Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarcasm and my Toddler

Yes, I'm a proud parent. Not only does my Baby m ALMOST say "mama", but E has such sophisticated conversations that I sometimes forget I'm talking to a toddler. I have to be very careful about using sarcasm with her, because she takes everything at face value...yes, I know, she's two and a half, but I really do forget. Here's a conversation from last night's dinner table...

E: Mommy? What are you going to be for Halloween?
Me: I'm going dressed as a mommy.
E: (pause) What?
Me: I'm going to dress up as your mommy. That's what I'm going to be for Halloween.
E: But where's your costume?
Me: This is it (pointing to my tee-shirt and jeans). Do you like it?
E: (long pause) Yes.

Now that I think about it, perhaps she was being sarcastic right back at me!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Unplugged Project - Wax

There is one good thing about keeping EVERYTHING. When it's time for Unplugged with Wax, you're bound to have a crayon maker, a bag full of broken crayons, an entire box of candle making supplies in the basement. So project number one was reclaimed crayons. We spent just a few minutes peeling and breaking the crayon fragments, thirty seconds putting the crayons into the little metal tray, and twenty minutes watching Dora while the wax melted. So much for "unplugged." And the "swirly" effect that was promised by the picture on the box did not appear. Here's a bit of advice...use dark colors sparingly. A few little shards of blue turned the whole crayon blue. The results were underwhelming.
Then I broke out the old crock pot. Perfect for melting down those old candles. I had a fantasy about sharing candle dipping with E, but when I saw the vat of molten wax I panicked. I could think of at least 5 different ways the project could have ended in instead, I poured the lava into a Christmas candle mold and called it good. The project took on a life of its own when E saw me removing the mold from the fridge..."Can we light that birthday candle, Mommy?" Well, fire is also dangerous, but I could probably keep it at arm's length. So we sat at the kitchen table in the dark, staring at the flame. E posed for pictures, and then wanted to see them on the camera. It was very sweet, and a really lovely unplugged moment.
Then, serendipity. On Saturday we went out to the Apple Butter Festival, and what did they offer for 5o cents a pop? A vat of molten wax and a with mommy guiding and daddy taking pictures, E dipped her first candle. Thankfully there were no tantrums and no mis-steps. The only minor crisis was when E tried dipping her yellow candle into the red wax. Her little candle is bloppy and riddled with red other words, it's perfect.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

R U Texting?

Then stop. Tomorrow, I will be writing a little essay for my students as to why they are not allowed to text in class. Today there were at least 3 individuals who were texting during lecture. I will write them a nice, diplomatic explanation of my rules, but here is what I really want to say to them...

Hey, Texter. Yeah, you...I KNOW that you're texting! Do you think I can't tell what you're doing with your hands in your sweatshirt pockets?'re not fooling anybody. Your pockets stop jiggling as soon as I look your way. I have held off asking you questions while you text, because I hesitate to use embarrassment as a form of punishment. But I'm THIS close to kicking you out of lecture altogether. There are 20 other students who turned off their electronics or left them at home so that they can engage in a meaningful learning experience...I know, not every minute is riveting, but that's life...and yours won't end if you are disconnected from your friends for a few hours once a week.

Now, I know that it can be hard to get through a long class on a nice fall afternoon, but gimme a break. YOU PAID TO BE HERE. You showed up. Why are you wasting your time in this class, when you would obviously rather be somewhere else? Just GO. LEAVE. It is impossible to both text AND pay just get out of my classroom and typity-type somewhere else. Or, here's an idea...go BE in the world. Talk. Experience. Live. Oh, and next week? Stay home.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Here's the Mail, it Never Fails

We got a package today from Cousin S. It was addressed to E and me, so I waited for a quiet moment to present it for opening. I showed E the return address (De-be-vwaaaaa) and she immediately knew who had sent it! "What's in there, mommy?" We opened it carefully, too slowly for E, of course. The first little present was a duck for E's little nest (made during an Unplugged Project). She placed the ducky in its new home very carefully and gave me the little cutesy face, head tilted to the side, lips closed, and eyes sort of sad. I LOVE that face.

