Friday, April 15, 2011

Run for the Hills, Dorothy!

It's Tornado Season in the South, and the usual springtime severe weather alerts are in full force. Today is no different, and it's spring break to boot, so I pulled out the big guns to entertain Eli and a playmate.

Homemade Play-dough.

rauny day fun

It's the easiest stuff in the world to make, and you probably have most of it in your pantry already. Plus it's pretty safe if you have a little one that likes to snack on play-dough.

2 cups flour, any kind will do
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
1 TBS cream of tartar (for elasticity)
2 TBS vegetable oil
food coloring - I used the liquid kind you use for Easter eggs
fragrant essential oils - totally optional

Mix all of the ingredients except for food coloring & oils o LOW in a pot on the stovetop. Stir gently. It will start to thicken up pretty quickly. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot and starts to clump up, you're on the right track. Stir until you reach the desired consistency and it isn't so sticky.

Turn out the hot dough onto a clean surface or mat and let it cool for about 2 minutes, or until it's cool enough to knead. Knead the dough a few minutes until smooth, then divide it up into balls. Make a hole or indentation in the dough ball and drop in a few drops of the food coloring. Fold the dough over and start working in the dye - be careful to not touch the actual liquid dye until it works in a bit or you'll have technicolor hands! Keep adding color until you get the color you want.

Store it in an airtight container. If it dries out a bit, just knead in a few drops of warm water to soften it up. If it gets soggy, just re-heat it a bit and it will firm up.

You can also bake it in the oven to make hardened ornaments and sculpture figures. You can paint them & decorate them too!

Or just use your new play-dough as a disguise to get into fool your friends, rob a bank, or get into the hottest night club.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This LIttle Pig Had Roast Beef

Last Fall, we were headed home from vacation and had an hour layover at the airport. Finn and I were chatting about various and sundry topics, and we started discussing where food comes from. He knew milk came from cows and eggs came from chicken and bacon came from pigs - all the usual origins of some of his favorite foods. I pressed a little more, curious to see if he knew HOW milk came from cows, eggs from chicken, and bacon from (GULP) pigs.

He was doing fine until he got around to "pigs lay bacon".

Me: "What? No, pigs don't lay bacon..."

Finn: "Yes they do, Mom! Bacon and ham and sausage come from pigs."

Me: "Well... that's true Finn. But pigs don't lay those things. Those things are meat, and meat is made from animals."

Finn: (Pausing) "But how do they make bacon from pigs then?"

Me: (ohnohowdoIsaythiswithouttraumatizinghim?) "Well... the farmer has to kill the pigs and cut them up to get sausage, ham, and bacon."

I decided to take the 100% honesty approach.

Finn: "KILL them? Like with a gun? And they die?"

Me: "Yes."

Finn: blink blink "And they cut them up???"

Me: "Yes."

Finn: ".............. MOM."

He suddenly moves away from me and goes to sit at the very end of the row. I feel terrible. I decide to give him some space.

He didn't speak to me for 20 minutes - three hours in five year-old time.

Me: "So, you OK?"

Finn: "Yes. That's just sad. I don't want to eat pig bacon anymore. I'll just eat hamburgers."

Me: "OK."

I didn't have the heart to tell him. I have a feeling we'll be revisiting this topic when he gets older.

Things I've Learned From "Power Rangers: Samurai" and Other Recent Nuggets of Wisdom

Sensei: Push a door that was meant to be pulled and you will never get it open. (And by "door" I mean Eli. And by "open" I mean to take a nap.)

The Red Ranger will ALWAYS have the coolest sword.

If mismatched villains who hate each other suddenly start hanging out, something's up.

Sensei: A strong wind can kindle a fire - but it can also uproot a tree.
Interpretation application: I should probably stop cheering so loud on the soccer field. I'm trying to pump Finn up but I think I'm just distracting him. I'm too windy.

Don't have unresolved issues. They will always get used against you, usually by an alien mutant creature with the weather power to make it rain hopelessness.

When going to Disney World with a four and six year-old, don't worry about how bad it looks to push them in stroller at the parks. Just load them in, and GO. You can weave through crowds so much faster and easier. Plus if anyone gets in your way you can ram them.

According to Eli, all redheads at his school are named Ava and are his girlfriend. Note to self: steer clear of redheads in 10 years.

According to Finn, the principal's office isn't really that scary. Plus there's candy on his desk so it's OK if you have to go there. (HEADDESK.)
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