Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 33
February 18, 2002

Okay, as usual I'm a few days late and a few dollars short. This was supposed to start with.....

Happy Valentine's Day!

Good thing you don't pay for this thing! :)

Hope you're all having a good week. This week we've got
St. Patrick's day ideas, some crafts, homeschool info, links and more.

First though, I want to send the warmest wishes to magical Mama Lisa, who suffered a stroke earlier this week.  Lisa's wonderful, whimsical Saint Patrick's day idea is included in this newsletter.  She is such a loving, inspirational mom and she could use prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery.  Lisa, you're in our thoughts.

I also want to welcome two new babies to the world!  My cousin Ed and his wife Vicki had their fifth child, Margot Maelyn, last month.  And magical mama Claire had baby Elizabeth Antonia on Monday.  These two little girls are coming into such wonderful families!  Makes me want to hurry and have another.......  <VBG>

And now, on with the newsletter!


Make a kissing balloon!
I love this fun and easy idea sure to enchant kids of all ages.....

St. Patrick's Day fun
From Magical Mama Lisa:

"One thing we do for St. Pat's day is that I hide a little treasure box (a decorated baby wipes box) filled with tiny toys and candy and little notes and tell the kids to find the treasure the fairies left.  I put out glittery confetti sometimes to help lead the way (if I think my ancient, cantankerous vacuum will be up to it later).  They really enjoy it!"

And more (original author unknown):

Leprechaun Pudding

one 1-ounce box of sugar free instant pistachio pudding for every five children
1/2 cup of milk per child
1 small, resealable plastic bag per child
1/2 cup measuring cup
1 spoon per child.

Put tablespoon of pudding mix in sandwich bag and milk, then close the baggy and have kids shake and squeeze, then eat.


Sung to I'm a Little Teapot"

I'm a little leprechaun
Dressed in green,
The tiniest man
That you have ever seen.
If you ever catch me, so it's told,
I'll give you my pot of gold.


I'm a little Leprechaun short and green,
Here is my shamrock but I can't be seen,
When you pull my feather, hear me scream (everyone scream)
I'm a little Leprechaun, short and green.


Some ideas for St. Patrick's day themes.....


Got crayons on your walls?  Glue in the carpet?  Poster paints on the paneling?  Find the solution to virtually any stain problem on Crayola's interactive stain guide.  It's one to bookmark!  And they didn't even pay me to say so.  ;)

Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either.
~Golda Meir

Psychologists say that it takes 6 weeks to learn a new habit.  Lately I've been keeping that in mind when the kids are exasperating me.  Whether it's remembering to shut the door or saying excuse me, it helps to remember this is all new to them and it's not going to become second nature in a week.

~ ~ ~

Kids make the world a better place.....
This page has links to web sites galore that help kids help others in all sorts of neat ways.  There's the dog walk for cancer, ways kids can help end hunger, inspiring news stories of kids who made a difference.... Great stuff!  :) ahooligans/Great_Kids

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Something you may have noticed by now is that almost nothing I write about costs money.  On the times you need anything extra at all, it's things that are as available from thrift shops as in malls.  I never want a lack of money to be able to keep anybody from using any of the newsletter, but the main reason is because the stuff we need to give our children to make their lives magical is all free.  It's not a sound bite or a gimmick, it's the truth that so often gets buried in this consumer oriented world we live in.  To have a truly magical, happy childhood, the only things children need besides their basic needs are our attention, time, love, protection and a good dose of humor and imagination.  Never buy into that nonsense about worrying whether your kid has the best birthday party or the flashiest toys!  Don't let your kids buy into it either.  No product or purchase can ever compare to the magic of mom snuggling and spinning you stories before bed, dad teaching you about the stars, Grandma dressing up like a werewolf and jumping out at your big brother.....  :)  The rest is filler!  Never forget that!

Overheard at lunch:

"It's made by gorillas.  That's why it's called a gorilla cheese sandwich!"
    (Victoria, 3 1/2)

Want to know more about homeschooling?

    Homeschooling has been growing at a rate of about 15% a year and it's a lifestyle more and more families are choosing.  It's become an option for single parents, working parents, conservatives and liberals, and families from all income levels and ways of life.

    I always secretly wanted to homeschool but I thought that it wasn't an option for us because we didn't need to.  Our small-town elementary school is right across the street from us and is quite good.  I thought my kids would be outsiders and we'd be "that weird family that homeschools."

    But I kept meeting fantastic parents online who were homeschooling and were having such wonderful experiences with it.  I did some research and found out that there are homeschoolers in every county of my state, even out here in the boonies.  I joined a Minnesota homeschool list and found a fantastic mom of little ones who was only a little over an hour away.  I started an e-list of Attachment Parenting homeschoolers and met all these families who were homeschooling and thriving.  Now I can't imagine not homeschooling.

