Red Fork Romper Room

When I was 15, I had the best Crayola collection in three counties. That and a fondness for sparkly finger paint, blue freezy pops, and bubblegum-flavored soda ensured that I never lacked for weekend babysitting gigs.

Babysitting, apparently, is one of those things you never really forget how to do … as Her Royal Highness Princess Wiggly helped me demonstrate this week:

I forgot to take the camera along for our visit to a Pawnee storytelling session on Monday, but I remembered to bring it for craft time at the library on Tuesday, where Ron kindly served as our photographer. Above, we are making a God’s eye. Every vacation Bible school teacher, camp counselor, or Girl Scout troop leader worth her salt knows that God’s eyes are The Best Craft Project Ever when you’re working with little kids, because they’re fast, easy, and colorful — the perfect combination for a roomful of busy munchkins.

Here, Her Royal Highness is coloring a Little Miss Muffet puppet during the same craft session. (The theme was spiders, so all the crafts involved spiders, yarn, weaving, or some combination of the above.) 

As her pseudonym suggests, Princess Wiggly is not, as a general rule, big on naps … but once she sat on the papasan, she found it sooooooo irresistibly comfortable that she actually asked permission to sleep there.

Scout — who adores Wiggly — stood guard on the floor in front of her for an hour or so before joining her for a snooze and a snuggle.

Below are some pictures of the craft projects Wiggly made today.

With a little help, Wiggly created a personalized tiara, a scepter, and a scrapbook all about her adventures at the zoo. I was a bit skeptical about the prefabbed fun-foam craft kits, but after watching a busy 5-year-old spend the better end of five hours covering every available surface with rhinestones, glitter, and puffy stickers, I’m a believer. Here are some of the pages from Her Majesty’s scrapbook, featuring those crazy square pictures I mentioned yesterday:

The text — which Wiggly carefully printed on there herself — says, “I rode the train.” And yes, that is a photobooth sticker of Ron and me on the right. Wiggly, who was generally impressed with my eclectic sticker collection, was particularly intrigued with this bit of ephemera. I have made a mental note to track down a photo booth for our next adventure together….

The page on the right is probably the most ornately decorated of the lot. Wiggly shot the picture on the left from the zoo train. The text says, “I took a picture.”

We dug the sea lions. The text says, “I saw seals.”

The text at left says “FLAMINGO.” We were running out of puffy heart letters, so Wiggly filled in the missing letters with a purple colored pencil. The text at right says, “I got a flat penny.” What you can’t tell from the picture is that the penny in question has a penguin embossed on it. Wiggly really dug the penguin reward stickers, although I’m not sure whether she has any particular fondness for penguins or was simply enchanted with the possibilities offered by the sheer quantity of stickers at her disposal. It’s hard to turn down a sheet containing more than 100 tiny stickers.

Wiggly drew birdseed all around the border of the picture at left. The text at right says “Wiggly fed birds.” Except, y’know, we used her real name. I think she looks hilarious in my sunglasses.

We were really into the interactive budgie exhibit. The page at left proudly proclaims, “I TOOK THE PICTURE.” At right: Note the budgie perched on the stick Wiggly is holding (which had been dipped in something sticky and then dredged in birdseed to attract avian acquaintances) and the feather that Wiggly and I found on the ground and kept as a souvenir.

“PHOTOS BY WIGGLY.” It’s hard to tell, but these are from the African penguin exhibit — hence the parade of penguins dancing madly around the borders.

And last but not least, here are Wiggly and a little boy admiring the penguins (those are waves around the edges of the page, drawn by Wiggly and then treated with glitter glue to look more like water) and Wiggly riding an ostrich on the zoo carousel.

We had a couple more pages in the scrapbook, too, but they didn’t look as cool ‘cos we didn’t have time to finish them up before Wiggly had to leave for gymnastics class.

Now … time to get offline and reorganize my craft closet. After all my artsy-craftsy adventures this week, I’m beginning to realize that there are disadvantages to my throw-everything-in-a-bin-and-shut-the-door approach to storing craft supplies….


