They bound into the room, cross it, fill it. Six sneakered feet stepping one after the other, each footstep — and unfortunate footprint — a titch smaller than the one it’s following.
One unzips a sweatshirt, another changes into flip flops. They’re all talking at once, voices threading and braiding and telling the story we’ve all been waiting for: Spring is finally here.
My middle heartstring walks my way. I feel Jason’s exasperated eyes following her muddy feet and chalk stained hands; I note these, too.
But my eyes inevitably glue to hers. They match my own in shade and wonder and stubborn. They’re like magnets.
“Look,” she breathes.
And I do, I look.
I take in her hair wisped with wind and her cheeks blushed with spring and her hands stained with childhood, and because of these I ignore the mud on the carpet and the rip in her jeans and the chalk on my arms.
(You should know that this kind of letting go is sometimes hard for me, so I feel good — proud? — in this moment and that makes me lean into her — and spring — even more.)
“Chalk balls” we say at the same time. My words are in italics and end in a question mark, hers are bold and end in an exclamation point.
And with that, she splays what spring is to her.
Stained fingers and muddy toes, rainbow sherbet after — and sometimes before! — dinner and later bedtimes, exploring creeks and making chalk balls.
She’s stepped into spring, and childhood the way we all should. Eyes bright, cheeks raised, childhood in hand.
How to Make Chalk Balls
- Dip sidewalk chalk in water
- Color with the wet chalk (hard) until it makes a gooey, smooshy mess
- Roll that mess into a ball
- If you’d like — and they usually do — repeat with several more colors, creating colorful, goopy chalk layers
- Allow to dry in the sunshine, and you have homemade chalk balls ready to color with, messy childhood included.
Growing up, we always made May Day baskets with my mom. Now I’m trying to continue the tradition with my own girls. If you don’t know, May Day baskets are part of an old tradition. You usually fill the basket with flowers or treats and leave them at someone’s doorstep. You’re supposed to ring the doorbell and run away. If they see you, you have to kiss them! It’s kind of a funny game, but a fun one, especially for kiddos. Leave out the kissing part and have fun surprising your neighbors with this handmade craft!
You will need:
Extra décor (optional!)
1) Cut a sheet of paper into ½ inch strips.
2) Fold another sheet of paper (different color!) in half, hamburger style.
3) Starting from the bottom, cut ½ inch strips, leaving about an inch of space at the top.
4) Using your paper strips, weave them in and out of the folded sheet, like a basket weave.
5) When you start and finish a new strip, glue the ends down so they don’t go anwhere.
6) When the basket is completed woven together, glue the sides together.
7) Use ribbon to make a cute handle.
8) Decorate with glue, buttons, markers, pom poms, glitter, and more.
9) Fill with flowers and enjoy!
If your kids are older, they could handle this project on your own. My girls are a little too young to make the basket themselves, but they helped me decorate it afterward. Now we just need to pick some wildflowers to fill the basket so we can leave it on someone’s doorstep!
I know I just shared my kids make believe kitchen and I wanted to continue on and share my tips on creating the perfect make believe picnic and Tea Party.
My kids love a good picnic and Tanner sets them up weekly in the playroom for all of us. We have a great blanket that he spreads out – we use a cute felt blanket with red whip stitching. I think a Pendleton blanket also does the trick and I love the Glacier National Parks Blanket. For Christmas a couple of years ago, I bought Tanner a great woven picnic basket from Acorn Store in Santa Monica. It’s adorable and has tin plates and red and white gingham napkins and place mats. For a similar look, this Moulin Roty set from Smallable works too. Once he gets the blanket in place, Tanner lays all of the plates and utensils out and adds in our wood Camden Rose pitcher and cups. He then goes shopping for great knitted Fruit and Veggies and my favorite – Felt Food – and creates a perfect feast for himself and his friends.
One of my favorite birthdays growing up was a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and I’ve been collecting tea party inspired things for Ripley. I’ve found really cute picnic baskets with tea sets inside – I like the Butterfly and Ladybug baskets. My favorite that I just ordered for Ripley is Vilac’s Floral Tea Party. And for playing in the sandbox my kids love, Green Toys Tea Set. XXJKE
This post originally appeared on Rip + Tan