Activities for children–cold and wet weather

I recently published a blogpost about activities for children during nice weather.  But the weather doesn’t always play along.

When the weather is cold or wet or both, there are still plenty of fun things to do with children.  Here’s a list of some of our favorites.

1) Family reading:  we love to read.  Frog and Toad books are perennial favorites of the children (and myself).  We read these to each other a lot.  When two little ones get into a fight, I put them on the couch next to each other and have them read Frog and Toad to each other.  You can also do quiet family reading time, Bible reading, or “Daddy reading”–I like to read a chapter of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, time permitting, each day.  J.R.R. Tolkien has such an incredible writing style, the tales are entertaining and adventurous, and he paints a setting like none other I have known.

2) Board games.  I have always loved board games, and I think the children take after me in this respect.  Board games are perfect training tools for how to deal with winning and losing in life, as well as being good sports, and learning to take calculated risks and not be afraid.  Whether you win or lose in board games a few things always hold when you are through:  1) you are still alive, 2) Mom and Dad still love you, 3) God still loves you.   Never forget that.

3)  Baking and making.  Whether it is simple dinner rolls, pancakes, or desserts, it is always fun to do some baking on a rainy day.

4) Clean up.  House chores can be fun with the right attitude, especially if everyone chips in and helps out.  Many hands make light work.  We like to put on some groovy tunes to keep the mood and motion peppy.

5) Help Mom with laundry.  Folding is a good thing for children (and Dads) to learn.  Doing it together makes it fun.

6) Story telling.  Children have the best imaginations and come up with the funniest things.  With all the reading we do, they also learn to create settings and give characters “voice”.

7) Making juice drinks or smoothies.  Frozen berries with yogurt become an easy treat and are fun to make on a rainy day.  If it is cold, warm it up and make hot cocoa or spiced cider instead!

8) Spa treatment for Mom.  This is one of the favorite things the little ones love to do!  A towel on the couch a few helpful children and a little lotion and Mommy gets one great foot and leg rub!  Throw in a hairbrush and an aspiring salon artist and Mommy gets a scalp massage and new hairdo at the same time!

9) If all else fails, wrestling always works.  Note:  for aging Dads and adolescent/preteen children–approach this with caution!  Once the youngsters reach 2/3 of your body weight it might be time to throw in the towel!  But while they are still small I like to cover the room with pillows, get on my knees, and play “Daddy takes on all comers”.  The couches are ‘safe zones’ for the kiddies, they can’t wrestle each other, and Daddy can call a time out when needed.

Activities for Children–warm weather

We had a brief warm spell here in the Carolinas recently.  I like to take advantage of the break in weather whenever we get a chance.

Some ideas for activities for children if you have a brief warm spell include:

1) Going for walks!  This is my favorite.  Our street is a mile long and we have a great sidewalk to keep it safe.  The walk is pleasant and trees over-arch the street from both sides making nice shade, even for the hot sunny days.  The tree canopy is high enough to allow breezes so it always feels just about perfect.

2) Grilling dinner.  We give the children (or teams of two or three) each a different focus.  The oldest is now 13, so grilling is on the menu for any teenager!  This is a pastime I love to share.

3) Washing the cars.  Our conversion van is nearly 9′ high, so it does not fit in most automated car washes.  But it is great fun for the kids and helps us all learn responsibility and how to take care of things God has given us.

4) Pets.  For us pets now means chickens.  We are learning all about egg-layers and how to feed and care for them.  Warm weather is a great time to do this.

Muddy girl with bike

Muddy girl with bike

5) Gardening.  Even in the ‘winter’ (it does not typically get down to freezing much here in Charlotte so things stay pretty green) we can do some weeding and prepping for spring as well as picking up sticks off the lawn.

Girl in Garden with Banana Tree

Girl in Garden with Banana Tree

6) Sports.  Although I currently have a broken toe and am sidelined until it heals, we normally like to kick around a soccer ball or ride bikes.

7) Fire pit.  If it is dry enough and we can get chores done early enough and plan ahead, it is always fun to roast some marshmallows over the fire pit.

