Rachel Rayette

Posted on 7/31/2009 04:22:00 PM In: ,
For Camp Sweatshop today, I said, "Make me a sammich!" And The Dormouse said, "Dude, I'm only five, I can't reach the counter. How about a popsicle? I have a great recipe." And then she started giving me lists of things she would need and that I should get her immediately. And then she insisted I videotape her so you all could have the recipe too. And somehow, then she suddenly became The Next Food Network Star, directing the action and telling me what to say and where to point the camera. She is a harsh director; you generally just do what she tells you.






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Glutton for Punishment

Posted on 7/31/2009 02:24:00 PM In:
Yesterday, I agreed to chaperon yet another of The Dormouse's summer camp trips... because I did not learn my lesson from the first time, I guess... or possibly because I just finished three large projects at work and I need to celebrate by NOT being there while I can because another bucket-full of projects are coming down the pike and I may not lift my head up again until November.

We went to, da ta ta ta....

a baseball game.


I grew up loving baseball. I love the culture, the history, the environment, and the game itself. I love baseball movies. I love teams that don't win. I love baseball heroes. And I love going to games. But I realize it's not for everyone. When I moved to the east coast, I was so excited to be where there was a real baseball team (my town didn't have one until I moved away - and then they won the world series) but what I learned was that now we have two and most folks out here couldn't care less. Washingtonians are big basketball or football fans, but baseball's slow moving dog days of summer pace is a bit too slow moving for them.

So when the school asked me if I could help chaperon another trip and it would be to a minor league baseball game, I thought it'd be cool to share this with The Dormouse and teach her about the game and I agreed. Then two teachers and I escorted seven kids to the ballpark.

The only problem was, I think baseball is a little too slow moving for her too.


Yeah... she wasn't the only one with this look on her face. The other two teachers weren't that into the baseball game idea either, but they were content to sit there and let the kids be bored by the whole experience. Which, I suppose I would have done too if one of them wasn't mine and kept climbing all over me and WHINING IN MY EAR.

So I tried to get them into the crowd experience. We yelled when the big board said, "Scream" and we stomped our feet when the big board said, "Make some noise." Or rather, *I* yelled and stomped my feet while my seven young companions looked at me like I was a freakin' nightmare sent from their dreams to bore them to death.

Finally, we ate and I got them interested in a What Color Is Your Tongue after they drank the hummingbird juice that passed for drinks. Guess the flavor:

Blueberry

Cherry

Orange

But that didn't last long.

Finally, we decided to walk over to a little corner of the ballpark that had a moon bounce and a carousel (apparently, our kids weren't the only ones who get bored at the game) only to find that you had to pay for tickets and the teachers from the school had not been given any money for extras. I couldn't stand their long faces any more so I bought them all tickets for the moon bounce and the carousel and suddenly the baseball game became a whole lot more fun.


Perhaps I'll wait before I bring The Caterpillar to her first game.

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"Come Here Little Girl"

Posted on 7/29/2009 09:36:00 AM
Can I just mention?

This is the creepiest guy I've ever seen on television and I would not buy something from him if my life depended on it.


Also, what marketing genius over at slap chop decided this was the picture that would put people over the edge in purchasing their product? Because all it does for me is make me want to remind my children the importance of keeping a great distance between them and men driving panel vans.

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Spot the Missing Mammal

Posted on 7/28/2009 07:44:00 AM
Can you help find our missing kitty cat?


Too much flash.

How about now?


Still stumped? Let me help.

How about NOW?


NOW???


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Our Underground House of Hoochie Wear

Posted on 7/27/2009 07:29:00 AM
"Today I'm going to be modest, daddy."

"Well, you should be modest everyday."

"Well, I only have certain days when I like to be modest."

"You and most everyone else, kid."

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Killroy Maybe, Beavers No

Posted on 7/26/2009 06:48:00 AM In:

The Dormouse was convinced this big felled tree was a beaver den and argued with me when I told her it wasn't, but was rather a big tree that had fallen over. So finally I walked her to the other side of this root ball and showed her the big tree sticking out of it. Then she said, "See? I told you it was a tree."

It's one way to win an argument.

