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Author: Tricia

I'm the only girl in my home, sharing activities, experiments and other fun ways for moms to connect with their kids

What happens when you take time to grow

I miss it. I miss my boys’ younger ages.

I miss reading to them for hours after they begged me to sit on the floor with them.

I miss the hours of LEGO building, creating.

What happens when you take time with https://momistheonlygirl.com

I miss sitting at my computer and typing up the details about the fun ways we learned and practiced our letters, we created or the bubbling mess of an experiment we tried that made our kitchen all wet the first time we tried it!


See, the boys have been in school full days for a few years now. When Sweet Pea first entered Kindergarten I realized how much I like to tinker with the back end of this blog. I took the steps to learn more, spending hours behind the computer soaking up all the information I could.

Sometimes I sat there too long but was always careful to do it when the boys were at school, always giving them my attention when they were home. I slowly let posting the fun things take a back seat to my learning, stopped looking for as many fun experiences to enjoy with them.


Over the past two years, my boys have gotten bigger and don’t need me as much. They play on their own, find their own fun and don’t want me to be their playmate as often. This gives me more time to work on websites and learn more skills, but I miss them. I miss the time we spent together. The interaction on that level. (Please don’t read that I don’t spend time with them, we do, just in ways other than playing like we did when they were smaller.)

Oh, I know this isn’t just because I’ve spent time at the computer and grown in my skills. I know as eight- and ten-year-olds they just play differently and aren’t as dependent on me, which is nice and gives Hubby and me more freedom because they are growing into young men.

This “missing” is perhaps a little emptiness, a feeling I suspect many moms experience but don’t have the time to acknowledge because they are so busy with life.


This post is my realizing that it is ok, normal, a process that some don’t realize even happened until their kids leave home and live on their own because life circumstances didn’t allow them to as it was happening.

I’ve taken the time to grow my skills as my kiddos have grown. I’ve tried to do it on my own terms and in my own way so that I can stop along the way and be part of life, be part of the minute little changes taking place daily, but observing the change doesn’t make you miss the way it used to be any less.

Things have changed…the way they play, the way we spend time together…the ways I spend my time while they are at school.


But I miss it. I really do miss the precious minutes just being their all.

Can you relate? Will you describe an ah-ha moment you experienced as your kids have grown?


What will you give? Prompting children to give and be generous. https://momistheonlygirl.com

What will you give?

Can you believe the stores are decorated for Christmas already? I don’t really want to think about it yet, but the grandparents have been asking what types of things to get the boys. It got me thinking about this coming holiday from another perspective.


What are they going to GIVE?

Have you thought about asking your kids what they want to GIVE? I remember asking Cutie Pie (when he was five) what he would give if he could give anything at all.

This was his (5 year old) response…

“A brontosaurus and LEGOs to a boy with no toys.
To my friends I would give pets.
To a stranger, a piece of paper because I don’t know them and they could do a lot of different things with paper.”

What ideas do your kids have to give? Have you asked them?

Book Review: Captain Underpants series

*The link provided below is for reference only and is not an affiliate link.

As stated in two previous posts (here and here), the boys want to share their reviews of the books that stayed on their bedside table over this past year.

This first review is by Cutie Pie, a nine year old reading enthusiast, of one of his favorite book series, Captain Underpants.

Book Review: Captain Underpants, by a 9 year old at https://momistheonlygirl.com

Book Review: Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

The principle was hypnotized, and now when anyone snaps their fingers he turns into Captain Underpants. Captain Underpants has saved the town from things like toilets that came alive during an accident at a science fair, and a giant pair of robot boxer-shorts.

Only George and Harold know Captain Underpants’ real identity (along with yesterday-George and yesterday-Harold. You will have to read the books to understand!)

This may sound like a strange book-description, but you should read it! It’s very funny, although your mom and dad might not get all the humor.

-by Cutie Pie, male, age 9

I actually have read a couple of the books in this series with Cutie Pie. The humor is definitely what will draw a young boy into this, as the whole book is rather silly from an adult’s perspective. Keep that in mind and read it from your child’s perspective and I think you will find it rather silly as well.

The Scholastic page for this book series has links to fun games and extras if you’d like to check it out!


What book is your child loving at the moment?

What books are on their bedside tables? Part 1 - books recommended by a 9 year old boy https://momistheonlygirl.com

What’s on their bedside tables? (Part 2)

*Two books on this list were provided by the publisher in exchange for being mentioned on this blog, but links provided are not affiliate links

Sweet Pea, 7 years old and completing first grade, loves for us to read to him, but is starting to read chapter books on his own as well as longer childrens’ books. It’s been exciting watching him learn to read, and we are loving watching his love for books grow!

