Play as Poetry


As it Should Be

Cool mud between toes,

skinned knees and elbows.

Play’s crowning glories earned.


Today’s rocket ship,

tomorrow’s castle and slide.

Genius unleashed through cardboard.


Running, spinning, laughing.

Inside voices long forgotten.

Mother Nature’s satisfied smile.


Rosy cheeks and grass stains,

unbridled joy and warmth.

Childhood without spoil or limits.

- Bethe Almeras, The Grass Stain Guru


K.I.S.S + Log = Happiness


Sometimes it takes something silly to hit you upside the head to remind you of what really matters. In this case that thing is a log. In fact, it’s Log. (Sing it with me!)

The old adage Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS) applies to so many things, and toys is at the top of the list. So are playgrounds (go natural!), schedules, and heck — LIFE.

Let’s make a pledge to stop over-complicating things for ourselves and our children. Truly, it doesn’t need to be as difficult or exhausting as we make it. Pump the brakes people, it’s time to slow down.

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru



Holiday Shopping: Don’t Lose Your Sh*t, People!

Playing with the birdbath

TGSG Note: Hi readers — at least I hope I still have readers after my very long blogging break! I am actually re-posting this from last year, because let’s face it, the push to over-spend and overdo hasn’t gone away this holiday season. Remember to take time to actually enjoy the holidays and this time you have to make memories. Don’t rush. Give back. Laugh a lot. Love more. xoxo – Bethe

Childhood is pretty simple. No really, it is. But we adults over-complicate it and fill it up with noise and lots and lots of stuff. We are the adults — all roads lead back to us.

Door busters. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Buying shit Stuff You Don’t Need Tuesday…MAKE. IT. STOP.

Simply put, the Holidays have become RIDICULOUS. There, I’ve said it. People, it needed to be said. And it needs to be repeated. RIDICULOUS.

And who has made it ridiculous? Hint: It’s not the kids.

Parents spending excessive amounts of money on mostly things children do not need, won’t enjoy for very long, and only want because some marketer told them they wanted it. Buying presents out of guilt. Trying to outdo last year, or the neighbors, or the sister-in-law. Whatever.

Odds are, this will ring at least a little bit true to you, unless you are a Super Zen Holiday Master, and if so, I am totally tipping my hat to you right now (chapeau!).

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can take a stand in our own lives and families and reclaim sanity. I’ve seen the idea of Four Presents floating around the last few years and I really like the concept.

Each child gets 4 presents: 

1.    Something they want

2.    Something they need

3.    Something to wear

4.    Something to read

Balanced and sane, with plenty of room for fun and whimsy. It also challenges you to focus on quality versus quantity, and forces you to really consider each child in a meaningful way. I like the idea of adding a 5th item — a coupon for one child-selected outing or activity. Kids will delight in picking an activity and helping plan the when and the where!

Will there be some push back? Most likely, but you can get through it and it will be worth it. (And after all, you are the adult – just sayin‘.) Plus, the planet will thank you. ALL THAT PLASTIC and excessive packaging for goods that are mostly made in China. Who needs it? More isn’t always better, often it is just more.

If you have children that are used to getting lots and lots of presents, talk to them about the real meaning of the holiday and how your family is going to shift the focus to spending more time together doing fun things, like ice skating, hiking, or game nights around the tree (or menorah or kinara). For very young children, they won’t know the difference and you will be setting a healthy expectation of the holiday.

As for toys, keep a few things in mind:

  • A toy should be 90% child and 10% toy, meaning if the toy does all the work and supplies all the creativity, who is having the fun? We want the kids to get great things out of a toy versus have the toy go through the motions set-up by manufacturers.
  • Keep movement in mind. Will this promote active play or sedentary play? Today’s children are spending 7.5 hours a day in front of screens, do you really want to add to that?

Two more tips…

Hope this post helps and inspires. If you have already over-purchased, set some things aside for birthday presents, give them to Toys for Tots, or return them and add that money to the Family Fun Budget (or save it!).

Deep breath — you can do it. And remember other people will give presents too. Plus the old adage really is true, what children truly remember is the gift of time spent with you.

Happy Sane Holidays! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

PS: Don’t forget to save the cardboard boxes — best toys EVER!

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