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Clean Sweep

Posted on 7/25/2009 06:57:00 AM In:
Today in Camp Sweatshop:

Wildlife Rescue


We had rain last night so we found a new crop of frogs and toads in the window wells this morning. Even though we planted ivy near the window wells so that it would grow down into the wells and the frogs could them climb out of the pit, and even though the ivy has finally grown far enough into the wells that this might be possible, the frogs are still too stupid to use it. So much for my brilliant idea to help the frogs help themselves. And now I have a life long fight with ivy which will try to tear down my house.

We've been pretty diligent about checking after each rain for new mentally challenged frogs to rescue, mostly because when a drop falls from the sky, The Dormouse begins with "Can we go on a frog hunt? Huh? Can we? Can we? Canwegofindfrogsnow *pause for a breath* canwegocanwecanwe?" And this is what we listen to until the very last raindrop falls from the sky and then I usually yell at The KingofHearts, "Will you please so outside and get me two of those frogs SO I CAN STICK THEM IN MY EARS AND NOT HEAR THE REST OF THIS?"

So like I said, we're diligent about checking for frogs. But it must have rained some time in the past couple of weeks during the night when we didn't notice it because there were a few dozen decaying frog carcasses in there. I chose to do the rescuing of the few live frogs that were there today because there would be questions and Circle of Life was not on the curriculum for today's lesson plan.

Laundry, however, was.

Home Economics

I'm not saying we haven't cleaned the house in awhile, but I did three loads of dishes in the dishwasher, pulled all the sheets off all the beds for the first time in I don't know how long, got out a crowbar and cleaned whatever it was that was stuck to the kitchen counters, and ten (10!) loads of laundry.

The Dormouse folded enough socks to outfit the Chinese Army.



Then, she wanted to learn to vacuum. Who am I to thwart my child's dreams?


Hey remember when I bought a kitchen table? You probably don't, because I never posted pictures of it. That's because I never took a picture of it. And that's because it was never clean enough for me to actually take a photo of it and show that it was anything other than a flat surface storage place for all the crap in the house. So we ate on the floor in the living room. Here it is.


I'd say that we'd be able to now eat every meal on the kitchen table, but I know us too well and two days from now, this will be full of papers, computers, crayons and junk mail again. Plus I really like to watch tv while I eat.

The kitties got into the spirit of cleaning too.


Then, we had Chemistry

I have wanted to do this for ages, but then the other day I saw this on tv and it sealed the deal. The very next day I went out and bought the biggest container of cornstarch I could find. Unfortunately I don't have an appropriate speaker, so I'm gonna have to get one of those too. But we had fun just the same.

Take two parts cornstarch.


Mix with one part water.


If you're into doing this with a five year old, you're gonna have to add dye.


Then you get something like this:



It's kind of hard to see in the video, but if you smack the mixture really hard, it feels like you're hitting a hard surface and your hand doesn't go through to the bottom. The molecules all line up when it's struck and it responds like a solid. But when you slowly put your hand through it, it responds like a liquid. There's a much better representation of the phenomenon here:



I could have put both the kids to bed and just played with this stuff for hours all by myself. I do believe that I enjoyed this more than The Dormouse, but it was a close race with The Caterpillar who was totally into the tactile experience.

Seriously, you owe it to yourself to try this. I am now going out to find a big speaker.


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Oh My!

Posted on 7/24/2009 07:19:00 PM

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Wha??

Posted on 7/24/2009 09:37:00 AM
This is a note that came home with The Caterpillar from 'little girl school' the other day reprinted here exactly as written:

Today we sang song. take me out the balll game and childerm's made baseball's with sand

Have a nice evening.

See you tomo'rrow ""

I'm still trying to figure out how to make a baseball out of sand. Maybe some magic ability that comes when the part of your brain responsible for grammar and spelling lies dormant and figures it has to do something. I will be glad when her regular teacher gets back from her vacation.

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Vegetarian Dishes

Posted on 7/23/2009 07:52:00 AM
What, pray tell, am I about to eat that may contain egg, soy, wheat and fish?


Why, of course:


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Lord Help the Sister

Posted on 7/22/2009 08:29:00 AM In:
The other day, I had to bring both the Large One and the Small One to the office with me because there was a late notice meeting on one of my telecommuting days that couldn't be rescheduled to another day. It's been a few months since I brought either one of them to work with me and it was interesting to see how things had changed. Their roles of compatibility with the office had completely switched.

