What to do? Give yourself a “noogy”.

The worst thing that we can tell ourselves is “I can’t”. My granddaughter was using the phrase so often that I began giving her a signal, in the form of a “noogy”, every time that it left her lips. Not sure about the proper spelling but a noogy is that irritating rub of the knuckles on top of someone’s head. It has become a ritual and I have been the recipient of a few noogies myself.

I am  constantly searching for projects. Being creative is a lifestyle and, once you “buy in”, there’s an appetite to satisfy. This appetite is for something new and exciting.

Well, I suggest when there is a lull in your projects to revisit those that you may have filed under the heading,”I can’t”.

Years ago I spent a short time sketching caricatures of my day care kids. It was a fling that I had not recalled until I browsed through some old photos. My “passion”, at that time, was to dabble in the art of illustrating children’s books.

I am going to give myself a noogy and try it again.

Here is what I had done and dismissed.

Resisting Tidy Creates the Mighty

Over the weekend, I decided that my picnic table desperately needed a paint job . I invited Katherine ( my 7-year-old granddaughter) to help me give the table its “face lift”. We needed to take extra precautions and allow more time (all day) for the estimated completion but the value of this project , as a learning experience, soon became clear.

It would have been VERY much faster, and more tidy, to do it alone. I suspect that parents have a lot on their plate these days and easy/tidy options are a big temptation but, please consider, this list of the things that Katherine learned that day… Things that only doing can teach.

  • Supplying a project can be costly and must be planned.
  • Setting up is time-consuming but makes the job easier and better.
  • Our hardware store happens to have a candy counter!
  • Primer is a spray-on paint that makes the final paint last.
  • Dipping your brush in too far makes lots of drips.
  • Spreading the paint, too thinly, makes it start to dry and get sticky.
  • Waiting between coats, makes for a better cover.
  • Painting against the wood grain does not work, as well as, following it.
  • Painting is very tiring for your arms.
  • Always watch the edges for drips.
  • Work from the center outward or you’ll be leaning in wet paint.

People rarely are born with skills. They learn them.
Parents please resist that “tidy reflex”, as often as, possible. Include your kids in everyday tasks and you’ll take part in building mighty skilled people.

BTW-We both were scraping yellow from our ears, hair and arms for days after.


Grandma and Katherine's project completed.
Grandma and Katherine’s project completed.


Here we go again…

Exciting news! Katherine will become a big sister next April!

Katherine’s first reaction was deciding that laying on Daddy’s stomach would be alright but she would have to refrain from laying on Mommy’s stomach because she wouldn’t want to hurt their baby.

Yesterday, Ellen went to Price Chopper. Ellen had worked there and she and Katherine know the whole crew. Ellen was receiving congratulatory hugs from everyone when a little voice said,”Hey,what about me?” Katherine is going to be a great big sister!

My first fear was that baby #2 would see all the energy that I put into watching Katherine and feel second best. Well, grandma may come up with brand new ways to immortalize him/her. I just started using the computer in the Spring of 2007. Kat was born in 2005. This blog just may overflow its “banks” in the coming year!

This video is one I made of Kat when she was little. All I can say is, HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Creative Kids Project # 8

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Playing with Dough

My kids are given just playdough and a (non-serrated) butter knife.

That’s all…the rest is imagination.

Yesterday, a ten year old made a melting snowman on a beach. It was equipped with a boom box and cooler and towel. How cool is that?

When it comes to creativity, less really IS more. The fewer materials the better a project works. I find that I have to bore the kids into some of these projects. I just leave it on my table and what kid of any age can resist playdough?


The lazier the project director, the more creative the experience!

Here is a good recipe for homemade playdough:


  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • 1/2 Cup of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Warm Water
  • 2 Teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
  • 1Tablespoon of Cooking Oil
  • Food Coloring

Step 1: The Cooking

Put all of the ingredients into a pan.  I’ve just realized that I made a mistake when trying out this recipe – I missed out the oil, which would probably explain why it was a little dry.

A pan full of wet ingredients
A pan full of wet ingredients

Slowly heat the ingredients making sure you stir continuously. The mixture should be quite smooth but it will soon start to stiffen. Watch out for lumps forming:

Smooth Mixture Turning Lumpy
Smooth Mixture Turning Lumpy

The mixture will begin to stiffen very quickly – at least it did for me. The website I got this play dough recipe from said that it might take a while so I guess it varies. You’ll need to put some effort into the stirring at this stage. When your mixture looks like the picture below, it’s just about ready:

The Mixture is Ready
The Mixture is Ready

Step 2: Kneading the Dough

Take the dough out of your pan and roll it onto a suitable surface.

The dough should be light and springy. It’s lovely stuff actually, I don’t know why I never tried this before! Knead it for a few minutes like you would knead a bread dough and it should look something like this:

A Ball of Dough
A Ball of Dough
Adding food coloring to the water makes colored dough.

Creative Kids Project #7

One photo that we have used.

My kids just love to write stories. I’d like to believe that it is,in part, due to my summer projects.

As I browse through magazines, I cut out unusual photos to be used for writing assignments. Luckily, I own a laminating machine and keep them for a long while.

I’ll hand out these photos to my school aged friends and ask them to write a story using the photo as their cover. What interesting stories they create.This is lots of fun for adult writers too. Try the same photo with different kids then compare the results!

Oh yes…for the little kid version. Hold up the funny photo and jot down what they think.