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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympic Hopefuls & Idea Roundup

Happy Friday!  
I hope today brings no more sick bellies or puking little guys,
who have still smiled through it all.  
No matter what we'll try and celebrate even if just a little because...

The Summer Olympics are finally {almost} here!
This makes me grin, really big.  The Bumbo Bobsled.  Hope it makes you smile too.  

While I feel like the Winter Olympics were just yesterday, this picture tells me
they were awhile ago, look how little these gold medalists are!  

I remember E and I made the Olympic rings out of plates and he made a torch too.
I recall using tinfoil and constructions paper, like this one, he loved it. 
We competed in a few homemade games, I am sure E won them all, 
in the sleep-deprived state we were in at the time.

I am excited, but I will admit that didn't come until pretty much just now.
I feel like you don't hear much about the Olympics and then BAM! you're
inundated and held captive by it for 2 weeks!  

I rounded up some fun and simple ideas for the kiddos.  

Lovin' this typography...

:: Play Along :: 
Create your own scorecards, especially awesome 
for gymnastics and diving.  You can make these however
your little heart desires.  

Or these to keep notes throughout the games,
they are fantastic right?!  They will also fit 
into a project life scrapbook {which I don't have but awesome idea}.

As featured here by, there are loads of awesome
Olympic games printables.  Fresh off our printer is this 
insanely cute board game and their opening ceremony bingo.  

:: Food ::
 I have to say, I think these are my favorite
from an Olympics themed party, so very clever and simple.  
I bet you have ice cream cones and popcorn in your pantry,
go on take a peek.  
{a small snippet}

:: Crafts ::
I mentioned Imagination Tree's Salt Dough Olympic Medals, 
as part of the Toddler Ten and they are on our list for tomorrow.  
Click the link below the picture for instructions.  
I promise you have what you will need. 

:: Research ::
I know E will want to visit the official Team USA  and London Olympic websites tomorrow,
if only to check out all of the sports especially the lesser known
canoe slalom and handball.  Who knew?!

Or visit London via one of these reads at your local bookstore?
I am sure most have an Olympics section setup. 

Or this duo from the Magic Treehouse Series.  


:: michelle ::

Can I get an AMEN?

Thank you Jenae from the amazing and creative idea filled blog, I Can Teach My Child for pinning this and to those who pinned before her and so on.  I am just glad it reached me.  

While my actions don't always portray this, it is surely how my heart 
feels and such an excellent reminder.

And of course to Lulu from Designed by Lulu, thank you for sharing this out 
in blogland and I am happy to share your talent here!!

:: michelle ::

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Movie Night {Mom's Pick}


Right before school ended I created a little summery bucket list, 
E added some items, and it is literally chicken scratch on a piece of paper.
Nothing like the beautiful ones on Pinterest.
It serves it's purpose though and doesn't make me stressed about not finishing it all.

One of the things E wanted to know was one of my favorite movies. 
We added a mom's movie night pick to our list and 
last night we watched...

:: The Pursuit of Happyness ::

Surely this isn't the first time I have mentioned it? {smile}
That quote just gets me, protect your dreams...go get it.

There are a few scenes that aren't really great for a seven year old,
like the bra scene at the beginning, but I know the movie and 
can easily distract E during those parts, so no problem.  

We talked through it a lot, good thing we were watching at home.
Discussed some of the heavier things, homelessness, tough breaks,
hippies stealing bone density scanners
 {okay just threw that one in to see if you were paying attention}.  

I asked E what he thought it was all about and he said, 
"Even when you have really bad luck, you keep trying and don't give up."


Yes, the message is bigger and more layered than that, but a great initial understanding.
Especially for his age, it was perfect.

I especially love the scene where he loses his shoe after being hit by a car and still goes back to work, talk about commitment. People do desperate, people do amazing when life is on the line.  When trying to make a better life for your child.  

Or when he breaks down in church just hugging his child
after being short and angry {understandably so} earlier,
remembering, this is why I am doing all of this.  

The heart of this movie and real life story reminds me of
another quote I love, surely it's been posted here before
by Mr. Shel Silverstein.
There are so many great quotes about this subject matter, but why I love the movie,
why I believe in it is because it shows how.  

I know I talk to E a lot, Matt and I both do to encourage, to be brave, to persevere, and we will with all of our boys, but you also have to do it, and see real life examples of it.

I think it is a great tool to combat entitlement.

We have worked for everything, yet we want our children to have it better
without taking away what will make them resilient, strong, and hard working.

