Category Archives: Kids

Recipe for entertainment

I spent this afternoon with my goddaughter and her sister, who got to redeem some of their coupons from last Christmas. We blew up a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave, made a batch of slime, tie-dyed T-shirts in the basement, had a fondue party for lunch (bravo for Velveeta, taco seasoning and that electric fondue pot our old boss gave Ron and me for our wedding 15 years ago), made light-up Daleks out of styrofoam cups and Lite-Brite pegs with LED tealights under them, dipped marshmallows in chocolate and sprinkles, made puzzles and wrote with invisible ink.

If you ever need to entertain children, here is an excellent recipe that will do the job:

1 1/2 c. water, divided
1 tsp. borax
1/2 c. Elmer’s glue
Food coloring

Dissolve the borax in a cup of water. In a separate bowl, stir the glue and food coloring into the remaining half-cup of water. Mix the two solutions together. The glue will turn into a sort of gelatinous slime. Scoop the slime out of the bowl and discard the excess water. The slime will seem a little runny at first, but as you handle it, the texture will improve.

When I made slime with my niece and nephews a few months ago, my mom figured out that if you place a blob of your slime in an empty pill bottle, 35mm film canister or similar container and jab your finger into the middle, the air trapped between the slime and the container will mimic the sound of flatulence, thereby cementing your status as the coolest grownup in your young friends’ social circles. (In case you are wondering, this is high comedy to an 8-year-old.)

Your slime will keep indefinitely if you store it in a sealed ziplock bag in the fridge.

I am sorry to report I don’t have any pictures of our adventures today, as I was too busy cleaning up one project and setting up the next to stop and take photos. The girls’ mom, however, spent a lot of time documenting our adventures for posterity, so I’m sure I’ll be seeing some of those images in the not-too-distant future.


Folk Thursday: Tupac

For Devin, Joey and Tevin. Good luck in St. Louis this weekend, guys. I love you, and I am ridiculously proud of you for taking a stand. The root of the problems you’re trying to solve predates all of us, but I’ve known since the minute I set foot in Room 204 that if anybody can get this world moving in the right direction, my kids can.

Go save the world. <3

(And the rest of you: Say a prayer, light a candle, or just hold a good thought for my kids this weekend. They're planning to travel 400 miles to participate in a very large protest on a very controversial issue, and things could get … tense.)

Ms. Priddy

P.S.: I realize Tupac isn't folk, but his lyrics are at least as powerful as anything Bob Dylan or Joan Baez ever had to say. I'm just sorry they're still relevant. I'd hoped they'd be obsolete by this point, but we still have a long way to go.


Ron hadn’t driven my new car yet, and I hadn’t had a chance to see what kind of mpgs I could coax out of it on two-lane highways, so we took it to Mom and Dad’s today and spent the afternoon hanging out with the kids. Here are a few photos:

Grandma helped Ollie fill the hole with water before planting his tree.
Grandma helped Ollie fill the hole with water before planting a tree.
Hazel helped Papa push the dirt up around hers.
Hazel helped Papa push the dirt up around hers. I love this picture. Projects like this are how I turned into a hippie.
Jamie is getting the hang of using the back of the rake to shove dirt around the trunk of the tree.
Jamie is getting the hang of using the back of the rake to shove dirt around the trunk of the tree.
Hazel and her daddy played Frisbee.
Hazel and her daddy played Frisbee.
Hazel tie-dyed that T-shirt during my last visit. It turned out really well.
Hazel tie-dyed that T-shirt during my last visit. It turned out really well.
The boys wanted to show off their new bunk bed before we left. Hazel liked climbing up and touching the ceiling.
The boys wanted to show off their new bunk bed before we left. Hazel is now trying to convince her parents to get her one. There appears to be a little monster under the lower bunk. :)

For the record, the mileage meter was showing about 18 mpg when we left town. I’d driven about 20 miles on that tank — all of it in town, which is full of hills and stoplights. It’s about 60 miles to Mom and Dad’s house, and it was showing 28.4 mpg when we got home, so I’m guessing on a long road trip, we could get at least 30 mpg if we did a little hypermiling. I’ll probably drive the Dreamcar in town when the roads are clear and reserve the Subaru for weekend lumberyard runs and days when there’s ice in the weather forecast. I really enjoy driving a station wagon, so it will be a nice treat to offset the general crappiness of having to get out of bed on winter mornings.


