Friday, November 30, 2012

Activity-a-day Advent calendar for kids

Activity-a-day Advent calendar ideas = Hobo Mama

We've been inspired to create an action-based Advent calendar this year to count down the days to Christmas. I've made a list of (at least) 24 activities that would be fun little activities throughout the season, and Mikko will get to open one each day to find out what today's adventure is.

Choosing simple and fun connection activities each day has many benefits that more traditional calendars don't always possess:
  • Counting down "sleeps" to an important day like Christmas helps little ones manage the wait — and even learn numbers!
  • Choosing an activity can be a healthier treat for young kids than something sugary, and it doesn't clutter up your home the way 24 days of small toys or gifts would.
  • You can customize your activity calendar to match your family's preferences and schedules, including parties and events you already have planned.
  • Kids don't need the activity to be anything fancy: Snuggling with you to read a special book or toasting marshmallows over the fireplace can be just as special as a trip to meet Santa or going ice skating.
  • You can adapt the activities to fit particular ages and multiple kids.

The calendar

First your kids need something to open each day. There are so many options for calendars!

For the discount DIYers among you, you don't need to get super fancy. You could use a wide-mouthed jar filled with 24 scraps of paper; your kids reach in each day, pull out an activity, and hey presto! This does mean the activities will be sorted randomly, however, and I wanted to make sure some events fell on specific days, and that I could rearrange activities to suit my energy level, without Mikko cottoning on. You could even just have a simple stack of notecards that your kids turn over each day, or place each one inside a little envelope sealed with a holiday sticker.

Other options are 24 small gift boxes (perhaps even festively wrapped!), 24 little bags (paper lunch bags, thrift shop bags, plastic baggies, whatever you've got), or 24 other teensy containers. You could set up a display and number them, or do the randomizing thing by setting them all in a box or basket to be pulled out one by one.

You can also buy or make something much fancier and longer-lasting. If you want to decorate, you can buy an unfinished wood Advent tree with 24 doors, a cardboard calendar with drawers, or an MDF Advent calendar with a wide middle section for creating a scene.

If you want something ready-made or further craft inspiration, I was considering these options at Etsy, for instance (I've chosen to link to my pins in case the listings are removed so you can hopefully still see the images; the pins do link to the current listings): magnetic tins (love these!) to stick to the fridge or a baking sheet, mini cardboard boxes labeled with the days and hung as a set, clothespin tree for clipping notecards or envelopes, decorative cotton or simple muslin bags clipped onto clothespins and strung on a jute line across the mantel or shelf, decorated paper bags, or a wall hanging with pockets for each day.

But here's what we did, because we're like that. We went to Target and got this adorableness:

Activity-a-day Advent calendar for kids = Hobo Mama
Fair Isle Wooden Advent Calendar

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving

carving the turkey — Thanksgiving dinner 2012 holidays
Vegans and turkey advocates, avert your eyes.

silly boy — Thanksgiving dinner 2012 holidays
Mikko helped prepare the dinner … not a whit. Same as his mama. I just took pictures!

hungry baby eyeing the feast — Thanksgiving dinner 2012 holidays
Alrik was more than ready to begin the feasting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Maternal ambivalence … and why it's ok

Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this Fall is I LOVE YOU BUT I DON’T ALWAYS LIKE YOU!

This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on the concept of loving versus liking our children and their behaviors. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Ever want to sing a lullaby like this to soothe your kids to sleep?

Naughty Baby

Baby, baby, naughty baby,
Hush, you squalling thing, I say.
Peace this moment, peace, or maybe
Bonaparte will pass this way.

Baby, baby, he's a giant,
Tall and black as Rouen steeple,
And he breakfasts, dines, rely on't,
Every day on naughty people.

Baby, baby, if he hears you
As he gallops past the house,
Limb from limb at once he'll tear you,
Just as pussy tears a mouse.

And he'll beat you, beat you, beat you,
And he'll beat you into pap,
And he'll eat you, eat you, eat you,
Every morsel snap, snap, snap.

— From The Annotated Mother Goose

Night-night, kids!

Just after Alrik's birth, I read a weighty book called Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, an anthropologist who goes through the experience of motherhood as witnessed across the world and various cultures, across history and a variety of time periods, and even across species. (Some species are much more what we would term "maternal" than are humans — and some are shockingly not. At least you've never tried to eat your babies, right?)

