Seven Things: #22 – Indoor Activities

I’ve got two words for you: Cabin. Fever.


It’s hit hard around here, forcing me to get creative with indoor activities…’cause you know, there’s only so much Dinosaur Train and Daniel Tiger you can watch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m almost as obsessed with Dinosaur Train and Daniel Tiger as my kids are (ugga mugga, by the way), but sometimes you gotta break free (break from the chains). Can you tell I’m going nuts??


So here’s our Seven Things for this week…prepare for craftiness!



1.) Print making. Stamping. Call it what you will, it was a good way to fill a couple of hours with Mags while the littles slept.

I think she did a rather good job…but I’m a bit biased.


We used whatever paint we had around and a whole bunch of textured odds and ends to create some interesting art. We had foam hearts with designs on them, various shaped blocks with holes in them, and cars. I had been wanting to try using toy cars for art projects for a while, so this was the perfect excuse! It was pure magic to see Maggie react to the suggestion of getting the tires all covered in paint…I don’t think she believed that I was really okay with it until I did it myself.



2.) I’ve got two more words for you: Obstacle. Course. With so few opportunities to get out and play, these kids have a ridiculous amount of physical steam built up. Since my house is generally a disaster area anyway I figured I might as well organize some of the larger disaster pieces into an obstacle course. It was a pretty big hit, if I do say so myself!


Get ready…get set…
It was kinda easy for Maggie, so I made her wear a cheetah mask to add a level of difficulty. Obvs.
Wipe out!


So, they had to climb over the chairs, hop on their horses (incidentally named Barnaby and Seymour), scoot through the tunnel, then cross a body pillow without falling in the “hot lava,” and hit the light on their lantern to make wolf howling sounds and win. It was hilarious and a really good time.



3.) Another two words: Dress. Up. Now, this one isn’t particularly out of the norm for us. We basically wear ridiculous fabulous get-ups 24/7. However, I took this to the selfish next level and let them wear their dress up tutus to the grocery store yesterday. I say this is selfish because it really did me more good than the girls. I read a blog post the other day, and for the life of me I can’t remember where it was or who wrote it…but it spoke about that rough postpartum period when mamas are stuck in the house going absolutely crazy, feeling out of control and inadequate. This blogger went to a breastfeeding support group and the leader told her to get out of the house more. This takes a lot of work, true, but when we take the babies out and strangers coo over them and tell us how gorgeous they are, we’re reminded that those things are true!

When you’re stuck inside, it’s really easy to get stuck in the rut of viewing your children as little dictators who cry all night, scream all day, take your doors off the hinges (literally, that happened), spill water on purpose, pull each other’s hair, and generally give you migraines. But in public! In public, perfect strangers remind you that your children are fantastic. They’re so well-behaved! Sure, they can have a cookie! Look at their sweet eyelashes/hair/cheeks! Listen to those giggles!


Peepin’ the kids in the grocery store play room.


If you dress them in tutus beforehand, it’ll take it to the next level. Trust me. And I bet, after you’ve wandered through the grocery store being adored by everyone in a five-mile radius, you’ll be so genuine and really, really mean it when you answer the checkout-lady’s question of whether or not you’re crazy to have so many kids by saying, “I am absolutely not crazy. I’m just the luckiest woman ever.”



4.) How’s about another two words! Play. Dough. 

Are you a fan of The Imagination Tree? This post is pretty much the Mecca of preschool tactile/sensory/amazing activities. A word of caution, though. If you visit this site, be prepared to want to create everything. I’m not even kidding. There are so many good ideas that are really educational and fun. So, yeah. Go there and have fun.

One of my favorite things from The Imagination Tree is all of the play dough ideas and recipes. We whipped some up today just for funsies and it turned out really well!


Sweet girl picked the best colors ever!
Again, we added all kinds of sensory items to work on those fine motor skills and get our imaginations working! And yes, those are poker chips. Doesn’t YOUR three-year-old play with poker chips??


Here’s the recipe we used for The Imagination Tree’s No-Cook 4 Minute Play Dough. It seriously never fails.



5.) Give ’em a mid-day bath. When there’s nothing else to do, this is a great way to let people blow off some steam and keep them contained all at the same time! And odds are, at my house anyway, the little cherubs are covered in some sort of jam or tomato based sauce anyway. Add some kitchen “toys” like measuring cups and whisks or food colored ice cubes. Heck, I may even put mine in their bathing suits and let them pretend they’re at the beach just to mix things up!



