Last weekend we put together these cool Valentine’s Pinatas. It was really fun and it is such a simple and easy project, even little ones can participate in a meaningful way.
VALENTINE’S PINATA INSTRUCTIONS
Materials: brown paper bags scissors stapler tissue paper glue string or ribbon candy or toys to stuff the pinata
What to do:
First you will need to cut out many scraps of tissue paper in whatever colors you want. We cut out 2×2″ squares. We also made strips of tissue paper fringe, that were more like 4×2″ for a more pinata-ish look.
Next you will need to make a big heart shape out of copy paper and cut it out. Then you trace it onto the brown paper bags and cut out the hearts. You will need two hearts for each pinata, a front and a back.
Next you staple the heart pairs together leaving the top open, as demonstrated by Gus.
Then for the decorating! Glue the tissue paper pieces onto your brown paper hearts. You can glue them flat, or glue them so they stick out…overlap to create interesting designs.
Next you fill the pinatas with candy or toys and staple around the top. Finally, you punch a hole in the top center and tie your string or ribbon onto the pinata.
Here are some of our designs. You can see how we created different looks depending on how we glued the tissue paper on.
One little family tradition we have is telling bedtime stories…they are such a fun way to engage the imagination and settle into bed at night. There is an intimacy in storytelling that is really special. The storyteller is able to embellish the story with his or her own personality while also incorporating the audience into the story. I had a fun time exploring Native American myths and legends to find a story to share with you. This one is from the Alabama Tribe. Click below to download the pdf and feel free to print it out…it makes a perfect little bedtime story. And don’t forget to have fun and add your own personal twist when retelling it!
I love children’s stories from the past. I appreciate how nature was central to these stories and the peaceful feeling that comes from having an explanation, even an imagined one, for why the world is as it is. Sweetgood pieces are inspired by folk tales, legends, myths and nature. I wish you a warm and cozy Thanksgiving holiday and all the best!
I’m so happy to introduce this adorable girl! She is 3 years old. She looks SOOOO cute in her Sweetgood Sawyer Jumpsuit as well! I enjoyed reading her answers to the interview questions. It made me smile to hear that she likes playing pretend…she must have an incredible imagination!
Here are her answers to the interview questions:
Color: Currently it’s yellow
Food: Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes or waffles with Peanut butter and honey
Game: Playing pretend, she’s quite a little actress, “ I’m the mommy, the teacher, the dragon, the delivery person, super girl, Cinderella, etc. ”
Something unique and special about your child: I would describe her as silly, sassy and brave. Plus with her curly locks she really does resemble Curly Sue! (or Merida from Disney’s Brave for the newer generation)
Your favorite silly or quirky memory of your child: so many , the other day we received a cookie delivery from a friend. She had already had dinner but said ”Oh mommy I’m so hungry, good thing we have these cookies!” lol!
Here is some lovely art by Elisa:
And here are a few more cute pics!
Here’s wishing you all a lovely November! Thanks for reading! 😘
Here’s a little story my husband came up with…he does an amazing job of coming up with impromptu bedtime stories to tell the kids. I do not have this skill, so I need a little help…but once I have a storyline and a basic premise, I can easily add details that I know my kids will enjoy. Here is a fun halloween story you can either read as is or you can alter as you go, adding in your kids’ names and any special details they would like. Click below to download the pdf version.
Once upon a time, there were 3 kids who were going trick or treating together. Their names were Quinn, Sophia and Gus. Quinn was dressed up as a ninja with a black mask that showed only his eyes. And he carried a long silver ninja sword. Sophia was dressed up like a parrot with a green sweatshirt with yellow feathers glued all over it. The last one was dressed up like a Star Wars sand person. He wore a creepy brown mask with bulging silver colored eyes and he held a sand person stick.
