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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

{mama prompt} :: secret steam

an occasional series of quick journal and creative prompts just for mamas

in the steam of the shower write something amazing about yourself. know that it is always there.

want to dig deep this april with other mamas looking to reclaim a little of themselves? check out my "book about me" lab. it will inspire and motivate you to start the process of stepping into the creative vision for your life. you can read more here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

{monday mission} start a collection

Building a collection is such a great activity to work on individually and as a family. We have enjoyed working on various collections over the years and have learned so much as they often spur new directions in our explorations. Here are a three ideas that have helped us in our collection of collections.

my tiniest collection - 3 woodpecker feathers

1. A collection can be of anything. 

we currently have collections of:

bottle caps
smashed pennies from our travels
seed pods
my little pony figurines
restaurant crayons (?)
golden books
dolls and doll clothes
sugar cubes from around the world

my feather collection is stuck in one of my found birds nests

2. Offer ways of both storage and display.

A collection can easily become a junk pile if it does not have a useful way to be both stored and displayed. We often keep our collections in tin and cigar boxes, plastic bins, shoe boxes, entire drawers and tote bags.

For display, think creatively. I like a series of glass fish bowls, a hanging banner or even a temporary table surface. Old letter press trays can be found at antique store rather cheap. Shadow boxes from the craft store can be painted or stained in any creative way.

Ask your kids to make a museum or dinner centerpiece with their collection. And invite people to come over and share their collections or just enjoy yours. It is fun to bring things out of storage to enjoy.

some collections are temporary

3. Allow collections to have a life cycle.

Meaning, sometimes a collection might be short lived (like the one we had of silly bands). This is especially true of environmental collections you might make when spending a day at the beach or in the woods. Above, is a collection of interesting found objects my kids found when exploring an old windmill well. They set up a display, invited us over to look at it and then left it for the next hiker.

It is important to let kids take charge of their collections on their own. There is no easier way to kill a kid's interest and passion than by trying to take control of the project by demanding limiting perimeters or even by being overly enthusiastic.

When we took our daughter, a budding philatelist, to a local stamp shop to meet the owner, it was nearly soul crushing. Instead of encouraging her novice enthusiam, he immediately started explaining how she needed to focus her collection on only one country and should invest in a particular $100 album. There was no room for her interest or discovery. Thankfully, we all agreed his restrictions were unreasonable for the type of stamp collecting she was interested in.

4. Take the time to look at other collections.

We love checking out other people's and institution's collections. Antique stores, yard sales, conventions, trade shows, car shows, museums and visitor centers are all great places to get inspired by what inspires others.

We have enjoyed collections of citrus labels, Coca Cola memorabilia, gems and rocks, cigar bands, local shells, pins, marbles, doll furniture, historic costumes, old cars and more.

It is always invigorating to be around enthusiasts and learn what intrigues them about their area of speciality and passion. Because, in the end, we are not only learning about a new subject matter, we are also learning about how to craft an engaged and curiosity driven life.

In the comments, share with us about your collections...

Want to work with me in boosting your family's creativity? 
check out the newest section of the Mama Scout Family e-Lab. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

10 rules of the happy people

I am a people watcher. Not just random people strolling around town, but people I am acquainted with too.  I feel like I can learn something from everyone I meet and have recently been interested in what makes happy, upbeat, positive people tick. Here is what I have come up with:

1. Happy people laugh a lot. At themselves, at their troubles, at daily situations. Approaching the day with humor is the way to go.

2. They always have something to look forward to. A trip, a class, a dinner, or a big project - anticipation of something interesting keeps life vital and fun.

3. Energetic people have a connection to nature. They like to hike, garden, look out of their windows, go to the beach and just walk around outside.

4. People are happier when they have pets or at least like and respect animals.

5. They like and eat good food. Healthy, decadent, special, weird food is all great for happy people.

6. Happy people are confident in their life choices. They take responsibility and are willing to make changes if something is not working. Victim mentality never equals happy camper.

7. They have strong relationships but are non-attached to particular roles for others to fulfill. Meaning, they love deeply, but a happy person's joy is not dependent on another person making it for them.

8. Happy people keep their minds active and agile by thinking new ideas. They are non-dogmatic in their thinking. New concepts are invigorating, not scary to them.

9. Some sort of physical activity keeps the happy juice flowing. A sedentary lifestyle usually is not going to get you there (literally or figuratively).

10. A happy person always has something interesting to share. They read cool books, listen to a variety of music and go to interesting plays and films.

I loved coming up with this list and thinking about the things I do (and can do) to keep myself happy.

So, what are some of the tenets from the happy people in your life? Please share in the comments!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

{mama prompt} :: alarms

an occasional series of quick journal and creative prompts just for mamas

today, set your alarm for the time that best represents your birthday. when it goes off, write for 5 minutes about everything that is around you. snap a picture if you want. stick it in your journal.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

homeschooling is...

...spending hours with your siblings planting things in pots to make a magical garden with twinkly lights that you plan to eat dinner in every night. 

leave a comments about what homeschooling looks like in your house this week...

Monday, February 18, 2013

{monday mission} walk a labyrinth

This week, see if you can find a local labyrinth to walk with your kids. You can search here or ask around. The one near us is in a park and has a nature theme, so it is not listed in the religious or spiritual directories.

The unicursal (one way in) nature of labyrinths is intriguing to kids who must stay focused as they wind around the space. We giggled and ran (not appropriate in a church, tsk, tsk!) and wondered how we ended back out at the edge and where exactly the unseen route was.

