Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Children's Book Winner!

Thanks to my adorable six-year-old (who is home from school again due to "inclement weather"), we have a winner for our children's book contest! Brandi is the lucky lady this week. Please email me privately with your snail mail address and a preferred age group for your book pick. Like I said before, this is a grab bag giveaway, and I want to tailor it to your kids or interests, so I won't even know what I'm sending until I hear from Brandi! I'll let you know what I send out after the fact.

Speaking of kids, I am yet again stuck inside with what feels like a houseful of rowdy boys. Granted, there are only two of them, but take into consideration the fact that we also have a dog and a rather tiny house, and things can get out of hand in no time. I'm the anti-TV mom, so I'm always looking for ways to keep them entertained and occupied during these long winter months when cabin fever reaches epidemic proportions. Since I loved sharing book picks with you (and reading your suggestions), I thought I'd share some kid-friendly, winter-weather activities, too. Have any good ideas of your own? Please share! No really, please share! I'm begging you--as a woman who hasn't managed to squeeze in a shower yet today, but has decorated glitter snowflakes, made homemade donuts, read dozens of books, and played animal train--don't be stingy with your good ideas! My sanity depends on it.

Keeping the Baart boys happy in the winter consists of:

Cooking/baking together. Simple, I know, but we have to eat three times a day, and I might as well make an activity out of it. My older son is perfectly capable of nearly anything in the kitchen--including cracking eggs with a little help. The younger one is eager (to put it nicely) and able to help with "big picture" things like dumping ingredients into a big bowl or smashing Oreos for a dessert crust. Sure, I have to do extra clean-up, but at least I was somewhat in charge of the mess.

Animal Safari. When the sky is overcast and we can't go outside, I arm my boys with flashlights and turn them into honorary African Tour Guides. While they are secreted in their bedroom, I hide their stuffed animals all over the house. No hiding place is out-of-bounds, from the tops of cupboards to nestled between the branches of one of our many houseplants. They must find every animal before their safari is over.

Games. Though we have many board and card games, we like to make up our own. My eldest likes to invent crazy rules and then force us to follow them to the letter. This time-consuming endeavor begins with a lengthy period of strategizing and planning, and always ends in giggles.

Balloons. The cheapest secret weapon I've ever encountered. A $1 bag of multi-colored, multi-sized balloons is a staple in our home. Blow up one for a game of volleyball. Blow up several (one for each member of the family) for a rousing game of hot potato (don't let a single balloon touch the floor!). Blow up the whole bag and go wild. We also like to take markers and decorate them with silly faces. It's fun to guess which balloon person will last the longest and which will be the first to pop.

Snowball Fight. We're big into playing outside in the snow (sledding, making forts, and just enjoying all that white fluff), but sometimes it's just not possible to bundle up and head outdoors. Like when it's -20. Boo. Anyway, a friend introduced us to the indoor snowball fight--a messy, but fun way to kill an hour. First, get yourself a new box of tissues (yup, it'll take the whole box). Enlist your kids' help to pull the tissues one by one out of the box and lightly press them into a little ball. Deposit all these "snowballs" in a laundry basket. When the all the tissues are gone, have you kids lay on the floor with their eyes closed and enjoy the "snowfall." I bury them in it. Then we make snow angels, play with it, and have snowball fights. Like I said, messy, but fun.

Movie-making. My kids are actors and love to make up elaborate plays. I tell them that if they can create an entire play, I'll videotape it and we can watch it on TV. It doesn't have to be a long play, but it does have to have costumes, props, and a point. Giggling at the camera doesn't count. They can kill hours planning it... Then all I have to do is tape and enjoy.

Okay, my list is exhausted. Of course, there's toys and coloring books, and playdates with friends... But we're always on the lookout for something new. Your turn. How does your family beat the winter blues???


  1. We are an artsy-fartsy kind of crew over here. I have a cabinet filled the brim with odd and ends that become amazing creations with just the dab of a glue gun and the steady hands of a child! :)

    Congrats to the winner!!

  2. THANK YOU! for some great suggestions! Honestly today I have been hiding from them a bit... horrible, I know. But I have just plain run out of ideas. Our crafts are almost depleted, board games tiring out, and I end up eating everything that we bake! (although we still made a pan of brownies this afternoon) They did manage to build snow forts for a few hours this afternoon, but your ideas look great!

  3. Bina, I wish I was artsy. :( Sadly, all my creativity genes seem used up with my writing. I don't do the craft thing...

    Alicia, before you think I'm super mom, I hide too. ;) Today was a good day, but yesterday... not so much. As for the baking, I hear you. I'm a nibbler, and I'm amazed at what can disappear in no time at all! It was just a little nibble...!

  4. Those are awesome ideas. I'll have to try some of these out whenever I get married and have kids of my own. I was just saying on another blog that I don't want my children to be video game and television junkies. I want them to be into books, arts and crafts, and the outdoors.

  5. You've got great ideas!

    We've had great fun with music lately. Freeze Dance is a favorite for my girls; just play an energetic song and watch 'em stop short each time you pause it. And I don't mind doing bubbles indoors, as long as we're careful. They normally pop into nothing, but those that land on furniture or something can easily wipe away with a wet rag.

    Congrats to the giveaway winner!

  6. These are AMAZING ideas. I will print out this post and save it to give to our full time live in Nanny. The one Mike and I will have when we move to, well, you know. India. Or northern Uganda. :)