They set out on a dark Halloween night with their parents to go trick or treating. Soon they came to an old house with a tall tower. It was taller than all the other houses. It was set way back behind a grove of spooky, creepy trees. They started walking down a path that led through the trees. The wind whistled and the tree branches creaked. But the children kept walking forward along the path, bravely. Soon they came to a dark, wooden stairway up to a dark old porch. They creeped up the stairs…creak, creak, creak. They crept across the porch towards the big old front door… creak, creak creak. Quinn pressed the doorbell and they heard a deep “gong…gong” from deep within the house. Then suddenly, the front door flew open with a giant whoosh of air. All the children could see was a dark room, but they leaned in and squinted their eyes looking into the darkness…they could barely see something moving on an old, cobb-web covered chandelier. Suddenly it lifted off, flapping its wings and diving down from the ceiling and out of the door just above their heads. They jumped aside and turned to watch it swoop past them and into a tree…it was a bat!
They could hear the wind whistling through the old empty house. Quinn whispered, “There’s no one here, let’s go!” And as they crept back down the stairs, they noticed a bright light coming from one of the windows down near the other side of the house. Sophia said, “Come on guys, let’s go look into that window!” Gus said, “This sounds like a bad idea…” But they snuck along the front wall of the house, eventually making it to the lit up window. Standing on their tip toes, they could barely peer into the old broken window. There, in the big old room, stood a large fireplace with a crackling fire glowing in it. In front of it was a large, old, dark red velvet chair. And in the big old chair sat a small, skinny figure in a black pointed hat! “A witch!” whispered Quinn. As they turned to leave, Gus stepped on a small stick and it made a loud “CRACK.”
Suddenly they heard movement behind them in the room and then, an old woman’s voice saying “My, my my….what was THAT?” Quinn, Sophia and Gus froze in their spot and forced themselves to look behind them. The woman came to the window, looked out, and spotted the three kids in their costumes standing frozen in front of the house. “What lovely costumes, my dear children!” she exclaimed! She didn’t seem like a witch anymore…she had a nice gentle voice. She left the window and a few moments later, the lights went on in the other rooms of the house and on the old front porch. Then she appeared at the front door with a big bowl of candy. The children ran back over to the porch, climbed the steps, took 5 pieces of candy each! Then Sophia said “Thank you” and Quinn said “Happy Halloween” and Gus said “We love candy.” And they walked back down the steps, along the path through the forest and back to their parents.
In the early spring, when all this social distancing began, we were all about discovering fun family games to play. One of our kids’ favorites at the time was Capture the Flag. We would have one flag location in the front yard and one in the back. We would sneak around trying to capture the other team’s flag. The kids loved this game and would beg us to play it over and over every night after dinner. My husband always finds a way to bring some silliness into every game and for capture the flag, he spent most of his time trying to distract the kids by telling them there was something amazing they had to see….just over there… up in the sky…down in the dirt…over in the tree,….and then grabbing the flag and making a run for it. The kids started doing it too and before we knew it, everyone was pointing to things and trying to sound as dramatic as possible, as in: “Mommy, you HAVE to see this!!!!” We were all so used to it that no one was falling for it anymore.
So it was extra funny one night, when Elise spotted an actual, living baby owl on top our swingset. It was little and round and beautiful…sitting so still like a little statue. Elise said, “Mommy! Daddy! It’s a baby owl!” and we were like…”Yeah right…” Then she said, “Theo, Gus! It’s a baby owl!!” And Theo said, “Oh yeah, good trick Elise.” Gus said, “I don’t BELIEVE you!” Then Elise started yelling, “For REAL! It’s ACTUALLY a BABY OWL!” And we all said, “NICE TRY ELISE!” But then Gus gave in and looked over…he froze on the spot. So we all looked over. And we couldn’t believe it! A baby owl! We stood there in utter astonishment….no one wanting to move or make a sound now that we had finally realized we were in the presence of an actual baby owl. We had never seen this owl before and we haven’t seen him since. It was a magical, one of a kind moment that passed when the little guy flapped away.