Dream it and Do it. 

And just as art imitates life, my life has to imitate this movie.
It was like the opportunity to set an example fell from the sky today.

Waking the boys up to usher them downstairs during a major storm at 5:30am.  
Two hours later, the puking begins.
And it just kept going like that, all day.

But that's just it, it was just a day and it would be over,
and well it nearly is and tomorrow, well anything can be.  
I am going to protect that dream.

Good Night Friends,
:: michelle ::

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lucky Seven Chalk Art

When I saw Dana Tanamichi's chalk art for the very first time, I just fell in love,
I thought it was so beautiful and the typography was stunning.  
I always say I was born in the wrong era, and her work embodies another 
time, and well did I say it is stunning?

I have been waiting for the perfect occasion to make some of my own.
Then we started planning Ethan's Lucky Seven Family Game Night...perfect!!

Let me start by saying I am no Dana Tanamichi.  At all.  She is incredible.  
However,  one similarity may be the time constraints we work under.  

After getting all of the supplies, Matt creating the board, {we use inexpensive plywood with a smooth surfaced thin sheet of MDF on top, it takes chalk paint lovely}, painting, letting it dry, I had one night from the boys' bedtime to party morning to create a 
the whole theme for E's party.  Nothing like last minute right?!  

Well I had been fighting a nasty nasty virus and while thankful no one else was sick it kind of threw my plans out the window, but sometimes too much time makes it harder, 
too much time to overthink.  So once his balloon surprise was ready for the next morning, 
I got to work.  

To know how she pulls off those amazing creations, I read this insightful interview to find a supply dollar store chalk, rags, fabric tape measure, and I added hairspray,
good ol' aquanet as the party was outdoors and I had no idea what the conditions would be.
I didn't want to be a sobbing rain-soaked mama mid-party spitting out phrases like, 
"all that hard work just washed away"... before E would grab me by the shoulders and say, "get a grip mom!"

So after setting up shop on our kitchen table, I got to work.  I really had no time to think about how I wanted it to look, so I just had some of her photos around me.  Then I tried to cover the {already cleaned for the party} kitchen floor with as much chalk 
and hairspray as possible. 

After I completed the top section I got a little bleary-eyed.
I blame it on the aqua net, not the hour of night.  
I started thinking about teasing my non-existent bangs
 and measuring them with the flexible ruler tape.  

Really I was hoping E would love it because I am not sure 
a chalk art family game night beats an epic air bounce-a-thon,
but I am so thankful for his faith in me to try!

He requested 3 games to play, 
Angry Birds, Minute to Win It and Hole in the Wall
so I wanted those represented on the bottom half. 

I admit it, I just wanted to draw the angry bird guy.

Here it is, in all of it's chalk dusted glory!!

My handsome and sweet birthday boy E.  

And this one just say it's my birthday!!

Worth every bit of inhaled aqua net infused chalk dust.

Thanks E for thinking mom could actually pull this one off. 
I know I don't have many of these party planning chances left,
my big seven year old, so I loved making this one count for you.

More to come on the Lucky Seven party, and think about
a massive chalk art piece to make a statement at your next party!
Just give yourself a little more time than I did!

Until soon,
:: michelle ::

Linking up to some of these lovely parties.  Stop by and see their awesomeness!  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A New Tradition: Birthday Morning Balloons {& More} Surprise!

What could be more fun than waking up to a room full of balloons on your birthday?!
Well a room full of balloons and some very special touches!

Several weeks before Ethan's Lucky Seven birthday {I will be sharing more on his family game night party soon},  I pinned this idea as inspiration for a birthday morning surprise.

I love finding new birthday traditions and creating that one 
this is so cool! factor, you know the one they will remember!
The part of the day that underlines, this day is all YOU!

First I had several photos printed from E's first seven years of life.
OK yes, then I did sit with these photos and remember each of the moments,
which led to a how did we get here so fast? discussion with Matt at about 1am..ahh...
So. many. great. memories.

When I chose the photos I made sure to include one photo from each of his past birthdays.
I had the balloons blown up in a variety of colors that scream birthday surprise!
There were also balloons to represent each year from 1 to 7, 
to these I attached that year's birthday picture.  

I still wanted to add something more.  
Recently, E attended a friend's party and we got him a few seven dollar giftcards
to fun summer favorites and he mentioned how much he liked the idea, so...

I added giftcards from us and one of his Grandma's to the balloons
as well, seven dollars to seven of his faves...and maybe a few more not pictured {smile}.

