imagination wins again

The month of September is scattered with our family’s birthday’s pretty heavy, allowing for some interesting experiments in the inner workings of a child.  Having many hours in a day to observe, play with, and clean up toys in our house I have the chance to see the interesting dynamic in adding a few new toys to the batch. Course our present was a complete bust considering it came in the mail broken and missing pieces.  Although quite the bummer all he really wanted was birthday cake anyways.

Overall, he (and let’s be honest, Lee) was thrilled with the prospects and possibilities of new adventures he could think up in that little mind of his.

He opened his gifts, relished in the glory only a birthday boy can, then declared, “Birthdays are too much pressure and too much cake.”  A more true statement has never been said my friend.

But then there were two toys that arrived a touch late.  Just after the sugar high of some cake ran out, just a few days after the party, enough time to let the dust settle after all the excitement, just perfect timing for a mama to see something very real occur.

Ready for it?  I will be critiquing these two toys in three categories.  Initial interest, length of attention, and longevity and construction.  You see, this might seem… intense (to say the least) when discussing something so insignificant and trivial as a little birthday gift, but as those who know me would agree, I am slightly obsessive in these things.  There is no denying this.

Besides, let us be real, the use of most toys is so short-lived in a child’s life and then they spend the rest of their days (not) rotting in a landfill or worse, floating in the ginormous trash island in the sea.

In addition, the majority of toys contain actual toxic materials that could honest to goodness affect your child in the future.  Lots of studies have gone into the effects of plastic and fertility issues and of course the ever looming issue of cancer.  Finally, I can’t help but factor in the capability to captivate a child’s imagination.  This is the goal of a toy, no?  I would go so far as to sum that up as the definition of a toy; something that sparks the imagination.  Yes, I like that just fine.

So here it is.

Toy A– Plastic airplane that comes with a (working) drill.  Battery operated.

Toy B– Box of dress up clothes.

I should add that both of these toys came from the same loving person.  These were very thoughtful and generous and I am in no way judging her (or anyone elses) choice to purchase whatever they would like.  Although, my family will probably be nodding their head with a slight smirk on their lips thinking in their head “minus the parameters you ask in giving to your family missy”.   Well truth be told, I do try and remind my loved ones of these issues and they do respect our wishes 99% of the time, and quite frankly I appreciate that so very much.

Ok, enough with walking on eggshells.  Onto the experiment!

Initial Interest

Toy A- Intense amounts of interest.  Fights over the drill were extreme.  Clambering up onto the kitchen table in order to get closest to said object.  insistence on hurrying, put the damn batteries in on the double!  Then he proceeded to stand there holding the drill staring at it while pressing the button for no lie, 5 minutes straight.  Then little brother grabbed it and put it in his mouth while pressing said button down which of course disturbed him like no other but he couldn’t figure out how to stop pressing the button or even how to get it out of his mouth he was so overwhelmed! Ensue chaos.

I know.  It’s rough huh?

Toy B- Gasps.  Lots of pausing and pondering at each item removed from the box.  Sharing.  Freely sharing.  Joy at seeing a safari hat or a fire fighter hat on each of us before moving on.  Curiosity over magicians wand, binoculars, telescope.  Reference to a stethoscope was made and interest in the similarity of the words.

Length of attention

Toy A– I am going to be honest.  It is I that has to interrupt the time limited to playing with this one.  I can only take so much.  I break up a fight just in time for another to begin.  So, I will estimate when the two of them are together it can last maybe up to 10 minutes.

Toy B– I cooked an entire supper tonight without any fighting, crying, or whining.  My boys played happily with the different dress up clothes the entire time.  We even finished up and took the fun outside where I got to do this for quite some time.


It was a straight up miracle.

Built to last?

Toy A– I am sure that this toy is difficult to break.  There is no question about that.  But factor in the batteries and keeping track of all the pieces (painstaking) I would have to say no.  This one will not be in the rotation in a matter of weeks.

Toy B– While the hat may be made of straw or felt, materials that will break down eventually, I can honestly say this one will probably be in our house for years to come.  It is no secret that we will one day add another child to our family and this is of quite a bit of importance.

You see?  Imagination wins every time.

What do you think? Come on.  Tell me.  Am I being outright rude?  Am I paranoid?  Do you agree?

I really want to know.

sit back and watch the magic

The bane of a crafty mother; imposing your trade, hobby, passion for, onto others.  Particularly your children.  I coax Miles into many a projects and more often than not I find myself being short of a stellar mother.  I tend to hover.  At times I instruct.  I don’t mean guide, I am talking full on direct instruction.  Pretty much the opposite of what I believe in as a Mama.  As a teacher.  As a fellow human.  But for some odd reason, it pains me to watch such misuse of glue or other ridiculously inepensive cheap art supplies.  I fight against empty space on a page.  I urge (With a stern voice.  Really a stern voice? During craft time? Fun, craft time?) for him to use the scissors just like I do.

While the waldorf-ian in me does want to impress upon him the proper way to hold a crayon, brush a stroke, or draw say… a horse (or a tree, pretty much the two things Miles consistently wants to draw), the other half of me is tempted to just walk away and see what happens.  Back off mama.

