Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 44
July 14, 2002

Hi folks!  Hope you're having a great weekend.  I have little girls to play with so I'll keep this short.  I found some neat stuff to share with y'all this time.  Hope you like it!


Fabulous, Free & Fun archeology resources...

The Archeology Department at this Louisiana university has wonderful books and lesson plans that are free for educators.  My husband just received the "Poverty Point" book and it's full of fantastic ideas for elementary and middle school students.  There is no charge for teachers and homeschoolers.

If you're not a homeschooler or teacher, you can still use the book online.  Every project and lesson is on the web site (most with illustrations), from constructing a model wattle and daub hut to building your own atlatl to making cooking balls and pump drills.  It's full of great stuff for when the kids announce they're bored and fantastic hands-on ways for kids to learn about other cultures and earlier times.


Here's some great tips on Simplifying Life
that have been shared on the Magical Childhood e-list:

My approach right now is to take it in steps. Once I have incorporated a change into my life where it has become very second nature, then I pick a new area.  Otherwise, I would be so overwhelmed I would never do anything.  ~ Shannon

I've been thinking about this so much the last several months.  I felt like our lives were gaining a momentum of their own, and I was never on top of anything.  Even more importantly, I felt like I was missing out on important time with the girls.  I was a stay-at-home mom who spent all my time trying to clean, organize, etc., and even though I was probably spending more time with my kids than the “average,” I felt like something was missing.

One of the most helpful things that I've done is to get rid of our stuff.  I quite honestly have donated/given away at least 50% of our things, and I still have a long way to go.  I looked at my priorities and decided that my family and friends are far more important than the stuff that I've surrounded myself with.  I used to spend so much of my day shuffling “stuff” from one area to the other in the name of cleaning.

So, I donated almost all of our clothes, put away most of our dishes, and all of a sudden life was much simpler.  (I kept extra dishes tucked away for when company comes.)  Laundry and dishes became so much easier to tackle because there were no longer any big mounds of them lying around.  Seeing how making those 2 choices made my life easier, I then decided to keep going.  I've carefully, and with the girls’ consent, given away many of their toys to charity.  Now they have far fewer toys, but the ones they have are much more used.  As each bag of clutter disappears, I feel lighter and happier. ~ Sharon

Getting rid of stuff makes a huge difference.  When there is less stuff to move around, it is so
much easier to clean (or if you don't get a chance to straighten up, it never looks that bad).  Like Sharon, we have given away most of the toys.  The only toys left in our house are legos, lincoln logs, puzzles, dinosaurs, a train set, blocks, and arts and crafts supplies.  The kids did not even miss the others.  Each toy has its own container which makes cleaning up a breeze even for the 20 month old.

Once you realize that you don't NEED many of your possessions, that they don't bring you contentment or happiness, it is such a liberating and powerful feeling.  You lose that "keeping up with the Joneses" mind set. ~ Kimberly

And here are some web sites I found on the theme of simplifying life
and continuing the frugal living theme (since they are so intertwined):

This site lists 100 ways to escape from "Affluenza" from the PBS series.
These easy ideas combine simple living with saving money.

Here's an online budget calculator that will do all the work for you
to determine how much your monthly expenses really are.

Here's a tool to calculate how much you'll save
by waiting to buy a new car, not going to the movies, etc.
Pretty good incentive when you do the math!


"Do all the good you can,
    in all the ways you can,
    to all the souls you can,
    in every place you can,
    at all the times you can,
    with all the zeal you can,
    as long as ever you can."

        (John Wesley)


Textured letters...

Many parents who like the Montessori method of education make textured alphabet cards.  Using a computer or freehand, they make large letters on 3x5 sheets of sturdy colored paper or cardstock.  They paint over the letters with glue and then sprinkle with sand.  Kids trace the letters and feel them as they learn them.

You can expand on the idea by letting kids do this themselves or by giving them rice, small beans, salt, etc. to make raised letters of their own.  They won't last as long but it could be even more fun.  You could be really tricky and try to even do a letter theme!  You know, salt for S, rice for R, black and white stuff for Z (zebra).....  <G>


This is a darling site that is full of ideas for decorating children's rooms by themes...


Magical mama Jeanne gave me permission to share some wonderful tips she posted on an e-list on the subject of how to stop yelling.  Thanks Jeanne!!!

When I get frustrated, yelling just seems to be the easiest thing to do. But it's hardly effective, and I know it has to hurt the kids.

I used to be a lot worse at it. I think some of the things that have helped me are the following:

1. I used to stay up so late just to have my own time and the lack of  sleep made even the littlest problems totally irritating. These past months, I've been trying harder to get more sleep and I find I have a great deal more patience.

2. I don't have any big expectations. I used to say "today I'm cleaning out our bedroom" or "I'm going to get the laundry caught up today." and then too many interruptions would get in the way and I'd get so angry I'd yell. Even if i just make it a goal to get the kitchen floor swept and washed- that may be too much. No expectations, no disappointments.