Girl with multiple hula hoops

Girl with multiple hula hoops

Girl with many hulahoops

Girl with many hulahoops



8)  Go to the park.  Frisbee, hoola-hoops, festivals, carnivals, outdoor concerts or just plain playing in the sand.

9)  Just plain old hanging around and chillin’.  Nothing is better than crashing out after a hard day at play!

Little boy crashed out sleeping

Little boy crashed out sleeping

A Dad’s Thoughts on Laundry

Robyn had “a day away” recently, and the children and I managed the house while she was away.  Part of that included cycling several loads of laundry.  Now being a recovering engineer, I can understand the mechanics of laundry, and I even learned to separate lights from darks.

But I never have been good at folding.  Towels, OK, but mildly challenged by various shapes and sizes of shirts, trousers, jumpsuits, dresses, tights and the like.  And forget about fitted sheets.

Anyway I was reflecting a bit while folding this past week and here is something I discovered:

The children usually are in such rapid and random “Brownian” motion, they never hold still long enough for me to appreciate how small and perfect they really are at this very moment.  But the laundry holds pretty still when you are folding it (if not, I can usually wrestle it down into submission pretty well), and that is the time I get to realize that they are still so small and beautiful and absolutely perfect, with a perfectly balanced Swiss-timepiece of a heart in each little chest, and moods and emotions and feelings and all those great things that make us human.

I often pray that I learn to appreciate the here and now, since I am sinfully a “destination” person rather than a “journey” person. This was a little answer to my prayer with just a brief glimpse of enjoying the ride, even while doing a chore I normally find very challenging.

Thank you, God, for giving me a snapshot of stillness to appreciate the children as they are right now.  Thank you, Robyn, for giving me the opportunity to discover this blessing.

“A Day” for a hard-working Mom

In the beginning of the movie “Shrek 4-ever”, Shrek was in a rut.  He needed “a day” for himself, away from his normal routine and everyday cares and chores.  He cut a deal with Rumplestiltskin where he could have a day all to himself to do whatever he wanted and be the old ogre he was, without any other cares in the world.

We all need that sometimes.  Even SuperMoms.

Last week Robyn got one of those days as a Christmas gift, which was nice since she could schedule it ahead of time and we all could prepare for it.  She ‘disappeared’ for a day, taking her Bible and her laptop with her, and we managed as if she were away on a business trip.

The kids did remarkably well.  Realizing Dad was at the helm, and it was ‘crunch time’, they buckled down and we did splendidly.  We started out waking up–check.  After that it went sort of like so:

  • Get your body out of bed and get down stairs
  • Eat breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Brush your teeth if you’ve got em.
  • Four teams were made with one ‘big one’ and one ‘little one’ on each (and little Nick was a bonus helper for a team).  Each team had to clean one easy room (warm up), one challenging room, and one bathroom.  I am not sure how many bathrooms actually were touched but that was the plan.  The teams were carefully crafted by Dad based on personality mixes, and the rooms were in ship shape in no time.
  • Go down to the basement with school books.  We cleaned a little, did a little schoolwork.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  About a hundred times until all the Barbie stuff, LEGOs and various random implements of destruction were picked up and put away.  All homework was completed and Dad checked it over (which is an amazing feat in itself).  It helped that no one was able to go upstairs until it was all done.  And mercifully, we have a bathroom in the basement.

We had a break at about 12:30 – 2 PM for lunch.  Leftovers and pizza rolls are a blessing for Dads.

Afternoon was broken up for different groups:

  • big kids got computer time from 2-4:30PM,
  • medium and little guys got to play board games with Daddy,
  • help fold laundry (we were Mommy’s Laundry Fairies and blasted through 5 or 6 loads throughout the day***see my blog regarding “Thoughts on Laundry” coming up soon),
  • watched TV a while
  • Daddy had a 15 minute nap to recharge his batteries, accompanied by his littlest daughter.
Christmas Kids_a Moms Day away

Christmas Kids_a Moms Day away

Then it was up for dinner, then kitchen chores, and “1-2-3”, which means “jammies on, brush teeth, and use the potty”.  Finally Daddy read some stories to the little ones, we said prayers and they went to bed.