This event reminds me of a book I’ve been reading called A New Earth by Ekhart Tolle. Tolle talks about what it’s like to just BE. In the book he describes a conversation he had with a woman he was counseling. It starts with her speaking (pg. 40), “And suddenly I could feel my I Am-ness.” Then Tolle continues, “That is the joy of being, you can only feel it when you get out of your head. Being must be felt. It can’t be thought.” He explains later in the book (pg. 52) “…close your eyes for a moment and find out if there is life inside your hands. Don’t ask your mind, go to the hands directly. By this I mean become aware of the subtle feeling of aliveness inside them. It is there.” Being caught completely off guard by the baby owl sighting, when we were so consumed by the game, brought me back to the joy of being and the feeling of aliveness.
It’s crazy to realize that the joy of being and the feeling of aliveness is available to me at any moment. I’ve been experimenting with the concept. The baby owl moments of life are a quick jolt of presence. Moments of frustration, annoyance and anger (things I feel pretty often as a mom of 3 remote learning students trying to keep it all together and run my business) are reminders to get back to the place of presence…to connect with my inner body aliveness…to look around me…to remember there is magic here, now, in THIS CRAPPY MOMENT! And to realize that there actually are no crappy moments…so if that’s my experience, I must be pretty far down the rabbit hole of miserable thoughts. It’s time to snap into a different kind of attention…switch the thinking to off…and keep it off for a time.
I’ll leave you with one wonderful quote by Pema Chodron, from her book When Things Fall Apart (pg. 129), “The world is always displaying itself, always waving and winking, but we are so self-involved that we miss it. The experience of sticking with it, of not giving up, is one in which the whole world, everything that we see, becomes extremely vivid and more solid, and at the same time, less substantial and more transparent.”
I am so happy to have this adorable, smiley guy as a Sweetgood kid! And, guess what…he is 18 months old TODAY! Yay for Sterling!!! I hope you enjoy reading his favorites as much as I did. I love how our little ones develop preferences so early in life. And the peekaboo story at the bottom…so amazing!
Here are Sterling’s mom’s answers to the interview questions:
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite animal/s: Bears & Monkeys 🐻 🐵
Favorite food: Surprisingly salad – it’s the first thing he goes for on his plate at dinner time. Guess the little guy loves veggies!
Favorite treat: Mango 🥭
Favorite book: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Favorite game: Playing pretend with his cars and trucks & stacking blocks
Something unique and special about your child: Sterling was born two weeks and two days late so we like to joke that he’s not afraid of commitment 🤣
Your favorite silly or quirky memory of your child: At seven months old, Sterling reversed roles with mom & dad by playing peekaboo with us! He grabbed dad’s hat to hide behind – it was the sweetest thing ever.
Side note: Sterling was actually one of our models for Sweetgood’s photoshoot with the amazing Chandra Wicke back in early March. He did not stop smiling the entire time…what a joy he was to work with! The photo of him below is from the shoot.
It was during my family’s living room “campout” last weekend that I found myself scanning my surroundings for an escape….could I tiptoe through the dining room into the hall and up the stairs to my bedroom…slowly creak open the front door and slip out into the front yard…open a nearby window and jump out of it…cut out a hole in the floor around me and drop down into the crawl space?
But let me back up a bit. Last weekend was the hottest weekend ever, at least here in Pasadena. We decided to set up our tent and some of our camping paraphernalia in our living room and have a pretend camp out. The kids loved the idea and as soon as the tent was assembled, had filled it with every toy, stuffed animal and/or object from all of their bedrooms. After dinner they got ready for bed and squeezed themselves into their sleeping bags amidst all the toys. Then it was: STORY TIME around the video of a fire crackling away on Theo’s ipad. Arnor started, because he is the official story teller of our family…it was a scary story from when he was a kid and he thought a troll was coming to get him. And then came the kids stories…and the kids acting out of stories which quickly turned into a lot of rolling around in the toy filled tent…and that’s when my enjoyment of this special, bucolic moment started to wane. Can you identify with me, or is this really just me? I was a part of something so dear and wonderful and “fun” and I was itching with restlessness…it took all of my strength to resist the urge to escape in all the ways described above.