    It's not anything against the schools.  We want to homeschool frankly because we canWe've been teaching our children since birth and doing a very good job of it, if I do say so myself.  We enjoy their company and want to have the supreme honor of being the ones to teach them about life.

    There are also so many opportunities that will be open to us through homeschooling.  We can continue our fantastic travels.  My girls can learn about raising sheep, the gold rush, spinning wool, and California when we visit our good friend Claire and her daughters.  We can go to the beach to learn about fossils and sea life.  They can learn through life-- volunteering, visiting farms, touring art galleries, working, building and creating, taking community classes and by actually seeing and doing.

    I'm no longer worried about the "socialization" issue.  I've learned enough that I now know it's only an issue for those who aren't familiar with homeschooling.  Most homeschooled kids are active in many groups like 4-H, Scouting, dance and gymnastics, and even band and other school sponsored activities (the law requires that extracurricular activities be open to homeschooled children).  There are homeschool groups that get together to teach certain subjects or just to play.  There are neighbors, friends, relatives and all the people they see each day.  Every study done so far has shown that homeschooled kids are better socialized than school children.  As a rule, they are friendly, polite and enthusiastic kids-- depending, of course, on what sort of home they live in (same as any other kid).

    Is it expensive?  No, it doesn't have to be. Check out the book Homeschool Your Child for Free for lots of free resources.  Some states even give homeschoolers money back. There are lots of swaps and second-hand sales online.  Libraries give you an unlimited supply of books and materials free, and through inter-library loans, almost any resource is available.  The internet is full of sites for teachers and homeschoolers with free lesson plans, worksheets, charts, and projects.

    Are you qualified to do it?  Pfft!  Of course you are.  Were you qualified to teach them the first 5 years?  Were you qualified to help them learn to talk, walk, use a toilet, have manners and throw a ball?  You can purchase a complete curriculum and follow that if you're nervous, but you'll probably find that anything you don't know you can learn right along with your child.  Chances are you'd be the one helping them with their homework and doing the multiplication drills and such at night anyway.  How is it different?

    Studies have shown that even parents without a high school education have homeschooled kids who score higher than average on national tests.  However, parents who are less educated who don't homeschool have kids who generally score lower than average.  Homeschooled kids tend to test higher, no matter what the educational level of the parent.  Colleges are now actively recruiting homeschooled kids, since they do tend to test higher and are often better students.

    Parents are choosing to homeschool for dozens of reasons-- moral and religious ideals, safety concerns, and quality of education are always high on the lists.  More and more parents are now choosing it for a simpler one, though.  We want to be with our families.  We want to be the ones influencing our kids-- not the government or three dozen third graders.  I don't want my kids to grow up feeling that being different is ever a bad thing, or that being smart is something to hide.

    Another neat thing about homeschooling is that it's just plain easier.  Even the strictest homeschool families generally only spend about 3 hours a day on schooling, because that's all they need.  With the focused attention and without all the time spent on disciplining 30 kids, learning is faster and simpler.

    Learning can also be much more hands-on and creative.  Kids can learn fractions while cooking and doubling recipes.  They can learn biology by gardening and raising pets, geometry by designing and building, and history by reading novels and visiting historical sights.  They can help direct their own learning, choosing subjects that interest them.  If they're obsessed with dinosaurs you can go get a bunch of dino books at the library, do dinosaur crafts, visit the zoo and study animals that are theorized to be related.  They can use math skills to figure out how much older one kind is than another, learn about fossils and carbon dating, and on and on.

    There are as many types of homeschoolers as there are types of parents.  Very few do a traditional schoolhouse approach with desks and lectures, but those types exist.  There are many great ideas on homeschooling and this site explains some of the most popular types.


    We're planning on being pretty eclectic-- mixing some unit studies, Montessori methods, unschooling and others to fit our family.

    Do kids need to be homeschooled to have a magical childhood?  Oh good grief, no.  Do what works for your family.  But if it strikes a chord with you, too, you might be pleasantly surprised by how much is out there to help.

    Many of you have written and told me that you're homeschooling or planning to.  I'll share some of my favorite homeschool links in future issues, along with plenty of ideas that will still work for those who aren't homeschooling.

    For now, here are a few that I really like....