6.) Read books that promote play. If you’re not already familiar with Tana Hobanyou should really check her out. The one we’re obsessed with right now is Over, Under & Through.


Please pardon the play dough eggs and the blurriness of the picture…and my dirty table, and on and on.
And, again. Pardon the creepy skeletor hand and the wireless mouse. I have no explanation other than I’m just weird.


As you can see, the books have great photography that is paired with concept words like, over/under, in/on, beside/below, etc. These can be tricky concepts for little ones to grasp. But paired with lots of photo examples, these books do a great job of teaching. They also lend themselves very well to “Simon-Says” kinds of games that allow kids to physically explore the concepts and get some energy out. Perfect, I say!



7.) Take selfies. Because all the cool kids are doing it and, let’s be honest, it’s totally fun. Here are ours from today!


“Everybody make a face like Everett!”

Side note: I always think Lily looks like the old Eloise Watkin illustrations of baby Jesus.





Okay, so those are my Seven Things that will hopefully give you an idea of how to spend these seemingly endless snowy days! Anybody else have good ideas for indoor activities?


Happy Saturday, y’all!!


Seven Things: 21

Well, I intended to do a Seven Things post and had actually been working on it earlier in the week (imagine that!), but then life happened and we ended up at the Emergency Room last night with poor Mags who’s got a UTI. It was as pleasant as you can imagine and we didn’t make it home until well after 3 am…which is why I’m posting this now.


These were our medicinal highlights:


Magazine found in the ER waiting room. Clearly not a Bradley Cooper fan.
She initially chased this with a fish stick to improve the flavor, but as of this morning she claims it’s not too bad. Must be an acquired taste…


Aaaaaanyway, here are some of the things that went on this week…I hope you had a good one!


1.) Everett can sit in a high chair now. I’m not sure how I feel about it, so I’m going to pretend it’s not happening.



2.) I’m in pre-Lent training and have decided to really limit my phone usage. I got creeped out the other day because I woke up early to get things done and somehow managed to spend over an hour looking at Facebook. I’m a firm believer that great things come from social media. However, I’d be lying if I told you my obsession with “missing out” on something didn’t severely hamper the amount of time and focus I spend on my children. And that’s just pathetic.

You may remember that I attempted to limit my media use during Advent, as well, which was fair-to-middlin’ (oh, yes I did just quote the Oregon Trail CD Rom game I had growing up), but I’m going to be more specific in regards to Lent. So, my specific intentions are to take the Facebook app off of my phone, make the Pinterest app harder to find, and replace them with Daily Reading and Rosary type tools.

So far I’ve been fairly unsuccessful. Facebook usage is down, but Pinterest and Instagram usage are at an all-time high. I may have to get drastic and just pull the entire plug come Lent. Clearly self control isn’t my strong suit.

What are you planning for Lent? Do you give something up or take something on?



3.) Some of you may remember that I work part-time as a Children’s Librarian. That mainly consists of reading awesome books to awesome kids, creating awesome Pinterest crafts with awesome kids, and practicing for awesome puppet shows. As you can see, things are pretty much awesome. However, the other portion of my job is to answer reference questions over the phone. What kinds of questions do people call the library for, you ask? Here’s just a sampling of the questions I answered in the last week or so:

  • What is the definition of “frontier” and how does is relate to Star Trek, i.e. Space: The Final Frontier? Answer:
    fron·tierˌfrənˈti(ə)r, noun
    noun: frontier; plural noun: frontiers
    1. a line or border separating two countries.
      • the district near a border separating two countries.
      • the extreme limit of settled land beyond which lies wilderness, esp. referring to the western US before Pacific settlement.
      • the extreme limit of understanding or achievement in a particular area.
    2. “the success of science in extending the frontiers of knowledge”
    3. Lordy be, do I really have to explain this in relation to Star Trek??
  • Where are the two highest rated veggie burgers in Cleveland? Answer: Town Hall and BRGR 9. 
  • I saw a movie on TV and didn’t see the title. It was with Andie MacDowell and she was an American and fell in love with this English guy and her friends told her not to marry him but she did but then she was pregnant at the wedding…what was that movie? The cable company gave me the title, but it can’t be right. Answer: The cable company was right, that movie is called Women and Men: Part 2 and no, the patron didn’t believe me, either.
  • How much is an original copy of Around the World in Twenty-Eight Days worth? Answer: Apparently not enough.
  • I was cooking some burgers in a pan and, once some had cooked, I added more raw burgers into the same pan. Is this cross contamination? Answer: No. That’s just called cooking burgers.
  • How does one find God? Can you email me some articles on that?  Answer: Siiiiiiiiiigh…



4.) Apparently there’s this burning ball of fire in the sky that some people call the sun. We Clevelanders have really only ever heard of it, but on Wednesday it appeared!!! I kid you not when I say that Maggie saw the sun and immediately put her swimsuit on.