What's on their bedside table? Recommendations for 7 year olds by a 7 year old at https://momistheonlygirl.com

  Sweet Pea’s Favorite Books*:

Boxcar Children series – chapter books – by Gertrude Chandler Warner
A to Z Mysteries – chapter books – by Ron Roy
Snappsy the Alligator – by Julie Falatko and illustrations by Tim Miller
Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez
Chick n Pug by Jennifer Sattler

*(in no particular order and none of these links are affiliate links, although Snappsy the Alligator and Hansel and Gretel Ninja Chicks were provided by Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review or being mentioned on this blog (however are included in this list because they did indeed stay on the bedside table for a while and make the list.))

As stated in a previous post, the boys want to put their reviews of some of these books on the blog, so watch for them!


What books are on your kids’ recommended reading lists?

What books are on their bedside tables? Part 1 - books recommended by a 9 year old boy https://momistheonlygirl.com

What’s on their bedside tables? (Part 1)

Both boys love to read. Cutie Pie, the 9 year old third-grader, is an avid reader. When it gets quiet we usually find him reading. He still loves to have us read to him, so family reading time still happens every night, but even then we sometimes have to tell him to put his book down to listen to the story we’re reading!

What are your boys reading? A short list of the books a 9 year old recommends. https://momistheonlygirl.com

Though I’m not posting as often during my course-work, the boys are eager to share their most recent reads with you! They are even excited to help on the blog by sharing a few reviews of their favorite books from the past year.


Today, we’re sharing the list of books Cutie Pie has had on his bedside table most frequently this past year.

  Cutie Pie’s recommended reading*:

Beast Quest series by Adam Blade
Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland
The Secrets of Droon series by Tony Abbott
Captain Underpants by Dave Pilkey
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – we have been reading this as a family and are currently on book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

*(in no particular order and no affiliate links are included – just links for you to find more information)

As I mentioned, the boys will be sharing reviews of some of these books on the blog this summer! I’ll be sharing Sweet Pea’s favorite books to read in another post, so watch for that!


What books are on your kids’ bedside tables?

What spell would you use? A little of the fun my boys are conjuring up while reading the Harry Potter series. https://momistheonlygirl.com

What spell would you use?

Our family is enjoying the Harry Potter series of books (you know, the ones by J.K. Rowling), fascinated by all the wizards and witches (and miscommunication), the passageways of the castle, and the young characters’ adventures. They’ve led to several discussions about when to come to an adult…

What spell would you use? Just a little of the fun my boys are conjuring up while reading the Harry Potter series https://momistheonlygirl.com

Hubby and I are enjoying reading the books after seeing the movies, and are being begged to read the same book each night. Story time used to consist of maybe two or three books at night. Now its usually half hour of reading and only sometimes finishing a chapter! (loooong chapters, but totally capturing their interest!)

Reading this series has brought about a new kind of play for Sweet Pea. We often see him outside running in the backyard with a stick between his legs. It is pretty obvious he’s flying playing Quidditch! His imagination has developed to include dialogue between him and his (pretend) teammates when he reflects his adventures back to us.

Sometimes Cutie Pie will join him in playful banter and they’ll be ‘casting spells’ on each other. They are usually for things like getting the other to stay out of their room, or to get the other to spin in circles. I’m sure if we pointed out that they are playing well together when doing this, the mood would be spoiled!


What books or series of books are you reading with your family?

What sorts of activities do you see your kids doing that are a result of their reading?

*I have in no way been compensated for liking and mentioning this book. It is a sole reflection of the interests of my children.

the environment we're raising our kids in is much different than that of our parents. We can still give our kids awesome experiences like we had! https://momistheonlygirl.com

Growing up ‘free’

Every once in a while I get homesick for my childhood home. Do you? Last week I posted about being bullied as a child and ever since then I’ve been thinking about the freedom I was given as a child (and secretly hoping my kids will have some of the same experiences I was given – and subsequently wondering if I’m give those opportunities to them, or if I am hesitant for fear of what others may think.) It’s also left me wondering if we feel a little bullied as moms in our mothering.

Read more

I was bullied as a child and what I do about it now. https://momistheonlygirl.com

When I was bullied as a child

Walk, Talk, Tell didn’t work for me, but when I was a child the world was different. There were no such things as the internet, cell phones (well, there was but they were huge!) or Skype. The world was safer. Parents weren’t afraid to let their kids walk to the store alone. There was a higher level of trust among strangers and acquaintances.

