Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 8
June 16, 2001

Hi folks!  We're back from Ohio and have finally gotten back in the swing of things.  I thought I'd send out a quick newsletter to get going again, since there seems to be so much to do this week!

Hope you and your kids are enjoying the summer, plus staying safe from the storms.


ROAD TRIP!  How to survive 18 hours in a car with your kids  ;)

Our trip last week was long but it went surprisingly well.  Here are some things that helped us and some ideas that are great fun for older kids too.

1.  Play word games.  These are so educational and also just fun.  It's amazing how much time you can pass by taking turns naming words that start with B, for instance, to see who can come up with the most words.  To play with different age levels, have the adults come up with words of 3 syllables or more.  Middle kids can use words of 2 or more, while little ones can use any words at all.  Other word games include naming opposites, naming homonyms (words that sound the same like pain and pane) and naming synonyms.  For younger ones, you could try naming rhymes too, since those are great at reading readiness.

2.  Songs!  We brought our little kid song tape and nearly wore it out.  It's really worth it to find a tape that you can listen to.  Ours is just classics like "Twinkle twinkle little star," but the background music is soothing and the kids sing well.  It's amazing how calming it is to the kids too.

3.  Rounds.  For older kids, try singing rounds of songs like "Row row row your boat" with each person singing a different verse or at a different time. Lots of songs can be turned into rounds and it's surprisingly fun!

4.  Play 20 questions or I Spy.

5.  Read books.  Spend some time in the back seat with the kids and read their favorite books to them.  Most kids have some books they love to hear again and again.

6.  Break the rules.  I don't dole out a lot of treats but I made an exception during this trip.  I packed a lot of healthy treats, plus some plain old garbage like gummi worms.  Hungry kids get cranky, and kids get hungry a lot more often than we do.  They munched on sliced turkey, sandwiches, bananas, rolls, pretzels and fruit treats that I kept in a cooler right between the car seats.  It was so much easier than making a million stops for fast food, and much more healthy!

7.  Drive while they sleep.  If the driver can handle it, you might want to consider pulling late nights so you can ride in peace for hours at a stretch.

8.  Take breaks!  We stopped at almost every rest stop if the kids were awake.  We collected neat seed pods for Christmas ornaments at one.  At another one daddy and the kids looked for cool rocks.  My favorite memory was late at night on the way home.  I had Annalee in a nightie so she'd be more comfortable, and in the dark of some rest stop she tried to catch a wispy floating cottonwood seed that the wind was tossing around us.  Yes, it adds time to the trips, but it makes everybody so much calmer and happier.

8.  Tell stories.  Have the kids take part.  Ask the youngest child for a hero or heroine, like a pig named Plucky.  Each person takes a turn weaving the story, then passes it on to the next person.  Add funny bits to see how it evolves.

9. Get to know each other.  Take the opportunity to ask each other really deep questions.  You may be surprised at what you find out if you take turns asking questions like "What did you want to be when you were a kid?" of parents and "What do you think the hardest part of being a grown up will be for you?" of kids.  Have fun with it!

10. Teach the kids to hand jive.  Crank up any radio station and see if you all can keep up with the music while clapping and gesturing like mad.  The faster the better!


Magical Decorating:

Start collecting prisms to hang from windows.  Kids are enchanted by these "diamonds" and the way they fill the room with rainbows whenever the sun hits them.  Hang them by sturdy embroidery floss, high out of the reach of babies.  An eastern window will catch the first light of the day.


Reading Program

I am not near a Barnes and Noble to check this out, but a friend passed this on....

Anyone who is close to a Barnes and Noble may be interested. They have a summer reading program for grades 1-6 called something like a reading journey. The kids read 8 books at their grade level. Fill out a Journey sheet with the author, title, favorite part of the story, and parent signature. When it is complete you turn it in and the child can pick out a free book from a selected list of books. (25 different titles broken down into different grades 1-3; 3-5; 4-6).


Mint tea!

We have an herb garden out back and one of our favorite new traditions is making fresh mint tea.  It's so easy, and the girls just love it.