After attaching the gift cards and photos, I summoned all of the possible quiet I could muster
trying to bring the balloons into E's room while he slept.

I even turned the light on to get a photo.
Brave.  I know.  {grin}
Thank God for a heavy sleeper!

He LOVED it!  
So did the brothers, thankfully they won't remember so I can do it again times four...

Apparently the balloons also came with a lil' brother attached. 

Amazingly, E can focus in the midst of the craziness swirling around him.
He is going to have a career that requires some amazing level of concentration.
Just sitting there happily opening his cards.

My not-so-little can't-believe-he's-seven year old, 
cuter than cute, bedhead and all.  

Seriously, who wouldn't want to wake up to a room full of floating happiness?!!

It was a beautiful memorable morning!!

More to come on the Lucky Seventh Birthday!!

Surprise someone today!!
:: michelle ::

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

7 Ways to Help BOYS Focus and Grow Their Attention Span

As mom to five wonder boys full of limitless energy, enthusiasm, curiosity, just plain goofiness and amazingly strong-wills, it can be hard to get them to SIT STILL and FOCUS.
Individually, not all at the same time, then I would know the world's end was upon us.
{big smile}

No, it does happen regularly, all kidding aside and it takes work and commitment.
I am sure your home is much like ours {maybe minus the quadruplets part} where the full volume craziness ebbs and flows. I find myself distracted often and in hyper multi-tasking mode myself, so I can understand the level of skill it takes my boys to focus in on something and complete it. 

I was a little spoiled with my oldest, he is an intuitive learner, he had and has an awesome attention span.  It was kind of the perfect understanding him really well {because I am the same way} and of course much more was his brains' ability to fill in the gaps and grasp more difficult concepts.  We also had uninterrupted time and I chose to delay a lot of what I needed to do until he was asleep, that's no longer the case.  
While I know I just typed those words I seriously no longer know what they mean!

Now I have FOUR two-and-three-quarter year olds {who no longer regularly nap} and I am being more purposeful and intentional in increasing their attention spans as our day has increased.  While part of it comes from being a multiple, having 24/7 playdates with 3 other kids the exact same age as you lends to a lot of disruption and distraction {in this context, it is a very cool thing too}, I simply can't let that be an excuse.  More than anything it is a matter of consistency and effort.  

I digressed here intentionally as I know and have heard from many moms, my hand is raised high in the air here, who felt they had more time, energy, focus, attention, fill-in-the-blank for their first child.  It can be done for the rest of your crew though although I have found it takes more intention and planning.  I also know that boys {like girls} come in a wide variety, I have a couple who are more apt to sit and focus, a couple somewhere in between, and one who will either be a stuntman or an Olympic gymnast and is going from sunrise to sunset.  

Today instead of once again thinking my crew would run around like wild things and never for the love of all things good sit still ever, I decided to focus in myself on the things I know that work.  The tried and true.

The most important thing I can give is my uninterrupted time, which is nearly impossible, but not impossible.  Inevitably when I sit down with one, someone else is fighting, injured, or decides to lock himself in the bathroom, but seeing it through is important, even if for 20 minutes total.  As my husband says, "to get the omelet you may have to break a few eggs..."  or a few dozen here, but the boys may be best occupied by something messy or involved to clean up in order for me to work with one.  Here's the thing, it may seem counterproductive, but I promise it isn't.  

Increasing attention span too is something that gives back over time if you will.   Your time will lessen in a myriad of ways as their attention spans grow.  

Start with what they love.  
The interest will be greater with things they enjoy so if it's legos, imaginary play, books, or drawing, start there.  Over time it needs to become more diverse and even include things they aren't overjoyed about, but initially they will spend more time with something that really interests them.  Involve them in making the decision on what to do.  

Play games.
I subscribe to kids learning through play.  Memory.  Go Fish.  Cranium's Cariboo.  I SPY.  Look and Seek Books.  Things that make them sit, take turns {with you}, learn patience, and have fun at the same time.  Positive interactions with a quiet activity.   The skill to play games has translated in my home to a skill to sit and read independently, build complex lego sets,  work through puzzles and solo games, and more.  While it is interactive at first all of the mini skills to complete a game increase focus and attention.  

Don't wait.
As with all things learning, I do not think you need to wait to introduce anything to your child, as long as it is done in a fun and encouraging way.  They may surprise you with what they are capable of doing or ready for.   There is no set magical age when they sit down and a ready to "work on" their attention span, in fact it happens best organically taken in little steps over time.  Sitting through a full story is worked on by listening to a couple pages at first {and I'm talking board books here} and then a couple more and so on.  

