one for St. Patrick’s Day after having the little man hunt for a “blarney stone” to use instead of the candy hearts. And, yes, I’d explain what the real blarney stone is. My maiden name is McCoy, after all. 😉

newspaper-hearts

via You Are My Fave

Hey, look! More repurposing! Who knew newspaper could be so pretty?

carolynsarrows

via Carolyn’s Homework

There aren’t any directions here, but it’s pretty self-explanatory: felt arrowhead/tail + twig (or straw) = super cute Cupid’s arrow. Maybe add some glue to the mix.

pocketofpreschool-heart

via Pocket of Preschool

There are some other awesome ideas on this post particularly aligned to literacy and math skills, but the project I like is the squares-in-a-heart one. Great for fine motor skills and simple enough for kids to try on their own. Add that “I love you to pieces!” and you’ve got a sweet, adorable card.

funkyhearts

via Little Bit Funky

We did this craft last year and it holds a special place in my heart (pun totally intended). I had or little guy do the painting and I cut them and assembled them since his skills were still minimal. We gave them along with a little candy and a card to grandparents and a beloved cousin. Add some string and you’ve got some fun decor, too.

Thirsties Love Day Crafts

How will your family be celebrating “Love Day”? Any super cute crafts in your futures?
We’d love to hear!

Hey, guys! I’m so glad that we could catch you in time to tell you about a fun day of celebration.

Tomorrow (Feb. 2nd) is The 2nd Annual #ClothCommunity Day! Woohoo!!

#clothcommunity

Image courtesy theinquisitivemom.com


The whole idea behind this day is for cloth diapering families to come together (in person and/or online) to promote the awesome idea that there is no right or wrong way to cloth diaper. It’s a great day of support and awareness that will also hopefully help #makeclothmainstream!

This year, the theme is FAMILIES OF CLOTH, with an emphasis on reaffirming our commitment to being a diverse, unified community. Isn’t that so empowering?

It’s super easy to participate. All you have to do is share positive affirmations through your favorite social media site(s). Pretty simple, right? Just handwrite or print a sign (which includes the hashtag #clothcommunity) telling folks that you support cloth and, if you choose, a positive reason that your family has chosen the cloth route. Snap a picture holding your affirmation and share, share, share away using your favorite social media, remembering to include the #clothcommunity tag so that we can see your support.

It can be as simple as “We are a cloth family! #clothcommunity” or more personal, like these ideas from Mindy Farmer at The Inquisitive Mom (the brains behind this awesome event):

– Our babies are treehuggers from birth. #clothcommunity
– Cloth diapers help meet our child’s special needs. #clothcommunity
– Instead of throwing away thousands of disposable diapers, our twins reuse cloth diapers. #clothcommunity
– Military families save money with cloth diapers. #clothcommunity
– Cloth diapers help support our family. #smallbusiness #clothcommunity
– Families of Cloth are diverse. #clothcommunity

Here’s mine!

clothcommunity

While showing support for the diverse, supportive #clothcommunity, we at Thirsties would LOVE to see some of your very own Thirsties-loving families represented. So, while you’re writing up your post, be sure to include #thirstiesbaby along with your #clothcommunity hashtag!

Hope to see you at The 2nd Annual #ClothCommunity Day!

winterfun
Now that we’re deep in the throes of winter, it’s only a matter of time before the kids start climbing the walls. (Okay, okay…parents, too.) As much as we’d love to live the life where we can summon the energy to bundle up and take full advantage of all nature has to offer on a daily basis, it’s just not plausible. Unless you’re Wonder Woman or Superman. In which case, you rock and I’m jealous. Reeeaaally jealous.

But, since most of us aren’t fictionalized characters, it’s nice to have some ideas in our arsenal to fight off kids’ cases of the “I’m Boreds” and the dreaded “How Does One Literally Bounce Off Walls?!” Many of these ideas are for younger kids but can be adapted for the older crowd, too.

If you were in the line of this past weekend’s storm, in particular, today’s tips for some indoor fun around the house might just help you restore your sanity.
COLOR SORTING HOPSCOTCH – This teaches colors and sorting skills to younger kids and is just a blast for the older ones. This mom made a race out of finding toys and assigning them to different colors (using simple colored construction paper). You could make it simpler by only using one or two colors at a time and having a pile of toys all ready, or more complex by making it a scavenger hunt. Either way, good times!

OBSTACLE COURSE – You knew this was coming, right? Look around your house with a new eye, asking yourself: “What can kids use to go over/under/around/through?” A footrest, a tunnel (or makeshift tunnel using chairs and a blanket), a laundry basket, streamers…the list goes on. If you have older children, give them the task of putting the course together; they’ll get twice the fun out of it.
 
PAPER BAG PUPPETS – Have your kids get their “art” on by creating their own puppets with whatever you’ve got hanging around the house – paper bags, socks, whatever. Up the creativity factor by having your kids name their puppets, giving them personalities and a storyline, then putting on a show with their new buddies.