Grab a handful of mint leaves and wash well.  Put several in a tea cup (the more leaves, the stronger the flavor) and cover with boiling water.  Let steep and cool for a few minutes, and add honey or sugar if you like.  That's it!  It tastes wonderful and doesn't get any more natural.

You can purchase a little mint plant at any garden center.  Mint is a hardy perennial and will grow in just about any part of the country.  Be warned that it does spread though, so if you don't want it to take over your garden you may be better off keeping it in a pot.

Mint is also available in flavors.  There's chocolate mint (yes, it really does smell like chocolate and mint), pineapple mint, orange mint, lemon mint, and more.  You can also grow other herbs for tea, such as lemon balm.  Magical mama Sue grows chamomile and tosses some of that in her teas to relax her at the end of the day.

For best results, snip the top third of plants when you harvest.  It will encourage them to grow bushier too.


Art at any age....

While at my grandma's educational store last week, I bought an art book that's especially for little ones.  We love it!  Ours is called "A Child's Book of Art" or something like that, but I've seen all different types.  Ours is oversized and has categories like colors, eating, families, faces.... and then a spread to show different famous paintings that illustrate each concept.  I've been surprised at how carefully Annalee studies the pictures, and Victoria loves hearing the title of each work.

We had a great talk today about why Picasso painted his faces to look different than other faces, and how you can paint things to look however you think they should.  This week I think we'll try some art projects based on the fun things the artists in the book have done.  For instance, there is modern art that is composed of great shapes and colors that we could recreate with our own cut-outs.

Older kids could have fun trying their hand at impressionist painting, cubism and other nifty ways artists have found to show the same old thing in a brand new way.

Rustic gift idea for father's day.... Twig pencil holder

Here's an easy gift for kids of any age to make.
You'll need:

A clean jar or can
Two sturdy rubber bands
An assortment of twigs
Twine or ribbon

Gather up some fairly thin twigs and then have an adult cut them to about an inch taller than your jar (leave some variety in the lengths).  Garden shears are good for cutting them.

Put the rubber bands around the jar, evenly spaced from the top and bottom.  Slide the twigs along the jar, holding them in place with the rubber bands.  Make the twigs level with the bottom of the jar, so they extend a little higher than the top.

Keep adding twigs until the entire jar is covered.  Hide the rubber bands by tying twine or ribbon over them.  Voila!

You can use other sizes of containers to make vases or a planters, too.


Help kids worldwide

The Kid To Kid site was designed as a way for children to help children throughout the world.  You can donate for specific causes, such as giving money for African children with AIDS, and you can shop through their site so that a portion of the money you spend will be donated to them.  You can even purchase a $5 "Luv Box" which will send a box with an assortment of fun and practical gifts to a child for Christmas.  Check it out and pass it on!


A poem by Daryl

I usually share my poetry with you all, but I couldn't resist sharing this poem that Daryl wrote recently.

        the beach
        a moment in time

lying on the warm, damp sand I watch them,
an old, gray dog on his favorite rug...

Anna, Rhiannon, my little one...
16 months old, still learning the world,
frightened by noises and strangers
      but here...
she stomps in the puddles and laughs at the droplets,
sits in the mud and grins,
digging Anna-sized holes in the water and sand
with those tiny, incredible fingers
that hold my hand so tightly
when we walk...

a 3-year-old wonder
who rescues wiggling worms from the lake
and buries them, carefully, in the dirt
who knows quartz and agates and petrified wood
who makes up songs and stories
wandering down the beach with a branch
drawing letters and pictures of cats
and stopping to look at the shell of a clam
glistening in the sun...

and Alicia, my love, my lover...
most magical of them all,
the woman who gave me these miracles
sitting there, eyes closed, listening
to the wind and the waves and the laughter of children,
blonde hair drifting gently
in the breeze...

it's all more than I ever dreamed of,
more than I knew existed...
surrounded by love and life and living,
lying there in the warm, damp sand,
I look at everything good in the world
and smile...

@ 2001
Daryl Hrdlicka


I'm off to start lunch and go find a good breeze and some folks to cuddle with.  Have a great week, and don't forget to take care of you.



A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2001, Alicia Bayer

A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something I throw together because I love children and love good moms.  To subscribe, send a message to  We do not use ads.  It's not about money.  :)

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