13 Nov
2014
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
By    12 Comments

I Never See You Anymore, It’s Like You’ve Gone Away

I won’t call it a blog hiatus because that feels much more structured and dignified than what actually happened, which is that I got swamped with work and also more-than-usually neurotic about the idea that if I’m going to publish something on the internet, it better mean something. I still believe that’s a worthy goal, if you have time for it (which I clearly don’t), but I’ve also come to accept that impossibly high standards can be the enemy of putting forth effort, at least to those of us impossible creatures who don’t like to even try things they’re not absolutely certain they’ll excel at. While this philosophy of living is sound when it comes to, say, climbing Everest without oxygen or eating one of everything on the McDonald’s menu in one sitting, it’s probably overkill for things like posting a few paragraphs and photos on your old forgotten weblog. I’ll be darned if it doesn’t feel as daunting, though. As Simon has pointed out to me over and over, he’s the type of person likely to believe he can do something he can’t, whereas I’m likely to believe I can’t do something I can. So while he’s running half marathons on zero training (and coming in under two hours if you subtract the mid-race poo), I’m sitting at my computer blinking my eyes in tandem with that cheeky winking cursor, waiting sometimes five whole minutes for inspiration to strike before dejectedly clicking away to something soothing.

Anyway, this is my attempt to get back in the saddle, worthiness be damned, and I might as well start off with photos from Halloween as a way of bookending my accidental absence, since last Halloween has stood in my mind as the point at which I fell out of the habit of Long-Form Online Oversharing (“l’fooing” for short), and it makes me sick to think of all that time lost. Here, then, is a photo of us on Halloween 2013 (alert! alert! baby in drag!)

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and here’s me and Fox on the same bridge a few weeks ago:

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If you can’t tell, he’s representing the Lollipop Guild and I’m dressed as a mother completely overwhelmed with the real-time nostalgia of having two kids simultaneously contained within the crushingly narrow timeframe of Halloween being EVERYTHING KIDS FIND AWESOME. I’m pretty sentimental as a matter of course, but the holidays just slay me like a samurai sword through warm butter. My heart’s already quivering in anticipation of Santa Claus and twinkle lights and twenty-four days of advent calendar activities (someone please keep all Shelf Elves out of my reach until the feeling passes or I’m in real danger), and although in these hand-to-mouth times I could compose a materialistic wish list that would fill a fat book, all I really want for Christmas is my blogging mojo back so I don’t miss capturing another year of this sweet little life we’ve made.

Here are a few more photos, just to get that media muscle moving again.

Pinkies up!
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Dat FACE.
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The one on the left is Fox’s own design. It reminds me of the alligator in Gerald’s room.
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He fits right in in Munchkinland.
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While we were trick-or-treating, we ran into a group of dads pulling a wagon with a cooler full of beer to share with other dads. Drink-or-treating FTW! (Fox is practicing his judgey face.)
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It’s true, parenthood does have its rewards.
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6 Nov
2014

Borax Crystal Snowflakes

This project was originally published in November 2013.

When you live somewhere it doesn’t snow, you have to take matters into your own hands.
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These two-ingredient crystal snowflakes will transform your house into a winter wonderland overnight.

What you’ll need:

–Borax laundry detergent booster (I found it in the laundry aisle at Target for $5)
–water
–pipe cleaners
–string
–pencil or chopstick

Step 1. Form your pipe cleaners into snowflake shapes. One long pipe cleaner can be cut into six pieces to make a simple star, or you can get fancier if you want. (Just remember that your snowflakes can’t be taller or wider than the container you’re going to pour your Borax solution into.)

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If you want to make long, straight icicles, that’s even easier. Just make sure you have a container tall enough that will hold the pipe cleaners without them touching the bottom.

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(When I found a pack of pipe cleaners in all those wintry blues and I swear I heard a choir of angels sing.)

Step 2. Use string to tie your snowflakes onto a pencil or chopstick–anything long enough to span the container you’re using.

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Step 3. Mix up a batch of Borax solution: 1/3 cup of Borax to 2 cups of boiling water. Stir the mixture until the Borax is dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 4. Submerge your pipe cleaner snowflakes in the Borax solution, making sure they don’t touch the sides or bottom of your container, or each other if you’re doing multiple snowflakes in one pot.

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Step 5. Now make like Ron Popiel and “Set it and forget it!” Carry on about your merry way, go to sleep, and when you wake up the next morning check out your awesome crystal snowflakes!

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These are a fun little science project, and kids will love that they’re not too fragile to touch and they’ll never melt away. If you’re doing an activity advent calendar, this is a perfect afterschool project. Older kids might want to experiment with different concentrations of Borax solution, leaving the pipe cleaners in the solution for different amounts of time, putting different materials in the solution and seeing what will crystallize (this is my current obsession), and seeing what happens if they try adding food coloring or glitter to the mix.

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When you’re done, these look brilliant on a Christmas tree or hanging along a window, and they also add an extra little something to gift wrapping.

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These are my favorite things right now. Well…these or the craft coming up for next week. I can’t wait to show you.

6 Nov
2014

TP Tube Turkeys

This project was originally published in November 2013.

Looking for a quick craft to help get your home ready for Thanksgiving? Or maybe you’re in the market for an easy project to keep little hands out of the mashed potatoes while you’re waiting for the bird to finish cooking on the big day. If that sounds like you, here’s a fun and festive Thanksgiving project for kids big and small.

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(This might be my favorite craft ever.)

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What you’ll need:

–toilet paper tubes
–scissors
–school glue
–craft brush (a foam one works well)
–glitter
–googly eyes

This is a three-step project:

1. Cut your TP tube into a turkey shape.

2. Cover the feathers with glitter.

3. Glue on some googly eyes.

What? You expected more from me, the world’s wordiest blogger?

Okay, fine. Here are some specific notes from your favorite been-there-done-that-made-all-the-mistakes host.

For those of us not great at spatial reasoning *raises hand*, I drew on this tube to show what cuts to make in the front (left) and back (right).

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Start by cutting the spike for the head and neck, then cut a spike on each side for the wings. (You’ll have two triangular throw-away pieces after this step.) Then all you need to do is make slits for the feathers, which will fan out nicely with minimal coaxing.

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Ta da! Two-minute turkey.

Now, you’re going to have plenty of freedom to make your birds look unique once you start decorating, but to help each one really develop his or her own personality, start by being creative with your cuts. Give one of them a big head and a thick neck, give one of them lots of super-skinny feathers. Varying where you fold down the head and wings can also change the look of your little cardboard friend.

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And now it’s time to decorate! I used glitter left over from my polka-dot Easter eggs, and the technique I used there is also how I got the polka dots on this fine fellow.

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To create the different patterns and colors on the feathers, just apply your glue strategically, one color at a time and then glue on some eyes. (You might recognize these as the ones we used for our pet rocks and our TP tube Halloween creatures.)

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I went craaaazy with the glitter, but you can decorate these dudes whatever you have on hand and/or have the patience for. If you’re going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house and you know she’d faint if all the cousins played with glitter in her dining room, set them up with markers or crayons instead. Don’t stress about this AT ALL. ‘Tis the season for taking deep, cleansing breaths. And for eating pie. Lots of pie.

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