I was bullied

Read more

boy-designed and built spinning tops at https://momistheonlygirl.com

What’s round like a top? (but isn’t really)

My boys have been doing a lot of building and experimental building. Read:  coming up with ideas to build and then using only specific materials to build with!

Their building materials of choice? Both LEGO and K’Nex! The materials were selected after they chose what they were going to try to build.

Their creations? Mainly spinning tops! (or spinners and I used to call them)

boy-designed and built spinning tops at https://momistheonlygirl.com

Spinning tops building

Both boys sat down and thought out their basic design (ages 7 and 9). They started trying very hard to create round objects that would spin, but discovered in their testing phase that square objects look round when spun. This opened a variety of ways to build their spinning tops!

When using LEGOs, the boys tended at first to grab the more round pieces, but as they tested more and more of their creations, they started to shift towards the square pieces as they seemed more stable when they spun.

boy-designed and built spinning tops at https://momistheonlygirl.com

boy-designed and built spinning tops at https://momistheonlygirl.com

Spinning tops testing = discoveries

Also through their testing of their tops, they discovered the need for the top to be balanced, or it wobbled. They seemed to be able to build in a more balanced way on the square (and even sometimes rectangular) pieces. “It has to do with math, mom.”

It was interesting watching them go through a little scientific process to narrow down both their building materials and technique. Their structures got pretty complex, but also heavy and they soon realized the tops wouldn’t spin very well if they were heavy, either.

boy-designed and built spinning tops at https://momistheonlygirl.com

boy-designed and built spinning tops at https://momistheonlygirl.com

We had a little photoshoot on the dining room floor trying to capture the designs they made while spinning and then a still-shot so you can see the actual creation. (This also led to them switching some colored pieces in so they looked ‘cool’.)

They had so much fun making these spinning and taking pictures! We’re sharing just a few here (the ones that came out! Its hard to take pictures of spinning things!)

boy-designed and built spinning tops at https://momistheonlygirl.com
This is the spin top in the title image.



Give this activity a shot with your kiddos! Offer the activity suggestion and see what creations they come up with!

What are your kids’ favorite building toys, and what do they build?


My kids started school late. They had longer to become themselves and to play like children should. https://momistheonlygirl.com

My kids started school ‘late’

Around here children must be five years old before December 1st to start Kindergarten in September of the same year. One of mine turned five in early January and the other turned five just days before the deadline. In most people’s opinions my kids started school ‘late’ because they were home with me watching the bus go by that fall they turned five years old.

My kids started school late. They had longer to become themselves and to play like children should. https://momistheonlygirl.com

It’s preschool fair time in my town, with everyone clamoring to get their children signed up before there are no spots left. It’s also the time our town takes a census to see what the needs for Kindergarten classrooms will be this coming school year. And the time many parents realize their child will not be old enough to begin school in the fall. My kids started ‘late’ according to many, but I think this is a good thing! Read more

Wisdom from an unlikely hero at https://momistheonlygirl.com

An Unlikely Hero’s Wisdom

Cutie Pie absolutely loves the How to Train Your Dragon book series by Cressida Cowell. Last night we were reading Book 12, How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury, and this line jumped out at me…

Maybe we are lucky that we are not Kings and Heroes, because we do not have to make the choices that Kings and Heroes have to make.

On one of the first pages of the book we read about Hiccup. He was a “swordfighter, a dragon whisperer, and the greatest Viking Hero who ever lived.” It also describes him as “an ordinary boy who found it hard to be a Hero.” Read more

Simple Valentine at https://momistheonlygirl.com

Fill in the Blanks Valentine

Last winter I posted here about a fun fill-in-the-blank activity I did with Cutie Pie. What I didn’t post was that in first grade, he came up with a fill-in-the-blank Valentine for his teacher! I wish I had kept a copy of what he made her, but it was a simple, cute and creative little gift that his teacher truly appreciated!

Simple fill-in-the-blank Valentine at https://momistheonlygirl.com

We started by me asking a few things he liked about his teacher. (She told funny jokes. She had red hair. She liked minions. etc) Then I asked what he liked about school. And finally I asked about what things are in his classroom.

Read more

Carnival of the Animals lion mane craft https://momistheonlygirl.com

Carnival of the Animals – Lion Mane craft

Listening to the music and hearing the roar of a lion, meow of a cat, or the almost irritatingly slow melody of the can-can, as if a tortoise were dancing it. The beautiful melody as the cello makes us think of the swan….