Use technology to your advantage.
Our boys have been exposed to educational movies and television and iPAD apps that we have researched and deem appropriate for their age and content.  I actually do not think it is a bad thing to be able to sit through a movie or a show given other criteria {see #6 and #7 below}.  I believe in moderation and showing my kids how to use things that could be negative for the positive.  That is just us and of course you will do what you believe.  My point on technology would be to be in control of it's usage and enable it to help your goals.
Not allowing kids to switch between apps constantly or shows, or sit for extended periods of time, etc.  I know and have had the same fears that then whatever comes next to hold their attention needs to be that interesting, but I have not really seen that if used in moderation and if the other topics are presented in an exciting and creative manner.  

Seize their best time of day and set expectations.
As you know don't do it when they are hungry, sick, or tired.  Initially I would pick a time in the morning and in the afternoon and start there.  It's also reasonable and necessary to set expectations.  We are going to do this now....Let's finish this up.....We will move onto x when y is done, etc.  Always with praise and encouragement and in their most comfortable environment.  I find that key, seek out a place they will respond best and consistently work there if possible.  Yet don't limit yourself to that spot if you have opportunities while on the go, etc.  

Balance with plenty of physical activity and adventures.
I'll age myself, but we were told to get the wiggles out before sitting down during elementary school.  Boys HAVE TO play outdoors, play rough and tumble, play hard.  Now I have two that don't really do that per se or maybe because I have others that really go for it {smile}, but they still love the outdoors and love new adventures.  If you have a morning at home have an afternoon out, and let them know {back to #5}, we are going to do this now, but then we will head out to our favorite park.  Knowing that will make a world of difference.  

Delay instant gratification.  
As my oldest gets older this is a big one.  I don't have to tell you so much is flying at our boys to make them happy right now.  It's not good and it's not just technology.  It's working through something and being a little uncomfortable while doing it or having to come back to it before figuring it out.  I was at a conference recently and the speaker explained that it is in the moments of achieving something on your own that REAL self-esteem is built.  I know that sometimes boys especially won't try something like sitting through or sitting down to do something new because they don't think they can.  

Under this sentiment too is I know I can work on myself, just BEING.  It is summed up nicely here...

“Boys need to learn the value of spiritual solitude. For the soul to grow, it needs those moments of no-stimulation, of wakeful peace. Because we adults don't usually practice enough solitude—because we are always 'doing' things—we often neglect to teach our boys to find solitude” 
― Michael GurianThe Wonder of Boys

Finally, the most important piece to me is recognizing who your child is, embracing their boyhood, and not wishing anything inherent about them to be different.  
Yes boys will be boys and they are awesome.    

{DISCLAIMER: We know from research and well the fact that I am a girl, that girls and boys learn differently, develop at different paces, etc. so while these could also apply to girls, they were written in the context of boys.  Feel free to apply them in the context you see fit!  In addition, I recognize there are REAL reasons for boys and girls diagnosed with REAL issues that do not package things up this simply and there are many great resources to help that I am not qualified to speak on, I'll leave that to the experts!.}

I hope this helps you as much as it did me to write it!!!


Monday, July 16, 2012

After the Storm {in our corner of the world}

Sharing a piece of my heart here, so please feel free to wait for the next 
post sure to be about something boys, crafts, silliness, or silly boys making crafts {smile}.

I am liking being here again.  
Hearing from you.  Thank you.  

Truth is the little blogging break I took had a lot to do 
with the after storm of Liam's heart diagnosis.
I did not recognize it being that at first.

When these big things come screaming out of the sky 
I just cannot see life the same as the day before.
It's different.
It has forever changed and there is a new normal to adapt to.

Everything else keeps moving, keeps doing, keeps going unaffected.

I have a hard time thinking of blogging about a new pillow I have just made
or wanting to continue on with things I have started.
In that time and space it just seems trivial and silly.
And really I am not making any pillows 
or doing much else than putting one foot in front of the other anyhow.  

Thing is sometimes I don't want to leave that space,
not because I enjoy being morbid or sad.
Really it has more to do with the fact that in those
moments you see life in its purest, raw form.

Removing the extraneous, stripping things down to the essentials,
it's not freeing, but it is eye opening.
Living in a space where all of it matters.