The next prize-o was a set of animal hair pretties. E handed me the elephant and said, "Mommy, can you put it in my hair?" So I did. Then the rabbit, the hippo, the giraffe, the cat, and the teddy bear. Yes, all of them. Girl loves her hair pretties. She let me open the last little gift as she admired her hair in the mirror...and it was a winner. Yes, I love small food...and the last gift was a magnet that looked like a chicken leg in a plate of green rice. Yes, green rice. With peas. And carrots. It's perfect. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Unplugged Project - Smooth

For the last theme, "White", one of my Unplugged pals made homemade vanilla ice cream. Mmmm. I thought to myself, "One of these days I'll get the ice cream maker out of the basement, and E and I will make some ice cream." Imagine my delight when I read the theme for this week..."Smooth." Yay! What's smoother than creamy, homemade chocolate ice cream?

Finding a recipe was a bit of a challenge...I had some criteria to meet. First of all, no raw eggs in the recipe. Just, yuck. It doesn't matter if they're frozen, crystallized, whatever. I can't stomach that. Also, no pre-cooking of the ingredients. I wanted the process to be toddler friendly from beginning to end. So after a bunch of web searching, I found a recipe for basic vanilla ice cream (no eggs) flavored with chocolate syrup. E enjoyed the pouring and mixing, but her favorite part was licking the chocolate out of the measuring cup.

I must admit...all these years I thought it was the mixing that made the ice cream freeze. So on the first batch we poured the ingredients into the frozen canister and mixed and mixed and mixed. Much to my dismay, the very smooth concoction never made it past the milkshake stage. So we drank some out of our bowls, and put the rest in the freezer to solidify. Upon reading the directions (duh) I found out that you only need to turn the handle a few times, then you wait a few minutes for some of the mixture to freeze to the sides of the container. Only then do you turn the handle of course we had to try the new method the next morning, this time with strawberry! And guess worked! Perfect strawberry ice cream, delish.

The verdict? I thought the strawberry was great, and the chocolate was so-so. It looks good in the pic, but it tasted like vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce mixed in...go figure. E, M, and Baby m liked them both equally as well, and we will be doing this again soon. It's amazingly easy, really, if you can get over the price of fresh cream!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Have Big Feet Too

Listen, I know how hard it is to find shoes that fit...I am a size 11 narrow. So I understand that if a giant primate with huge feet really does exist out there in the forests of the northern United States, he's probably pretty pissed off. That's why I'm locking my doors at night...I'm afraid of Sasquatch.

In my brain, I do not believe in Bigfoot. But gosh darn it, the books and sightings reports are downright CREEPY. I started reading about it because a student asked if Bigfoot could be considered a "new" (undiscovered) species. I went to a friend of M's for information, because I wanted to follow up with accurate information. D is a Bigfoot enthusiast, and he had lots of resources on hand to share with me. The other night I started reading a compilation of stories that had my heart pounding and my mind racing. At one point I heard the dishwasher start (it's on a timer) and I about jumped out of my skin.

I should probably share that I had an encounter myself as a friend's big brother faked some big footprints (I think...he never admitted it) deep in the woods where we used to play. My friend and I spent the better part of an afternoon trying to track the prints, sure that we would be famous for discovering Bigfoot in suburban New York. The thing is, if I really think about it, I can feel the adrenaline I felt that day...and if I'm not careful, I'll be petrified to turn the lights out at night. You see, suburban Michigan is not that different from suburban New York.

