It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Cookies and tape and glue, oh my!

“We drew you pictures, Mary!” Tyler and Emily have been working diligently at the dining table for a good fifteen minutes. Diligently working on A Secret Thing. I knew it was Secret, because each time I walked past, Emily would THROW herself over her paper, and then paste an expression of studious casual-ness on her round face.

“Me? I’M not doing anything special. I’m just… resting… on my paper here. Yup, yup, yup.” She didn’t SAY any of that, of course. She’s FIVE now, and has mastered the art of subtlety.

Uh-huh.

Tyler, age three and one month, is less adroit with the subtlety. He does understand A Secret, though. Each time I walk past, while Emily lunges over her page with so-casual panic, Tyler starts to WHISPER.

“I’m just making you a…”

Happily, his whisper is so very muted that I honestly can’t hear a thing, so the Secret remains (amazingly) Secret.

When they are finished, they come find me in the kitchen, where I am helping Rory in his never-ending duplo-block-and-car play. Rory loves Duplo blocks, cars, playdough and shape-sorting above all things. That’s pretty much all he plays at Mary’s house, and he’s a master at… well, shape-sorting. He totally rocks the shape sorter. The other things? He mostly just strews playdough toys around, and though he’s pretty good at building towers, what he really loves to do with the blocks is scatter them around the kitchen floor.

So, out in the kitchen, I am helping Rory build garages for the cars when Emily and Tyler bring me their Secret pictures.

“It’s a cookie,” Emily points to one brown blot splotched with various smaller vari-coloured splotches. “It’s a cookie with sprinkles on it. And this,” she indicates what looks to be a star comprised of blueberries, “is a snowflake.”

“I mades a cookie.” Tyler explains the brown scribble topped with blue scribbles. (There are about forty markers in the bin they were using. I don’t know why they restricted themselves to brown and blue.) “And I hid the chocolate chips so they would be a surprise!” A closer inspection does reveal that there are indeed brown spots under the blue scribbles.

And now, having admired their artwork sufficiently, we need to find a place to display them. Emily races to the fridge, and then stands bemused before it. It’s Christmas, don’t you know. Christmas and the end of the year. Combine school notices, party invitations, shopping lists and to-do lists with the piles of things that need to go on next year’s calendar — next year’s calendar which can’t be hung until this year’s calendar is done — and you have one overcrowded fridge. There is not a spare square inch on there. There is not a single magnet which is not holding three times its weight limit, hanging on to the fridge through sheerest magnetic willpower.

Not the fridge, then. “We’ll use the wall by the calendar.” I send Emily to get the masking tape when little Grace arrives. When I return to the task, Emily is tearing off a piece of tape so as to hang her artwork, and Tyler’s is already stuck to the wall.

Stuck, with no visible means of support. Not a sign of tape anywhere. For all her many clevernesses, Emily does not know how to roll the tape so as to hide it. Nor are there any give-away bumps in the page.

“Did you stick this on the wall, Emily?”

“No, Tyler did.”

“You did? How did you stick it there, Tyler?”

“Glue!”

Glue? I peel away a corner. Glue. Lots and lots and looooots of glue. Oh, my.

“Tyler, lovie. We don’t stick things to the wall with glue, only with masking tape, okay?”

He takes it well as I remove his drawing from the wall, probably because I’m laughing, and Tyler loves, loves, loves to make jokes. Even ones he’s the butt of. Even ones he doesn’t get. I’m laughing, that’s good enough for Tyler. Well, not quite: He can tell if the laughter is sarcastic or mocking, but he understands that mine isn’t.

He even helps me wash the glue off the wall.

And now, you’ll have to excuse us. We’re about to make Christmas cookies. REAL ones!!!

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Christmas, crafts, Emily, food, Tyler | , , , | 3 Comments

Beach Party!

A rainy day requires a craft. This, part of a wonderful craft supplies package put together AND MAILED TO ME by my thoughtful eldest, was our inspiration:


What do they look like? Why, beach umbrellas, of course. And if you have a beach umbrella, you’ll need a beach…

You’ll also need to reinforce your beach, so you’d better tape some cardboard to the back of it.

You’ll need a heap of sand to stick your umbrella into… (Yes, that is playdough. Yes, a truly unfortunate colour. That’s what happens when you let toddlers tell you which bottles of food colouring to put in, and how many drops. You get murk. Could be worse, though. Could be poo-coloured. Or, worse yet, mold-coloured… because it had genuine mold in it. Mmm-hmm. I’ll take a little harmless murk any day.)

Now you need sand, and what could be sandier-looking than yellow cornmeal?? (Well, yes, real sand would work, too, but recall that today was rainy. The only sand out there today is mud.)

Sprinkle some onto the mound, and gently pat in on…

TA-DAH!!! Beach umbrella in heap of sand!!

Now for the rest of the picture. Swish some podgey all over the “sand” part of your picture. (My podgey is homemade: one part white school glue with one part water, or maybe two parts glue to one part water, I can’t remember. It’s been a while. It doesn’t matter: if you want to make your own start with two parts glue to one part water, and then slowly add more water till it looks right to you. Oh, and there was some glitter in there, too. Did I put that in, or did it just find its own way in? Again, I can’t remember — but glitter is never a bad thing!!!)

Sprinkle cornmeal into the wet podgy. More is better. If you get too much, tip the paper and gently tap one edge to shake off the loose stuff. This is a good idea in any case, because there is ALWAYS loose stuff.

Next (and I forgot to take a picture of this, but I’m sure you can figure it out) you paint the water with podgy and sprinkle glitter on it — so it sparkles like water in the sun!

Every trip to the beach needs a beach towel. I let Emily browse my stash of used wrapping paper and old magazines to find the PERFECT beach towel. Then you cut it out. (Don’t you just adore the cuddly awkwardness of those dimpled fingers in the scissors??)

Stick the blanket on the beach — we used glue, but a staple would’ve held better, if I’d had one available, instead of in a bedroom with a sleeping baby — and TA-DAH!!! —

A beautiful beach. And a very proud little girl! A very proud little girl who was even happier to help Noah and Tyler make theirs, when they woke from their naps.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , | 3 Comments