This month we had the privilege of hearing Carnival of the Animals played at our local OrKidstra concert! (You can hear movements of it here.) So today we’re making lion manes!

Carnival of the Animals lion's mane craft https://momistheonlygirl.com Read more

What did you write about today?

Cutie Pie had a wonderful teacher for second grade and developed his imagination from the get-go. Mrs. P. had a very structured day in school, so for homework four days a week she assigned journal writing. They weren’t given writing prompts, but rather could write about whatever they wanted, fact, fiction, copied text from cereal boxes…as long as they wrote something in their own handwriting.

2nd grade writing prompts, both a list of prompts and printable worksheets with writing prompts found at https://momistheonlygirl.com

The need for creative writing prompts

Read more

Star Big ~ get small to achieve your goals at https://momistheonlygirl.com

Start Big…get small ~ everyday calendar items

On Monday I shared about an easier way to achieve the goal and hinted at a couple of methods I’m using to get organized planning-wise this year. On Wednesday I referred you to Intentional by Grace and her planning 101 series to help get your calendar organized for 2016. Starting big!

It’s one thing to plan to achieve the goal and to get things on your calendar so as not to miss birthdays, appointments and other important dates. (Starting big!) It’s quite another to actually work towards completing a goal and making those calendar items more easily crossed off as complete. So let’s get small!

Start Big -get small to accomplish everyday calendar tasks at https://momistheonlygirl.com

Mind mapping the everyday

Have you heard of mind mapping? I stumbled across this website in late December and have seen articles about mind mapping floating around Facebook ever since (funny how Facebook knows what we’ve been looking at to show you posts you may be interested in…) 

In very basic terms, mind-mapping is taking an idea or project you’d like to work on, writing it down in the center of a page, and then writing everything you can think of that needs to go into developing that idea around it. Then you break down every surrounding idea even further. It’s like breaking a big project down into steps, then breaking the steps down into smaller steps, then those steps into even smaller steps.

I’ve done this mind mapping technique with a few huge projects to break them down into smaller, more attainable goals, and then broken those goals down into smaller steps and the projects don’t seem so huge or unattainable any more! I’ve also been doing this with everyday tasks that have only a few steps to them, and am extending it to my calendar items for this year. 

How does this apply to a mom?

Now that you have all of your important dates, appointments, school obligations and holidays written in your calendar, go back through and look at each item you wrote. For each item ask yourself:

“Do I need to do something to make that appointment, birthday, or holiday successful or special?”

Then, back up a few days on your calendar (or in your planner that you look at daily ~ hint hint!) and write in what task(s) you need to do for that calendar item. Two examples:

  1. John’s birthday is on April 3rd, I wrote it in the other day when I was writing everything out on my calendar. Today I see it, and on March 26th write a note to ‘purchase and send card for John’s birthday’.
  2. You’re scheduled to take cookies to the Girl Scout meeting on February 4th. On the grocery shopping day right before that date write a note to check for ingredients. Then write in a date to actually make the cookies!

For a mom, this process is like taking each calendar item you wrote in your 2016 calendar, and thinking about all the little things that go into achieving that one goal – the calendar item – and then planning them out step by step. Its like mind mapping and will help us keep better track of all the little details that go into accomplishing our everyday goals, as well as the really big ones!

Action Steps:

~ Pull out your calendar and planner, work step by step through items on it, filling in what smaller steps can be done to help you be successful for each item.

~ Think of your goals for the year and do a little mind mapping. Then assign anticipated completion dates for each of your steps and add them to your planner!

~ Leave a comment below with your thoughts about mind mapping and the process you use to stay organized with all the details of small and big goals!


*Please note I haven’t gone through all of the articles in the Planning 101 series, so this may be covered in there as well. I’m so excited about getting everything mapped out that I stopped after her first Planning 101 post!
**Also, links provided are for your convenience only and are not affiliate links. They are resources I have used and recommend!

Start Big

This week we’re talking about how to plan for this coming year. I mean after all, moms need to be organized so we don’t miss  an appointment, right?

Planning for the new year but don't know where to start? Start big! https://momistheonlygirl.com
original image source: Wonderlass.com
Start Big

Its either really hard to know where to start planning or so easy to start, then get quickly discouraged, though, isn’t it? To get over this start big! Look at the big picture, the one that affects the whole family. The trick is looking at it in a way that doesn’t really seem so big, so ignore all the details right now. Let’s just think about planning out the basic 2016 calendar for the family.

Follow the advice of someone who’s done it before

I’ve been following Leigh Ann at Intentional by Grace for a while and have stumbled upon her Planning 101 series several times. This year, however, I’m actually following the steps she shares to plan for the overall year for my family.

