Our Gratitude Tree

Tomorrow is the last day of November, and so we will once again wrap up this year’s Gratitude Tree, my annual attempt to keep the kids’ heads straight during the contagious and overwhelming excitement of the holidays.  October ends with a bang with Jax’s birthday and Halloween one after another, then the Christmas catalogs start rolling in and the kids get a glazed look in their eyes with the influx of holiday commercials and Christmas-themed television shows, not to mention the lingering sugar from their Halloween candy.  That’s why the first week of November we donated our Halloween candy to the troops overseas, and I think that is a tradition I will gratefully continue!  I thank my lucky stars that we live in a commercialized black hole, so the Christmas hype is easier to avoid for us than most, but I still like doing something every now and again to remind Jax, Em, and Little H that we are more blessed than we could have ever imagined.  Thus our Gratitude Tree was born.

I cut a tree silhouette out of butcher paper and since I never found those foam leaves this year as I had before, used the kids’ hand prints to form our daily “leaves.”  Then every day they rotated writing what they were thankful for, trying not to repeat too often, although Little H was always thankful for her “new bookshelf” and her bed!

gratitude tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It #thanksgivingcrafts #handprintcrafts

Em was definitely the most thoughtful; Jax often did one-word answers, such as “books” or “food.”  Em was my girl for the most varied and specific answers, which I loved as much as her investigative spelling.

gratitude tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It #thanksgivingcrafts #handprintcrafts

I put Little H’s autumn button branch above our tree with the words “Give Thanks” printed on it, and our kitchen has been more cheerful and gratifying all November because of it.

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Fingerprint Garden Art

The day before my birthday last week, JDubbs picked the big kids up from school and they went out to do some last minute shopping.  That left me and the baby with nowhere to go after nap, a luxury for us after I had to wake her up so many times over the school year to get to pick-up on time.  My tired self was voting for an extra episode of Paw Patrol, but I knew that a quiet afternoon with just us two (a glimpse into what life will be like this fall!) was so special it deserved a little effort.

Fingerprint Garden Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

It was a toss-up between painting and Play-Doh, two activities Little H loves that I am guilty of avoiding because it takes a lot of work to set up for two or three kids.  Since I would pretty much rather do anything than clean teeny pieces of Play-Doh up for the next several days, I busted out the art supplies and an old favorite craft–using hand and thumbprints to create a garden scene–and I’ve never seen Little H so thrilled to have me to herself.

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First, you draw or paint some stems for flowers.  Knowing Little H is a painting novice, I didn’t want her to inevitably smudge the stems as she painted.  So I drew them with marker, which I think helped her understand what we were trying to do and kept the garden from getting too smudged too quickly.

Thumbprint Flowers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

 Then she was “all thumbs,” in the very best way, to make colorful flowers.

Thumbprint Flowers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

We had to take a short break from our plan for some less structured paint time, because she was getting antsy to just dive into the paints with more than just one finger!  Five will do!

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Once I got her back on track, I asked her what we needed in our garden.  We agreed no June garden is complete without sunshine, so a handprint sun was born. Just make several handprints on top of each other to make the rays.

Handprint Sun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Lastly we added some bumblebees (a Little H favorite)…

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…and our glorious garden was complete!

Fingerprint Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

A beautiful product created from some truly beautiful time together, just me and my littlest girl.  She deserves just as much energy as the other two received at her age.  I’m looking forward to being reinvigorated by her enthusiasm as she grows, spending time with just me and my girl!

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Life: Winter Break

Week one of Winter Break is in the books and it has been quite tumultuous.  Not only have we been enjoying the everyday pleasures of being trapped in a small house with five people and a dog, we were also blessed with a lingering stomach flu that kept JDubbs home from work to help take care of the kids and my mom away on Christmas Eve even though her plan was to spend the night and wake up with us Christmas morning.  We have also traveled through three states, spent two nights at relatives’ houses, attended one and a half Christmas parties and had our photo in two newspapers.  It’s been festive, albeit hectic, to say the least.

So since I was up to my ears in stomach flu, I didn’t do anything noteworthy at home other than pull off a stupendous Christmas, but we did have a great day or two before that!

We attended the Upper Valley Waldorf School Winter Fair, one of my absolute favorite pre-Christmas celebrations.

