{Introducing Time For Mama: Creative Playtime for Moms!}

To coincide with Mother's Day this month, I am SO excited to announce a new feature here on the Mama Pea Pod blog: Time for Mama is all about mothers finding some 'me time' and embracing their own creativity!

As mothers of young children, we all know that finding time to truly relax and unwind is both essential and elusive. Even when the opportunity does arise, it can be difficult to truly take advantage of it and really immerse ourselves in it. (I know I usually spend any 'me time' constantly making mental lists of all the things I 'really should be doing' instead!)

For me, one of the best ways to truly unwind is through creative projects - whether crafting or blogging, making things for my kids or myself, engaging in creative activities is a wonderful stress-reliever. It keeps me focused on something fun and engages my mind just enough to force me to stop making mental lists. I can immerse myself in my project (mostly) guilt-free -- perhaps partly because at the end I have a product to show for that time spent.

Therefore, in an attempt to bring more balance to my life (and yours, should you decide to join me), I am trying to commit to spending regular time on my own creative 'play'time - and I challenge you to do the same! Mother's Day is just around the corner - what better way to celebrate and show appreciation of the role of mothers everywhere than to allow ourselves some playtime of our own? After all, not only do we deserve it, we need it - for our health and for our families!

So on the 1st of every month I will be featuring a guest post from a creative mama with a 'me-time' project for you to try. To get us started, I have a wonderful guest post from Katie of The Artful Child to share with you and hopefully inspire you to take up this challenge, too. Katie and her friends have started a craft group as their way to enjoy some creative playtime! And be sure to check back in tomorrow for May's Time for Mama: Creative Playtime for Moms post!

So, who's in??

Time for Mama: Craft Groups

by Katie @ The Artful Child

Being a Mom is the most wonderful job in the world, but I think we can all agree, it can also be pretty frustrating and isolating at times.

To be a good Mom, at least for me, it is important to keep my mental health in check. If I am feeling balanced, I feel a lot more motivated to do projects with my girls and not get frustrated if they don’t go as planned.

Being a Mom of young children, also leaves little time to work on projects around the house (at least any that aren’t child safe).

Then, my friend, Rachel, suggested a wonderful solution! (Thanks Rachel!) We started a craft group!!

This time with friends, to sit and talk about our kids, lives, gossip, whatever, is exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries!! I can have a conversation, without being interrupted, and I can work on things I’ve been wanting to try or do, but haven’t found the time to do them.

The great thing about creating a group with friends is you can set it up however works best for you.

Here is an example of two different types of craft groups.

The first is a group I belong to. We call ours Glitterazzi (Awesome name, I know! Thanks Beth!). We get together on a set day and time, the 2nd and 4th week of the month (Man, I long for those days!).  We meet at the same house each week (Thanks Lori!), because she has an awesome space for us to meet in, but you could just as easily rotate your meeting place.

We take turns leading a short tutorial each meeting. Usually, it’s something we found on pinterest. We have made fabric flowers, paper garland, button holes, reverse appliqué, alcohol tiles, crochet, t-shirt bags…

We try to limit our tutorials to inexpensive projects made from items we all probably have lying around the house.

After our tutorial, we each work on whatever project we have brought with us that evening.
It is so nice to sit there with friends and talk!

This is not a time for complicated crafts, because most of the time we don’t get much done. It is not about out-doing anyone or showing off. It is about relaxing and having a good time with friends.

My second example is a group some of my other friends started. They are learning to sew together. They meet once a week and take an online sewing class. A while back, they all decided they really wanted to learn, so they decided to learn together. They have made some amazing stuff! I only wish I lived closer, so I could join in!

Whatever your passion, I highly recommend getting some friends together and starting your own group. It is a real life saver!

