Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yes, It's True. Play Dates Can Be Fun!

Planning play dates

Childhood play dates aren't as tricky as high school dates, but there are some basic guidelines that can help make the experience more successful for you and your child.

Choose a location that allows for active play

Locations that require sitting and being quiet, such as libraries, movie theaters, or performing arts locations can be frustrating for children if their main objective is to play. A home or park are good places to start. Most children could use much more outdoor time.

Limit the number of children

The more children in a playgroup, the more interaction and the greater chance of squabbling. Older children may want to choose whom to invite.

Check assumptions with the other parents

Parents have different opinions about supervision, developmentally appropriate activities, and what's acceptable to snack on. And parents differ on flexibility, tolerance, and ability to stretch to accommodate the diverse ways that families raise their children. "Is it okay for 5-year-olds to play in a fenced backyard with 'from the kitchen window supervision?'" "Are cookies at 3:30 p.m. reasonable?" "Can 4-year-olds play with make-up, video games, or action heroes?"

Schedule an hour or so for the play date

Give children adequate time to warm up to each other and enjoy playing, but be aware that after an hour even the children who are best at sharing can start to tire.

Put away special toys

Before the playmates arrive, let your child chose two or three toys to put away that he will not be required to share. One parent even asks her toddler, "When your friend comes to play, would you like it if you both play with _______ (insert the child's favorite toy that day)?" If the answer is no, that automatically qualifies the toy for "going to sleep" during the play date.

Have multiples of the "cool" toys

Before your child's friend arrives, step back and assess the toys that are out and about. If your child has been gravitating to the toy train set recently, are there two trains? If not, what is your plan if they both want the train? Toys that have multiple units, such as plastic tea sets, building blocks, musical instruments, plastic tool sets, and hand puppets can help alleviate arguments over who gets to have the toy.

Establish a sick policy

Parents have different expectations regarding children and illness. If runny noses aren't welcome, make that clear when you set up the play date. Parents should have no qualms about setting their definition of "sick."

Let children play at their own pace

Although we may be anxious for our young children to play with others, give them time to warm up and accept that young children may choose to play independently.

Supervise closely, but stand back

Let children work out their differences themselves if they are not hurting one another. Kim Wallace, a San Francisco-based writer, suggests these ideas for resolving conflict:

  • Don't jump in at the first sign of trouble. Even though you should keep an eye on everything the children do during the play date, small disagreements seldom last long, and if you hang back you'll often find that the children work out their own resolution.

  • Intervene rarely, but firmly. If, however, a conflict is escalating into verbal or physical confrontation, it's time to step in. Remain calm and make firm statements like, "I can't let you do that to Kyle." Explain that words and actions that hurt are not acceptable, and then coach the kids on coming up with a compromise to the original problem. If the fighting continues, separate the children for a while or introduce a new activity that's less likely to cause conflict. Here's where suggesting that the children "switch" toys after two minutes, instead of using the word "share" may be helpful.

  • Pile on the praise. One way to keep negative behavior to a minimum is to consistently acknowledge good behavior. Make statements such as, "Wow, you were so nice to let Henry play with your favorite train! That made him really happy!"

Have a simple project at your fingertips

Having a simple project at your fingertips is another way to help ensure the play date goes smoothly and the children are content. This way, if the children seem to want, or need, a break, you can let them know you have a surprise in store for them. This may be as simple as making hot cocoa together in the kitchen, collecting acorns and leaves outside, or having a story time. Even school-agers love being read to, inventing their own stories, or planning a performance.

Give an ample good-bye warning

Give your child a five-minute warning before it's time to go. You're more likely to have a smooth transition leaving if he has a chance to finish playing. Give a longer warning if you want to include time for clean up.

Ask the children what they enjoyed

Play dates create conversations. Use the time after the play date to find out what your children enjoy, don't like, and what they would like to do in the future. It's also a good time to talk about how families are alike and different.