I notice this type of impatience popping up a lot as a mom…especially as a mom with kids learning remotely from home. There are so many interruptions to the occasional moments I have to myself. And usually, the interruptions feel very long and slow to me. Even as I was writing this blog post, Elise popped up next to me in tears with her math workbook and pencil saying, “Everyone else got to page 3 already and I’m only on page 1….” Or last weekend when I was making pancakes and wanted to get it done efficiently, quickly and neatly and Gus appeared and wanted to help… Or the other night when I was reading peacefully in my bed and Theo flopped down on the end of the bed to complain about the fact that even though his gaming controller is supposed to operate via bluetooth and he has watched numerous videos on how to troubleshoot it not working, it still won’t work! And then Gus squeezed himself next to me and wanted to ask me a couple questions such as, “Is Sonic the Hedgehog faster than our neighbor’s car?”
To quote Pema Chodrin (When Things Fall Apart), “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” And I know this is true because I know that it’s theoretically possible to NOT want to escape moments like these. Even when I’ve had no time to myself all day. It’s a brain error telling me I can’t relax unless I have peace, quiet and NO KIDS around. When really, I could probably relax just fine with the kids around me and this moment is the perfect teacher to teach me just that. The problem is that in a lot of kid-free moments, I find that enjoyment comes naturally to me. So I’ve made the mental leap that kid-free moments are the better moments. Me reading alone is a better moment than me listening to Theo complain or answering Gus’s random questions…or so I’ve decided. The life coach Brooke Castillo says (in her podcast, entitled, It Doesn’t Get Better Than This), “Being aware of the present moment simply means you never believe the illusion that the future is going to be better than what is going on right now.” Brooke goes on to say “We’re often trading our happiness in this moment for some future moment we believe will be better or even some past moment we thought was better. Really our capacity for joy is always the same in both of those moments.”
What’s so interesting is that in moments like these, what really gets me is my own resistance to my own resistance…I’m so mad at myself for not enjoying the moment, so guilty for wanting to defenestrate myself…so ashamed that I can’t find the gratitude for something that’s such a gift in my life! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I think if I open up to the idea that a moment in which I am impatient and grumpy might be just as good a moment as a moment when I am relaxed and joyful, there might be a way forward. I know theoretically that I can create more joy in these kinds of moments with a perspective shift, but first I need to stop resisting my own negative emotions so much. Though I’m sure I should be superhuman, it turns out I’m only human and sometimes humans feel this way. Welcome to life! I’ll let you know how it goes….
What’s so interesting is that in moments like these, what really gets me is my own resistance to myself…I’m so mad at myself for not enjoying the moment, so guilty for wanting to defenestrate myself…so ashamed that I can’t find the gratitude for something that’s such a gift in my life! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I think if I open up to the idea that a moment in which I am impatient and grumpy might be just as good a moment as a moment when I am relaxed and joyful, there might be a way forward. I know theoretically that I can create more joy in these kinds of moments with a perspective shift, but first I need to stop resisting my own negative emotions so much. I’m human and sometimes humans feel this way. Welcome to life! Let’s see how this goes…
A quote from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodrin:
“Before we know it, we’ve composed a novel on why someone is so wrong, or why we are so right, or why we must get such-and-such. When we begin to understand the whole process, it begins to lighten up considerably. We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off-limits to others. We’re willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea.” (pg 49)
When I read this it gave me a new perspective on how I’ve been living my life. I’m an amazing sandcastle builder, embellisher and defender. I’m an expert. I remember a time a few years ago when Theo, my oldest, was struggling in school. He was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia and we were able to get him the help that he needed. However, during the many months he was struggling and we were struggling to figure out what he needed, I built a giant glorious sandcastle blaming myself for the whole mess. I embellished it with so much evidence about how his learning disabilities came from me in the first place, what I should have done differently as a parent, signs I should have seen earlier and so on. My story made this challenging time into an extra painful experience for myself. In retrospect, if I could have been a little gentler with myself and a little quicker to let my grand sandcastle go, I could have felt a lot more peace and balance in spite of Theos challenges. I might have even been more equipped to find solutions. The funny thing was that even after Theo’s reading and school experience improved, I still had trouble letting my story go. My identity was so wrapped up in my sandcastle and it had so many mini sandcastle offshoots in all directions. It was like a large sandcastle subdivision had overtaken my brain.