If you have been with me a bit here you've known 
we have been in that place before.  
And it is in that space you survive and cling to one another
and let the storm swell around you and feel the God-given calm and clarity.  

Sometimes you don't even recognize it,
the beautiful part of the awfulness until it's behind you.  

Once I get beyond that I then just want to absorb myself 
completely and utterly in my boys, Matt, our life.
The six who live inside my heart. 

I simply just don't care about anything else.
I don't mean that literally, just that I cannot even think beyond it.  
I am also easily irritated by all of the trivial in this world,
and no I am not above it, just able to see it for what it is in that moment.

And then while sitting at the poignantly beautiful luminaria ceremony during Relay for Life, Coldplay's words echoing, my heart is full of joy and gratitude for my son who has survived six years now.  Yet the tears flow freely for the little one on my lap, my sweet Liam, because
 I want to fix him and I can't.  

Music plays a huge role for me in moving on and getting it out. 
I hear Mercy Me's Hurt and the Healer for the first time, and I lose it again.  

And I feel the Lord there with me.  
My hurt has most definitely collided with The Healer.

I still needed more time, and truly am just finding my footing to blog again.
I am torn between how amazing I know I could make Our Wonder*filled Life.  It is hard for me not to go the 110%, but then I think of the sacrifice and I am just not ready to go there. For now, it will be what it is and I still think it's a beautiful thing.

My sugarbaby Liam is peacefully sleeping after a before bed swim 
at Tia Irene and Tio Greg's home.  

The boys had a beautiful night, we did too.
They were looking for all of the stars in the sky, pure magic.

Sweet dreams friends,
:: michelle ::

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Toddler Ten

Trying a little something new and switching things up a bit.  
Usually you will find me blogging after we have done a project.
Instead I thought I would share 10 activities I am planning for 
the little {and big} crew this week and a supply list {at the end} 
of all common inexpensive items, many you have at home already.  

Sound good?

As always we will put our own little twist and spin on things so I will share
the outcomes too, not for every activity, but just some updates.
I would love to hear from you made this activities work for your crew.
Of course any activities we dream up, well I will share those after as usual.

{All activities are sourced below the photos, recipes included there.}

These are all easy to try and guaranteed fun.
Many are great for preschoolers and older children too,
as they can be adapted with different questions, levels of difficulty, etc.

Ready? So here we go, The Toddler Ten for this week...

: airplane simulation : 
If all goes as planned, we will be heading on a plane in a couple months with the boys
and just the two {of us} parental units.  We hope this will help when the actual day arrives!
This one can be moved outdoors too along with real airplane spotting.

: bookworm club :
Incredibly clever concept and fun way to continue summer reading lists.
This one is great for older children too of course.  

: salt dough olympic medals : 
These will be so fun to make and easy, salt, flour, glitter, paint and embellishments.

: puffy paint :  
Simple recipe and great for outdoors too.

:  fruit pizzas :  
Made by generations all across America {because who else could get away with 
marshmallow fluff in a recipe for pizza?}, 
a great summertime food to make with the little ones.    

We also plan to try and make a "healthier" version.  I came
across this great recipe from Weelicious using honey as the sweetener instead.

: peanut butter & banana sushi :
I ate loads of peanut butter and banana as a kid and this presentation
is super cute, you could also use nutella or a tortilla instead,
but my boys will probably like this version best.

:  water balloon target practice :  
Exactly as it sounds, awesome idea.

: firefly jar : 
We have tried to catch one firefly this summer to no avail.  
This is a cute alternative with no explanation needed the following morning.
I love pairing any firefly capturing with Eric Carle's The Very Lonely Firefly.

: noodle fun : 
This summer has been all about balloons and making up games,
this one will be a hit for sure.  
: lava lamps : 
While little ones will not understand the science behind it, 
they will think it's really cool and that sparks curiosity in science.  

This one from Little Luna {love her site!} has a fantastic picture
and great instructions.  

{supply list}  

cardstock {for bookclub printables}
construction paper
paints to make gold, silver, bronze colors 
number stamp or magnetic/wooden numbers
plastic squeeze bottles
black sharpie
glow paint + brush

gummy worms
food coloring
wheat bread
peanut butter
sugar cookie dough 
cream cheese
marshmallow fluff
assorted fruit
vegetable oil

around the house: 
filled water balloons
sidewalk chalk
empty jars
laundry baskets
pool noodles
alka seltzer tablets
sturdy empty water bottles

So, what do you think?  Will you be trying any of these activities this week?
If you do, I'd love to know!

::  michelle ::

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