As with so much in parenting, keeping a good perspective, a sense of humor, and your wits intact can offset a challenging situation and turn it into an enjoyable one. Keep in mind that play dates become easier after practice. Above all, have fun and don't worry if it doesn't go smoothly, your child will not be removed from the play date list forever! As children get older and more familiar with people and places away from home, they're able to have play dates where we drop them off for a few hours alone. And those are the very best play dates of all...except when it's time to host the play date at your house.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jesse Jane's

Thursday's Etsy Finds is the fantastic shop Jesse Jane's! I love Scrabble Tile Pendants, but what I love MOST about Jesse Jane's shop is that each pendant is photographed other words you are getting what you see in the actual listing! I love that! There are so many cute pendants to choose from in her shop that you might have a hard time choosing your favorite! Try and take advantage of her specials she has listed! Check out her wonderful BLOG too! So much cuteness in one place! Just take a look at some of the pendants pictured below!

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Wordless Wednesday - Memorial Day

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My First

I just received the One Lovely Blog Award from Anna of The House of Mouse . Thanks so much! Now it's my turn to pass it on...Here are the rules:
  • Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

  • Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Lorelei's Blog

Art Bead Scene

KABS Concepts

Etsy Stalker

Margot Potter

Green Girl Studios

TK Designs 4 U

Two Seaside Babes

Amy Lilley Designs

Lisa's Lovelies

Tickle Me Beads

The Macs

The Noisy Plume

The Family McG

The Charm Lady

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Check out what Wikipedia has to say about Memorial Day. Another great sight to learn about Memorial Day is HERE.
I know that according to my new blog schedule that I am to show some new work, which I have MANY new designs to show, but I thought that since it is Memorial Day I would commemorate this day with a post dedicated to Memorial Day!
Hope you all enjoy reading about Memorial Day. I also hope you all have a great day and remember what Memorial Day is all about! It is a holiday from work, but it is also SO much more! Let us all stop to remember those whose lives were taken in the line of duty!

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Sunday, May 24, 2009


Hello all! A week from tomorrow, June 1st, I will be flying out of the state for a week long orientation/training, for a new full-time job that I have taken. I am trying to get 'organized'...ha! With the help from Nathalie Girard, one of the MANY great new friends I have met on, I am going to use a blog schedule the she came up with. It is tentative. and of course, I have NO idea if it is going to work unless I give it a my 100% commitment NOT to give up on all my online/Mad Maggie work. Work that I have spent the last 5 months or so REALLY working hard on! Blogging, designing, Etsy, Twitter, Facebook, listing, making, taking pictures, editing, using forums, reading, learning, designing some more...etc.....
Here is the schedule:
Monday - New Work or Works In Progress (WIP)
Tuesday - Music Video/YouTube Break or How-To Tuesday
Wednesday - Wordless Wednesday
Thursday - Etsy Spotlight or My Etsy Finds
Friday - TGIF! Anything goes...
In my head I see Saturday and Sunday as days to rest, and to get the next weeks blog scheduled or at least outlined!
If you have any suggestions, please feel free to shout them out in a comment, as I could use all the help I can with starting a new job! If there is anything special you wish to see, please let me know! I will be shutting down BOTH Etsy shops while I am out of town in OKC, as I do no have ANY idea if I will be able to get to a computer at all! Oh the withdrawals I am going to have....

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Art Bead Scene

Hello all! This is just one of my entries into the May Monthly Challenge over at Art Bead Scene. This is, however, the first one I entered with one of my polymer clay transfer pendants. The inspiration for this months challenge is Claude Monet's Water Lilies. I made the pendant and I knew that I wanted to use my new aged brass glue on bails.....and that was about all I knew. Then I put my daughter down for the night and I laid down beside her....and fell asleep! The design is what came to me right before I fell asleep...the three strings of coordinating seed beads connected by separate wire wraps to one 12mm Vintaj jumpring. The aged brass chain with the Vintaj spiral clasp finishes off the necklace! I can say that the only thing I dislike about it is the Vintaj crimp covers....not fun or easy to use, nor aesthetically pleasing to me! Take a look at the ABS blog and Flickr Group. Both sites are a daily stop for me! Enjoy!

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And The Winner Is.......


regina aka RED said...
"A trendy person I am not...but what I see is long necklaces, big and chunky, simple and delicate. Well I guess just about everything. Actually I am a believer in wearing or buy what looks good on you!"

Thank you all so much for the great input! I LOVED all of the comments and ideas!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Importance of the Outdoors in Children's Lives

The Importance of the Outdoors in Children's Lives

Millions of children are only allowed outdoors with close supervision. In many areas, even the backyard or front stoops are viewed as perilous. Many children come home from school and watch television and may learn more about nature from television shows such as "Survivor" or "Gilligan's Island" than from the workings of their own backyard — that marvelous ecosystem teeming with life. They may know more about exotic animals on the Discovery Channel or farm animals on PBS than the snails, squirrels, birds, worms, and bugs that live outside their windows.

