May 2015
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Mommy Things I Wish I Had Known Earlier

Scissors are NOT suitable for left and right-handed use.

Somewhere between two and three, it became obvious that one of our daughters is right-handed, while the other is left-handed. When it came time for their first pair of scissors, I remember specifically looking for ones indicating they were for lefties. But all the ones I saw in the stores specifically stated they were “suitable for left and right-handed use.” I thought “that’s convenient”, got a couple of pairs, and thought no more about it. Around age five, Dan got her a pair of left handed scissors. It was then that I finally understood that it’s not just about how the grip is shaped; the blades themselves are reversed for left-handed scissors. Since our lefty had been cutting with right-handed scissors, she was rotating her hand 90 degrees towards her in order to see what she was cutting (so her hand was turned sideways, rather than straight up and down). After we got her the correct scissors, it took many weeks of reminding her not to tilt her had before she became consistent. But once she got that down, her cutting skills dramatically improved. She really just needed the right tool. I’ve already started looking for left-handed decorative cut scissors. I don’t think they’ll be easy to find…

[In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that Dan insists he told me repeatedly that left handed scissors are made differently. He was the one who actually tracked them down and ordered them. I feel like I’m usually a reasonable listener, so not sure where the breakdown occurred there.  At any rate, we finally got her set up with something she can use. I just wish it had been before she learned bad habits to cope with the wrong tool so she wouldn’t have had to unlearn those to use the right tool.]

Playdough is easy to make.

The girls love playdough. They can play quietly together for an hour or more. It’s a frequent “go to” thing when I needed to focus on something for a while. But it dries out. And I don’t like the smell. I had heard that people made their own and always thought I would try that someday. I finally did. It was easy. And doesn’t smell bad like the ones you buy.

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We must rescue the princesses from the cage!

Crayons

Don’t even think of trying to put those crayons back in the box. Once I finally gave up on the box, I started using plastic bags. That worked fine for storage, but we would end up with all the crayons on the table and the floor each time they used them. One day it occurred to me to put the crayons into a glass pie pan. The edges keep the crayons from rolling all over (like onto the floor) and it’s heavy enough it will stay put. When they’re done, we just put the whole pan onto the shelf. I don’t make pies often, so I don’t miss my pie pan and if I did I would buy another pan.

Paper Cutting

The girls love cutting! For a long time they would just snip away, literally making confetti — which got everywhere! And our dining area is carpeted so I can’t just sweep it up, it has to be picked up or vacuumed. But then I discovered that if I gave them a baking pan it would help contain the confetti and significantly reduce all that clean up.

Dyeing Easter Eggs

We always used the packaged Easter egg dyes when I was a kid. I didn’t even know there were other ways to color eggs. I used those the first time we dyed eggs with the girls. But then I discovered that you can use food coloring. I liked that better. A cooling rack in a baking pan is a great place to put them to dry. And we have better luck using tongs to remove the eggs from the dye, instead of that tiny little metal hook thing that comes with the dye kits.

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Look at the pretty colors!

Jack-O-Lanterns

The girls were 5½ before I was ready to consider carving jack-o-lanterns with them. But all those little fingers with those great big kitchen knives made me about ready to pass again. I decided to try some of those little plastic jack-o-lantern carving tools. They carved the pumpkin much better than I expected and seemed much safer for little hands than real knives. They’re inexpensive, so they’re not well made, but they worked for our purposes.

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Pumpkin carving.

Learning to write

Sometimes smaller is better. From a young age, the girls have enjoyed drawing. As they got older, they started making attempts at writing letters. One of the girls had an awkward grip and would hold the pencil or crayon in her fist. She would get frustrated when we tried to show her another way to hold it. When they started school, the teacher told us at open house that they use very small pieces of chalk to practice their writing. Smaller is lighter. It also helps force a more proper grip. You can’t hold a ½ inch piece of chalk in your fist.

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Early drawings.

 They’ll like it better if they get to help.

For their 5th birthday party, we went did a Dr. Seuss/Thing 1 & Thing 2 themed party.  I had visions of a cake with Thing 1 drawn on it in icing and Thing 2 on the other cake.  The girls wanted to help and it was their birthday, after all. So I did some rethinking and came up with a design they could do. I think the icing layer was thicker than the cake layer. They were so proud of themselves! And it was way easier on me.

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We made a birthday cake.

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Little helpers (yes, she’s wearing a princess dress).

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