Leigh Ann walks you through making sure everything for your family is on your calendar for the year so you don’t forget the little things!


Go ahead and check out Leigh Ann’s post, and make sure you have your calendar ready! There are so many sources for printable calendars on the internet, but I like the printable calendar and planner pages at Scattered Squirrel! (I was going to make my own to add to this post, but came across these!) If you are a blogger and looking for a life and blogging planner, check out Wonderlass!

Next step:

Come back on Friday to check out the way I’m planning to accomplish my goals and mini-goals!

*Disclaimer: I am linking to these pages simply because I like them, these are not sponsored or affiliate links at the time of publishing.

Stick to it encouragement and easier goal achieving at https://momistheonlygirl.com

An easier way to achieve the goal

How many out there have made resolutions or goals for 2016 or have chosen a word for the year?

An easier way to achieve the goal using simple steps and mini-goals at https://momistheonlygirl.com

I used to make resolutions, but wasn’t good at keeping them. I think maybe because the outcome didn’t matter as much as I wanted it to. Nothing would happen if I didn’t achieve my resolutions, except for me being disappointed, so they didn’t ‘stick’.

This year I’m trying something new.

Literally in more than one way. I’m on a venture to bring in an income while staying at home. I’m also using a different method than just making a resolution to hone in on achieving this goal.

I’m working on writing down my bigger goals, but taking it farther than that. I’m writing down a goal, and then breaking that down into smaller, achievable mini-goals. And for the mini-goals? I’m writing the steps to take to actually achieve them (and using target dates to keep me motivated and moving along!)

Abstractly this is a little hard. I mean, I haven’t actually gotten all of my thoughts together for my big picture. However, in reality actually writing things down and thinking about them in big terms is helping me figure out what the mini-goals should be, which in turn is making it easier for me to see the steps I need to take. Clear as a bell, right?


How does this goal setting relate to you as a mom?

Simple, everyone has things they want to accomplish. It could be something as big as bringing in $100,000 this year, or as small as keeping the house in order for one day. (I’m with you, that’s no easy task with little ones underfoot, right?!)

The process to begin accomplishing each goal is very similar – outlining the steps to achieve it by setting and achieving mini-goals, and then outlining the steps needed to achieve the mini-goals.

As a mom with little ones at home I yearned for a tidy home, but it just never happened unless I took steps to make it happen. The tidy home was my big goal. I broke that down into achievable mini-goals like doing the laundry (washed, folded and away), or sweeping/mopping/vacuuming and consciously worked toward them taking small steps to accomplish them. I never managed to have a tidy home for long, but it was much easier to achieve while taking steps to achieve my mini-goals than just haphazardly working toward my big goal. The mini-goals helped me stay focused.

I’m not saying you have to maintain a tidy home, or that you have to try this goals/mini-goals method. I’m just suggesting if you have a hard time achieving a goal maybe this is a technique to try. Maybe start out simple and just pondering what your end goal is and then go from there?

Whatever you do, stick to it! If you don’t stick to it to begin with, it won’t be achieved anyway! Look at what you’re trying to achieve from different angles, in different ways.

If you are working towards a goal for 2016 and have your own way of keeping yourself on task, PLEASE share! I’ll be sharing again later this week how I used this little method to plan out 2016 for my family and would love to share links to what you’ve published about working towards your goals!

Download this little reminder to Stick to It for your iPad!

Stick to It encourager for the iPad at momistheonlygirl.com



Merry Christmas!

Since writing my last post I have finished up Christmas shopping for my loved ones, finished my course final project (yeah! I accomplished a major goal this year!) and finished up my year of freelancing (did you know I am helping others transition to new WordPress themes that are mobile-responsive?).

I’m delighting in hot chocolate even though the grass is still green and there is no sign of snow for Christmas (very unusual for this part of New York State) and am trying desperately to get into the Christmas spirit. Maybe wrapping gifts all day tomorrow will help?!

I’m planning to share some fun things in the new year! Things to help us all get organized, to have fun with our kiddos and to stretch our own imaginations as moms.

I’m heading out of this year with this Christmas wish to you, made with help from She Who Lives and her stash of free stock images for Christmas! Please check out this new site I found earlier today! A fun resource for lifestyle ideas as well as bloggers!

Merry Christmas https://momistheonlygirl.com

Toy Train ideas at Mom is the Only Girl https://momistheonlygirl.com

Got a train lover?

(UPDATE: These links are not commission-based or affiliate-based, but are provided solely for reference. Please see the note at the bottom of the post.)