Here are some quotes from my fellow crafters:

 “Sewing group is a great way to recharge at the end of the week. We have so much fun learning, screwing up, and being goofy together. I do have to admit that as much as I like learning new things about sewing, I really just love hanging out with my friends http://static.ak.fbcdn.net/images/blank.gif I would recommend a craft group to all moms, no matter their craftiness level. It's like getting to have a girl's night out every week and we actually make something in the process.” ~Lindsay

“We only meet every other week, so the time commitment is minimal; it gives me a few hours away from the husband and kids where I can socialize and try out some of the crafts that I want to try, but don't have time to try at home. It sort of forces you to tap into your inner crafter and put the laundry and dishes aside for a moment, which is something that I have a difficult time doing as a mom of a toddler and an infant. Craft night has also provided me an opportunity to meet some amazing women. I've already learned so much from these ladies and it's spurred me to try out some other crafts I've been hesitant about.” ~Wendy

Sewing group is my sanity! As a mom we give so much of ourselves to our children, and do so much for them, that we often forget to do something for ourselves. I do sewing class for ME. Not the kids, not the hubs, but for myself. I enjoy making things, and do lots of crafts with my kids, but I don't always make time to do projects that I want to do. Having a group that meets once a week, or every other week, ensures that I put myself first occasionally. I don't have to be "Mom" for those couple of hours. Plus, chatting with friends and a little wine (rather than a lot of whine) really does help me relax and keep me sane. ~Kim

The Artful Child 

{On the Road With Kids: Outdoor Play Party}

Travel With Kids:

Building Playtime Into Your Journey

We travel quite a lot with our children. As expats living overseas, it's sort of a way of life for us. As anyone who's ever travelled with kids knows, with young children in tow, a long journey can easily become a miserable experience for everyone if the kids decide they've had enough. 

But there are definitely things a parent can do to help make the journey tolerable, if not enjoyable, for everyone. Aside from ensuring that you pack plenty for the kids to do along the way, one way we've found to be incredibly important is building active playtime into the trip. But how?

For long-haul air trips, that may mean taking two shorter flights with a reasonable layover, rather than one longer haul, so that they can have a chance to get off the airplane and run around in an airport. 

For long car rides, it means timing your departure just right to maximize sleeping in the car, and it also means making rest-stops longer than just a quick bite to eat and a bathroom break. 

We recently took a trip to Slovenia for a family vacation (our third time visiting there - such a beautiful place!). As always, we made sure that we spent a full hour at rest stops - plenty of time to play before getting back in the car. 

We are lucky here in Europe that many rest stops have built-in play areas, either indoors or outdoors, which we seek out and make use of (we even mark good ones on the map for reference for future trips). But if there is no play area around and the kids are in need of a break NOW, we bring a ball or some such toy, so that we can stop at any rest stop and have a bit of running around nearby. 

When you finally reach your holiday destination, make sure that you don't overschedule your days or 'oversightsee' while you are there. Be sure to include large chunks of unstructured free play time in your schedule for the kids. 

A bit of outdoor play along the way makes a world of difference to the journey, we find!

What are your tips for travelling with kids?

At the last Outdoor Play Party, Create With Your Hands shared this fun and easy DIY garden play stream! What a clever and creative way to combine water play with outdoor play when you don't normally have water in your garden to play with.


{Rainbow Party and Rainbow Blog Hop}

Did you know that Mama Pea Pod was voted Top 10 in the Red Tricycle Most Awesome awards for Birthday Party Ideas? Thanks so much! x

I'm reposting this Rainbow Party post as part of the Rainbow Blog Hop hosted by The Outlaw Mom Blog. It is one of my most popular posts that comes up in searches and on Pinterest. Enjoy!

rainbow themed birthday party for kids

I just received some pictures from Princess Pea's birthday party last summer, and they've got me enjoying it all over again. It was such a great party that I thought I'd share it with you, even though it was nearly a year ago.

It was her 3rd birthday and she requested a rainbow party. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but she was obsessed with the idea, so that's what we had - a super fun, super colourful rainbow party!

rainbow birthday party decorations

rainbow birthday party balloons

setting up rainbow birthday party decorations

Because her birthday is in June, we have so far been fortunate enough to always hold it in the garden (I dread a rainy birthday inside our two-bedroom apartment!) We decorated the garden with colourful whirligigs, streamers, a flower curtain, and other rainbow-coloured decorations hanging from the trees.

rainbow birthday party food table

We stuck to the rainbow theme as much as possible for the menu. We had a rainbow fruit plate (we tried to come up with a fruit in each colour), rainbow veggie plate (same deal), meatballs and dipping sauce, colorful pasta salad (I used tri-colour pasta and threw in colourful veggies like carrots and red peppers), apple juice with rainbow ice cubes (I made them using 3 different colours of fruit juice, frozen in layers), rainbow jelly (this was the big hit of the party, which I'll describe below), and a rainbow cake (also described below).