After a change of wardrobe we went out and built the happiest snow girl I’ve ever seen!

Tell me that’s not the cutest snow girl of all time. Just try.



5.) And speaking of wardrobe choices, here’s Lily’s mash-up of Tinkerbell and Yoda.

Fab. U. Luuuuussss.



6.) I have the most wonderful dad on the planet. Wanna know how I know this? He sent me the complete set of The Mysterious Benedict Society books that I raved about earlier this week.

Give a girl new books and she’ll take joyful selfies all night long!

I seriously can’t tell you how excited I am. Best dad of all time.



7.) And, last, because she was so excited, here’s Lily with her brand new car seat. It’s the first one that wasn’t a hand-me-down. We sure know how to make a middle child happy around here!

Have a great weekend!!

Seven Things: 20

Hay. Here’s seven things that have happened this week.


1.) Sweet Lord in Heaven there’s a mouse in my house and it got in my dishwasher and I can’t even handle thinking about it oh my Lord, oh my Lord, oh my Looooooorrrrrd.

Apparently I’ve been having a bit of a melodramatic reaction to it because Lily walks around screaming, “Nooooooo! Yuck! Naughty mouse! Nooooo!” I think the girls are also confused because one of their favorite books is “The Tale of Two Bad Mice” by Beatrix Potter. Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca are so adorable while they’re sneaking into that doll house and stealing furniture and dressing up their little mousie babies…but not so much when they’re in Mama’s dishwasher. Sorry Beatrix, but homie don’t play that.

Update! Just before the time of publication I received a text that read, “Good morning. I love you. I caught a mouse last night.” And there was great rejoicing.



2.) Speaking of Lily screaming, that’s all she does. Like ever. Her favorite activity is stumbling around, wailing as loudly as possible. When she doesn’t get the appropriate level of attention, which is 1000% of the attention of every living human present, she claws at our legs and says, “I’m crying! I’m cryyyyying!” You know, just in case we hadn’t noticed.



3.) And speaking of things going horribly, horribly wrong – we were speaking of that weren’t we?- our furnace went out. Because the Polar Vortex hates us that’s why. Luckily we were able to crash at my in-laws until the repairman could save us. It was 35 degrees in the house when we got home, so we’re super fortunate that the pipes didn’t freeze, too! Kind of a rough week, all the way around.


Nothing like bundled up breakfast and naps in a bear suit to drive home the fact that winter is NEVER going to end…I really hate Punxatawny Phil this year.



4.) My mom brought us some really amazing pear jam a while back and it’s been taunting me from the refrigerator for weeks.


I had to. And as my brilliant friend, Haley, said on Facebook, I should pair it with some Eddie Breadder. Heh, heh, heh!



5.) And Vin got to go to anamazing organic pig/trout farm that is going to be working with his store. He brought home a ton of complimentary pig meat and it is all kinds of delicious. So I got a lesson on boning out tenderloins and making chops, which was fantastic…especially when paired with fried eggs, gravy, and homemade biscuits. I should really have food guilt about this, but I just don’t care.


For those of you who have accused me of perpetrating the recent crimes around here, all I got to say is, mess with me one more time and I’ll cut you!!!



6.) My favorite Maggie quotes as of late:

Heard from another room, accompanied by loud noises- “Mama, I’m not dressed up…but I made somethin’ happen!!”


“Liiiiiillly!! You’re sitting on my dream come true!”


Peeking out from the side of the couch, clearly hoping that this last-ditch effort would work- “Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Time for Lily and Everett to go to bed! Cuckoo!”



7.) Some of the best links from the week:

Daniel over at Carrots for Michaelmas talking about greatness…seriously so good and got me all fired up about life – “Who Are You to Deny Greatness”

And speaking of greatness, congratulations to Haley of Carrots on being asked to be a speaker at the Edel Gathering! So deserved and so exciting! I might be Haley’s biggest internet fan. Actually, I’m pretty sure I am.

And I’m praying that I’ve somehow managed to stay in the realm of “interesting interwebs stranger” and haven’t accidentally wandered over into “well-meaning but creepy internet weirdo.” ‘Cause how do you really know that the internet weirdos are well-meaning? You don’t. Lordy be, where is this tangent taking me????