Have you got a train loving child and your short a Christmas gift or two? Or maybe you’re looking for ideas for a birthday present? Here are a few train toy ideas based on what my train-loving seven-year-old boy adores (or used to when he was younger)!

Toy train idea suggestions at Mom is the Only Girl https://momistheonlygirl.com


LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train Building Set  

This LEGO train toy set is big, making it easy for little hands to grasp, and has a learning component to it with numbers on the sides of the cars. My oldest had a hard time putting the cars in any order other than the correct number sequence! My youngest, just loved pushing it around the track! Of course, these pieces can be built into other objects as well. Great imagination builder!


Motorized engine train set with Lego Duplo Compatible

This train toy set isn’t LEGO but it’s compatible with DUPLO pieces. My youngest adored this set, and still some days pulls it out (he’s seven!) This set has basic wheel pieces that can be built upon, as well as pieces that assemble into a bridge. The engine has a button that, once pressed, makes the train go around the track.


Fisher Price Thomas the Train set

My sons still pull these wooden trains out to play with. These are wooden tracks and trains that we plan on keeping until we have grandchildren! The wooden trains are relatively inexpensive and are sturdy. The wooden tracks are sturdy as well, and you can purchase both the tracks and the trains/cars non-brand name as well as purchase expansion packs and pieces so this set can grow easily with your child. I, personally, loved putting these tracks together when the boys were very small. Their little hands could grasp the trains, but their minds couldn’t figure out how to build a complete track!


Playhut Thomas the Train

There are also bigger train items you can purchase for your little train lover! We had this fabric trainhut for a few years, handed down to us from a friend. My boys loved it! We had picnics in it, pretended we were engineers, packed it full of pillows and read, and of course set up our wooden trains and tracks in it! This was quite durable, considering it was made of lightweight fabric!


Power City Trains
This is a terrific option for a child who loves trains, but needs something slightly different than wooden trains or LEGO trains. These trains and cars are battery operated, with plastic track. Sweet Pea has several of these kits and always asks for more. They are not very expensive and make a great starter to see if your older preschooler/kindergartener is ready for something more than Thomas (but of course we all love Thomas!).


LEGO City Trains
My youngest can’t get enough of trains. The fact that LEGO has (a few) train sets just puts it over the top. Of course, the price is a little much, but it is for all LEGOs. (This one at the time of posting is $124 through Amazon.) This represents just one of their train sets. My youngest loves LEGO train kits because he can build per the instructions, or use his imagination and build what he likes. These trains are pretty sturdy once built, although they are made of LEGO, and can come apart easily. The tracks are also pretty sturdy and there are additional pieces available to purchase or small packs available. Sweet Pea has always has excellent fine motor skills when it comes to LEGO play, so he graduated to a LEGO train set right after playing a couple of years with the wooden set.


Step2 Thomas the Tank Engine Up & Down Coaster

Sweet Pea and Cutie Pie both loved riding on one of these when we visited the local recreation center every Friday during their preschool years when they would open their doors to children inviting them to come and play with their toys! I know this is a little more than most have space for, but definitely an awesome train gift for a little one!


These are just a few options of train toys you will find for your train-loving child! There are oh so many more if you do a quick search, but these definitely represent my child’s favorites!


*I am linking to these items because my family and I enjoy them, not because we endorse them or receive any commission based on your click-throughs or purchases. None of these links are provided based on commission. Please use your own discretion when purchasing through these links.

What's in the box? -a sense of hearing Christmas game using simple home materials {shared from Mom is the Only Girl https://momistheonlygirl.com}

What’s in the box? – a sense of hearing {Christmas} game

When my boys were smaller we used to play a sense of hearing game called ‘What’s in the cup’ or some other derivative I would come up with when we were ready to play it. (I’ve written about this here and here.) This year I’m calling it ‘What’s in the box?’

What's in the box? A sense of hearing experiment with Christmas items for an extra challenge! (at Mom is the Only Girl https://momistheonlygirl.com)

Sense of hearing Anytime version:

Basically, I’d put a few objects in a container and they would shake and tilt and tip it trying to use their sense of hearing to figure out what the object was. Usually familiar objects were used…paperclips, LEGOs, beads. These items would be placed in a plastic container – think old butter containers with lids taped on!

Sense of hearing Christmastime version:

At Christmastime this game had a fun twist built in to it. The day after we brought out the Christmas items and decorated, I would place smaller items in unbreakable, covered containers and the boys would try to guess what they were. I would use things like extra ornament hangers, a small (unbreakable) ornament, a candy cane (which they would later have as a special treat).