The Caterpillar used to be the easy one. For the year+ that I brought her to the office every day, she was just content gated into my office, pulling stuff off my shelves and dropping it onto the ground. This day, however, she whined and teapot screamed and yelled "Momma" every time I had to stick my head around the corner (and we were only there for two hours). I was kind of hoping that when the dude I was meeting with arrived, I could just dump her on the floor of someone's office and they could corral her for a few minutes but she was such a wound up ball of mischief, it became clear that I couldn't do that to one of my colleagues. So I apologized profusely, and ushered the dude along with The Caterpillar into the conference room where I could let her run around under the table and shut the doors, keeping her in a confined space. About two seconds after I closed the door, she chose that moment to soil her diaper and then carried the stench with her everywhere in the room she went. It was a short meeting and he only had a limited amount of time so I didn't want to say, "Excuse me from this business-like meeting while I wipe my daughter's butt" so I kept throwing toys to the other side of the room in hopes that she'd stay far away from him and he wouldn't notice the smell. (You always thought Pig Pen was just dirty, didn't you? You never realized that his whole problem was just that he had a dirty diaper and a lazy momma.) Then she decided she needed my older, business-like companion's full attention and kept bringing him toys to wind up and make noise while we tried to talk. Fortunately, this guy is a a) quite understanding and b) a vendor that I don't really care what kind of impression I make on because he wants our business. I also did explain to him that if we were to meet that day (the only day he was available) it would be a day that I normally telecommute and I'd have to bring my kids into the office. He was fine with it and very forbearing but it was rough just the same and reminded me that I really did make the right choice when I started her in Little Girl School a few months ago. If everyday in the office was like this, I would be bald... because I would have developed an Axis I diagnosis of Trichotillomania. So I am better off. She is better off too because she might, right at this moment, find herself being raised by wolves and living with them in the woods behind my house.

The Dormouse used to be the difficult one in the office: the one who pushed the button and turned off the email server the second I turned my head, the one who couldn't get it through her head that we need to respect the work environment and not yell "Momma" loud enough to rival sound levels of a jet engine, the one who felt the need to go into each and every person's office and rummage around in their belongings. This time I let my computer babysit her and she sat down and played on the Internet (which she still thinks - and I'm only too happy to perpetuate this myth - consists solely of Playhouse Disney - it makes me wonder what she thinks I'm doing on the computer all day at work) the entire time we were there. She was so quiet that when my meeting ended, the vendor said, "I thought you said you brought both your children to work. Where's the other one?" When I wanted to go across the street to pick up something for them to eat before we left The Dormouse said, "You go, Momma, I'll be right here," and I didn't even think twice about leaving her there in my office by herself with my colleagues right down the hall. It gave me hope for the future that one day they would be both able to entertain themselves for more than five minutes at a time... and maybe then I can read a book again.

While we were eating our quesadillas (or if you're The Caterpillar, "pizza" -- she WILL NOT accept that all round food is not pizza these days.) for lunch before getting into the car to head home, The Dormouse accidentally bit her finger, hard. Tears welled up in her eyes as she tried not to yowl out loud and disturb everyone. I motioned for her to come over to me and gave her a hug. I kissed her finger and dried her tears and when she was mostly in control of herself, she started back to her chair at the table. The Caterpillar, who watched all of this while never breaking her hand to mouth eating pace, put her quesadilla piece down and became extremely agitated. She started pointing at The Dormouse, standing up in her chair and yelling, "Meer! Meer! Meer, sissis!" Finally, I figured out she was trying to get The Dormouse to come to her.

So I said, "I think your sister is asking you to come here."

The Dormouse, still drying her tears, walked over to The Caterpillar's chair and The Caterpillar stood up and put her arms around her sister's shoulders, giving her a big bear hug and patting her on the back. This completely lifted The Dormouse from her disconsolation and she hugged back with a smile.

Then The Caterpillar let go, stood up straight and pointed to The Dormouse's lunch plate and said, "Now, EAT!"