PLAY HIDE-AND-SEEK – If your child’s too small to do this on their own, have them pick a partner and let the odd man out be “it”. When our guy was smaller, we’d also assign the on-limit rooms for hiding so that he didn’t end up in a room with breakables or something he could get into. And, he may be larger now, but we still do this trick: hide a toy rather than yourself. This makes it much more fun if you have a small house with few hiding spots. We may not be able to hang out on the bookshelf, but our dinosaur friend can!

DANCE PARTY – What better way to forget the depressing chill outside than to throw on some tunes and boogie out? Up the “summer” factor by trying out a Pandora station like The Beach Boys Radio or Oldies Party Radio and give the kids a firsthand history lesson while you’re at it. 😉 Sesame Street Radio and Broadway Radio are also popular at our house.   

handson
Hands on as We Grow (There are literally hundreds of ideas at this link!)
BOWLING WITH BOTTLES – Here’s a favorite that I loved when I was a kid, it’s exactly as it sounds: clean, empty plastic bottles can be set up as a “bowling set” and knocked down by rolling whatever type of ball you have handy (we used a tennis ball, but any play toy works).

HOT LAVA / PRETEND ISLANDS – Okay, who hasn’t played this before? Poof, the floor is molten lava (or water, if that’s less scary for the littles). They have to hop from pillow to pillow (or blanket) to stay “safe”.

boredom busters indoor activities for kids - toddler approved
TAPE TRACK – Lay out a design of painter’s tape on the floor and grab whatever little cars or trains you have lying around. There, you’ve got an instant track for the kiddos to “race” around!

MAKESHIFT BLING – Got some penne hanging around? “O”-shaped cereal? Grab some thick string and make some bracelets and necklaces! This is a great fine motor activity, and you can also have kids practice making patterns.

BUILD TOWERS – As kids, we used to do this with our Little Golden books (open, then stack the next open one on top at an angle), but Toddler Approved has a great idea to use cups for stacking. Heck, I’m sure you guys can come up with even more things for your kids to make towers out of, right?

WHAT’S YOUR FAMILY’S FAVORITE INDOOR ACTIVITY TO WHILE AWAY WINTER? 

Today in America, we honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Because it’s a national holiday, this allows many of us to enjoy a day off. But, many don’t realize that, beyond being a means of celebrating the peaceful fight that Dr. King and the many others who fought to win African Americans their equal rights in America, it’s also a day of service in his memory.

When I’m not on maternity leave, I teach in a school library. I usually discuss Dr. King and the others who have helped for the fight for equality from now through February for Black History Month. Through media, plays, role play, and, of course, great books, I’ve found that you can actually open up the topics of fairness, diversity, equality, and service to a wide range of ages. Most children are able to understand not only these concepts but the fact that American history isn’t always a gleaming display of perfection and righteousness, but rather lessons from which we can learn.

Here are some of my favorite books and lessons to help broach the topics of inequality and injustice and to help your children understand more about the day, the man, and the cause.

Courtesy the National Archives

Image Courtesy the National Archives

 

Preschool and Early Elementary (pre-K – 2nd grade) – While this age may be difficult to open up the topic of his assassination and even racism in general, introducing children to Dr. King and his cause(s) is appropriate.

The concept of fairness is a very understandable one at this age, so helping it hit home with a little social experiment always gets the children thinking. You can do this in simplified or more complex ways, but here’s an example: I might tell students that anyone with dark hair may get books in the usual sections, but those with light hair may pick books from the discard box (consisting of old, worn books) and have a chat about how each group felt and discuss empathy.

Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches is also a wonderful, subtle way to teach the idea of racism and equality.   

Elementary Age (2nd grade – 5th grade) – This is a good age to introduce Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Also, many of the incredible books that have been written about King’s life are perfect for this age, in which the conversation about his tragic death can be started (using great sensitivity with the earlier ages). Here are my favorites, but feel free to use them at whatever age you feel your child is ready:

Martin’s Big Words – My all-time favorite Dr. King book, this is a boiled-down biography that talks about the “big words” that shaped King’s outlook on life and the big words that he shared with the world.
My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart – It’s always special to hear about a famous person from someone who knew them personally; in this case, Dr. King’s niece. It’s also from the perspective of a child, as she was when she knew her great uncle.   
– Ruby Bridges – Anything regarding this brave girl’s story of integration at a young age really hits home for students of the same age. Younger readers can try The Story of Ruby Bridges while Through My Eyes is great for the older readers.  
Henry’s Freedom Box is a stirring story of a slave who mails himself to freedom that resonates deeply with readers.

Older Kids (middle/high school) – One of my favorite ways to teach any topic are to bridge different forms of media. So, I’ll hand kids the lyrics and crank up U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”. It’s an incredible conversation starter to discuss not only the poetry behind the lyrics but the dignity and, well, pride that Dr. King embodied. After teaching this with students, I can’t help but cry hearing the song now.