Mommy came home to a spotless house, sleeping children, and one tired but appreciative husband.



Vitamin E–is it good for hair?

OK, our littlest guy got a hold of a Vitamin E tablet yesterday and somehow figured out how to lance it, then spread it all through his blonde curly hair. It took me a few hours to figure out we did not have a dead animal in the house or a plumbing back-up.

Fish kill-Image is public domain and is courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife ServiceI finally saw the drained caplet and put the fish smell together to figure it out. SO, he gets a bath with the other two little boys, followed by a bath for the three little girls.

Anyway, funny smell at dinner tonight–it turns out ALL SIX now smell like fish. Another bath night tonight, now in different tubs…. 😆.

Potty Training: Here I go again!!!

Taking a little break from the recount of the travel days, to shine a light on some real time adventures.

Today commenced potty training for the 7th & 8th children in our family.  I should definitely be an expert by now, but … I have to confess that I have got to be the world’s worst potty trainer!  So, as I write this, please disregard any advice I may try to offer.  I am simply going to try and recount exactly what I am trying THIS time around and hope for the best!

My two 2 yr/old boys will both be 3 in July.  I should probably wait until they turn 3, but I am a hopelessly hopeful and I really want a few less diapers in the house.  Maybe, just maybe…this will be the time (the one time) that potty training is fast and easy.

For the past few weeks I have been putting the boys on the potty, talking about the potty, having them watch others potty and playing the whole thing up (Yah, Yah, Potty, Potty!!!).  We successfully got the boys over their initial fear of the white throne and had them contently sitting on the potty (no action).   Last night I told them that today was the big day and we were all excited!

This morning, as soon as they got up, I declothed them, stripped them of the “baby” diapers and the rest of the day the boys went “free”!  I put long t-shirts on them and nearly drowned them in hydration!  After cups and cups of juice and juice boxes (with their Bandette cup labels to keep track of whose was whose, of course!), their little tummies were bulging and their eyeballs were swimming.  My only goal for the day was for them to experience some real action on the potty, I knew that we would need drastic hydration measures!

After about 1 1/2 hours, the boys were both dancing around (that “I gotta pee” dance around) and then…I heard the word, “WATER, Mommy, WATER”!!!  I ran!  Phew, it was just a little, one of them had sprung a leak!  We dashed to the potty, all excited, it was time and that little boy had managed to hold off the full deluge!  Once we got to the potty, the first stream easily shot forth.  But, it was just a leak!  He didn’t quite conquer the full “relax and let it all out” of a completely executed urination.  So, we sat for a while longer while more little squirts were coaxed out.  During this time, his brother was apparently about to explode, and he finally let us in on the fact that he had to go potty too!  Once taking the throne, he had no trouble with the full experience and was very proud to relief himself of his uncomfortable status.

Party, party, party!!!!  The whole house was in an uproar, they did it…they did it!!!  Big Congratulations and celebrations were handed to the new achievers, and the best prize – jelly beans!

Shockingly, the rest of the day went very well.  I turmoiled for a while over whether I should just stop there and put the diapers back on, but I just couldn’t do it.  The taste of victory was sweet and we (I mean “I”) had to try for more!  Leaving the boys without anything on their bottoms was working pretty good, there seemed to be some inhibition to peeing into free air.  We did however have 2 small poop accidents, apparently…when they come, they come and it is hard to stop the urge to push!  I can relate to that – something about labor and delivery comes to mind!

The boys had only one more escaped squirt during the day and managed to wait for the times that we all tramped off to the potty for a try, again.  Eventually, the little leaker figured out how to be free (I think, it’s kind-of hard to tell if his leaks just got bigger or if he was truly emptying out).  The boys were even dry during their naps!  I did diaper them for their naps, but caught them as soon as they woke up and took them to the potty.

Day 1 – BIG SUCCESS!!!  I know better than to get overly excited and to have any, any expectations – but, once again, I am hoping, hoping, hoping!  So far, so good.  This might just be the time!.