Category Archives: Crafts

Baking With Children

Sometimes when I don’t feel like I have enough stress in my day I will have my boys help me bake something. Today it was scones. I have long since learned that having both of them help at the same time leads to fighting over whose turn it is to break the eggs, pour in the sugar, or stir the batter, and inevitably something gets spilled.

Perhaps I should have them take turns, you might be thinking. Oh reader, I do. I do. But my kids have this uncanny ability to both forget who poured in the last ingredient, literally 30 seconds ago, and both be 100% sure that it is their turn and that we are trying to sabotage them by insisting that it’s not.

So our rule is that only one boy at a time gets to be assistant baker. Today the younger insisted that he needed to stand right next to the counter and watch even though it wasn’t his turn to help. 

So see, this was easier because I had one boy scooping flour and sugar, and the other boy standing to the side talking and asking questions constantly. Questions like, What are you doing? Why are you doing that? What kind of milk is that? Why do you keep the frozen blueberries in the freezer?

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So between trying to stay one step ahead of the boy reading the recipe and doing the things, and correcting his mistakes, I was trying to answer the other boy kindly when I really wanted him to just leave the kitchen, my goodness why do you need to be in here?

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Then after rolling out the dough and cutting it, the helper is rolling around on the kitchen floor on his hands and knees like a naughty puppy. Normally I’m okay with this, because it cleans the floor as it dirties the child, but I’d rather not have floor filth in my scones, so we pause the recipe to wash hands.

Now, when you and I wash our hands, we understand that there is a sequence of events that must take place every time in order for our hands to truly be considered washed. You turn on warm water, you scrub with soap, rinse, and then for goodness sakes, dry them.

My children, however, reserve such fanciness only for important events, like presidential visits, or Christmas.

So out of the bathroom he comes, dripping water everywhere, and when I tell him to dry his hands he rubs them down his shirt. Did you use soap? I ask, and receive a blank look in return.

Back to the bathroom he goes, with instructions to use soap and dry thoroughly.

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Blueberry scones are completed, my kitchen is a mess, the younger boy is still chattering away to nobody in particular. I hope you didn’t come here for 10 Tips for Baking With Children, this ain’t that kind of blog. You should actually head over to my friend Brit at Little Mountain Momma. She’s awesome at doing stuff with her littles, whereas I tend to say stuff like, Can you not? and You gotta get outta here, you’re making me crazy.

I guess I should end this by saying something like, It’s worth it, bake with your kids! And it is. You get to eat scones at the end, so there’s that.

 

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In Defense of Valentine’s Day

Like it or lump it, Valentine’s Day is coming this weekend. That commercialistic, sappy holiday sponsored by Hallmark. It also happens to be my birthday, so clearly this is my favorite holiday and I think it’s worthy of celebration. It doesn’t have to be a commercial mess like a certain December holiday, and it doesn’t have to be solely about romantic love. Let’s take a look at where it all began.

The history of Valentine’s Day is murky and muddled, but it’s clear that it started in Rome as a fertility festival called Lupercalia. It was celebrated as most Romans festivals were with nakedness, drunkeness, and sex. Oh, also the women were whipped by men with the hides of newly slain animals, all in the name of fertility, of course.

Later, St. Valentine was added in to the festival. The church was not, and is not, sure which man named Valentine this saint was named after, apparently there were several that were martyred for their faith in some fashion or other.

St. Valentine was made part of the celebration in an attempt to Christianize the holiday. Pope Gelasius the First did this in order to “put the clothes back on” the festival even though it remained a drunken party. By the way, that is the funniest description of how Christians took something over, isn’t it? Can we please describe all Christian cultural things that way? GodTube is like YouTube but with clothes on. Creation Fest is like Woodstock but with clothes on. (Yeah, those are things.) Terrible Christian movies are like the ones from Hollywood but with clothes on. I could do this all day.

Anyway, by Shakespeare’s time, Valentine’s Day was becoming more about romantic love and continued to do so until Hallmark got ahold of it in 1913. And here we are today. My point in all this is not that we go back to the origins and bring back fertility beatings, but that the holiday really has no set agenda to it, outside of Hallmark’s bottom line. Which means, at least in my figuring, that you can do whatever you want with this day.

wp-1455304679672.jpegIn our house we use Valentine’s Day, and really the whole month, as an opportunity to tell our loved ones they are special to us. Our boys have been making cards for weeks, mailing them, delivering them door to door, and passing out chocolates. We tell them that sometimes we have special sweethearts on Valentine’s Day, and sometimes we don’t, but that’s not really the point. The point is that there are always people in our life who we can show love to, because God’s love never stops for us.

Every Valentine’s Day I make a card for Tim (take that, Hallmark!). It’s usually silly, I’ve usually stolen the idea from someone on the internet, but it’s fun, and it’s us. Here’s last year’s card. And honestly, I love the idea of giving something, anything, on my birthday. You should try it too.

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Full disclosure: I did NOT come up with this. I saw it online and redrew it. You should follow me on Instagram if you want to see this year’s card. It’s going to be awesome!

So I challenge you to look at this day differently. If you’re tempted to complain about it, instead do something about it. Send an encouraging note to a friend. Buy someone flowers. Make something. Bake cookies. If this is a special day to you and your significant other, great! But don’t forget that romantic love is not the only thing worth celebrating. How can the two of you work together to bring joy to someone else?

Take this day back. How will you celebrate your Valentine’s Day? Let me know. And enjoy your chocolates.

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My sweet friend blessed me this week with these beautiful flowers, and now I’m reminded of her friendship and love every time I look at them.

By the way, if you’re wondering about my sources. I used this and this for my history lesson.

 

Homemade Christmas Ornaments (Or, The Time I Let My Children Throw Paint Across the Living Room)

I took up watercolor and acrylic painting a few years ago as a way to deal with stress. It’s something I really enjoy, when I’m by myself. When my kids want to paint with me, it actually has the opposite result. Stress. So I try to find ways to have stress-free painting sessions. I want to share this one with you so you can perhaps try it with your own kids.
Or husband. Or dog?

I started with these, a 20-pack of iridescent glass ball ornaments. I chose 35mm size (really small) because little Christmas balls are adorable.

I then let the boys pick out 3-5 paint colors and added a bit to the inside of a ball.

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And of course, what is a craft without glitter?

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We found that the big glitter flakes were no good at all, they simply became coated with paint and disappeared. The small glitter, however, stuck around, as it usually does.
I’m still finding glitter around our kitchen.

My original plan was to loop a string to the top of the ornament and swing it in circles.

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This worked for a few of them. But then an enthusiastic twirler swung the string too fast and the top came off the ornament. There was a moment of silent horror as we all watched a paint-filled glass ornament sail through the air across the living room and into the kitchen. It landed on the stove…and somehow didn’t explode paint everywhere. Phew, that was a close call, but I made the decision to put an end to the string method.

Plan B
I gave them the ball to hold, and they started shaking.

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This then led to them throwing the balls across the carpeted floor (if you know my children at all, this really isn’t surprising). I unclenched my fists and let it happen, and found that this worked surprisingly well. The paint was mixed in really beautiful ways and I got to hear those beloved giggles that come from my boys having fun.

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It was a fun day. And we’ve been having fun giving away the ornaments too.
Sharing the joy.

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Do you have a favorite Christmas craft?

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