Aside from occasionally wearing green, I can not remember a time that I ever truly celebrated St. Patrick's Day.   

But I clearly remember the day that I very intentionally stopped celebrating St. Patrick's Day. 

March 17, 2014.  The day that my mom died.  

Clearly, that year the day went unnoticed.  And after that, certain days became triggers for my unresolved grief, which is very common when you lose someone you love.  

In some irrational form of protest, I was annoyed at the green beers, the T-shirts, and the silly leprechauns and refused to participate in any of it. 

Until this year. 

After 15 years, I decided it was time to embrace the silliness and have some fun. 

*Side note: to those of you who are grieving, I am in no way suggesting that celebrating a silly holiday will resolve your grief.  What I am 100% saying is that:

You have permission to grieve how you want, when you want, for as long as you want.  And, you also have permission to celebrate, play, dance, laugh and be joyful how you want, when you want and for as long as you want.  ~Jen Taylor, LCSW, RPT-S

It's a cycle that continues forever. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  If you or your family members are struggling with your daily functioning related to a loss in your life, you may benefit from seeing a counselor, though. 

St. Patrick's Day Fun

I said all of that to say this: I am in no way a "Supermom." But more than once recently, I have had people say that my activities with my children make them feel like they are not doing "enough" with their own children. Nothing could be farther from the truth.  

The truth is that these specific activities were pretty selfish and designed to help me reframe a negative experience into a positive one.  

So, here's what we did: 

Sand Art Project

This one started before my actual plan to really celebrate St. Patrick's Day because it was part of an Oriental Trading order filled with holiday crafts for the next few months. 

But, it was so simple and so fun and having these St. Patrick's Sand Art Magnets on my fridge did give me a "what else can we do?" mentality.

At around $10 for 12,  we had just enough for my 3 kids (and me) to each complete all three of the designs. 

You simply peel back the sticker for the specific area, then pour the colored sand onto the sticky part, and then dump off the extra sand.

My 4 and 5 year olds could easily complete the project without much help at all and it took us about 45 minutes to do the entire project. But, I have done these types of sand art projects from Oriental Trading with much older kids and they still love it.  

Then, you stick the included magnets on the back and voila!

They came out great, I think!

And yes, despite all efforts, we did get sand all over the table and the floor.  You can sweep or vaccuum it up pretty easily though.  (And Oriental Trading has these sand art things in so many options: fish, mandalas, etc that you can try this anytime...not just for St. Patricks Day). 

So, my original plan was to just to that one thing and call it a day.

And then, I couldn't sleep one night this week and got sucked in to my never-ending Pinterest feed, which just so happened to be randomly scattered with St. Patricks' Day crafts for kids.  

And, I started to read about leprechauns, and about craft projects, and food projects... and started thinking that I might be able to pull off a few of them. 

Here were my Pinspirations

The Story of the Leprechaun

I loved the story of the leprechaun making mischief in the house.  I thought, I can easily add green food coloring to the toilets and the kids will find that totally amazing.  

But, then I got sucked into the idea of leprechaun traps.  And the story that if you could trap a leprechaun, he would grant you three wishes. 

When my kids woke up (after my all night Pinterest marathon), I ran the story of the leprechaun by them and talked about the traps.  They were so interested, of course!

They asked a million questions: how big is a leprechaun, how do they get in, what do they eat, how do you catch them, and on and on and on.  When my daughter heard that they leave goodies in your shoes, she quickly responded, "I am going to line up ALL of my shoes and leave them out for the leprechaun." 

So, we asked Siri (on the IPhone) to tell us even more about leprechauns and show us pictures of leprechaun traps.  

And they were hooked...we decided to figure out how to make a leprechaun trap.

This lead to a conversation about wishes:

If you do catch a leprechaun, what would you wish for?  

  • A cat said one
  • A dog said another
  • A powerboat said the third (and clearly smartest of the three!)

We had a fun morning thinking and planning for the leprechaun.

And later that day I took an amazing solo (aka #selfcare) trip to Target in search of St. Patrick's Day goodies.

And with the serendipity that only comes from having an actual angel on your side in all of this, do you know what I found hidden in the back of a bin in the Dollar Section of Target????

None other than.....

A leprechaun trap.

For me, this was like finding my very own pot of gold. 

But, there was only one.  

And they still wanted to make their own.  

So, we plan to decorate the pre-fab one from Target and then a used an old cereal box and another old Amazon box to make a couple of more.  For ideas on DIY leprechaun traps, check these Pinterest posts

And, I am confident that he will get away and there will no need for a cat or a dog.  (But, I will be a little disappointed that there is also no powerboat). 

Prepping for the Leprechaun

So, honestly,  I didn't find much else that I loved at Target except for a couple of beaded necklaces, some temporary tattoos and these Golden Shamrocks ($1 each). 

They say to play hide and seek with them.   So I bought three so that each child would have one to find. 

I told my children that I was going to hide them every day this week for them to find each morning as practice for the night the leprechaun visited.  And then, they could hide them and see if the leprechaun could find them all. 

A few hiding places....

Leprechaun Food Crafts

GOLD COINS

In a final bit of fun, I bought this edible gold spray ($5) from the local craft store to turn Oreo cookies into gold coins.

We will call this one a #pinterestfail.  Perhaps with vanilla Oreos, it would have been better.  With 4 coats, it started to take shape, but just wasn't worth the trouble. (And it smelled awful). 

My kids still thought it was cool, but I was not impressed.

REAL GOLD COINS

I went to the bank and asked for gold coins!  The kids are going to find their pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow (and I am super pumped about this find)!

RAINBOW

I got some Rolo candies, rainbow colored fruits and marshmallows to make a platter of goodies like this one

And got a little adventurous and tried to make these pretzel lollipops.

GREEN GOODIES

And I am searching for some green goodies for their shoes.  

St. Patrick's Day Fun

It has been a pleasant week preparing for the activities. And a way of flipping the script on a very unpleasant time for me. 

So, I'm all in for pub crawls, green beers, silly t-shirts and any other leprechaun mischief that you have in store. (Although I also reserve the right to return to my previous irrational protest at any point in the future if needed). 

For those of you who celebrate, what are some cool St. Patrick's Day things that you do so I can be even more prepared next year? Please share them with me in the comments. 

And for those of you who are grieving, I hope that your angels send you surprising treasures (like my perfectly timed leprechaun trap) to show you that despite all of the loss...there can be these awesome moments of joy. 

If you want to follow along with ways that I incorporate play therapy techniques and theories into my parenting, please subscribe to the mailing list.

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

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