The twist – I have a few special boxes that I had planned on using to help tell the Christmas story (think the three wise men) and most recently used these in our little sense of hearing game! These boxes are made of wood! Think it changes the sounds the boys would hear if the containers were plastic?

The added challenge of using somewhat unfamiliar items usually only seen, touched, and possibly heard ups the ante for children my kids’ ages (seven and just about nine.)

Since I’m using wooden boxes this year, we haven’t done the written portion of the experiment I wrote about here, as it is just too cumbersome trying to involve numbers and recording hypotheses and still keep this a quick activity, although it is a definite possibility if I prepare this activity ahead of time.


We’ve also played this game placing the items in a sock (or stocking at Christmastime) and tried guessing what the object was by sense of touch only, turning it into a sense of touch game!

The Mystery Box - opening a mysterious box of books from childhood can ignite the imaginations of your kids! https://momistheonlygirl.com

The Mystery Box

It was like Christmas….

The Mystery Box - opening a mysterious box of books from childhood can ignite the imaginations of your kids! https://momistheonlygirl.com

A mystery box was found in our garage. When Hubby opened this mystery box, he discovered his favorite books from childhood!

We’ve had fun reading Hubby’s favorites from when he was a kids… Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst, and Splish Splash! by Ethel and Leonard Kessler.

My boys never really ask what we read as kids. When they ask us about our childhoods its about what computer games we played or whether there were actually school field trips waaaaay back when, so its been very fun to see their imaginations after reading these books!

It almost seems appropriate to pull “old” books out around Christmastime, like pulling out photo albums around birthdays. The magic that appears during story time at night, all cuddled up on the couch reading books that are so familiar to the touch and to the ear…..


Think about how you can introduce something familiar to you, maybe from your childhood, but new to your children this Christmas to bring about a renewed sense of wonder….and share it below!


Red Cardinal Craft https://momistheonlygirl.com

Cardinal Bird Craft

Yesterday I shared the love my family has for the book Stranger in the Woods: a Photographic Fantasy, by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick, and a picture of the red cardinal bird we made based on the red cardinal in the book. Today, I’m sharing how we made the cardinal!

Stranger in the Woods Cardinal craft https://momistheonlygirl.com

Please check this book out as a possible gift for your little ones. It is such an endearing story and the photographs in it are beautiful!


Here’s how we made the Cardinal from Stranger in the Woods:


Cardinal Bird Craft


paper plates (red if possible)
red paint (if plates are not red)
red streamers or construction paper
orange construction paper
white and black construction paper (or google eyes, or black crayons)


Red Cardinal Craft how-to https://momistheonlygirl.com

    1. Get/make red paper plates. We didn’t have red paper plates the first time we made these, so we painted our white plates red and they came out fine.
    2. Make your feathers for the tail. Make several feathers out of red construction paper for the tail. Sweet Pea had the idea to use red streamers, but we didn’t have any. Simply cut out red construction paper into triangles and fringe one edge. You can get creative with this part, or just make them very simple, depending on what you want your bird’s tail to look like.Red Cardinal Bird Craft Stranger in the Woods https://momistheonlygirl.com
    3. Make the face. You’ll need to add an orange (or black) triangle for the beak. Have it ready for the next step. Make eyes for the cardinal or have google eyes ready.
    4. Get gluing! Once the paint is dry, fold your paper plate in half, matching up the curved edge. The fold line is the top of the bird.
      ~ Glue your red tail feathers into place for the tail. It’s important to fold first! You could simply glue one feather right at the fold and fold that, also make sure to glue it only in that spot. You could also glue a feather or two on to each side of the fold. That’s the tail!
      ~ Then glue the front of the bird only, sticking the folded orange triangle on for the beak.
    5. Finally, make the wings. (By this step you should have just two small spots glued, one in the front by the beak and one in the back by the tail.) Take one sheet of red construction paper and accordion fold it width-wise. Make a small slit in the paper plate about an inch from the fold (that’s the top of the bird). Thread the wings through! I found this easy to do with my rotary cutter or my Xacto knife. (This is definitely for a parent to do!)
    6. Cardinal Bird Craft how to https://momistheonlygirl.comRed Cardinal Bird Craft for Stranger in the Woods https://momistheonlygirl.comWe punched a hole in the top center of the bird (making sure it balanced) and hung it in front of the window!

Red Cardinal Bird Craft for Stranger in the Woods https://momistheonlygirl.com

A beautiful, kid-made red cardinal, just like in Stranger in the Woods!

