🐸My Etsy Sh🌎p🐸

Monday, July 23, 2018

I have been that mom...

I have been that mom, taking a pregnancy test and being flooded with all the emotions ever invented (& some that haven’t).

I have been that mom being told that I am having a C-section and my recovery was horrible. I almost died due to hemorrhaging afterwards.

I have been that mom pacing the floors every hour of the night, singing every appropriate song that I can think of to put my baby back to sleep.

I have been that mom that physically felt My toddler’s pain as she tumbled trying to learn to walk.

I have been that mom of a toddler and taking another pregnancy test and thinking how am I going to do this?

I have been that mom still recovering from a second C-section, sitting in the hospital with my 5 week old baby who had a heart murmur with a toddler running around the hospital room because I didn’t have a sitter for her.

I have been that mom that lived with the unkindness of a husband for too long and showed my daughters that no one should be treated that way and left.

I have been that single mom, living in a one bedroom apartment, sleeping on the couch, living in peanut butter sandwiches, knowing that this was better than what I left.

I have been that single mom, dating and finding not only the right man for me but for my daughters.

I have been that mom, juggling work, Kids, and baseball or basketball or other extracurricular activities at my kids school.

I have been that Mom who volunteered on her lunch break, baked goods for the classroom party, and made customs for their spirit week.

I have been that mom that saw how mean girls can be to other girls, cried with them over their first (and second and...) broken hearts.

I have been that Mom who has to trust that extended curfew because of a prom will be okay.

I have been that Mom whose heart plummeted when I got the call, “Mom, I have been in a car accident, but I am okay.”

I have been that Mom who helps set up the college dorm room and had to drive home with the passenger seat empty.

I have been that mom watching her daughters college graduation, helping with practice job interview questions, make a life plan.

I have been that mom - tired and emotionally drained and stressed about money. I have been that Mom who has know unparalleled joy and happiness and pride from watching her daughters grow up into strong independent women. Each stage of their lives have been horrible and wonderful. Each stage has been stressful and amazing.  This crazy thing called motherhood is a roller coaster.  Just know that someone else has been where you are. You will survive it and I hope that you enjoy those beautiful moments along the way.

Have a fun and playful day

Monday, May 28, 2018

Official Kickoff to Summer

 Memorial Day Weekend is the official kickoff to Summer!  The National Parks Service is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.  Let's go on a roadtrip!
 I love these vintage postcards that they put out to celebrate our National Parks.  It makes me want to travel to ALL of them.
 I have been to several National Parks.  Every year, my dad and mom would cram 3 kids, 2 adults, and one cooler into a Ford Topaz (small car!) and take a road trip.  Mostly, we went to Florida every summer, but there were other road trips to parks. I remember being a Melanie sandwich with my little brother on one side and my little sister on the other.  Oh, good times!
 When I became a mom and we took road trips, I became super organized.  Each child had a busy bag just for them full of things that they liked and would keep them interested.  I like to include maps, paper and pencil (crayons melt in hot cars! #lessonlearned), small toys, books, and some sweets.  That is my secret to keeping everyone happy in a car for 6+ hours.
Where are you going this summer?

Have a fun and playful day!

Sunday, April 8, 2018


 Last week in Ohio, we had a day where it was 70 degrees and the next day, it snowed!  Hopefully (all fingers and toes crossed), Spring is right around the corner.  There are sooo many learning opportunities in the Spring - plant life cycle, gardening, farm, baby animals being born.
 Just get outside and let the kiddos explore.
Have a fun and playful day!

Looks like a sensory table to me

Some people look at these and see side tables, but the preschool teacher in me sees sensory tables!  I know that I have a different way of looking at things, but can't you see this as a backyard sensory table for the littles?

Have a fun and playful day!

Color me learning

 Paint swatches are great for scissor practice.  They are colorful and FREE!
 The next time you are at the hardware store, pick up a handful and let the kiddos go wild with them.
They can also use paper punches to make shapes.  We plan to use these butterflies in a future spring art project.

Have a fun and playful day!

Scissor Practice - cutting herbs

 Cutting paper is fun.  Cutting fresh herbs is fun and stimulates the brain for learning.
  "Our sense of smell is the only sense that sends information directly to the brain...Researchers found that certain odors increase the ability to learn, create, and think" Pam Schiller, Start Smart 1999
 In this invitation to play, I added scissors, fresh herbs, and paint swatches.  Kiddos can cut the herbs, release the aroma, and color match the herbs to the paint swatches.
See previous posts for ideas on how we used the cut herbs to make soups and play dough.

