My Best Ideas of 2013

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Summer-Bag; in the back of the van and always ready for the park, beach or pool. Ingredients: towels, suits, swim shirts, sunscreen, sun hats, buckets and shovels, goggles and a bottle of saline solution. Why saline? Best ever solution to sand-in-the-eye!

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Caboose Game; marbles are moved from the red jar to the caboose as the kids’ good deeds accumulate. Ready for school without nagging? Share something with your brother? Say kind words to someone who needs them? I reward both good behavior and positive character. When the caboose is filled, they get a train-related outing of their choice.  Our last one was a trip to Jackson Street Roundhouse Museum.  ChooChoo!

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One-on-one time SCHEDULED with each child monthly.

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Art therapy; my kids and I made these the day our Gebo passed away. We keep his tags in the clay cup.

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Character stones; one might be asked to carry this around in his pocket after he, for instance, screams “I HATE YOU” upon being denied a popsicle.  The best part is you can make new stones as the needs arise!

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Character stones; one might be asked to carry this around in his pocket for awhile after after he, for instance, does not put his shoes on after being asked FOUR TIMES!

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Swimming in waterfalls is just a deeply good idea.

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B is for Beethoven. I made a baby books for newly arrived friends and family members with snapshots of loved ones taken at baby showers.

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K is for kiss!

Best term: Blizzard Brain This is my term to describe the mental affects of surviving the Polar Vortex: the fog rendered by rescheduling due to snow days (no matter how we love them), the adrenaline pumped by white-knuckle driving (it rattles the best of us), the head spinning attempts to keep body parts warm, and the net-effect of months spent largely indoors.

Best case: The Missing Goldfish  We lost our goldfish. I interrogated the children. I pried open the pump and the filter. The fish has fled the household. The children interrogated our babysitters. They searched water glasses, flower vases and floors. The case was stamped “unsolved.”  The investigators are taking new cases.

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Holiday cards bring us peace. They also bring us a conundrum. What do we do with all these adorable pictures come Spring?  We cut them up and made a poster we enjoyed all year round.

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Embrace the catastrophe!  Yes–that is a baby pool sandbox in our basement.  50 days below zero, people.  50!

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It started innocently, and grew…

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DIY colorful race for outdoor birthday party inspired by the “Color Run” and India’s Holi Festival. We used cheese powder (not kidding), turmeric, and powdered blue and green food dyes mixed with rice floor. Biodegradable and fantastically silly. Yes; it stains by design.

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We asked our neighbor who owns a landscaping and plowing company to show our youngest his trucks for his 3rd birthday. He outdid our request by taking him plowing. DREAM COME TRUE.

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Our Thanksgiving centerpiece was made by our tableful of guests. When they arrived, an object of nature was on their plate. Each person said what they were thankful for and placed it in the centerpiece. It gave us the opportunity to hear from everyone in a year that we all needed each other.

Best capture: calendar quotes I keep my kids’ quotes on my calendar and write them down in a book every few months.  Easy.

Best recovery: bowling night  In one solitary weekend, I neglected to register for my yearly 1/2 marathon, I forgot to go to a class I’d been looking forward to for months, I went to a voice lesson and my teacher wasn’t there, I went to a meeting at the wrong time, I toured 3 senior homes that had no openings for my parents, I dragged my kids to 2 stores for mittens that didn’t sell mittens, and I took them for consolatory cocoa at a coffee shop that was closed. I just kept walking down the street to the next door and it turned out to be the magical gateway to an awesome evening; a bowling alley. Now when anyone complains of having a bad day, the kids yell, “let’s bowl!”

DIY Christmas balls; purchase wool, felted wool balls, and plastic ornament from Michaels.  Include items from nature.  Lovely grandparent gifts.

DIY Christmas balls; purchase wool, felted wool balls, and plastic ornament from Michaels. Include items from nature. Lovely grandparent gifts.

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DIY lego kits

Homemade ice cream cakes; freeze for 1/2 hour between each layer.  Cookie and butter crust crunch crust, fudge sauce, ice cream slightly melted poured on top, frost with whipped cream and cocoa powder (frosting won't stick to ice cream), and then decorate on top of the frozen whipped cream.  Voila!

Homemade ice cream cakes; freeze for 1/2 hour between each layer. Cookie and butter crust crunch crust, fudge sauce, ice cream slightly melted poured on top, frost with whipped cream and cocoa powder (frosting won’t stick to ice cream), and then decorate on top of the frozen whipped cream. Voila!

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