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Wednesday
May232012

Revealing Play

The best moments in parenting often arrive when I do nothing. I don’t talk. I don’t assist. I don’t offer help. I simply sit back, relax, and let time and space envelope us. When I do this, the magic happens. My son retreats into his fantastical toddler world, his focus narrows, and he becomes engrossed in play—the true sense of it—for hours. And I get to be the lucky observer.

As parents, we spend so much time with our children that we (think) we know everything about them. We indeed know their tired, cranky, and over-stimulated cues. We know their language and that “keer-e-al” means “cereal.” We know they can’t live without their favorite tow truck shirt, that ice cream sandwiches cannot safely be stored in the bottom freezer, and that fresh air always solves all bad moods. We always know when they need hugs the most. But despite this heightened awareness, do we really know their inner thoughts, what makes them tick?

When I have the opportunity to, in many ways, let time stand still and capture a glimpse of my son in his worldof unstructured, self-directed play I’m given my answer.

He is methodical in his thought processes.

He speaks out loud to animate his toys and create his own worlds.

He goes through a few highs and lows as he coaches, corrects, and pushes himself through fitting blocks, gears, and cranks together to make a working, moving masterpiece of parts.

He has the ability to persevere despite frustration.

He is an explorer, tinkerer, and experimenter.

He is comfortable with deliberate messes, yet hates unintentional ones.

He is conceptually attuned at making abstract connections.

He is a problem-solver.

He is an engineer.

He is a creator.

He is skilled like his Papa.

He is more competent than I ever knew two year olds could be.

He is his own bright light, not just my son/sun.

~ The Other Sarah

Tuesday
May222012

Griffin's Play-Doh Factory

Griffin turned three last week. When I asked him a few months back what kind of birthday party he wanted, I gave him three theme choices based on his favorite things. Play-Doh. Art. Dinosaurs.

He didn't even hesitate. He wanted a Play-Doh party.

Inspired by the us in russ, I decided to go with a Play-doh Factory theme. A couple weeks back all the invitees received tubs of Play-Doh informing them the Factory was hiring. (Cutest RSVP response goes to Abigail's mom who sent me an email informing me of Abigail's Play-Doh qualifications!) 

On the day of the party, we welcomed the new recruits who received aprons and busboy hats. Each guest then had to stamp their "time card" and take a photo for their employee ID card. (I added their names in in Photoshop and intend to send the pics with our thank you notes.)

Then, our new factory employees made their way to the "Production Line" where they made their own magic Play-Doh with Kool-Aid. They each got to pick what color they wanted by chosing a Kool-Aid flavor. We premeasured out the dry ingredients and then had water and oil available for (parent-led) mixing. 

Next up, every one made their way to "Research and Development." Some very generous friends had loaned me a wide assortment of Play-Doh toys. I spread them out along two long tables and let them go at it. Griffin literally sat at the R&D table for an hour straight. He didn't even get up to greet his buddies when they arrived.

I turned my dessert table into the Factory itself. I decided to try cake push pops for the first time since I thought they were reminiscent of Play-Doh tubs. I had fallen in love with rainbow mini-cakes a while back and decided to make rainbow push pops instead. My stepdad made a long holder for the pops that I put in the middle of the table to look like a conveyer belt coming out of a cardboard box I covered with gears. I was SO happy with the result. 

The push pops were a huge success, as was the party itself I have to say. As everyone left, they came to "Product Packaging" and I gave them their time card, some animal-shaped cutters, little mini rolling pins, and the Play-Doh recipe. 

 

I think every one had a great time, especially Griffin. I will post more details on Thursday as well as some free printables in case you want to open the doors of your own Play-Doh Factory!

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Monday
May212012

50 Shades of Gray (Hair)

Now that I’m in my 30s and (gasp!) graying, I’m starting to have empathy for the vanity-obsessed Queen of Snow White. Clearly, I wouldn’t go to crazy lengths and kill someone just to be considered the fairest of them all. There’s no point. All I have to do is drive up the street to the nearest Beverly Hills plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist for a shot of the Fountain of Youth. I kid, I kid.  But—and I think you’d agree, or at least pretend you do for my sake—what a cruel trick the aging gods play when they bless curse me with the monthly acne of an adolescent along with the wiry white wisps more fitting for a villainous witch.