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Indelible Nature

Posted on 7/21/2009 05:40:00 AM In:

The Dormouse's keen eye found these imprints of leaves in the concrete of the sidewalk during our letterboxing expedition. It's been a lot of years since I walked around the world looking at the ground like she does, but there are still one or two more surprises to find down there.


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Pirates of the Mid-Atlantic

Posted on 7/20/2009 06:40:00 AM In:
Camp Sweatshop - Weekend Edition: Cartography, Reading and Wildlife

I learned about
geocaching a couple of years ago and have wanted to try it for some time now. There's only been one thing keeping me from it: and that's the fact that I don't own a GPS machine thingy. I'm too much of a map geek and have been reluctant to purchase one for fear of the fact that I will never scour another map. I find the big picture view necessary when navigating the big, bad city if just to know what's near where I want to go. It's how I learned to navigate Washington, D. C. when I first moved here and if I could I would wallpaper my room with road maps, I enjoy looking at them so much. But then I learned from spending my days at Camp Stimey that there's a little more low tech option called letterboxing. For those of you who aren't inclined to click through the link,


Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby that combines elements of orienteering, art, and puzzle solving. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box in printed catalogs, on one of several web sites, or by word of mouth. Individual letterboxes usually contain a notebook and a rubber stamp. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp, either on their personal notebook or on a postcard, and leave an impression of their personal stamp on the letterbox's "visitors' book" or "logbook" — as proof of having found the box and letting subsequent letterboxers see who have visited. Many letterboxers keep careful track of their "find count".

I found a whole bunch of possible sites near us from this website and after church yesterday, we headed off to a park near us where there were supposed to be two boxes to find for a leisurely stroll. When we got there, we handed the printed clues to The Dormouse and had her read them and lead the way.

We headed off into the woods just like the clues described.

We crossed the creek, using the stepping stones (well, some of us refused to use the stepping stones),



past the two tree trunks...



just like the clues said.


And we finally found...













that's right, nothing.

We were pretty sure we found the site where the letterbox was supposed to be but we looked all around it, poked at the ground with sticks, dug under leaves, and there was nothing there. At least nothing that we could find. But The Dormouse was undeterred, and her brilliant mother (who had suspected something like this might happen) had chosen a site where there were two letterboxes in relatively short distance to one another. So we went off in search of the second one and...



Success!



The boxes are waterproof food containers, which is how they withstand the elements. Inside each letterbox is a stamp, a stamp pad, a notebook and maybe some trinkets. The stamp is for your personal notebook which you bring to each letterbox search. You use the stamp to mark your record of what boxes you've found and keep a collection of your escapades, kind of like a VISA. You bring your own stamp to mark the notebook in the box to say that you've found it. You can also write anything you want down alongside your stamp. We had a good time reading through all the people who had found this box going back to 2006, the farthest away being from Newark. And we added our mark to the mix as well.


Yes, it's a cheshire cat stamp... it's the only stamp I had in the house. I'm nothing if not predictable.

The trinkets in the box, from what I understand, are meant to be taken with you and replaced with something you bring.... at least I hope that's the case because that's what we did. There was a little kaliedoscope toy in this one, which The Caterpillar immediately claimed as her own. We left some pirate coins leftover from
this monstrosity and a few plastic "jewels" The Dormouse had carefully chosen for just this occasion. It took her about five minutes to settle on what color would be chosen and we finally had to put the kibosh on her intentions ("Maybe someone would like this one... and this too." "And this, I'll leave because it's such a pretty color..." "I better put two in case there are two children..." etc.) because she would have left all of her stuff and then the top wouldn't have gone back on the box.



The Dormouse did a great job reading all the clues with only minimal input ("Do you really want to walk past that LITTLE. CLUMP. OF. SIX. TREES? Hey wait, what did those directions say again?") and The Caterpillar was a good sport about all the walking, except for when Daddy wouldn't let her sit on his shoulders while holding The Dormouse's carrying case for her jewels... apparently he didn't like being knocked repeatedly in the head with a hard, sharp-cornered box. Poor sport.
Then we had to walk the long way back to the car and The Dormouse did nothing but talk about the next time we could go letterboxing and places where we could hide our own letterbox. Now she has one more thing to obsess over and pester me about. So... yeah... yay for that.