For the record …

… the zoo is way more fun with a 5-year-old in tow. Especially when you use the 5-year-old as an excuse to do all the extra stuff your parents couldn’t afford to let you do when you were a kid, like riding the zoo train and feeding the parakeets and making a pressed-penny souvenir and buying pink lemonade in a purple sport bottle shaped like a gorilla.

Happy accident: I’d forgotten my digital cameras when we went to the zoo, so I gleefully seized the opportunity to go lomo with a 35mm disposable from the zoo gift shop.

I stopped by Walgreens on the way to church tonight and dropped off the film for one-hour processing. By the time I returned an hour and a half later, my pictures still weren’t ready, because the machine had thrown a fit and kept spitting out 4×4 squares instead of 4×6 rectangles, and the technician had only just figured out how to fix the problem. He made me a set of the usual 4×6 prints you get for $6.99, but I liked the square prints so much that the photo tech let me have them for free.

They look awesome: hypersaturated, a little grainy, a trace of lens distortion (hooray for plastic lenses!) … I wouldn’t have noticed without the funny dimensions, but these images are very evocative of the 126 camera Mom and Dad used for taking pictures of me at the zoo when I was 5.

I’ll post pictures when I get a hand free to scan them. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a good way to kill a summer afternoon, I highly recommend a trip to the zoo with a cheap camera and a munchkin….


Inner child

Sorry for the sporadic posts. We’ve had a lot of storms this week, so the computer has been unplugged more often than usual. My tomatoes are getting tired of the rain, but the local frog population loves it.

I’ve also been a bit busy. My inner child has a playmate this week, as I’m babysitting a friend’s 5-year-old every day except Friday. We spent a good deal of time yesterday making Shrinky-Dinks. Today, we made a lot of bead necklaces, fixed quesadillas for lunch, and spent part of the afternoon at the library, learning about spiders and making a God’s eye and a paper puppet of Little Miss Muffet and her spider.

My young friend is WAY into crafts. She is also way into princesses, so tomorrow, Her Royal Highness and I will be making a sparkly tiara and a scepter, which she will probably insist on carrying to the zoo….



Good dog!

So I’m drying my hair this afternoon when the doorbell rings. Scout immediately launches into an uncontrollable barking frenzy, and Jason follows her into the living room to stare at the front door, both of them ready, willing and able to get medieval in the event that Something Wicked This Way Comes.

A young guy in a uniform the color of a mailman’s is on the doorstep, so I order Scout to get back as I pad out onto the porch in my bare feet, hoping that my visitor is here to deliver my new honey extractor.

No such luck. As it turns out, Uniform Guy is selling home security systems, or something like that. (I didn’t catch all of the details. It was hard to hear, what with my dog barking loudly enough to be heard in Sapulpa.)

I manage to keep from laughing openly as I point to Scout and say: “Well, as you can see, we already have a foolproof alarm system….”



How much more should we seek to apprehend the spiritual ideas of God, than to dwell on the objects of sense! To discern the rhythm of Spirit and to be holy, thought must be purely spiritual.

— Mary Baker Eddy

When I returned from my road trip a week and a half ago, I found myself waking up every morning — and sometimes in the middle of the night — confused and disoriented, unable to recognize where I was, what time it was, or even what day it was. I didn’t recognize Ron. I didn’t recognize my bedroom. I didn’t know what town I was in. Familiar objects suddenly looked completely foreign. Once, I woke up in the night and caught myself squinting at a framed poster on our bedroom wall, trying to make out the words printed on it, as if I’d never seen it before — even though it’s been hanging there for at least two years.

I would recover after a minute or two, but those moments of confusion were extremely annoying, and I was starting to be a little alarmed by them. Ron suggested that I’d simply been on the road too long and needed time to get back to normal after so many nights in strange beds, but that didn’t really make sense. I travel all the time. I’ve always been comfortable on the road. I’ve never had trouble figuring out where I am when I wake up. And I’ve never had trouble slipping right back into my normal routines when I return from a trip.