Sometimes there are good sandcastles that I want to protect from the waves forever, even though their time is up and the tide is coming for them. We took a little trip to Cayucos, a beach town on the central California coast a few weeks ago. The nature there is beautiful. We all had a wonderful time at the beach. There’s something so fulfilling about being out in a natural environment. As I enjoyed the time, I felt myself not wanting to let it go, clinging onto the beautiful scenery and ocean air. It was so good, it was too good! As an expert sandcastle builder and protector, I did not want the waves to take my peaceful sandcastle away! I was so attached to the magic of the trip that it was painful to let it go and come home to the looming reality of being the remote education facilitator for my 3 kids. I was a real crab for a few days after we returned home…I’m gradually becoming human again.
One of my favorite memories from our trip was an afternoon when Gus found a tiny crab and built a “home” for it; a giant drippy sandcastle. The waves kept coming up and partially destroying it and Gus kept laughing and running around it with excitement and rebuilding it. It was fun to see how easily he was able to work with the waves, to let the castle go and rebuild it anew over and over. And when we left he kept looking back to see if it was still standing. Then, as we were walking home he said with a sigh, “The waves are going to knock it down.” What a profound lesson from my five year old, already a philosopher. And once more, in the words of Pema Chodrin, “Enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea.”
Elise is my daughter btw but I would absolutely JUMP FOR JOY at the chance to share any and all of your little ones in this monthly feature! See below for instructions! Here are Elise’s answers to her interview questions:
The favorites: Color: mint green and aqua Animals: dog and fox Activity: swinging and swimming Game: making a giant stuffed animal world with friend on Facetime or little brother in real time Food: pesto, apples, Romano cheese Treat: ice cream Book: Harry Potter Game to play with friends at recess: horses or dogs Memory: when we picked our dog Maggie (pictured above) up from the airport and met her for the first time
Q: If you could be an animal, what animal would you want to be? A: A horse or a dog
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up? A: A veterinarian
Here is an abstract drawing by Elise.
Something I love about my daughter: First off, she’s silly. As evidenced by the photo above. Even Maggie the dog doesn’t know what to make of it. Secondly, Elise has this great social awareness that I love. We were talking about secrets the other night because Harry was supposed to keep a secret (that’s Harry Potter of the book) and she was telling me how secrets get passed so quickly at school because the first girl tells her friend a secret and says “don’t tell anyone” and then the friend tells another friend and says “she told me not to tell anyone so don’t tell anyone.” And before you know it, every girl knows the secret! Elise said she thought that just telling the next friend, “don’t tell anyone” doesn’t quite make it ok to tell the original secret. I was thinking…this might be a great tactic I could use in my own life! 🤔 Just kidding, just kidding…I will never tell. So keep those secrets coming my way! 🤣 In these pics, Elise is wearing one of my all time favorite Sweetgood pieces, the Eva Puff Sleeved Dress. I love the timeless quality of this style and how it can go from fast food joint to looking chic for a nicer event. All of my forced photography (wait, who me? 😬) has resulted in a general attitude of non-compliance from my sweet Elise, however, I am still able to snap a few pics, if I work quickly.
I would love to feature your little one as one of Sweetgood’s Sweeties if the Month! Please print out the form below and you’ll find all the instructions right on it!