Random Feet

At some point in the past year, I started letting E carry the GPS unit when we geocached. She just loves having it around her neck, and looking at the computer display. It makes it hard to find the treasure, because I'm constantly looking over her shoulder and guiding her in the right direction...but it's fun to watch her exploring. The funniest thing is if you ask her how far to the treasure she always says the same thing..."A hundred and sixty feet." I have no idea where she got that particular number. I do call out the distances as we approach the geocache, but it's not like a hundred and sixty is anything special! Oh, and when you step on the scale, she will announce that you weigh, you guessed it, "A hundred and sixty pounds."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bad Medicine

I admit it...I give my children cold medicine. Even after it had been pulled off the shelves, I had some stashed away for emergencies. I believe that the children's decongestants DO work, and I never worried that I would give them too much...I'm careful with reading the labels and spacing out their dosages. But I had a little moment of panic the other night after giving E a teaspoon of "Little Colds"...

She was sitting on the couch watching Blue's Clues, and from the kitchen I heard her say, "I can't see." I shut off the sink and said, "What, honey?" "I can't see, Mommy." I tried to stay calm as I walked into the living room and looked her over. I turned her face towards mine and I stared in her eyes thinking, Ohmigod. Did I ignore some news bulletin about cold medicine causing toddlers to go blind? "E, are you okay? Can you see now?" "No, Mommy, look!" she replied, pointing at the blank TV screen. The satellite was out....

Phew...that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Unplugged Project - White

We decided to focus on white pine, Michigan's state tree, for our Unplugged Project this week. We have a nice white pine in our yard, so I collected some needles and brought them inside for us to work with. Guided by an artsy website, E and I put some needles into envelopes for crayon rubbings...I have to say that for a toddler, the envelope was a great idea! You could do this with fall leaves, too, and you don't have to worry about everything slipping all over the table. Also, you can shake the contents around and do rubbings of different colors. Of course, E wanted to put ALL of the needles I collected into her envelope, so her rubbing was a little messy!We also made a bird's nest by pouring some Elmer's glue onto a pile of needles, then pressing them between two small bowls. I used wax paper to keep the "nest" from sticking to the bowls. Once it dried, it really did look like a we just have to find some little fake bird to live in it. I knew E would like this one because she is obsessed with a tiny nest that G'ma has in her living room. But ask E what she remembers about the white pine theme, and I'm sure she'll say "Chocolate!" I melted some green candy and poured chow mein noodles into the bowl, then we tried some different ways of making pine trees. E just wanted to eat the tree trunks, but we did manage to form some trees! Both the flat free-form and Dixie cup varieties came out looking very tree-like, and they definitely passed the taste test!
To cap off the week, we took a side trip up north to Hartwick Pines State Park, one of the few areas of virgin white pine left in the state. It was a cold and damp day, but cousins and friends of the family all joined us for a walk through the visitor's center and a hike through the old forest. E was in her glory, running back and forth on the trail, laughing and chasing the older kids.

I don't know if E can recall the theme, but I'd have to say that the projects we did were fun and successful! Just look at that smile! (You can see Daddy's foot in the picture too...he was just out of reach, making sure that we didn't need any Unplugged First Aid!)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baby Got Lip

Here are some snippets of life in the last few days:

E: I don't like dat corn lady.
Me: But I made her for you! (It's my first try at a corn husk doll, admittedly, not beautiful.)
E: But I don't like her.
Me: Why?
E: Because she's naughty, and chuchily, and orgily. (Wow. Harsh critic.)

E: Mommy, can you get me some milk?
Me: Honey, I'm trying to get dinner ready, and I don't have enough hands right now.
E: Daddy, do you have enough hands to get me some milk?

E: Mommy, when are we going to start our project?
Me: As soon as I'm ready.
E: But I'm ready.
Me: But I'm not ready.
E: But I'm ready.
Me: Honey, I'm not ready.
E: But I'm ready. (I believe we would still be going back and forth if I hadn't just decided to stop answering her.)

Me: E, you need to go brush your teeth.
E: Mommy, dat hurts my feelings.
Me: Well, you still need to brush your teeth.
E: You need to be nice to me. You should say you're sorry.
Me: But I'm not sorry.
E: Dat REALLY makes me sad.

I'm asking you, how do you argue with such a child? Most of the time, I leave the conversation quite sure that she has won and I have lost...and there's only one cure for that. "E, go to your room." At least then I can falsely believe that I have some power left.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr