Homemade Finger Paint = Perfect Summer Fun

It’s amazing that July is slipping away from us — and we’ve been busy busy busy. Making new gardens at our new home, putting together chicken coops, hanging (and re-hanging) art on the walls, shoving those last un-packed boxes into the attic, seeing old friends and visiting with out-of-state family, teaching, cleaning houses, having housewarming parties, birthday parties, just-because parties, going to the farmer’s market, picking berries, going to the beach. So, when the girls and I had a rare opportunity to be home, ALL DAY, alone, we found our old rhythm again and decided to do something a little bit crafty and a lotta bit messy.

Enter homemade (edible) finger paint. I figured it was something the 5 year old and the 15 month old would both enjoy. They did!

First step, find the recipe. I used this one:

I believe this originated from the easie peasie blog, but there are so many, many versions of this around the interwebs. I chose this one because it didn’t include soap, making it ok for my toddler to eat, if she chose.

Ours came out like this:

Emmaline and I decided on basic colors because she was determined to mix them to make her own, but I’ve seen some beautiful variations on other blogs. Sort of looks like crazy pudding, eh?

Here was my set-up for them. I love doing art projects outside in the summer. With a proximity to the hose.

I would show you the pictures of my girls all covered in paint, but I had them stripped down to their underdrawers…. Just trust me when I say a lot of messy fun was had.

It amazes me, always, when children think outside the box so naturally. Emmaline got creative with shells and leaves. And Tess painted her beach ball but I didn’t get a snap of that one, as I was too busy running after her.

I can attest to the fact that this is completely washable….

(White pants for this project? Ha, yeah.)

It was highly successful, all in all. I’m told it tasted “okay,” and felt “itchy” when dried on the skin but the best part of painting outside in the summer might just be running through the sprinkler to wash off.

What are you waiting for? I’ll bet you have all the ingredients in your cupboards. And some eager children just waiting to get creative. And messy. Enjoy!

(Erin)

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The Lincoln County Animal Shelter

For months now my oldest has been begging for a dog.

We just aren’t in a place (both physically and generally) where a dog makes sense for us. Although, having grown up with a dog, I’m with her. I miss the happy and abundant joy of arriving home to a dear face that has missed you and will happily smother you with licks.  My husband and I remind my dear little one that she has a cat that equally needs her love and would love to be the focus of this unbridled attention (well… maybe…) but she says, “Yeah, but SHE has claws and doesn’t like to play the same way a dog does. And she bites me when I try and pet her.” Too true. Our cat has an affection for bare feet and unguarded legs that is…well…unnerving.

After a calm quiet morning at home, both girls had a bit of cabin fever. The sun was shinning, and I was trying to dream up some fabulous homeschooling adventure. (Hard work when the biggest thing you planned on all day was going into the kitchen and mixing up the ingredients for home made coconut milk ice cream… and then putting it in the ice cream maker and walking away. SIGH.) So, with out a real agenda, I bustled two little girls into the car and backed out the driveway without a real plan. Where were we going? Hm…

As we pulled in and parked, she could barely contain her bouncy joy. We’d talked about this possibility a few times, and we had never quite gotten the day together.

A chorus of barking ensued as we neared the doorway, much to both girls’ joy. The youngest squealed in excitement and pointed with her crooked little pointer finger saying “OOOOH…..ABBY!!” (Abby is our kitty’s name, and funny enough, the word she uses to every animal we come across. Sheep, Abby. Chicken, Abby. You get the idea.)

We walk in the door and greeted by an incredible group of very happy and friendly people who work there. We tell them we’d like to volunteer, and they sign us right up and are quite sure of the perfect dog for us when I say “Probably no one who is too jumpy and nervous with two little girls…”

When they bring Brooke out, I have to laugh. She is a Saint Bernard with drool dripping off her chin. I check myself in the mama-sense that we all find ourselves doing ten zillion times a day and act like this is a walk in the park. I coo. I pat her giant head and puppy talk to her. I take the lead and off we go. My daughter holds the “extra” leash they gave her so she can “help,” but without a  doubt, Brookey weighs more then the two of us together and quite honestly it is she who is taking us for a walk.

Down the road we go, chatting and trying to manage walking with a dog this huge. A hilarious and adventuresome task, and not without a huge amount of excited joy. My daughters are thrilled. We talk about how dogs have a very alert sense of smell, and Brooke must check out each nook and cranny of this road as we walk down it. We talk about how she spends a big chunk of her day in a wired in cage so it is very important to let her enjoy this walk. The wired in cage is not uncomfortable, by any means, it is definitely large enough and has her food and water in it. A soft place to lay down. Without a doubt, the animals at this shelter are loved and cared for in a way I haven’t seen too many shelter pets be. They are not miserable, which is a relief. I have been witness to too much animal sadness in my life, and this is a breath of fresh air.

The workers are kind, respectful and loving to their animal compatriots, as well as the volunteers who come at regular intervals. From what they told me, the volunteers who come to this shelter in Edgecomb are plentiful and regular.

When we returned Brooke to the staff, my girl spent a good fifteen minutes playing with the kitties. She threw the ball and giggled and chased them around. Many of them hid. (My daughter has a bit of squirrel energy in her….) But the kittens thought she was wonderful, watching her and the ball with wide and curious eyes.

We left with promises of returning soon.

“Can we come every week, Mama? Every day?”  She asked and I smiled.

Lessons learned for each of us.

(For more information on the Lincoln County Animal Shelter, visit their webpage. They encourage volunteers and visitors at any age. Donations are also accepted in the form of pet food, dishes, leads, or other goods.)

in the cat room…

(ida)

Rain, rain, rain

It’s been raining for days. Well, seemingly.

Enough so that we feel soaking wet, through and through and the laundry won’t dry.

I’ve been laying in bed for what feels like hours before finally at four am, I slowly sneak out from under the covers and try not to wake anybody up.

This mama has an early morning almond butter and jam sandwich addiction.

Sitting at the computer, listening for the rustling of sheets, I eat my sandwich. Sip a cup of tea. Think how sometimes I wish I could sleep just a bit later so the pounding in my head would go away.

Thinking about this site, as I look over our pages. Realize that we agreed to keep the extreme personal to a minimum. Not very good at keeping to that, am I?

Thinking we need to get back our joy of the just beginning- that inspiration and drive to make changes in it and the creativity of a project.

Two mamas working out the bits and pieces of brand new homes (building, moving into, finding, repairing…etc…) and one mama drowning in working from home  and the challenges of single motherhood. Making this for a challenging project. No need for excuses, but the simple of facts. Making ends meet has always been a dilemma. We are nothing new.

Watching our children, day in day out. The adventures of homeschooling and of early toddler hood. With it’s many and very different bits and pieces. Us mamas on similar paths, but oh so very different when it comes down to the passing of days. Our menus are always different, just like our shopping lists.

The rain keeps falling.

And I listen for my wee one. Wondering when she will wake. We’ve slept terribly these past nights. One more spring cold, keeping her head full and me just from sleeping deeply.

I imagine the garden seeds I planted just before the rain. And the plants I delivered to a friend’s doorstep yesterday afternoon. He said he would put them in before the rain.

Feeling the damp soaking into our roots. Nourishing, quenching and fulfilling.  Our days full of this, the growth and sweetness of spring.

Country Road

The rain in Maine falls mainly on the… everywhere. Is there an end in sight? Despite the general dreariness of late, we did get a bit of sun last weekend and I found myself reveling in the particular luxury of only one baby, one stroller, one Sunday afternoon and one lovely coastal road to meander.

Is there anything lovelier than a country road in the springtime?

The sun-dappled shadows of trees on the road, the stone walls, the green grass, the smell of apple blossoms… balm for the soul.

In springtime in Maine, there is no shortage of newly sprung wild vegetation and flowers along the roadside to entice even the most novice of naturalists. A good Wordsworth-like walk is not complete without noticing the green and growing delights of the countryside. I found emerald moss, trout lilies, bluets (or “Quaker Ladies”), dog violets, blueberry blossoms, apple blossoms, and fiddleheads. And stone walls and old romantic farmhouses.

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I hope you find your  own country road and wish you many peaceful miles.

(Erin)

Thrifting

As many of you know, we are building a home. With two little ones, it definitely creates a challenge. A fun, drawn out challenge. (Mostly because SOMEBODY has to make sure the baby is not eating nails while mama and papa get things done.)  And somebody has to to do the phone calls, errand running, on-line research, and paint colour picking out. Yup. You guessed who. Luckily, this seems to be the part of general contracting that I half-way understand. And luckily too, seven year olds are very good at coming on yet another thrifting expedition. Stemming from my ancient memories, I realize that 25 years ago my parents took me on many such adventures. Simply because we were also building our home, and in the process our lives together. I recall being in many such places with my mother and stepfather, browsing through another families heirlooms, searching for our own.

Interesting how these things work.

As I said to my stepfather last week, I realized that through doing this-( the search for drawer pulls, the medicine cabinet of my dreams, and the wall grates) that at a young age I discovered a love of history and the heritage of the place I call home. These old houses… I fell in love, as a child, with not just the fact of the houses, but the stories they had the potential to tell.

And so, bringing my own little ones full circle to the same spot I lived in as a child. (Searching through ancient silverware, old desks and cupboards, hand planes and strap hinges…) Realizing too that my daughter sees my childhood as ancient history. Much as I did with my own mother and grandparents. I recall too being seven years old and saying to my dad, “Dad, tell me a story about when you were a kid…” and thinking it was a whole different time and universe. And in a way, it was.

(This was a recent trip to the Fort Andross Antique Market. A dear friend and I made the trip before we remembered that the flea market section is only open on the weekends… and thus, we made due with drooling over expensive and beautiful antiques. AND a trip to a certain gelato haven…)

 (ida)

A Blessing

I had planned to write a post about wonderful Easter preparations. About dyeing eggs naturally and alternatives to candy and a glorious egg hunt filled with laughing children in the sunshine by the sea. About felting sweet handmade gifts and crafting elaborate egg trees. About how Mamas are Easter Bunnies and Santas and Tooth Fairies and maybe have magical powers and stuff.

But the craft day we’d tried to plan fell through. Twice. Kids were sick, mamas overtired. It never happened.

Now my girls are sick.

(Oh, isn’t that a sad face!)

A couple of days ago they started sneezing and hacking. Then last night they spiked fevers and coughed all night and woke up crying several times (but never at the same.) Today, the day before Easter, dawned chilly and cloudy. I looked around my bedroom, mounded high with laundry piles, the girls with their fevered pink cheeks and glassy eyes and knew I had to let my expectations go.

I felt lame. Exhausted. A little depressed. Sweaty from tossing and turning with a nursing fevered baby. I forgot to make coffee and eat breakfast. Couldn’t get the day jump-started.

This is not a post about miracles. It’s not a post about the impending Christian holiday. It’s a post about uncanny coincidence. About how people are wonderful and human after all. About how something small– a gesture, an object– can hold meaning and beauty and inspiration.

When we checked the mail today, there was package from an old friend. A very lovely and sweet lady who I knew when I was a young girl but haven’t seen in years and years. Not since I “grew up,” really. But thanks to Facebook we’ve reconnected, even across the years and miles and she has seen pictures of my girls and followed our happenings online. (Social media at its best, really.) I had no idea this lovely little package was coming or what it contained.

I’m not really sure how she knew. I don’t even think I had posted about the crafting I’d wanted to do for Easter. But look what she made and sent to my girls….

(A baa baa ball for Tess!)

whooo are ewe?

(Whooooo are ewe?)

(The chicken or the egg? Who cares, they’re both lovely!)

(Doesn’t this lamb seem to skip from her egg?)

(Emmaline exclaimed, “Look! A child of the forest! And I marveled over the tiny details of an acorn-cap hat, blanket-stitched hem dress, sweetly painted bead face, “shooting” star on her collar, and how my sweet friend could possibly know that Emmaline’s favorite color is red.)

What beautifully handmade joy! What incredible timing after the long night we’d had and how uncanny that felted hollow eggs was the exact project I had wanted to get to before this weekend.

I take it back. This was a mini-miracle. A bit of fate. Almost-magic. A blessing.

Have a beautiful Easter or simply a Sunday full of unexpected joys.

(Erin)

Jenny’s Book Review

 

A good library can be a mama’s saving grace.

A good librarian? Even better.

I was reminded of this fact when I recently moved from downtown Damariscotta to a smaller town further out towards the water. On our first full day in our new home my two little ones and I trudged over for a visit to our teensy town library, which is just next door. Upon walking through the door we were all but slapped in the face by the most sullen and uninviting librarian I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering. She had the ability to make you wish you’d never come in, let alone been born. It was awful. (And apparently she’s like that every day, as we’ve proven on repeat visits. Boo.)

This experience reinforced for me how incredibly lucky I was to have met Jenny Mayher in the children’s department of Skidompha Library in Damariscotta. She – and a couple of her fellow librarians as well! – really made my life bearable last winter when I had just moved back to the Midcoast, and was living downtown with no car. I spent at least 4-5 mornings a week at the library, which is how I met most of my current mama friends. Thank you Skidompha!

But, I digress. I wanted to post about Jenny’s Book Review. This is a relatively new venture for Jenny, but you wouldn’t know it. The site is thoroughly organized, accessible, informative and just plain fun! Jenny has a way with words, a great sense of humor, and an actual interest in kids. That last bit is something you would imagine to be a given with children’s librarians, but… well… don’t get me started. ‘-)

Check out Jenny’s Book Review. Recent posts include a review of the adorable A Visitor for Bear, and a fascinating post on books, boys and brain development.

Happy reading!

 

(marisa)