Homeschool Help from Sassafrass Grove:
Advice for new homeschoolers:
Hummingbird Ed for toddler to kindergarten teachers:
Homeschooling: A light at the end of the tunnel (comprehensive links broken down by religion, country and more, including e-lists): hooling/

When I look back at my own childhood, I see that I was homeschooled too.  My grandmother taught me to read at 4.  My mother taught me to spell by endlessly quizzing me as we talked, and corrected my grammar until it was second nature.  My own books taught me most of what I retained about history and literature.  I learned to love poetry by listening to classics at night before bed, watching my mother cry over "The Highwayman" and getting caught up in the lovers' plight in "Curfew Must not Ring Tonight."  In school, I was always years ahead of my grade, quietly sitting and answering questions while dreaming of running away to someplace where nobody made fun of me for being so weird.

I want to run away with my family and revel in how wonderfully weird we all are.  I want my kids to keep their passion for books and butterflies and rocks.  I want them to be out in nature to learn about nature, out in life to learn about life.  And I want to learn it with them.

Will it be all I dream of?  Oh, I'm sure it won't.  So far every part of parenthood has been completely different from the idealized dream I developed first.  But so far every part has turned out to be even better. 

It's a journey I'm so glad to be on.

Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.
--William Butler Yeats

Box Project Update:  If you remember, I wrote in one of the summer newsletters that I had signed up to adopt a family through the Box Project, a non-profit organization that matches impoverished families with mentor families who can help out with supplies, food, and moral support.  While I'm normally a real cheapskate, it seemed like such a wonderful way to help that I couldn't resist.

It took several months to get the information on my family but it arrived in the end of December and we wrote a couple of letters back and forth.  I sent the first care package last month and they seemed to really get a lot out of it.  The mother wrote that her middle child, a 12 year-old boy who seemed to be hit the hardest by their difficulties (which are extensive), seemed happy for the first time in a long time when he saw the art supplies I sent him.  I'm really glad to be a part of this.  I'll keep you updated.

The address again is

New crafts!  There are two new crafts up at the Magical Childhood web site-- snow crafts and how to make a puzzle ring.  We've also been adding pictures to many of the articles and crafts, just cuz it helps illustrate the crafts and is just plain fun!  Look for more additions in the coming weeks.  Thanks to Daryl for putting up with my frequent requests and design changes, and doing such a great job with the site!  ("But we have to have a beige background for St. Patrick's day, and can you change that border, and can you change this font and add this picture and ......").  Love ya sweetie.  ;)

10 Ways to make today special....

1.  Start a family journal.  Buy or make a beautiful blank book and leave it out where everybody has a chance to contribute when they feel like writing.  Use it to note milestones, daydream, muse or just record a lazy spring day.  Encourage the kids to write in it however they like.  When the book is filled, start a new one.

2.  Let your kids pick a language or country that sounds fun and go to the library for books about it.  Read familiar stories in new languages, serve meals from the region and try to dress and talk like a native.

3.  Make sock puppets and put on a puppet show together.

4.  Start a family game night and after supper play charades, Monopoly, Twister, Chutes and Ladders, poker or whatever else suits your fancy.

5.  Let your child make you over!  Give him mousse and hair gel, hair combs, makeup, scarves, you name it.  Let him go as wild as he likes.  Just do it on a night where you have nowhere to go!

6.  Build an adventure course in the living room.  Make up a story to go along with it.  For instance, trail a rope, scatter papers, put stuffed animals around and put a doll on top of something tall a the end (try to find a MALE doll to rescue!).  Tell your kids they have to walk the dangerous rope across the riverbed, hop from rock to rock through the crocodile infested waters, climb the cliff, rescue the trapped tourist, past the wild animals, through the caves and so on.  They can find new things to add to make it more and more exciting.

7.  Come up with a secret symbol that represents how much you love your children.  Put it on their shoes, inside favorite books and so on.  If they have to be separated from you and miss you, make sure they have some things with them that have the secret symbol.  This works as well for kids going off to college as going off to day care!  Children secretly like it when their folks are hokey.  In today's world they need it more than ever!

8.  Check some books on tape out of the library and play them while the kids are doing chores, helping with supper, etc.  It's a great way to introduce reluctant readers to books all over again.  Try to find ones that are part of a series, so if they like them they can go check out books to continue in the series.

9.  Sign up for a class with your child.  Many craft shops, lumber stores, and community centers have free classes.  You can learn anything from woodworking to plant propagation.  Let your child pick the class.

10. Gather up some art supplies and head out somewhere to sketch something beautiful or unique.  Courthouses, cemeteries and sculptures are some possibilities and you can paint or color them later at home if you like.  It's a nice way to spend some lazy time together and talk or just be.  Frame the results.


And now, I really should send this out and stumble off to bed.  Take care, chickadees, and 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.  :)

Feel free to pass this on.  Don't steal it, that would be rude.