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We met the Snow Queen and visited the jungle in a gnome tent, and picked treasures from the Pocket Lady.  We couldn’t stick around to welcome King Winter before Em and I had to go to The Nutcracker, but it was worth the quick visit!

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Em and Little H have been thick as thieves lately, and I must admit that I really love it.  Having two sisters myself, I know there’s nothing better.

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We also made a hand print wreath for my grandmother’s scrapbook the family is putting together as her Christmas gift.  It came out so cute–I think I’m going to make one for myself next year!

Handprint holiday wreath @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Now that our travels are over, the new toys have been unpacked and stored in their bedrooms, our routine can get back to normal for this last week of vacation.  I hope to have much more to share from our adventures soon!

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Handprint Felt Turkeys

On this Thanksgiving that feels a bit tumultuous with travel plans canceled due to the weather, I’m taking a minute to be thankful for my littlest turkey who joined our family less than two years ago.

Handprint Felt Turkeys @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Recreating this craft that I did with Jax and Em four years ago really solidified for me how our family is complete, and how I love continuing traditions with them year after year.  So happy I have three little turkeys around my table every day, and three beautiful handprint felt turkeys to decorate my table every Thanksgiving!

May your day be full of blessings!  Gobble! Gobble!

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Handprint Butterfly (For Two!)

So when big cousins are here visiting for a week, inevitably at times the clan gets divided by interest or by gender just because that’s the nature of having a group of five kids ages 1-14.  One afternoon Jax was determined to “teach” his big cousin Christian how to play the Wii, so the ladies and I headed outside on the deck for a little arts and crafts leisure time.  Erika picked out a craft she’d like to try on Pinterest, and we put our own twist on it by making one handprint butterfly with two sets of hands: Erika’s hands were the big wings, and Em’s hands made the little ones.

handprint butterfly @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Came out pretty cute, huh?

So first I painted Em’s hands the colors of her choice, and then she placed them thumb to thumb to form the lower wings of a butterfly.

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Then I let Em paint Erika’s hands.  I think that was her favorite part!

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handprint butterflies @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Little H didn’t know what was going on but I gave her a paintbrush and dry watercolors and she “painted” alongside us.  And yes, in case you’re wondering, I am the kind of mom who lets her kids paint in white dresses.  Doesn’t everyone?

Then we pressed Erika’s hands atop Em’s, turned the other way to be the upper portion of the wings, and then painted a butterfly body and antennae.

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After much discussion, we decided against outlining the wings in marker as I was going to do and settled for a sweet smiley face when the paint was dry instead.

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This was the perfect gift for Grandma (who snatched it right up the moment my niece showed it to her), or for Mom made by two siblings or for a child and her best friend!  Nothing better than a piece of art that shows how two people lift each other up in life and in love!  Art with a loving message.

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Feeling The Fourth

July is upon us and the kids and I are feeling festive, thanks to a great idea I found from B-Inspired Mama.  Time to get our red, white, and blue on.

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I painted the kids’ hands like so and carefully pressed them to a sheet of paper.  Ideally, you wouldn’t pick white computer paper but I was already excited about this before I checked my supply of colorful construction paper and found it to be nonexistent.  Don’t forget to add a star!

Fired up for the 4th of July!

Patriotic Handprints @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Ideas For Celebrating Spring

We had so much fun making paper birds last week that I started looking for other ways that we have celebrated spring in the past, and look what I found!  I can’t wait to give these another go round, especially now that Em has such an artistic side:

1.  Cherry Blossom Soda Bottle Art

2.  Have A Reading Picnic

3.  Build Your Own Fairy Home

4.  Searching For Signs Of Spring

5.  Fingerprint Spring Flowers & Critters

6.  Fingerpaint Trees

7.  Footprint Butterflies

8.  Fingerprint Spring Birds

9.  Bird House & Feeder

10.  Egg Carton Ladybugs

11. Spring Thumbprint Art

12.  Watercolor Initials

13.  Leaf Prints

Since Baby H arrived, we haven’t had too much time for crafting, but as things settle down into more of a routine, moments like these will go back to being a priority.  I love simple, special activities that help me kids understand the world around them.  Plus our house is looking a little bare–I think it’s time I dusted off our fingerpaints and got crafty!  How about you?

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