Staying Sane: Playdough on a Rainy Day


Yesterday it was raining. Hard. All day. What to do with four young kids on a rainy day? Something that EACH kid will enjoy? Something that could occupy them for a LONG time? Something they could play together or in parallel? PLAY DOUGH!!!

Let me tell you I took out our play dough gear (pretend oven, rolling pins, cut out shapes) but then saw that we had only one container of play dough left. And then it got worse. We opened it up and it was old, crusty, and a mixture of probably 20 different remenants of other colors. So it was a pasty, brown/grey glob of depressing playdough.

So I decided to search the internet to figure out how to make it. There are several recipes out there. Many require tarter and cooking. That was not for me. So, I tried the SIMPLEST recipe I could find:

Ingredients:
– 1/4 cup salt
– 1/4 cup water
– 1 cup flour
– food coloring

Add ons:
– glitter
– hard pasta (for poking)
– markers

Directions:
Combine salt and flour, then add water and food coloring and combine until the right consistency (add more water if needed).

We made several batches and the kids were entertained off and on through the day for at least 4 hours. Not lying. Not exaggerating. There were balls, snakes, lines of playdough, cutting, poking hard pasta in it, making pizza, making animals.

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I loved it since all four of the kids were playing – sometimes together, most of the time in parellel. They were sharing colors, exchanging supplies, sometimes working together on making lines of dough balls, etc. Big Bro made an “ocean” scene with a wave and everything. I was impressed at his creation (it is drying today – he wants to keep it).

And I had fun making it with them and also playing make believe about how delicious the pizza was, teaching the twins how to roll balls, and combining colors.

We put it in zip lock bags afterwards and it seems OK today; probably won’t last too much longer though.

So next time you need something quick to do with young kids – take out the dough! It honestly was so easy and the kids got a charge out of making it and then playing with it. Might even work well with older kids who want to create something and then set it out to dry.

HAVE FUN

– Mama K

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January 25: Creations


It was an easy morning – everything just seemed to flow…

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • I woke up early and got myself ready. I made it upstairs by 7 AM to get the Twins up and also sit next to Twin Crazy on the potty, as promised. When I picked her up, her diaper was full so I knew it was too late. But we sat there anyway, and a teeny bit of pee came out – so we were all proud. Twin Husky was of course looking over with curiosity.
  • Red came in while we were in there and she was holding back a smile. She is proud too.
  • Downstairs, the clothes are already out in piles. Breakfast was cereal.
  • Twin Husky was strolling around his “tigers” again and also trying to maneuver with a baseball bat and ball. He is such a boy. So cute.
  • Twin Crazy was playing with stickers. She put some stickers on Big Bro’s backpack and he got very upset. He then suggested that she could put the stickers on his OLD backpack (Toy Story) so that worked fine for her. WAY TO GO BIG BRO!!! I love how these kids are empathetic and are actually becoming very good at problem solving and working through conflict. They continuously surprise me and make me proud (but of course there are times when their fights are too much to bear…. ).
  • I woke up Big Bro – who got to sleep WAY too late last night. This poor kid needs more sleep. I tried to coax him downstairs with the promise of apple juice and also the activity of packing up his backpack (which we received yesterday). That seemed to get him moving. He had a HUGE breakfast of banana yogurt with bananas. I went shopping yesterday (thankfully) so we have food in the house again.
  • Kids got dressed without a problem. Red was hoping like a bunny because of her bunny shirt.
  • Drop offs were so easy. I promised Big Bro that I would pick him up at 12:45 (after Kindergarten) since I have a 1/2 day today. I also promised Red that I would pick her up today after her nap. I want to spend some time with each of them today and take advantage of my short day. I miss them.
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    So, now I am on my couch, with a big pot of coffee after eating the kids’ leftover breakfast. I have chicken defrosted in the refrigerator already. I have to revise our proposal and I can maybe start to put out some planning calls for our conferences. I also have to start thinking about and preparing the communication language that will go out to invite potential clients to a “formation meeting” that we will have inbetween our conferences – for a potential forum that we are trying to build. Crafting this communication will be critical and I need to start thinking about the positioning, who to contact, and start those recruiting efforts….