Have a fun and playful day!

Fresh Herb Play Dough

  "Our sense of smell is the only sense that sends information directly to the brain...Researchers found that certain odors increase the ability to learn, create, and think" Pam Schiller, Start Smart 1999
 Simple ingredients made this play dough.
1 bottle hair conditioner
1 box corn starch
fresh herbs
The smell is sooo good!  Not only will this play dough energize brain cells, it will strengthen the small muscles in little fingers - those same muscles that will hold a pen and write their name.

Have a fun and playful day!

Herb Soup

 "Our sense of smell is the only sense that sends information directly to the brain...Researchers found that certain odors increase the ability to learn, create, and think" Pam Schiller, Start Smart 1999
Spring is an excellent time to awaken those brain cells.  Kiddos can gather greens, flowers, etc from the backyard and create soups, potions, and perfumes.  Here, I added some fresh herbs like rosemary, parsley, cilantro, and basil from the produce department of my local Kroger.  The smell is heavenly!

This would be a great outdoor activity or you could contain it to a sensory table as well.  The smells will energize little brains and bring nature in.

Have a fun and playful day!

Weekends are for laundry

 My weekends are just as full as my weekdays.  I think that's true for most of us.  Yes, I tend to sleep in a little later on the weekends, but my to do list never seems to go away. In fact, my weekend to do lists are usually longer than my regular to do lists. (Yes, I make a lot of to do lists!)
 Weekends are, for me, a time to cram in ALL that stuff you need and want to do, but at the same time, at a more relaxed pace.  When my kiddos were younger, I always tried to do fun things on the weekend first then chore stuff later in the day.  Then, when they got a little older, I was the mom taxi, driving from game to game or shopping for that perfect dress.
Weekends are creative time for me.  I read and sew and craft and set up tiny scenarios of a mom trying to do laundry and her children take over :)  I look forward to the weekends - not because I don't love my job (I do! I really do!) - but because there's a more relaxed time table.  I just breathe and relax and focus.

Have a fun and playful day!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

Jane and Bravery Magazine

I found out about the Bravery Magazine after its successful kickstarter, but I was able to order their first magazine all about Jane Goodall.  The illustrations in this magazine really are works of art.  I loved it so much that I was inspired to create a Jane peg doll and invitation to play.

Big concepts like conservation can be explained through play.  The life work of Jane has helped us understand so much about primates and nature.

In this magazine, there are simple craft ideas, history made simple, and so much more.  I cannot wait until the second one.

Have a fun and playful day!

Little Leaders

Have you seen this book?

Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History

If you haven't, you should. It's a stunning book.  The illustrations are beautiful.  Thee biographies are simple and full of information.

I was inspired to make a few peg dolls based on the book.  Every bookshelf needs to have this book on it.  G is 7 and has read it for school. Roo is 4 and has asked for it to be read to her many times.

Have a fun and playful day!

Countdown to London

 When I married my husband, I gained his amazing and supportive and funny and zany family.  I am so blessed to have found Brian, who fully supports and encourages my little shop of imagination, but also to have his whole family supporting me in their own ways.  One of my brother in laws is good with finance, one with computers.

But it is my mother in law who is perhaps the biggest blessing of all.  She was, like me, a working mom (a librarian for many years in a private Christian school).  She talked me through ways of navigating mommy guilt, home-work balance, and more.

When my father in law was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer three years ago, it was a shock.  It was a time stops kind of thing.  We all banded together and pulled from our talents to help each other.  When he died a short 16 weeks after diagnosis, we knew that my mother in law could not stay on their 8 acre country homestead.

As we were packing up, purging, sorting, we came across items she had saved from her travels abroad with her school.  I am not sure which one of us said it, but we said we should go.  We laughed.  I said sure! if I sell 230 play mats we can go.  Random number.  Just said in the moment.

Well,,,fast forward one year later.  I did sell 230 play mats.  In fact, I sold a whole lot more.  So I said, maybe we should think about it.  My mother in law agreed.  So we started marking plans.
Fast forward a year and a half...and we are a little over 3 weeks from heading to London.  We will see London and Oxford and Avon and...well, it will be an adventure for sure.  We are over the moon excited about our trip.  My husband doesn't fly.  I have begged and pleaded to no avail.  He says, go and have fun!