I’ve been reading Loving What Is by Byron Katie. That’s “Loving What Is” as opposed to my own personal mantras; “Hating What Is” and “Loving What Isn’t.” It’s an amazing book about dropping into the beauty of reality. I am noticing all the ways I am arguing with reality and how that hurts me. Here’s a great example from my own personal history book. My oldest son, Theo (he’s 11 now), was a horrible sleeper as a baby. I really started going nuts about it when he was around 9 months old. He woke up at night…multiple times…for months…years…decades! Ok not decades…but let’s say 1-3 years. It was bad. It was all the things all the books told me was wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong (and definitely not right). I had read all the books so I thought I knew what to do. But I didn’t. So I turned to: MORE BOOKS. More books gave my lots more ideas which didn’t work at all. I felt awful because I believed more sleep was the key to Theo’s future success and I believed that I should be able to make him SLEEP! I was SURE I was just doing it wrong. I was also pretty sure there was something wrong with me, causing all the methods to not work for me.
When I look back I see that I was in a deep state of “Loving What Isn’t” and “Hating What Is.” I loved the idea of him sleeping through the night every night, falling asleep peacefully at his bedtime and napping solidly for 2-3 hours every afternoon. I loved the idea that his brain would develop so well with all that sleep. I loved the idea of the peace and downtime and SLEEP I would get if he slept better. I loved the idea of me being the mom who could take care of business. It was a beautiful vision that I LOVED. And I hated: everything that was reality. He was AWAKE at 10 pm, after having cried for 2 hours (sleep training). Then he was AWAKE at 1 pm. Then he was AWAKE at 5 am and ready to start the day. And finally: He was NOT NAPPING at 1 pm, after having cried for 2 hours at last night’s bedtime, awoken at 1 pm, and awoken again at 5 am to start the day! And I hated the reality that all of the books I read and the things I tried didn’t work. I hated the reality that I couldn’t control his sleep.
When I look back I remember how Arnor treated me with the sort of kindness and compassion that you have for someone who is completely insane. He spoke to me in a gentle voice, agreed with everything I said, tiptoed around… He had not read any of the books and would have just rolled with the under-sleeping baby, had I not been 100% convinced that reality was wrong and the picture in my brain was right. Theo eventually grew out of it. That is to say with 100% clarity and assurance: I did not TRAIN him out of it. He grew out of it when he was ready to. And since then he has slept fine.
When I went on to have my two other babies, I found that I felt so much more peace and enjoyment in that baby phase. I had gotten the idea of a perfectly-sleeping baby out of my head, so I didn’t have that vision to love. So when they didn’t sleep very well, I just accepted it and moved on. I remember talking about the whole baby sleep drama with my college roommate, Jenny, and she said, “Your kids sound just like you.” (If I remember right, she also pointed out that me fighting endlessly with reality didn’t surprise her much either…ahem). It had never really occurred to me that maybe my kids had just inherited my high energy, borderline hyperactive tendencies. And I realized: those tendencies have actually served me pretty well through the years. I started to find ways to make my life better within the confines of reality. I think this was the equivalent of loving what is.
It turned out that I was so much better at coming up with creative solutions for my life once I stopped fighting with reality. Elise and Gus both loved to sleep in the car and their naps never survived the transfer from car seat to crib. Some of my friends from back then will tell you, I was the mom who removed that giant convertible toddler car seat (the one that’s not designed to be conveniently removed) at any and all times and lugged it around with the sleeping baby in it. I found a method of balancing it on our other stroller, which didn’t endanger their safety too much. And you know what? It worked a lot better than the advice in all the books! I was happier and I had more time to myself. I could plan my day around those car naps.
As I think back on this, I start to notice all the ways I’m “hating what is,” now. Or let us say, fighting with reality rather than accepting it and moving on. I’m challenged by remote learning and remote summer school because I have limited time to work on my company. And I see how I’m fighting with it rather than finding the clever workarounds. I’m so disappointed by the evaporation of our summer travel plans that I can’t even imagine a clever workaround for summer fun right here at home..even though we have such a lovely home, this should be a no brainer! And on it goes. Byron Katie says that reality is never wrong. Reality is always right, because it just IS. Clearly I’ve got my work cut out for me….I hope you are all well and I wish you a lovely summer! Thank you for reading!