Daniel Janzen, the world’s foremost tropical biologist writes: “Here's what nature does for us no matter who we are or where we live...Human animals carry around this big brain, this big device for processing input. Part of our ability to use that device depends on the complex stimuli that challenged it throughout our evolution. Nature — whatever is out there, from a single tree to a whole forest — provides a big wad of the possible information that we can process. If you diminish nature, you diminish the diversity of those stimuli. When we don’t get input from nature, we don’t end up having much sense of smell, hearing, or vision. Television becomes our reality. We can survive on that and do, but it is not nearly as complex…When we diminish nature, we turn off lots of things in our own heads…Over the past 10 or 15 years, I’ve been bothered by the fact that Americans think that they’re getting nature through TV — all those shows that bring the elephants and tigers right into the living rooms. This Musak nature destroys the reality of people’s experience outdoors. When they are actually in nature, it’s disappointing, because the big spectacular stimuli aren’t coming as fast as they do on television...” (Gallagher, W. The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, Actions. NY: Simon and Schuster.1993, p.206).

Whether or not your child learns to love the outdoors boils down to priorities and will. The purpose of life is, after all, to inhale and to live it fully and reach out eagerly without fear for new experiences. Open the back door. Walk through a park. Get out of the car. Our children deserve our effort.

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Friday, May 15, 2009


Hello! Yay...a Giveaway! Woo Hoo! I am giving away this handmade bracelet, made by moi! Free shipping to whomever wins, to wherever the winner lives! The only thing you all need to do is leave a comment here about what colors, materials, designs, metals, etc.. you foresee as a trend in jewelry or accessories this SUMMER. Easy peasy! I will leave this up for a week as I would LOVE a long and huge variety of comments here to work off of! I will be drawing the winner by using a random number generator Saturday May 23rd! So, Good Luck and let the comments begin!

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Cooking with Children: Batter Up

Growing Chefs
So what can you expect from your little bakers, butchers, and sauciers? The cooking activities your child will be able to help with will depend on her age. Keep the following in mind when including young children in cooking activities.

One- to Two-Year-Olds
Make sure they are safely restrained in a high chair and give them samples to taste or smear as you keep up a steady stream of commentary. Look for tasks they might be able to accomplish with your help, such as pouring tiny portions of ingredients (e.g., a quarter cup of milk or water) or simply dropping ingredients into a bowl.

Two-year-olds are learning to use the large muscles in their arms. Try activities such as:
Scrubbing vegetables and fruits
Carrying unbreakable items to the table
Dipping foods
Washing and tearing lettuce and salad greens
Breaking bread into pieces
Pouring ingredients

Three-year-olds are learning to use their hands. Try activities such as:
Pouring liquids into batter (which you measure first)
Mixing batter or other dry and wet ingredients together
Shaking liquid in a closed container
Spreading butters or toppings
Kneading dough
Washing vegetables and fruit
Serving foods
Putting things in the trash after cooking or after a meal
Breaking eggs

Four- and Five-Year-Olds
Four- and five-year-olds are learning to control small muscles in their fingers. They are also learning the properties of things (e.g., weight, volume, color, quantity, and so on), the relationships between things, and how substances can be transformed. Try activities such as:
Juicing oranges, lemons, and limes
Peeling some fruits and vegetables (bananas and even onions)
Mashing soft fruits and vegetables
Scrubbing vegetables (potatoes, mushrooms)
Cutting soft foods with table knives (mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs)
Pressing cookie cutters
Measuring ingredients
Sifting or straining
Cracking open/breaking eggs
Beating eggs with an egg beater
Making toast
Setting the table
Wiping up after cooking
Clearing the table after a meal

School-Age Children
This is the age when children often really enjoy helping parents cook; planning menus and helping in the kitchen. Try making things such as:
Pancakes or waffles (from either a mix or from scratch)
Tuna or pasta salad
Macaroni and cheese
Soup — try making some simple ones from scratch or adding vegetables and other ingredients to canned broth
Cookies — allow your child to roll out the dough, use cookie cutters, make free-form shapes, and decorate before or after baking
Vegetables — show your child how to pick out vegetables in the grocery store, and let him decide which ones the family will have at meals (at least some of the time)
Sandwiches — remember to include lettuce, tomato, carrot curls, or another vegetable
Frozen juice pops