I am also taking a felting class in Dorking when I go.  I am, perhaps, most excited about that.  I cannot wait to learn this new technique and implement it into my creations.  I will share some pictures from our travels.

Have a fun and playful day!

Monday, January 15, 2018


They say a new year, new start.  I am looking forward to many things in 2018 - like my upcoming trip to Europe - but, also, there are many things that I am NOT looking forward to at all. This year holds a lot of uncertainty for me - new creations in my shop, new job possibly, new beginnings.
 Any time there is a bigger issue, problem, or unknown, I tend to focus on the small stuff.  The details.  The things that make things special.  They say the devil is in the details, but I say God is in the details. He makes the good.
This year, I must decided if I am going to 'make a go' of my shop full time. I am right on the cusp of my little shop of imagination being able to support us financially.  It's a lot of work, but I love creating these play mats, peg dolls, trees, and wooden toys to spark imaginations.

The photos here in this post are creations that I had in my noddle for a while and finally brought them to fruition.  The Happy Camper Play Mat sold and is going to France this week.

I am over the moon happy with the people I have met through my shop and sending my toys all over the world.

Here's go a great 2018! I will take the bad with the good and trust that God has a plan.

Speaking of plans, I will be sharing plans for Space themed play.

Have a fun and playful day!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Faux Snow Playdough or "PlaySnow"

 We cannot get outside to play as it is -3 here in Ohio, so...we are making faux snow playdough or "playsnow".  It's super easy and fun (and kinda messy!)
Faux Snow Playdough:
3 cups baking soda
1 cup white hair conditioner
 I set up a snowy scene with sparkling water (add scrapbook paper), mountains, pine trees, penguin peg dolls, other cold weather animals, rocks etc.
 The story was...it's cold outside. Let's make a cave. Polar bears like caves.  They sleep in caves. Oh, wait, the penguins are cold too.  Maybe they want to come into the cave,
 The imagination takes over in this sensory play activity.
 We made animal tracks in the faux snow, which lead to...what else can make tracks?
 The more the merrier as the saying goes.  Animals from all over came to our winter wonderland.
The play possibilities are endless.

Have a fun and playful day!

DIY Polar Game - Option Two

 Another DIY game to make with your kiddos is a Snowflake themed roll the dice game.  I simply placed the snowflake stickers on in a zigzag path on a piece of 12x12 scrapbook paper.  The kiddos might like helping with this part.
I used my Penguin Peg Dolls as game pieces, but you can use any toys that you have.  Safari Ltd. makes Toobs of animals that are perfect sized for this kind of thing.

Each player takes turns rolling the die and moving that many spaces until someone wins.  You can make these games cheaply and with any theme.  The kids can even make up different rules to go along with their game. The play possibilities are endless.

Have a fun and playful day!

DIY Polar Game - Option One

 It's all fun and games until it's too cold to go outside.  That's what we are experiencing here in Ohio right now.  The thermometer is reading 14 with a windchill of -3. Ouch!  Time to make some new games to keep the kiddos busy.
 Here, I used a piece of 12x12 scrapbook paper, a Sharpie, and some snowflake stickers.  I divided the game board (aka scrapbook paper) in half with the Sharpie marker.  Then, I added one sheet of snowflake stickers to each side of the game board.  Now, you are ready to play.
 This game is for two players.  I have a die and some acrylic "ice" (aquarium rocks) for markers.  You can use cereal, pennies, M&Ms, etc. as markers.
 Each player takes turns rolling the die.  Here, I rolled a 5, so I cover up 5 snowflakes with my "ice".  The first person to cover all their snowflakes wins.
You can make this game with any theme and the kiddos can help make the game.  It's a quick game and can be played again and again.  It teaches counting - the 5 dots on the die means that I cover up 5 snowflakes.  It also teaches patience as they wait for their next turn.

A dear friend of mine and former preschool teacher Miss Cheryl used to say "Oh, Paige is the first winner and let's let Kendel roll again and he is the second winner."  It wasn't a winner/loser situation and feelings didn't get hurt that way.  She is kind of a genius, right?

Have a fun and playful day!