Maybe that’s the problem, I thought. Always before, I’ve had normal routines to slip back into. This time around, I’d not only been away from home for over two weeks, but I was between jobs — meaning I had no work schedule to help establish my sense of time — and I couldn’t even take my customary trip to the Rock Cafe to celebrate my safe homecoming with a big bowl of chili, because the Rock had burned down while I was away.

It seemed as if all the mental landmarks that had anchored me in space and time were gone, and I felt lost, adrift, unable to grab onto anything that could help me get my bearings.

I knew I needed to turn away from matter and look to Spirit to find my real anchor, but I’d been trying for several days, and I just hadn’t made much headway. 

It all came crashing down on me Saturday afternoon, when I found myself in bed with three different physical claims — including a severe headache — and too depressed to move. I felt as if every healing I’d ever experienced had somehow come undone all at once, and I couldn’t even muster the energy to crawl to the phone and call a practitioner.

Scared and sinking fast, I reached out through the pain with the only prayer I could manage: Father … please … help me. I know You’re the only real anchor, but I’m not seeing it. Help me to understand.

Several ideas came to thought, but I don’t remember the details now. I just remember a quiet sense of peace, a sudden darkness (I know we don’t normally associate darkness with healing, but when the claim involves a headache, darkness is a welcome blessing), and a deep, restful sleep. When I awoke several hours later, all the pain was gone — and the confusion had vanished with it. I opened my eyes to a comfortable bedroom full of familiar objects that I recognized immediately. 

Thank God.


Outwitting Houdini

At what point did the screen-top-on-a-10-gallon-aquarium method of keeping rodents become passe? I’ve got to spend this afternoon buying replacement parts for Juliet’s cage, which she is slowly but surely destroying, because the only rodent confinement systems currently available are made of either wire (perfect for the pet owner who enjoys running the vacuum five or six times a day) or plastic (perfect for the pet owner who enjoys setting humane traps to try to recover escaped rodents every few months).

Juliet’s cage is the plastic type. It’s very cute and has a nice system of plastic tubes, hideouts, towers, etc. for her to play in. The tubes look like fun. Unfortunately, Juliet does not think it’s fun to climb through tubes. Juliet thinks it’s fun to stick her bottom jaw through any available gap in the main cage area and expand that gap as rapidly as possible. If Penn Plax could somehow impregnate the plastic with a mixture of Quaaludes and Valium, I’m sure the “S.A.M. Down Under Jackeroo Home” would be an ideal setup for keeping a gerbil confined and happy … but without the assistance of tranquilizers, it’s woefully inadequate for a normal animal. (Maybe that’s part of the plan: If they held up better, I wouldn’t need to replace cages — at $40 a pop — every six months.)


If I didn’t have a 240-page grant to study this afternoon, I’d skip the pet store and head to Best Hardware, because I’m fairly certain I could build a much better setup using an aquarium and $15 worth of hardware cloth and cage clips … but I don’t have time to mess with it today, so I guess I’ll just have to buy a couple of spare parts and hope for the best.


UPDATE: The secret, apparently, is to look in the reptile section. It seems that screen covers for aquariums are no longer deemed appropriate for small mammals, but they’re still perfectly acceptable for snakes and lizards. I had to visit a PetSmart and two Petcos before I found one that had the 10-gallon size in stock, but I now have a screen-wire cover, two security clips, and a brand-new 10-gallon aquarium in the living room, just waiting for me to set it all up so Juliet can move in. Which is a good thing, because I can’t find a replacement for the part she chewed up on her current cage, which is being held together with various types of tape.

In other news, I read that grant application, rewarded myself with a trip to MaggieMoo’s, harvested two small pickling cucumbers from the garden, and noticed a boatload of tiny fruits forming on the spaghetti squash vines. I am now going to clean the rodents’ cages and call Dawn to see if she’s going to be around this evening so I can drop off a big box of hardhats that our friend Mike from Arizona shipped to me the other day. 

Oh, and I figured out what kind of birds are nesting out front: mockingbirds. Hopefully the mama will be ornery enough to keep the neighbor’s cats away from the babies when they’re big enough to start trying to fly. I love Callie, but she and I are going to have major issues if she starts killing baby birds in my yard….