It’s funny. I’m really not a witch. I’m really not that vain (emphasis added because I occasionally put effort into getting dressed up). And I’m really low maintenance. Even my husband, who takes longer to get ready than I do, would back this up as fact, not fiction. However, there’s something about gray hair that makes my nose immediately crinkle.

The hair texture is gnarly. It grows wild. And it admittedly makes me worry. Men look distinguished. That’s why George Clooney is almost every woman’s fantasy. And women look, well, aged tired less youthful. There, I said it. I don’t want to look old…yet.

Here’s why:

Gray hair suggests that I should have the this parenting gig figured out. I certainly don’t and would hate if people thought me wise.

Gray hair suggests that I live with 100s of cats. And I hate cats.

Gray hair suggests that I could be a punk or hipster. I’m neither ‘cause I’m not nearly cool enough to rock those looks. 

Gray hair suggests that I’m stressed. Well, this might actually be true. Sleep might help here.

Gray hair suggests that I'm 100% secure in my looks. I’m not. Perhaps someday, but I still have some maturing and perspective-gaining to do. Until then…

I pluck one. Then another. And, @$*%!, a few more. Since when do gray hairs multiply like rabbits?! I already have enough on my plate with battling the persistent (permanent?) dark circles of motherhood under my eyes. 

~ The Other Sarah

Friday
May182012

{Featured Friday Review & Giveaway} Open Sky Fitness Lunch Crunch Workout

Two years after having a baby and I'm still not 100% satisfied with the state (or shape) of my body. In fact, I've actually put on weight since my nursing days when I was (hooray!) back in my college-sized pants. But, damn, that was short-lived because my active days at the park were exchanged for sedentary hours in front of the computer when my son started preschool and I resumed work. And although I'm not eating poorly, the sit-and-sit-some-more lifestyle is killing my middle and energy. I feel squishy and sluggish.

So, to my own surprise, I took Rob Dionne up on his offer to attend his "Lunch Crunch" boot camp class at Opensky Fitness. I am not sure what compelled me to do so because I hate running when it's not part of a sports game, I hate people yelling at me as a form of motivation, and I generally dislike working outside when it's going to be hot (I'm a yogi, not a marathoner). But, and it must've been a big BUT, my body told me it needed to try something different. Thus, I found myself at the La Brea Tar Pits prepared to die from being out. of. shape. 

Well, I survived (thankfully) and lived to tell about it. First, my preconceived notions about Rob's boot camp classes were all VERY WRONG. The Lunch Crunch course was anything but intimidating. Sure it was very challenging and worked me to my core (and there were bits of that dreaded running), but never did I feel silly or out of place due to my fitness level and rustiness. Rob immediately put me at ease when he told me that it's his goal to help people build up or return to their optimal health by having them do what's comfortable while still getting a good work out. A lot like yoga, he encouraged me to listen to body and not overdo it. Phew! 

In addition to Rob's positive motivation, everyone in the class—which included men and women of all ages and abilities—proved really cool and supportive. People truly cheered me on and offered pointers when needed. There was no shaming, only teamwork.

At the end of the day, Rob's Lunch Crunch workout makes you sweat a lot and gets your blood pumping. But it's done in a lovely atmosphere and community. You enjoy shady park scenery, get to absorb the benefits of being outdoors with a fun group of people for an hour, and never have a moment to get bored or caught up in stressful snowball thinking due to a variety of exercises and reps that keep your mind focused.

This workout is at 1030 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and is the perfect time for stay-at-home or work-at-home parents to sneak in some time for themselves and conquer that remaining baby fat (if you're like me!) or muster up the energy to power through the your busy days (again, if you're like me!!).

Open Sky Fitness Giveaway

Open Sky Fitness would like to offer Salt & Nectar readers a free week of Lunch Crunch classes. If you're interested, please contact Rob at 323-2300-SKY (just share our name) and visit his Web site and Facebook for additional information and news on upcoming workouts and events.

Check it out. If I can do it, you certainly can!

~ The Other Sarah

Neither Sarah, nor Salt & Nectar were paid to write this review or offer this giveaway. Sarah recieved a complimentary class to try the Lunch Crunch Workout and she chose to write an experiential review on it.

Friday
May182012

The Everyday