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.

“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.



3-year-old rapier wit

Robyn was preparing dinner and our two two-year-olds and three-year-old were trying to help her by playing with the baby.

–that statement itself is a wonder, since they are ALL babies! —

The two year olds soon lost interest, but the 3-year-old, being Mother Hen to all 3 little brothers, decided she wanted to feed the baby.  She got a bib and baby food to boot.

When Robyn finally realized what she was doing, she tried to stop the process (fearing the clean-up would be worse than the help) by saying:

“[Littlest girl], you are not going to feed him right now because I don’t even want to SEE what kind of mess you are going to make by trying to do this.”

Without missing a beat, the little one responds in her 6-inch alien voice “Then just don’t look at me, Mommy.  I need the spoon now, please.”

She was so cute, Robyn could not resist.  But Robyn did not think it near as funny when three minutes later from the same little voice came the matter-of-fact statement:  “I need a new shirt, MMother Henommy.”.

“Don’t rinse your dishes, you’re wasting water”–your best salespeople are often not your salesmen

A couple of years ago we were having trouble with the dishwasher not getting dishes clean.  Since it was getting on in age and the problem was getting worse, we bit the bullet and bought a new Kitchenaid.

The thing seemed to work great, but then started also having trouble getting the dishes clean.  We finally called the company and they sent out some service technicians to run some tests.

Now, let me take a break and explain something most Moms probably know, but I was not aware of, even with my engineering background.  In general, a few things are needed for automatic cleaning, whether it is a dishwasher, or clothes washer, or carwash, or whatever:

1) water

2) detergent

3) heat

4) motion or agitation

Ideally, you have all four things.  Having less results in less than optimal cleaning power.

It turns out the problem was not really with the dishwasher.  It was our pipes.  You see, the water heater was on one end of the house and the kitchen was on the exact opposite end, and the hot water line was not insulated.  So, as we were approaching winter at the time, the hot water ran through a long stretch uninsulated line in the crawlspace below the house.  As such, the water was cold when it reached the kitchen.  I eventually got it insulated, but in the meantime we were shown we could run the water 2-3 minutes in the kitchen sink to get it hot enough, and then the dishwasher cleaned great.

Please don't rinse your dishes--you're wasing water!! OK, enough with the ‘cleaning engineering’ lesson.  That’s a cute story, but the real reason I am writing this is that the repair men were the best SALESMEN for the Kitchenaid brand.  These guys were unintentional salesmen in that they were not pitching to sell (we had already bought the machine), but the way they talked about it was great.  They, like most repairmen, had been ‘around the block’ and serviced all sorts of appliances.  They said they were most happy with the quality and ease of repair of their brand.  Most of the time a repair was not needed, just an education for the consumer (as in my case).

The best thing was this:  the model we bought had a built-in disposal, so they kept telling us “Please, don’t rinse your dishes; you are wasting water!”  This thrilled Robyn, and it actually took us a while to break the habit of pre-rinsing the dishes until they were spotless (that’s how bad the old dishwasher was getting).

Since then we have moved and fixed up a house or two, and I now typically put a Kitchenaid dishwasher in when a new one is needed and when it will fit.

The bottom line is to know your ‘salesmen’ are not always your best sales people.  Your ‘front line’  people (receptionist, delivery person, repair person) should be treated well and understand that they typically have more points of contact with customers than salesmen, and THEY are the ones who will determine whether or not you get repeat customers..