rainbow birthday party making fruit loop necklaces

For games and activities, we started by making rainbow necklaces out of Froot Loops cereal, which they of course then got to eat.

rainbow birthday party pass the parcel game

Afterward, we played pass the parcel (my personal favourite!), with rainbow-coloured paper. Inside each layer (yes, each layer had a prize - I don't want to deal with any tears at our parties!) was either bubbles or a mini rainbow slinky.

rainbow birthday party colored eggs game

Then we played the Coloured Eggs game - each child chooses a colour to be (they're the eggs), and the Big Bad Wolf calls out the colours of eggs he'd like to eat. If their colour is called, they have to run out of the 'house' (a bush) and run around a tree at the other end of the garden, and back safely to the house without getting caught by the wolf - I think my friend Kathy invented this game spontaneously at our Easter Egg Hunt party last year and they love it!

rainbow birthday party musical trees game

Next was musical colours - like musical chairs but instead of chairs we taped coloured papers onto different trees in the garden.

rainbow jello

rainbow jello all gone

A fun time was had by all, but by far the biggest hit of the party was the rainbow jelly! This was quite an accomplishment for me - aside from the fact that it took 12 hours to make it, to allow setting time between each layer, it was quite complicated measuring out just exactly the right amount of each colour to mix up, because I wanted each layer to be the same depth, but it was in a tapered bowl. I had to measure and remeasure 3 times with water, to figure out exactly how much of each colour I needed, then figure out how much water to add to the jello mix to make it, since I wasn't using the whole packets. Anyway, it was well worth the effort, look how yummy it looks! I might just have to make it again this year, even though it's not a rainbow-themed party this year!

rainbow birthday party cake homemade

The cake was really simple. I made a chocolate-buttermilk cake (um, it's actually the only kind of cake I know how to make from scratch!), then covered it with butter icing. The icing was supposed to be blue (for the sky), but it turned out looking a bit greenish. Oh well. Then I used marzipan in all different colours to make the rainbow. For the cloud, I used 4 big marshmallows, held together with toothpicks then covered with white butter icing, and finally covered with mini-marshmallows to make the cloud effect. The pot of gold was a little wooden pot from the craft store, covered in shiny gold paper, and filled with chocolate coins. It's no Martha Stewart, but who wants to go to jail, anyway? I was quite proud of it for being a complete non-cook/non-baker!

rainbow birthday party birthday girl

This was such a fun party, and Princess Pea still talks about it regularly, nearly a year later!

For more party ideas, including lots more rainbow-themed ideas, see my Parties board on Pinterest.

This is a blog hop! Check out more rainbow-related ideas below!

<a href="http://theoutlawmom.com/2012/04/24/play-best-of-kids-rainbow-art-eats-activities-blog-hop/" target="_blank"><img src="http://theoutlawmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/the-best-kids-rainbow-art-eats-activities-button.jpg" alt="http://theoutlawmom.com/2012/04/24/play-best-of-kids-rainbow-art-eats-activities-blog-hop/" width="125" height="125" /></a>


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{How Babies Are Made}

Is it time to tell your child how babies are made? 

5 tips for telling your preschooler how babies are made
Photo by Vlad Krpan

How Babies Are Made

for Preschoolers

Recently, Princess Pea (aged 4 3/4) has asked how babies are made. Or more specifically, just exactly how they get inside their mummies' tummies. She is a very inquisitive child, and she wants details.

I have to admit, I really wasn't prepared for this question already (I'm sure I was 8 before I considered this question - and I learned about it at school as part of our Babies unit). So, as we do these days, I turned to the internet to find advice.

Here are some tips for when this topic comes up at your house, if it hasn't already.

1. Gone are the days of the 'Birds and the Bees' talk. It's best to be honest and answer your child's questions directly. 

2. The Big Talk is also a thing of the past. These days, educating your child about sex and baby-making is an ongoing conversation over years. Keeping the conversation going keeps the lines of communication open - very important for setting the stage for open communication with your child in the teenage years.

3. Use body language - the real thing. It's recommended that you teach your child the real words to describe the various body parts, rather than using 'cutesy' words.

