Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 31
January 25, 2002

Hi guys!  Sorry to be away so long.  It's been a hectic couple of weeks!  We had a wonderful time in New Mexico and then celebrated Annalee's second birthday last Saturday.  Things are finally slowing down to normal here and I've been scrambling to put something together for you.

If you sent me messages these past few weeks you may have received multiple copies of my reply or none at all.  My send box was a little loopy, so I apologize if either happened!

Hope you're all doing well, and now on with the newsletter.......


More good books to check out of the library.....
Here are some of our current favorites.
If you Give a Mouse a Cookie and all the sequels
The Tamarindo Puppy This poetry book works in Spanish words wonderfully.  I suspect it's out of print but I think Chinaberry books might still have some (paperback) and libraries should be able to find a copy somewhere.  Victoria loves it.
Alphabet City  A neat book!  It's city photographs where you can see a letter shape in each picture and it has a wonderfully different mood.  Also a Caldecott honor book.
Draw me a Star  One of my favorite Eric Carle books, and the girls agree.
The Dragons are Singing Tonight  Poems by Jack Prelutsky and a book we never tire of.  This is one to buy, and it comes in paperback so there's no excuse not to.  <G>  A nice thing about this book is that it's sophisticated enough for all ages and works for boys and girls, young and old.  I read all these deep messages into them but my girls just like the stories.  :)
Sleeping Dragons All Around is a paperback I just got for Victoria and every child I've met has tried to run away with it.

Do you know about the Dr. Sears site?  This is always the first place I look if someone asks how to soothe a colicky baby or I'm dealing with some new and excruciating kiddie phase.  The nutrition section has some marvelous ideas on how to teach nutrition to little ones in really fun ways, and the section comparing nutrients in every brand of formula and breast milk is helpful and fascinating.  I highly recommend it!

"Feed flowers, pick weeds. The conduct of a growing child is full of undesirable and desirable behaviors -- weeds and flowers. Given good nurturing, flowers grow so well you hardly notice the weeds. But often these flowers wilt at certain seasons and the weeds become more noticeable. If you just wait until that season is over, the weeds subside, and the flowers bloom again -- sometimes so beautifully that you forget the weeds are even there. Sometimes the weeds grow more quickly than the flowers, and you have to pull them out before they take over. So go the behaviors of a growing child. Part of disciplining a child is to weed out those undesirables that make a child unpleasant to live with so that the desirables flourish and make the child a joy to be around."
--Dr. Sears

Fun with Phonics....
Here's a neat toy to make with your kids to learn to spell simple words:

Do Your Children Love Fairies?

If so, check out these beautiful coloring pages that you'll want to color too!

And here is a site filled with fairy crafts (make a fairy wand or wings and much more), recipes, coloring pages and a club to join!

And in a similar theme, there's this delightful poem....


In a corner of the bedroom is a great big curtain,
Someone lives behind it, but I don't know who;
I think it is a Brownie, but I'm not quite certain.
(Nanny isn't certain, too.)

I looked behind the curtain, but he went so quickly--
Brownies never wait to say, "How do you do?"
They wriggle off at once because they're all so tickly.
(Nanny says they're tickly too.)

-A.A. Milne, from When We Were Very Young

Getting a break from winter?  We are!  Here are some ideas I've come up with to occupy us outside in the next few days since we can escape our cabin fever.   :)

She'll be spinning round in circles when she comes....
Daryl has been playing this game with the girls lately.  He sings "She'll be coming round the mountain" but changes the verses each time to silly things for the girls to do.  Some examples are jumping up and down, standing on her head, pounding on a drum, clucking like a chicken, and so on.  The girls add their own verses and love it!  It's a good way to occupy them for ten minutes while I finish supper during an otherwise hectic time.

It works for us.....

To get the girls to put on shirts or coats when they're being stubborn:
Hold them out and let them "run" into them.

To get clothes over their heads or pants on:
Make a habit of mock shrieking "Oh no, where's the baby's hand?!" and then as you pull it through, say with a relieved sigh, "Oh there it is!".  Little ones love this so much they look forward to losing limbs and getting dressed.  ;)

To brush their teeth long enough:
Count to 60 while you brush their teeth, then to 60 during their turn, then 60 again while you finish.  Annalee would fight me off after 20 seconds but with the counting to distract her and tell her just how much time is passing, she complies easily.  As a bonus, it teaches about time!

To get them to eat more veggies:
Serve them first while you finish supper.  Kids can snack on chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, lettuce, baby carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, snap peas, water chestnuts, etc.  If they must have dips, try cottage cheese, hummus, applesauce and other healthy stuff, especially since they'll probably suck it all off and leave the veggies.  <G>

To get them to drink water:
Daryl calls it "icicle juice" to get Annalee to drink it.  Hey, it sometimes works!  We have sport bottles and kid canteens to make water drinking fun too.

Are you teaching your kids to love housework?  Well, why not?!  :)

If you're like me, you grew up with a mom who did most of the housework for you, completely floundered when you were on your own for the first time, and loathe having to do this stuff now.

Oddly enough, our perfectionist parents may have done the most to sabotage our abilities later.  When they did it for us because they could do it better, they robbed us of the practice of learning how to do it right.  When they grumpily did it for us, they lost the opportunity to teach us how to enjoy it and master it on our own.  When they kept it out of our daily routines, they made it into something we would have to force into our lives later instead of an easy part of the day like brushing our teeth or taking a bath.

