Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Children's Museum

This weekend, we all needed a change of scenery so we tried out The Children's Museum in West Hartford, CT.  There was a great hands-on science exhibit, where we played a little with centrifugal force, surface tension, and weather forecasting. It was a little crowded with two birthday parties so we didn't get to play as much with the various Lego exhibits as we would have liked, but Jamie and Duncan practiced constructing buildings and testing them in earthquakes. At the live animal exhibit, we saw a raccoon up close as well as some fancy, large eared cat creature from Africa, and the usual selection of snakes, lizards, turtles, owls, lizards, sugar gliders, and frogs. Duncan enjoyed looking at models of dinosaurs and pretending to drive a Jeep. The museum also has a small planetarium, where we watched a show about the skies over Connecticut. Duncan's attention started to lag after about 10 minutes, but some well time pictures of planets, stars, and solar systems coaxed a few "WOW's" from him. At the end, the presenter asked if there were any questions. Much to our surprise, Duncan raised his hand. We asked what his question was, but he wouldn't tell us.  (Jamie thought Duncan was going to ask "Why is this so boring?")  Every time the presenter answered a question, Duncan raised his hand again. Just when I thought we'd escape with Duncan's question a mystery, the astronomer called on us. My shy, introverted child asked "What the name of the planets is?" "That's a GREAT question..." the answer began, and it ended in a discussion of Pluto's declassification as a planet. Bravo! It was exciting to hear the boy who is struggling with attention and focus ask a relevant question in a room full of people. "That was fun, Mama and Daddy."  "Do you want to come back here again, Duncan?"  "YEAH!"


About once a week, The Boy Who Doesn't Nap falls asleep in the car on the way home from preschool. Inevitably, he falls asleep when he's five minutes away from home. To wake him risks the epic whining and crying of The Unslept. Jamie carries him inside, and I take him in my arms and collapse into the couch. He sleeps like a bear, heavy and deep. I hold him in my lap while I smell his sweet, little boy smell and stroke his sweaty hair, knowing all the while that my days are numbered. Soon, he will be too heavy to hold like this and too much boy to allow my affections.  As it is, I can barely breathe with his heat and his nearly 35 pounds molded into my chest, but we dream on, and I can almost pretend that I can keep him safe like this forever.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Craft Hope, Continued

When I checked in to the Craft Hope for Haiti Etsy shop yesterday, it warmed my heart. All over the country, crafters are donating their work for sale, and 100% of the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders. I bought a gift for someone on the site, but as I went through my transaction, new pieces were being added at about 1 a minute. I read a few blogs that referenced the site, and they said the pieces were selling like wildfire. One woman said she picked out something she wanted to buy but stepped out of the room to help her daughter with something; when she returned a few minutes later, her item was already gone! Craft Hope had gone competitive! If you do check in to shop, don't linger long. Find something you like and buy it! Don't forget, it's a straight donation to Doctors Without Borders with a nice piece of art thrown in!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Craft Hope

Start your holiday shopping early (WAY early), and every dollar you spend will benefit Doctors Without Borders and the relief effort in Haiti.

Craft Hope for Haiti

Friday, January 15, 2010

No Tears Buche

This year's annual buche de noel came off without a hitch. I don't remember the last time that SOMETHING didn't go wrong with it in the last few hours before Christmas to pitch me into a drama-fest. It helped that my other Christmas chores were done by then, and I essentially set aside an entire day for it. It helped that I baked it in two batches in the toaster oven, which is level while the oven is not. It helped that Jamie reminded me to concentrate and not become distracted or multitask. It was smooth sailing. And tasty too...

(It dawns on me that I could use a cake platter...)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Letter from Santa

Santa wrote back! Well, the way these things often work, is that Santa's peeps actually wrote back. Santa, of course, was too busy, but we appreciated the gesture anyway. It was nice of Holly the Elf to send us a letter in his stead!