Upper elementary and middle school grades are also good to introduce books about slavery, the Jim Crow south, and racism. There are a plethora of classic historical fiction and autobiographical books, such as The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Brown Girl Dreaming, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, All American Boys, A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl and many more that offer various perspective on race and injustice.          

Any Age – Since the date is a day of service, it’s a great opportunity to discuss the idea of giving back to one’s community, and why it’s a fantastic way to commemorate King’s life of service. Brainstorm ways that your family can take some time out to serve your own community. Some ideas include:

– Donating books to shelters, after-school groups, hospitals, and nursing homes;
– Writing an article for the school newspaper about volunteer opportunities in your area;
– Reading favorite stories aloud for a story-time event at a local library;
– Helping adult language learners at a community center;
– Sending letters to American troops stationed overseas;
– Becoming a reading buddy to a younger student at your school;  
– Interviewing elders in your community to create a book of oral histories  

…among many others!

Are there any ways that your family honors this day (or any day!) with an act of service? If so, what do you do?  

This time of year is rife with resolutions. Some hope to get organized. Others want to get their finances in order. But, what’s the #1 resolution in the country, year after year? To lose weight and get fit.

So, now that 2016 is a couple of weeks old, maybe the gym is getting old. Maybe you don’t want to spend the money on a membership. Still yet, maybe you simply don’t have the time to steal away to the gym. In my case, I don’t focus on the weight, but rather the health. I’m hoping to get my body used to being non-pregnant again and grab some extra energy wherever possible. It’s not a resolution here; just happens to be that my doctor gave me the okay to exercise again.

Whatever your reason for wanting to be healthy, I thought it’d be fun to share five ideas for getting a little physical activity into your life without having to hit up the gym.

non-gym


1. Dance party!!! This is my favorite! Whether alone or with the whole family, try turning up your favorite upbeat music and dancing out that stress. Heck, we’ll put on the Sesame Street station on Pandora Radio and shimmy around the dining room table; it clearly doesn’t have to be your FAVORITE, as long as it gets you moving. Or, if you’re doing laundry or dishes, crank the tunes and get your feet moving while your hands do the work. After awhile, you’ll forget the goal was to exercise.  

2. Get outside. Okay, this one’s tied for my favorite. I often feel like a walk around the block does more for me, mentally, than would a trip to the gym. So, whether you run outside solo or take your family for a walk on a nature trail, our bodies seem to reap additional benefits when we spend time with nature. Even in winter, things like snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, and more will help keep those seasonal blues at bay while getting your heart rate going. And remember that walks can be taken in almost any weather; if you’ve never walked through the peaceful calm of a snowstorm, you don’t know what an uplifting experience it can be. (Just be careful out there.)

3. Use technology. There are so many resources, paid or free, available online to get you moving. YouTube is full of channels that offer the services of trained professionals and personal trainers that can give you your favorite exercises to do in your very own home. Whether you like yoga (do this during naptime or after the kids are down for bed; it’s tough to meditate with kids around) and Pilates or challenging cardio workouts, just search and ye shall find. Also, use your smartphone to download your favorite songs or a workout app, or choose a wearable device that will help keep you accountable, if that’s what you prefer.

4. Play games. Okay, sitting playing Monopoly won’t get your heart rate going, but get your family to put down their devices (you, too, unless you’re doing #3 *wink, wink*) and try some games, whether dorky or not. There was a time that families made their own fun by playing charades or going bowling together. Find a board game that challenges players to get up and do goofy skits or run around. (Our latest favorite is “The Cat in the Hat Can Do That!”) Try some touch football in the yard, grab a frisbee to toss around, or set up a lawn game. By making it a team effort, you’ll not only be getting some exercise; you’ll be making connections and memories with your family, another top-ten New Year’s resolution.

5. Be a kid again. The thing that always gets me is that many of us were in the best shape of our lives when we were kids. Sure, when spring hit and we ran outside for the first time since autumn, we were a little winded, but did we care? Did we focus on how many minutes we ran around the playground or how many “reps” we biked around the block? Not a bit. So, much like #4, try having some fun the good, old-fashioned way. Chase after your little one, go on a hike with your teenager, or go camping and try rowing the canoe. If you go for a run, focus on the music you’re listening to rather than how far you’ve gone. The ideas are endless and help make exercising less of a dread.

6. Fast is better than none at all. Even if you only have 10-15 minutes to get up and exercise – be it like warm-up in our old gym class days with jumping jacks, stretches, arm rolls, and running in place – a little, quick activity is better than none at all. There are tons of quick exercises available on the Internet, like simple, fast workouts, exercises to do with your baby, and even exercise ideas for you to try while doing chores (although vacuuming IS the exercise for me).

 


What are your favorite non-gym tips to get yourself moving?