It was an interesting book to have chosen during my postpartum period, because the text is often dark and disturbing — an unflinching look at how mothers don't always live up to what we've decided (as modern Western humans) is their "nature."

That is, we as mothers are not always — stop me if you disagree — self-sacrificial, nurturing, long-suffering, pure, and single-minded in the care of our young. We are much, much more nuanced than that — and we have to include the dark parts of ourselves (or, simply, the human parts — and animal parts!) when discussing what motherhood truly looks like.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Surf: Launching Christmas in 3…2…

Welcome to the Sunday Surf, a tour of the best blogposts I've read throughout the week.

Thanksgiving's over! Time to get merry.

wrapping Christmas presents for giving tree
We wrapped presents this weekend for the giving tree
at Spud's, one of the restaurants on our street.
This is a better picture-taking attitude than
we usually get from Mikko these days.
Er…I mean, Spider-Man.

The socks were requested by an adult man,
in case you think we're Scroogey.
Here are my go-to tips:
I included a good quantity of practicality,
one part of whimsy (lightning-bolt socks!),
and the gift receipt.
wrapping Christmas presents for giving tree
Mikko's favorite part was tape. Lots and lots of tape.
So much of doing projects with 5-year-olds is
letting … things … go
and enjoying the spirit. As Mikko said,
"Mama, we're elves!"

Links to read and savor!

Guest post:

So happy to have this guest post from Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection with tips to entice children to ramble with the family:

Support your favorite bloggers:

Hobo Mama: Support bloggers by shopping through affiliate links

If you're shopping online this holiday season, please consider clicking through an affiliate link first — no cost to you, and a nice token of gratitude for your beloved blogs! If you have Amazon Associates or other affiliate links, add them to the linky Teresa at Mom Grooves and I set up:

Be sure to bookmark the page so you can continue shopping through people's affiliate links all year round!


My parenting poetry book on sale this weekend only!

Poetry of a Hobo Mama: The First Three YearsThis deal on my book of parenting poetry, Poetry of a Hobo Mama: The First Three Years,has never happened before! For this Thanksgiving weekend ONLY (through Tuesday, Nov. 27), the price has been reduced to $9.99 with FREE shipping!

Here's how it works — you can buy either from Amazon or directly from me for the same price:

Buy the book at Amazon, where I've reduced the price to $9.99 through Tuesday, November 27. The price is regularly $11.99. The paperback is eligible for FREE Super-Saver Shipping on Amazon orders over $25, so either fill up your cart to get to that level or pay Amazon's shipping fee. (I unfortunately can't provide discount codes on Amazon.)


Buy directly from me at my CreateSpace author's store. Enter code 4PV6AMYR for $3.59 off each copy, bringing the reduced price down to $6.40 plus shipping. CreateSpace shipping starts at $3.59, so it will be $9.99 with FREE shipping, and each additional copy in the same shipment will be cheaper and cheaper since the shipping decreases per item the more you buy!

My parenting poetry book would make a thoughtful holiday gift for a fellow mama or new parent. I compiled all my parenting-related poetry, from my first pregnancy and miscarriage, then Mikko's story from conception through pregnancy through the newborn phase and all the way up to toddlerhood.

Read the 5-star reviews on Amazonand from various bloggers collected here.

Read excerpted sample poetry from the book here.

Carnival news:

Submit to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting with your take on Childhood Memories!

Calling for submissions for the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting!

J. & D., Holidays 2006Theme: Childhood Memories: Our theme this month is childhood memories; feel free to write about whatever speaks to you. Here are some ideas: What are your earliest, favorite, strangest or other childhood memories? Is it easy or hard for you to remember your childhood? How do your childhood memories impact the way you parent? What childhood memories do you hope your children will have? What do you do to preserve childhood for your little ones (e.g., pictures, etc.)?

Deadline: Tuesday, December 4. Fill out the webform and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CarNatPar {at} 

The parenting blog carnival calendar: Keep track of upcoming writing opportunities!
As a writer, you no longer have to memorize due dates for the blogging carnivals you love. Notifications will come right to your Google Calendar and inbox!

As a carnival host, you can snag more participants and keep them apprised of due dates and themes!

Check out upcoming carnivals in the calendar below, and click the "plus" button at the bottom to add it to your Google account.

To add carnivals to the calendar, see the static page with an email form that takes you step by step through submitting your carnival information. Any carnivals on topics of interest to natural parenting bloggers are welcome.