Anyway. I’d laaaarve to go to this conference because it features some of the most amazing Catholic bloggers/writers out there (!) and it’s in Austin (!!) and they have Mexican food there (!!!). And Amy’s ice cream. And I’d be so close to my alma mater, UMHB…and I really can’t get my hopes up because the odds of being able to make it are all kinds of slim. A girl can dream though.



Back to links! Thanks to my dear friend, Mimi, I was reminded of the amazing website, Reasons My Son Is Crying. This is my favorite since Lily does this all. the. time.




And, guys, if you haven’t taken a zillion Buzzfeed quizzes lately, you clearly don’t know anything about anything. Please, do me a favor and take all of these. Then report back here. Go on! Shoo, shoo!

What Nice Thing Should You Do For Someone Today?

What Type of Parent Are You?

Which Sandwich Are You?

Which Pixar Movie Are You?

Which 90’s Nickelodeon Show Are You?

And, because it’s very necessary on a list of quizzes like this, What Arbitrary Thing Are You?




Have a great weekend, y’all!

Seven Things: 18

So I’m a little late in getting this week’s Seven Things out, but here it is anyway!


1.) I am so grateful for the response to my post on postpartum depression. I’m so encouraged by people’s stories, but more by the incredible amount of understanding, support, and community that came from it.

I think the biggest realization I got from the feedback I received was that many times we don’t think we’re struggling with something like postpartum depression because we’re not neglecting our children. Now, I’m no medical doctor, but I think a lot of the depression can come from trying to do too much, from not cutting ourselves some slack, and from holding ourselves to impossible standards.

The other thing I was reminded of is that there are more of us struggling that we think. As someone so wisely put it in the comments on Facebook, “the world is full of good actors.” So if you do nothing else today, please go love on somebody. We all need it.



2.) So, in order to cheer things up from the last post, I shall now share some things that make me laugh, the first of which is completely juvenile and I’m not sorry. If you’re offended by pictures of Olympic divers photoshopped onto toilets, do not click this link. If you think that’s hi-larious, which you should because it is, then by all means click away!


If adorable is more your style, please visit the endlessly entertaining Buzzfeed for this list of 15 Animals You Wish Were Your Coworkers.



3.) Then go listen to this song because it’s totally my new jam.



4.)Today’s College Buddy Blog you should visit is from Rachel at Wull Hay. Let me tell you a little story. In college I had these things called “Project Friends.” Basically, I’d scope out incredibly cool people that I aspired to be friends with and then wiggle my way into their lives, hoping that they’d take pity on me and teach me their cool ways. My Junior year I managed to be chosen to direct the university pageant (you read that right) and I took the opportunity to make my three biggest project friends my assistant directors. One is Maggie’s godfather, one took our wedding pictures, and one is Rachel.

Rach is just the most amazing person like ever. She’s original and creative, and hilarious and a phenomenal writer. She’s a fabulous graphic designer, radio dj, rock climber/skiier/biker/superwoman, and she organizes the most elaborate shenanigans with her friends. Also, she’s the best dancer I’ve ever known. Please, please, please check out her writing. I’ve had a crush on this blog forever. It’s seriously worth your time to dig waaay back into the archives and read all about the time she went to Australia as an au pair and how she found her way back to the states. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with Rachel and you’ll thank me later.



5.) Vin took me on the best date ever. We went shooting at the gun range, the first time I’ve been able to go since I’ve been perpetually pregnant for the last 2.5 years. Gosh, I love shooting guns. It’s seriously the best stress reliever ever…and it definitely helps that I’m not too shabby a shot.


I need a sharp shooting alias. I’m currently accepting suggestions.



6.) This happened the other night:

Pigs fear this man.


That is a fresh ham that is currently curing in our kitchen, soon to be smoked in a Thanksgiving extravaganza of epic proportions. Clearly I’m excited. What are y’all eating for Turkey Day?



7.) Good links:

Check out Selfies: More Than Snaps by Kiran at Mummy Says. It’s another great reminder for moms to get in front of the camera every now and then…even if half your face is missing from the shot.


This is an interesting opportunity to contribute to an ebook. Share Your Story of conception, birth, postpartum, or nursing at An Ethnography of American BirthThe project is really interesting and aims to investigate “how American culture affects pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.” I’m going to try to contribute if I ever finish Ev’s birth story…


And I thought this post, “A Love That Never Ends” by Jenny at the Catholic Exchange was especially relevant this week. Just SO good.


Have a great weekend, everybody! Thanks, again, for the love this week. It was felt, I assure you!

Mary Susan