Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Toast to Old Friends

“The desire for friendship comes quickly. Friendship does not.” –Aristotle

Soon after moving to New York City over a decade ago, I realized that I was missing something. It was a longing of some kind; a deep void. During the process of my wedding it was fulfilled but, soon after, the longing came back again. 

This longing was the deep connection I had felt with my group of lifelong friends that I had left behind when I moved to the Northeast. 
Since being up here I have made many friends, some who have come and gone, and many who still remain. I realized that the gift my childhood friendships hold is a solid foundation of trust. This kind of friendship isn’t built in a month or a year but many years. And, these years don’t only include times of laughter and joys but also sadness, questioning and personal challenges. It is only after you have experienced these types of life challenges with your friends that a bond is either made, strengthened or broken. My childhood friends and I have been through birthday parties, dress up, toilet paper rolling, too much makeup, big bangs, suspension, 3 a.m. dancing, boyfriends, break ups, marriages, being moved abroad, divorce, babies, and death.  
Our connection has been strengthened through hundreds of decisions both good and bad. We have taken turns over the years being there for each other, silent and strong. There isn’t a bond that can be made stronger than through the trials of life.

Over the years I have frequently gone back south and we’ve been able to get together for weddings, baby showers, births, dinners and wine. 
Since my daughter’s birth I’ve found it tougher to get down there. Fortunately, this Fall, our 20th high school reunion gave me the excuse I needed.

Near the end of the night of our reunion I took a moment to look around at all of us. I felt so grateful to my parents for investing in sending me to a private, Christian school and giving me the opportunity to form lasting friendships with these women. Inside I felt deeply at peace and proud of the choices I had made in these friends.  I believe it is a rare gift to find friends who are steady, strong and fully OK with you just being YOU.

I treasure my friends and the authenticity of our relationship. 
Although we aren’t able to see each other often or talk as much as we’d like, things are always as if we just left each other the day before. And, for this I’m grateful.
I’d like to say that the void I had years ago finally left but it never really has. I miss each and every one of these girls and secretly hope for a day when we can all be together again planning overnight slumber parties and shopping trips. And, in my dream, it will one day happen. Until then—Jennifer, Becky, Lori, Michelle, Joy and J.C., I love you guys!!! 

“Friendship isn’t a big thing.
                 It’s a million little things.”

Friday, February 22, 2013

DIY Tea Box Dollhouses

Has anyone ever made you a gift?

In my book, handmade gifts are the best gifts. I’d prefer a homemade card any day to a Hallmark and a present created by someone’s hands even if more on the imperfect side than a store bought, pristine made-in-China tschoske.
 (Our Christmas gifts from the kids even had handmade wrap.)
 (I love when the kids present me with projects from school that 
they made just for me.)
This year for Christmas I wanted to make some gifts for the kids to reflect the sentimental value of something made with one’s own hands. None of the gifts were anything extraordinarily unique, but my littles’ eyes lit up when I told them Mommy had made “that” gift for them.

For Sissy, I took some empty tea boxes, covered them with white duct tape and used colored vinyl tape to decorate them like miniature dollhouses. I purchased an adorable wooden peg family from etsy.

 My girl has enjoyed role playing with her new family and their home while it makes me smile every time I hear her sweet little voice mimicking the Mommy. 
I'll share more of our gifts later but can't go without showing off our new outdoor swing. The BEST handmade gift by our girl Kathleen.  
 Thank you to anyone who has ever made me a gift with their own hands. Chances are I still have it no matter how long ago it was given to me.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sick Day Activities

Heuristic (pron.: /hyoo-ris-tik/; Greek: "Ερίσκω", "find" or "discover") 
refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery. 
Where the exhaustive search is impractical, heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution; mental short cuts to ease the cognitive load of making a decision.

“Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.”  ~Abbé Dimnet, Art of Thinking, 1928

This week in the Menoni household the flu and some nasty colds took over. Two kids were finally able to get back to school but if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be in a needy, fragile state once they return home today.

In preparation for this, I put together some very quick and easy sensory activities. (For more of these types of ideas look here.)

Big Brother has really been into pirates the past few months. When I ran across  this Pirate Inspired Sensory box idea on one of my favorite blogs, I knew I had found a treasure. Pun intended.
(Pirate books for inspiration, our Dinosaur brown-colored playdoh, Popsicle stick with index card pirate flag, coins, Mardi Gras beads, wooden figures from our Acrobats collection, rocks, shells from our beach, a sword and kerchief from our dress up bin and some favors from a recent Pirate-themed birthday party.)
I have always loved doing sensory activities with my kids because it sparks lots of interesting questions from their curious minds, builds small motor skills, increases vocabulary through discussion, and provides a learning experience using all of their senses. Since all three of my children learn in different ways (kinesthetic, auditory, visual) then I know this is the best way to introduce them to new experiences and objects.

For Sissy I used objects from our Valentine's Day Sensory Box that I created last year and combined them with some other objects I found around the house.
This was my first time introducing Cash to a Treasure Basket. 

A Treasure Basket is a basket (or other container) filled with various objects that will provide a wonderful tactile experience. This particular basket included; wooden beads, water blocks, bead blocks, a wire whisk, wooden marble tracks, a rice shaker made from an old sprinkles container, a piece of fabric and ribbon.
 (My poor little guy is still under the weather but still always keeps the sweetest disposition.)

The activities proved successful and we all had lots of fun exploring and creating.
Although my goal is to foster a love of learning in my kids, it is usually me that seems to learn the most from their inquisitive minds and fearless creativity.
Winter break is upon us and I’m excited to come up with more learning experiences for all of us. Until then, enjoy the rest of your LOVE-ly Valentine week.

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. “ ~Clay P. Bedford