Oh and The Caterpillar made a friend on the way back.



This guy, who practically posed for a picture:


So we communed with nature too.


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Practicing to Be Me

Posted on 7/19/2009 07:27:00 AM
"Daddy, what would you like for breakfast?"

"I would like eggs and bacon, and hash browns, and sausage, some pancakes, and... oh yeah, an omelet."

*eyes grow wide*

"I am NOT making THAT."

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Mug Shots

Posted on 7/19/2009 06:39:00 AM
The KingofHearts, desperate for his children to share his love of swords and swordplay, decided to sit down with The Caterpillar and show her his "pretty swords" book. The Caterpillar had a perspective of her own and pointed out where some of the more famous members of our family appeared in the book. For example...

This is Momma:


The Dormouse appears twice in the book. Here:


and here:


Meet Daddy:


Inexplicably, this is The KnaveofHearts:


And lastly, Jesus, who, after all, is our brother:



I hope you've have enjoyed this pictorial depiction of our family. I am now officially waiting for the publisher of Swords to contact me regarding payments of royalties for the use of our likenesses. I'll let Jesus contact Candlewick on his own.

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More Pops!

Posted on 7/18/2009 09:43:00 PM In: ,
For today's Camp Sweatshop, I again tricked my five year old into making me food. I'm actually looking forward to the end of summer so I can go on a diet. But for today, we ate watermelon popsicles. This is easier than you might think, so I shall share the recipe with you here. Mostly because it's not really a recipe at all. It's also not my idea, so go here if you want to see how it's really supposed to be done.

First, obtain a watermelon.

Next, skin it. I just used half a watermelon, laid it upside down and used a big knife to cut off most of the rind.


Now comment on how your skinned watermelon looks like a brain. Marvel at your creativity and design concept and vow to remember this for next Halloween. It is, perhaps, not the most appropriate of mother-daughter conversations, but... it's who we are.

Next, cut up your watermelon into slabs about one to two inches thick. Cut slabs into appropriate popsicle-type shapes.

Your job is done now, so make your daughter stick a stick in each one.


And line them up in a freezer safe dish. Be sure that none of them are touching. Or you will have a not so enjoyable time getting them apart later. Trust me.


Put them in the freezer for several hours. I paid no attention to how long it took, let's just say it's about the time of your average toddler's nap.


I suppose you could cover the dish if you didn't want these little curly cue ice crystals on them when you're done. I was really not thinking ahead that far. Plus the curly cue ice crystals were kind of cool looking.


When they are frozen (the pops, not your children), dress your children in bathing suits and send them out in the yard to eat. You do not want that stuff in your house.


Funny, I could not get The Caterpillar to eat watermelon if I had two men and a boy to hold her down while I force fed it to her. But these?


She ate three.

And then yelled, "More pops! More pops!"


So I've discovered the secret to getting kids to eat healthy stuff:


Trick 'em.

Enjoy.

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Suds Your Duds

Posted on 7/18/2009 07:02:00 AM In:
*Post title taken from a laundromat which existed in the town in which I went to college. It was a bar/laundromat and while your clothes spun in the machines, you could order a drink, play pool, play video games, watch one of several tvs and shoot the breeze with the other spinning drunks. To this day, the most genius entrepreneurial endeavor I've ever seen or heard about.


Honestly, I don't know what parents did to entertain their children before the interweb came around to give them ideas. Both of these things are something I came across on while surfing the information superhighway over the past couple of months. I can't seem to remember where though, so my attributions for credit are lacking today. Here are yesterday's Camp Sweatshop activities.



Take one salad spinner (we got this as a wedding present and I think it got more use yesterday than in the entire previous decade),


Add one paper plate,



Press,


Liberally douse with drops of food coloring,


I said, "liberally,"


Replace the top,


Spin,


And voila
, you have pop art!


Repeat several times and you have some lovely decorations for the hood of your car.


Of course, you also have some very messy hands,


And maybe a faux
black eye or two,


So you will need some form of cleaning up activity. I suggest this one:




Allow that to set for twenty to thirty minutes and voila, you have some wet clothes, but clean hands.


Of course, now you have a lawn full of suds and food coloring.


Professor Google hasn't yet found me an activity to take care of that.


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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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