    Highlights of My Working Day:

  • I had to address several emails this morning so got that taken care of.
  • I then had a 10 AM conference call to prepare for. It was an informative call.
  • I then focused on the proposal. I needed to price it down which meant cutting out scope. The trick is, you can’t cut too far – otherwise the client does not get a valuable piece of work, OR, your firm winds up investing extra time to MAKE it valuable but you don’t get paid for that time. Either scenario is not great. So I worked on price and reduced scope. I think we can do it.
  • I then got myself out of the house since it was my 1/2 day. I went to pick up Big Bro and felt the stress leave my body as soon as I saw him.
  • The Rest of the Day:

  • We talked about what we wanted to do for the day. We went to a garden at his school and sat on a bench. He couldn’t decide despite my various suggestions.
  • Then I got THE call. I needed to work on the proposal a bit more. So off we went, back at home. It only took me 15 minutes so that was good.
  • Big Bro was busy entertaining himself with Legos. He asked me to sit with him and build something. I gladly obliged. He is really good at Legos. He follows the directions, page by page, but he makes decisions as to what he wants to do and what he doesn’t. So he doesn’t follow the rule book to a T and in fact deviates based upon his own thinking. He also adds to it. Today, the space shuttle that he was working on actually turned into a space helicopter. And he wanted the man to sit on the helicopter and I suggested that maybe the man’s face was too close to the blade. So together we thought of a solution to extend the ship outwards in the back, and create a ledge where the man could safely sit. I loved that time with him, just us.
  • By that time, it was time to pick up Red (early). Her class was waking up from their naps. I packed some snacks and off we went to pick her up. She was happy to be “stolen” from her class early.
  • I took them to a place where you pick out pottery shapes and then paint them – the place then puts them in a kiln and you get them back all shiny. Big Bro picked out a tractor trailer and Red picked out an Angry Bird. They were so cute. I took too many pictures. I love looking at their faces as they are busy creating. They each picked out the colors they wanted from the palate of choices and picked out their different brushes. I had a blast watching them and I actually think the creations will come out really nice.
  • We then picked up Twin Crazy and Twin Husky early. I wanted them all home with me. We played for a bit and I did a lot of horsie-back rides. It is so cute to see all of the kids “in line” for their ride, and hearing “my turn” from the twins. So cute. They really did wait their turn and no-one tried to go out of order.
  • I then I started dinner and also did a ton of dishes. The kids were playing by themselves, which was working out OK but for some reason Big Bro was teasing EVERYBODY. It was so bad that I had to send him up to his room for some quiet time. He was much better afterwards.
  • Dinner was on the table shortly after 6 PM and I put Big Bro on chicken and string bean “duty” and Red on cous-cous “duty”. They loved having jobs. I think all kids really got into eating tonight because of it. They ate like champs. Twin Crazy went nuts with the cous-cous and was even stealing some off of Big Bro’s plate. Once a kid needed a refill, they asked the other child politely and then said “thank you”. I loved it. It was a really fun dinner.
  • After dinner I cleaned up a bit but then spent most of my time tickling the kids, wrestling with the girls, doing acrobatics with the girls. Big Bro was busy cleaning up all of the cous-cous. He was amazingly helpful and I think making up for his teasing episodes earlier in the day.
  • Bedtime was a breeze; Big Bro gave himself only a few magnets on his “responsibility board” since he knew he had some bad behavior today. His evaluation of his performance was right on track – I give him credit for that.
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    I have some personal reading to do and need to figure out a recipe for tomorrow.
    Til tomorrow,
    – Mama K

