Smelly Spicy Art

The inspiration for our mindfulness activity came from a fall art project that my younger daughter did in her preschool class, where the class made art with spices and herbs they had first smelled.  For our home activity, I also added our own twist and brought back the blindfold, which was a hit during the “Blindfolded Fruit Tasting Game.”

The Simple Game

The first thing we did was pick our spices.  We picked some yummy ones- cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.   My girls and I smelled the spices first before putting small amounts in containers.  And then came the fun part.  We each took turns putting our blindfold on to guess what spice was in each container.  We paused and took a deep breath in and deep breath out, and sometimes a second smell to make sure we knew what it was.  We then had to share our guess after smelling the spice.

The Results

My 5-year old nailed all of them and got all 4 spice smells correct; my 2-year old was done playing after one guess. Interestingly, my husband and I both got nutmeg and cinnamon mixed up.

Some Messy Fun

Once we did the guessing game, then we used the spices to do some fun messy art.  It did get quite messy, so it may be worth taking this game outdoors.  Here’s the results of some of the artwork.  All in all, a really easy and fun sensory game to tune into the sense of smell, and relax with some fun art after.

Friends like Nini

Almost 10 years ago I met an incredible woman named Nini, who has cerebral palsy.   I had signed up to volunteer with a program called Best Buddies, where you get paired up to be a buddy to an individual with special needs.  While I had joined Best Buddies as a way to give back, I learned so much more from Nini during the course of our friendship than I had ever anticipated. I learned that Nini was incredibly talented and skilled at activities like cross-stitching, swimming and even acting.  I learned that while she was often reliant on a wheelchair or a walker, that she was extremely independent and knew how to cruise around San Francisco completely on her own.  I learned that sometimes everyday tasks could be exhausting for Nini because of her physical and emotional limitations. I learned that Nini had a love for roller-coasters, for traveling and for adventures like skydiving.  I learned that she could be as goofy as the best of them, and while she had difficult days that she had a smile that could light up a room. Read more

Personalized Kindness Cootie Catcher for a Special Friend

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to play with Cootie Catchers- or Paper Fortune Tellers.   The element of surprise with each turn, not knowing what will be unveiled as your fortune, was always so fun and intriguing.  I’ve introduced this popular activity with my girls and they love it just as much as I did.  Recently I found this blog post that added a little twist to this activity by making the catcher about kindness.  With the Kindness Cootie Catcher, each fortune results in a simple act of kindness like ‘give a hug’ or ‘smile.’

Read more

Hope and Courage for more Dannys

So often many of us, myself included, go through each day taking for granted some of the most simple pleasures in life.  I almost never stop to think about the fact that I get to have toothpaste, a toothbrush, shampoo, soap and so much more; and that truly we are so lucky to get to have these luxuries.  In fact, World Bank projects that as of 2015, based on the poverty line of $1.90 per day, “global poverty may have reached 700 million, or 9.6 percent of the global population.” This statistic alone sets things into perspective.  I spend double the global poverty line in a single Starbucks visit.   What’s even more jarring is to realize that there are kids that live right by us, in neighboring towns, who have been severely abused and neglected.  These kids are worried about their safety, whether they have a home or a family to rely on- let alone the simple pleasures of life that we so often take for granted.  Read more

Even breathing can be fun

Last week my 5-year old walked in the door from school and was really upset because her sister got to watch a TV show while she was away and thought that her sister would get an “extra” show.  She started crying really hard and what was a trivial occurrence had become a very big deal in her mind.  I let her cry and told her that I understood she was upset, but that things aren’t always fair.  If she needed to calm down that perhaps she could go to the Peaceful Place in the corner of her room to settle down.  She walked into her room bawling her eyes out, and then two minutes later walked out completely calm and prancing around the house like nothing had happened.  I was in complete awe.  She seemed like a different child within just a few minutes.

Read more

Noticing the small stuff

Kindness is something that happens more often than we realize or notice.  It’s just that most of the time when it happens, they are small acts-  simple and spontaneous gestures.  While these gestures may make our lives a bit better in the moment or even make us smile, most of us don’t deliberately spend energy thinking about them beyond that brief moment.  Recently though I tried to be mindful of the simple acts of kindness I experience in my life and was pleasantly surprised to find that my list was a lot longer that I had expected.  Here’s just a few examples from my list…and interestingly most of the kind acts are from complete strangers: Read more