3. Practice preventive maintenance. I know what lack of sleep or hunger does to my kids. I make sure we stick to nap time and if we are going somewhere we have food with us. I know better than to try to do things during nap time or meal time because the kids are crazy.

4. Often times when a situation arises that can escalate, I find I am the one that can diffuse it or fan it. If someone wants something or needs one-on-one time, we will have a much better day if I just stop what I'm doing and address it. If I ignore it, they get more upset, then I get more upset and it all goes to pieces.

5. GET AWAY! Sometimes, I just can't handle one more thing and I explode! It helps so much to just get out of the house and let dh take over for awhile. I've learned that if I don't just go, I make it more miserable for everyone involved.

These are just a few things I've noticed that helps me. If none of it is of any use to you, then maybe it will help to know you aren't alone. I sometimes think too of something I read about pounding nails into a board. You can pull the nails out, but the scars will still be there. Just like our kids' hearts, every bad thing we say may get smoothed over some, but the scars will always be there.

Hang in there and best of luck to you in this. I know it's hard.


The Kidlink site connects kids, teachers, parents and classrooms from 180 countries through a series of mailing lists and thought provoking questions.  It's a fascinating program with the goal of getting children (and adults) throughout the world to learn more about each other.  This is especially suited for kids in grade school on up.


Magical Mama Claire passed on this tidbit from a friend about making your house look clean...

"For the person worried about keeping the house clean: my mother always said that a clean house is the worst sign of a wasted life.  Her mission was to keep the floors and the kitchen counters clean.  Her mom taught her that if folks see clean floors and a clean horizontal surface, they'll think that the rest of your house is clean too!  (Try it, it Works!)"

And I have a silly confession.  When I first read this I misunderstood and thought I was supposed to keep all the horizontal surfaces clean.  For the longest time I wondered who on earth had a problem with cluttered vertical surfaces!  LOL  I guess it could be worse!


"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for play."
    --Star Trek, "Shore Leave"


Corn syrup art!

Here's a fun (but potentially messy) art idea from a friend of a friend.  Have your child paint a white piece of cardboard with clear corn syrup and then let her use an eye dropper to drop individual drops of food coloring onto parts of the cardboard.  The colors will spread out in beautiful designs and will work hard not to mix with each other.  When they do mix they'll often start to separate again.  The end result is beautiful and intricate-- and sticky!

I don't know how you'd display it since ours got licked to death by two year-old Annalee before we had a chance to find out.  :)  Still, it's a wonderfully fun project.

Remember that food coloring stains so dress accordingly.


Great books!

You could get lost exploring the lists on this site, dedicated to recommending children's books for all ages, subjects and more.  Check out the link to the 100 picture books everyone should know, click on the "If you liked....." suggestions to find lesser known books similar to your kids' favorites, or just look through the lists of good books for subjects like Canadian fiction, being overweight, the Holocaust, ancient Rome, death & dying, pirates or pigs.  There's link to a mother-daughter book club, book lists that teach values, 9th grade sleepers.... What a wonderful resource!  This would be perfect to help you pick out holiday and birthday presents for the children in your life too.


Easy and fun nature craft:

Go on a walk with bracelets made of masking tape-- sticky side out.  Press leaves, flower petals and other treasures in to create fun natural jewelry.  We did this today and then carefully untaped the ends and mounted them on a piece of paper with our names and the dates, then framed them.  They were surprisingly pretty and so easy and fun!

This is such a simple way to have fun with the kids.  All it takes is a bit of masking tape and something as common as some blades of grass!  Bet you'll even have fun making one. :)


10 Ways to Make Today Magical..... Kid Style
These are all courtesy of Victoria (age 4) and Annalee (age 2):

1.  Be nice to everyone all day.
2.  Take a piece of paper and draw a star and then paint the star and then cut it out and then blot a clear star on top!
3.  Do a craft and glue!
4.  Set up a picnic and draw and color outside.
5.  Set up our tent!
6.  Magic tricks!
7.  Go outside and play on the swing set.
8.  Play ball with Miles (a friend).
9.  Turn off all the lights in the house and then find a flashlight that works and pretend it's night.
10. Slide.

This was fun for me because I saw what simple things my kids came up with for magical, fun things to do.  Ask your kids to list their own 10 things they'd love to do and see how many you can check off.


It's late at night now and we just got back from a wonderful presentation at a local historical site about nocturnal animals and Native American constellations.  Victoria and I took a long walk together at dusk.  We walked hand in hand down the gravel trail and sometimes ran.  She wanted to say prayers so we took turns giving thanks for all the beauty in the world before we rejoined the crowds inside.

It was a magical night.  We learned a lot, talked a lot, and Annalee charmed the pants off everybody she could get to.

There's a little crescent moon out there tonight.  It's a really neat thought to me that despite how you all are scattered all over the world-- Ireland to South Africa to Malaysia to Canada to Chicago-- we all have that same little crescent moon above us.  Some of you already have the sun by now, but it reminds me how close we all really are.

Good night all.


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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