For me, its not about the finished product, the process, or the boys following directions. Its about spending time together having fun working towards a common goal! When our projects turn out this cute its a bonus!

Bonus: This summer we made these as white birds with rainbow tails, using different colored curled ribbon for the tail. So many ideas for this paper plate bird/cardinal craft!  Wish I had gotten a picture of those – they were very pretty!


Stranger in the Woods – book review

*This post contains affiliate links.

Just a few years ago the boys received the book, Stranger in the Woods (a Photographic Fantasy), by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick for Christmas. We have adored this book ever since and I think you will, too!

The forest is waking up, but something is amiss!

Following the forest animals, we track down a mysterious figure spotted in the woods. Is it nice? Is it friendly?


Stranger inthe WoodsBook & Bird Craft https://momistheonlygirl.com

“The birds were the first to notice…”

The animals are all flustered and start discussing who should investigate this stranger in the woods. My boys’ favorite is the chickadee.

“But… I am… I am…RED!”

This cute story about a {nice} stranger in the woods (who also has some food for the forest animals) is so cleverly written that my boys love to read it over and over even still! The boys even have plans this winter to build a snowman and leave some birdseed on it!

We simply adore this book and that’s why I’m sharing it with you today!

One day, Sweet Pea wanted to make a cardinal, “like in the book”. I’ll share the simple how-to with you tomorrow, but here is the sneak peek and the list of materials for you to gather!

Red Cardinal Craft https://momistheonlygirl.com

Supplies for the Cardinal Bird Craft:

paper plates (red if possible)
red paint (if plates are not red)
red streamers or construction paper
orange construction paper
white and black construction paper (or google eyes, or black crayons)

thankful garland

Thankful garland

Just a quick idea to share with you as you contemplate Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Tradition Thankful Garland

A few years ago we made what we call Thankful Garland. Every day in the month of November we wrote one thing we were thankful for on a strip of paper and made a paper garland with them as they were written. (Make a loop with the first paper and staple, then make more loops stringing the paper through the first and stapling those until a garland is formed.)

We left this hanging over the doorway into the family room until we took our Christmas decorations down, making sure to read it when we did as a great reminder of what we are thankful for and reasons to be thankful for Jesus’ birth!


giant google eyes on door

Oh those eyes…

Last year we actually decorated for Halloween. It’s my least favorite ‘holiday’ of the year, but my kids absolutely love pretending to be something else for a day, so I try to have fun with it.

So when I say decorated I don’t mean the spooky stuff. I mean large white google eyes on the door! These are so fun, in the spirit of halloween, and best of all simple to make! (I saw these a couple of years ago pinned by Maker Mama. Hers are a little heftier and could probably do better than mine outdoors, please check hers out! I changed a couple of things up to be more kid-making friendly.) Read more

What do you get from a pumpkin?

What do you get from a pumpkin?

If you ask my boys, they’ll say ‘pumpkin seeds!’ If you ask the boy next door he says, ‘a Jack-o-lantern!’
What if we ask you?
Last year we creatively stumbled upon a recipe for toasted pumpkin seeds! What’s that you say? You’ve never thought about eating pumpkin seeds? Neither had I until just a couple of years ago when hubby mentioned he used to eat them as a kid! Ever since then I’ve been searching for a recipe my boys would love and I think we’ve created our own!
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Want to get away?

Have you ever dreamed of getting away from it all? Of having the time to pamper yourself a little and be a better mom as a result?

Well, guess what? You can! And it’s free. And you don’t even have to leave your house to participate. It’s called the Mom Conference! I attended last year (from my couch!) and truly became a better mom as a result. (Well, maybe you should ask my kids about that rather than take my word for it!)
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rainy day indoor puddle play momistheonlygirl

Rainy Day Puddle Play

As the weather gets cooler and its just too cold to play in the puddles outdoors (like we talked about last week!), we stay indoors to play a puddle jumping game! Its really simple and can be modified for any age-range. (Yep, we sort of made it up and it changes every time we play!)

My boys love this for an extension to their outdoor rainy day puddle play! Read more

While Mom is away

In early September I posted this picture on Facebook. I’m sure some of you were wondering how to respond, and indeed I didn’t expect anyone to! (Don’t worry, Dad’s fine, now!)


While Mom is Away

The Separation-Anxiety Inducing Situation

In the midst of the first days of school, my dad was in the hospital for minor surgery. Since he is by himself now, I went to help him out. This required me to be away from my boys, overnight, for more days than they wanted…especially Sweet Pea.

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