4. Answer your child's questions as they come up. The 'right age' to tell them particular details is when they ask for them. There's no need to tell them more than they are asking, as they aren't yet ready for it. Answer just what they ask, and when they're ready for more, they'll ask for it.

5. If you feel uncomfortable talking about this subject with your child, try your best not to let your child see your discomfort. Talk about it casually and matter-of-factly, the same as you would if you were explaining how the planets orbit the sun. Remember that for young children, this topic isn't taboo - until you make it taboo.

One of the best ways to make a topic clear to young children (or children of any age, really), is through age-appropriate illustrated books. Two great titles I can recommend are How Your Body Works, and the Flip-Flap Body Book, [affiliate links] both from Usborne. They cover a variety of body-related topics, including how babies are made. I just bought them both, and I can't tell you how excited Princess Pea is about them! (She was actually jumping up and down and screaming 'This is SOOOO INTERESTING!!!'). Also, another one that was great for introducing her to pregnancy and the birth of a sibling was Baby On the Way [affiliate link] (we seriously must have read this book about 300 times during my pregnancy!)

Now she wants to know all about skeletons and what happens to your food. So those are our next topics for discussion.


If this is your first time visiting Mama Pea Pod - welcome! Please use the buttons and labels on the right and below to take a look around, and I'd love for you to come join us over on the Mama Pea Pod Facebook community. There you'll find lots more parenting, kids' craft, and play ideas shared daily. If you like what you see, please consider subscribing to receive weekly email updates of new posts.

You might also want to check out some of my other popular parenting posts:

Toddler Chores for Little Helpers
Picky Eaters: Tips to Encourage Your Child to Try Different Foods
Our Chore System: Learning About Responsibility at Home
Creative 'Toys' for Kids
Gratitude and the Magic of Children


2014 Blogger Planner, Calendar, and Menu Planner from Mama Miss

{3rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt Party}

Our 3rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt party turned out to be a grand success, yet again! I love hosting this party, it's my favourite one of the year!

My two little peas and their friends enjoyed a wonderful day looking for eggs, playing games, and enjoying treats, while their parents (and some grandparents, too) enjoyed some coffee, good food, and lovely company!

The hunt begins!

I can't tell you how many eggs the Easter Bunny had hidden all around our garden, but I can tell you that with 20 hunters on the guest list, there were A LOT of eggs out there! They were in every bush, every tree, every flower, and even sprinkled throughout the grass. 

There are some rules at our egg hunts:
1) Bigger kids must help littler kids so the little ones get lots of eggs, too.
2) Nobody can eat any eggs until the hunt is all over.
3) After all the eggs have been found, we share out the eggs so that everyone has an equal amount (more or less).

Due to weather concerns (we were forecast to have rain all weekend), I decided to forego the usual craft station (too messy with 20 kids if we had to move it indoors) and instead opted to have some Easter-themed races instead.

Egg and Spoon Race

No Hands, No Feet Egg Race

Nose Rolling Race

Everyone brought delicious treats to share. As always, the featured treat was the Bunny Cake my friend Kathy makes every year for the party. How cute is that??


{Playing with Bottle Caps}

Today the girls have been playing with plastic bottle caps. With Earth Day just around the corner, this has been a good reminder of how we don't need to buy more and more (often non-biodegradable) toys for our children, the recycling box is an excellent source of fun, creative toys for kids. 

Princess Pea (aged 4 3/4) made shapes with the bottle caps and turned it into imaginary play (as usual), pretending that each cap was a child in a dance class, with the 'teacher' cap instructing them to dance in circles, rows, etc. I'm pretty sure she got this idea from an adorable rhyming book we read last summer from the library, called Miss Lina's Ballerinas. (I really must get her her own copy of that book this summer.)

Sweet Pea (aged 25 months) and I played 'build it up, knock it down'. Granted, I did most of the building, and she did most of the knocking down! She loved this game! It was all I could do to convince her to hold off on the knocking down part long enough for me to snap a quick picture of our tower first!

Even Granny got in on the fun!

Do you have any ideas to share for playing with bottle caps? What other items from the recycling box have your kids enjoyed playing with?

For more earth-friendly play ideas, check out the Earth Day celebrations blog hop below!

Also sharing at: The Sunday Showcase, Link and Learn


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