We are not doing our children any favors if we keep them from the "drudgery" of housework.  Seeing it as drudgery is the first disservice we do them!  Like it or not, we will have to do dishes, tidy up our living areas and wash our clothes for our entire lives (unless you're my husband- G).  Let's not spring it on them at 18 like a booby prize for growing up, or saddle them with it as punishment or duty.  Let's re-learn it together with them and make it fun..... or at least tolerable.  ;)

Here are some ideas for how to teach kids housework and living skills....

~Let toddlers vacuum with the dustbuster.  They love it!  Annalee is in charge of stairs and baseboards and she actually does help.

~Build housework into daily routines.  Make it a habit that when you get up from meals you scrape your plate and stack it by the sink, that before bed everybody makes sure the floor is clean, that you make beds as soon as you get out of them.  Start routines when the kids are itty-bitty to make it second nature.

~Make cleaning fun.  Let kids put socks on their hands, spray them with Endust, and have them dust with their hands.  Let them "sock mop" the kitchen floor by wearing socks and little else, dipping their feet in a bucket of warm soapy water (safe for skin!), then sliding around the floor.  Montessori schools actually have silver and brass polishing areas to occupy kids.  It's very rewarding to get something shiny clean!

~Don't be a perfectionist!  Praise kids for their efforts and fight the urge to correct, redo or finish any cleaning job they do.  If they see you, they'll get the lesson that they're not good at it and not want to do it again!

~Don't be a martyr.  If you gripe and groan for all the cleaning you have to do for your family, you teach them to hate something they'll spend a good portion of their lives doing.  This is something I'm so guilty of but I'm really working on it.  I don't want my kids to have my attitude!

~Find the spiritual in the mundane.  I read somewhere that one woman visualizes all of her troubles on her dirty dishes and then washes them away.  Use mindless tasks to give your mind a break.  Put on the Walkman while you vacuum and lose yourself in old music.  Daydream while you mop the floor.  Pray or meditate while you iron, wash or scrub.

~Ask for help.  Point out to your family that you can all do fun things once this stuff is out of the way.  Say thank you and don't judge your partner's cleaning abilities either.  When I find fault with Daryl's cleaning abilities it's usually another year before he tries.  ;)  In the meantime, you'll be showing your kids that it's everybody's job and how quickly it all gets done together.

10 Ways to Make Today Magical.....

1.  Get some waterproof markers and gather up your kids' plain socks (and your kids!).  Divide them in two piles and inside each sock write a word-- nouns in half and adjectives in another.  Let the kids pick the words.  Some examples for nouns could be: frogs, kiss, homework, love, dog and for adjectives: slurpy, bouncy, pink, magical, and gigantic.  To easily write the words, turn them inside out and put them on the child's foot.  Write the word across the sole and turn back.  Now each morning the kids can pick two socks and see what kind of silly message they spell.  All day they'll have secret silliness in their shoes with nobody the wiser.  ;)

2.  Make up a couple dozen fortunes and stash them in cereal boxes, snacks, the cookie jar, etc.  Make some especially silly (Beware of odd rabbits today.  You will have a monkey on your head....) and some sappy (Your mama loves you more than peanut butter cups.  I'm proud of you...).  Slip some in drawers and leave some for your sweetie, too.

3.  Dig around for old costume jewelry that you can take apart and hang it from the lights and in the windows.  If you have any glass prisms, hang them to catch the light and scatter rainbows in the morning.  Drape old pearls and beads in surprising places.  You can never have too much whimsy in my book!

4.  Go find a fallen branch, pot it (use anything as filler-- blocks, bags of rice or beans, rocks, whatever, then drape fabric on top of the pot), and decorate a Valentines tree for somewhere in the house.  Tie ribbons or strips of old red fabric on it, drape more of that old jewelry on it, even add some white twinkle lights.  A small one can be a centerpiece or a large one can decorate a lonely corner of any room.

6.  Start a tradition that for one hour, one night a week, you live like "the old days."  Turn out the lights and use candles and lanterns.  Read books, play games and just talk.  Let the kids make some outfits that feel authentic (even an oversized dress or nightie can give that Little House feel) and cook traditional old foods.  If you like, you can even pick up period novels and read those before or during the blackout.

7.  Help your child hide a message in the house for a future resident.  Talk about how sometimes people have found newspapers 90 years old in walls as insulation, how there might be stuff in the attic from their grandparents' childhood, and how years from now some little child might find her memento.  Even apartment dwellers could probably lift a section of carpet in the closet enough to slip a note in or squeeze a signed photo behind the bathroom vanity.

8.  Let him overhear you bragging up a storm about a recent accomplishment or what a fantastic kid he is.

9.  Pick some old, grungy, dark colored clothes and let them use markers to draw designs, words or pictures onto them.  Paint over the designs with bleach (you!), let sit until faded, and then launder well.  Voila!  New, funky jeans and fun clothes!  Reverse idea-- use light clothes, permanent markers and skip the bleach.

10. Completely dress them up, either all dolled up in formal clothes or in a fun costume, and take them anywhere.  The more boring the location the better!  You'll all love the comments and attention!  Make up an excuse together for what you'll say.  Call it family dress up day, say you're on the way to a party (and then have one at home) or tell them some woman on the internet told you to do it.  That'll make you look sane!   <G!>


And now, any minute I'm expecting my herd to return so I'm going to sign off and sneak in some internet time.  :)  Have a wonderful week, folks.  Don't forget to take care of you!!!!!!


A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2002, Alicia Bayer

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

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