So yesterday, I did just this.  And you know what?  There was no massive mess.  Glue was not all over his hair.  General chaos did not occur.  Just a little fun.  Fun without his hounding mama leaning over his shoulder showing him the “right” way to do it.

It was much more enjoyable for me as well.  After a few minutes of just hiding in the kitchen making vanilla custards (so good…) unable to even view the possible desecration of the elmers, I ventured back and I delightfully laid my eyes on this:

A cut up poster that had seen better days and the canvas that wouldn’t die.  It has been used for three projects in total.  Now, it has found its resting place on a wall in our kitchen.

And just because its beautiful.  The perfect place for a tire swing I believe.  


ain’t nothing like the real thing

Arm in arm we stepped into the world of paintbrushes and little colorful glass jars, of stacks and stacks of textured papers, shelves lined with neat packages of earth toned clays, perfectly sharpened pencils in every shade under the sun, sticks of chalk, and jars filled with brushes of all shapes and sizes.  There are not many retail stores that can compare to the magic of an art store and yesterday I got to introduce this vision of beauty to my boy, Miles.  After days of painting on pilly construction paper with barely visible watercolors I decided we both needed a little inspiration.  It was time to splurge.  With that we headed on down to SCAD art supply store.

My little mans eyes lit up like matches when we wandered down the rows of mysterious supplies.  We settled on the proper section for water-color painting and my little jabbermouth fell silent.  I had to agree.  Those miniature glass bottles are so unbelievably appealing.  They are screaming to be handled and examined.  Somehow my little man resisted the urge.  I believe you could see my pride wafting out every single one of my pores (in addition to a touch of fear that remained knowing full well this could end in the blink of an eye).

Not wanting to go too far over the top, and believe me it was difficult, I simply purchased some primary watercolor mixes and a package of loose sheets of water-color paper.  I have long surpassed the title of frugal (perhaps teetering on the edge of cheap skate), so this was quite the purchase.  I don’t mind though, I know it will be enjoyed for months and months to come.  We drove home, had a long afternoon nap and my little man awoke with a renewed love for art.  “Rowan wants to watch us artin’ mama”, he repeated several times.  This was clearly my que to retrieve our new materials and start mixing.  So we did.  And we smiled.  And we had a wonderful time.

Happy Monday!

a lady just waiting (and waiting… and waiting…)

I dread the possibility of having to sit down in this very same place in the near future and deliver the sad news that we did not receive the house we have been vying for.  This is not to say we won’t be cozying in either.  I just can’t help but think that yes, that is a very real possibility and I must be prepared.

Regardless, the waiting has been more nagging than the last weeks of pregnancy.  (At least I think it has… but you know how those things fade from our memories oh so quickly)  I find myself obsessively looking at my phone and constantly berating my dear husband while he is hard at work.  Or supposed to be.  That is until I call him and say something along the lines of, “So.  I found this giant bug.  Sort of looked like a scorpion but with no pinching claws.” or “Oh man.  There was a painted bunting at our feeder!” or even as pathetic as, “Ummm….   so…. Where did you put Miles doctor toys?”.  Yes, I have harassed and contrived mini conversations with everyone I can get a hold of just to keep my mind off the impending bankers decision to be made.

In addition to my phone calling madness, with the heat at a minimum this week, and the bugs about the same, the littlest boys and I have been able to spend hours on end outside doing what we do.  Having to stay close to home in case of emergency banker email or quick initial and scan we had to stick around the home front a tiny bit more than often.

a couple of rainstorms

some “spray paint”  (and oh my!  If looks could kill!)  

a week where even lentils were exciting.  well, lentils that turned out to be split peas… but thats another story altogether

and a whole bunch of lazing around

The week’s end may bring us some peace of mind.  Or it may not be until the start of next.  At any rate, these sweet faces are still mine-all-mine no matter the outcome, and there is nothing wrong with that.  

feeling loomy

Something out of nothing.  Yet another piece of goose bump inducing advice from a sweet little children’s book borrowed from that giant bookshelf in the city.  I find that every third week (when I decide the trek is necessary and of course…to avoid those late fees) we manage to randomly grab a few utterly fantastic books.  In between games of tag through the isles (absolutely love those…) and scrambling to keep track of a fast crawling baby we somehow have a glimmer of success.  This past trip was highlighted with Joseph had a little overcoat.  This beautifully illustrated story tells the tale of a tattered coats journey from jacket to button being recycled mended and loved the whole way through.

I often find bits and pieces around the house that make for a new-old toy.  Or even a better, a new-old project such as our little looms.  A few weeks back I attended a weaving class and I was finally able to test out my memory of the events through a little over under over under lesson with my Miles.  A stitch holder as a shuttle, cardboard and some yarn are all the tools needed to complete this creation.  I had a little box with a photo of the late and great Mr. Marley I gave a few snips to to create the loom.  Not much instruction is needed just a lot of side by side guidance and modeling.  After a few rows my little smarty managed to get the hang of it for the most part.  And what a pleasant surprise to hear, “Mama my going to weave now.”  Music to my ears.  Oh yes, it seems I have a little fiber artist in the making.

a weaving diorama…. see? something out of nothing! 

feeling loomy