The effects of bullying, Part 3

This is the fourth entry in an occasional series on how being picked on as a kid influenced the sort of adult I turned out to be.

I have an extremely self-deprecating sense of humor. It comes in handy sometimes. It’s disarming. It can soothe fear, soften a blow, defuse anger, or help me relate to people when they need reassurance. But it can also be a liability, especially when I’m dealing with people who do not know me well and misinterpret my humor as flippancy — or worse, self-loathing.

In Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, a man makes fun of the title character’s nose. Cyrano deflates his detractor by enumerating all the colorful insults the man could have dished out if he’d been smarter or more creative.

As a kid, I quickly figured out that if I pulled a Cyrano on a would-be bully, I could control the severity of the blow while taking the fun out of the game. If I beat a bully to the punch and said something funnier (and meaner) than whatever she was planning to say …

(H/T to the hilarious Luvvie of for the .gif.)


I was too small and weak to discourage bullies with my fists. But a battle of wits? Oh, bitch. You tried it.

I’m glad I found a means of protecting myself. And I’m glad I can laugh at myself, because frankly, I’ve done a lot of dumb crap over the years and probably would have gone off the deep end a long time ago if I couldn’t laugh it off. But looking back, it makes me sad to think about how I developed that ability.

It makes me sad to realize I have this sense of humor because a little girl spent most of her childhood inspecting herself for flaws and thinking up terrible things to say about them just so somebody else wouldn’t.

When you think about it, that’s a really effed-up thing for a little kid to have to do. And maybe it was OK for me, but it’s not OK for my niece, my nephews, my goddaughter, or anybody else. Children deserve better than that — and as adults, we’ve got to figure out how to make sure they have better.



While I was sorting my hard drive a while back, I ran across a pair of images of my younger siblings that Mom had asked me to Photoshop together for her several years ago, as Oliver had his back to the camera in one picture, and Grace was rolling her eyes back in her head in the other. Thanks to the busy background (wallpaper, stepstool, mini-vac, etc.) and the ever-so-subtle difference in angles and depths of field between the two images, I decided that was another task for another time, saved the images into whatever folder was handy, and promptly forgot about them.

I had some time on my hands this evening, so I spent an hour ‘Shopping:


Don’t look too closely. The background didn’t quiet down any, and the angles and depths of field didn’t get any closer to aligning while I was ignoring them, but at least nobody is making a weird face or turning around backwards.

And yes, Mom, I saved a high-res version. I’m still tinkering with it, but I’ll send it to you after I make a few more minor adjustments.


Munchkin Land and Marshmallow World

Here is how I spent Saturday:

We made bears. Hazel wants pink or purple everything (notice her glasses), and the boys want superhero everything (if you look closely, you’ll see Jamie is wearing Spider-Man glasses). At some point, I’ll find time to write them a book about a princess who rescues Batman.
The guys were VERY proud of their bears. Jamie’s dad helped him decorate his. I think Geoff was actually having more fun than the kids.
Hazel liked making her bear, but when I started taking pictures, Ollie made a funny face, which Hazel missed, so she thought we were laughing at her.
She tried really hard to put on a brave face for the camera, but she couldn’t quite manage a smile. Poor Hazel.
All was well, however, by the time we started making marshmallow pops. When you’re 5, chocolate and sprinkles will mend a broken heart pretty efficiently.

Hope you had a chocolate-covered-marshmallows-and-sprinkles sort of weekend, wherever you are.


Artwork by Ollie

Ollie made me a picture tonight at Mom and Dad’s:


Yes, I framed it. Of course I framed it. It’s a hand turkey. Made by a 3-year-old. The teal-colored wattles on the turkey actually started out as a teardrop, which made it look as if it had killed someone in prison, but I think Jamie convinced Ollie to modify it.

If you wouldn’t proudly display a toddler’s rendering of a turkey with a prison tattoo in your home, I’m not sure we can be friends.


Hazel had a birthday party today. She’s 5. Mom asked me to take a picture of all three kids together. I think she was hoping for something suitable for use on Christmas cards. This was the only one that didn’t have someone making a face or squirming or wandering off or giving bunny ears or some combination of the above. The boys have cake and Kool-Aid all over their faces, and Hazel is completely distracted, so obviously the party was a success.