Sunday, August 24, 2014

Frozen Fun Inspired Art & Sensory Camp

"Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle but put me in summer and I'll be....
a happy snowman!"

My kids fell in love with this movie the first time they watched it and I can't deny that I did too. I don't know if I'll ever tire of hearing Idina Mendez sing Let It Go (I'm a huge fan since seeing Wicked on Broadway) and my daughter's version just makes my heart melt. 

Emerson asked me if I would do a camp day themed to her new favorite movie and I couldn't say no.....
Olaf Bean Bag Toss
1 & 4) Do You Want to Build a Snowman? We did two different versions using toilet paper and marshmallows. 
2) Snowball Fizz Melt using baking soda mixed with water left to harden overnight. The kids used vinegar dyed with various shades of blue to spray on the snowball. They loved watching the snowballs fizz down to beautifully colored gems. 
3) Snow Slime using glue, Borax and silver glitter. The mushy/moldable/drippy texture feels amazing and the kids LOVED it!
Knox gelatin left clear and colored with shades of blue and glitter to explore using characters from the movie and a large mirror to reflect the shimmer and their imaginative play.
1) Elsa's Castle Bowling using recycled boxes spray painted white and a big ball.
2) The favorite activity of the day: Gelatin castle molds made from sand castle buckets and Knox gelatin. The kids were given droppers and blue colored water to inject color into the castles. They loved the marble effect it had and were also able to exercise their fine motor skills. 
3) We made our living room cozy with big blankets and pillows and served the kids lemonade and pizza--the perfect recipe for watching their favorite movie.
4) Homemade glittered playdoh with shapes and tools for exploring.
1 & 4) We froze beads and clear gems into various shaped ice structures we made using recyclable bottles and loaf pans. We gave the children salt we colored with powdered tempera and warm water as we discussed how ice melts. 
2 & 3) Snowball Fizz Melt
(Hunter paid homage to one of his favorite characters Marshmallow.)
Digging gems out of the glittered Snow Slime.
The afternoon proved to be lots of fun and I think my kids may love the movie even more!
Just like Olaf, Emerson and her bestie love warm hugs!
 (The dress she begged me to buy her for camp and then claimed it was too itchy to wear....
until she heard Elsa singing Let It Go.)

"The sky's awake, so I'm awake, so we have to play."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Art & Sensory Summer Camp - Reading & Rainbows

"Play energizes and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities."
-Stuart Brown, MD, Contemporary American Psychiatrist
Our first day of camp this summer was themed around reading and rainbows. Because we know that children (and adults) learn best when they engage all the senses, we developed activities where the children had the opportunity to fully use all five of their senses in order to explore and learn about ways we use color in the world. 

Activities included; rainbow spaghetti exploration,
rainbow watercoloring with spray bottles, 
and rainbow manipulatives so we could discuss similarities and differences, problem solving (when building structures), and decision making. 
This particular table was good for cooperation and collaboration which the older kids loved teaching the younger ones about!
We also had a rainbow science station. The kids loved experimenting with mixing various colored dye, glitter and flour. We supplied a lot of different tools for investigation, many of which also exercised fine motor skills. 
The messier the activity, the more fun the kids had! I loved listening to observations the children made while exploring and how they taught each other what they had learned.
We took time to read lots and lots of books and sang some new songs (thank you Chelsea!).
One of the favorite activities of the day was the rainbow obstacle course. The object of the game was to climb through the maze without touching any of the streamers.
We finished off the day with rainbow painting using our feet first...
...and then the kids ventured on to painting with their hands, elbows and knees. 

Watching the kids reiterated what I love most about sensory play--the delight children show when they are learning to love learning! 
Looking forward to sharing more photos soon! 

In the meantime, you can check out other camp days by clicking on the following:
Art & Sensory Summer Camp - Candyland

"I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things...
I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind."
-Leo F. Buscaglia

Thursday, June 12, 2014


"He who has felt the deepest grief is best able 
to experience supreme happiness."
-Alexandre Dumas
(Written on Saturday, April 12, 2014)
I feel stuck. 
As if my feet are stuck in this thick, oozy, gray cement and although I'm pulling my legs with all my might, I'm not going anywhere.

Some days I think the consistency has thinned and I've become strong. I even think my legs are beginning to move a little more and then the thickness takes me over again and I'm stuck.
I want to write so badly yet I'm afraid.  Afraid of the emotions it will conjure up and the love.
I loved my daughter intensely and, because of that, grieving feels so lonely.
No one had her like I had her.
Photo by Brooke Allison 
I'm sure others have thought that the process for me is over because I put on a nice outfit, get my kids to school on time and have a smile on my face. I'm sure they think that if you've only known a baby in your womb how could you possibly really know her?
Photo by Brooke Allison
I'm guilty of judging just as much as the next person but, this whole experience sure has taught me a lot about being judgemental. One can never understand how someone feels unless they have been walking in the exact same shoes.

I cared for my daughter the same as I cared for my other three children before they were born but I know I put as much energy into it as I could knowing that the likelihood of seeing her alive was slim.
Photo by Brooke Allison
I prayed. I prayed so hard that God would let me look into her eyes for just five minutes. Five minutes. The time it takes to brush your teeth or wash a couple of dirty dishes in the sink or call to make a reservation. Five minutes. I didn't ask for much. God didn't deliver what I wanted and its taken me 16 weeks to fully accept that it hurt me deeply to not get what I wanted.

I feel stuck.
            Drinking a cocktail of grief, anger, disappointment and bitterness.
                      I wonder why God didn't give me the five minutes I asked for and ponder this daily.

I'm in pain and I miss my daughter. Why did another woman who gave birth to a Trisomy 18 baby just weeks later get to spend a full 10 days with her son and I didn't? Was it because she was a better Christian than me? Does she have more checks on her merit list?

When I'm honest and remove myself from the emotional part of it, I also kept praying, "But God, your Will be done. Whatever it is you want for Everly and for me, I will accept it."

But, this many weeks later, knowing He fully answered my prayer but with "His Will" and "not mine", I can say accepting it is hard and I'm not there yet.

I guess this is where faith comes in. Its trudging ahead and knowing that there are mysteries in life that may remain just that: a mystery. But I also believe that God loves us too much to leave us drowning in a vast ocean without providing a way to escape.

We all have these idealistic dreams for our life. My life is still special and amazing but, different. 
                    I am different. 
                                 I am learning a new normal and am so thankful for the friends and family that are supporting me throughout the journey to my new normal.

I feel blessed. Being a mother and loving my husband and children has been the greatest gift this life has offered. As I continue to hurt deeply I know that one day some of these empty spaces will fill again. This grief has dared me to love again and I will do it with the same intensity as I loved Everly because I recognize that I'm blessed with this hurt. Why?  Because some people never have this much to lose.
Photos by Brooke Allison
There are happy days ahead and I intend to increase their number.
Photo by Brooke Allison
"Only those that know how to weep can laugh heartily."
-Kathleen R. Fischer
Note: All of the somewhat decent photos in this post were taken by me and the most beautiful photos were taken by my good friend Brooke Allison. My daughter Everly brought us together and we were immediately connected in heart and for life. Although the photos evoke the happiness and love of this experience, Brooke also authentically captured the deep pain. I will eventually share more of this but, for now, its the joy of the gift of Everly that I most want to share.