Safety Tips for Cooking with Children
Obviously, children of different ages will require different levels of supervision and assistance. But children of all ages, even school age, need the presence of an adult in the kitchen when cooking, especially when you are using the oven or stove. As with any activity, children tend to get excited and can be impulsive or impatient. It takes a lot of adult patience and reminding to make cooking with children a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are a few ideas about how to keep you and your child safe:

1. Prevent food poisoning by:
Always washing hands before cooking
Not eating raw eggs
Waiting until the food is cooked before sampling it; do not sample uncooked foods
Always washing cutting boards

2. Pay attention to your child’s body position and center of gravity. Have your child stand at the level of the activity. Bring in a small table if necessary at which the child can stand or kneel. Use a secure stool or chair if necessary, but watch the child carefully.

3. Use cooking supplies that will not break, such as plastic measuring cups and stainless steel bowls.

4. For young children, use plastic knives or butter knives for spreading or cutting soft foods. But remember, the cutting instruments need to be able to accomplish their task. As children gain in experience and maturity, they can be taught to handle kitchen tools safely.

5. Expect spills and messes.

6. Provide constant supervision. Always watch your children when they use knives, mixers, or other equipment. Closely supervise the use of ovens, stoves, and other kitchen appliances. Remind children that stoves, ovens, pans, and dishes can be very hot.

Simple Recipes for Helping Hands
So what do you cook? The first cooking experience can be as simple as preparing a powered drink mix or Jell-O®, or a little more adventurous like making bread. Some common choices: cinnamon toast (butter and cinnamon mixed with sugar), Jell-O, pudding, cookies, brownies, fudge, muffins, pancakes, French toast, hard-boiled eggs, milk shakes, or smoothies. Here are three child-tested ideas to try:

Bread in a Bag
2 1/2 cups of whole-wheat flour or white flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup warm water
1 clear bag

1. Place only 1 cup of the flour, yeast and salt into zip lock bag.

2. Seal and shake bag until well mixed.

3. Open bag and add vegetable oil, honey, and warm water.

4. Squeeze out as much air as you can and reseal bag. Squeeze bag with your hand to mix the contents until smooth.

5. Open bag and add remaining flour.

6. Again, squeeze out as much air as you can. Seal bag. Knead contents for 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Place bag in a warm place. Cover with a clean towel. Let dough rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

8. Grease bread pan.

9. When bread is ready, punch down and remove from bag.

10. Put dough into the greased bread pan.

11. Cover with a clean towel. Let rise until it's just above the rim of the pan.

12. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

13. Let cool.

14. Enjoy!

Waldorf Salad
1 stalk celery
1 apple
1 cup seedless grapes, cut in half
1 banana
1 orange
1 cup low-fat lemon yogurt

Have children wash the celery, apple, and grapes. Children can peel the banana and orange. An adult should cut the fruit and celery into bite-size pieces. Have children place fruit and celery in a large bowl. Add yogurt and mix well.

Funny, Fruity Pizzas
Low-fat mozzarella cheese slices (1 slice per child)
English muffins, sliced in half (1 half per child)
Fruit (an apple, banana, orange, or seedless grapes)
Have the children wash the fruit. Children can peel bananas and oranges or pluck grapes from their stems. An adult should cut the fruit into small pieces.

Split the English muffins. Give each child one half. Have the children place a slice of cheese on each muffin. Toast the English muffins until the cheese melts. Have each child top his or her muffin with fruit.

Children love being involved with cooking and preparing food. That's part of why they are so likely to be in our way when we are in the kitchen. They are interested in what we are doing, so invite them in and get cooking!

Additional Resources
The National Network for Child Care offers several great recipes for kids, from bahama bagels to wiggly finger wonderfuls!

Check out for meal ideas you can cook with and for kids! offers vegetarian recipes, as well as recipes for kids with particular allergies or health conditions.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Where I Am..... PART 2

I know where Maddy and Tim are.....making handmade sock puppets! All in their morning PJ's and ALL before Saturday breakfast even!

I am still here! Still underneath this, but gaining headway........I can see the light!

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