Have you walked or made labyrinths with your children?

If this activity sparks the imagination, you can go further. 

You can mow a labyrinth in your yard.

Read the Greek myth of the Theseus and the Minotour

Watch the Jim Henson movie Labyrinth.

Check out the Labyrinth Society's website for kids.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

wellness soup

It is a bit laughable that I would share a recipe for soup because it is the most forgiving food there is. But, with allergies and colds in the air, I thought we should talk about hot, healing soup.

The key to amazing soup is homemade bone stock. I remember watching Martha Stewart demonstrate how to make stock when I was a young adult. It was so complex and cumbersome (and seemed wasteful too) that I immediately added stock making to my mental file box. The one that includes homemade marshmallows and cutting your own children's' hair; things I will never do.

We make a batch of stock each week. Sunday is roast chicken night and as soon as dinner is over, we clean the carcass of any tasty leftover bits for tacos or rice later in the week. We then throw the carcass into a crock pot and cover with water. Sometimes we add some onion, carrot, celery or garlic. It really depends on what we have around. It simmers all night.

Sorry, Martha. My method is a million times easier.

And Monday is soup night!

In the morning, I drain the liquid gold and use it for a base for our wellness soup. It is full of magic because the bones were simmered all night long and because I feel like we are really honoring the life of the chicken by not wasting any part of it.

To make the soup, I sauté an onion, a few carrots, a few celery stalks and any additional raw chicken I might want to use in olive or coconut oil, or butter. I throw in tons of chopped up garlic at the end.

Then I add the stock and any additional water I might need. I also add chopped up ginger root, lemongrass, salt, pepper, and dried mixed herbs.

I let this simmer anywhere from 15 - 45 minutes. It really depends on how big you cut your carrots and how hungry you are. Taste it and see what you think along the way.

If we have any kale, I chopped it into thin ribbons and add those near the end of the cooking. They only take a minute or two to wilt and make the soup over the top good.

You can add any carby goodness at the end too. I have a kid who is cutting out gluten, so last week we used some gluten free pizza dough we had on hand and the dumplings were really good! You can also make traditional dumplings, store bought egg noodles, left over rice or homemade pasta style dumplings.

To make your own pasta style dumplings, just mix flour (about a cup) and an egg (or two) into a dough (it can be wet) and drop bits pinched off or spooned off into the boiling broth. When they pop up to the surface they are done. They have a wonderful chew to them.

An added can of white beans will make this soup even more filling. Your kids don't like beans? Puree them in some water or broth and then add them!

Although, my kids do not all love soup at the same time, there are always a few who are really into it (it changes weekly... do all kids do this?). I feel like an wellness alchemist making it. The chopping, stirring, adding pinches of this and that, along with my intentions that this will boost their immunity, soothe their bellies and help them grow strong make my soup making a deep, fulfilling ritual.

I would love to hear how you cook wellness into your soup, please share.

Monday, February 11, 2013

{monday mission} ask your kid to teach you something

This week, think about something your child is really good at. Skateboarding, Pokemon, drawing, playing cars, painting fingernails all different colors, etc...

Ask them to give you lessons. And then pay close attention.

Not only will you be amazed at your child's intelligence and depth of knowledge, but hopefully by their willingness to share and help too. When they are put in control of an experience, a new energy emerges as they feel valued for their skills and their contribution to your family.

For many kids, this can be a game changer. They yearn for leadership and a bit of autonomy, and this is a stellar way to accomplish that while having fun and strengthening relationships.

Oh, and if you are looking for me, I will be on the sidewalk in skateboarding lessons.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

{exploration lab} dissect an old mattress

On my kids' list of experiences to have, dissecting a mattress was high up there. In particular, my son wanted to make spring loaded shoes and he knew he could get those from a mattress. But finding an old bed in the alley did not seem like a good idea to me.

Luckily, when my brother moved, he left us his mattress which was in good shape but headed for the dump. The kids first drug it in and out of the garage for a month and used it to alternately jump and lounge on. After spending one afternoon laying in the yard on a mattress, I can attest to the decadence of this proposition.

Finally, the day came they were ready to literally tear in to their project.

It was amazing (as all these kid led projects are).

They worked together, divided up the tasks, took turns and split the raw materials when they were done. My daughter constructed a little bean bag sofa for her club house, one son had plans for a knight costume and the other son, well, he just could not cut up the spring grid. He was fascinated by the construction and pattern and thought it would be a shame to destroy it. I agreed and we propped it up in the garden and might grown vines on it or use it as a nature display area.

Or in a few months, he might be bouncing down the street in his new spring loaded shoes.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Well, gosh, it seems like I am neglecting this blog a bit. I have a million (or at least a dozen) posts half ready to go, but have been busy. 

We spent a week driving up to Washington D.C. It snowed snowflakes so big you could see their crystal formations. I have never seen snow like that before. We loved the Ai Weiwei show at the Hirshhorn and this show at the Smithsonian American History Museum.

But mostly, my new lab has been so freaking amazing. I love the family lab and it is so good. But this mama lab - whoa! It is like I unleashed a tidal wave. There has been so much sharing and support and soul bearing, I am still trying to catch my breath. 

I am honored and even a bit scared at the power of this lab. There is something good in it, I need to hone, protect and share it. And that is taking a lot of my mental energy.

But, I will be back to my regular posting soon. I am really missing sharing some of the creative projects we have been up to. 

How is your February going?


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