    October 24: Giggles at 5:30 AM


    Today is the first day back from a 10 day vacation and a day at home yesterday with my kids, solo. We decided to go shopping for Halloween crafts and spent the day building haunted houses and decorating plastic pumpkins with stickers. So cute. They generally worked together, except for Twin Husky who was just wanting to get into things and throw things around. Big Bro was so excited about his costume (Batman) that he wore it all day yesterday and slept in it last night. Last year, he did this for the entire month of October in his Spiderman costume.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • We are still on East Coast time. Twin Husky was the first to get up at 5:30. Then Red came into our room at 6:15. They were quiet at first, but then they started interacting with each other and playing that I could hardly contain my laughter. Red was trying to get Twin Husky to say different words…. and he would try to repeat everything that she said. And she used inflection in her voice like a little teacher. After that, she began singing “Row Row Row Your Boat” while he held on to her feet — “Hold on to my feets, my two feets”…. and then she was singing Ring around the Rosie”. Twin Husky knew the tunes and I think some of the words and he tried to sing along too. They were both cracking up within minutes. I was smiling in the dark and trying my best not to giggle, or even chime in with their tunes. This was a great way to start my morning.
    • Our routine was standard; dressed for work while on the floor changing poopy diapers, negotiating with kids to get their clothes on, packing clothes bags for the week for the Twins, etc. etc. etc. Big Bro was excited about bringing in his haunted house to school so he was the first one dressed, fed, and ready to go. Then Red wanted to bring something to school too. So we packaged up a ziplock bag of pumpkin stickers. She was now excited too and ready to head to the van.
    • We had our normal 3 different drop offs for the kids; I feel like a shuttle bus. I also dropped Hubby off at the ferry. I am working from home now since I’m waiting for an important package to arrive; but I will later drive to the office and hopefully get there by 11 AM.
    Highlights of my Working Day:
    • At home, a start a pot of coffee, dry my hair, and pop in a Trader Joe’s egg quiche (these things are awesome, in moderation. I like to have several of these in the freezer on days when I work from home. They cook in 2.5 minutes and then you are full and ready to get things done. Much better than having to cook for yourself in the morning.
    • I then go to Safeway.com and order food for the house. We literally have no food in here. I think we have two lemons, some jelly, and canned goods. I have no idea what Hubby was able to manage for their packed lunches today.
    • I check work email and start to respond to what I can, easily. I get rid of all the junk and flag the mails for follow up. This took some time since I was away for 10 days (I go OFF THE GRID when I am on vacation and on weekends…. folks at work know this about me).
    • Then the moment arrives. Just as expected, and right on time. THE UPS MAN ARRIVED WITH MY NEW IPHONE!!!!!! I was literally jumping up and down and up and down saying “it’s here! It’s here! Yeah!!! I stayed at home for this! It’s here!”. Think back to the movie “The Jerk” with Steve Martin when he got all crazy about the new phone book. Well, that was me when I signed for the iPhone from UPS.
    • After setting up the iPhone, I drove in to work. This is unusual for me but the iPhone kindof put a wrinkle in my normal routine. I LOVED blasting my music on the way in and probably driving a little too fast.
    • I spent the rest of the afternoon reaching out to conference participants, sending out materials and presentations, and getting ready for the next meeting to be held next week. I also followed up with 4 different business development opportunities, one of which was a potential client from one of the last big meetings — instead of joining the membership of the forum, he specifically reached out to me for consulting work related to our area of expertise. This was a goal of mine…. sign new members to the forums AS WELL AS generate proposals from the meetings. I AM PSYCHED. I need to schedule a call with him and after I post this I’ll need to get on to work email to get that set up.
    • I ran out of work at 4:15 to drive back and pick up Big Bro; I essentially worked a 1/2 day today. I need to figure out my reduced workweek schedule and get that put in place. I’m excited about the prospect of doing so – I’ve been at the company for over 8 years and they are willing to work with me to arrange something more manageable for a burnt-out consultant with four small kids.
    • I take the opportunity to go shopping for halloween shirts for the kids. This is something I completely forgot about this year. Last year I was so on top of things… shirts were ordered for all kids and they were excited about them. This year everything is just springing up by surprise. Old Navy did the trick. I stopped in “The Spirit Halloween” store and THANK GOODNESS I did not take the kids there over the weekend like I intended. The place was so spooky it even scared the crap out of me with the “Friday the 13th” music and all of the moving dead people. Creepy. I love it.
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    • I picked up Big Bro and grabbed the van. He made a quick change into his Batman costume and then we picked up Hubby at Ferry Station, then Red, then Twins. I guess we’ll be seeing Batman all this week and possibly even after Halloween.
    Dinner and Bedtime:
    • We had NOTHING in our refrigerator to eat. Safeway food was not arriving until tomorrow. I broke out frozen bagels and leftover chicken and that’s what we had. The kids enjoyed themselves. Now we just have to get through breakfast (cereal, all OK) and lunch….
    • Our mother’s helper arrived and she almost fainted at the amount of clothes that needed to be folded and organized from our trip.
    • The rest of the night just disappeared. Twin Husky was doing alot of climbing. Climbing on the toy refrigerator set, climbing on the kiddie table, coffee table, etc. The kid is getting very squirmy and wirey and moves around non-stop.
    • Bedtime was uneventful, thank goodness. All kids are now enjoying brushing their teeth, now even the Twins. They both showed me how they brush their teeth and then let me help them finish up their work. I had them both giggling with pride.

    So now I’m exhausted in bed, still on East Coast time myself, thinking about the day. It was 1/2 work 1/2 my time, but I am still very tired. But I’m not feeling stressed or tense. I’m thinking it still has to do with the time change adjustment. I do have to check on some work, but it won’t be much. And then I can have the rest of the evening to play with my new toy iPhone and figure out how to Tweet….

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K