My sweet little boy, who never once asked Santa for anything and loved all his gifts, now thinks we can send Santa letters throughout the year to request refills. "Can we write him another letter and ask for more astronaut ice cream?" Stupid, uninspired mother response:  "Well, Duncan, I can just buy you some more astronaut ice cream." Why can't he write to Santa tomorrow to ask for more astronaut ice cream? Who knows what could happen? A boy can dream, can't he?

Stegosaurus in the Snow

Just before Christmas, we took Duncan to The Berkshire Museum, in Pittsfield, MA, for their annual Festival of Trees. We hadn't been there before, and I think if we lived closer, we'd be pretty regular customers. They have decent science exhibits for the little ones and some art galleries as well. They aren't the Met or the AMNH, by any means, but they do host a variety of traveling exhibits. Now, they have a mummy exhibit and an armor exhibit. We didn't even try to look at the art; we knew the trees and maybe the science would be all Duncan would be able to manage. To my surprise, he didn't enjoy the trees as much as we did. He spent most of his time on that floor looking for his admissions badge that he had lost before we even reached the second floor landing. (Truthfully, I lost mine too, but I found it, quietly and discreetly).  After Jamie and I dragged Duncan through the trees, we visited the animal exhibits. He looked at some taxidermied animals ("those are statues, Mama?"), listened to bird calls, and looked at dinosaur bones. He was disappointed that there wasn't a complete dinosaur skeleton, but what can you do? Finally, we visited the live animals, the touch tank, and the fish, which he thought were fun to watch.

I sort of forgot about my camera after taking pictures of the trees. And those shots are not fantastic either because I was using the manual settings on my camera and didn't realize everything was out of focus. I was amazed at the number and variety of trees. Some were pretty standard: trees from businesses decorated either ornately or with their business paraphernalia; trees from schools decorated with ornaments made by the kids. Others were a little more innovative; I wouldn't have wanted them in my house, but they were fun to look at in the museum. I came away with a few good decorating ideas and a few ornament crafting ideas (though I will not be using a garland of condoms - you can't count on people not to take some, apparently).  Here are a few things I enjoyed.

This was from Adams. The garland, the topper, and the white balls are all either knit or crocheted.

There was a gorgeous tree from one of the local photograhers that was decorated in wedding photos. I loved that one but my pictures were terrible. This one was decorated in frames that contained tiny jingle bells.

This one was made of plastic spoons. I hope they were recycled.

There were at least four full rooms of trees. The center of this room was full of 1 ft. trees decorated by local school children.

This one is not gorgeous by most people's standards, but it's made from completely organic materials and recycled packaging of organic products sold at a local coop.

This tree had lights that were run on a battery that stored energy generated by riding the bicycle (just like Ed Begley's famous bike he uses to make toast). Duncan and Jamie both tried it; neither could illuminate the tree. I love the shot, achieved by complete, dumb accident.

Not Christmasy, but Duncan loved the Hall of Innovations, which highlights innovators from the Berkshires. It's a very hands-on exhibit that lets kids draw, explore music, etc. I don't remember what this was. I think it was a spider, but it could have been a monster. Both were popular that day.

And what Christmas field trip would be complete without a boy and his stegosaurus in the snow?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Condemned (or, Police Line - Do Not Cross)

I will not be winning the gingerbread house challenge any time soon (and it's just as well since Cablevision has cancelled the Food Network, but that's a story for another day).

Here is the long awaited gingerbread house of doom - gingerbread house of ill repute - gingerbread house of destruction. It was a disaster, but I have this to say. I have wanted to do this for some time. I did manage to create a house that stood up. It was not a great family bonding project like I pictured it would be since I was inside glueing it together while Jamie and Duncan played in the snow. Eventually, when it came time to add the candy, it DID occupy Duncan for a long time. He still thinks we're actually going to eat the thing, but I think he'll change his mind quickly. Will I do it again? I don't know. I'm just stubborn enough to want to challenge myself to do it better, but I'm not stupid. We'll see. If I do another one, it will be a November project. There's too much to do in December to be messing around with gingerbread natural disasters.

Please feel free to laugh; I know I did.